Love Child of Go and Snake Gets Fresh UI

Istanbul, Turkey – Baris Tumerkan’s OCTOPI started out as an attempt to adapt the great qualities of the ancient game of Go into an original casual strategy/action game for the iPhone that is instantly playable. After many trials and errors, the required lightheartedness was found in an unlikely place: the mundane game of Snake. For the first few months of its life on the App Store, the game was mostly a proof of concept. This is about to change with the imminent update to v1.9.

“What I really care about is creating interesting and complex gameplay from simple rules, taking inspiration from great boardgames. But a good game needs to be -at least- not ugly.”. With this comes the new user interface of OCTOPI, designed to be minimalistic, touchable, and have a hint of a “film noir” flavor.

OCTOPI is a single player game that melts together turn-based and realtime gameplay. The player controls a creature called ‘octopi’, that consists of several circles (‘cells’). In order to ‘move’ the octopi the player adds new cells step by step, spawning new cells from the old ones by touch gestures. The spawned circles are connected to their parents through yellow lines (in fact, all close circles are connected to each other, much like ‘groups’ in Go).

Each level starts with a single ‘base cell’ that never dies and pumps life into all other cells. Each non-base (‘regular’) cell has a life span of several turns. As these regular cells die of natural causes, the younger circles that spawned from them get disconnected from the base cell. This is deadly, unless if the player can reconnect them to the base by spawning intermediary circles within three turns. Each circle that dies before its time in this way costs the player one life.

Though the mechanics of the movement of an octopi is turn-based, the game itself is not. This is where the mundane game of snake chips in. The goal of the player is to collect a certain number of coins in a certain timeframe (about one minute, depending on the level). This brings carefully designed dynamism to the player’s control of the octopi, creating user-generated action based on a few simple rules (as opposed to the usual game-generated action involving many coincidental game objects).

OCTOPI has 11 levels, starting out easy and becoming very difficult at the end (“it is impossible”, one user complained). It also has a competitive “challenge level” that can last much longer, as the player earns 8 extra seconds for every 50 points. The challenge level already has a Game Center leaderboard, and the regular levels will also get Game Center support with the update to v1.9, which was submitted for review earlier this week.

Device Requirements:
* iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
* Requires iOS 3.0 or later (iOS 4.0 Tested)
* 5.8 MB

Pricing and Availability:
OCTOPI 1.8 is currently $1.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Games category. An iPad version taking advantage of the larger screen for even richer gameplay nears completion. Promo codes for OCTOPI are available for reviewers upon request by e-mail. Contact by qualified reviewers is also welcome for a possible exclusive first look into the upcoming iPad version of OCTOPI.

Purchase and Download
Screenshots (Older Version)
App Icon

Baris Tumerkan is an independent developer based in Istanbul, Turkey. He initially created OCTOPI while finishing his master’s degree in mathematics several months ago. He is now working full time on developing OCTOPI and more for iOS devices. Copyright (C) 2010 Baris Tumerkan. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.

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