Farragomate


zxoFarragomateDid you know that Magnetic Poetry was invented as a way to write song lyrics? Luckily, nobody ever seriously considered using them for this purpose (or did they?), and they've wound up as the poetic equivalent of doodling on scratch paper. For some people, though, idle word shuffling just doesn't cut it. You know who you are; you're the cutthroat competitor, the one who collected every bit of gold in N and will take on any comer who dare challenges you in Tetris. "What good is Magnetic Poetry if you can't be the best at it?" you might be saying.

Well, wonder no more, for Paul Preece and David Scott (AKA the Casual Collective) have just the thing: Farragomate! Compete against up to 9 other players to make the best sentence out of a given pool of words. To start, just enter your name and join, or create a game. Each game consists of 10 rounds. During a round there are two phases: sentence building and voting.

During the sentence building phase, click words to put them into the submission box and drag them to move them around. Try to make a complete sentence that fits the theme (if there is one) and makes some sort of sense. It's harder than it seems, because you have at most 80 seconds to look over the words, think of something to say and get them all in order before they are submitted.

After time is up, all players sentences are displayed (unmarked, so you don't know who submitted what), and you then vote for your favorite from among the other sentences. Each vote is worth 1 point, and the top vote getters each receive 5 points. Anyone who votes for the winner also gets 1 point. At the end of ten rounds, the player with the most accumulated points wins!

Farragomate was almost certainly created as a tribute to Psychobabble, a discontinued Popcap game built on essentially the same principle. Psychobabble fans who were disappointed when Popcap pulled their multiplayer games will absolutely find Farragomate to their liking, as there is little difference between the two.

Analysis: At its core, Farragomate is a party game, the sort of thing your family pulls out to ward off drowsiness after Christmas dinner. Now, it's quite difficult to successfully make a party-style game work over the internet; for one thing, the face-to-face contact and inside personal knowledge that makes such games as Taboo, Balderdash, and Apples to Apples fun just cannot be recreated on a computer screen. Farragomate also shares this shortcoming.

However, a game like Farragomate lends itself much more readily to a computer screen interface than to pencil and paper, and there are two features which can add a slight amount of personalization to the game. First, the players may vote on themes for the round. Second, the names of the players are always available as possible words to use in your sentences. Unfortunately, this second feature also provides a loophole to introduce potentially offensive words, even if you use the filtered wordsets.

A word of caution: juvenile humor abounds, so if innuendo and references to various bodily functions send your eyes rolling back into your head, you may find Farragomate underwhelming. Even the filtered word sets aren't exactly G-rated, hence our orange rating. But if you can get past that, Farragomate presents a unique challenge to both your left and right cranial lobes, and provides a fix for all you jonesing Psychobabble junkies.

Play Farragomate

23 Comments

I can't seem to connect, and now it's told me there are "no games found." Boo. I'll have to try again later, but it seems like it would be a good way to pass some time.

When I just checked the site, there were 128 games going on. Wait around in the lobby for a minute, and you can probably pounce on a game when it becomes available. Or when somebody drops out of a running game.

Or you can start one yourself.

Ah. Psychobabble. I miss that game. I'll definitely check this one out.

After playing this game for several days last month, I'd stopped playing entirely. Some thoughts.

1) Being dirty gets you more votes, regardless what the topic is. Just like many things on the Internet. This might be funny occasionally, but I got tired of it after seeing dirty sentences in almost every round.

2) The algorithm, which chooses the words, is really bad. It never chooses words according to the topic, but rather randomly generate words regardless of the topic.

The result is that in some rounds, nobody's sentence is funny or makes any sense. This forces most players adopt the following strategy.

3) Players make up dirty names and use only these names.

The direct consequence is [obscenities] are everywhere. Instead of using the generated words, players reply mainly on these user names to make up dirty sentences, and ignore the topic completely.

--------------

In summary, a simple and good concept, if done well. However, a bad word-generating algorithm destroys the playability and the fun; players voting, without any checking, sinks the game to a really low level, just like many things on the Internet, full of innuendo and profanity.

BTW, the reason why I said these is NOT because I couldn't win. In fact, I managed to get in the top three in most games by using the above strategies. And it really made this game boring and me to stop playing.

Funny facts:
1. I did not know this was called Magnetic Poetry, and a while back I thought this was a Danish thing only. I and two friends once played around with a box of these, trying to make sentences, mostly grammatically correct, but very poetic. And we had the initial constraint that all words had to be used somewhere, before we started over.

That was 4 years ago, and today we still have 3 pages of our poetry hanging on the fridge. Good times.

So thank you for informing of its name, and providing the Wikipedia article.

2. As soon as I saw this, I thought "Hmm, this reminds me of a game I used to play eons ago on Popcap. I can't quite remember the name though, hmm, I'll go look it up when I've read the review."

Also, I did not know that Popcap had stopped Psychobabble. Truly sad, because that was possibly the greatest word game in the history of the internet. :( So sad panda.

That being said, I'm glad this game has been reviewed, because I've been jonesing for years now, and finally I can get my fix. So off to play I go.

Funny, being dirty didn't get you any more votes than the rest in the few games I played... I refrained from doing that and I won my second game with 42 points (and there were only 3 players).

Haha, great game, I've been playing on and off for a few weeks.

Though the first game I played was littered with lame toilet humour, you can tell the people who like to play that way from their names. So simply avoid the games that have people with obscene names. The phrases with innuendo that are funny will win, but a genuinely witty, intelligent phrase never fails to impress. Very fun with a good crowd.

Is/was Psychobabble like Acrobabble? Because that game exists and is more entertaining than this, imho.

I had no trouble finding games until I registered, at which point it's always empty. As soon as I sound out, new games abound. I wonder why registered users are apparently unable to play with registered users?

Also, while I really love the concept, the games can be really annoying. As others have said, it's not necessarily about who does the best job creating a coherent sentence that fits the theme. Instead, it's about who can write the most random thing with the most "bad words." While I don't find it particularly offensive, I do find it annoying and it's the sort of thing that kind of renders each game pointless.

In the few games I've played, the sentences have been silly and a bit juvenile, but certainly not obscene or offensive. In fact, very few times did anyone vote for sentences that hardly qualified as sentences.

I really enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud at some of the sentences, despite their sometimes being nonsensical - and I'm an English major!

Fun game, although the profanities and innuendos were a bit annoying.

The "Magnetic Poetry" theme was a nice idea. I had seen something like that before, in Just Letters, but that was more of a webtoy than a game, but really hard to play, since you couldn't even put 3 letters in a row before someone snatched it and threw to the other side of the window... Good times.

And I completely agree with SomeDude, Acrobabble is a lot more fun than this, and should definetely get a review, or at least a mention in a Link Dump Friday.

- Donut

I'd say it's not too hard to win by playing fair. Sure, some retard will join and go offtopic, but he's usually outnumbered. If you're going to play dirty, remember a + -s + -s = Instant profanity!

Best coincidence ever:
Topic: 'Worst christmas present'
Answer: 'Pregnancy.'

I was actually up until 2 in the morning last night playing this and found some of the above to be true, but what I noticed is that everyone, even the ones that would use offensive sentences, would tire of the lack of cleverness and often end up voting for the most fitting for the scenario in the end.

After the first few rounds it evens out and, everyone starts really thinking...

I got the Christmas present topic, too, and saw "suicide."

It tied for first with "fuzzy kangaroo trousers."

they removed themes. The game went from a massive win to a massive fail.

No, they didn't. Themes are just optional.

Apparently I'm not a sassy kisser who bewilders men after they ravish me.

Cool game.
Wasn't there a game kinda like this but you had to tag images and vote on them? What was that game's name?

"Wasn't there a game kinda like this but you had to tag images and vote on them? What was that game's name?"

LOLCaptions.

This game was fun for a time, but then people just couldn't come up with anything original anymore and used profanity. Oh well...

What are you guys talking about, "themes"? There are no themes. You just make up the funniest sentence with the tiles given. I don't understand these one word answers, this is a sentance game. Someone explain, please?

Nevermind, I got it. The problem is, there's NEVER anyone on. Playing with one other person isn't fun at all.

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