Saturday, June 22, 2024

Fun games with real-world physics


Here are a couple of quick-to-play physics games that will keep you entertained for a few hours. 'Physics games' usually assign physical properties to objects in the game, and the puzzle is learning how to manipulate those physical properties to manipulate the object.

Donut County

Meet BK, a hole-driving raccoon working for the local donut shop. His job is to deliver donuts (holes) to the citizens of Donut County. Every time he delivers a donut, he gets points in his game, and his raccoon employers get more trash.

Each delivery starts with a little hole, and the task is to drive the hole around, finding tiny little things to swallow up. As the hole swallows more and more stuff, it gets bigger and bigger, until finally it's swallowing up cars, trees, rocks and even houses.

Finally BK falls into one of his own holes, and is confronted by Mira, his best friend, and the rest of the town, 999 feet underground. They want answers — and they want their stuff back.

Gameplay is two hours at most. I'm at three hours, and I played it through twice. It's a cute game! It's fun to move the hole around and find all the little things that will fall in it.

There's a little too much story in this game, in my opinion. They could have skipped some of the story and inserted another puzzle, but it's still worth playing. The game, developed by Ben Esposito and published by Annapurna Interactive, retails at $12.99 on SteamOS. Or grab it when it goes on sale, like I did.


KIDS is a short, interactive animation, drawn by Michael Frei and coded by Mario von Rickenbach. Gameplay is only about one-and-a-half hours. Each 'scene' starts with one or more of a generic human figure. Each figure has certain physical properties, just like matter. Sometimes they attract, sometimes they repel. Sometimes they move as if they're suspended in water. They are defined by how they relate to one another while at the same time being featureless.

From the KIDS website "KIDS was made using traditional 2D hand-drawn line animation in black and white. The animation was assembled, composited and choreographed using a game engine with a custom-made animation system in conjunction with physics simulations."

KIDS also exists as an art installation and a short movie. The installation premiered at the Museum of Digital Arts (MuDA) in Zürich, Switzerland in February 2018. It's toured around the world and has been exhibited at several gaming festivals and digital art galleries. The installation is divided into three parts: interactive scenarios, an installation of up to 50 puppets and a presentation of the production process.

KIDS is only $2.99 on SteamOS.