XSketch is a multiplayer Pictionary-style game with an interesting twist on gameplay and scoring. Players can jump right into any game already in progress and begin to have fun immediately. Points are earned by drawing and guessing successfully, and monthly competition leader boards give the game a real competitive feel.
People who have played GPokr or KDice can use their existing account in XSketch. (In fact, this game was made with the same Google Web Toolkit as the other games.) Otherwise, registration to begin playing is simple and painless.
To begin, simply sit down at a table to play. With each word that you play as a guesser, you ante up four points for the pot. The drawer (which cycles around the room in clockwise motion) antes up the total amount of all other players, and works to earn back his ante. The rest is chaotic fun... The drawer sketches out a picture with the mouse, and the guessers frantically shoot out their guesses in the dialogue box immediately below the picture. The successful guesser and the drawer split the pot evenly. (So in effect, the drawer wins back his ante, while the guesser wins everyone else's ante.)
What can really add to the excitement of the game is when the pot begins to build. If a word is not guessed in time, or if the drawer decides to pass (each with an extra penalty attached), the pot carries over into the next round of play. When there are so many points at stake to boost your rank (which is constantly being updated, no pressure!), the guessing becomes even more frantic in an effort to win it all.
Analysis: Draw-and-guess games are by no means new to the JIG community or to casual gamers in general, but Dewsbury's fresh take on the genre brings a whole new challenge to the easel. All of the words in the database are either written by him or submitted by players and approved by him. And the words aren't just simple words like "cat," "tree," or "cloud," but you've also got to be able to draw tricker phrases like "cousin," "attention," "vessel," and "boarding pass." The more difficult words can be fun to draw and guess, but sometimes terms might get a bit too obscure to be understood. (If anyone can tell me what "syrup pizza" is, I'd love to hear it.)
So without a doubt, some words will be hard to guess or draw. However, the scoring system prevents players from simply passing every word until they find an easy one. The penalty for passing is enough to encourage most drawers to try any word, no matter how ridiculous. And who knows, maybe someone will get it right off the bat.
One thing that sets this game apart from most others I've seen is the fact that you only have one color, black, with which to draw everything. While people who insist grass must always be green may have trouble adjusting to this, the monochromatic gameplay adds to the fun of the challenge (especially when trying to draw the word "color." Ironic, no?).
Sadly, by now it goes without saying that there is a definite PG-13 risk that comes with any multiplayer game anymore. As of yet, there are no censors or filters in place for guesses, chats, or pictures, although a "Warn" button is in place to stifle improper drawings.
So, grab your pen and paper, and