Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Okay, I got a bit hysterical there with that Gnometris review. Not a lot of sleep, a hell of a hangover, and (let's face it - there was some truth there) an abysmal port of a classic game will do that to ya.

Iagno is much better. It's a port of Othello and it's well implemented, with a decent (minimalist) interface, nicer graphics than it needed (it could have just been a bunch of circles; instead it's like, a bunch of texture-mapped circles with wood-grain around them, or at least a couple of tiles that look that way), and more features than I expected.

I should mention that I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I hit the multi-player only games, as I really have no interest in playing multi-player games. I know they're all the rage these days, but I cut my teeth on single-player CRPGs, and while I make occasional forays elsewhere, I generally don't venture anywhere near the online-only offerings that Microsoft is determined to destroy solid franchises with (I'm lookin' at you, Shadowrun) because... well, I'm not social. I don't want to get to know you better, and I don't want the guilt of letting you down while I learn the ropes.

Which is to say, I decided to test the 'Network Play' of this game only to discover that the game (and anything else that uses the same gameservers, apparently)
doesn't get much network play. The default server had two people on it, and one of them was called "ServerBot" which sort of leads me to believe s/he wasn't a people. Sigh of relief! I don't have to awkwardly approach someone and ask them to play Iagno with me.

The game itself is the Othello you remember from your childhood, if you're old enough to be from an era when people still played board games. I kinda suspect that outside of Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit no one really does, anymore. Obviously, those board-games which are marketed to my friend Doug and have zombies or ancient battles don't apply; I'm talking about straight-up old-school board-games. And I'm really talking a lot about irrelevant things, aren't I?

Chin up and onward we go! There are two players, black and white. I'm not going to bother explaining the basic rules because a.) I think most people know them already, and b.) I tried and it was very wordy and not very helpful, so I erased it. You click on the board to place a piece; it tells you if a piece can't be placed there, which is always nice. There are appealing smooth animations every step of the way, and appropriately subdued sound-effects. It allows for alternate tile-sets, although there are only two by default, and the other one is a hideous red n' yellow combo. What's up with all this yellow in Linux-game tilesets?

To sum up, this is yet again more of the same. I am beginning to regret starting with the games that come with Ubuntu because they're all marketed at... well, boring people. I can't imagine what sort of person comes home from a 9-hour day at work and says to himself "I think I'll play Othello against my computer." Unless they have set themselves to playing every game available via Ubuntu's default sources, anyways. It's just not fun.

Mind you, it's a solid enough time-waster. If Solitaire didn't exist, this would be something I wouldn't mind playing while I waited for a download to finish. As long as it was a short download. But with its pass/fail nature, playing multiple games in a row turns tedious rather quickly, as opposed to addictive, and it just seems kind of sad. If I were playing against my room mate, I would probably enjoy it, but setting up another Linux box in the living-room just to play Iagno against a real human opponent seems even sadder.

In short, while it's well done, I don't see any reason for this to exist. I'd rather play it on a real board, or not at all. It does, however, get bonus points for a.) an amusing making-of story in the help-file, and b.) stating that its 'known bug' is that the computer opponent is too easy. I suppose it goes without saying that the computer opponent mauled me pretty regularly.

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