Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Positech Games is a one-man software shop consisting of Cliff Harris and Cliff Harris. I list him twice because it seems like he does enough work for two; his game Democracy was an Indie Game of the Year in at least one place, and possibly more. If you've never played Democracy, in fact, you owe it to yourself to check out the demo.

I've been playing Positech's new game, Kudos. It's a life simulator, basically. You play a 20-year-old just starting out in life, with a dead-end job and no prospects. You have ten years to make something of yourself...or not. You can choose to go to school and make something of yourself, or just hang out with your friends. Or even just hang out by yourself. It's all up to you.

This game is pretty amazing, for all of its hit-the-switch-rat gameplay. The thing that struck me is that it really is a lot like life: you start out having these grandiose plans of how your game is going to go, but the game itself doesn't cooperate and you end up on a totally different, yet ultimately satisfying tack. For example, I wanted to work a character through becoming a successful actor. I took acting classes galore while working as a waiter, all the while searching for acting jobs. As in real life...entry-level acting doesn't pay. So while I was taking acting clases and working crappy acting jobs, I took some journalism classes as well. That particular character eventually stopped looking for acting jobs altogether and gave up the dream and became a reporter. Reality got in the way: just like life.

Being a doctor is punishingly stressful.

Being a reporter means you have no time for friends.

Being a chef is super-easy and makes you popular and lets you kind of glide through life.

Okay, maybe that last one isn't the most realistic example, but you need to try the demo for this game. Be forewarned that the demo only lets you play for a short time--I think about three months of game time, not enough to really let you accomplish anything but definitely enough to give you a taste of what's going on. I highly recommend this one. I have played this game more often and longer than I've played a lot of games that cost twice as much.

I bought a copy of Kudos through a portal website, and I may just end up buying it again, direct from Positech. If you do see this game on one of the big portal sites like Yahoo! or Big Fish, be aware that those are special rebranded versions that don't get updated, or at least don't get updated as often as the "real" versions do.


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