Editorial: What Was in the Cube?

Why indeed little cubelets, why indeed.....

Players were encourage to write messages in the blocks.

Last year Peter Molyneux left Lionhead Studios to join a new company founded by fellow ex-Lionhead employee and CTO Tim Rance. The new studio, 22Cans, shortly produced their first game titled Curiosity for iOS devices in November of last year. The tag line explained the idea of the game – what is in the cube? Never one to keep expectations low, Molyneux promised that the lucky individual who cleared the final cubelet would be given something ‘life changing’. Well, this past weekend the final cubelet was removed and the gift was finally revealed.

Curiosity could barely even be called a game. Even 22Cans call what they produce ‘experiments’. All players could do was click on a cubelet to remove it. Each cubelet removed award players in-game currency which could be used to purchase single use items that would remove many blocks in an area. Removing blocks quickly gave a small coin bonus based on how many blocks were removed before the player went idle again. If it was not for the ability to collect something, I doubt the game would have been as popular as it was.

Yes, the game did enjoy time in the spotlight when it was released. With each layer of bricks representing a huge amount of cubelets, people soon starting using areas as a blank canvas on which to draw images or write messages. For every dozen people who wanted to create, there was one one just wanted to destroy, so it came as no surprise that many of these works in progress became the target of griefers who limited the space available for other to work in or just downright wrecked whatever other people were trying to produce.

Most just single colours though.

Under each layer of bricks was a larger image waiting to be revealed.

Players steadily removed the layers of the cube, revealing pictures underneath the layers as they went. As with any MMO launch, Curiosity had server lag and players found blocks randomly disappearing as the game information was received. Game updates and a decreased interest in the game soon bought the connection issues under control, but the final update in April also brought with it a new feature – the ability to pay real money to add or remove blocks from the cube. Little wonder then, that so many new cubelets were added back to the cube, that the previous five months work was erased in a couple of days.

A mere fortnight after the release of Curiosity, 22Cans launched a Kickstarter for their next game, Project GODUS. Molyneux revisited his roots by attempting a regenesis of the god game. A video showing gameplay from a prototype created as a proof of concept was also posted to the kickstarter page. The footage showed little more than the ability to alter terrain while villages automatically populated the world. In traditional Molyneux style, promises have been made as to the content of the final game (which sounds much like Black & White). Only time will tell if Peter has learned his lesson from the promises made for, well, every other game he has made.

Not much going on in this demo. I wonder if Peter will promise more for the final game?

Early Godus footage.

Getting back to Curiosity, the final cubelet was destroyed on the 26th of May. The winner was identified as Edinburgh resident Bryan Henderson, who was given the option to either keep the contents of the cube to himself or share it with the public. Molyneux announced that Henderson opted to share the prize, and a video was later posted on YouTube explaining what had been awarded to the young Scot. Acording to the video, the contents inside of the cube included the ability to be the sole, all-powerful, digital god within 22Cans upcoming release of Godus. This power allows the owner to shape the rules of the game for all involved and to reap a small portion of all of the incoming revenue that is brought in by the game.

The reign of Henderson is not eternal however, as after a period of time has passed, players will be able to usurp his throne – and his salary. Molyneux has been keen to assure fans that their new god will only have in-game powers that are balanced. No kicking players from the world and deleting their games. A gift has even been sent to the 22Cans offices to be passed on to Henderson in an attempt to curry favour with the digital deity.

With the Kickstarter rewards promising delivery of the new game in September, it will not be long before we find out how powerful Henderson will be, and if Godus will reward another gamer with a prize for a future 22Cans game. Did you play Curiosity? Will you be trying out Godus Upon release? Let me know in the comments!

4 comments on “Editorial: What Was in the Cube?”

  1. Lusi had the great idea to download Curiosity on the 25th in hopes of being the person to remove the last cube. Of course, he had no intention of sharing the secret with anybody had he been lucky enough to remove the last cube. I joined him in the attempt to destroy the cube and all we could comment on how terrible the “game” was.

    Also, was anybody surprised that Molyneux’s promise of something life changing was just another promise to make the winner a part of his next terrible game?

  2. “And your prize is you get to be the star of a new Molyneux game!”

    “Oh god! What did I do to deserve this?!”

    Well, it’s only fitting. The reward for committing yourself to a mindless chore in pursuit of some vague hope is be the very star of a product that will be, at its best, some vague hope mindlessly advertised by Molyneux.

  3. A gift has even been sent to the 22Cans offices to be passed on to Henderson in an attempt to curry favour with the digital deity.

    This. This is why it was all worth it.

    When one person feels the need to send tribute to some random guy in Scotland in order to better their standing in a game that hasn’t been finished, we have ascended to a level of crazy unforeseen by our fathers.

  4. What was in the cube? To answer that, you really need only consider that the cube was nothing but a virtual lottery, with a mystery prize for the winner. Molyneux’s own Powerball, as it were.

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