It’s pronounced “You-me-you”
Creative sandbox style games have been popular for many years now. When Second Life launched all the way back in 2003, it was an instant hit; users could create vast and unique worlds of their own, and even program functionality into them using the built-in scripting language. Today, however, Second Life shows it’s age. It still offers deep content creation , but its interface is a chore to navigate, and its tools are not user-friendly. Recently Minecraft has been the go-to creative sandbox, offering many of the abilities that Second Life does, but in a more approachable, user-friendly package. Even with the bar set so high, Omnigon Games have their sights set on the sandbox crown with their debut title Uemeu, so how does it stack up?
Currently available as an Alpha, Uemeu is surprisingly polished. Aesthetics are clean, perhaps even stark, with a basic palette, and lots of shades of white on display – at least initially. Players inhabit the game world as a pair of avatars. For exploring you will take control of the Ueman avatar, a human-like being, with few distinguishing features. For world and object creation, players use a creepy looking hand avatar (does Master Hand from Smash Brothers have a sibling?). Switching between both avatars is seemless, and doing so leaves your previously selected avatar in place, so you can switch back and forth at your convenience. The system works well, and is far less frustrating than Second Life, where your avatar needs to be close-by to the object you are editing.
Building with the hand avatar is incredibly simple due to the intuitive and easy to navigate menu system, . Players have a variety of creation and editing tools at their disposal. Everything from colour, material, texture and physics options are available. All the usual geometric primitives are included, as well as some other less conventional shapes. Once you have a grip on the control scheme, you will be creating complex objects in no time. When an object has been created it can be grouped together and saved to your inventory, allowing you to take it on your travels across other people’s servers. One of our favourite features thus far is how easy it is to share objects with other people. Players may not directly edit anyone elses objects, however they can save their own copy and make any changes they wish. During our play time we have taken our own copies of fighter jets, tie-fighters, and even entire structures. Players who may not be the best 3D modellers can still get in on the fun, and learn from other people’s creations.
Despite still being in Alpha, Uemue features a polished multiplayer mode. Players can choose from a list of public games, or join a private game. Uemeu doesn’t burden you with remembering IP addresses, port numbers or URL’s, however. Private games can be accessed by entering a unique word set by the server admin. At some point in our gaming career we have all faffed about with incorrect IP addresses and port numbers, so this system is much appreciated, and will benefit the less technically minded.
During our time with the game, we spent a number of hours in the company of the developers, and other members of the Omnigon Games staff. Weekly themed play sessions and community outreach are an integral part to the development of Uemeu. These sessions are a great chance to see the pro’s at work, collect some new creations, and gain insight on future updates.
As an Alpha, Uemeu obviously has it’s kinks, but there are very few. Loading multiplayer worlds with thousands of objects can be very buggy, and may be impossible depending on how many the world contains. While this did annoy us, we took it as an opportunity to streamline our builds to reduce object count. Stalls and crashes did affect all members of the CIG team, but as updates have rolled out, they have become less frequent and certainly shouldn’t put you off buying the game.
The future for Omnigon Games is very bright. Seldom have we encountered an Alpha game that feels as complete as Uemeu does. Although a long road lays ahead before the game’s completion, it currently offers a very enjoyable creative experience, for 3D modelling experts and newbies alike.