Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Metaroom Review: Ostrova

After reading the responses to the previous post, I've decided that the name is staying the same for now. However, I do plan on changing it in the future once I can come up with something that can't be an unexpected way. Anyway, moving on.

I've been considering doing metaroom reviews for a while now, but held off on it for some reason (I don't think my initial review of the Lost Cave managed to hit all the points I wanted to make - it was never published). However, this blog shall be a decent testing ground for this potential new series.

My first published review will be of one of the few third-party metarooms one has to pay for - Ostrova, by Chaos Development. So let's get down to business.

Upon injecting Ostrova, you're greeted with this. Having an introduction screen is always a nice touch, and it's also nice that there are several help screens to let players know what's what (although I do admit I missed the snowball teleporters completely when I initially injected the room despite the big honking sign).

Yet another help screen. Clicking on these gets rid of them, since most players are unlikely to want them sticking around long after their purposes have been served.
From this picture, you can already see one of my gripes about the area: it's quite barren initially, and since the entire metaroom is mostly Air + Indoor Corridor, there's not much you can do to customize it outside of stuff like the Gaius plants (which won't benefit most creatures anyway).

 Graphically...well, I wouldn't call this metaroom a work of art. The background itself is rather well done apart from the completely white floor of the upper level - in particular, the parts taken from C3 (the stars and some of the walls) blend in with the original graphics quite well. However, most of the original graphics haven't aged well. Look at this picture, and then look at the Biodome or Devil's Reef, then look back at this picture. Compared to some recent metarooms, the images here look like they were made by someone who was an utter newbie at modeling.

Some of the agents do look nice, though. The penguin and trees are the standouts in this picture.

That "wall" to the left can actually be walked through. Oversight, much?
Ostrova's layout is one of its strong points. It's quite easy for creatures to get around, and there's no places where they could get stuck.
This pond has nothing in it initially besides a rather large egg, but that's easily fixed. The egg is part of a puzzle, in case you're wondering - yet another one of Ostrova's strong points.

As I mentioned earlier, Ostrova is really barren initially. The developers, however, decided that more lifeforms could be added to the room via these tubes. This tube creates 3 caterpillars that will (or rather, could - I've never seen them complete their lifecycle) become butterflies. Unfortunately, there's only three of these tubes, and they really don't do much to add to the room.

This is what the pond looks like when both of the tubes above it have been activated - you've got fish, bugs, and a plant. The rightmost tube needs to be activated multiple times before the sponge can take root - and even once it gets planted it rarely lasts long.
There's another problem with this room, and that is a lot of its coding isn't original. Everything in this picture is based on a C3 critter (the fish are based on clownfish, the bugs are based on aquamites, and the based on a sponge), and besides having different images they're completely identical to their official counterparts, right down to the sponge spores and bugs not being edible and everything requiring salt water to live in (although this pond is salt water, so that latter point isn't much of an issue).

Allow me to reiterate one of my complaints from before - Ostrova is incredibly barren, especially the upper level. These fruits are the only thing that don't require a vendor to be obtained on the upper level - actually, everything that grows naturally is classified as a fruit. It's not a particularly good metaroom for your creatures if you don't plan on interacting with them much.

The only other source of food on the upper level is the snowman, who will occasionally spit out a hunk of cheese when pushed. It usually vends toys, though - although that does mean your creatures won't be that bored.
Also, I forgot to mention that the DS version gets a mini empathic vendor injected into it at the start. Another testament to how little this room has in the way of food items.

  The lower level is probably the best place for most creatures in terms of food. The stocking vends both lemons and carrots in addition to the cheese from the snowman, and there's a soup vendor. The reddish fruits are classified as manky and are quite alcoholic. This is probably one of the better designed areas in Ostrova, in my opinion. Also, that radio plays some cool (no pun intended) tunes when clicked on.

While this little issue can be forgiven given how long Ostrova's been around, there's no CA emitters to be found in here, and the levels are not linked. This means that creatures in Ostrova won't use the elevators intentionally and will often find themselves huddled in the corners. Some of the agents do emit CA - albeit the wrong ones (the snowballs from the launchers emit starch smell for some reason).

While this more a nitpick than anything else, the developers weren't very creative with their naming scheme. In fact, a lot of the names range from odd to stupid. The sponge is in the odd category - can you even pronounce that? I know I can't.

Ostrova does come with its own grendel breed, the Yeren Grendels. Design-wise, they're actually pretty neat. However, like a lot of other things in this room, they reek of laziness. They have sprites for the childhood and adolescent stages, but the adult and old lifestages are just copy-pasted from the adolescent lifestage. It doesn't help that they have body data issues upon becoming adult (although I'm planning on fixing this). They also don't have a unique genome to back them up - they just use the Banshee genome with a different appearance. 

In short: Ostrova is a decent - but not great - metaroom. It has a good layout, some original concepts, and is mostly instinct friendly. Creatures can survive and thrive in here, but they'll need support from the hand in order to do so. However, it's bogged down by only decent to mediocre graphics, lack of CA, and lack of overall originality in coding. Some things about the room and its corresponding breed just look like laziness and/or a desire to just get the thing done.

Final Score: 5/10

One final note: Like I stated earlier, Ostrova isn't free. You have to buy it from Chaos Development's current website. It's not cheap, either - it costs $12.50 in U.S. money. For comparison, you can buy Creatures Exodus from for less than half of that. As you can probably guess from the score I gave it, I don't think it's worth that much - if it's worth anything at all. I really think Chaos Development really needs to look at the current state of the CC, since that price tag suggests they aren't aware that we're still around.

And so concludes my first metaroom review. I'd like feedback on how well I did - do you guys think it's fair, or do you disagree?


  1. Awesome post. I do not own Ostrova, but I have always been curious about it. This was a nice, thorough review and as far as I can tell, you covered everything! I enjoyed reading this a lot and would definitely like to see more metaroom reviews!

  2. I've always wondered about this room and whether or not it was worth paying for. I'd expect something at least as good as the Norn Garden if I was going to pay and after such an indepth review I think I'll hold onto my cash.

    If you're going to keep doing these reviews could I request doing the Norn Garden2? Or whichever one it is that costs.

    1. I'll probably get to the Norn Gardens at some point, yes. I'm not too certain if I'll do all of them at once or just one part at a time.

  3. Great review. I think it was more than fair, especially given the price of the Metaroom. The pros and cons of the room are explained well, and you give specific reasons as to why you did or did not like something.

    The only thing I would have liked to have seen was more information about Ostrova in regards to when it was developed. Being unfamiliar with the room myself, it would help me to understand the graphic choice or perhaps why the price is so high.

    Anyways, like Bizarra said, I would love to see more Metaroom reviews.

    1. Ostrova is an incredibly old metaroom - according to the credits, it was released sometime before 2004. Back then, Creature Labs was still around and the games probably were around 3-5 times Ostrova's price.

      These days, Ostrova is really mediocre compared to near masterpieces like Aquatilis Caverna or the Devil's Reef. However, I imagine that it was much more well received back when it was first released. As such, I'm wondering if I judged it a bit too hard given that the time Ostrova was made had different standards than the present day.

    2. Ahh okay, thank you very much for the explanation! In that case, I do not believe you were being too harsh at all. In 2004 (and before that) there were 3D graphic programs available (like 3D Studio Max) that could produce quality well beyond that which was shown in the models that Ostrova used. The snowman and stocking, for example, use simple shapes that do not appear to be edited at all. Even in an older program, it wouldn't take long to make that. (The snowman's hat isn't even centered...)

      Had the room been free, or inexpensive, I think it would be more forgivable as the programs, or computing power necessary to render the images, were not necessarily available to everyone. However, as they were charging a professional price, I would personally have expected a much more professional quality.

      Also, even if the standards were not quite as high previously, (as we've all been spoiled with some fantastic additions from the community), I still think it's fair to hold the room up to the same standards that we have for newer metarooms. Otherwise, the review wouldn't be relevant to the current community. (Okay, this post is a bit long. My apologies.)

  4. Excellent review, Grendel Man! As everyone has stated, I've also been curious about Ostrovo. You covered a lot of great points very well, and provided a very in-depth review. I'll be hanging onto my money for the time being, especially with such a hefty price tag! I look forward to reading more of these reviews in the future: It's a great way to showcase different meta rooms and help players decided which ones would be the best to use!

  5. Wow, thanks for the praise on Devil's Reef. That means quite a lot.

    Although I've never had Ostrova, from the points you mention the rating does seem fair. The modeling is definitely very simplistic... compare their plant thing to the C2 venus flytrap, for instance. I've released models for free that are better quality than that, because I couldn't in good conscience charge money for them. I can understand that the development tools weren't free back then and the games and breed packs were quite expensive, but it definitely feels overpriced now.

    I also didn't know the Yerens lacked adult body sprites, which was a good point to make--especially since, if I had bought Ostrova it would have been for the Yerens, not the metaroom.

    I'd love to see more metaroom reviews in the future.