This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

The World Must Work Together to Clear Cubelets

Posted by: James Lileks under Technology Updated: November 20, 2012 - 12:24 PM

Sixty-three degrees tomorrow. The woman working the kettle outside of Cub was singing last night: “Oh the weather outside’s delightful / and fire is so delightful / please no snow please no snow please no snow.” She missed a line, but you can’t argue with the sentiments.

Bad news for Sesame Street fans and other friends of Dorothy, the Goldfish: The voice of Elmo has resigned. Did he write the letter with his magic crayon? One guy who recanted his accusation for $125K now wants to undo the deal and reassert the assertions. Sigh.

1st AMENDMENT I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death the right to pressure social networks to keep you from saying it: The New York Times shuts down a parody Twitter account.

ICK Confirmed: the people who work for hotels are passive-aggressive jerks. Okay, some guests may be rude and demanding. But apparently that gives them the right to go into anyone’s room and look through their things. Fun fact: they’ll turn off your keycard if you get on their nerves. This happened to me in LA a few weeks ago; the card just stopped working. They said it was because I’d put it next to my iPhone. After that I got paranoid about having them in the same pocket, and patted my pockets constantly to make sure they didn’t get close. We have to worry about the strangest things in the modern world.

Like whether someone in Argentina will click on the last cubelet before we do. Which brings us to:

GAMES “It is necessary for the world to entirely remove one layer of cubelets before the next layer becomes available for destruction.” That’s a line from the manual for Curiosity, a mobile-platform game designed to see how many people will stab obsessively at their device for hours for no good reason. The answer? MILLIONS.

The game requires you to clear blocks on an enormous cube by tapping on them. Other people are also tapping all over the world. When all the blocks have been cleared, a message will be revealed - the one person who taps the last block.

When you start the game, you get a stark screen with a simple question:

 

 

And then the entire world got this strange, enigmatic reply . . .

 

 

Why, whatever could it mean? It meant they had no idea how the system would handle demand, I guess. Makes you wonder if ORCA was the game’s engine. Well, it’s up and running now, and seems able to handle demand. I say that because I got in, and that’s the usual metric on the web. “Well, it’s working here (shrug) YMMV.”

 

I just deleted the thing. People at the company that made the game were peeved by the server problems:

 

 

 

Says pocketgamer.biz:

Its aim is to be one of a total of 22 experiments designed to strip back play and deliver meaningful analytics from big audiences to help mobile developers both understand and better serve mobile gamers.

In other words, there’s almost no play whatsoever, and this will help developers understand what makes people keep tapping imaginary objects when they’re practically guaranteed not to win the game. There are noises about monetizing the project - in-app purchases to buy tools to blow up cubelets at great speed - but that would change the nature of the game, I think. Right now the best description might be collective egalitarian onanism: every player is alone, every player is equal, every player has the cube to themselves, and every player is working together. If you let someone buy cubelet-clearing devices with real money, there’s nothing to stop someone from dumping in cash and clearing vast swaths of space to get to the chewy chocolate center, or whatever it is.

But what if he did? Given the number of players, it would be almost impossible to time it just right. You’d spend $10,000, clear out thousands of layers, then wait for others to pick away the few cubes and spring in at the last second? Good luck with that. So it’s a cooperative effort right up until the end, and then it’s every man for himself. When it gets down to the Revelation of the Mystery, there won’t be any after-you-old-chap. It’ll be all elbows in the face, trod-upon toes and other manifestations of the herd in full panic.

I dumped the game after I couldn’t get on, but when I heard the servers had been beefed up I tried it again. Played it for four minutes. Eh. It’s like Minecraft in reverse. Without the compelling storyline.

 

Here’s some screenshots - from the smallest cubelet to the cube itself.

Get tapping. 

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