The Story of Canuckle: A Canadian Twist on Wordle

Published May 21, 2024

Hello! Can you tell us who you are and what you do?

Mark

Thanks for having us! I’m Mark Rogers and along with me is my brother Jeff Rogers. Together, we’ve made our games Canuckle and Canoku. Both games are centered around Canada as a primary theme, but you don’t have to be a Canadian to enjoy and win our daily games—it is a big advantage though!

Jeff

Hey everyone! Jeff here, and Canuckle is a Wordle-based game with a Canadian twist. It challenges you to guess a five-letter word that relates to Canada in some way. Canoku, on the other hand, is a Sudoku-inspired game with Canadian themes. Check them out to get a feel for how fun they can be for you!

Did you both grow up playing games?

Jeff

Yeah, absolutely! I mean, definitely, you know, the classic Nintendo-style platformer games. We played tons of games like that growing up. I got more into, like, computer-style games when we got a little bit older. We've always been into that. I’ve never been into actually developing games until now, but definitely always been an interest of mine and Mark's.

Mark

I'd say game nights with the family, too. I mean, the traditional old school board games over the holidays, we always had, like, a huge tournament-style family board game, like games night. And a lot of the classics as well, right? Taboo, Pictionary, Scrabble… So definitely word games have been part of our life for a while.

Jeff

And that game night story… It wasn't just some casual games, this was an annual thing. Like, people had to book time off to be there. At that time, my dad, like, did a grid of two on two teams, and you had to do a round-robin of playing everybody. It was always an intense board game night.

Mark

It's legit. There's a trophy, there's prizes. It's official.

More on family nights

Jeff

We've got two sisters, so I'm the youngest and Mark's the oldest, and our two sisters in the middle and it’s definitely competitive. Love playing sports growing up. All sorts of different sports, not really tied down to one and ended up kind of playing everything. We always want to beat each other at everything we do, and it keeps us motivated to go beyond, so I love it.

Mark

Ask Jeff who has the most family games night titles!

Jeff

We don't need to worry about that. You know, it's pretty bad. He has a high number of wins compared to me. I think I've gotten two over the years, maybe?

Mark

Not competitive, though. All good.

On being competitive

Mark

I think we share our scores on a couple of the games, but that's been more casual since I think it’s because we've been focused on developing our own game. I would say the competitiveness there doesn't really bleed into the daily sort of work that we're doing and or even in the game. So right now, when we play Wordle or we play a different game, it'll be more like, “Oh, did you see that word? We could do something similar.” or, “Hey, we could build on that or do something else.” So it's more of the excitedness about, you know, what we could do with our game as opposed to competing with each other.

Jeff

Although during COVID when it was all starting up with Wordle and all that, we would definitely be messaging in our family group chat. Like, my parents are obsessed. They really wanted to get the lowest average score, basically throughout. So they would be texting their score every day, and we'd be texting it back.

Mark

And, yeah, that's really where it started, too, right? Because of the Wordle craze everyone started texting and nudging each other, yeah, that was the peak Wordle craze during the pandemic. It gave us, like, that water cooler chat, that sort of consistency every day. And it was something that really drove where we could go with it.

The Olympics were about to come up. All this sort of Canadiana was surrounding us, and Jeff and I said, “Hey, why don't we make a Canadian version of Wordle? What could we do?” And we said, “Ah, there won't be enough words. We're not going to be able to do too many.” And then it just went from there. It sort of exploded, and who knew we'd be over 600, 700 words now, which is pretty wild.

Did you build any games prior to Canuckle?

Jeff

Not really. I've been working for IBM for over ten years now, and I jumped into a role more where it's mobile development. And so I'm not making games on the mobile platforms, but I'm doing more of the industry side of things. But I've always had an interest in making small, little games like that.

And so it started with making little apps for my dad, for curling that was almost game-like, in a way. And then that kind of allowed us to at least have the ability to talk about this being an actual possibility.

Mark

Since we're both computer engineers, we have a background in development and coding, but the venture into the game space is certainly a first for both of us. Like, we've done web development. We built web apps, and as you've heard, mobile apps. But as far as something where people are coming every day to play something that you create, this is definitely a first.

Difficulties in creating Canuckle

Jeff

The hardest part was, you know, getting everything together, building it up, making sure there weren't any bugs. Like, we put out some versions there, and then immediately we were like, “Oh, no, there's a big bug, we’ve got to fix this.” Then we got to turn it around real quickly and do all that. So earlier on, it was more on technical issues, I'd say. And then later on, it evolved more into, “Okay, let's make sure we can keep on getting content and putting it all together and wrapping it up.”

So the fun fact we do after every word, you can go back to some of the earlier ones, like there was “canoe”, and I think that the fun fact is one sentence long with maybe fifteen words in it. Now, we've kind of elaborated more on these words, kind of showing you kind of more about the Canadian or Canadian-ness involved.

Mark

So, yeah, certainly the research was… Well, it wasn’t really a difficulty, but it was really a time-consuming piece. It's doing the research, doing the validation of the facts, really trying to condense, you know, when you've got a word and you're tying it to Canada, how am I going to condense this into a couple of sentences, that makes it a fun fact that people want to talk about and people want to share. So that's really the effort that has gone into curating the words once we get a list and running them in an order that makes sense.

As you know, Canuckle is very thematic, so we often have a word that will tie to a specific holiday, or if we have something on New Year's, for example, we'll do the word “cheer”. We did the word “happy” this year, so that's a fun part about it, too. There’s a lot of planning and research to align with how we're going to run the words.

Could you tell us about the creation process behind Canuckle?

Mark

I think it was a pretty mutual decision to start creating the game. It was more of a chat thread. We should probably pull that up, Jeff, to see where that thread happened. But I think we were chatting about Wordle, certainly, and it was definitely the inspiration and the basis for everything we built. There were a few ideas we were tossing around, though, and part of me was just the engineer who wanted to reverse engineer and see if it was something we could build and do.

And we threw out a couple of ideas. I think we talked about cities early on. We tried, and we talked about a couple of different options. And then I think we talked about we threw out “Canadiana”, or just Canadian words. And I don't think we came up with the name right away.

That was something we sort of played around with a couple of things and then reverse-engineered the Wordle code and were able to modify it and change it. And then we're both sort of all in at that point. It was Jeff was able to make some modifications to the stuff that I was doing, and we just sort of both started working on it, which was great.

Jeff

And eventually, it turned into being our own code repo that we started from scratch, but it started off at the beginning where we started with Wordle stuff, and then just tweaked a few things. But, yeah, so it started with Mark kind of saying, “Hey, would we be able to even do this?” Or I think you even said, like, “Hey, I tweaked a few things. Check this out.” And then I was like, whoa.

And then we could do this, and then we could do this, and it just snowballed into everything, and then we had to come up with a name.

Mark

And I'm glad we landed on that name because I think we threw around some early Canadian names that really would have been a little bit weird. Like, I think Beaverdle was one of the words. One of the names we started with was also Moosle, another one was Wordl-eh. It was like, just add an h on the end of Wordle, which is sort of clever. I liked that one.

But Jeff proposed Canuckle and it just stuck. So it was a good one.

Jeff

I think I was watching a Canucks game when it happened, too.

On the research aspect of the creation

Mark

Yeah, I can start on this one. So it certainly is a lot of research and just getting the words. We do have a bench of words, just sort of a shared spreadsheet, not super high-tech, but a spreadsheet of words on the bench. And then we load about ten to twenty words at a time in advance. So at any one time, the words are loaded up until, you know, the next two weeks.

And then we go in and look at the words, look at the days that are coming up. Are there any holidays or special events in Canada? We really try to be current and align with certain things. We have about 200 words left on our bench, and we're constantly adding to it. So we have enough words to get to Canada Day 2024. And we'll keep extending and keep adding to the list. But really, we share that sheet. We both work on fun facts.

I do the main curation, sort of ordering of the word and place where they're going to go to make sure we don't do, for example, put up too many sports words in a row or don't do as many plurals in a row and just sort of try to line them up. So we wouldn't want to do, say three words in a row that start with a letter t and try to really change the variability. 

And a big thing we try to change is the difficulty level. We certainly don't want to throw a bunch of easy words in a row and we don't want to do a lot of hard words in a row. And we'll get a few emails asking about that one or maybe complaining a little bit about it, but that's okay. All communications with us are great. We love hearing from players, and certainly, we want everyone to enjoy their experience playing.

On community feedback

Mark

Yeah, we get lots of emails for sure. But I'd say the biggest thing is our online community. No Discord server, but we've got over 10,000 followers as part of our Canuckle crew on Twitter/X. That's sort of our main Twitter, which is our main sort of channel, I'd say, for feedback. The best thing about it is everyone on there is sharing their scores, and it has created the community naturally, just like Wordle.

But I think because we're sort of a niche, and our target are people who are typically Canadian, 90% to 95% of our players are from Canada, and they're playing it because they have some affinity to Canada and Canadiana and love for the country shows. I mean, they're playing the game. They're learning about Canada through the fun facts, and that certainly is something that people align with when they're sharing their scores. They're communicating back with us, and we get in there and interact and call people lucky Hoser on Twitter and just sort of play around with it.

That's a big fun part of it, for sure.

The current number of puzzles Canuckle has

Mark

Yeah, we're actually coming up on 725. So we actually launched on February 10, 2022, and that was the first iteration of the puzzle with a sort of a revamp of the Wordle code to give it that Canadian twist; adding features like the fun fact, changing the colors to red, and really sort of giving it our own Canadian flavor. That game, that first iteration of Canuckle, ran until Canada Day 2022. And we had always talked about wrapping up on Canada Day to sort of give it sort of some fun fanfare and, you know, really align with Canada's birthday.

We thought it was sort of a nice tribute and just sort of a perfect ending to the game. We never thought it would really be something that would go on forever, and we took a break after that. We took a two-month break, about a month and a half over the summer months, and it was good because there was a lot of effort and a lot of work that went into the work early on. And it was nice to take a bit of a pause. And then Jeff and I chatted over the summer, and that's when we came back with a totally revamped code base built from the ground up that Jeff built.

We came back on October 4, 2022, and we've been here since. So we're coming up on almost two and a half years since we launched, which is pretty wild.

Jeff

And at its peak, before the break, what was the day? It was on May 4. That was our biggest day, right? It was, I think, 305,000 users on that day. This is, like, the middle of COVID. Everyone needs something to do.

That was one of the biggest days, of course, after the break. Of course, we lost some users because two or three months of nothing made them leave. But we were surprised to see how quickly people came back to it. We're still hitting about 55 to almost 60,000 a day, which is great.

Mark

That big day on May 4, 2022. I don't know if you guys were playing Canuckle at the time, but we ran the same word as Wordle that day, which is why it was such a big day. So it just had a ton of online press and social media chatter thinking that we were connecting with Wordle, and it was a complete coincidence. It was the word “train”, and we both ran the word “train”, and everyone was so excited because they were telling people and getting it in one. And it was a big online day.

So I think we need to plan some more days with Wordle like that.

On AI generation

Mark

Yeah, we played with this a little bit. So Jeff and I both have connected and, you know, started asking ChatGPT to come up with suggestions for us, and as it turns out, it's not very creative and not great at coming up with even five-letter words. It suggests six-letter words and seven-letter words, so it's not quite there yet from that perspective. But the one thing ChatGPT in particular has been great for is building and elaborating and writing copies on fun facts.

So that's something we just started doing recently, actually, on a lot of the fun facts. Now, as Jeff mentioned before, we have to give a little bit more context to tie that word to Canada and give what that Canadian theme or Canadian flavor is. So that's been quite helpful and sort of we can then curate some of that content. It's all about how you give the input into ChatGPT to get that type of fun facts sort of paired down, but that's certainly been helpful, I would say. But you really do have to have the words yourself, as it's not coming up with words for you.

Jeff

The biggest thing too is even if it gives you a really good fun fact, a lot of the time, it's just a made-up fact that it thinks is real. And it's like, oh, sorry, my bad. So you got to really do a lot of fact-checking when you're using any AI.

Mark

Yes. We can't quite trust it yet. They're not ready to take over. We've played with some other AI things, though. Suno AI was a recent one that we launched. They actually created a theme song for Canuckle and for Canoku, which was pretty fun. So that was a music-themed AI. We created a very on-the-nose Canuckle mascot. Totally. I don't know if you saw that or if you saw that on social media, but we created a moose holding a Tim Hortons cup with a toque holding a hockey stick.

Yeah, there's a lot of cool stuff that's out there and to be honest, it's, for the most part, it's supplementary, it's on the side, sort of fun promotional type of things. But I think we'll plan to use ChatGPT a little bit more in some of the content and even things like writing copy for our newsletter and giving some ideas on some of that creativity part. I love using tools like that if they can help us.

Can you tell us more about your games’ visual design?

Jeff

That just started out as a fun idea to see if we could make some other games that were Canadian-themed. I thought that the idea of trying to think, like, “How can we do other games?” And so what's another big game that people love to do? Sudoku. And so I thought, “Okay, how can we make that Canadian? It's just numbers.” And we ended up turning them into images. And then I had to think of all these images. So it's fun figuring out which images to do that are Canada. Try not to do, like, all sports and cold-themed. We try to, you know, just spread it out into different things.

Building images was just jumping into Illustrator and having fun with creating those images and making them as simple as possible while being detailed enough that you can still tell it's something fun and Canadian. It was just an idea that we had to bring in something like Sudoku, but in a fun way that even kids can love to do. So I have a five- and a seven-year-old and they love playing the 4x4 Canoku

So it's got a 4x4, 6x6 and 9x9 grid that you can do, and each one of those has five difficulties. And so a four-year-old can play it, but someone who is an expert in Sudoku can also play it. So it's just been fun seeing not only the kids enjoy it, but also the veterans loving it, too.

How did you prolong and eventually improve the longevity of your game?

Jeff

It was a lot of work, and we were wanting a break. We started with that summer break, and then I started being like, “I could start making our own version of this and making a few efficiency changes here and here and here.” And once I was able to build that, we worked on some words as well. And we started getting confident with the fact that it doesn't have to be such a Canadian word, it can just be a word that we can then just tie into it somehow that is Canadian.

And so we started not worrying so much about the word being Canadian and just figuring out the fact that would be Canadian about any word. And with that change, we were like, “Well, this could go on for a year.” And then it kept on going and going and going. So we changed that to our own codebase. It wasn't even because of any sort of legal issue.

We just wanted our own entity, our own game. And then of course, later on, there were some copycats that were getting kind of called out by Wordle earlier this like last month or two months ago. And now that we have our own game, we don't have to worry about anything like that. It's completely written from scratch. Every single code was written by us.

So yeah, that was the benefit that came out of that.

Mark

And that was a big driver for us too, in adding ads to the game. So the first iteration, because we knew we were using a modified version of Wordle's code that was available early on and before the New York Times bought it, we said,” I don't think we should be monetizing this because this is really not our version of this code.” So the first iteration, the entire time, even when we had our peak amount of users, we didn't run any ads. We didn't have any ads running. An optional donation, if people wanted to make a donation through the Ko-Fi platform.

But we didn't add any ads. So we thought, if we re-baseline this and write it from scratch, our own version of the code, then that's something. We can drive some ads and sort of launch that, and we partnered with a media company and they added ads, and it's been running since version two of Canuckle that launched in October of 2022. So we're pretty happy.

It helps us keep the game free, it helps pay for our hosting and server costs, and it's a big part of it for us too. It helps us sustain the game.

We work with Yolla Media, and they're out in New York. Great company to work with. They've been fantastic, actually connected through them, through Waffle, who used them as their first media company. And yeah, we've been with them since the beginning.

Can you tell us more about your monetization scheme?

Mark

So, yeah, the merch side is totally for fun, but there is money to be made. The margins are not high on t-shirts and mugs and sweatshirts, but we were really fortunate to partner with a company, OhCanada Shop. It's run by a gentleman by the name of Adam who lives in Ontario, just down the road from us in Ottawa. He started this a little bit before the pandemic and has got a bunch of Canadian-themed gear and he's actually partnered with a few other online content creators and it was a natural fit. We hit it off right away.

We did some design work with him and we didn't think that this was going to be too big, but to be honest, it was a pretty big take-up. There was quite a bit of interest. We launched. We launched in the fall of 2023. So just last year, pretty big spike early on during the holidays for Christmas shopping.

Definitely leveled out in the new year. Sort of post-holiday shopping and post-Black Friday. But there's a lot of Canuckle mugs, a lot of Lucky Hoser hoodies, a lot of fun gear that's out there. I've yet to see one in the wild, like some random person wearing one, but all of our family and friends are wearing them, which is great.

Jeff

Yeah. Some of the best Canadian merch are just the ones that just say “sorry”. People love it. It's like, how more Canadian can you get just saying sorry? The ones with the unsolved puzzles are great because someone can look at them if they know the game.

They can actually try and figure out what the word is. But, yeah, it's been good fun. Yeah, we've been happy with the uptake and it wasn't really for the moneymaker, it was just to see what people would like and if there would be any interest.

Mark

As for monetization, we don't have anything else aside from merch and ads. No in-game purchases and there's no way to remove ads. You can minimize the ads by changing the size of your browser to make it a little bit less sort of in your face for some of the bigger ads. 

For the mobile game, it's really just a small banner at the top. We were really sort of diligent in making sure we didn't want screen takeovers, we didn't want full-page ads. We really wanted it to be just, you know, unobtrusive, just sort of on the side or just above for mobile games. But no, we haven't monetized any other in-game pieces. We do have a partnership with CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

They do their partner with us and so we do a word of the month that sort of features them. That's a partnership we have. But outside of that, no other monetary income channel, it's just the ad stream.

Jeff

Yeah. And we talked about doing the paying for no ads and all that. But I mean, we don't take really any information from the users, so if people wanted to pay for that, we'd have to then, you know, gather information like what's your email? And then we'd have to store that in the game and if it gets lost with the browser cookie session, then. Anyways, there are some technical issues and we just didn't want to have to mess with that.

We want to keep it clean and simple.

Mark

So, yeah, no privacy issues, no personal information stored, and we sort of like to keep it that way.

On the partnership with CIRA

Mark

Yeah, it was a natural fit for us with CIRA just being branding .ca, as we have a .ca domain that we registered through them. They actually reached out to us and said, “Listen, we'd love to be part of your game in some way.” We had not considered having branding and having a logo on there. It's actually something that we started thinking, “Hey, should we have more?” Again, wanting that cleaner look and really just having a brand that aligns with the style of our game made a lot of sense to keep CIRA as our main sponsor.

The word of the month is just another way to feature them. Every time you solve a puzzle, it always says, “powered by CIRA” at the end of the word. So people get some branding, some sort of cross-promotion. The word of the month is really a way to have a fun fact tied to an initiative that CIRA is working on.

So, for example, last month we did the word “grant”, and then we talked about grants in Canada for various programs, and then tied it into CIRA's grant program that they're working on right now. So it's an opportunity for them to be featured. And all of our daily users get a little bit of a tie into an initiative or a project or something cool that CIRA is working on. We love it because it's, you know, it's typically promoting a local Canadian business or getting accessible Internet for everyone in Canada. And it just really aligns with the type of values and sort of pumping up things in Canada, and we really like working with them.

More on partnerships

Mark

Well, yeah, we talked about the merch, which I call a partnership because OHCanada Shop has been so established and we sort of jumped on their brand. We've done two collab games with Waffle, which were really fun. We did the same thing with Squaredle, which is great and had a really good time. They did a fun Canadian-themed puzzle and we pointed people there. We had an opportunity to work with Nerdle as well, which was great. They also had a fun Canadian-themed puzzle and our fans also went to it as well.

So we're really all about cross-promotion and introducing people to new daily games, especially when we've now been a brand that's established that people want to connect with and that's pretty cool and exciting for us to work with. One of the other things we worked on was Proxi—it is an online, sort of community-driven map service and we built a map using Proxi’s platform. It’s where you can identify where you're playing Canuckle from around the world, and it's a really cool map. And every single person is represented by a bottle of maple syrup. So it's a map of maple syrup bottles all over the world. And it's actually really cool to see.

It's things like that that are certainly fun. We're totally open to connecting and promoting other games and working with lots of other online developers.

And in the topic of reaching out and being reached out to, It's been a bit of both. I'll let Jeff add to it as well. We've reached out to a few, like, I certainly reached out to Waffle and connected with them. Squaredle reached out to us, but it was sort of through Waffle. There's been a lot of sort of partnerships that different folks have just introduced.

When we were featured on CTV News, that certainly generated a bit of promo and hype that helped us sort of get some more recognition out there and that might have helped even though, for example, CIRA coming to us to partner up. So, yeah, there's certainly been a bit of both. I've absolutely loved to connect with the folks at the New York Times and Wordle and even start thinking about how could we introduce a fun fact in Wordle, and how could we sort of get some of the features that we built into Canuckle as sort of an additional thing. We often get a lot of people saying to us, “I play wordle, and then I'm often waiting for that fun fact to come up. It just sort of ends and there's nothing.”

So, yeah, if I could pick a collab or some sort of feature, it'd be really fun to work with the puzzle editors at the New York Times. What do you think, Jeff?

Jeff

And we've been talking to as well some of the National Hockey League teams. I don't know, like if you're at the game, they've got in intermission and things like that. Just a little game that pops up on the big screen and it's usually a fan that they're talking to, you know, to talk them through it, to get a prize or whatever. And I thought it would be really fun to just have a nice, simple Canuckle puzzle to put up there that's less than a minute to solve. And we talked to them and there was interest.

Canuckle giving back to the community

Mark

We were fortunate enough to be able to sponsor a local Canada Day event in Riverside South in my neighborhood here in Ottawa. It's something that I've been part of, and we thought it was a perfect theme to be able to align with the Canada Day festivities by sponsoring it with a Canadian word game. We're happy to be able to sponsor that. We were also able to sponsor a local minor hockey team that our nephew plays on, and so we're really excited to see the Canuckle name on the back of his jersey.

And it's pretty fun to think that the game that we created allowed us to be able to sponsor a hockey team.

Jeff

There's also been some words throughout and some coming up actually, where it's kind of spurred up some interest within ourselves to say, "Hey, you know what? We should donate to that." So there have been some great causes that are in our fun facts. And then, in the end, we're like, we should—as Canuckle—put a donation into that to build awareness. It's been fun having that and stuff that we wouldn't know unless we were doing this research and trying to get it out there.

Mark

That philanthropic angle is awesome for being able to raise awareness and promote things. For example, the Terry Fox Run happened last year, and we did a word that aligned with Terry, and we would drop a link to donate in the fun fact. So if we can do anything to sort of raise that type of promotion and raise awareness for people to say, "Hey, if you're able to and  could, donate to support this cause." 

It's fun to be able to raise awareness in that way through our game.

Can you tell us a bit about your marketing and promotion strategies?

Jeff

Yeah, I mean, one of the biggest things earlier on was getting it on the news, especially during COVID I mean, people wanted to know something that they could do because they're just sitting at home. That was one of the biggest things that kind of spiked up a bunch of users early on. So, yeah, that was an easy way to get the word out because we didn't have to do it. The newscast did that. So.

And it ended up being, I think it was on, it started CTV News Ottawa. And anyway, there was a link on their website, so anyone who's looking on CTV News was able to look at that and get it. And we were lucky it got picked up nationally. So it got picked up by all the CTV news stations across the country. And for sure we went into the studio and played the game live as well on CTV Morning Live. So that was a pretty nice way to help promote it, I would say. Social media certainly helped us quite a bit because of all the sharing of the scores and, and we had a lot of prominent Canadians start playing.

Mark

Like Chantal Kreviazuk started playing. Raffi, he does children's music, and he's played and posted his scores. We've got a pretty big following online and had some, you know, prominent followings and retweets from Naheed Nenshi in Alberta. Brittlestar and Rick Mercer follow us. So there's a lot of fun promotion that's helped there. When we launched our merch, we reached out to a lot of these folks and sent them some hoodies and t-shirts.

And that's helped as well, I think, to just sort of get the word out. So really, as much of that sort of online community building that we've done through, like, things like our monthly newsletter and sort of sharing all that information, I think that's really helped a lot. I'm trying to think of things that didn't work, though. Jeff, what are some of the failures or things we've learned from as we've gone through?

Jeff

Yeah, I don't know. I mean, it's also hard to tell, like, what didn't work because, I mean, you don't see the potential users that don't actually end up going to the website. It's just, for us, it's a nice constant stream. There's not really, like, a big thing we've tried to do that didn't really go very well.

I mean, we went on a neighborhood parade to Mark's neighborhood and tried to get the word out. We had to, like, float and everything for Canuckle. I mean, we didn't see a big gain in users. So we're talking about success. It was more fun to do than have it be a marketing ploy.

And, I mean, just jumping on Wordle's success was also the way we ended up reaching people. Folks were sharing their activity every day and being like, “Oh, look, I got this!” “I got three. I got it in three today!” And they're spreading the word out that way. That was one of the biggest successes earlier on, too.

Mark

Yeah, I'd agree with that. I think that's been the big thing for us, is that sharing. We ran a couple of ad campaigns through Facebook and Twitter/X just to try and run some campaigns, especially when our merch launched and different things, but we didn't see a lot of traction from that. Like, you know, you get clicks, you get different things that run. But for the most part, it's been word of mouth.

Do you two have a preferred game to play lately?

Mark

Wordle is still a daily game of mine that I play. I still love it. It sometimes gives us inspiration for our own games. I still like playing the variants, like Quordle and the others. I’d say Canuckle too, but I guess I can't really say I play it because we create the game every day, so that would be a little bit of an unfair advantage. But I definitely play Waffle, one of my other favorite word games. And, yeah, that's probably a good start to get my brain going every morning.

Jeff

So with me, I kind of have a morning ritual of going through a bunch. I start with Wordle, and I also like Connections, one where they've got a grid of four-by-four words. You have to figure out all the connections. Spelling Bee, just to keep my spelling up to snuff. And then I do Gordle, too. It's all hockey player names for Wordle. I really like to keep the old games going. And the last one is Worldle.

What’s next for you both?

Jeff

Yeah. In terms of growth. I mean, right now we're trying to figure out how we can keep it going for as long as we can just to keep the content relevant and good and not starting to get a bit too far-fetched with the connections to the facts. That's our main focus right now.

We've definitely talked in the growth spectrum, trying to figure out what we could do to maybe get some more users again. The collaborations help with that, so maybe introducing new people into the system is also a goal. But I mean, other than that, we're pretty happy with where it is. We're pretty happy that it had any success, really, that started with just, “Hey, you think we could do this?” And then it spiraled into this.

Mark

I think it's naturally been growing, too. I mean, it's been slow, incremental growth, but consistent. And things like adding a merch line were something we never would have thought we'd be doing. And the fact that people are buying and supporting our game and wearing t-shirts with our games’ names on them is pretty cool. So things like that, certainly that's been a big thing.

Adding Canoku was definitely a sort of a growth piece. It's not our main flagship game, but just sort of adding to the Canadiana and Canadian-themed game portfolio, which I think is a big piece. As Jeff said, we have words to continue. We're going to keep it going. We had considered things like expanding to six-letter words, which would open up quite a bit of things, quite a bit of additional words and puzzles for us, even a Canuckle mini version, which could be four-letter words.

But we think the sweet spot is still that classic five-letter word game, and we want to keep that piece going as long as we can. At some point, we may consider reusing some of the classic words and some of the original words that maybe people didn't play for the first 100, for example, when we didn't have as big of a following. And we might be able to reintroduce those words with a different fun fact. 

So there may be sort of like a throwback sort of reference at some point where we start to bring that back. But we're pretty proud that so far, we've had unique words every single day for almost two years, which is pretty exciting.

On the possibility of creating an app

Jeff

Yeah, that was definitely a big conversation that we had. We had to figure out, okay, how do we want to launch this? We tried to, at the beginning just emulate what Wordle was doing and have it just being a website web game. And we definitely talked about making a native app of it. We've built it right now in Flutter, so it has the ability to push out into a web or native as well.

But I mean, we like the fact that you can just have it be a part of your daily games on your web browser. I mean, people are doing Wordle, they're doing all these things. They don't want to do that and then jump out and have to go into a different app somewhere on their phone and all that. It's just there, it's easy. They know the link, it's part of their routine, so it just makes it more accessible.

I don't know, but for me, a lot of the time, an app, you might end up using it for a bit and then you forget about it. But the current version on web just makes it a nice, quick, easy way to get at it. No matter who you are, if you don't know how to use an App Store, then you can still get to our game.

Mark

Yeah. I think the other part is that the expediency of deploying to web is quite a bit better for us. We don't have to go through any approval processes through Apple or Google and going through their store. For us, we really wanted that, especially early on when we were tweaking and adding new features and making things, we really wanted that control, and we had that in being able to push to that web. It did mean that we had to accommodate browsers from 1998 and, you know, phones from 2004 and people who are holding on to devices that are still playing.

But as Jeff said, quite accessible. We've got text-to-speech built in. We've got accessible colors for accessibility mode. So it's similar to what Wordle has. And we've built all of that in as well.

And I think we have that control within as a web application.

Where can we go to learn more about you two and your creations?

You can find us on all the social platforms @canucklegame. You can definitely reach out to us via email through the game, or you can tag us or message us on any of the social media platforms and one of us will respond.

Have a game to sell?

Let’s find out if we play well together.