Orbs.it

About a month ago, someone on the generals.io discord introduced me to Orbs.it. At the time, I decided not to share it further because that would probably be very detrimental during finals season; now, though, at least MIT’s finals are over.

It’s quite a fun simple game; I’d recommend checking it out. During its early days, there was a noticeable rate of connection issues, but at least for me, things seemed to have gotten much better. Like generals.io, it is a browser-based comparatively-minimalist game with 8 players in the most common mode, so I could actually make a lot of my commentary of the game in comparison to generals.io. I’m not going to go over how playing Orbs.it works here; if you go to the game and play a round it’s really quickly to asborb how the game works. It’s probably a coincidence that both games support 8 players per game; 8’s a nice round number to choose for player quantity.

Orbs.it is arguably even more minimalist than generals.io; there’s just 24 orbs rather than a whole playing field, no orb has intrinsic attributes that make them different in capacity to other orbs (unlike generals.io’s mountain tiles and city tiles), and there’s just two power-ups a player has at disposal. It’s a really simple rule set, and yet the game still has interesting possibilities in strategy consideration (though probably not nearly as deep as in generals.io). I really like this combination of two properties in a game.

Movement acuity probably matters more in Orbs.it, given that the Orbs actually move without player impulse. Neither Orbs.it nor generals.io is absolutely turn-based in nature or absolutely a dynamic game, but are somewhere in between, with Orbs.it being more towards the dynamic side.

One aspect I definitely appreciate better in Orbs.it is substantially greater fairness; players spawn in roughly evenly spaced orbs, and because the margin of interaction is rather finite, the original state has only that much variation in luck due to other players’ decisions. Free-for-all generals.io is quite plagued by the issue that most of the community agrees that happening to spawn in the center of the board is a massive disadvantage. Unlike generals.io, Orbs.it does not allow a supermajority of queueing players to decide to start a game with less than 8 players; fortunately, I have never found waiting for 8 players to be playing the game to take really long. (Which of course prompts the paranoid question: huh, are there planted bots?)

But the thing that I really like about generals.io is actually something not in the gameplay itself, but how generals.io maintains a copious public profile per player, in which all replays are publically accessible, which facilitates spectating for interest, learning for strategy, and easy outing of cheaters. Of course, generals.io does a truly exemplary job of this, so it’s quite a high bar for making comparison. Orbs.it also has a profile page:

orbsitprofile

, but it’s not public, and although results for each game are saved (the right column), just the results and some basic stats and not a replay is saved:

orbsit_firstgame

(This was my first game of Orbs.it.) It’s unclear to me whether saving a replay of an Orbs.it game may be substantially harder than saving a replay of a generals.io game. Supposedly, the trajectories of orbs are deterministic from certain starting values, so one would need to save those, starting locations, and times of shooting and deploying powerups (times of changing of ownership of orbs can be derived from this and trajectories).

Still, it’s quite an extensive profile, and I appreciate it. If I were to ask for something likely small to be added, it would be a set of all-time stats.

Anyway, I’ve played 126 games of Orbs.it. This is my distribution of placing:

1st (Win): 104 (82.5%)
2nd: 9 (7.1%)
3rd: 2 (1.6%)
4th: 5 (4.0%)
5th: 0 (0.0%)
6th: 2 (1.6%)
7th: 4 (3.2%)
8th: 0 (0.0%)

My longest win streak was 17 games.

I believe this was the shortest game I had (there aren’t overall statistics, so I’m not too sure), with barely over 150 shots made total by all players:

orbsit_minimalshots

And this was the longest game (but here I’m pretty sure of it because that feeling of that game just dragging on that long was definitely uniquely memorable):

orbsit_longestgame

I noticed after a while of playing that my accuracy seemed substantially higher than that of people above me on the leaderboard, and indeed after several games with those players I realized that shooting a bit more wildly is rather beneficial: since the time delay for shooting is per orb, parallelizing work among orbs on the frontier substantially increases one’s edge. Unfortunately, I found myself not too good at clicking different orbs in a timely manner.

There was a game where I had the honor to be playing against Xuan, truly a master of Orbs.it. I saw quite the set of perfections of minute aspects of strategy on Xuan’s part. (And of course, I didn’t win that game.) It was really cool to see “oh yeah, you can do this much within the rules of this game”.

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