Karma


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zxoKarma From Zapak Digital Entertainment Limited out of India comes Karma, a unique game of rebirth that features simple gameplay and yet offers a reflection upon certain aspects of life and philosophy. To play, simply drag the little running man from the edge of the screen to the fire at the center, thus completing one life cycle. Your path will remain on the screen, and your future paths must not cross your past lives. Along the way to the fire, try to collect the little potted-plant-shaped objects. Successfully reaching the fire after doing so will cleanse you of one of the seven deadly sins that you have apparently built up. Win the game by cleansing all seven.

At first, it seems like Karma will be easy to beat. Then, as you realize that it is sometimes impossible to reach the fire and wipe away a sin, it seems like it will be very difficult and totally luck-based. However, there are two facts which are not included in the game instructions which put the difficulty somewhere in between, right where it ought to be for a game like this. First, there is no penalty for not collecting a sin on your way to the fire. Second, only the five most recent paths remain on the screen.

This means that the best strategy for finishing the game is simply to go directly from the edge to the center, collecting a sin only if it is on your path or a very short way off of it. This keeps the screen uncluttered and minimizes the possibility that you are going to end up unable to squeeze between two paths. By letting the player come to this realization on their own, the game itself becomes a symbol of karmic philosophy. To try and bend fortune to your favor at the beginning by taking winding, indirect paths will come back later and make things much more difficult. Instead, you should just keep moving forward, and luck will eventually even itself out.

Scoring is also an interesting facet of Karma. The instructions invite you to try for the lowest number of lives, but the in-game scoring system rewards you for each successful path to the fire. Trying to minimize your lives spent is more in line with Western thought, in that it encourages maximizing your returns with minimal resources, and careful micromanagement and optimization of your paths. In contrast, the high-score strategy more resembles maintaining an Eastern meditative state: you repeat the same simple motions over and over until you get into a groove, and you begin to do them instinctually rather than consciously.

I thought the ambient crackling of the fire was a great touch, and the tribal-themed visuals were also superb. I did, however, find the people dancing around the fire a bit distracting, as they made it difficult sometimes to judge whether or not I was going to cross my past path. Besides that, the only problems I had were with the motion and collision detection; too often I found myself dying right away or dying when I accidentally went one pixel back during a slow and careful maneuver. It is also possible—if you are careful—to sneak around the back of one of your past lives. Making it to the fire also seemed to be a touchy enterprise. If you come in too fast, you can overshoot the fire, either blocking off access for future paths or in extreme cases emerging on the other side and having to loop back.

The authors should be lauded for making Karma not only a game that is fun to play, but one that reaches people on a more spiritual level and still manages to incorporate the "replay" theme nicely. We hope to see more from Zapak in the future!

Play Karma

JonahJonah - Karma is certainly a pleaser in the audio-visual sector. The game really has a great atmosphere. And it has morality! This game teaches players (intentionally?) that you must have patience to wash away your sins. Isn't it great when a game teaches a life lesson through its gameplay? Speaking of gameplay... At first, I got frustrated because I thought the game was impossible. Then I realized (thanks to comments) that you don't have to get the conch every time. Still, I didn't get the point. I started drawing giant doom spirals that would eventually backfire on me. Only now as I replay the game do I realize how to win - draw straight lines to the center and only get a conch if it's in the way. Too bad I still can't do it. I keep respawning on top of a line or accidentally doubling back on myself. My one criticism has to be the controls. Just a tad too touchy.

62 Comments

Interesting. There is an unwritten rule. Once you figure out this rule it is WAY TOO EASY!

If you cannot reach the conch shell just go straight to the middle and reborn. You and the shell will reset. Only 5 past "Lives" stay on the board.

This game feels a bit buggy - I had the little guy once start *on* a line, losing the game the moment I clicked on him. Also, if the guy starts really close to a corner, I sometimes also die the moment I try to move him.

I love this game, takes some time to master it, but it is fun

ohh i noticed if you cant get the wash-away-7-sins thingy you can just go to the circle

I think this is a really well conceptualized game, although it is a little buggy.

For example, if you release the mouse in the middle of a 'life' you lose, but that menu will not dissapear when you click on it (either button).

Also, I think it would be nice if there were difficulty levels, which determined the number of past lives that stayed on the board.

Good job!

and sometimes when you get one of those can thingys sometimes they are traps

I'm not sure if I'm grasping any sense of strategy here, beyond keeping one's lines spaced out so you can thread your way through them later without accidentally hitting any. And with the figures randomly positioned, that isn't always possible, so it seems to me, after a few plays through, that it's largely a game of chance.

I absolutely love how this game looks, sounds, and feels. The background and 'drawings' give it just enough of that tribal feel without going overboard. The music is repetitive, but it's not too much. I like the laid-ack style.

I also find the concept of this game very interesting. Most of the other games are original in that they reinvent old gaming concepts or create new ways of playing, whereas i think most of the reinvention here comes in the east-meets-west idea of rebirth, or re-playing your life. interesting compared to the other games' interpretations of reliving, because this game already has history behind it before you play.

The game IS a tad difficult to actually play, though. I'm using a touchpad and sometimes my guys die in the middle of drawing a line where I obviously didn't intersect anything. Also jumpy, and the other standard touchpad complaints apply. The game seems a little based on luck, though, because if after a couple of rounds you and the lotus are separated there's no telling how many unsuccesful lives you have to get through to get to that lotus, just because you're not starting in the right place.

Also, I keep getting through the first four levels with the same sins, and I wish the sins were in different orders each time so I could see more of the cute drawings that made me smile. I don't love the game itself, but I love the atmosphere and concept. Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to casual games, but the atmosphere is totally winning me over at the moment. It's just so.... cute! In that deep metaphorical way, mind you.

Nice concept- the music was a good fit for the game and the style, but the play was a little frustrating- half the time when I click to START moving the little guy, I die, even with the sensitivity on my mouse turned all the way down. I'd like to see a little thicker "safe zone" for the start of movement, since he always seems to jump a little bit when you grab him. It's miserable to get through 6 lives and just *bam!* die by grabbing the little guy :(

Okay, the tangled karma thing is making me crazy! Sometimes I haven't even moved and it kills me. Is this a bug? It's very frustrating!

One difficulty I have with the setup of this game is that because all lines are radial there's actually no strategy to it to speak of. Topologically speaking there's only one path to the centre for each life and it either does or does not contain the conch.

Having tried it with a number of devices I can recommend a graphics tablet pen as the best option! (Or if you like a challenge, try a laptop touchpad - ugh!)

It takes a while to get used to moving the mouse smoothly. The slightest judder and the game interprets it at as a crossed line.

I really like the look of this, particularly the symbols for the sins ('Lust' made me giggle).

And that wooshing sounds when you select menu sounds suspiciously like a Starship Enterprise door! :-)

OK, now that this is the last one, I'll say which I think are best.
Best Game: Replay 2: The Sequel
Best Shows Theme: Timebot

I liked the star trek door noise when you go back to the menu

I agree with amylu....sometimes I've only just moved the mouse ready to click....and I am nowhere near previous lines...and yet it tells me the lines are tangled...
But I do like this game...frustrating as it is!

thats possibly due to backlash from a mouse jerk it tangles with itself

>"Topologically speaking there's only one path to the centre for each life and it either does or does not contain the conch."

There's only one path to the center for the *first* life, sure. But for future lives, you're making decisions about how you want to divide the disk into regions, and those decisions matter a whole lot in future lives when the conch and starting position may or may not be separated by lines.

The problem with this game (aside from the nearly crippling bugginess with a track pad) is that the decisions are more or less random. There isn't any good way to be particularly strategic about how you divide the disk, because there's always a fairly large minimum probability that you'll end up in a situation where the man and the conch can't be connected. However, topologically speaking it's all perfectly fine. It's the lack of information that makes it uninteresting.

Pretty and good style, I like the sounds and graphics as they all fit together quite well.

I havent yet managed to win, then again the life is also much about luck :)

Some text boxes look to be missing fonts (the score text maybe and last line in the credits section).

very nice concept, the few bugs let it down rather though...

I get a strong feeling the dancing people in the middle might be inspired by Howls Moving Castle, am I right ;)

I just thought of a way is could be a little more amusing.
Like, make the gluttony people a little fatter and the sloth people move a little slower,

This game is very nice.
I like design and music, the idea is very good (as someone already said, the "east meets west" idea seems quite fresh and creative :)).

There one thing that keeps annoying me though : I don't know if it's because i'm tired or because my mouse mat is too tiny, but the game keeps saying me I released the mouse halfway.
I would have found way easier to be able to click once to drag the sinner, instead of being forced to hold down the mouse button throug the whole path.
It's a small complaint, but I think it may also help improve the playability of this game on a touchpad.

Let me just say it's a good thing you wash away wrath first, because otherwise I would have done physical harm to something every time I got that $#^% crossed karma without ever actually crossing anything.

Besides that, a very interesting interpretation of the theme, and excellent presentation.

Oh, and topologically speaking, Dom is right. There is only one way to get from the edge to the center. However, topologically speaking, a donut is the same as a coffee cup. In reality, the small amount of strategy comes from keeping your lines spaced apart at the right distance so that the angle between them remains approximately the same. Or more precisely, so that the ratio of the perimeter segments (of the square containing your character and centered at the fire) between your current path and the nearest previous path to the total square perimeter remains constant and equal to the initial value of said ratio.

/mathspeak

am i the only one knowing sometimes the conchs are traps?

To add to the topological discussion initiated by Dom, Jonah, and zxo... A torus (donut) may be the same as a coffee cup, topologically speaking, but the playing field in this game offers nothing so complex (nor as full of possibilities). I don't remember my geometry to a T, but I do remember that it's possible to connect two points on a torus by at least 7 non-intersecting paths.

All it would take to turn "Karma" into a game of skill and logic, rather than chance (and micro-picky cursor movement), would be to allow "wrap-around" edges. That effectively turns the square plane into a donut, and thus there'd be no need to "waste" a path because it would be possible (with excellent planning and cursor control!) to grab 7 shells in 7 turns.

That said, I absolutely commend the Zapak folks for creating such a gorgeous game environment. The graphics, music, sound FX, and overall theme are just beautifully accomplished.

I really, really liked this entry.

What I find most exciting about computer games is that moment of "I've never understood why people act this way, but here I am in their situation doing the exact same thing they do." If you've ever played Civilization or SimCity, you probably know what I'm talking about. Try to build your dream utopia and see how long it takes before you start acting like the very leaders you disagree with in real-life.

I had one of those moments playing this game. I tried to clear my karma a few times, rushing to grab sins and make it to the next life as quickly as possible. After a few reincarnations, all the lines of my recent past lives cluttered the screen and I'd inevitable crash and burn. I got frustrated and quit.

Later, I read a comment posted here saying that you could make a bee-line to the next life without needing to clear any sins first. The instructions don't specifically point this out, and in my Western, geeky, goal-oriented mind I never even considered it. I tried playing again, this time more patiently... clearing sins when I could and going for reincarnation when I couldn't.

So, basically, it was my rush to clear sins as fast as possible that was preventing me from ever reaching the enlightenment I was in such a hurry to achieve. Wow.

In a short competition like the CGDC, we shouldn't expect epic works… these aren't novels, they're poems. And like good poems, I think Karma does an amazing job of distilling complex ideas into a beautiful little package.

Karma, multiple lives, and seven sins? It's like a religion grab bag!

The mouse has to be less sensitive for this game, and the game won't work that efficiently if you are using the touch pad.

the idea is to draw lines from the generation point to the centre and on the way wash your sins. If the lines are too dense and there is no way that you can reach the centre by washing your sins, then just don't do it. Reach the centre without washing your sins. Also after some lines drawn your few past lines will be erased.
Also to keep in mind is that you have to keep the mouse button pressed till the time your guy doesnt reach the fire in the centre

The problem Maus brought up is my biggest beef with this game. Grabbing the little guy shouldn't stop the game, just because you're a little outside the box.

But it's a shame that there's a few bugs with the control, because this is conceptually a really wonderful game. I think there's a bit of a language problem in the instructions that makes it hard to understand how to play the game.

I started out not liking the game, because I was trying to catch a sin every lifetime, and therefore creating a tangled knot of karmic horror. If I had known that I had the option to live a life without washing away a sin, I would have started enjoying myself much earlier. Once I realized I could take my time and trust the universe to give me opportunities to clear my karmic slate, I got into the flow of things.

I don't think this is a great game, really. I don't ever feel like I'm doing anything other than drawing lines from one place to another, and there's a handful of control issues. But it looks and sounds amazing, and it has something to say about life and after-life. So I have an overall good feeling about it.

WOW! Karma rocks guys! this 'the' best entry in this competition, may those are not bugs and just the feature.

The music,sound fx , concept, graphics....good blend of everything thing....overall the best game design i have ever seen in recent future

To all posts regarding The Sensitivity Bug - it boils down to this - whereever you click on the running guy's sprite, the line jumps to the absolute position of your mouse pointer's hot spot relative to the sprite's original position, so it jumps depending on where on the running guy you click.

For example, click on his head when he's at the bottom edge of the map and the line darts upward into the playing field, right where you want it to be. Click on his feet and the life line jumps backwards into the border, quadrupling your chance of accidentally doubling back on yourself as your first inclination would be to drag the line upward and forward INTO the playing field. So until there is a fix for this bug (and it really is a bug, let's face it), you should try to click on the innermost pixels on the running guy to avoid premature deaths - in other words, his head on the bottom of the screen, his left arm / leg if he is on the left side, his foot on the top and his right arm / leg on the right side.

Excellent point, Lebowski.

And I wish for this to be received constructively... =)

There is a function in Flash that is used to drag a sprite on the stage, startDrag(), and it takes an optional parameter:

lockCenter:Boolean [optional] - A Boolean value specifying whether the draggable sprite is locked to the center of the mouse position (true) or locked to the point where the user first clicked the movie clip (false).

In this game, lockCenter is most likely being set to true, and I would even argue that the developers were correct in doing so from a user experience perspective: When dragging an item with the mouse, it just feels better if the object is centered under the mouse cursor.

However, the problem here is that the line begins to draw from the sprite's original location BEFORE the centering takes place, as Lebowski noted above. This is the undesirable part.

Either the drawing should not begin until the mouse actually moves, post-click, or the sprite should be manually positioned and centered under the cursor and its new position recorded PRIOR to the call to startDrag(). If the latter, lockCenter would no longer be necessary.

And I agree in calling it a bug, not a feature, in a drawing game where the precision of lines drawn can mean the difference between an extra life or game over.

Surely this is a bug and we accept it.But I really appreciate all the feedback above, that has encouraged us to make enhancement in our designs and develop more better and different games with better quality.

Thank for all,hope to see more feedback

A nice game....cool graphics stylization. I hope people can wash their sins...by making themselvs busy with this game..and since they will play this game they wont be having time for doing sins...

Maybe a dispensable question, but has anyone succeeded in washing all his/her sins away? I tried now a quazillion times and never succeeded. I'm probably already too deep in all my sins and will never amnestied. Poor me. Poor grandma who prayed for me the whole time. It didn't help....

nice one Ashish :D

Thanks for pointing that out Lebowski and Jay, makes sense.

Also, wanted to say thanks to everyone for taking out the time to play our game and giving valuable feedback. As saagar said, expect better games coming from our side in the near future, hope to participate in more competitions like this :)

I think many of you who want it to be a logic game may be missing the point slightly. It has soothing music and imagery, and the game just goes around and around and around.

Hey awesome game....amazingly addictive as well... like everything about it.... way to go !!

Very neat. I also found enlightenment when I discovered that lives with nice, neat and straight lines that left a lot of rooms for others and weren't always concerned about the prize were far more successful than mad dashes for the shell and the center.

Lovely game. I really like it when a game get sends message through gameplay rather than dialogue.

I'm not sure I like this one. First, the easy "winning" strategy is abundantly clear: draw straight lines from your starting position to the center.

Second, any path to the center other than a gentle parabola is likely to mess you up later, as starting positions seem to be random.

Third, the points are awarded based on the number of reincarnations, meaning that the high score solution is to completely ignore the "sins" and just draw straight lines forever.

This gives three potential ways to play the game:

Try to clear the sins in the least number of reincarnations possible; which seems to be entirely a matter of chance, and penalizes you on points if you manage to finish. Finishing the game this way seem nearly impossible.

Try to get the "high score" which can seemingly be infinite, but will never end the game if you do not clear the "sins"

Try to clear the "sins" in the "safest" way possible, which seems in the several times I played through it, to generally take about 40 reincarnations and give you around 200k points.

So, the only strategy that work is to draw straight lines from the edges in, deflecting slightly on occasion to collect a conch, making strategy and game-play essentially nil for this entry, since the only thing to do is not mess up your mousing on the way to your eventual "victory".

meh.

The CDGC3 window won't connect to the site, so is there any site that contains this game?

AJ - are you still having trouble? I just saw your message. Perhaps it was only a momentary server issue that is common on the Web? Please let me know. I do have another URL you can try if it continues to fail for you.

This is probably the only game in the competition with a thematic interpretation of "replay"(or, rather, "re-live"), and I love it.

I don't know if the metaphor was intentional, but it's true that when you try to do too much too quickly, things can get tangled up. This game is primarily about leaving yourself a little space.

This was a pretty cool game. The background, music, and graphics were awesome. I was kinda let down once I finished all 7 sins. I was hoping for more. Once you get the strategy down you can win almost everytime. And that kinda sucks because Then it's no fun to play.

As quite a lot of people have played this game till now, I believe that the background score was liked by many players.

I'd take this opportunity to explain the meaning of this Background score. This tune is of a shloka/verse from Shri Bhagvad Gita,

"Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani "

Meaning: Do your duty and be detached from its outcome,
do not be driven by the end product, enjoy the process of getting there.

We incorporated the above in the "replay" theme, and I think we did it nicely. I thank to all the people who enjoyed washing their sins! and having the glimpse at the ancient Indian culture and values which are still practiced not as religion but as a faith.

Visit India!

Thank you all for the wonderful comments and the constructive criticism.

Now with the voting started, if you like the game, please do vote in favour of it. Each vote is important and will go a long way in helping us build our confidence to participate in future competition with more exciting entries.

Cheers!!!

I'm glad this game wasn't lost - I like the originality of it, and the calmness. Well done!

Thank you for all your comments... we really appreciate them and if you've loved this game we'd appreciate it even more if you voted for it!

This is our first attempt at an international contest and we'd really like to take home the trophy!

Thanks again and keep playing.

I still feel that there should be more challanging levels with different ambience, background and character style.

whew...I was getting a bit frustrated there......but finally achieved enlightenment in 12 lives..... =)

I don't think that this game really is kidsafe. After all, a game centered around the seven deadly sins and avoiding eternal condemnation seems kind of dark.

the worst part about this game, is my own mouse, it occasionally jiggles on its own causing me to backtrack on my own path. I understand the thing about not crossing your past paths, but you should be able to go back on your current path. If they really want to tie this in with Karma, then the game would not only allow it, but encourage it.

I know its part of the gameplay competition, but this seems like a sub par entry for a Jay Is Review...

Teonis,

One of the motivations for people to submit competition entries is the exposure that they get by being featured in their own review, even if they don't win a prize. However, that being said, I still feel that Karma stands up well on its own. Sure, the controls were a little touchy, but the rest of the game was done well enough to make up for this minor drawback. It's unfortunate that your mouse exacerbates the problem.

It seems to me that there is still another hidden lesson in this game:
Sometimes luck just completely screws you and you cannot win.
As in getting regenerated right on top of a line, etc, etc.
Which is a very true thing about life, but when I play games I do it to get away from that side of life. I'm already well-acquainted with being unable to win; I don't see any fun in pretending to be unable to win.

Bobbyjkl attained Karmic Salvation in 9 livetimes with a Karmic score of 44,700 points. !!! lol

So after another agonizing forty minutes with this blasted game, I've realized the only thing different about it from its original submission is the critique. The game is EXACTLY THE SAME, and so all of my previous complaints carry over.

The mouse controls in picking up a line are too touchy, and make the player jump--sometimes off the grid, resulting in instant death. I've played with both touchpad AND mouse. Granted, it's an optical mouse, and not my favorite, since you can't make tiny tiny adjustments, but it still makes straight lines just fine.

The read area around the pyre is horribly implemented--sometimes it seems to level my lines out to reach it, other times, it doesn't seem to read the lines at all.

The barrier between the lines is too sensitive. If they cross, obviously that's bad, but at the Pyre especially, if I'm trying to fit between two lines, it looks like they're not touching, but suddenly I'm presented with a death notice. Even then, looking at the lines, I'll see no intersection.

Finally, and my favorite so far, I haven't ever gotten more than four sins before. On this run, I had just picked up my sixth sin, hadn't even gotten to the center yet, and it told me I had crossed a life. My ONLY guess is that the line I had drawn THAT LIFE had somehow hair-crossed itself when I picked up the shell, because there were no surrounding lines. Very fun.

So again, it's a lovely game, and I'm giving it a big shot, and I really want to beat it and love it, but no. Even your reviewer said he hadn't beaten it yet, and for a game with essentially one level, I don't think it should be such a chore. I'm sorry, but the ONLY reason I'm still playing this game is to see what the seventh sin looks like--there's no more enjoyment, just increasing frustration. Did anyone take pictures of what they look like? 'Cause as cop-out as that is, I'd be happy to forget this game if I can see them.

I don't think it's fair to attack the game for being identical to the original submission. In the original flurry of submissions, none of the games were given a proper review, and reposting them is a way of giving them due respect on an individual basis.

I do think it's fair to criticize the controls, because they spoil an otherwise interesting experience. It really doesn't matter to me what the audio-visual assets of a game are if my contact with the game world is shaky and unreliable. Just look at Jacob's post above mine to see how compelling the game could have been, were the interface solid. You want to know how it ends. You want so badly to achieve enlightenment, but you can't, not because of any challenge in the game, but because some glitch says you can't. Frustrating.

In response to Psychotronic's comment, I didn't mean to criticize the game for being the same. It's just that it's been a while since it was submitted, and to bring it up again is perfectly understandable--like, say half a year later, as a reminder. As it's still a fresh memory in our heads from the competition, I would think a re-review would mean it might be version 2.0, the improved version, you know? If anything, I'd say that's [unfortunately] an unintentional critique of the reviewers.

Rereading my comment, it is incredibly negative, and for that I do apologize sincerely. It is a nice game, and it has a lot of potential for greatness as a classic and even favorite casual game. I still stand by my remarks about gameplay, but I do wish they had come across a little more tactfully.

You've attained salvation in 21 lifetimes with a Karmic score of 95950 points.

I got up to Sloth, but I couldn't be bothered to continue.

if you have trouble holding the mouse down, go to contorl panel, printers and other hardware, mouse, and turn on click lock. XP/VISTA ONLY

Controls can be unresponsive from time to time, but all in all, it was a cute little game. Nice music.

Funny how 'wrath' always appears as the first washed sin, especially when I'm growling every time my little person dies as soon as I touch him with the mouse...
Nice game though.

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