Friday, August 14, 2009

Day 14: Osmos Demo

I'm now up to 11 in 14 days. Some of my posts have been a little more rushed that I'd normally like, but it's hard to dive in deep while I'm on the road. Either I'm way too focused on a specific project or I'm spread way too thin amongst social/family engagements.

Today I played through the Osmos demo. It's another PC download from the PAX 10 list. It seems intended to be a nice time waster game that incorporates elements of flOw, Katamari Damacy, and Spore. You start as a blob and try to accumulate mass by swallowing other blobs. Key barriers to success: You expend blob mass to propel yourself forward; if you bump into larger or hostile blogs you lose.

The way I really wanted to play this game was with some sort of controller, sitting on a couch, watching on my projector. The soothing music and pleasing visuals make me want to be in a very relaxed position.

The demo was a little short, I think, and I did not walk away from it knowing how much more content there was and how many more game play variants there were. In other words, it was hard to assess whether the amount and quality of content would be worth a purchase.

A few quibbles with the game include:
  • Osmos seems more of a simulation than a game. This is mostly fine if my goal is to simply float around and try and pick up successively larger objects. What really needs to be emphasized is some sort of risk-reward decision making. Right now, game play modes are mostly about how to deal with subtle variations in the target (does it have AI? does it have similar polarity as the reflector?)
  • Keyboard shortcuts are hard to discover and hard to use. "Alt-O" is not a very discoverable command, especially if the player quickly learns that mashing the keyboard more generally does not yield useful results. There are few enough controls that it seems like they could be taguht effectively through structured encountes -- and that there might be a place that lists all shortcuts from within the main game start screen.

No comments: