Get buff with Self Magazine’s Workout in the Park social game

Self Workout in the Park for Facebook is a new social game based around Self Magazine’s fitness events of the same name. The game challenges players to get their avatar fit and healthy, and hopefully inspire their real-life self to do the same.

The game commences with the creation of a custom avatar. This is accomplished through the purchasing of clothes, haircuts and other body features with soft currency, a short lifestyle questionnaire and the selection of the avatar’s “body type.” Since Self Magazine is primarily aimed at women, players may only create a female avatar regardless of their own gender.

Once the game begins, the player’s experience is directed by a series of quests from three different female “coach” characters. Through these quests, the player is encouraged to purchase fitness equipment and refreshment stands for their park, engage in workouts and invite their friends to join them. By doing so, players earn various types of “points” and level up their character.

Workout in the Park makes use of a fairly complex system of statistics and rewards in order to encourage players to think about all aspects of their fitness. Visiting a refreshment stand, for example, can provide players with water, protein and vitamin points, which can then be spent on participating in workout activities. These, in turn, provide players with experience points in Fitness, Nutrition and Wellness categories, and in order to level up all three of these point banks must be filled up to 100. On top of all this, the player has an Energy bar, though unlike many social games this may be simply restored by visiting a coffee stand. Gameplay becomes a matter of balancing workout and refreshment activities in order to earn points at a good rate.

All activities may be undertaken at one of three “intensity” levels. In each case, the costs increase with each level of intensity, but the rewards are greater. Higher-intensity activities also take longer periods of real time to complete, though it’s possible to spend the game’s hard currency to immediately finish an activity if the player desires.

Alternatively, players may play the “Zen Match” minigame — two more games are also coming “soon” — while they wait for time to pass. This is a rather poorly-executed Diamond Dash clone in which players must clear groups of three or more connected gems by clicking and dragging to draw lines over them, as opposed to simply clicking as in Wooga’s title. The game does not explain its rules to players upon first playing it, and upon clicking the “help” option, players are provided with a page of information written entirely in placeholder “Lorem Ipsum” text. It also features numerous errors in its game logic: when the board has no more moves available, players must simply either quit the game or wait for time to expire, and sometimes valid moves register as illegal. The game also supposedly features the facility to compete against friends for score, though exactly how the player compares their score against their opponent isn’t made very clear.

The main gameplay features a number of flaws that spoil the experience, too. Despite a lengthy loading screen upon first starting the game, performing any action or purchasing any object seems to result in a noticeable pause while the requested animation or item loads. The game doesn’t remember the player’s preference to turn off the sounds and music — indeed it’s impossible to turn off the music independently of the sound effects. The Zen Match minigame does not respect the player’s choice of whether or not to have the sound on, instead featuring its own option button. When building items, the screen automatically scrolls when the item is moved towards its edge, but must be dragged during normal play. And certain convenient social game conventions, such as the inclusion of a button to jump straight to the appropriate store page from a “build this item” quest, are conspicuously absent.