Monday, January 14, 2008

AiseRiot Solitaire

Wow. I didn't expect this to take more than a few minutes of me going "Shit, I'm bored with Solitare in Windows, and now I can safely say I'm bored with Solitaire in Linux." Then I discovered the "Select Game..." option, and found out that there are way more variations to solitaire than I had ever imagined, or even wanted.

I briefly flirted with the idea of playing all of them, but quite frankly, solitaire is not my gaming cup of tea. It's a thing you do when you're waiting for your place in the queue at FilePlanet, not something you do for fun. Or even for scholarly gaming research reasons. That said, AisleRiot Solitaire in Linux is definitely a better experience than playing Solitaire in Windows.

For two reasons: the first one I've already mentioned, namely, the variety. Some of these games made my head hurt, not aided by the fact that I was playing them while intoxicated. I take back every thing I ever thought but didn't have a chance to say about the lack of complexity in casual games. 'Agnes' is my new favorite solitaire-game. It's over quickly, it's easy to understand, and it's a game you play for points, rather than a game you play to win or lose, which adds deeply to the addictive-replay thing. (full disclosure: you can play it to win or lose, but since I always lose, I play to maximize points; if solitaire is your life, you may win more often than not, though I doubt it)

The other reason? The features! First thing I noticed is the card-size scales to the window-size. If I maximize the game, I'm playing with bigger cards, not just playing with the same tiny cards with a lot more space between them. I've always been annoyed by that in the Windows version of Solitaire; when you're at 1024x768 which is actually pretty low resolution these days, you've got an ass-ton of empty green space and tiny little cards. Not so, in this AisleRiot thing. The cards are constantly re-evaluating how they should look so as to maximize the space available. It's a small thing (is that a pun?) but it was immediately apparent.

Then you've got the hints. When you're totally brain-dead - which is really the only time playing solitaire on the PC is anything like a fulfilling experience - it's nice to be able to hit a button and see a move. Mind you, it's not like there's a lot of AI behind the hit system. It just gives you a possible move. Not always the best move, and it doesn't seem to go any deeper than the obvious; it can't differentiate between "You can move some cards around and win this!" and "You can move some cards around, but you'll still be fucked!" but for a simple (or not-so-simple) game of solitaire, I think any more advanced hint-system would ruin the game.

Downside? The backs of the cards aren't readily changeable. There may be an option for it I didn't see, but I did look around a bit, and there wasn't any obvious way to change it. I like to play with the roses on the cards in XP. Due to the scaling nature of the cards, they're often kinda fuzzy looking. Graphically, it's not as crisp or as easy to customize as the version found in every Windows environment from 3.1 on. But the gameplay features, and the scalability, totally make up for that. Linux wins the nonexistent solitaire-war.

Bonus points for the name making me think about shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

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