400 Years: a surprisingly short game

Boing Boing linked today a quick, fun flash game called 400 Years, Here's the link to play, in which you play a strange little stone totem who has only 400 years to stop some great catastrophe. It took me a little playing around before I realized that you didn't just get to wait forever -- that whenever you waited, you were wasting time before the catastrophe hit, and you could conceivably wait the whole four hundred years, and lose.  I did fine the first time through, then I decided to check out what happens if you don't make it.

At top waiting speed, you only pass about a year a second, so it took a while.

While you're waiting, you see the world change before your eyes.  Where I stopped to lose the game, I saw two trees grow from saplings to extraordinary heights, then fall down, and new saplings sprouted in their place.

The game involves waiting for huge periods of time, but it also occasionally involves doing stuff -- manipulating physical objects like seeds you need to plant.  These seeds dry out and go away if you hold them while you're waiting, so sometimes you need to figure out how to get around without using the tricks of the long time scale.

Loss-condition spoiler below the fold:

You don't actually get to see what the catastrophe was that you failed to stop, if you don't beat the game.  The waiting stops suddenly, the earth begins to shake, the screen goes white, and then you see an image of burning trees, and the message,



The win/lose conditions are pretty cool, but the story you see unfolding on the timescale of centuries is even more beautiful.  I highly recommend this game.  Here, again, is the link.

Miner Rescue: a pretty cool game

I just spent like 20 minutes playing this game, so I really feel like I ought to blog about it.  Besides, fun little online games are great and deserve attention. The game is called Miner Rescue, and I got the link from Boing Boing. In it, you rescue miners from a mine infested with aliens.  Which is a great premise.  I'd totally watch that movie.

Here are some tips for things I screwed up:  You need to get the scroll from the commander above-ground before you can rescue any miners.  At some point, I'm not sure if you can get it right away, she'll also give you a sword that kills the aliens much faster.  And don't touch the red obelisk, it revives all the aliens.

Here you go -- save some miners.

Entanglement: a strategy guide

Minecraft doesn't work on my Chromebook, so I've been killing time playing Entanglement, a freemium game that's listed as one of the basic apps on Chrome.  I would like to discuss some of the strategies I've experimented with, and their relative success rates.

Simple survival

My initial strategy, when I was just figuring out how the game worked, was to try and fill up the whole board, figuring that the longer I stayed alive, the more points I was likely to end up with by the end.  This strategy yields very poor results -- the way scoring works in Entanglement, you get cumulative points based on the number of tiles your line passes through.  If you just pass through the one you place, you get 1 point.  If you pass through 2, you get 1 point for the first one, and 2 points for the second one: 3 points.  3 tiles is 6 points, 4 tiles is 10 points, and so on.

Simple line maximization

This is also a sub-ideal strategy -- every move, I did what I could to maximize the number of tiles I passed through while still coming out alive.  (If you hit either the center piece or any of the edges, your game ends.)  It doesn't tend to create much opportunity for big scores.

Safe Ring

This strategy entails creating a ring of tiles in the space between the center tile and the walls, so you maximize the number of tiles you can pass through that can't possibly drive you into a wall.  As a result, the mid-game tends to go along freely and comfortably.  It was the first remotely successful strategy I attempted.

Safe Island

This strategy entails carefully placing tiles around the center tile, using the corner and loop shapes, to construct a safe zone wherein no paths actually lead to the center tile.  My goal, similar to the Safe Ring strategy, was to make it impossible to hit a wall while still easy to move freely around the board.  It worked in theory, a couple of times, but mostly doesn't work because you just can't rely on getting the right tiles.

Building the Endgame

This is the strategy that yields the best results, as far as I've been able to tell.  You try your best not to die while carefully keeping track of another path, one you haven't yet taken, which you make as long as you possibly can -- then, once you're pretty much out of other options, you take that path into the wall to which it probably leads, raking in hundreds of points in one final, glorious move.