It's not hard to see how Google's Project Tango can be utilitarian. Need directions through a crowded mall? Easy. Want to learn more about art installations as you wander through a museum? Done. What's easier to miss is just how weird things can get when you're holding a device that can sense the very environment around you, but Funomena's new Tango game Woorld serves as a pretty good reminder.
In case you hadn't heard, Funomena is an indie game studio in San Francisco that counts Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi among its ranks. Gamers probably know exactly what the means for Woorld: it's equal parts adorable and strange. In a nutshell, you'll use a Tango device to scan your surroundings -- the floor, walls, and even ceiling if it isn't too high. That initial sweep defines the realm of a tiny little world, where you place objects like plants, faucets, houses, moons and more. Why? Partially just because you can, but also to make the world -- as viewed through a screen anyway -- a little more beautiful.
See, unlike the Katamari Damacy series, or the more obtuse Noby Noby Boy, there doesn't seem to be an overarching goal in Woorld. There's an exploration mode (that we weren't allowed to play with) that basically helps you wrap your head around the arithmetic of these objects -- placing a cloud in the air and making it rain on a sprout causes the tiny plant to grow, and so on. Most of the time though, you'll be hanging out in a sandbox mode, free to place objects where you like and see how your tiny virtual world comes together. There might be more to the game -- Google didn't have much information on how the final product would turn out -- but at least we won't have to wait too long to find out.
The first consumer Project Tango device is set to launch in just a few weeks, but developers -- like Takahashi and Funomena -- have had access to development devices for months. With any luck, that means people have been toiling on similarly off-the-wall stuff to give Project Tango hardware a more profound reason to exist. Navigating about learning more about the world around us is great and all, but I can't wait to start seeing Tango apps that take the world around us and turn it on its ear.