Tau Station considered Dangerous: Game Review
I thought I’d try out Tau Station for a couple of days and get a quick blog post out of it. That was three months and 11 levels ago. It took 2 months to wind down my obsessive nature and if not for Tau, I could have pushed a couple of new module versions to CPAN by now. That’s rather the reason that I don’t play games in the first place, so I can’t give great comparisons.
To sum up, Tau Station is a web-based, second-person adventure with resource management in real-time: a Choose-your-own-Adventure book crossed with Freeciv. Oh, and it’s free. Well, freemium, but the least obtrusive freemium game I’ve ever seen.
At first, I used it as a rationalization. Every time I saw something that wasn’t amazing, I’d tell myself “But it’s free”. After a while, I started wondering “How is this free?” After 3 days and on the verge of screaming Shut up and take my money, I see the shopping cart icon that I ignore everywhere on t’Internet and the lightbulb flickers on. For me that’s a symptom of a Good UI - when you start to think about the question, the answer presents itself. They’ve put a lot of thought into Accessibility and the mobile version is as close to being as good as the desktop as you can get.
I spent a month playing free (on principle) and it’s challenging but rewarding. Stumping up the cash only really buys you time. Playing free doesn’t get you locked out of anything, really, which is astounding. I’m not as tight-fisted with Perl projects, so I’d always planned on making a donation, but as the month went on, I started making plans on what I could be doing with the various levels of backer. And yes, playing faster is fun. The virtual coffee mug is cute, one of the many small details in the background that make me smile.
The nice thing about the missions is that they maintain a sense of fun with references to Eighties movies, literary and historical figures as well as generating tension with a few crucial decisions. The first day I’m still trying to figure out how I want to play this role and then get confronted with ethical decisions that have consequences (I’d never considered my position on Robotic Rights before)
In the early days, I found myself scurrying back and forth between work and my room trying to pay for university courses. Also like real life, I found myself running to catch a shuttle, trying to remember everything I need, get a visa and some spending credits. The only difference between that and reality is I’d go to the Gym more times a day in the game than I’ve been in the last year and I’ve also written more blog posts there than here.
Players have written spoiler-free guides to Tau which you can search for or you can make it a voyage of discovery. There is enough complexity to keep it engaging over time and a welcoming community for those that like to be social. It’s a great game for the newly furloughed. It interrupts your thinking, but doesn’t take over your life. Good for waiting in the checkout or at the bus stop. My only suggestion is that if you play free, take notes. I made myself persona non grata at one station and now I can’t remember which one to avoid.
The one thing that I’d ask is, please, for the sake of the Community, find your NON-Perl friends and say “Check this game out. I think it’s written in
Other second person adventures are available.