It was suggested on social media that I try the website 4thewords.com. It’s apparently one part writing platform and 3 parts MMO. There is allegedly a very helpful community, lots of support for writers, a way to read the fiction that others has presented, and also a game aspect where the player creates their own avatar and levels it up.I am going to give it an honest shake. That said, to be honest, in the three housr I’ve spent on it I absolutely hate it and I kind of want to give up on it.
In fairness, three hours is barely enough time to have a knowledgeable opinion. I feel a lot of my issues with this game is how cluttered and intuitive the whole website is. It took me over 20 minutes to figure out how to change my avatar from a generic woman-elf to a shirtless dark skinned not-elf. Failing to find a simple wiki or a guide on how to get started, I decided to look at the community quest of the day… which is, apparently, “everyone needs to write a lot today.”
Well that’s helpful.
There are no writing prompts written into the game itself (although maybe the community has some, I am unsure.) Instead, most of the focus of this game is to do endurance writing. The player chooses a monster, which has base stats that can’t be seen and also a challenge like “survive 5 minutes.” They then go to the document they intend to edit and begin writing.
The first fight I chose I died before I could find where the file section of the website was, which was frustrating.
The second fight I chose I won, against a creature called a Vi, which required typing at a steady pace for just 5 minutes. Of course, to win this fight, I didn’t actually type anything of merit. I spammed my keyboard with phrases as best as I could, alternating what I was writing whenever it seemed the website was catching on to me. It was a cheap victory, but it was at the end a victory and for me that’s all I needed to move forward.
I am cheating in a way. I am writing this blog post in a challenge against a Viyu, which I am assuming is an evolved form of a Vi. This requires 15 minutes of uninterrupted typing. I am probably not going to win (spoilers: I did end up winning!) I did find a quest to fight 4 creatures called Wignuts, but it appears not only do I need to unlock them somehow but I also will need to write for a 30 minute stretch for each one I’m expect to defeat. That sounds, quite frankly, exhausting.
The website has given me 30 health, which I am assuming will go up as my time on the website (and possibly stat and equipment gain). Each creature I’m “fighting” deals a certain amount of damage each tic, and only by writing can the life bar be healed. In this, the “game” encourages me to keep writing. When I fail, there doesn’t appear to be any real sort of punishment other than a defeat that is kept on record. Interestingly, the defeat can be removed by a premium currency… but it doesn’t appear that the defeat, in and of itself, has any real way of impending my playing of the game. It’s not like if I were to fail to defeat a creature suddenly everything I wrote would go explode-y. It doesn’t even look like there is a loss of currency, items, or experience. So in that, I’m not sure I see the point. It seems a strange thing to spend real world money on.
4thewords does have a subscription model. The game advertises that it costs “only $4 a month,” putting the “four” in it’s name 4theWords, but there’s a lot to question in regards what comes with that subscription and if this is the only cost involved with continuing to pay. There are a lot of micro-transactions that allow the player to spend cash for these crystals, which allow for the acquisition of premium gear and other small miscellania. I’m sure these aren’t actually needed to use the app, but it sure appears to be pushed by the website. I also find it interesting that 4thewords only accepts PayPal, which is gotta suck if you’re an individual whose PayPal has ever been compromised, illegally shut down, or who lives in a country where PayPal is not available. Seems very short sighted on their part. I see that if purchases the $64 Core Crystal combo pack, the subscription can be lowered to as low as $3.20 a month. It does seem strange, to me, that there is no benefit for prepaying and there is no passive bonuses simply for being subscribed. It appears, again at first overview, that the only bonuses given from the website are from submitting writing every day.
The game does discount itself from time to time, especially over the month of November (which, as I’ve mentioned previously, is “No Novel November.”) So this might be a good time to look at getting into the game if you’re interested. It does appear that there are ways to “win” these crystals, which in theory can help keep a player interested and engaged… but they are likely still going to need to pay the monthly fee to continue playing. It does seem like it’s rather difficult to get enough crystals month to month to not need to pay to play. There is a referral program, however, so if I stick around expect me to start spamming that.
I am fortunate that I was able to get a free month membership to try the game out and see if it is for me. I’ll continue to give it an honest shake. But I’ll be honest, I have concerns.