Anyhoo, that aside, I've decided on a couple of modifications to the game, as usual I cannot settle on an idea for longer than 5 minutes!
So I've done the usual thing of running through all the in-game scenarios in my head, and have decided that the powerup thing is slightly out of place as the pace of the game will be so fast that you wont exactly have time to coordinate any effort into getting the word you desire into play. So I needed to think of a way to take the intensity out of the idea. I think the intensity comes from the opponent having direct control over the word you potentially end up with. So I figure that instead, I'll only have the pickups affect the word you are battling to use, that way, once you get a word you like, you don't have to worry too much about the opponent messing up your plans and can concentrate solely on scoring.
Of course the odd rare pickup might do something fiendish such as swap words with your opponent, just to spice it up a little ;) I think I'd also like a good excuse to get some nice particle effects in there... the game lacks anything really nice in the visuals department so far and a few sparks when the puck collides with a wall would go a long way to making it look a little nicer. I can then also use the particle system to create energy bolts and various other effects which I may implement through pickups.
I figure I might even go so far as to allow the ability to defeat your opponent by other means (i.e. shooting them), but I'm not sure if this is overkill.... I should really avoid feature creep and if the concept gets too wierd it may alienate players... gawd knows it's different enough as it is!
Anyhoo, I'm starting work on the madlib system tomorrow or Friday (I've done the class protoype this evening), I'll see how it pans uot, how it plays in reality, I'll draw text using D3DXFont for the time being as it keeps things easy, and then I may update it sometime in the future to use a nice bitmapped font, I do find that plain coloured text does look somewhat dull in a game, so I'm pretty much convinced that bitmapped fonts are the way to go, though I will probably keep it simple as I really don't think it'll be worth delving into spacing issues and suchlike (a lot of work without much impact for a game of this scale I think).
Anyhoo, thanks for reading my ramblings if you have... perhaps soon I'll post some pictures too as I know a journal lacking in pictures is never quite as interesting a read.