Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Beautiful Open Source Puzzle Games

The beauty of a (puzzle) game is not only what we see and hear, but also what we feel when pressing buttons and moving the mouse. Controls are important and I prefer them crispy.

No free software puzzle game has more flavor than Krank. The player piece is a string of circles, which follow the cursor to collide with smaller pieces, which need to be connected to static pieces in different combinations. Unfortunately I fail at recording videos of the game and screenshots can't communicate the feel of the movement and sounds.. Speaking of movement, the controls are not as sharp as they should be, according to my ideal. However, this seems to fit the game very much, slow music, slow pace, 'swimming' controls. At first I was frustrated, because trying to do precise movements quickly leads to disaster (or just a harder time finishing levels than if you would do it slowly) but then I learned to relax.

Anyways, you have to try the python-based game for yourself! Just listen! :)

Cuboid-Clone is a nice and simple Panda3D-based puzzle game. If I understand correctly, the levels are cloned 1:1 as well, which would be rather disappointing. If anybody feels like braining some levels, here are instructions.

Cuboid-Clone download link here. The code license appears to be BSD (let's assume 3-clause).

I always loved Zaz' sound effects and now it has prettier backgrounds, and as I believe, freely licensed music (although author info is missing). The replay-video generation function now works without stealing focus, but I advise against uploading the resulting .ogv file to YouTube. :)

If you're a web designer, you could help the developer out with building a web page for Zaz.

In Waymark, you move a piece around in turns, your paths are defined by static blocks, that keep you from falling over the edge of the screen. Collect other pieces and reach the exit is the goal. Thanks to Danc's lovely pixel art (which is freely licensed under CC-BY) and the fitting sound effects (license unknown), Waymark is a pleasure to play.

There is one big problem with the game: movement is way too slow. This confuses me, because I am sure that I played the game a few months ago and movement was very quick. The current version number is 2009-01-10, perhaps the developer forgot it's 2010 and recently released a new version? Or am I having troubles with running Java apps once more?.. In any case, I'll try to convince the developer that this game needs quicker movement. :)

EDIT: If you have trouble starting the game (version mismatch) read this. If you happen to have troubles with Java apps in general (because you are perhaps using a tiling window manager) tell me so in the comments and I'll add a solution to that to this post.

EDIT2: It appears, that I first tried the windows version and that movement in the win version is faster, than the developer intended. The bug was a feature, and a great one. :( Also the developer confirmed that 2009-01-10 is the correct date.

PS: I totally forgot JAG! One of the zagillion connect-four-based block puzzle games, I don't even know what it is a clone of or if it is original! In any case, graphics and sounds are far from programmer art. I'm enjoying this great game from time to time and my only complaint is that the bonuses (pay points to destroy all blocks of one kind and similar) are not properly introduced. Maybe they are described in some readme, but for such a colorful puzzle game, the only proper introduction is having a shiny fat arrow pointing at them when I have accumulated enough points to use them the first time. :)