[PipeLine Home Page - Brought to you by Prowler Productions. Click here to play!]

     Welcome to PipeLine, one of the web's most interesting, fully browser-based games (no Java, Flash, or other plug-ins required). Play using your JavaScript-enabled browser (Netscape or Internet Explorer 4 or newer). A fast connection (Cable, DSL) is recommended, but not required. The object of the game is to create a pipeline from one edge of the board to the other, before your opponent blocks you off and completes a pipeline instead. You place one pipe when it's your turn. Then, simply wait for your opponent to go. Take turns, trying to outwit and outmaneuver your opponent, to victory!

  Creating Your Account  

     At the PipeLine page, type a user name (it can include Lunatix-style color codes) and a password, then click the link below the login area (not the “login” button). You are allowed to create only one PipeLine account. Anybody found cheating this way (attempting to pad their score, or trying to play more games than allowed) will be deleted and banned from our site (including Lunatix Online, StarLock when available, Froggy Racing, and other games). If you want to play more than 5 games at a time, purchase a Lunatix Online subscription. If you want a higher score, play frequently, but don't cheat!

     At PipeLine, we don't require your real name. At Lunatix Online (if you decide to sign up there) we do. There, we require your real name and a valid (non-free) email address (such as the one provided by your ISP). The Lunatix Online rules are available here. NOTE: PipeLine is totally free -- a Lunatix Online subscription is only necessary to unlock additional features (such as more than 5 games, setting a default pipe color, and being able to post to the main chat wall).

  Logging In  

     You can log in automatically after creating your account, or any time thereafter by returning to the PipeLine page. If your name includes color codes, you aren't required to type them when you log in. When you log in, your name appears in bold throughout the game as a visible cue to other players. A “Logout” link inside the game allows you to disconnect. If you close the browser some other way without logging off, you will automatically time out (and be able to log back in) after a minute or two.

     If you have trouble logging in, make sure you've typed your user name and password correctly. It's also common to forget you changed your name (in preferences) so make a note anytime you change your name and/or password to avoid confusion.

     When you log in, wait until the main play area (which appears as a large black box taking up most of the lower-left game screen) is fully drawn. Initially, graphics are cached (pre-loaded) and this may take several seconds if you have a slow connection. Trying to join or play a game before this process is finished might cause pipes to display incorrectly. If this happens, simply log out and log back in, and remember to wait.

  Main Menu  

     The main menu appears at the top-right of the screen. In addition to the large Log Off link, you're able to access these instructions, game news, your game list, pending challenges, the public chat wall, the player list, and preferences. The large "P" logo in the corner (the Prowler Productions logo) will take you to the Prowler Productions home page when clicked.

         > Log Off removes you from the “online users” list and displays the successful logout screen.
         > Instructions will display this page, which explains how to play.
         > Games will bring up the list of games (if any) you're playing.
         > Players will show the list of PipeLine players.
         > News announces what games have been won or lost - handy for spotting cheaters.
         > Wall is the public graffiti chat wall. Only Lunatix subscribers may post public messages.
         > Prefs (your preferences) is where you change your name or password, and more.
         > Challenges is where you accept, decline, or cancel challenges.

  Challenges  

     You can't play a game until after you accept a challenge (or until you issue a challenge which is accepted). You can use the player list, the news log, or other places where player names appear to view information about a player and issue a challenge. The challenge will appear in your pending challenges menu until the other player accepts or declines it, or until you get tired of waiting and cancel the challenge.

     Challenges issued to you by other players will also appear in your pending challenges menu, which gives you the opportunity to accept or decline. If you log on and incoming challenges are waiting for you, you'll go right to the challenges menu (instead of the game list). While you are playing, any new incoming challenges will be announced at the bottom of your game list (so you don't get so wrapped up in playing that you forget to check for new challenges made by others who are online at the same time).

     Challenges count towards the total number of games you can play (5 for regular players, as many as 99 for Lunatix Online subscribers). No challenges can be issued to players who already have the maximum number of games and challenges (combined).

     It is a good idea to challenge players who are currently online (for a better chance of getting a live game), or players who have logged on recently. Players who haven't logged in since their account was created probably aren't coming back, and might never see your challenge at all.

  Playing The Game  

     Here's what you've been waiting for -- how to actually play PipeLine. Once you have accepted a challenge (or issued a challenge that has been accepted by the other player), a new game will appear in your games menu. If it's your turn, the game appears in light green (light red if it's your opponent's turn instead). PipeLine randomly picks who will go first (it doesn't matter if you issued the challenge or not). Click the Play Game link for a game to display its game board.

     If you issued the challenge that resulted in this game, you will be player #1 (even if you don't get to go first) and you must build your pipeline from the top edge to the bottom. If you accepted the challenge (instead of issuing it), you are player #2 (left to right). Since it's sometimes hard to remember who issued the challenge, you can click on the question mark that floats over your pipe intersections to see which direction you're going. If you look closely at the game board, it's obvious though. You'll only be able to actually reach the outer edge of the game board in one direction (left to right, or top to bottom). Keep in mind that your pipeline might (and probably will) zig-zag around the game board and will almost never be a single straight line. What matters is one unbroken line (even if it branches off in several places) from one edge to the other.

     Place a segment of pipe in any games where it's your turn, then wait for your opponent to move. If you're both on at the same time, the game will be much more enjoyable and will go quicker. You can still play games where your opponent logs on at a different time, it just takes longer and loses some of the "momentum" that comes from actively revising your strategy in a live game.

  Games Menu  

     If you have more than 5 games showing on your game menu (Lunatix Online subscribers only), the VCR-style arrows at the bottom will brighten to allow movement backward and forward movement through the list. You also have the option of displaying only those games where your opponent is currently online, or games where it's your turn (even if your oppenent isn't online). It's a good idea to check all games when you first log in (for possible chat you haven't read), then switch to Your Turn or Online games.

     Additional options for each game include the ability to forfiet (give up and let your opponent win), delete a game (only after it has ended), cancel a game (without a penalty if your opponent hasn't played in more than 5 days), and view a 20-message (3 per page) chat wall for each game.

  Player List  

     All players who have signed up to play PipeLine (and who haven't been deleted due to inactivity yet) will appear in the player list. Optionally, you can list only those players who are online at the same time, which provides a convenient way to issue live challenges. The VCR-style buttons at the bottom (as with other lists in PipeLine) will allow you to move backward and forward through the list of players.

     Simply click on another player's name (in fact, you can click on player names just about anywhere else they're shown, too) to display information about that player, including how many games they're involved in. When viewing player information, you may challenge the other player to a game.

     Players who haven't logged in after 20 days are automatically deleted by the game when maintenance runs (around 12:10 AM server time) daily. Players who have linked to their Lunatix Online account in preferences are immune to this 20-day inactivity purge, at least until their subscription expires.

  Chat Wall and News  

     A public chat wall is available. It holds 200 messages (old ones expire and are deleted) and can be browsed 3 at a time (starting with the newest page). Since we aren't requiring any kind of validation process for new players (no email verification, no cookie requirement), posting to the wall is one of the features available only to Lunatix Online subscribers. Everybody can read it, though. Keep the chat clean, please.

     Each game has its own 20-message chat wall, too. Both players may post to it, since it's not the public wall. Still, keep it clean and friendly, especially when you're playing against a stranger.

     Each time a player signs up, a game is won or lost, or a challenge is accepted or declined, an entry is added to the news log. This is a handy way of seeing what other players are doing (and an easy way to identify those that are active, to issue challenges). It can also help identify cheaters, by showing any unusual activity (such as one player repeatedly forfieting to another, which might indicate score padding).

     So that more entries would fit on each page, the date and time of the entry isn't immediately visible. To see when a news entry was posted, simply click (or hover over then check the status bar) the question mark to the right of each entry. The VCR-style buttons at the bottom allow you to move backward and forward through the news. Old entries expire after a few days.

  Preferences  

     Mainly, the preferences area allows you to change your player name and/or password whenever you want. Because it's easy and quick, you may forget that you made a change next time you log in (it has happened). So, any time you make a change, make note of it. Otherwise, you may attempt to log in with outdated info and be surprised and confused when PipeLine says you don't exist.

     As an added bonus for (yes, you guessed it) Lunatix Online subscribers, you may enter your Lunatix character name and password to enable your link to Lunatix. Once done, you can change your default pipe color (if you don't want it to be random), and increase your max games as high as 99. It might seem that you should increase your max games given the opportunity, but keeping it lower will prevent you from getting bombarded with too many challenges.

  Visible Cues  

     Throughout the game, different things may appear in different colors or in bold print, to give a visible cue about a change. For instance, the names of players who are logged in will appear in bold print most places.

     > Game State Colors
On the game list, the background of the game options area will appear in light green if it's your turn, light red if it's your opponent's turn, darker green if you won the game, and darker red if you lost. In addition, the game state is displayed (Play/Wait/Won/Lost) in the same color under the game number to the left of the options.

     > Game Pipe Color
The game number for each game on your games list will appear in the color of your pipe for that game. For example, if you are placing yellow pipes in game #19, then the 19 will appear in yellow on your games list.

     > Pending Chat
For the 20-message wall associate with each game, the chat link will appear in bold if your opponent has posted something since you last read it.

     > New Challenges Pending
If anybody has challenged you to a game, the total count of challenges pending will appear at the bottom of the games list with a link to the challenges screen.

     > Challenge Types
Challenges issued by you will appear on gray in your challenges list. Those issued to you are in blue.

     > Challenge Decisions
When you accept a challenge, the message shown appears in green. When you decline, it's red. For a challenge you issued, the message appears in blue if you choose to cancel it.

     > News Entry Types
On the news log, entries for games won appears in green. Games forfieted are red. Challenges declined are purple. Challenges accepted are blue. New player signups appear in yellow. Cancelled games are cyan.

     > Online Players
The names of players who are currently online with you will appear in bold print most places. Those who aren't online appear normal.

     > VCR-Style Movement Buttons
At the bottom of multi-page screens (such as the games or challenges list, the chat wall, and the news log), VCR-style buttons appear for easy navigation backward and forward. Gray arrows to the left mean you're at the beginning of the list. Gray arrows on the right mean you're already at the end. If all arrows appear gray, then the list is short enough to fit on a single page. Arrows in green indicate that more entries remain backward and/or forward, and that movement in that direction is enabled.

  Game Scoring  

     If both players are equal in score, a game is worth 35 points. Points are removed from the loser and added to the winner. This varies higher or lower, if the player scores aren't equal. The formula used is:

(LoserScore X 35) / WinnerScore

     This is designed to award points more fairly for any particular game. It's less desirable to simply pick off unskilled newbies since the points gained would be much smaller. Losing to somebody with a lower score also means you'll lose more points.

     If you forfiet a game, you lose double the amount of points you would ordinarily have lost (to discourage people from simply giving up if it looks like they're going to lose anyway). The winner receives the normal amount. Although there currently is no penalty for declining a challenge, one may be added later if it seems high-ranking players stop accepting challenges as a means of keeping their big score safe.

     If your opponent doesn't play within 5 days, you may cancel the game (on your games list) to remove it from your list. Your opponent will lose the normal penalty, but it won't be counted as a win for you.

  Strategy  

     Everybody seems to have a different play style. Early in the game, it's hard to strategize much (but you can try). Some attempt to simply block every move placed by their opponent. This can work in the end, but often leads to traps set by the other player.

     Multiple routes for connecting two pipe segments is a good strategy, when you're able to set up those situations. For example, if you have one segment at one edge of your side of the board, then another segment one space over and one space back from the edge, you've create a situation where you can either link one to the other (forming a pipe to the edge) or link the second pipe to the edge. No matter which move your opponent blocks, you'll still be able to make a strategic move. This is especially handy as the final move to win the game. Set up multiple paths like that, and keep it ready.

     If your opponent creates a situation where a pipe can be linked two different ways, it's almost senseless to try to block it. If you do, your opponent will have to take the alternative, and still reach the end result. All you did was force the move. It's better to forget about that spot, and focus your efforts on going around another way.

     Similar to the multiple-move scenario, a channeling affect can be accomplished when game play nears the edge of the board, or when you have placed two rows of parallel pipes. It's possible to continually force your opponent to block you from connecting the two pipelines, which allows you to finish one right to the edge. Play for a while. You'll see this happen.

     You'll develop your own strategy, which will probably be a combination of luck and advance planning. PipeLine is a simple game to learn and play, but defending yourself against skilled players can become an addictive challenge!