BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – If you’re looking for a way to pass the time until Bills season rolls back around, “Hurdle” might be the game for you.
Modeled after Wordle, the internet’s ubiquitous word game known for its colorful boxes and once-a-day puzzles, Hurdle lets fans try their hand at decoding a five-letter word that is always connected to Buffalo Bills football.
Hans Hansen, a 30-year-old Bills fan and software engineer from outside of Albany, has been surprised by popularity of the game since launching it last Friday.
“I’m kind of blown away by how many people liked it,” Hansen told News 4. “I was monitoring the traffic on the site, I thought maybe I’d get 250 people to do it in total. In the first day, there was more than 1,300. There was a pretty good amount of people.”
Much like Wordle, the game uses colors as feedback to let you know if you’re getting warmer. Red means you found a letter from the word, but it’s in the wrong spot. Blue means you have the letter in its proper position. Once you solve the puzzle, you can share your result with colored squares, just like the original.
“It’s all Bills words, where Wordle is just all words,” Hansen said. “There’s a lot of names of players that are, luckily, five letters. There’s a lot of football terminology that’s five letters, some Buffalo-specific things that are five letters.”
The game’s first answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, was “Allen.” The logo for the game is quarterback Josh Allen hurdling over a defender. Other answers so far were “shout” for the Bills’ “Shout” song; “train” for the train horn played in the stadium on third downs; and, on seven-letter Sunday — a new twist from Hansen — the answer was “Buffalo.”
Hansen, who also helps manage an Albany-area Bills Backers bar at McGeary’s Irish Pub, said he built the game in about a week in his spare time. Believe it or not, he isn’t a huge Wordle player himself, though he called the game a “genius” idea. He has many friends who play.
“From a pure development perspective, that’s what I was interested in,” Hansen said. “Could I develop it? Could I rewrite his code without looking at his code at all? I was able to – and what better thing to do than convert a viral game into a Bills game?”
Hansen said he built a few Easter eggs into the game that fans will have fun finding. For example: Hurdle won’t let you enter the five-letter surname of a certain Patriots legend.
Typing in B-R-A-D-Y brings up an error message.
“Brady? Really? No,” the site says.
The game won’t let you enter “ranch,” either.
“As all people that associate with Buffalo know, ranch is a big no-no,” Hansen said. “Just like it is on your wings, it should not be in Hurdle either.”
Hansen already has more than 150 words in the bank for future games, but said his Twitter DMs are open if you’d like to suggest a specific word. The game resets nightly at 7 p.m.
“I don’t expect traffic to exist there forever,” Hansen said. “I build all these projects just because I enjoy doing them. It’s not going anywhere. I’m going to keep it up, keep the words there. If people keep playing it, that’d be wonderful.”
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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.