- So, I recently got Issue 70 of Future's U.S. Official Xbox Magazine, which was my first chance to check out the 'OXM Universe' episodic game which is _only_ available on OXM coverdiscs starting with the April 2007 (#69) disc. And... so far, it's not quite 'there' yet. But let's explain more!

OXM's Dan Amrich has pretty much the only official info up about OXM Universe, as a FAQ on the Xbox.com forums, explaining: "OXM: Universe is an evolutionary, episodic game available exclusively on the Official Xbox Magazine (US) game disc. It’s developed by Go Fever and OXM." No screenshots online yet, guys?

But what do you do in the 'game'? "Just put in the OXM Game Disc. You’ll notice that the background of the standard disc interface is now an animated 3D solar system. Head to "OXM Universe" on the menu to build probes, manage your space program, and explore your discoveries." So basically, you get OXM points for playing on-disc demos, filling out a survey, and watching movies all the way through - and you can then spend those points in interactive menus to build and launch spacecraft, etc.

There's been a couple of unfortunate things so far - firstly, the existing OXM Points (which are separate from normal Achievement Points) go back to 0 for this project: "The slate was wiped clean when OXM Universe launched. Everybody’s starting fresh. This was necessary, since the original plan -- to redeem OXM Points for Gamerscore points -- did not work out." However, neither the new nor the old points (which are still technically viewable if you pop in old discs) are redeemable for Gamerscore, yet - yikes!

Secondly, the content of the 'game' so far is really, really on the rudimentary side. The first two discs have you building your first spaceship. But you're just buying compulsory-to-purchase parts with your OXM Points, and there's no more interactivity in the game so far than 'click here to purchase this' - and the spaceship hasn't even launched by the end of the second disc, even if you got all the OXM Points possible, from what I can gather. I guess I was expecting something a little Outpost Kaloki X-like or something with resource management, even at this early stage?

Now, it sounds like there are big plans for rewards, expanded content, and even networked elements in the future. But my concerns are echoed by a longish thread on the forums, in which OXM reader 'Areacode' gets the tone exactly right: "I'm hoping the OXM Universe will be more than spend points upgrading things; go to a planet; read some text; unlock a "prize"; rinse, repeat. Nice, but I need more if it is a real game - otherwise the old format worked just as well, and didn't take several issues to complete. I do however love that you are trying something new, and hope it works out well. Just add more game elements to it and I will be more than happy with it." Let's see how things pan out, mm? Having physical discs compete with digital downloads is an awfully tough task.