Thursday, 3 June 2010

How to play Google Pacman - rules, tips

It's excellent news that Google decided to keep their Pacman game going.

You can carry on playing it here (or click the image above). Not so good news for the world's productivity, according to the BBC!

I confess that like this guy I was initially stumped about how to play it as I tried dragging it with the mouse at first. The comments on his video typify a certain approach to technology which I feel is deplorable - rant follows at the end.

So the step by step:

  1. Go to Google Pacman game.
  2. For those who've never played it before (and yes they do exist, like the friend whose question to me triggered this blog post), see the rules on game play in Wikipedia.
  3. In brief, eat up all the dots before you get eaten by the coloured monsters - some move faster than others, watch out for the red and pink ones! You have 3 lives. Eat a blinking pink dot and the monsters turn blue, and while they're blue they can't eat you but you can eat them instead (and get points for that), and their little eyes fly back to the central box to be reincarnated another time. Sometimes the blue monsters flash to warn you that they're going to change back to their original colours, when they can eat you again. For extra points eat (run over) the blinking fruit etc that appears in the middle sometimes. Eat up all the dots, you get to start a new game (but with no extra lives, just the ones you had left before). There are "back doors" on the left and right, run through those and you'll come out the other side. More little fruits on the right stack up when you've won games (you start with one for free). Your score ratchets up in the numbers top left.
  4. To start playing - click "Insert Coin". (You're supposed to be able to wait a few seconds and it'll start, but I found that a bit erratic.)*
  5. To move the Pacman:
    1. Keyboard: use the cursor (arrow) keys.
      1. Tip: just tap once the arrow key for the direction you want it to go; you don't have to keep holding the key down.
      2. Tip: you can tap the key for the next direction in advance, e.g. if it's going right and you want it to go up next, you can tap the up arrow while it's still moving right and it'll take the next up, even though it's not reached the junction at the point when you tapped the up key. Makes it easier that you don't have to time it precisely to tap the exact moment it reaches the junction!
    2. Mouse: click "on the maze", Google said. What they really mean is, click once to the left of the Pacman if you want it to go left, to its right if you want it to go right, etc. But there has to be a clear straight line of movement between the Pacman and where you want it to go (you can't make it go round a corner with one click, you have to click twice!). Whereas with the arrow keys you can tap a key in advance for the next direction you want it to go so control is much better with the cursor keys. So it's really such a good idea to use the mouse.
  6. To mute the sounds: click the little speaker icon bottom left. X next to it and greyed out means it's been muted. Click it again to unmute.


Beating the monsters. As the Wikipedia article points out, the monsters do move in a set way and if you've the time to spare you can probably work out a pattern of movement to maximise your chances of winning and getting the most points! You can lurk near a flashing pink dot till ghost monsters are near you before eating the pink dot, so you can catch the monsters before they can run away too far.

Two players. There's a two player game option as an "Easter egg" - click "Insert Coin" again to get a second "Mrs Pacman" (and separate scores for 1 up and 2 up). To move Mrs Pacman, use the w a s d keys (w=up, a=left, s=down, d=right). So 2 people can sit to the right and left of the keyboard and play at the same time! Be warned, if one gets eaten, both die.

iPhone, iPad, Android. Word is this works on iPhone & iPad too - see this video. I also tried it on my Android T-Mobile G1 phone, and while you're supposed to be able to move it by swiping the screen (particularly black margins at the right and left of the playing area), I found it rather erratic in terms of responding - sometimes it did, sometimes it didn't!

Download. There's a download of the game for offline play too (via The Next Web). Unzip / extract the downloaded file and open "Play GooglePacman.html" to start the game.

Techno elitism - a little rant

I don't think it's necessarily obvious at all how to play Google's Pacman game.

Maybe I make too much of it, but to me this sort of thing smacks of a kind of techno-elitism, perhaps unconscious, which in my view ain't good. As regular readers know, I am very against some techies excluding people. Just because you don't understand tech jargon or unwritten tech rules doesn't mean you're stupid or not as good as those who do; it only means that you haven't learned the jargon or rules yet.

Some non-techies may try dragging the Pacman with the mouse. That of course doesn't work. The j and k keys, which Google seem to use for navigation e.g. in Google Reader, don't work either (they're what I tried first, myself). Yes the Google blog post says to use the arrow keys, but many average Google searchers won't think of looking there.

Remember, when asked what is a browser, most people didn't know - indeed, when asked what browser they use, I've found myself that a lot of people say "I use Google"! They shouldn't be excluded from using the internet - or from playing Google Pacman.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm half-way with you on techno-elitism, but you must admit there are some people who refuse to even look for directions or definitions. One person I know was directed to pull down the Help menu in IE and type the term into the Search box, and although he had been using it for ten years, had never noticed it was there. What's more, he does this helpless thing and doesn't even try! And then after he was directed to the Help menu, he said he couldn't find the Search box, but there was Index and Contents. This would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.

This same fellow thinks nothing of asking me for answers he could easily find on his own if he only used Google. It's as if he purposely wants to appear helpless and then yell at me when I'm patronizing. ("To find the 'Help' menu, put your cursor in the extreme upper left corner of the glass -- he doesn't know the difference between a 'window' or 'desktop' and then move it slowly from left to right and read the words underneath the little arrow pointer.") My point is, at least TRY. Don't be helpless. Would it kill you to learn twenty terms like "window," "desktop," "application," "Help files," and learn how to rename files and folders and learn how to organize them.

Phew! I'm glad I got this off my chest.