Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: puzzle

Great Retrospective On Making Threes

Threes is a very popular game which has spawned thousands of clones – it’s like the Flappy Bird of puzzle games. There are so many clones and some so quickly made that it has diminished the market power of Threes. Polygon has an article on this very issue.

Threes developers note that they think 2048 is a broken game, as it is too easy to beat. No one has yet to “beat” Threes, which was designed to be played “over many months, if not years.” They are happy with Threes success, but feel that players haven’t had time to digest and understand the game’s systems before clones began appearing and capitalizing on its success.

“Threes was cloned and beat to a different market within 6 days of release on iOS,” reads the post. “2048 isn’t that clone. But it’s sort of the Commander Keen to Super Mario Bros. situation. Imagine Tetris was released and then less than a month later (instead of years) Dr. Mario was released.”

Their article references a fantastic post by Threes. One of the designers behind the successful game, Asher Vollmer, has recently published every email related to the making of Threes. It’s addictive reading and very insightful into the design process and their attention to detail. It’s wonderfully revealing.

They even note that testing the game for their target market was a bit of challenge. here’s a snippet from one email that lists who they have testing the game:

sadly, these are mostly white dudes. 🙁

maybe we could add some more diversity with a call for help on the TF? i dunno. or just go local and break open to people that aren’t game developers. with that, we probably wouldn’t have a problem.

Seriously, go read the “Threemails”.

Hat tip to Matt Rix tweeting this!

Gamers Solve AIDS Enzyme Puzzle

Flodit is a game that you can play to help scientist solve issues that computers can’t – in this case it’s the complex folding of an enzyme. The idea to essentially crowd source science is not new (think SETI@Home) but using a game to get people to participate in such a large task is. And it worked!

You can read about the success of the program and more about the complexity of enzymes here.

Developed in 2008 by the University of Washington, it is a fun-for-purpose video game in which gamers, divided into competing groups, compete to unfold chains of amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — using a set of online tools.
To the astonishment of the scientists, the gamers produced an accurate model of the enzyme in just three weeks.
Cracking the enzyme “provides new insights for the design of antiretroviral drugs,” says the study, referring to the lifeline medication against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
It is believed to be the first time that gamers have resolved a long-standing scientific problem.
“We wanted to see if human intuition could succeed where automated methods had failed,” Firas Khatib of the university’s biochemistry lab said in a press release.

Here’s a video of the game in action:

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