And, so, the great experiment did begin.
24 hours have passed since 22Cans's (led by industry veteran Peter Molyneux) debut game / social experiment, Curiosity - what's inside the cube
, went live on the App Store.
So, we thought it was high time to catch up with the comings and goings in Curiosity
's odd world of pickaxes, blocks, and ethereal green lights.
Here, then, is a look back at the first 24 hours in the life of a cube, and the thousands of people who want to find out what's inside it.
Day 1 - Layer 1
There's something about a blank canvas that instinctively makes us want to scribble all over it. And that's what the first few hours of the cube's life are all about. People writing their names on a sheet of digital paper.
As soon as you find your own blank space to beautify / deface, you're overcome with cathartic expression. It's like that feeling you get when you first encounter bubble wrap - each chime of a disappearing cubelet is analogous to that satisfying pop.
There are problems, of course. Teething troubles. The Android version is launched prematurely. It's released, then pulled back, then released again. No one at 22Cans expected this degree of interest, so the cube lags, kicking people off its pristine surface.
But, still, compulsions are formed.
I sit next to my partner and introduce her to the game. Within minutes, she's developed her own tapping strategy, and takes great pains to explain to me why it's far more efficient than my scattergun approach. She even cheers when a section of cubelets she's cleared becomes visible in the completely zoomed-out view of the Curiosity
Social networks are abuzz, fake Twitter accounts are shut down, Tumblrs are filled with pictures of people's creations. Most of them unprintable. And still we chip away.
Molyneux takes to Twitter to shower us with statistics. By the end of the first day, half of the cubelets have been shorn off.
Well done, us.Day 2 - Layer 1
The second day dawns. Someone has been elected president. It isn't a cube, though, and we're pretty sure we already know what's inside Mr Obama.
My partner is up at half nine, tapping away on a dying iPhone 3GS. She remarks somewhat angrily on the number of coins she earned me last night: "I got you loads of clear screen bonuses. Why haven't you made me a cuppa?" I skulk away before an argument erupts.
Should we give ourselves a name? Should we be 'cubenauts', or 'miners of the truth'.
Sides are being cleared now, we have glimpses at something beneath. People are talking about changing colours, about nebulous things they can't begin to understand.
"We're aware the Cube has changed colour, be aware this is an experiment. You are currently being experimented on," 22Cans says.
We are rats in a maze, being poked and prodded at. This is all heading towards an end most of us won't get to see. Faces are fading away, we are gradually moving toward clearing the first layer. As a community of cubenauts, we are accomplishing something possibly magnificent, yet at the same time almost certainly mundane.
Part of me suddenly realises that my partner is likely out there wasting all of her mobile data allowance hacking away at a cube. This makes me feel both joyous and ashamed. And then worried, because I remember I'm paying the bill.
Tomorrow, we shall scale new horizons. Tomorrow, we will be one layer closer to finding out what's inside the cube.
For now, I'll leave you with a quote from our illustrious deputy editor. Something to ponder over as you tap. "I need to pee, but I don't want to miss the final cube of this layer!"
Stirring words, indeed.Stop press! - Layer 2
Just after this story went live, the final cubelet of layer one was done away with. Thus, we shifted to a new epoch - layer two, and its underbelly of red.
Here's a picture. What a time to be alive.Day 3 - Layer 2
Connection to the Curiosity Cube Daily Diaries has failed. Retry?
Right now, the Cube looks like it's suffered some grievous wound. Red circles dot its green shell like craters, bloody gouges carved in yesterday's object of excitement. There's something visceral about the act now, as though you're peeling away lengths of skin to see the raw flesh below.
Problems persist, though. Like some know-it-all pointing out the stuff you're not supposed to be looking at in a magic show, the servers keep collapsing under the weight of so many interested parties. Progression becomes staccato as blocks disappear without rhyme or reason.
There's still no sign of the in-app purchases, either, and no way other than through hard graft to unlock the more expensive pieces of equipment that lever out buckets of cubelets with a single tap.
Perhaps there's a reason for that, perhaps Molyneux is imprinting within his cubenauts' heads the idea that hard work is a far more precious commodity than anything that can be bought. Or maybe they launched too early. Who knows?
Social networks rumble with discontent about the up and down servers, but they still rumble, and that, it's starting to appear, is part of the point. There should be an update today to soothe the worried brows of those who can't get their tap-fix quick enough, though.
And what's in the cube? Another, smaller cube? Or perhaps one of these suggestions? We're closer to finding the truth than we were yesterday, but a new question is beginning to raise its head: which will wear out first - our curiosity, or Curiosity
's cube?Day 4 - Layer 2
One side of the cube is now entirely red, a block of solid colour that looks out of place next to its stippled kin.
A pattern is emerging, a scheme of sorts. There's probably a psychological name for it, or if there isn't now, there will be by the time the last cubelet is scattered to the wind.
Watch each side as it degrades - you'll see a vast amount of work put into an ever-increasing circle in the centre of the plane, with small pockets in each corner slowly disappearing, too. The more artistic subjects will use the shrinking space in between to create their images, as industrious worker cubenauts refine their tapping technique.
Is it a metaphor for the drive of industry? A statement about how art is pushed to the periphery in a society that's focusing more and more on materialism? Or maybe it's just the easiest way to do things.
So, what sort of cube adventurer are you? Do you charge into the edges of the giant circles, grabbing your pickaxe and pulling on a helmet to work at the very coal face of the experiment? Or do you search for those rare unmarked spaces and carefully consider each tap?
Last night, my partner showed me screenshots she'd taken of a word she'd painstakingly dug into the cube, big enough to be seen even at the furthest remove from the shape. There was real pride in her voice as she explained her technique and how it had led to severe cramp in her fingers.
Then, she loaded the app to show me, only for the servers to catch up and the work to be swallowed beneath a swarm of red space. "How dare they," she muttered. "How dare they." Then asked how many coins I had.
Elsewhere, Peter Molyneux has been talking to PC site Rock, Paper, Shotgun
, stating that "if we could find a publisher who could take on the work of a PC version we could consider it", but that right now there's too much work on the iOS and Android versions for the 22Cans team to handle.
The first weekend looms large now, with free time aplenty. Hopefully, an update will surface that will ensure less downtime and more tap-time. By Monday, we'll be well into the third layer, perhaps forming a new pattern of work, or chipping missives that disappear before they're ever read.
As long as we can actually log in.Day 5-7 - Layer 2
Over the weekend, a piece of art slowly revealed itself on one side of the cube. It looks like some spring onions, or something similar from the allium family, laid side by side on a table.
Is this our first clue to the contents of the cube - does a lifetime subscription to a fruit and veg delivery service await the lucky winner of 22Cans's game? Or maybe a watercolour class?
The server troubles that have plagued the game continue to wreak havoc with our creative and destructive urges. PayPal payments through the 22Cans website are now being touted as the solution, or at least a palliative measure until a better option comes along.
Perhaps, shift patterns could be introduced. Each of us could clock in, spend a few hours hacking into the cube, then clock out, retiring to an old-fashioned boozer to regale our workmates with bawdy tales of the cubelets we destroyed and the things we saw at the cubeface.
Or maybe introducing the much-teased in-app purchases could magically create some money. You never know.
Either way, progress appears to be slowing. There's probably a graph somewhere that explains how many times the average person will try to log into a service before they get bored and go do something else. I reckon about six.Curiosity
, it would appear, is being defeated by frustration.Day 8 - Layer 4
Right now, we are actively engaged in the defacement of art. Each side of the cube is adorned with a section from an image, and every tap leaves a space where once there were brushstrokes.
We're joining a long line of art vandals - men and women who have taken up arms against inanimate objects and slashed them, stained them, or defecated on them.
It's all part of the experiment, of course. Can our curiosity be thwarted by placing objects of aesthetic value between us and our ultimate goal? Perhaps, the next layer will be made up of images of our mothers looking up at us from the cubelets with disappointed smiles.
The much-promised server update has occurred, although many are still reporting problems logging in to the game. Hopefully, the more robust infrastructure will hold firm under the weight of our combined taps.
Meanwhile, Peter Molyneux took to Twitter to thank people for their patience, and to promise that after another day of working on the servers the team at 22Cans will be turning its attention to "new features".
Circular cubes? Competitive deathmatches with pickaxes? New noises when you clear out a screen? Or maybe the ludicrously expensive in-app purchases are finally on their way. Whatever, we'll find out tomorrow... as long as we're good.Day 9 - Layers 4 and 5
After yesterday's experiments in art critique, today we've been scratching out our eyes to spite Curiosity
And that destruction continues unabated. Layer 4 was dealt with in double-quick time, with layer 5 already exposing a swirl of tantalising turquoise beneath the flesh and juicy eye bits we're hacking away at.
Here's a thought, though...
Imagine all the work you've put in over the past eight or nine days, all the cubelets you've sent packing, all the missives you've slashed into cheeks, and all the symbols you've cut out of scissors.
Pile all of those cubelets up, one on top of the other in your mind. How high do they stretch, how long is the shadow they cast?
Now, ponder this...
The person who taps away the last piece of the puzzle might not have even started yet. He might be called 'Richard'. He might live alone. He might own an iPod touch. He might.
In fact, it's entirely feasible the Curiosity
winner will log in, tap the screen once, and walk away from the experience with his life changed forever.
A single cubelet vs your awe-inspiring pile. A single poke in the face of your crippled fingers and sleepless nights.
Happy tapping!Day 10 - Layers 6, 7, and 8
At this point, the experiment is moving so fast that entire layers are removed in between diary entries. Beneath the sea of turquoise green, there was a picture of a hat shop. Before we knew it, that was falling away, and a plain blue layer appeared.
Now, that's gone, and we were left with our old favourite... words.
Part of me is wondering if this is some sort of giant word game. Each layer gives us a part of a phrase, and we need to work out the whole of the message to unlock the final layer. Something something art eye Alice?
After pages from Alice Through the Looking Glass
, we're back to red now.
Someone also appears to be making literal tracks across the cube, carving tyre marks into its skin. It sort of looks like there was a race around the cube and we've arrived just too late to see who won.
Occasionally, I just leave my iPad propped up next to my monitor so I can watch cubelets disappear in real time. It's quite calming, but today I kicked my desk accidentally and knocked the tablet onto the floor.
I was disappointed when I picked it back up to find that the impact on the floor hadn't somehow managed to knock a layer of cubelets away. Then, I was disappointed in myself for thinking that it could have happened.
To finish off, a man on Twitter claims to have found a way to hack the Android version of Curiosity
, filling his boots with coins in the process. The curious are not to be swayed by simple things like the rules.Day 11 - Layers 9 to 14
Layers are flying by so quickly now it's almost impossible to keep track without paying a street urchin to keep an eye on your iPad. And so few of them are trustworthy nowadays.
We've seen beautiful stained glass windows cracked and smashed by the weight of half a million chisels, then uncovered a panorama of New York (complete with the World Trade Centre towers) wrapped around the sides of the cube.
Currently, we're destroying that vista, chipping away to reveal a mucky green layer 14 underneath. Some cubenauts are following the same old patterns, clearing outwards from the centre. Others are more refined, tapping out car windows and tyres, or picking away at the street for fun.
Our 'layers cleared' column has now overtaken our 'days played' column, and the gap is only going to widen over the weekend. Who knows how far we'll be come Monday.
Here's something to think about while your faithful Curiosity Cube diarist takes a much-needed two-day break from coming up with new things for you to think about...
Almost all of the things we've revealed so far have been made by man. Stained glass windows, cityscapes, works of literature, a lava lamp, pieces of art, a collection of hats - I name it, man built it.
Only the human eyes we tore apart weren't created by human hands, and even then one could argue that they were Photoshopped using human fingers.
You could contend that almost every layer we've discarded has centred on some great human endeavour, something one human or many human beings has spent ages perfecting. And a lava lamp.
And yet we throw them away like they're nothing in our search for an answer.
Either there really is something spectacular at the core of the cube, something worth all this time, effort, and indifference, or someone at 22Cans is royally pulling our collective leg.
Maybe, we'll find out over the weekend.Day 12-14 - Layers 15 to 26
The weekend saw a big push, from the teens well into the twenties. If the cube was a human, it would have done some serious growing up over the past three days... and maybe even found its purpose in life.
In 72 hours, we've seen colours; cityscapes both familiar and unclear; blueprints; beans; and the number '22' plastered across each face of the cryptic cube. Right now, we're uncovering pages from A Tale of Two Cities
by Charles Dickens.
It's the layers which are just lumps of colour that seem to encourage the most artistic among us. Where there are already images, we are industrious, but a blank canvas is quickly covered with doodles and scrawls.
Some of them are heart warming - for example, someone carved the words 'I Love James' more than two screens high into the skin of the cube. Others are more sinister. Bleak and hopeless missives like this one.
Less than an hour after that had been completed, someone had replied. "Yes" is all they said. Did you took their eyes? Did you?
Chilling.Day 15 - Layers 26 to 28
Quite frankly, the layers that have surfaced since yesterday have been horribly boring.
After the pages from A Tale of Two Cities
, we've been 'treated' to three colours. No cryptic messages, no secret locations, no strange images... just colours.
It's almost like we're being toyed with.
On layer 26, a fact scrolled across and around the cube. The author of the fact was claiming that this particular layer was 2.5 per cent smaller than the first. That means that each subsequent layer is 0.1 per cent smaller than the previous.
There's likely someone much better at maths than me who can figure out how many layers we've got left to chip through from that valuable bit of info. I tried.
I got 'seven'. That doesn't seem right.
Hopefully, tomorrow will bring with it more interesting cube layers for us to mull over. Or maybe all layers from now on will be the same colour. After all, we are getting to the part in an MMO where the grind tends to kick in.Day 16 - Layers 29 to 32
After the barren wastelands of the coloured layers, 22Cans injected some visual excitement back into the Cube with images of telephone boxes and balloons.
These weren't just any old telephone boxes, though... these were fine upstanding British K6 telephone boxes. For you youngsters out there, telephone boxes are what we had before iPhones. The graphics on them were rubbish, mind.
Intriguingly, these were specific phone boxes. Located in Bridport, in fact, a reader told CVG
's liveblog. Perhaps there's some secret Curiosity
information hidden inside them. Please don't go smash them up just to find out - that's bad.
Elsewhere, The Cube Lord, or Peter Molyneux as some people stupidly like to call him, has revealed that there are six new features coming our way within the next week.
Speaking to CVG
, Molyneux gave no hints as to what these new features would be, save for one word. That word was "Badgers".
Well, badgers to you, too, Peter. Badgers to you.Day 17 - Layers 33 to 35
We've headed down a murky alley in the last couple of layers, wandering into a dangerous cul-de-sac of games as adverts and evil psychic manipulation.
You may have heard yesterday that 22Cans has begun a Kickstarter campaign for its next game, Godus
. If you hadn't heard, you will have done by now, because adverts for the crowd-funding push were plastered all over the cube today.
It all felt dirty, like our chipping away had revealed a stale fast food meal which we were now being forced to eat by the cruel hands of our capitalist masters.
But, we choked down each gristly, sawdust-padded mouthful, then washed it away with a carbonated, sugar-riddled drink made from the tears of abused sweat shop workers.
Fear not, though, for our struggle against the crushing heel of our money-grubbing overlords is not over. Not by a long chalk.
In really quite big letters, you see, I carved the following message into the side of their hateful ad-cube. I refuse to be swayed by their gross display of greed.
Of course, after I took the screenshot I chipped the rest of the cubes away to get the clear screen bonus. That's, like, 2,000 coins. I'd be mad to turn that down.Day 18 - Layers 36 to 38
After the sordid events of yesterday, things have returned to some kind of normality on the cube. Thanks, I suspect, to my protest chipping yesterday. You're all welcome.
The past few layers have revealed little, save for the layers underneath them. One was a really zoomed-in photograph of an old CRT screen.
is what's in the cube. One of those really big grey TVs that took up an entire corner of your living room. You have to admit - that would
change your life. Not for the better, but...
And that's an interesting point. What if the video you receive for winning this 'competition' is like something out of The Ring
. Or it says, "Peter Molyneux will give you a billion pounds if you kill a stranger." Or it's just a tax bill.
Is curiosity now giving way to paranoia? Probably.
I, for one, can't help but see conspiracy theories in every cubelet we smash away.
Right now, we're exposing pictures of dominoes, and all I can think is: 'What if this is an elaborate advert for the popular pizza delivery chain?'
We were so innocent when we began our journey into the cube. Now, however, we're (quite literally) cynical hacks, finding dirt and misery where once there was hope and large-scale engravings of incredibly rude words.Day 19-21 - Layers 39 to 47
This weekend, we've been exposed to more culture on the cube. Actually, 'Culture on the Cube' sounds like a late-night talk show on Channel 4. I should probably call my imaginary agent and get it made.
We've had poetry, more stained glass, and even a sophisticated-looking dinner table set up. Well, it's sophisticated if you eat your tea out of tins, tapping at the cube with your free hand.
You might remember a few posts back I mentioned that if you were good at maths, you could work out how many layers were left on the cube. Well, someone has.
A Wikipedia user has crunched the numbers, and if we're working all the way to the centre of the cube, we've got an awfully long way to go.
There are about 2,000 layers left until the object of our curiosity is chipped away to nothing.
See, I told you it wasn't seven.Day 22 - Layers 48 to 51
It's all gone a bit Paranormal Activity
in cubeville today, with spooky, negative close-ups of faces 'adorning' each side of the square-faced question shape.
Could this be the first clue towards the fate of the brave cubenaut who chips away the final cubelet? An eternity trapped within a phantom zone-style prison, with ample time to mull over his regrets and mistakes?
To be honest, I don't think Apple would let that get through the approval process.
Where once the 22Cans twitter feed was full of messages about the cube, now it's almost entirely tweets thanking people for supporting Godus
. Perhaps the curiosity of the developer is waning, now too, as other shinier things crop up on the horizon.
Or maybe it has lost control. Maybe the cube is now self-aware, generating its own content, ready to go Skynet on us within the next eight layers.
If it starts raining cubelets from an apocalyptic sky, I say we band together and march on Guildford.Day 23 - Layers 51 to 53
The cube is turning into Instagram
. All we're seeing nowadays is oddly angled photos of everyday objects with weird filters on them.
Although that does pose an interesting question: could you use the cube as a real social network? Leaving messages and images for your friends carved out of cubelets. You'd have to be quick to find anything out about someone, but it might work.
At the moment, it does sort of feel like the social experiment part of the game has been abandoned, and all we're doing is repeating the same things over and over again.
At the moment, it does sort of feel like the social experiment part of the game has been abandoned, and all we're doing is repeating the same things over and over again.
At the moment, it does sort of feel like the social experiment part of the game has been abandoned, and all we're doing is repeating the same things over and over again.
We're robots trying to complete a task because our programming tells us that, once we're done, something magical is waiting for one of us.
But, what if the people who programmed us have long since given up and moved onto other, more interesting things. Is it still an experiment if no one's watching?Day 24 - Layers 54 to 56
Work on the cube has slowed almost to a crawl now. Long gone are the days when layers fell away like cornflakes caught in a sudden gust of wind.
It's as if a section of the cubenaut collective has decided to take industrial action. A 'go-slow' to protest the fact that nothing particularly exciting has happened with the cube for a while.
Or maybe people are bored, and have better things to do.
The one layer that has been exposed and chipped away today, before the yellow we're hacking at now, featured pages from The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern. It's a book about a magical circus in an alternative London that deals in dreams.
Remember when the cube was like that... something special and new and fantastical? Back when hope and intrigue hadn't been replaced by a slow-paced drudge?
To be honest, though, all 22Cans has to do is change the shape of the cubelets and I'll believe again.
Imagine hexaglets! How cool would it be to chip those away?Day 25 - Layers 56 to 58
What do a baby mobile decorated with images of tropical fish and a classic car built by British manufacturer Alvis have in common?
About as much as pages from Alice Through the Looking Glass
and negative pictures of people's elbows do.
What about stained glass and dominoes? Balloons and telephone boxes?
Is there a code here? Is there something I've missed? I've tried staring at the list of cube layers really hard, but there's nothing of 'substance' there... just words, and even they don't seem to mean anything any more.
Part of me wants the in-app purchases to start so I can buy a diamond pick and put an end to this madness once and for all.
I'm not curious; I'm desperate. And a desperate man with a digital tool made out of the hardest digital material in the world is hard to digitally argue with.
Are there stages of curiosity like there are stages of grief? If there are, I'm currently in stage 4 - violent reactions to anything that looks like the object of my curiosity.
Maybe over the weekend, I'll move on to stage 5 - tacit acceptance that whoever does find out the answer to my curious question wouldn't tell me what it was anyway.Days 26 to 28 - Layers 59 to 67
Whereas in the real world weekends are reserved for the most entertaining activities, such as getting so drunk that punching a man in the face for looking at you becomes a sensible course of action, in the world of the cube weekends are dull and without incident.
Nine layers have slipped by without so much as a cryptic image of some poetry or an oddly angled photograph of a car that you can't buy any more.
It's been colours from top to bottom. An endless sea of shades and hues. Oh, and the Facebook login button's gone.
Maybe, it's because I don't write anything about the cube at weekends. Maybe, the cube is somehow programmed to respond to blogging about it, and no one blogs on Saturday or Sunday because we're all too heavily engaged in bawdy drunkenness and meaningless sporting endeavours. Or both.
If this solipsistic line of enquiry is to be proven, I must endeavour to use the power of my words to change the next layer of the cube.
I think it should be images of bees. Happy bees. Wearing bonnets. And juggling.
Go put that on your Twitters and Facebooks and LiveJournals and Myspaces, then let us reconvene here tomorrow to see if our push to effect change has been successful. Or if I've just gone a bit mad.Day 29 - Layers 68 to 71
Well, that didn't work.
If you haven't been paying any attention to the cube, I can confirm that there have been no bees on any side of the shape in the last 24 hours.
This is, of course, a disappointing result, but we're going to recalibrate our equipment and try again under slightly different conditions.
Put bees on it, Molyneux. Put bees on it, man. I put bees on it, so why can't you? Bees.
I started thinking late last night that it would be interesting if the cube began to toy with genre-based layers.
We could have FPS layers that need you to tap out the same human form over and over. And every time you do, you're greeted by a blast of gory red cubelets.
Or puzzle layers, where you have to tap out the cubelets in a specific order, otherwise the whole thing resets and we have to start all over again.
Maybe even platform levels that use the gyroscope in your smartphone or tablet. If your device detects that you are jumping up and down, cubelets are removed. Simple.
Something other than colours and plinky plonky music would be nice.Day 30 - Layers 72 to 74
The past few layers have been covered with the names of backers of 22Cans's Godus
. Imagine that - giving money to a developer to have your name immortalised on an ever-changing shape that's freely editable by anyone.
Over in Wikipedia-land, some hateful maths boffins have done the unthinkable and worked out how long we're going to be at this.
If their calculations are correct (and why wouldn't
they be correct? I mean, they're on Wikipedia), then we're going to be tapping away until August 2013. That's another eight months. Almost enough time to have a baby. If you try / tap real hard.
Maybe, that's what's inside the cube. Some sort of weird child gestating to the rhythm of our taps. An infant birthed by the inanity of the digital age. A newborn who will just sigh at what we've all become... instead of all that mewling business.
And then the wee bairn will probably blog about it.Day 31 - Layers 75 to 77
We all know the story of Pandora's Box - how it was opened and all the evils of the world spilled out, with only hope left at the bottom. What if the cube is an inversion of that?
Outside, there was hope. Outside, there was the promise of something better.
But, each layer is peeled back to reveal more riddles, more evils. And we're left scrambling to remember what hope was like. Soon, the soundtrack will become discordant, as we descend ever deeper into the grim facts of our existence.
Colours and names are all we see now. The experience has been rendered obsolete. We're not discovering anything any more. We're not searching like we once did, just being spoonfed reasons to back another game.
Maybe, once Godus
is funded, 22Cans will pull the plug on Curiosity
. Maybe, we'll be left wondering what we could have won if we'd been quicker.
'No revelations for you,' the Cube's overlords will sneer, 'You just weren't curious enough.'
They're wrong, of course. We WERE curious enough. But, they left our curiosity to wither and die like an unloved sunflower in a walled garden of deception.Day 32 - Layers 78 to 80
Things! Things are back! Not bees, but definitely things. Mushrooms, to be more specific. And, by the looks of it, some wheat! Wheat! That nearly rhymes with 'bees'.
Who knows what might be next? More things that grow in the ground? Things that we eat? Things that have magical connotations? Bees?
I've changed my mind, actually. It's not wheat.
It looks like a tree and some ice, in fact. And then there's some weird brown swirly stuff that could be a cloud of poisonous gas ready to escape when we clear the layer.
Who cares, though. As long as it's not just colours and names, I'll happily take a lungful of poison.
Are there vents in iPads from which poison can escape? I think we'll be okay.Days 33 to 35 - Layers 81 to 88
The weekend brought with it new vistas and old perspectives; machinery and toil; relaxation and the awe inspiring power of nature. Bits of wire and trees, too.
I don't recall how big the cube was when we started. Did it fill more of the screen or has it remained constant, the chipped-away layers replaced by a slightly closer zoom? The only joy of grind is progression, but our progress is hidden by smoke and mirrors and camera angles?Curiosity
is definitely the loneliest multiplayer game the world has ever produced. There's never sight nor sound of your fellow workers, only imprints of their passing, marks they've left to let you know they were there.
Perhaps, there is no pattern, no end game or surprise. Perhaps, we sit separate from one another and tap away until all the cubes are gone and our digits are gnarled stubs, no longer able to clasp the fingers of another.
Life will have changed, because we will not remember the touch of a lover or the smile of a friend, only the chime of cubelets as they disappear.
I think you might call that morbid curiosity.Day 36 - Layers 89 to 90
Right now, we're looking at images of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Or maybe Blackpool Tower in England. It's all a case of perspective, I suppose. Except it isn't.
Here's a fact about the Eiffel Tower: a lot of artists were opposed to it. They thought that it would be an eyesore, that it would alter the skyline of Paris in a negative way.
No one cared about the Blackpool Tower, though. That's because it's in Blackpool.
So, which are we?
The clique opposed to this perceived aesthetic abomination? Or the residents of a grim Northern seaside town that's falling to pieces around us?
Sometimes, tapping away at Curiosity
can feel like both.
Are we the architects of our own cubey fate, or the huddled masses dragging the weight of someone else's imagination behind us?
One thing's for sure - if 22Cans added a seafront arcade mode to Curiosity
, replete with tuppenny pushers and squawking parrots that gob out plastic encased treats, I'd probably spend a lot more time playing it.Days 37 to 39 - Layers 91 to 99
There comes a moment in every man's life when he must take a step back and ask himself an incredibly important question - are these badgers real?
The large update that Curiosity
received earlier in the week was the archetypal game of two halves.
On the one hand, watching cubes disappear in real time - something that should have been possible from the start - is entertaining.
And zooming out and seeing columns of light flash across the faces of the cube - sort of like tiny nuclear explosions bursting - as people tap is far more cathartic than watching a shape simply hovering in space.
Then, there are the badgers.
I'm still not convinced they're real. I don't want them to be real. They push the cube beyond parody, beyond the surreal, beyond the madness.
They take what was a simple and addictive idea, then hit it in the face with a pan. They're a slapstick sight gag routine in a serious BBC4 documentary about art.
I feel like I should be protesting, waving an anti-badger flag outside 22Cans's office and trying to think of a word that rhymes with 'badger' for my chants.
But, that sounds a bit bonkers.Days 40 to 42 - Layers 100 to 108
We passed a landmark over the weekend. 100 layers have now fallen beneath the weight of our fingers, crushed into dust and scattered into some ethereal wind by the machinations of thousands.
Why? Because we were told to.
Are you still tapping? Do you still load up the game just to see what's there, or do you ignore such frivolities, mangling the creations of others because you want to win? Because you want your life to be the one that is changed.
This weekend, I ran away to a cottage in the hills. No wi-fi, no mobile signal. Silence as far as the ear could hear. And some sheep.
There, my girlfriend carved messages into the cube, little stories for me to discover when I abandoned the Luddite cause and slipped back into the techno-lunacy this diary seems to cause.
Is it lonelier stood on the very edge of a mist-shrouded hill, clothes damp, fingers numbed by December winds than it is hunched over a tablet, eyes red and raw from looking at pixels, fingers repeating the same mission in order to find succour from the promise of a man you've never met?
Sometimes, late at night, I wonder if this is what 22Cans meant to happen. If this bizarre mix of desire and repetition isn't fuel for some terrible furnace beneath its base in Guildford, where imagination is smelted into components for a doomsday weapon.
It's always the ones you least expect, after all.Day 43 - Layers 109 to 110
The cube sometimes feels like too much of a coincidence. It engenders the same feeling you get when you're walking down a street singing a song and a car drives past with the same song blasting out of the window.
This past weekend, I was talking about the Moon. And right now, we're excavating a site that looks alarmingly like the lunar landscape.
If I were the paranoid sort, I'd start wearing a tin foil helmet to deflect 22Cans's brain ray and prevent it from sucking any more information out of my skull.
The Moon is, after all, closely linked with madness.
The word 'lunatic' is derived in Latin from the word 'luna' (i.e. 'moon'), after all. Perhaps this is a tacit statement from Molyneux & co. that up until now they've been skirting the edges of insanity, and they're ready to take the plunge.
My advice would be simple: go for it.
Leave behind the shackles of common sense and create the psychotropic cube game we're all clamouring for. Make each cubelet cry out in pain as you tap it away, add whispered commands into the soundtrack, give people random electric shocks for no discernible reason.
We need to open up this playground and push the boundaries of acceptability. We need a little bit of lunacy. How do you know how far too far is if you don't go past it? Exactly.Day 44 - Layers 111 to 113
The cube is currently a glorified six-sided banner ad for the laws of Newtonian motion. Each cubelet tapped away is bringing us closer to abandoning these laws.
Perhaps, this is the clue we've been waiting for.
What if some form of the God particle rests inside the cube? And as we strip away each layer, we edge closer to its discovery and the reinvention of scientific thinking?
Or maybe the cube is only one in a system of millions, each bound together by the inevitable ebb and flow of gravitational pull.
Once this one is mined clean, we move on to the next. We are scavengers and parasites with cube-flavoured flesh hanging from our incisors.
And the badgers that live on the planets are powerless to stop our destruction of their angular homeworlds, leaping out to snare our fingers only to fail and fall gracelessly to their inevitable doom.
We are tyrants, thrashing out existence with the power of our fingers.
We all thought Godus
was the reinvention of the god game. How wrong we were.Day 45 - Layer 113
Every experiment begins with trepidation. There lies in the scientific process an inherent uncertainty.
No one knew if the first nuclear reactions would stop, but they pushed ahead anyway in order to broaden the horizons of the species.
I felt something of the weight that must have hung on the shoulders of members of the Manhattan Project today.
That mix of awe, terror, and responsibility, all fizzing into a gut-wrenching thrill. There is, after all, something incredibly exciting about taking a step into the unknown.
Today, I released a badger.
At first, I was unclear of the process. I tapped a few things, tried to drag his little badger-y avatar onto the surface of the cube. Nothing.
Distressed, I zoomed in closer, tapped on the badger icon and then on a block of untouched cubelets.
Something happened. A shape! A ball filled with a badger! Oh, what joy. The experiment came to fruition with a few bounces, each ricochet taking with it the cubelets it touched.
Michael, as I had named the badger, fell through a hole of his own creation, knocked out a few more cubelets, then disappeared.
Much like the fate of the space dogs and space monkeys that first burst through earth's atmosphere, Michael's ultimate destiny remains unknown.
So, what have I learned from my experiment? What earth-shattering conclusion have I drawn from this reckless manipulation of the physical world?
Badgers are rubbish.Day 46 - Layer 114
What follows under the below image is an extract from the Mayan prophecies, translated by me and presented as found for your reading pleasure.
Perhaps, it sheds some light on the machinations of the cube.
Perhaps, I just made it up.
Either way, I think you'll agree it's spine-chilling stuff.
"And on the 21st day of the final month, when the Godus
bell rings thrice for success, there shall fall into the nether realm a champion.
"Half-black, half-white, he shall be named Michael, and he shall be of the snuffling kind. Proud and just, he shall stand as the champion of the peoples of the world.
"For one day and one night, he shall traverse the six-sided layers, then land at the core, at the place where the true secret of the cube lies.
"Then, a battle will ensue. On the one side stands Michael, badger and bringer of light. On the other side stands Molydrax and his 22 lieutenants, the forces of the dark and the night.
"Who shall win this deadly fight? Not even our most elderly shaman can tell. But, then, to be honest, we've never been much good at predicting the future, have we.
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and buy some more ink to finish off this calendar. Although I did tell Mayan Bill I'd go for a few drinks with him.
"You know what, it can wait. There's plenty of time before I'm going to need to add any more info to it, anyway."Days 47 to 49 - Layers 114 to 120
A picture paints a thousand words, they say.
The one below doesn't.
This one paints two... and one of those isn't even a real word.Days 50 to 59 - Layers 121 to 141
'What a blessed relief,' I thought to myself as I turned off the computer for the last time in 2012.
'No cubes for more than a week.'
Eyes full of wonder and hope, I stepped out into the brisk, damp December air to face the world refreshed.
The next night, the dreams started.
The walls of my room closed in, fixtures and fittings disappearing until all was smooth and uniform. Darkness then, and no sound but the dripping of a far-off pipe.
But, it wasn't a pipe; it was something else. It drew closer, coming in ever-louder bursts. A rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire creeping into my ears.
Then light, not bursting into the room but bursting out, pillars of white extending out from the pitch black but reflecting nothing on my pitiful state.
I began to see snatches of the beast then, its single lidless eye wreathed in tentacles, each of the slimy appendages ending in a dirty finger. Always, it rapped on the outside of my room. Always, it desired to find what was inside.
The chants started shortly afterwards. Disembodied voices, sullen and solemn, repeating over and over, "What's inside the cube? What's inside the cube?"
The tentacles broke through then, the walls of my room disappearing like sand caught in a stiff but not quite gale force north wind.
"I am inside the cube!" I screamed.
"No," the beast replied in a voice that was one voice and three million voices, "we are all inside the cube."
And they were.
So, to cut a long story short, on the orders of my physician this diary will now be updated weekly rather than daily.January 9th - layers 141 to 152Curiosity
is, in many ways, a game of different layers.
There are the literal layers, of which we've now hacked away more than 150, and then there are the different gameplay layers.
First, you have the outer layer. The obvious, stress-relieving tap-tap-tap that's all about moving the game forward.
Then, as a sub-layer of that, there's the creative side of things. You know, the massive phalluses and names we carve into the cube.
Then, there's the competitive angle.
This is a game, after all, that only one person can win. So, in essence, we're all duking it out on the smooth planes of the cube in order to be crowned Cuboid Champion 2013 (or whenever the hell this thing's going to end).
Layers. Like skin. Like the skin of all the naked painted man we've been tapping away at for the past week. It sort of felt like there should be a squelch, some unpleasant visceral sound as each cube was pulled away.
Here's your cube of flesh, without a single drop of blood. Just some coins to add to your ever-swelling coffers.
We're through the valley of the nudes now, though, and are currently tapping away at lamps and light fittings.
I don't see the connection. But, then, I rarely do.January 16th - Layers 153 to 163
There's a lot of snow outside.
Snow is like the cube.
Bear with me.
Snow offers a series of viable options for inquisitive and creative minds. And for violent sociopaths.
Snow lets you make cars look like cartoon animals. Snow lets you build sculptures of pagan gods and erect male genitalia.
There are a number of ways you can write your name in snow, ranging from the admirable to the despicably unpleasant. And whatever you do with it, whatever grand piece of architecture or enormous swear word you create, it will disappear when it gets a bit warmer.
The enjoyment trajectory of icy weather is similar to the enjoyment trajectory of the cube, too.
You start off excited, pulling on your snow jumpers to go and throw congealed sky ice at one another, giggling at your own importance, cackling as you carve giant monuments out of its frozen crust.
And then you get cold, someone puts snow in your pants, and you want to go home.
This week, the cube has reflected our snowy escapades, displayed pictures of Christmas markets even though Christmas ended more than a week ago, and reminded us that, one day, summer will burst forth from the icy ground and life will return to the forests. Or the cities.
Snow and the cube. Eventually, they'll both just become disappointing memories.January 23rd - Layers 164 to 172
The term 'just out of curiosity' is starting to take on new meaning.
It's like the confession of an addict trying to reconnect with a society that he chose to abandon.
You can imagine some cube-addled, bedraggled youth stumbling bleary-eyed out of a shape den, falling to his knees, and yelling to the heavens that he's just doing it "out of curiosity".
Or perhaps it's the mantra of a de-programming expert, sent to disentangle someone's loved one from the cult-ish repetition and obsession that the all-knowing floating cube can create.
Each tap is a prayer to the cube, each layer peeled away representing another element of your personality. You need to get out of Curiosity
Right now, though, those layers seem dull and uninspiring.
The mystery surrounding the thing seems to have evaporated, the experience stretched out over weeks and months until no one really remembers what he's tapping for in the first place.
Maybe, then, 'just out of curiosity' refers to the statistics. The users have peaked, the sign-ups are flatlining, the eyes of the industry have drifted elsewhere.
Some still tap, that hardy few determined to see the experiment through to the end. But, as for the rest of us?
We're just out of curiosity.January 30th - Layers 173 to 182
In years to come, Curiosity
could be used as an example in a textbook about word-of-mouth marketing.
Hark back to those November days when the web was ablaze with ideas and posts, when people actually cared about this silly little "life-changing" game, and when I was much, much younger.
All of that happened (except the ageing process) because we started talking. We started sharing our experiences - for good or for bad - which led to the creation of a brief, exciting, ultimately doomed community.
I say 'doomed', because it should have been obvious from the start that nothing like that lasts.
You see, on the next page of this odd, non-linear, futuristic textbook (which is probably an e-textbook if we're honest) will be a description of how Curiosity
is a prime example of a game that fails to deliver on its promises.
Most people lost interest within a week, and people have been leaving ever since.
It's about weighing things up.
On the one hand, you have a promise that there's something incredible waiting for you. And on the other, you have the drudgery of the journey required to get there.
This week, the sides of the cube have been covered with chains. You might say they were pulling it down, but really it's a mixture of misled expectation and boredom that's doing that.
I had such high hopes.February 6th - Layers 183 to 188
Many of you have probably thrown down your tapping fingers in recent weeks and months, shaking yourself free of the cube in order to go out and lead rich, fulfilling lives.
The dwindling population of the cube face, most of whom are now either petty vandals or die-hard tappers with curious fingers worn down to knuckly nubs, made me think that there must be some way to get people interested in the experiment again.
So, here are my suggestions to 22Cans for how it can get people curious again.
- Turn the cube into a social musical experiment
Why not make every tap a note?
That way, as we clear away the cubelets barring the way between us and whatever limitless joy lurks at the centre of the cube, we can make glorious and banging tunes with our fellow cubenauts.
How about showing off some of the wonderful, hideous, and downright disturbing things people have created on the cube?
How nice would it be to peel back a layer and find that hilarious drawing of a cat you did two months ago staring back at you, eh?
- Make some of the cubelets invisible
Everything's too easy now: we just tap and things go away.
So, why not make some of the cubelets invisible, and leave no clue as to where they might be?
Nothing makes things more interesting than a bit of tension.
Create physical versions of the cube that we can hack at in real life to make cubelets disappear on the game.
Fit these cubelander toys with cameras so people can watch our gleeful and horrible destruction of something for which we just paid £19.99.
- Tell us what's in there so we can all move on with our lives
I guess that one's self-explanatory, really.February 13th - Layers 189 to 196
I decided this week to try and make contact with my fellow Curiositans.
I extended an olive branch in order to try and gauge how interested people were with the tapping tasks they were performing, and what they thought might be inside the cube.
Of course, since my interpersonal skills now amount to little more than a gibbering shriek 'thanks' to this diary, I approached this conundrum the only way I knew how.
Through the cube.
On the last few cubes of layer 196, I attempted to make contact with some of the other players, judging their positions by the plumes of light emanating from the skin of the cube.
At first, I tried to write an introduction explaining my purpose and who I am. I managed around three letters before they were chipped away to nothingness by overzealous workers.
Didn't they realise I was trying to engage with them about some pressing and important issues? No. No, they didn't.
I decided the best thing to do was catch their attention quickly, and carved out just three rapid-fire characters. "Hi!"
And so I chased the disappearing cubes around one face, tapping out 'Hi!' as fast as I could, trying to get anyone to acknowledge me.
(Imagine grizzled miners being chased around a coalface by a demented child yapping "Hi!Hi!Hi!Hi!Hi!Hi!" and you get the idea.)
It did not work.
I realised there might be a language barrier, so thought the best thing to do was switch tack and plump for a more 'visual' greeting. For a symbol that might make people stop what they were doing and reply in kind.
I decided on a smiley face.
These being even simpler to create than squeaked greetings, I renewed my quest for interaction with vigour, chasing light and disappearing cubes in order to make a new chum.
But, every face I made was soon subsumed by the taps of others. My attempt at finding someone to talk to amid the loneliness of my task destroyed by the very people with whom I was trying to connect.
I was yelling in a dark, empty room.
Eventually, downhearted and defeated, I exited the cube and drew one simple conclusion...Curiosity
players are only curious about what's in the cube; not what's on the outside.February 20th - Layers 197 to 205
This week, we passed the 200 layers mark.
In doing do, we excavated images of the Chrysler Building, the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and some smug-looking ducks.
All these pictures of buildings got me thinking about something Mr Molyneux said a long time ago, back when the cube was young and we all gave slightly more of a toss about the fact it existed.
Speaking to Eurogamer
, he left the following cryptic clue: "When you play the cube, you're also doing something else. You don't realise you're doing it."
What if the cubelets we're (I'm) hacking away at are, in fact, being used to build another cube? What if, somewhere off-camera, all the things we've subtracted are being added to a new pile?
200 layers of cubelets 'converted' into a statue, or a spaceship, or another cube.
Maybe, this whole experiment thing
is like something out of '60s counter-culture sci-fi thriller The Prisoner
. All these new recycled cubes will come after us, preventing our escape from the idyllic App Store village in which we've all been forced into living.
Whatever we're doing, after more than 200 layers of repetitive tapping and badger tossing it feels like we're no closer to uncovering the apparently manifold reasons for our toil.
You see, the thing about clues is they should push you on, encourage you to discover something new, take you one step closer to unravelling the mystery.
just feels like a series of nods, winks, and nudges that only members of a spectacularly elite club are ever going to understand.February 27th - Layers 206 to 212
Hey! You! Are you worried that there are people trapped inside the cube and that those people are watching you? Watching you touch their horrible, fleshy human faces?
Don't worry: you're not crazy (well, maybe a bit if you're still playing Curiosity
). Those faces are supposed to be there.
Those are people who backed Godus
, the game for which this whole social experiment has turned into a billboard.
So, the cube right now looks like the die from the world's worst Blind Date
With whom did you end up? Oh, god, not him. Anyone but him.
I, for one, am glad my hideous face isn't going to end up on the cube.
Imagine all those people tapping away at you, pulling off chunks of your skin in perfect little cubelets. Or writing rude words in the cube then making it look like you're saying them.
Just think about that. Think about turning on the cube to have a relaxing tap session only to find a mutilated image of your face next to a speech bubble stating that you're a "massive tosspot".
"I'm not!" you'd shout, weeping useless, useless tears. "I'm not one of those."
I don't think I'd be able to handle it.March 6th - Layers 213 to 219
It's still just faces. Endless cube sides of faces.
I've not seen anyone I recognise yet, but then I live in a cupboard tapping on a cube, so that's not really surprising.
One interesting pastime cubenauts can engage in is making up stories about the people they see on each layer.
Perhaps that stern man with his arms folded is the floppy-haired goth's dad. Perhaps he's very upset with his son's choice of music for the journey to school.
Maybe the man in close up is peering through a letterbox at the sketch drawing of a face, trying to figure out if he's dreaming or if he's actually gone mad.
Did Top-Right Corner and Bottom-Left Corner used to be lovers? Was it the cube that broke them apart? Maybe Top-Right Corner drew something impressive and Bottom-Left Corner turned it into a swear word?
Who needs friends when you have the imaginary lives of the cubeface people to keep you entertained? Don't answer that.March 13th - Layers 220 to 224
From what I can tell, Project Godus
was backed by several different types of pet, a puppet, a man being chased by a lion, numerous cartoon characters, and at least one Ben Affleck look-alike.
This reeks of corruption.
I think someone should demand a recount of the pledges. Just to be safe.
It's like that episode of The Simpsons
where Sideshow Bob rigs an election by using the names of the dead on the electoral register.
If I start seeing pictures of dearly departed relatives and much-loved but long-dead family pets on the sides of that cube, I'm going to write a strongly worded letter to my MP.
Although she's probably in on it, too.
People I know count: 0
For more enthralling tales of the Cube, please open up Volume II.