Joyent Powers Up: Farkle

February 09, 2011 - by jacksonwest

Counting down to the Game Developers Conference, we’ll be highlighting one game a day powered by Joyent technology. Partly for an excuse to play games at work, sure, but also because our customers have developed some really fun, cool titles!

About as casual as a casual game can get, Farkle will take the unsuspecting at least a little by surprise when a couple of hours have disappeared. Based on a popular dice game also known as "Cosmic Wimpout, Greed, Hot Dice, Squelch, Zilch or Zonk," it's as if not more addictive online than it is in real life, where it has been played for centuries.

The mechanics of the game are a little difficult to explain at first if you're unfamiliar, but a tutorial video got me up to speed quickly enough. You get a cupful of dice (six, in this case) and you roll, pulling scoring dice and combinations off the table and choosing to roll what is left or bank your score. Push your chances a little too far and, ahem, "Farkle!" No points for you that round.

The quickest way to get started is to see if you can set a high score in ten rounds against any friends that have the application installed on Facebook. (However, the title, from Your Viral Games, can also be played on their site or embedded on your own, no Facebook account necessary.) But the most fun is to be had playing for chips against an opponent -- first to reach 10,000 points wins.

Like Yahtzee, the game is only one of chance on the surface. One player I was matched up with, and dutifully lost to, had won better than 60 percent of their matches spanning over 3,000 games. The duels go pretty quickly -- rarely more than ten minutes -- and the gameplay is fast and responsive, with a thirty-second timer on each roll to motivate players to keep the action moving.

Seriously, this might not be something you want to try at work. At least, not if you're on a deadline. It could eat its way through a drowsy, post-prandial afternoon if you let it. And goodness knows that throwing good points after a bad Farkle when you're playing catch-up against a better player was enough to remind me why I don't gamble with real money.