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Rating: 4.6/5 (26 votes)
Comments (42) | Views (5,041)
osmosis.gifJohnBSheeeeeep!!! Hyper cute (and fuzzy) critters star in Thief creator Phillip Reagan's Osmosis, an entry to our 4th Casual Gameplay Design Competition. It seems you've fallen asleep while taking a test (again), so the sheep of slumberland decide to lend you a hand. Each maze-like stage has one or more sheep which must make it to the goal. Being a dream and all, you have control over some forces you normally don't have power over, such as gravity and friction. By changing the direction and power of these forces you can move the sheep around, careful to avoid the orange areas that put them to sleep. It's equal parts action and puzzle woven into a webtoy-like atmosphere that's as creative as it is fun.

The most inviting aspect of Osmosis is the mouse drawing gesture interface. Instead of clicking a button or hitting a keyboard key, Osmosis gives you a big pencil and a short list of shapes to draw. The easiest is a straight horizontal line that sends your sheep spinning in the direction you draw. To reverse or increase gravity, simply scribble a vertical line. Increasing and decreasing friction is as easy as drawing part of a triangle. The chief barrier to most gesture systems is having to memorize a large set of commands. In the case of Osmosis, however, you only have a few things to remember, and they're all so simple it takes no effort at all.

Analysis: One thing I would really like to compliment Phillip on is the high level of polish he's given Osmosis. Everything in this game shines, from the underpinning game mechanics to the gorgeous presentation and relaxing music. The big, brightly colored and slightly shadowed elements in the game pop off the screen and beg you to play. I encountered a few minor hiccups in the gesture recognition system, but nothing smarter penmanship didn't correct.

A very slight obstacle in Osmosis is the level of difficulty. The game fools you into a relaxed mode with its polished presentation and soothing music then jolts you awake and forces you to both think and act quickly to move sheep through the stages. Some levels are downright tough, but the challenge is usually a welcome one.

Cheers to Phillip for an excellent game! (And one that very nearly placed within the prize winners.)

Play Osmosis

JayJay - I love to see games entered into our competitions that show creativity and style. Phillip demonstrates both along with his ability to take a concept such as "ball physics" and create something wholly unique from that; something completely unexpected. Games based on a gestural mechanic are not necessarily unique, but Osmosis is playful, creative and fun, and a fantastic competition entry. My only criticism would be that the gestural input, although a creative application for a platformer and well executed here, does not seem necessary for the design of this game. A very minor complaint, however, to a very polished entry. Well done, Phillip!


Kellyhalia October 5, 2007 9:43 PM

Wow, you all should seriously have heard me say "sheeeeeeeep!!!" just now. LOL, I'm crazy. But this game is SO CUTE!! Not just the graphics, but the backstory :-)

And when I looked at all the instructions (nice and clear, by the way!) I thought I was going to have trouble remembering them all and implementing them, but no such problems!


holy polished game batman! what a neat take on the physics theme... ramps up nicely... awesome job


Great idea, beautiful execution, and the gesture recognition is just fantastic with a drawing tablet!


Very cute, but I've one bit of criticism. The fact that your directional controls are reversed when the gravity is going upwards is rather confusing, and it makes it difficult to keep going in the same direction when you're changing gravity. Anything to be done for that? It felt very conterintiutive. On the second level, I couldn't figure out why my sheep just wouldn't go right when I kept drawing right...


Freezair, its the direction of rotation, not the direction you want it to move. I think its nice to see that effect properly put into play.

Nicely done, and it gets a lot easier to change gravity and direction quickly when you realise you dont need to draw the little dots on the end of your lines.


Wow. Great game. Graphics, sound, physics, all of it. Definitely a quality entry to this competition.

Kyle E. Moore October 6, 2007 1:43 AM

Either it's a glitch, or I'm doing something wrong. Everytime I try and reduce friction, I lose. Why's that?


My favourite so far I think!

Best thing about it for me was that every single time I sent a sheep to sleep (which is a lot of times, believe me) it was because I'd messed something up. So although a lot of the challenges are tough (and I still haven't finished the game) they feel fair too and aren't just annoying.

Love the music, too.

Anonymous October 6, 2007 3:37 AM

Frustrating yet one of the most inventive so far!


Hmm. I hit the first orange bar in level 4 but did not lose. I can't recreate it though.

Anyway. Great game! I like the way the ball physics were implemented here, I think it is the first game where they didn't go out of their way to make it blatantly obvious that balls are being used in the game. It is calm and requires thought and I want to play it more. I am especially pleased with how well the symbol recognition is for the game, making the play very intuitive. (I disagree about the reversing on ceilings being confusing, that was exactly the thing I expected)


So far the winner for me!

A great and very original idea, well designed levels, great intro-level set and the gesture-recognition control system is alone something in itself that would deserve some kind of award I think.

Very well done, Phillip!


Coldfrog says: "I hit the first orange bar in level 4 but did not lose."

Strange - when I hit the orange bar, the sheep didn't turn orange but the level was reset to the start. I guess that might be a tiny glitch, but it doesn't disrupt the game, does it?


Very nice game, but for some reason for me the gesture recognition does not work very well at all. Might just be my mouse, but the friction especially caused problems for me. I think I found that one of them needs to be drawn in the opposite direction that indicated in the diagram. Also trying to open help reset the level each and every time for me. Like I said though, other people seems to not be having trouble with it, so it might just be my mouse.

I also agree with Freezair that the horizontal directional switch when changing the gravity was very odd and I'm not so sure that it makes as much sense as coldfrog said.

But other than that it's really quite original and interesting.


I'm puzzled about the gesture recognition, sure it works nicely, but for me I'm not sure why it's added when using keys would have made the task simpler.


Sorry! I just realised that the dots are the start point and not the end points! I feel so silly. yeah the gesture recognition works fine now hehe!


One more little note: the mouse-gesture recognition doesn't work a 100%, I found that the gravity-cancelling circular movement is very keenly taken for the friction-reduction.

deadassassin October 6, 2007 5:47 AM

favourite so far. inventive, intuitive, fun, not stupidly hard, decent length, good music and graphics. and its cute. the effort put into it is obvious.


There have been a few games for me this competition that I thought were really well done, but I've been waiting for a game to come along that would make me say, "Yes. This is it."

Well... this is it. :D

As was mentioned above, the game is very polished. I found it very intuitive, and the gestures seem to work very well (on one occasion a down friction gesture was interpreted as a spin gesture, but I will admit that it was pretty crappily drawn). The music is unobtrusive and soothing as well. Very nice over all. An ideal casual game, expertly executed.

I'm trying to think of a criticism. I'm only on level 5 so far, so maybe something will pop up later.


this was a fun game to play! it definitely ticked the ball physics box for its spin, gravity and collisions but also managed to keep the cute factor in there.

having said that there wasn't much of a replay factor.. I found it quite difficult. i think it was probably something you can either do or you can't, i couldn't get the hang of it! the music also irritated me but i think i'm being a bit silly now! it was slightly reminiscent of some kind of spanish fiesta...

it definitely deserves one of the prizes though!


Excellent implementation of the theme, cute graphics, soothing music, funny backstory and great gameplay. The concept is especially endearing to me, being a physicist and all.

This game should easily be a contender for the top spot.


Hurrah! Finished!

To my earlier comments I'd like to add:

Great level design and difficulty curve. The penultimate level with the two disposable sheep was particularly elegant!

Overall: 10/10


Clever game especially using the sheep, best use of ball physics so far


Rather tricky handling to start off with but once I mastered the shapes and what they meant then it became quite satisying although I am playing with a Wacom tablet so it's even more satisfying.

I think I really like this game!

Neoplayer2 October 6, 2007 12:04 PM

5 words...
1 The
2 Best
3 Game
4 So
5 FAR!!!!!!

AWESOME GAME! very intuitive, and probably will win the contest, judging by the other games!


Oh. The spinning reverses direction when you're on the ceiling. Guess it makes sense when you think about it, but it might've been more obvious if it was counter clockwise and clockwise instead of left and right.


Very nice game. I think it grows difficult too fast though. Maybe some intermediary levels to make a smoother transition would help.


I can't get past level 10, and it's driving me nuts. Sacrificing sheep and slamming the blocks into the corner just barely doesn't get them far enough, and I can't think of another good approach that wouldn't take some crazy gravity manipulation


Thanks for the great feedback everyone!

Kat: Good idea on the clockwise/counter-clockwise indicator. The left/right arrows on the spin meter are a bit confusing since it's easy to misinterpret them as direction instead. A clockwise/counter-clockwise arrow should help with that. Thanks!

As for why I chose to use mouse gestures instead of keyboard controls as Capuchin asked; I felt it was the easiest control scheme given the amount of things the player needed to control. It's harder to remember some arbitrary keys then it is to draw some simple symbols based on what you want to do IMO.

Plus, it's fun and it piques the player's curiousity. Using the keyboard, I was afraid people would skip the instructions, get frustrated and quit the game. The pencil and drawing creates a "What the heck is this?" moment that helps to focus the player's attention on reading the instructions.

ragsdr: Here's a spoiler on level 10. It is a tough one and I agree with previous comments that the difficulty ramps up a bit to quick towards then end. I'll work on fixing that.

Raise the gravity upwards. After everything has settled, set the sheep to spin right (clockwise ;) ), which will make them go left. After the sheep hits the ball, goes to sleep and stops bouncing, turn of the gravity and stop the spin of the sheep.
Once all the orange objects have floated all the way to the left, increase the friction by about 2 and set the gravity to pull down at full strength. The increased gravity and friction stops the objects from bouncing and moving to far away from the wall.
Now you use the sheep closest to the exit to move the box on the floor to the wall. Reduce the friction down all the way. Now sacrifice the sheep by ramming it into the box. As soon as it falls asleep turn off the gravity. Once the box and sheep reach the far wall, turn the gravity back on and increase the friction, preferably to 2.
Now everything should be packed pretty tightly against the wall or at least tightly enough that you can get the other two sheep through. Keep the friction set fairly high so that when you're messing with gravity to get the other sheep to the exit, the orange objects don't bounce to far away from the wall.
Thats all there is to it. Simple as brain surgery. ;)

fairyhedgehog October 8, 2007 9:20 AM

I loved this game but I'm stuck on level 5. A few more learning levels would be good for slow old folks like me (I'm in my 50s).

It's cute, it's fun, and I really liked the mouse gestures. But then I do use Firefox :)


Awesome game.
If your going to do a clockwise-counter clockwise paradigm then i suggest that the sheep "grip" and get movement from the right and left side walls. btw, I had turned off gravity and expected the sheep to bounce off the vertical walls maintaining their vertical velocities but they did not do this. They just "fell" in the direction of gravity.
on level 4 the bar collision seems not to detect the orange color (bad touch) in the middle of the bar if lightly collided.


Frustrating. Anytime the pencil goes outside the window, Osmosis doesn't realize that the mouse has gone up, so it just keeps drawing and my window of opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do passes.

KingofTown October 12, 2007 9:36 PM

Wonderful interpretation of the theme. Easily in my favorite 3 of the competition.

A few times when I hit an orange bar, I did not turn orange. The bar reacted to my impact by moving however. This happened pretty often for me on one level...though not every time. I will admit, I won that level on this bug. After many many tries on that level, I thought I had lost, but I only bounced off the orange bar...and won that try :-)

If this were ebay, I would give you an A++++++++++++
Since it's JIG, I'll just say thanks, and show my support come vote time :-)


Thanks again for all of your great feedback! I've made some changes to the game based on your suggestions:

  • The levels you've beaten are now saved and can be replayed at anytime by clicking on "Dreams" in the main menu and clicking the one you want to play.

  • I added an "Options" menu where the music and sound volume can be adjusted. Also, you can adjust the graphic quality and turn on/off the in-game hints. The options menu can be found by opening the "Help" menu and clicking the Options tab at the top.

  • I added 2 more levels to the game. One is a beginner difficulty and the other is of intermediate skill

  • The spin meter up top now show the clockwise/counter-clockwise direction you're spinning instead of just indicating right or left

  • Fixed a bug where the orange bars wouldn't put the sheep to sleep sometimes

  • Fixed the bug Peter mentioned where releasing the mouse button outside the window will cause the pencil to get stuck in a non-stop drawing mode

  • Fixed the bug bioLarzen mentioned where the level seemed to just restart.

I hope you all enjoy the new version and please continue to leave any feedback (good or bad) as I greatly appreciate it!


Great game very enjoyable, though I ran into trouble with the no gravity and restart functions, they were very similar and I would often try to turn off gravity and the game would restart. Other than this, the game worked without a hitch.


I am having much difficulty getting past Level 12-I cannot seem to gauge the gravity vs. friction correctly to get past obstacles. Suggestions?


Hello all. I figured out Level 12. It is so simple. I originally thought the execution would be much more complicated.


The solution to Level 12 is simple and yet more complicated than I thought. Now that I have successfully completed Level 13 I must say this was one of the MOST intriguing games I have ever played. Congratulations on a terrific challenge and an even better game.


aww it's cute! its a nice little concept, and you can't help but smile at it!

^_^ sheeeeeeep! BAAAAAAAAA!


Why is it that level three seems much more difficult than it did last night? I am having a very difficult time passing it now. Very weird... I know I am just missing something very obvious though.


can you fix that the third orange ball on level three isn't too close? i had to reverse gravity to get through the way!

flowerdoggie August 14, 2009 10:03 PM

Sometimes when I play a competition game the logos and stuff are off center in the window that pops up and I won't be able to see the whole game screen.

[Edit: I'm fixing it right now. In the meantime, just drag the bottom right corner of the the pop-up window to make it larger. -Jay]

flowerdoggie August 21, 2009 8:09 PM

Thanks Jay! I can't believe I didn't think of the drag the corner thing.


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