My favorite casual games to play on Linux

Play a video game on Linux while your open source code compiles.
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Gaming with penguin pawns

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I love a good game that you can immerse yourself in for hours, but I don't always have the luxury of ignoring daily tasks to disappear into a video game. Still, I do love a fun challenge from time to time, and two of my favourite applications to launch when my computer gets busy doing something that I need to wait on are games from the KDE Games package: KBlocks and Kolf.

KBlocks

My favorite video game involves blocks falling from the sky, and ideally landing in rows which magically disappear when blocks are contiguous. KBlocks is one implementation of that format, and it's a good one. It's got responsive block rotation with Left and Right Arrow, adjustable faster fall with the Down Arrow, instant fall with Spacebar, There are a few different levels of difficulty to control how quickly blocks fall.

The default theme of KBlocks is ancient Egyptian, which has no bearing on gameplay but can be pleasant for Egyptophiles. You can change the theme, though, in the Configure KBlocks menu item. An alternate theme called Plasma is included, or you can click on Get New Themes button and download user-contributor themes.

KBlocks Invaders by José Jorge

(Seth Kenlon, CC BY-SA 4.0)

The theme is purely aesthetic, but for the artistic type, creating a theme for a casual game could be a fun way to contribute to an open source project.

A gateway game to the KDE Plasma Desktop

I'll admit, KBlocks is difficult for me to put down. In fact, it was my desire to play games during meetings that led me to find the M-x tetris command in Emacs, which in turn caused me to discover, and fall in love with, Linux in the first place. There's great power in this game. Maybe KBlocks will be the way you discover the KDE Plasma Desktop?

Kolf

I don't like golf in real life, but on the computer miniature golf is a pleasantly frustrating mix of simulated physics and fun level design. With Kolf, the goal is as you'd expect: hit a golf ball into a hole. The destination is, of course, always around a corner, over a hill, past a pond, or behind a wall, so it's your goal to calculate ball speed, friction, incline, and trajectory with such perfection that you get the ball home in as few hits as possible.

It's never as easy as it looks, and I don't think it ever gets old to watch the golf ball bounce off of objects and roll down hills that you never intended for it to go near.

Designing your own course

The fun really begins when you try your hand at designing your own miniature golf course. Yes, Kolf has a level editor, in which you can build walls, place ponds and hills and sandtraps, add pinball-style bumbers, and more.

Because Kolf can be a multi-player game, it's especially fun to give each player five minutes to design a level, and then see who does best at whose level.

Linux KDE games

These aren't by any means the only two games from the KDE project. There are many others, including card games, tile games, and arcade games. The nice thing about the KDE Games package is that they contain games you're happy to walk away from at a moment's notice, and they only require about a fourth of your attention. I use these to kill time while compiling code. Sometimes I don't get a full game in, but I always appreciate the subtle shift in mental gears.

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Seth Kenlon
Seth Kenlon is a UNIX geek, free culture advocate, independent multimedia artist, and D&D nerd. He has worked in the film and computing industry, often at the same time.

10 Comments

My favorite casual games:

GPlanarity (http://web.mit.edu/xiphmont/Public/gPlanarity.html)

AisleRiot solitaire (http://www.solitairecentral.com/games/Aisleriot.html)

Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection (https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/puzzles/)

All three of these are bundled with most Linux distributions. For Debian/Ubuntu, the package names are "gplanarity", "aisleriot" and "sgt-puzzles", respectively.

Aisleriot is one of my go-to game apps too. I particularly enjoy the super hard "Agnes" variant. And by "enjoy", I mean that in the stats it shows that I've won only once in 340 attempts.

In reply to by David C.

Kmahjongg is my favourite of the KDE Games collection!

(And I just remembered I used to play a mahjongg game on Windows 95/98 called Taipei, it played some relaxing oriental music during the game, which was very nice! I'll see if I can make a wish request for a similar feature for KMahjongg)

I also enjoy Kmines, KNetWalk and Killbots.

I'm an amatuer gamer since 1996 and played on so many classic and modern consoles. The only platform which I couldn't feel the passion for is Linux. Except for Steam, I'm not comfortable playing (simple) games on Linux. I think the reasons are:

- lack of basic game design and principles in Linux community
- lack of basic gaming community around Linux
- lack of basic UI/UX/DX

What do you think?

Is gaming as a platform-specific thing any more? I know historically that there were lots of companies that produced simple games for Amiga and DOS and so on, but it seems like that's transitioned to "indie" developers now. Games get produced often across platforms or for the web, and are posted to Itch.io and Flathub.org, which are where I go for many of my favourite quirky simple games for Linux. If you haven't scraped those sites for games, give them a try.

In reply to by Novid Emami

I can recommend Minetest - like Minecraft, but with many, many plugins.

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