The last few levels in Osmos get hard. They’ve induced rage in some gamers and in more than one reviewer. (See the previous post for the full introduction.)
Before we offer explanations or further remedies, we want to harness that rage. Prior to our recent difficulty adjustments, user jnfenrir began a thread on the Steam forums entitled “Osmos badly needs a difficulty rebalance,” eloquently stating the reasons why. One thing in particular stood out for me:
“Osmos’s difficulty wouldn’t be a problem if it was being marketed as a fiendishly challenging puzzle game, but since the main selling point is its supposed serene and relaxing nature, not being able to enjoy it completely because of the punishing difficulty feels a bit like a slap to the face.”
Even with the latest adjustments, I think jnfenrir has a valid point. Osmos is hard, but it certainly isn’t the hardest game out there. The problem is one of perception. Our zen/ambient presentation and marketing of the game doesn’t tell the full story. But what can we do to improve it?
- The game’s music and visuals are soothing, but they fit very well with the gameplay, and are not disingenuous. And people really appreciate them. I’m happy with our choices on this front.
- In the game description, we say “Progress from serenely ambient levels into varied and challenging worlds.” Hmmmm… we do say challenging. I suppose we could write “extremely challenging” but that’s a pretty minor change.
- The demo. It’s true that the demo is easy. Or is it? I’ve seen people spend a lot of time trying to catch that Biophobe. Also, upon exiting, the demo says “The full version includes 47 levels, from serene to extremly challenging; plus bonus content.” I think that “extremly challenging” statement is fair. Should we include the game’s hardest few levels in the demo? For obvious reasons: no, we shouldn’t.
- The trailer. I just watched our video again for the um-teenth time, and you know what? I think it’s the video! The trailer really sells the chill/ambient/serene nature of Osmos, but never mentions how hard it can get. The more I watch it, the more I’m convinced: If there’s one thing we should do, it’s update that video!
I spoke with Dave about this, and we agreed — we need a new video! The old one is already out there, and updating it with a more balanced one doesn’t sound like all that much fun. No, what we need is a video “response.” An “Osmos Rage!” video. Lifeforms being terminated, screams of fury, mice and keyboards being thrown…! We could try to do this ourselves, but really, we’re not that angry. Oh sure, we could try to fake it, but where’s the authenticity in that? There’s rage out there on the interweb tubes, I can feel it! Yes… a video contest. That’s the answer. A chance for gamers to exorcise their rage! To take their revenge. Revenge!!
So here it is, the call for “Osmos Rage!” videos. Angry, bitter, ridiculous, insane. Do your worst.
- All submissions will be publicly viewable, and the winner will be decided by a combination of public voting and our final discretion.
- The video must be more than simply gameplay capture. It should include live action, animation, voice, or anything else. Of course it can include gameplay footage, but it must be more than just that. And the more entertaining it is, the more people who will watch it, and be forewarned.
- The video should be understandable to English audiences. Everyone enjoys a good “scheisse!”, “ostie!” or “mierda!” from time to time, but this, while really amusing, is a little lost on us.
- We still need to work out some of the contest rules and details, like prize(s), how to submit your videos, eligibility, etc. (This idea is still somewhat half-baked!) You can begin submitting your videos in roughly one week. We’ll announce the submission details on this blog.