A week of games: Chess is too hard and Gnometris is really bad

Scott Ritchie scott at open-vote.org
Mon Sep 10 10:48:52 UTC 2007

I moved apartments last week, and could not get online until now.  I had
just installed Gutsy before moving, and without internet there was
little to entertain me other than the default games that ship with

I played every game, some of them a lot, and when something annoyed me I
wrote it down.  Most of them work just fine.  We can't expect every game
to be fun for everyone, and fortunately every game we have should at
least appeal to someone.

Two of the games, however, bother me: Chess and Gnometris.

Chess works fairly well.  The trouble is that we only ship one AI, and
even in easy mode it requires a solid amount of thinking for me to beat.
This is too difficult; we need a chess difficulty that an 8 year old
child can beat. See

Chess also has serious usability issues.  Rather than a new game with
sensible settings, by default the chess window loads the previous game
played.  If I wanted the old game I closed I would load it myself.
Worse still, there is no obvious way to close it (instead you must click
Game->end game), and starting a new game unexpectedly shrinks the board
and opens a tab.  We should seriously consider eliminating the tab
functionality from chess altogether.  Chess isn't like Firefox; a user
who wants two separate games can very easily open the program twice, and
unlike web browsing almost no one will want to rapidly hop between them.
See https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/138574

Gnometris, however, has more serious issues..  The controls are very
unresponsive (bug # link) around level 3, making even basic play
extremely frustrating.  Nothing is more aggravating in Tetris than
letting go of the move key and watching your piece keep flying across
the screen beyond your control. See

The interface has serious problems too. The starting level, number of
pre-filled rows, and density of blocks in a pre-filled row are all
nonfunctional. They snap back to 0 immediately. The default background
is also the blue Gnome foot, contrasting sharply with the default theme.
We'll need to remember to replace it with a nice Ubuntu logo before
release. See

Scoring is also completely broken.  The scoreboard doesn't track the
number of lines you remove, and unlike every other Tetris implementation
there are no bonus points for dropping a tile early.  Worse still, the
points make no sense. Scoring 4 at once is 7.5 times as valuable as
scoring 4 lines separately, yet both advance the level the same.
Combine the unresponsive controls with this scoring system, and the game
degenerates into little more than trying to line up Tetrises until you
get to level 5 when it becomes impossible to place a piece where you
want it. See

Chess is quite playable, however the situation with Gnometris is so bad
I'm going to recommend we don't include it by default unless these
issues get fixed.

Scott Ritchie

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