Putting personality in pie charts with Metrico

Metrico is a platformer about bar graphs, pie charts, statistics and angles, asking players to repeat motions in order to shrink and grow their surroundings and advance through various vague landscapes. It's minimalistic and the presentation is concise – your character (a boy or girl) is a silhouette, and the surrounding objects are largely monotone.

The build we played in August was rough, but almost one year on, the game is starting to round out. The animations are smooth, the puzzles border on frustrating difficulty without actually becoming a chore, and the game takes advantage of all of the Vita's senses. A fingertip on the back touch pad aims a line to measure angles, the bumpers shoot a projectile, and you use the touchscreen to select the gender of your character.

Metrico feels like it's almost done, and Digital Dreams CEO Thijmen Bink says it might be ready for launch in a few months' time. The team has to polish the final levels and do one more, tiny thing: add a story.

There's an inherent narrative within Metrico, so it's not as if the studio is shoehorning a story into the game, Bink says. The team wants to ensure that the metaphors presented in the game's simplistic design carry through logically to the narrative. It's a deep story that relates to the player's real life, Bink says. He doesn't want to give it away just yet.

"We want players to think about their actions," Bink said.

In playtests, players have been blindsided by Digital Dream's attempts to add story to Metrico, so now it's time for tweaking, more playtesting and more tweaking.

Metrico is a Vita-only, Sony Pub Fund game, meaning it's guaranteed a certain financial return regardless of sales, once the game launches. Bink says he isn't concerned about the number of Vitas in the market, and he knows that without a lot of action, this isn't a game for everyone. At PAX East, Metrico occupied a stall across from games like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Killer Instinct, and players from those booths would play Metrico for five seconds and walk away, Bink said.

"Not everyone has to play it, as long as people enjoy it," he said. Besides, he may have just discovered a hidden audience for Metrico: Kids.

Metrico had a booth at SXSW 2014 stuffed with beanbag chairs, headphones and Vitas, and Bink noted that on the weekend, roughly 60 percent of visitors were families – usually parents and two kids. The children really got into Metrico, he says. One 5-year-old boy got half-way through world two (a feat that takes me, an adult, roughly half an hour and considerable mental strain).
[Image: Digital Dreams]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.