Electron Dance
23Apr/168

Dabbling with… OASES

The sixteenth episode of a short series on games I discovered at EGX Rezzed 2016.

rezzed-oases

I'm not sure there's much to say about OASES.

A damaged plane is diving and then disappears through rainbow rings into darkness. The plane emerges--

--and then Shaun Green wrote in the comments for my entry on Fugl:

Seemed to either procedurally generate levels based on the associated music, or have a bunch of predefined levels that matched up, and you flew a light aircraft around these environments. I liked it, found it quite soothing and pleasant to try and rake my wingtips through little balls and blobs of colour.

I mean, yes, thank you Shaun. That took the wind right out of my wings a little too early.

It's described as kaleidoscopic elegiac ''flyscape'' and I guess that works. You get to fly around a fantastical space for a bit in a lazy, languid fashion - more like swimming than flying - with music and colour your companions. Maybe you'll see giant hands or giant trees. Maybe flowers. There is no crashing, there is no collision. Go on, try. Try to touch something. The plane will just go straight through like nothing was there. And you can play again and again, with a different beautiful flyscape each time.

When I played at Rezzed, it only explained itself after I'd been through the experience once. I wasn't going to mention it here, to allow you to go in cold like I did. Except if you go to the itch.io page for the game, its inspiration is printed right there for all to see. Shaun also mentioned it in his comment. And Kotaku wrote about it. But I'll continue to be coy regardless. You may find the message uplifting or trite but even if you're of the latter persuasion, it won't take away the loveliness.

OASES was developed by Armel Gibson, Dziff and Calum Bowen; it can be downloaded from itch.io right now.

Interested in the other games I dabbled with? Check out the series index!

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Comments (8) Trackbacks (0)
  1. 4yo: What is this game?
    Me: You just fly around.
    4yo: How do you win?
    Me: You don’t. You just fly around for a little bit and look at things.
    4yo: Can you stop playing this stupid game, because I want somebody to win.

  2. I’m having those types of conversations as well Matt. For all the talk of “returning to our childlike wonder” I find that our actual child-likes don’t work that way!

  3. I’m sorry I fucked with your ailerons, Joel! ;)

    I’m sure I remember the colour of those glowing blobs clinging to my wings for a short time, so there’s collision of a sort (unless my memory deceives me).

    One of the only things I found objectionable about Oases was that the very plain and simple style of the environments made it extremely difficult to gauge the distance to the ground (something also true of early, primitive flight sims, in my limited experience).

  4. Maybe that’s what I was experiencing–I kind of bounced off of it (so to speak) because I felt like I wasn’t sure how I was interacting with the environment. It felt like I was constantly running up against the walls of a glass dome.

    The itch.io page for this one suggested Orchids to Dusk, which I recommend checking out (and which is even kind of on topic because it’s from the same collective that did Gardenarium). That’s more Proteusy. Unfortunately it crashes to the desktop just before the apparent end on my computer, which led me to look for stuff, which got me to some accounts of what was going on which were pretty spoily. So I managed to lose a walking simulator (er, what do we call those again?)

  5. Shaun – I played OASES twice at Rezzed, just to check that it wasn’t the same thing again and again; I tried crashing through hands but that was about it in terms of touching stuff. You may be right, I couldn’t tell ya! I don’t know if it’s something I necessarily want to play over and over because there’s just the one track. I think that’s the main Achilles’ heel from my perspective.

    Matt – I almost did Orchids to Dusk for this series, which I played at Rezzed. Graham Spence recommended giving it a go. I played it twice but didn’t figure out under the pressure of the day what was going on. It took bloody ages to start; “Loading” was up so long I thought it had crashed. I believe I know why – because there’s some networked persistence.

    ** SPOILERY BUT TRYING TO BE SUBTLE **
    Having since discovered what Orchids to Dusk is about, yeah, I wasn’t sure if I could “sell” anyone the game. As the world is extremely full of things to see, it now feels like an explorer game which sort-of goes nowhere… when in fact it isn’t an explorer. And I’m not sure how the game continues to work as it gets more crowded.

    I’m thinking more of “wandering” games for walking simulators. I tried sojourn before but I dunno.

  6. As far as childlike wonder goes, my older child does like to explore in Knytt Underground, though this is in part to find white sparks to shoot robots with. And the frequency with which the younger child presses the map button when someone else is playing would suggest that she’s not completely averse to exploration for exploration’s sake either.

  7. I’ve come across OASES at two different events now; Rezzed the other week was the second time, and the first was in February at SCREENSHAKE in Antwerp. It’s a nice little experience and it certainly came across at that way at Rezzed but SCREENSHAKE was something different, there all of the Klondike collective were given their own floor of the building to deck out as they wanted, in this case with low lighting, dark walls and red streams of paper hung from the ceiling, with all the games at floor level with cushion seating. That kind of setting makes a big difference to the mindset you’re in when you play and thus the experience of playing, to carry the childlike comparisons over, the whole thing had a very “under the bed covers with a torch” feel to it.

    I guess for some people that might start ringing some installation art alarm bells, but it certainly worked for me.

  8. AcG, it sounds like that was the OASES’ equivalent to playing The World Is Flat with a gym ball. A dedicated setting could probably affect the response to many games, like the way that background music on film can alter the entire mood of a scene.


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