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makuto

What "Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube?" teaches us about game design

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So, after hearing a little about Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube (22Cans & Peter Molyneux) , I finally downloaded the free IPhone app to see what all the fuss was about. This ended up being a great decision because I learned more about game design when I played Curiosity.

 

In case you don't know, Curiosity is a game about a massive cube that has hundreds of millions of tiny cubes covering the next layer of cubes. Everyone connects to the same server and edits the same cube, making beautiful, massive, and sometimes revolting pictures in the layer. I'd strongly recommend you try out the game because of what makes it truly genius.

 

The hardest part of designing a game like Curiosity was likely player attachment. How do you get thousands of people to tap millions of cubes every single day? This is where the genius of Curiosity shines through. They took the absolutely monotonous task of tapping tiny cubes and made a system that is extremely exciting and addictive.

 

Basically, every cube is worth a point. When you tap several cubes in a row, you get point multipliers (the highest I've gotten is x18). You will lose your multiplier if you 1)wait too long to tap the next cube or 2)tap an empty space. These two mechanics make it so you literally cannot put the game down. Rule 1 makes it so you have to fiercely slide to the nearest cube, and Rule 2 makes it so you can't just spam cubes as fast as you can. There's also a point bonus for clearing every cube off of your IPhone's screen, forcing the players to be even more uniform than they might already be.

 

Rules 1 & 2 are the most important pieces of the game. They make your heart race when you are only a few hundred points from that last high score but you could lose it by making a single wrong move.

 

So, what do you guys think? How would you approach designing a game where the player has to do a seemingly monotonous task? Make sure you get the game and try it out yourself, I'm sure you wont regret it.

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I agree with WildField on this one.

 

Hadn't heard of Curiosity before, went and played it for about 5 minutes before i got bored, and left.

To me the fact that there were other players there was kind of interesting, and there's the slight curiosity of what's in the center.

 

But at the end, it's still just clicking cubes, and I really don't feel like doing that. The point system didn't make it any less monotonous than it sounds for me.

And there's also this thing that only one person will find out what's at the center. Why am I playing this?

 

Making fun games where monotony is nowhere to be found sounds like a better idea.

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That's a good question.  Say you have a great idea for a game but, in the prototype, you find that the player gets stuck in monotonous situations (ex: just about any RPG).  The idea could still be great but it wouldn't hurt to make the more monotonous play become more interesting.  How do you do that?

 

I played Curiosity when it first came out and I wasn't too impressed.  There was a bit of satisfaction in clearing screens, running up bonuses and seeing other cubes removed by other players.  The sound effects give the whole experience a bubble wrap feel as well.  However, after a couple of plays, I put it down, bored.

 

By itself, there isn't enough here to keep me interested.  In a larger game, on the other hand, I can see where the OP has a point.  In many games where monotonous play rears it's ugly head, the designers just leave it as-is, relying on the overall game experience.  However, some simple Curiosity-like additions could change the whole experience.  In an RPG where player's are inevitably going to be grinding, why not add bonuses for combo "streaks" to the combat mechanics, getting them to their goals faster?  In an MMO, how about introducing XP grinding that enhances the general play experience on the server and award the player for it.  Or...

 

...if the player is grinding... let 'em fight bubble wrap. =b

 

Hey, it's better than telling your players that only the first player to beat the game gets to see the ending. =D

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I suppose the lesson you learn is that different people interpret situations differently. What appeals to one player may revolt another player, and sometimes you have to target a specific niche.

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So, what do you guys think? How would you approach designing a game where the player has to do a seemingly monotonous task?

I would ask myself "WHY?". Because instead you can make games which are not monotonous, with great variety and just plain fun. We have enough monotonous games already.

I'm sure all of us will come across something that isn't very fun halfway through a project that we can't just dump. Besides, it's a great design exercise.

 

That's a good question.  Say you have a great idea for a game but, in the prototype, you find that the player gets stuck in monotonous situations (ex: just about any RPG).  The idea could still be great but it wouldn't hurt to make the more monotonous play become more interesting.  How do you do that?

 

I played Curiosity when it first came out and I wasn't too impressed.  There was a bit of satisfaction in clearing screens, running up bonuses and seeing other cubes removed by other players.  The sound effects give the whole experience a bubble wrap feel as well.  However, after a couple of plays, I put it down, bored.

 

By itself, there isn't enough here to keep me interested.  In a larger game, on the other hand, I can see where the OP has a point.  In many games where monotonous play rears it's ugly head, the designers just leave it as-is, relying on the overall game experience.  However, some simple Curiosity-like additions could change the whole experience.  In an RPG where player's are inevitably going to be grinding, why not add bonuses for combo "streaks" to the combat mechanics, getting them to their goals faster?  In an MMO, how about introducing XP grinding that enhances the general play experience on the server and award the player for it.  Or...

 

...if the player is grinding... let 'em fight bubble wrap. =b

 

Hey, it's better than telling your players that only the first player to beat the game gets to see the ending. =D

So, when you do have a monotonous/unfun piece of your game that you can't necessarily throw away, how do you think you would approach that mechanic in order to make it more interesting and fun?

 

The whole last cube touched is the winner thing isn't that good of an idea :).

 

I suppose the lesson you learn is that different people interpret situations differently. What appeals to one player may revolt another player, and sometimes you have to target a specific niche.

That's also true.

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"Your world affects another"

 

People view player attachment wrong. They consider "How to make the player feel attached to their world" without considering asynchronous interactions. Let's take Dark Souls as an example again (since I already have before, it's just os easy to provide examples as). Dark Souls provides players with asynchronous interaction of other people's worlds. They can do three things:

-Leave summon signs, in order to help people clear areas/bosses or have duels

-Invade anothers world to fight to the death

-leave messages to hinder or help other players

 

In all of this, not once has the player made this world their own. Rather, they've either helped or hindered that persons world. Interesting isn't it, to know that you own your world, and no-one else can do anything about it and yet you are able to interact with other people's worlds. Possessive Interaction, I'll call it. This is where you still feel in control of your own world, but have multiplayer synchronous to make you feel as if your part of a community.

Cause that's what people really want out of a game.

To be part of something, without losing their individuality.

In dark Souls, your are part of a thriving community of like-minded players, and yet you hold total reign over your own world.

 

I'm getting side-tracked, and probably repeating myself, but I hope you understand what I'm saying here.

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