Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Secret Meta-story of 'Curiosity'

Image from PopMatters
18 layers and counting! Since there's no way knowing what's inside the cube, this week at PopMatters, I wrote about the story that surrounds Curiosity.

My take is pretty straightforward: regardless of whether you like the game or not, it represents a host of trends that are currently shaping the industry. An independent studio trying a weird idea? Check. The rise of smartphones and online application stores as gaming platforms? Yes. Experimentation with "freemium" mechanics? Affirmative. An long-time designer trying to find his way in a changing creative landscape? Yup. Signs that said designer wants to hold on to his past? Roger. Kickstarter as a funding method? Indeed. A porous divide between developer and player? You bet.

I didn't get a chance to talk about this in the column, but I think the way I feel about Peter Molyneux is the way that some people feel about David Cage. Both designers habitually bite off more than they can chew, but in doing so they get people talking about the medium's potential. Whatever's inside the cube is almost certainly less amazing than Molyneux is making it out to be, just as Fable was more linear than was originally promised. It's the effort that I appreciate. It gets people talking.

By the way, I just want to remind everyone that Jorge and I talked about the Cube in a podcast from a while back. I rarely re-listen to our shows, but I found this one pretty amusing. Any game that can spur that type of fun discussion can't be all bad.

For those of you who have played it, have you been keeping track of the Cube? How did the evolution of the game strike you? Do you care what's in it any more? For those of you who didn't play it or are sick of hearing it, I recommend downloading it and taking a few taps. At worst, you'll just be helping us hasten the end of the mystery and see what's inside. We're at 18 layers and counting, but we've already been treated to a great story.


  1. I had been checking up on it every few days, and it never seemed to get any smaller. Well, apparently that was because the cube is always scaled to the screen size. Now that they added the shrinking animation, it looks like it's maybe 40% smaller? I think it's hilarious that even Molyneux admitted that it was taking too long, so he just declared it to be time for the last 50 layers. I thought it would go faster as it got down to the last few, but it seems to be slowing down now. Or maybe the math on the countdown timer is just broken.

    It's a deeply flawed experiment, and kind of a terrible game, but I still am dying to know what he considers a "life changing" prize. Can't wait.

  2. Thinking back on it, I wish they did do more with the physical scale. Maybe put some other objects floating around to give a sense of relative size. Ah well, just more ideas for Cube 2.0!