[Update] The Curiosity Cube Diaries - Volume II

Updated to include Days 208 to 211... a.k.a. The Cube-logy

[Update] The Curiosity Cube Diaries - Volume II

For long, boring, and complicated technical reasons, we have had to start a new Curiosity Cube Diaries volume. We've subtitled it "Volume II". I hope you like.

Don't fear: you can still read Volume I of the Diary by clicking here.

Oh, and we're still going to be updating the Diary on a weekly basis. You can breathe out now.

May 28th - The End

I was there when the last cubelet fell.

It was part of a small cluster of around 12 lurking somewhere south of the middle of the last side.

I'd been swiping around, clearing up the dregs, and this was where the arrow pointed me. I didn't realise we were so close.

I pinch-zoomed in, starting tapping away, and then found myself in an empty space, looking out.

For a while, I sat in stunned disbelief, silently swiping around the now-cubeless game area. Tweets appeared on the walls expressing amazement, dissatisfaction, and everything in between.

There were times during the past few months that I thought the cube tale would never end. But, at the same time, there were times when I didn't want it to.

I'd like to be honest with you for a moment: at heart, I'm an optimist.

Yes, I bibbled and I babbled and I railed, but disappointment stems from expectation. And I honestly believed that the cube was something special.

You can see it in my review, and in some of the early posts in the first volume of this diary.

The idea of a social experiment conducted in this way enthralled me. It was simple, yes, but it was also a blank canvas.

I dreamt of a cube covered in cryptic clues, in messages left by other explorers, in hints about secrets we could uncover together.

An MMO played on the tiniest scale creating new ways for us to play and interact with one another. At the core of it all, a truth that we could fathom given time.

Even at the end, I held on to some vague hope that what was inside would be unique and important.

Instead, the Curiosity prize video left me hollow.

Not because I hadn't won, and not because I was upset about what the prize was, but because after all the toil and taps we'd just been involved in a marketing campaign.

It was a clever marketing campaign, one that twisted and tricked and kept us guessing, but the end result was something utterly mundane.

I always wanted the cube to be important. I wanted it to be held up as an example of how smartphone and tablet gaming can offer innovative methods of play.

But once the layers had been peeled back, all that was waiting inside was a job and a billboard.

So it goes.

Lastly, I'd like to say 'thank you' to all the people who continued to read this diary right to the bitter end. I hope it brightened your gloomy days a little.

I was there when the last cubelet fell, but there's a bit of me that would love to stick it back on again.

May 22nd - Layers 305 to 317

To borrow a phrase from the Sport of Kings, we are now approaching the 'home straight'.

I kinda feel like a prisoner on death row who has just received a Presidential Pardon.

So, with eight days remaining on my 'sentence', perhaps it's time for reflection. And genuflection.

What, might you ask quite rightly, did I do to receive such penal punishment?

Well, I downloaded a thing. That thing involved tapping day and night on a thing. I am now forever entwined with that thing.

I have, in essence, become that thing.

And to whom exactly should I bend both my knees in reverence? Why, President Peter, of course.

May 15th - Layers 292 to 304

Time is strange in the cube.

You might think seven days have passed since this diary was last updated, but according to the cube just two have slipped by.

The clock that so tantalisingly told me there were just 14 days left now says there are 12. Even my rudimentary mathematical skills can work out that's not right.

It's because people have stopped playing.

There was a demented surge when the announcements about the impending end of proceedings occurred. But now, reviled at the idea of doing the same thing over and over, those curious latecomers have got bored and wandered off elsewhere.

Perhaps we'll be stuck on 12 days forever. Perhaps these 12 remaining days are the punishment for all the mean things I've written in this diary.

I'm sorry, Peter, I take it all back. Start time again, please.

May 8th - Layers 269 to 291

All we have left is time.

Hanging over the cube now is an ever-changing clock, counting down the seconds until the last cube is cleared and this whole horrible charade can come to an end.

Each layer is emblazoned with a number, a reminder of how far down we have left to go.

There's no mystery any more; just the march of time and dwindling digits.

Right now the clock says "14 and a half days". "34" is the number on the layer 'counter'. That means we're clearing around 2.3 layers a day.

If it's not too bold of me to ask, I would like to request a final surge.

If you've ever played Curiosity, or if you've ever been curious about Curiosity, download the game and have a bit of a tap.

Let's get that counter down to ten days, five days, or even just hours.

The sooner this is done with, the sooner the healing can begin.

May 1st - Layers 268 to 273

The cube is starting to look sad and small; the pulsating halo around it a reminder of how stout and fearsome it once appeared.

If there were 50 layers remaining when the new pay-to-troll IAPs were introduced, then there should be around 30 left to clear now.

It makes me wonder what I'm going to do when this is all over.

I'll have to go outside, I suppose. Although last time I did that, I tried to tap my way into a building through the wall.

The IAPs do seem to have slowed down cube clearance dramatically, mind.

Just five and a bit layers have been hacked away since the last update. Five and a bit feeble, small layers disposed of by a crack team of obsessives.

We're sort of like the A-Team, except we never talk to one another other. Oh, and we only acknowledge the fact other members of this 'team' exist when we scurry away from their taps.

Perhaps I should arrange a party to celebrate the cube being fully cleared. A gathering of gaunt husks with arthritic fingers too afraid to look at one another because things with curved edges don't make any sense.

Sounds like fun.

April 24th - Layers 260 to 267

Where to begin?

Ever since this post about the most recent update to Curiosity went live, I have been wallowing in my own misery. Drowning, in fact.

I don't eat or sleep; I just howl despondent cries into the darkness of my room, sometimes weeping, sometimes cackling like a man who just found out his favourite dish is made out of the skulls of murdered orphans.

The one speck of light at the end of my tunnel, the single glaring beacon of hope I'd clutched with crooked fingers for so long was the finite nature of the cube. Here was a limited shape with a possible and ever-nearing end.

Now, it can go on forever.

I don't even tap any more. I just refresh the stats page, swearing unrepeatable oaths whenever the "AddCubelets purchased" counter goes up.

Then, there's the taunting flash of the layers we've already cleared. The pulsating beacon of ridicule about the meaninglessness of our labour.

"You did this much before we decided you could just pay to strip layers away."

Oh, sure, there might only be 50 layers left to go, but that doesn't mean anything any more. That's because 22Cans has given people the chance to make a single layer last forever.

The equations were all wrong and the statistics were useless.

Maybe, I should launch a Kickstarter campaign to get enough money to finish this for good.

That'd show 'em.

April 17th - Layers 252 to 259

There have now been 576 faces on the cube, and I haven't recognised a single one of them.

Not even any of the cats' faces.

With that in mind, I thought it might be pertinent to reach out in the name of investigative journalism to see if any of the cubified masses would like to talk about their experience.

So, if you've had your facial area poked and probed by the grubby, hopeless digits of a legion of people who have their dreams crushed on a regular basis, get in touch.

You could talk about how it felt to see your face slowly degrading into a mush of colour.

Or what it was like to join such hallowed layers as #18, or #47.

Or maybe we could just talk about how crushingly lonely I am all the time.

And - as an added treat - if you live within 20 miles of me, I'll come and sit outside your house and mournfully tap on the windows every night.

In the vain hope that something interesting might happen.

April 10th - Layers 247 to 252

You'll no doubt be surprised to learn that the cube is still really just a series of faces.

Shock, horror, right?

I've noticed that there comes a point in every layer when the faces have been degraded to such a degree that they become little more than pink mush.

Signing in at that moment fills me with hope. Could this disfigured mess be something other than visages of the moneyed?

With shaking fingers, I zoom in, my heart in my mouth.

What's that majestic curve over there? Is that a tree? Can I see the puffing emissions of a hidden steam train?

Then, I catch a nose, or a blemished cheek, or the dead twinkle in a frozen eye, and I realise it's still just boring, uncomplicated lumps of expressive flesh.

At this rate, I'm going to have to build my own giant destructible cube to stop myself from going mad.

April 3rd - Layers 238 to 246

While staring into the unblinking eyes of the people, cartoons, and pets that funded Project Godus, I often wonder what the cube would be like now if 22Cans's Kickstarter campaign had failed.

What would our fingers be defacing right this second if the gurning visages that glare out at us had been too few?

Maybe, we'd have found a new clue, some suggestion to the depths we have left to plumb before discovering the identity of Mr Molyneux's increasingly forgotten life-changing MacGuffin.

Or, perhaps, we'd have had messages to decipher, objects to connect, images to link together into a cohesive narrative.

One thing's for sure - it'd certainly give diarists something more interesting to write about.

March 27th - Layers 232 to 237


For the past few days, I have been struggling to shake off a persistent head cold.

Being the sensible and fully functional member of a capitalist society that I am, I have been attempting to defeat this stifling illness by purchasing remedies.

Pills, potions, salves, balms, and ointments have all been applied liberally. To such a degree, in fact, that I fear I may now be slightly radioactive.

All these pills and prescriptions got me thinking - Curiosity has, in essence, created a new style of play. I like to call it "placebo gaming".

It looks like a game, it sounds like a game, and its mechanics are certainly game-y enough to fool your brain into thinking that it's indulging in play.

However, Curiosity is NOT a game.

The motions we go through when taking a pill are reassuring - it feels like we're doing something to conquer our ailments. That's what Curiosity does.

We go through the motions of engaging in digital entertainment, scratching the play itch by poking at a few cubes, but there's no real progression, no satisfaction other than the disappearance of a few more cube chunks.

It's a con trick, designed to hook our brains into systems that we recognise have given us pleasure before.

And, in the end, we will not win.

Although, to be honest, that might be the Calpol talking.

March 20th - Layers 225 to 231

Still faces. Still haven't seen anyone I know.

Every week, I regale my better half with tales of my Wednesday exploits.

Every week, she asks the same rhetorical question: "Oh, are you still doing that diary?"

What this question has taught me is that one day I will be dead... and the cube will not be.

So, I ought to pass on some of the secrets I have learnt during my time at the cubeface. There are three of them.

  • Pick your spot

This is, perhaps, the most important rule.

Think of Curiosity in the same way you'd think of a gold rush.

There are plenty of cubelets for everyone, but if you stake a claim in some out-of-the-way place, it's likely you're going to have control of it for a while.

Don't follow the herd, and don't try and engage in mind games or conversations with other players.

Just grab your pickaxe (finger), and go get some nuggets (cubelets).

  • Don't miss

Actually, this might be the most important rule.

A lot of people think that speed is the most important part of a cube-clearer's job. These people are morons.

Precision is, in fact, the order of the day.

By tapping a space where the cubelets have already been dealt with, your combo multiplier gets reset. Yes, Curiosity has combo multipliers.

So, zoom in until the cubelets are roughly as big as the tip of your tapping finger.

Tap slowly and carefully, and find a rhythm. Don't mess around with multiple digits. It's a waste of time and energy.

  • Don't move

No. Wait. THIS is the most important rule. Or it might not be.

It's entirely possible that you'll clear a screen save for one cubelet, tap too hard on that in celebration, shift the screen slightly, and thus reveal more cubelets.

By doing so, you will lose your screen-clearing bonus. You will then be angry and grumpy for the rest of the day.

Don't take your failures out on loved ones or strangers; just remember not to tap so hard next time.

There's another rule about not listening to the voices telling you to use the cube as a weapon of mass destruction. To be honest, though, I don't think any of you are ready to learn about that just yet.
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.