So, uh, there's a bunch of penguins on an iceberg in Antarctica. You have
been selected to catch them so they can be shipped to Finland, where they
are essential to a secret plot for world domination.
In order to trap the penguins, you'll need to break the iceberg into small
chunks. (They're afraid of water, for no apparent reason. Ah well. "The
Matrix" had more plot holes than this, and it still was a hit.) You do
this by melting lines in the ice with Special High-Tech GNU Tools.
If a penguin hits a line in progress, however, it vanishes with a loud
noise, and you lose a life. (Yes, a life. This story is really breaking
down, isn't it? But never fear -- I'll keep going until it's completely
Once 80% or more of the iceberg is gone, the remaining chunks are small
enough for shipping. Of course, if you manage to get rid of more than
that, you'll save on postage, thus earning you exponential amounts of Geek
Cred (a.k.a. "score").
After you ship off one batch of penguins, it's time to move on to the
next. Each subsequent 'berg will have one more penguin, and you'll have
one more life. This will continue until you lose, or until you exceed
level one hundred or so, which Ain't Gonna Happen.
Of course, this is an urgent mission, so you'll be penalized if you're
slow -- every second or so, your score drops down by one. But don't worry,
I'm not completely cruel, so any points you earn on one level are yours to
keep forever, no matter how long you take on subsequent icebergs.
As far as I can tell, this makes no narrative sense whatsoever, so at
this point, I declare the backstory / game metaphor completely collapsed.
Just go play.
The left mouse button starts drawing lines; the right (and/or middle)
button toggles between making vertical and horizontal lines. Note that
left clicking actually starts two lines: either up and down or left
and right. (This will make plenty of sense when you're actually playing.)
If one of these lines is hit before it reaches the edge of the iceberg,
you'll lose a life. If both are hit, you'll lose two lives.
As a tiny bit of grace, if you click directly on a penguin, it'll say
"Ouch" and nothing else will happen.
Once a line is completed, any area containing no penguins is cleared.
Falls into the ocean, so to speak. Once 80% has been cleared, the level is
complete. However, you get an exponential bonus for every percentage point
above that, so you want to try to make your last line suddenly clear a
huge chunk of ice. (Again, this will make sense once you've played for a
while.) Oh, and you also get a (much smaller) bonus for having lives left
over at the end of a level.
Having trouble? A hint: it's useful to make traps by intentionally letting
some of your lines get broken. That way, you can create smaller areas in
which you can catch the pesky little things easily.
There's a game for MS Windows called "Jezzball".
You may notice that this one is extremely similar. There's a reason for
that. See, our main computer at home runs Linux most of the time, but it
has Win95 set up to dual-boot if need be. (Unfortunately, it's too slow to
run VMware or Wine well.) Ideally, of course, the machine stays in Linux,
but my wife, Karen, really likes
puzzle sorts of games and became highly addicted to this Jezzball thing.
Well, we simply couldn't have the system wasting its life in Windows all
that time, so I took it upon myself to create a sort-of-clone. (It's not a
pure clone, because I like to think that I've done many things in a far
superior way.) So this game can be thought of, in a simultaneously
dangerously geeky and dangerously mushy way, as sort of a dual
love-letter, to both Karen and Linux. :)
It's therefore somewhat ironic that IceBreaker now exists in a MS
Windows version. Ah well. I know not all of you have been converted yet,
and you might as well enjoy the game too.
Oh, and to answer another "Why" question, especially for my friend
Lars: why is this program written
in C and yet uses C++ style comments? Because I like C++ style comments,
This game was written by Matthew Miller <send e-mail>.
Recent versions have benefited immensely from the help of
Enrico Tassi. He's
responsible for getting the Win32 port to work so nicely, and for a lot of
fancy new features. Enrico doesn't live here in Boston, but he's a huge
fan of Boston band Letters To Cleo, so that counts for something.
Much thanks to Karen for everything. In fact, if you really love this
game, check out Ten Thousand Villages,
the non-profit organization for which she works. And if you live near
Boston, MA, stop by store in Coolidge Corner (Brookline) and say
"Hi" and perhaps buy something -- they have cool stuff and it's a really
Thanks also to Tae-Jin, for helping me squash a nasty bug, and to Paul for
testing and suggestions and proofreading this document. And to the folks
at the helpdesk downstairs for playing this game instead of working.
The sounds were either originally created or borrowed from
freely-licensed sources and modified heavily. Thanks to Wesley Crossman
for his contributions. I'd still like lots more cool good ones -- either
improvements of the existing sounds or for new themes.
The penguin image is mostly my own work, but is based on a graphic
A week or two in September, 2000, and then some.
Get it from: http://www.mattdm.org/icebreaker/
Report bugs via e-mail: <get address>
(As in, "On which libraries does icebreaker depend?")
libSDL and libSDL_mixer. http://www.libsdl.org/
I'm now actively working on IceBreaker, and a few other people have been
too (most notably, Enrico Tassi). If you want to help, or are just
interested in what's going on, check out the development section of the
IceBreaker website at http://www.mattdm.org/icebreaker/development.shtml.