I’ve been having a fun time playing a new web-based multiplayer game called, Sink My Ship. Sink My Ship is a remake of the classic Battleship, a game which I have seen many times before online. However, what makes this one special is its in game chat, drag and drop functionality, and the fact that it’s built with Ajax and Java to bring you real-time multiplayer action. Certainly, I can’t pass up a good ol’ game of Battleship, so I’ve played a few games with some friends (yes, I won… once), spoke to one of the four makers of the game, and have overall enjoyed playing the game.
The game features a lobby where everyone can chat, see who’s online, and accept challenges to play. If anything, this section actually impressed me the most out of the whole game because of all the real-time data and actions being made. First, you login to the game with any name without need of registering making it very quick to get in and play. Immediately you will see a main chat on the left in that everyone in the lobby can communicate. To the right you will see a listing of battles that are in progress or awaiting someone to join and right below that all online players – both updating in real-time as well. So, at this time there are already three constantly updated areas (chat, games, and online players).
Now, lets take it a step further and chat to an individual player. On the right of each player name is an comment icon that when clicked will bring up a private instant messaging window where you can talk one on one with the player rather then in the lobby chat. You can drag and drop, minimize, and close these windows at any time just like a normal Instant Messenger (reminds me much of the early beta stage of Meebo, which is a good thing). You can even open more then one Instant Message window and have conversations with each of your friends. All this while a main chat, games list, and who’s online list are actively updating in the background. There’s quite a bit going on in this one lobby, explaining why it impressed me the most. Now, enough about the lobby. Let’s take a look at the actual game play.
To begin a game, first login (no registration) and either click on the “New Game” button or wait for another player to battle. You will know a player is awaiting a battle because the Games list on the top right will show a “Join Game” button on the side of the players name when the player has activated a new game. You can talk to the player in the lobby before playing or you can simply wait until your game is set because there happens to be a private chat for the two of you during the battle as well. Once in a game you will need to setup your fleet of ships. Using simple drag and drop, place each ship in your area to the left. Once you’ve completed this you will continue to the game and await your opponent to complete their fleet. You then go one at a time until, well, you sink all their battle ships. Each move you make is processed in real-time to your opponents screen displaying attempted bombs and successfully bombed squares. When the game is complete, the winner will see a nice large winner’s graphic while the loser sees a fiery graphic. Then you end up chatting again and starting another game (yes, it gets addicting).
For the most part, Sink My Ship is great and I had a fun time playing it without problem. I was also happy to see activity in the forums from the Sink My Ship Team with posts on fixing bugs and making feature requests happen. There are a few improvements that come to mind, but they all seem to be mentioned in the forums already with response from the team members. The first thing is dealing with instant login and registration of users. Currently, there isn’t registration which is excellent because I love being able to play in an instant. But I think it would make for a much better game if it were an option to register because let’s face it, everyone loves competition and if I can login and view how many games I’ve one compared to my friends, I’d be a happy player. The second improvement that comes to mind is to increase the size of the Instant Message windows and make the message font a tad bigger because it’s a little difficult to read at that size. Lastly, and I’m not sure if it’s possible or not, but a computer player would be excellent because there were times that I wanted to play, but no players were available. Not only that, gives players something to practice with! I’ve seen the registration and computer request in the forum, so I know I’m not alone there.
The main thing that struck my interest with Sink My Ship was what it has achieved in a multiplayer sense using Ajax technology. It makes me wonder where the limit is with online games without the need of browser plugins and extras. Questions like, “How ‘real-time’ can one get with an Ajax multiplayer game?”, repeatedly comes to mind these days seeing one game stepping it up after another.
Note: Make sure to view the Sink My Ship Blog which contains development updates and some very helpful tutorials on Ajax.
Lastly, if you happen to check out the game tomorrow, keep an eye out for my name, “bbenzinger,” and we’ll chat and possibly play a game or two ;-).