Sawbuck Gamer

Plink

Play On

Even the tone-deaf can improvise a beautiful melody in Plink.

By Todd VanDerWerff • May 17, 2012

Plink hopes to be the online equivalent of an informal jam session. You walk into a website. There are some other great players there. You sit down with your instrument of choice. You start to play, and they join in. Or they’re already playing, and you join. Whatever happens, the idea is that there’s more fun when people are making music together.

Plink is very simple. After you log in enter a username, you’re deposited on what appears to be a blank musical staff. You press—or hold down—the left button on your mouse. Tones sound, depending on where your little dot is on the staff. Move the dot up and down to change the tone. If the mouse button is held down, it produces a continuous loop of tones, veering from highs to lows. If you click to play, you can attempt to produce your own tunes, instead of a long collection of synthetic beeps and boops. Get bored with the current sound you’re making? Head over to the left to select a new “instrument,” all of which seem carefully chosen to simulate the sounds of a 1980s Casio keyboard.

The real fun comes when at least one but ideally two or more other players are hanging out with you. The various tones have been carefully chosen so that they’ll all sound harmonious with each other, and as your fellow players begin to lay in their own notes, anywhere you join in will sound fine. Plink accommodates all types, from those who want to lay out a solid bass riff to those making melody to those who just want to contribute a flourish here or there.

Much of the pleasure of the internet is in collaboration with others, and much of it still lies in anonymity. It’s doubtful that anything created in Plink will ever rise to the level of great music, but it’s a vastly enjoyable way to exercise some creative juices in between other tasks. It’s soothing, the way those long strings of tones eventually add up to a whole greater than the parts, and just hanging out with strangers, trying to create something that sounds like music is a lot of fun.

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  • Swadian Knight

    That link doesn’t seem to be correct. Here’s the right one: 
    http://labs.dinahmoe.com/plink/

    A very interesting game. The multiplayer aspect is great, and kind of reminiscent of Journey’s. It’s pretty cool to see how people will try to fit into a particular part of the overall music even without communication.

  • HobbesMkii

     Damn, I couldn’t get syncopation down but that game(?) definitely brought a smile to my face.

  • James Bunting

    I feel cooler for having played that game. Them was the days they was.

  • caspiancomic

    The biggest question raised by this review for me is what kind of internet  VanDerWerff is using that allows him to walk into websites.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ramon-Mujica/650405180 Ramon Mujica

      Walking is the new surfing.

  • doyourealize

    “Much of the pleasure of the internet is in collaboration with others, and much of it still lies in anonymity.”  Well said and very poignant for a game like this.  For 30 seconds, I formed a band with people I’ve never met.  Then someone quit the band, but that was last week, and now we’re back together again.

    • Effigy_Power

       Couldn’t split up Tango and Cash…

  • doyourealize

    I know I already commented, but just wanted to say that this feature oftentimes is a bust for me since I work as a teacher and time-wasters aren’t really conducive to that kind of work.  Then when I get home, I’d rather spend my time playing something more than a mere “time-waster”.  However, something about this review grabbed me, and I’m glad I checked this out.  It’s a nice way to space out and feel like you’re doing something creative at the same time.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

    There’s some lag between when I press my mouse button and when the note actually plays, but other than that, this was a cool game? Experience? Interactive music-making tool?

    Speaking of games based on synthesizer music, have you heard about the upcoming Fract OSC. It looks like Tron 2.0 meets Portal with synthesizers.

  • Aymanut

    I have to get the awful Google Chrome to play this? 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      I’m a Firefox user (mainly out of habit), but may I ask what’s so bad about Chrome?

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky

        I’m curious as to what the gripes are as well. I used Firefox for a long time, but gave Chrome a try a while back and now it’s my primary browser. I can’t seem to recall many people having big issues with it that would cause them to complain about it vocally. IE, on the other hand…

      • Aymanut

         I don’t know it just seems cheap to me, but to each their own I guess.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Peter-Kovalsky/1504237433 Peter Kovalsky

      Well, obviously, you shouldn’t get the awful Google Chrome… but you should definitely get the super awesome Google Chrome. That one’s much better.

  • ImANarc

    This game/whatever you wanna call it is amazing.  Every time I’ve played with it all my partners gave each other their time to shine by going back to a steady beat after they’ve “soloed” themselves.  Or maybe they were trolling.  I can’t tell since everything is harmonized.

    Favorite color: green.  Love me some drums and to lay down some snare.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Man, TVDW always manages to find the oddest things for Sawbuck Gamer, doesn’t he? First the Pong variations, then the newspaper game, now this. I like it.