No Dribbling: Basketball

By John Walker on January 11th, 2010 at 12:22 pm.

It doesn't look like much, but it's a bunch of fun.

I’ve been meaning to check out the enigmatically named Flash game Basketball for a couple of weeks, after spotting it via Mr Parkins’ blog, but first it wouldn’t work, and then I forgot. I remembered again! I’m glad I did. This is rather fun. As the canniest amongst you may have deduced, it’s a game based on an element of basketball – a sport in which you must put balls in a basket.

That’s what this focuses on. You might call it a penalty shot simulator. There’s a basket on the left of the screen, and a ball appears at a random position anywhere else around the court. Using an upward trajectory indicator you aim the ball as best you can to find its way into the basket. It’s automated Gorillas. It’s shooting hoops. But not on your own.

At any one time there tends to be around 750 to 1000 people playing, of which about half congregate for a two minute competitive game. This is automatic. Choose ‘play’ and if a game hasn’t started you’ll be in practice mode, with a countdown to the next game (generally no more than three minutes away). Then it switches mode automagically and you’re now competing against a few hundred others. Rather brilliantly, your score and ranking is shown in realtime between each shot, in the form of a dynamic bar graph that shows your position sliding forward or backward. (You can also create your own private groups to compete against friends.)

Scoring is based on the accumulation of distance. The longer your shot, the more metres you score. Get a clean shot (i.e. don’t hit the backboard) and your distance score is double. Getting a clean shot from 12m away is enormously satisfying. Do it with your first shot of the game (should the ball randomly position itself that far away) and you’ll likely enjoy the brief placing at number 1, and a little gold trophy appears. For about the one nanosecond before someone infinitely better at the game than you takes their rightful place.

It’s really good fun. But I can’t help thinking of ways it could be way more fun. I’d love to see it be invested with the attitudes of Flashbang’s Blurst games. Right now you only score for getting the ball through the basket. Which makes more than a small amount of sense. But when you’re shooting from the other side of the court and you catch two sides of the rim and then bounce out, it would be nice to have some compensation. Then there’s the stranger moments. A few times I’ve had the ball miss, then bounce up in such a way that it would score on its own rebound (if the game didn’t remove it before it could fall through the hoop) – that’s got to be worth something. Or the one time I scored, and the ball bounced up and scored itself again. Clearly it counts for nothing in a game played straight like this one, but man, that should at least be celebrated on screen. It’s great that scoring a clean basket is worth double, so extend that logic, make other actions worth pursuing, create different routes to reaching a high score.

The other oddity to mention is its insistence on being played in fullscreen. In a way I’ve never seen another Flash game do, it automatically resizes itself to fullscreen as soon as you click on it, which may not be ideal for your circumstances. It seems deeply odd not to give you the option to stop this from happening.

Still, in this simple form it’s a splendid way to spend two minutes, especially with the realtime competition against a few hundred invisible strangers. So as is only appropriate, boast your high scores below. Mine is currently a very beatable 161.89m (coming 32nd amongst around 500). Go do better.

And here’s the RPS group, thanks to El Stevo.

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31 Comments »

  1. sigma83 says:

    Nooooooooo

    Curse you John Walker! Curse your distractioneering ways!

  2. Nimic says:

    Well, that was stupendous!

    I decided to give it a go. I had a minute or two of practice before the first game, and I was quite frankly terrible. Then I nailed the first shot of the actual game, from a long way back, with x2. Putting me top. For about a nanosecond. I think I nailed most of my 12 yarders, though. And missed most of my 2 yarders.

  3. Naiive Melody says:

    It’s interesting that I think the game that this takes after the most isn’t any indie game, obscure proof-of-concept, or traditional MMO, but is in fact one of the most mainstream games out right now – Microsoft’s Xbox Live version 1 vs. 100. I think it was one of the first games where you were competing against 30k or more players at once (though I suppose 101 special players are considered the real stars).

    This seems like that applied to a different genre. There’s one problem – it’s a multiplayer game where the scale is so huge that there’s nothing personal in it. The way that 1v100 got over that hump was to group you with 4 others so that you had a more intimate competition going along with the greater one; it’d be interesting if this game allowed you to have a private party competing with everyone else, I suppose with separate graphs for scoring.

  4. Sam Bigos says:

    I had work to do today.

  5. Nimic says:

    I do genuinely seem to be better at the 10-12 yarders than the 2-4 yarders. And I’d say that at least half of them I’ve hit a clean shot, propelling me up the “table” after all my terrible medium range shots.

    It’s quite strange. Anyway, after three games, my best position is 62nd out of 630-something. Fun game.

  6. LewieP says:

    Flash indeed, what lovely presentation.

  7. Brumisator says:

    Fun little game, I usually manage to be in the 50% best players.
    Still, I don’T get what the bar graphs represent.

  8. Jeremy says:

    “Still, I don’T get what the bar graphs represent.”

    Percentage of shots made from that distance, perhaps? Not playing this, it’s bedtime for me and I actually do need to sleep, something that wouldn’t happen if I clicked.

  9. El Stevo says:

    I am awesome at this game. In practice mode.

  10. mrpier says:

    I’m better than 18%, go me!

  11. Joris says:

    I played this relentlessly for the past two weeks or so, until I got suspicious of the high scores other achieved. And of course, as it once again turns out, wherever there’s online rankings, there’s cheaters. After I saw this, I stopped playing and haven’t look back since.

    Bah.

  12. DeanLearner says:

    Scenario 1 – Question

    “Would you like to play this game in fullscreen?”
    Yeah sure ok, I don’t understand why but I’ve nothing against that.

    Scenario 2 – The statement
    “This game must be played in fullscreen”
    WHATEVER! BYE GAME, BYE!

    Well that was my reaction anyway…

    • Bhazor says:

      Personally I think automatic/default full screen should be the standard in mouse controlled flash games. Nothing gets me gander up more in a flash game than my mouse leaving the game and then coming back wankering up my carefully aimed shot/disrupting my meticulously placed bricks and generally being a dick.

  13. RagingLion says:

    Perversely my best go was my first: 193m and 29th. Hah! Take that Walker! (It did go downhill from there though)

  14. Skusey says:

    Just in case anyone else feels like trying this for 30 minutes, shots that bounce off the floor into the hoop don’t count. Sadface.

  15. Ian says:

    My best is 241st out of 690-something.

    It’s annoying how regardless of the placement of the shot I seem to fall the exact same amount short of the basket.

  16. MacBeth says:

    7th place out of 750… I am the (seventh) best! (took a screenshot too, for all the haterz). 255.56m FYI.

  17. Diziet Sma says:

    Ugh it won’t stop switching to full screen. Otherwise quite lovely.

  18. Ian says:

    I was first twice (twice!!!) in one round. I admittedly then flopped to 300+ by the end, but still.

  19. Andy says:

    The fullscreen thing is interesting. Me and a friend were playing it and he said “this would be easier if it was smaller”. So I thought hey yeah, why am I playing it in fullscreen? But it doesn’t let you play in windowed mode because as you said as soon as you click it goes fullscreen. We quickly realised the solution to this is to just press escape constantly, so I started a round doing that, and hey I’m winning! Then after about 30 seconds it stopped with the message “This game must be played in fullscreen”.

    So basically its to make it an even playing field….although having said that some people still have tiny 15″ monitors and some people have enourmous 32″ widescreens so, doesnt really help.

  20. CaLe says:

    Great little game but I’ve completely lost interest after seeing that hack. Too bad.

  21. Calabi says:

    So it seems that any competition on the internet that isnt heavily monitored is worthless.

  22. Vandelay says:

    Looks like even the RPS group has been broken, as a CaltrapsSux was getting around 280 every game, whilst the 2nd player was 100 less than that.

    Still quite good fun.

    Edit: Forgot to say, my best rank so far was 38th out of about 700. After being pretty terrible at it, I’m quite proud of myself.

  23. Riaktion says:

    cant. stop. playing

  24. nakke says:

    I HATE THIS GAME ARRRGH WHY DOESN’T IT LET ME STOP PLAYING AND WHY CAN I ONLY HIT THE BACK RIM OF THE GODDAM BASKET AAAAAAAAAAA

  25. Starky says:

    Found out that this game is already rife with hackers… suddenly all intrest in playing it is gone.

    Shame that.

    I suppose people will hack anything with a scoreboard to get themselves top.

  26. MacBeth says:

    Hmm. Disappointing, but to be expected. Makes my 7th place even more respectable though ;-)

    On the cheating-in-Flash-games note, we make Flash games at work – I essentially gave up trying to prevent hacking in the game (because a determined hacker can always decompile the game and sniff the messages being sent back to the server) and just put in attempted detection on the server itself for dubious score submissions instead e.g. impossibly high scores, strings of attempts in insufficient time to achieve them etc.

    Obviously that doesn’t stop everyone, and we’re always amazed how good people legitimately get at pointless minigames, but if you can prevent obvious cheating then it’s still fun for everyone…

    Having said that, I’m not sure if it would be possible to tell the difference between skill/practice and cheating by using overlays to show the trajectory etc. as seen in that YouTube vid. After a while you despair of the human race, really…

  27. Kavika says:

    Never understood why people would reference the gorillas version of this game all the time. However, maybe that’s because I had a C64 until pentiums were just about to come out :) Yes, I used QBASIC, but I played a lot more artillary on the Apple 2 than gorillas on the PC. Did play a good amount of Tank Wars, though…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery_game