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"Your 'reality', sir, is lies and balderdash and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever."
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Friday Free Game: Curveball

Sometimes you need to play a new game. Just for a little while. You don't necessarily want something deep and engaging, you just want to change it up. Maybe you're bored with your current game obsession. Maybe you should be working and decide to take a 15-minute mental vacation. Whatever the reason, you might be inclined to go Googling for it, only to find that while there are plenty of free games on the Web, most of them are pretty awful (like this one, for instance).

This was my predicament, as I am sure it is for many other frustrated gamers. But if you search long enough, every now and then you find a game that's both free and worthwhile. And in the interest of the worldwide gaming community, every Friday, I will bring you a new game that brings something challenging and innovative to the table, so you have options for those times you need a change of pace.

The first Friday Free Game is Curveball, a particularly clever reinvention of the old classic, Pong. Like its predecessor, the concept is simple: keep the ball bouncing and try to make your opponent miss. Curveball is unique in that the perspective is head-on. Your paddle is positioned in the foreground, and you bounce the ball in the Z-axis against a computer opponent in the background. The physics are what make the game interesting: if you hit the ball while your paddle is moving, you can put a spin on it, causing the ball to curve, creating unique opportunities to fake out the AI. It starts out simple but gets hard pretty quickly. By level 6, I was impressed by how challenging such a simple game could be. The only significant flaw I could find with the game is that once you get to "Game Over", the only way to restart is to refresh the page. The lack of an option to play again is a bit perplexing; it's almost as if the game isn't finished. But if you have half an hour to kill, give it a try. I'll bet you hit that refresh button once or twice.


Comments on Friday Free Game: Curveball
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Sunday, July 02, 2006 6:05:00 AM
A great find! Now, may I please -oh wise blogmaster- ask you two questions?

a) How did you add the dig thingy in your posts?

b) Would you like to exchange are -admittedly relevant and cute- links?

  Comment from Blogger gnome at Sunday, July 02, 2006 9:12:00 AM
Oh, and Curveball is almost identical to an Atari Lynx Game, the name of which I can't quite remember...
  Comment from Blogger Red Bull at Monday, July 03, 2006 11:08:00 AM
Hmm. I never had a Lynx. A little Googling turned up a game called "Robo Squash" -- maybe that's the one you're thinking of?

The Digg "thingy" (as well as the link) I got through Feedburner. It's a piece of what they call Feed Flare -- clever client-side scripts that add features to your blog posts -- and this one shows either "Digg this!" or the number of Diggs if it's already been dugg. There's more information here; the developer's blog post about it is here. The info site says that he would like a subscription fee, but the free version I'm using seems to be working fine. FeedBurner also offers a "vanilla" version that is a simple "Digg this" link; I liked this one better so that I could see if anyone ever Diggs my blog posts, but I may have to post something useful first.

I'd be happy to exchange links. I've added you to my list of "Fellow Bloggers" at the bottom of the page.
  Comment from Blogger gnome at Tuesday, July 04, 2006 1:07:00 PM
Thank you so much my friend... And from now on I too have a link to your excellent blog.


(let's see how I manage with FeedFlare)
  Comment from Blogger WhoopJack at Tuesday, July 04, 2006 4:18:00 PM
gnome and red bull,
Just to be clear on the Digg feedflare service I am providing. You don't have to subscribe, but after 1000 requests are made to the service for your domain the "Digg This!" or digg counts link will direct users to an ad page. At the bottom of this ad supported redirect is the link to Digg that the user would need to click to get to the Digg story. If you subscribe, then we remove the ad supported redirect. BTW red bull, your domain is close to 1000 requests, so you'll likely be seeing the ad supported redirect links soon. I do this to help pay for the server that I am hosting the service on. I currently get over 13,000 hits per day to the service and bandwidth isn't free, yet;)

BTW, I enjoy both of your blogs.

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The Red Bull Diary is the personal pulpit and intellectual dumping-ground for its author, an amateur game designer, professional programmer, political centrist and incurable skeptic. The Red Bull Diary is gaming, game design, politics, development, geek culture, and other such nonsense.