This Week's Waste of Time
One man, many free online games to play
By James Renovitch, 4:45PM, Thu. Sep. 9, 2010
Having played the addictive Solipskier until my mousepad begged for mercy, I figured I should give the game's co-creator, Greg Wohlwend, a closer look. The man's impressive game-design résumé is your ticket to avoiding work today, so read carefully.
Wohlwend has had his hand in creating many past Wastes of Time including the elegant fig. 8, the planet making magnetism of Tetraform, and Gray, a game about mob mentality. He also had a hand in the typing teacher/ car chase game, The Great Red Herring Chase. I recommended and continue to recommend these games.
The unifying characteristic of Wohlwend's more action-oriented creations is the way the controls feel. Gravity pulls just enough, players jump and skid in a way that is challenging without being frustrating, and unique game mechanics feel natural without excessive instruction.
Effing Hail has you destroying buildings and crushing people by blowing otherwise harmless balls of hail back into the atmosphere adding mass until you have a frozen boulder of doom. The heavier the ball the more difficult it gets to keep your destruct-o-sphere in the air. But using a 100 foot chunk of hail to level a skyscraper is just one example of Wohlwend's insights into what makes something fun.
More of a puzzle title, Protonaut shrinks things down to a microscopic level and puts you in control of a molecule gathering creature. Don't get distracted by the blurry objects floating by in the petri dish or risk getting crushed by falling heavy elements.
The best example of Wohlwend's fine-tuned player/game interface abilities is Hundreds. It's a simple premise: Balls bounce freely on the screen, if your cursor touches one the ball increases in diameter, if the ball you're touching, collides with another ball, you lose. Getting the circles big enough to move to the next level without any collisions gets very difficult. Soon you're throwing your cursor into the playing field before quickly removing it in fear. Trying to keep the trajectories of 10 or so objects in your head is no easy task. Try it and find out for yourself.
Check out his website if you want to spend the rest of the week getting no work done.