Curiosity is a new ‘game’ (experiment) from 22 cans, Peter Molyneux’s new company. I’m not going to go into the problems and controversy over what’s happening with it lately and just discuss it as an interesting game exercise.
The game is very simple. You have a cube made up of many other cubes. You zoom into a face and begin tapping on the small cubes which shatter with a satisfying ‘tink’ sound. As you keep tapping cubes without missing one, or waiting too long between taps, you’ll increase the score multiplier. At the end of a ‘run’ (when you do miss or wait too long) you’ll get a score of the number of cubes destroyed, modified by your multiplier. You also get a bonus for clearing all cubes currently on a screen.
This score is represented as coins. If you get enough coins you can buy Weapons of Huge Destruction such as grenades. I believe there were also plans to allow people to pay real money for some of these weapons (some run into the hundreds of thousands of coins to purchase), but that doesn’t seem to have happened.
At the same time hundreds, if not thousands, of other people are also chipping away at the cube. So as you work you can see other sections disappear – and sometimes find the section you’re working on is gone too.
The ‘point’, if you will, of removing cubes is to get to the layer underneath which is – surprise – more cubes. Eventually a single person will find out what’s at the heart of this overblown pass-the-parcel game.
I’m vaguely interested in what is at the center, more because I don’t believe anything can live up to the “hype” and time investment. What I’m more interested in is how much fun this game is – at least to someone like me.
The task itself is daunting. You zoom in on a face, then zoom in some more, then even more and finally you see the cubes you can destroy. If you clear a path (say) a screen height or width, then zoom back out again, you see you’ve made a tiny, miniscule path that you can barely see!
Yet there is something vaguely compelling about this. The first part of this, I think, are the game ‘bonuses’. You gain a coin for each broken cube. As you tap more cubes, a number on the left slowly counts up, and rises up the screen as well, giving you a visual indication of how “well” you’re doing. It also keeps the last “best run” of taps at the top left for you to aim for.
In addition, as you tap, if you keep your current run rising, then you’ll get score multipliers. This all urges you to keep tapping, being careful not to miss, and also flipping the screen to show the next lot of cubes as quickly as possible.
The fact that you get a bonus for simply clearing a screen of cubes leads to learning to do things in chunks. You move the screen, clear it, move the screen a bit, clear it, and so on. I’m still not sure how the bonus for clearing a screen is calculated as I’ve had bonuses from 160 right up to several thousand. However, the urge to get that bonus, while still increasing your multiplier and current ‘run’ is kept high.
The second part of keeping you playing is that often you’re uncovering a new picture with each tap. However you have to do a lot of tapping to even uncover (say) a car wheel in a huge street scene.
The third part is what some might call the ‘gaming zone’. This is where you get into an almost meditative state where you simply react. In this game, due to the ambient music, the very smooth sound effects and the repetitive task, you can easily slip into that state and just keep going, and going.
I suppose some might also be motivated by that ‘prize’ at the centre too.
It’s not a game I’d buy, certainly, but for what it is, it’s an interesting experiment in using very simple game mechanics, and it is easy to lose myself in when I have nothing else to do (like when I can’t sleep at night).
Oh, and I’ve also made a decision about the prize. Should I be the “lucky” one to find out what it is, I’m simply not going to tell anyone what it is. Apparently one thing 22 Cans and Peter Moleneux want to see is how the news of it is spread. I figure I’ll be adding to the data points for them.