(4) Sun Jan 23 2005 07:13 PST Not So Fast, Kid:
Kid singing the alphabet song at Trader Joe's: "Q, R, S, T, U, V, now I know my ABCs." Nobody uses those last letters anyway.
Sun Jan 23 2005 18:00 PST Crouching Software, Hidden Roundup:
Yes, it's the first Software Roundup in a year and a half! And I still
have a backlog of 137 non-game items to investigate. Since statistics prove the real draw to this site is the Game Roundup, I'm posting this first and the new GR will follow.
The winner: pypov, which I hope people more graphically inclined
than I get some good use out of. And now, the traditional prize of a limerick, soon to be a major driver in improving open source software quality:
pypov shows me why, back in the day
I couldn't use POV-Ray
They say only fools
Go blaming their tools
I've just about had it with "they".
Sun Jan 23 2005 18:11 PST It's Another Tequila Game Roundup:
And here it is, the Roundup you've been waiting for. In case you're wondering, my Game Roundup backlog is a whopping 249 games. It's madness! But it's not like this is my job or anything.
- We at Game Roundup have a soft spot for games that attempt the
nigh-impossible task of making tired game genres new. Scalar is a
jigsaw puzzle game where the mechanic is swapping two grid parts of a
picture to assemble the picture. But the quadrangles of the grid
aren't all the same size. So you can get pixillated images that
indicate that image needs to go into a smaller square. Pretty fun.
- Target Acquired
is too clever for its own good. It's a space shooter in which
projectiles acquire your ship's momentum at the time of firing. There
are only three waves, but you have to relearn the space shooter from
scratch to get anywhere at all.
- As long as I'm at it, here's Sable, by the same
author. It's a low-poly-count 3D shooter sort of reminiscent of Zaxxon
or the parts of the shareware classic Flightmare with the weird 3D
- Behold ZapM, a willy-nilly mishmash of sci-fi
cliches in roguelike form that almost captures the vibe of the
late lamented Alphaman. Its main problems are: the feeling it gives
you that lots of items and skills don't do enough to warrant their
inclusion in the game (which makes it seem incomplete rather than,
say, poorly planned), and the fact that the item system is so similar
to Nethack's despite the genre change. It's not so much that "scrolls"
are now "floppy disks"; it's that the floppy disks do things like
teleport you and improve your armor class, things not generally
thought possible in software. However I love the way wands have become
futuristic ray guns. As roguelikes go it's very short; I think it's
the first roguelike I won while evaluating it for Game Roundup. Bonus:
has more Paranoia references than any other game not actually to be a
Paranoia-themed game. Bonus bonus: the webpage links to Clan EIT, which is funny and
which links to What Fools These
- Axis of Evil is
probably the best political-themed adaptation of Space Invaders I've
seen, not that that's saying much. In Axis of Evil the space invaders
are--wait for it--ne'er-do-wells
like Khomeini and Saddam. Now, as all people bored of Space Invaders
know, the best strategy is to blast through your
protective barriers and fire through them even as you use them for cover. Well, in this case your
barriers are, political cartoon-style, labeled "Freedom", "Truth", and
"Civil Rights". Ba-dum-bum!
Unfortunately I couldn't get the game to not segfault when I tried
to start the game, but realistically the screenshot makes the same
point as the actual game. Which now that I look at the source code I
don't know if that was really the point the author was trying to
make. Oh well.
- Alien Pool is a game
with a fun mechanic described as "similar to both asteroids and pool",
which is pretty good so I won't try and come up with a better
description. Nice low-budget sound effects too. I wish more game
authors would record their own little voice clips.
- PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you've written an open source
game, Funkbunny Studios will write
the music for it. There's no portfolio on the page so I don't know if
anyone has taken them up on this offer yet.
- In this Java
"Antichess", you must checkmate your king at all costs. I bring
this up mainly to point out another kind of Antichess I think is more
Chess, which introduces a piece that loses you the game if your
opponent takes it out of check. One concept: two executions. What
inspiration will today's challenger bring?
- Tux-n-Run: I guess Run is
the other penguin in the two-player version. A mismash of artistic
styles in the splash screens is kind of creepy. The engine is pretty
good but the only level is like a bad ZZT game. Will review again when
it's a real game, if I remember. Probably the 30th or 50th game that
takes the OS wars as its metaphor.
- At the other end of some spectrum or other we have Ensemblist,
which has a great interface with which I can't do a damn thing. It
starts out with you navigating a flowchart, which is fun, but then you
get into 3D and taking the difference between two shapes and it's like
the spatial recognition test they gave Hugh and you've lost me. But
since I prize originality so much I can't give this a bad score.
- You purchased a thousand square kellicams of land on Zephulor for
a new condominium project. But when you arrived to inspect the land,
you found that Zephulor has a toxic atmosphere and is inhabited by
voracious alien slugs, as well as being full of strange platforms hovering in
midair. Now, in Adventures on Planet Zephulor
you will take your bloody revenge on the man-eating aliens who even now
invoke obscure zoning regulations to prevent you from constructing
more than six consecutive residential units without an intervening
common area! Okay, that's not the real plot of AoPZ, but there is no
real plot, so it will have to do. Hey, maybe I could offer my
freelance services to people who need a plot for their game, the way
Funkbunny Studios offers to do the music. What do you think?
Anyway, AoPZ is a PyGame platform shooter that kind of reminds me
of Jill of the Jungle. It's got big, good-looking, explorable levels
but unfortunately there's not much in those levels to find when you
explore. If like JotJ it had puzzles, more weapons, etc. it would be a
really great game. The player control needs a little work too, but it
might just be cosmetic.
- CamelTrouble is
a little arcade game written in Perl. You are a camel who must go out
in the desert to grab some monks who've gotten lost. Along the way you
must avoid vicious pythons and cups of java who will harm you. The
Freshmeat description makes it sound like the monks are at the mercy
of these desert monsters, creating a sort of Robotron hostage
situation. But in reality the pythons and java cups are completely
harmless to the monks and will only hurt you, the camel. It's got some
odd bugs (try selecting "Go" multiple times for a psychedelic
monsterfest), but it's not bad.
- Why not take two of the most-often-cloned games in history, and clone them simultaneously?
Tong takes the Tetris and the Pong and bashes them together and makes them fight like plastic dinosaurs. You play both games simultaneously and they interact with each
other in pleasing ways.
Disadvantages: you have to use keyboard and mouse simultaneously (a
weakness of mine), and the tarball is 32 freaking megabytes. Most of
that is ogg files for the soundtrack. It's a really nice soundtrack,
- Speaking of which, Tetris clones are now getting their own
clones. Exhibit A: Abandoned Bricks, which
features a Bastet mode. You'll recall that Bastet, star of a past Game
Roundup, always gives you the worst piece possible for your present
situation. Now, the bastardry is spreading. Beware! Many of the
villagers have recently reported nighttime trances wherein, under the
influence of some sinister force, they write Tetris clones. It could
happen to you!
- Graviton demonstrates a
great solution to the problem of displaying a field on which two
players are scuttling around shooting each other. Rather than
splitting the screen, the camera zooms in or out to keep both players
visible. Worth it for that mechanic alone. Not much else in the
game. Basic duelling-pyramids game. Will the red pyramid/blue pyramid
war never cease?
is a clone of an Atari 2600 game without the slow control response
time endemic to that system. You are a frog and compete with another
frog for flies. In a masterpiece of realism, frogs are represented by
labeled FROG, and flies (less realistically) by ovals labelled
FLY. It's fun and it has a great twist on the way Atari 2600 games
end. Typically in a game of this sort, where each game lasts a set
amount of time, once the timer runs out everything goes to reverse
video and I guess it's nighttime? Well in Batrachians it really is
nighttime, and instead of happening all at once the sky gets gradually
darker and stars come out. A nice touch.
- When I hear the word "gravity" I reach for my laser pistol. But Gravity Wars has
old-school Linux cred and lush Amiga graphics (Is it wrong of me to
love those Amiga-style graphics and like games just because they have
them? Why don't games these days have that kind of smooth, cartoony
graphics? Reh reh reh.). So who cares if it's a Finnish
spaceship-in-cave game? Well, I started caring when, after finally
getting all the neccessary keys to get to the next level (there are
fruit and keys, like in Super Pac-Man), I was suddenly informed that I
was out of fuel and plummeted to my death. I tell you there is
something in the Finnish psyche that makes them love to produce these
spaceship-in-cave games. I do not understand it. But man, those
graphics. Maybe there was some Amiga rendering tool that made that
style of graphic. I never even had an Amiga, have barely used one, and
I'm turning into an Amiga zealot solely on the basis of ported games.
- Spillwords is a clone of
a classic game I've never heard of. Basically you get a bunch of
Scrabble tiles and have to form a set of words out of them within the
time limit. Once you put two letters together you can't disconnect
them and change your mind later. Dragging a letter around lets you
knock other tiles around the board, creating a surprisingly tactile
experience for a computer implementation of a word game. Recommended.
- Arrows is a fun little
game of the type where your movement is constrained by arrows. There
are rules about when you can deviate from your planned course,
creating new arrows, which gives the game a nice mixture of planning
and thinking on your feet.
So there we go. Tong wins this Software Roundup, and gets the limerick:
A game that is more than one game
Is constantly changing its name
The more clones we tacks on
From Asteroids to Zaxxon
The more we put Firefox to shame