Curiosity: What's Inside The Cube, the one-part-smartphone-game, one-part-social-experiment that launched last November, is getting its most substantial update yet. In a move aimed at bringing the contest to a faster close, UK studio 22Cans has accelerated the game to its last 50 layers, in effect erasing the months and months of players tapping away on the giant cube it would have taken to get to the center.
This World Is Predicted To End On May 21
The studio's current estimated end date - unless player participation unexpectedly spikes - is May 21, which coincidentally happens to be the same day Microsoft will announce its next-generation Xbox console.
"It has been an elongated, protracted experiment in curiosity, but if I'm someone whose fingers are bleeding now, enough is enough," said 22Cans founder Peter Molyneux, known primarily for creating the Fable game series before leaving Microsoft last year to found the independent studio. "We decided that we could have just left it going and probably less and less people would be fascinated... or we could set a layer and it would be a race to the center," he added.
The new update comes on the heels of last week's quiet addition to the game that let players pay to both remove and add cubelets to the current layer. This feature will remain for some, but not all, of the final 50 layers.
The idea behind Curiosity is simple: one giant cube, with a secret prize at its center, was handed over to millions of players who all collaboratively chip away at its many layers by tapping one piece (or cubelet) at a time, of which there were 68 billion spread out over hundreds of layers. Only the lucky person to tap the last cubelet gets to see what's inside, and Molyneux has often described that mystery in grandiose fashion, referring to it as "life changing."
Curiousity was meant to be both a social experiment in massively multiplayer smartphones games as well as a learning experience for 22Cans, which announced its first multiplatform title Godus on Kickstarter shortly after launching Curiosity.
Curiosity Now About Learning Different Things
"Part of our motivation in doing Curiosity was to learn how to do these things for Godus, like learning how to connect people, how to scale up our servers," Molyneux said. Despite massive server issues hampering Curiosity's launch, the game picked up steam and garnered more than 3 million downloads within one month. Godus also surpassed its Kickstarter goal of £450,000 on the final day, securing 22Cans' future in cross-platform game development.
With only 50 layers to go, the race to the finish will tight, raising valid concerns that the final tap that wins it all might not be recorded accurately. "When we get to the final five layers, we'll have something called Cube Watch," Molyneux explained. "We'll be watching it 24 hours a day and we'll be sitting in the office waiting for that end to come."
He stressed that the studio has taken substantial measures to protect against cheating and will be able to validate the tapper of the final cubelet as soon as it happens. Players will also get a real-time reminder in the white space around the cube of how many layers are left and what the estimated lifespan of the experiment is.
"In our hyper-connected world, what happens when we put an objective that is so insanely far off that it becomes almost meaningless?" Now that the objective is almost within grasp, Curiosity is raising new questions about the player motivation and connectedness players await their chance to finally see what's inside the cube.