BitDepth 494 - October 11

Simple, free games are just about all I seem to be able to handle.
Fun for free

Battle at Wesnoth

It’s one of the liabilities of coming to computers late in life that I have a poor twitch reflex, a capability that a whole generation raised on games from Nintendo, Playstation and Xbox have in abundance.
So while much of the wild ride that’s modern computing is something I enjoy even when I’m on the cusp of comprehension, I play games like an old man.
One of my private jokes about today’s highly detailed, blinding fast games is that once the demo is released, that’s all the game I’ll ever need since I never get past the first level anyway.
Fortunately, there’s a whole class of entertainment designed for people who are terminally inept at games and lack the focus to do anything more than point and click around a screen and hope to score a few points.

One of the first websites to cater to my kind of gaming, normally known among the under-25 set as “lame,” was, which began as a showcase for Macromedia’s interactive technology.
Shockwave got overtaken by Flash, a similar but more rapidly developed animation technology that allowed web browsers to run little animations. Shockwave’s sole advantage was that it allowed authors using Macromedia interactive software Director to export files from its to the web, and the gaming website became a showcase for that work.
Director’s time passed, and Flash overtook it as the preferred interface for moving pages on the web, but’s still there with a collection of games that take less time to play than they take to download and use cute line-art graphics as game sprites. offer slightly deeper games based on Real software’s Real Arcade technology (Windows only). There are dozens of games built using this retro-looking sprite technology.
Skunk lovers who don’t want to be tied to the Internet to play or own a Mac can download any of nine original titles on offer, a mix of colourful point and click, guide the mouse and find the word games suitable for anyone looking for a quick fix of fun with minimal challenge.
There’s something soothing about these online games that you won’t find in the huge, labyrinthine passages of Doom 3, and that’s the rhythmic peace of quiet, determined competition.
I clicked my way through several rounds of Office Work from, a game that allows you to name up to five virtual office co-workers before you begin a fierce war of crumpled paper with them.

While I proved to be as bad at this as I was at any slick, 3-D rendered game, the whole feel of it was different. Less tense, more fluidly enjoyable. It’s the difference between a leisurely bicycle ride down to Macqueripe and pelting around the track at the Arima Velodrome. Same pedal action, whole different experience.
Gutterball, from was even more of a hoot. Despite only average graphics, it proved to be oddly enjoyable to pick up a marble sized bowling ball and toss it down alleys modeled from pagoda bridges and ice fields.
The most engrossing free game experience I had while playing Battle at Wesnoth (, an open source effort cut from the same cloth as Warcraft and the Myth series of role playing strategy games.

Wesnoth may be free but it isn’t simple. I was pleased to note that like most commercial games these days, I couldn’t even build the skills to get out of the tutorial and the graphics, while simple by modern standards, allow the game to run on a wide range of computers running Linux, Windows or the Mac OS.
Battle at Wesnoth is turn based, so it’s a feels more like a chess game with animation and no tiled board, but even that structure allows you time to think more carefully about your next move, which will probably be wrong.
I no longer have the time to work my way through the dense, involving games that today’s young gamers consume like corn soup, but I still like to be able to pop open a diversion that’s easy to understand and lets me amuse myself by clicking away at something for fifteen minutes or so.
Getting to do that without having to pay for it is just icing on the gaming cake.
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