Thursday, April 24, 2008


Because I have journalistic integrity, I spent a really long time learning the rules to backgammon so I could review KBackgammon. I want those hours back, thank you very much. Short review: the damn thing works, much to my chagrin, but it's ugly as sin.

So yeah, now I know how to play backgammon. And I now know that a game of backgammon takes an hour or two to finish, when you're playing by yourself, against yourself because there's no AI. Which is probably my biggest complaint about the game: without an AI, it's not really possibly to play as a single-player game. I mean, I did but it wasn't like playing a game.

The interface is simple enough; drag pieces where you want 'em to go. Clicking buttons lets you do everything else you'd need to. If you're familiar with backgammon, you know that means rolling dice and doubling the points-value. There's a critically annoying one-second delay in between when one turn finishes, and when the game realizes that it's the next person's turn. Outside of that, the basic mechanics work fine.

KBackgammon makes up for its lack of AI with working online play, through something called FABS. I was able to make an account and login all via the game's UI, so that was convenient. In a two-player boardgame, I have to say that I think I consider online multiplayer to be the single most important thing. So good on them!

Visually, it's just ugly. Seriously, it needs a re-skinning really badly. The colors are mealy and unattractive, the pieces look a bit dithered, and it's very rudimentary. All of these KDE games are ugly as sin, but whenever I look them up, I hear people talking about how great KDE makes things look. I'm a bit confused at this point.

There's no sound. Doesn't need any.

The final summary? If you really want to play backgammon with friends on the internet, this'll git 'er done. It might not be as pleasant an experience as you'd hope for, but it works. If you have an alternative to KBackgammon, you should probably try that one first, cuz' this is just functional. Nothing more. If you want to get into backgammon, I'd recommend that you not do what I did and learn to play backgammon with this one.

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