(Art)icle: Mothhead and Curiosity: What's In The Cube? [+Gameplay Vids!]

We’ll throw this over to an entirely different cliché: Games and art.

By Daavpuke, Posted 10 Nov 2012


Games and Art: Mothhead and Curiosity: What's in the cube - NoobFeed Editorial

How did everyone survive the US election? Whether you’re an American or not, this election is important worldwide, as the States dictate a worldwide policy. Those bombs didn’t drop themselves. Personally, I’m relieved Mr. Obama stayed in office, given the viable alternative would be a person that upholds contradictory beliefs. We’ve had those; they don’t end well. You might not admire the lackluster policy Obama has had and that’s understandable, but sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. At least, that is until people realize there are more parties than just these two. Enough politics now, we can always discuss those with political games like Democracy 2.

We’ll throw this over to an entirely different cliché: Games and art. The discussion has been stretched endlessly. This isn’t another post on what it means in this or that context; we’ve done that one before. Instead, we wanted to take the time to just talk about some recent development in the game world. The first is Mothhead, an art demonstration endorsed by the Unity engine, also responsible for titles like Rochard and tons more. We’ll place a full walkthrough below of the small presentation by Massive Black that show the lengths of the versatile engine.

With this pristine exhibition of skill, Unity lets the world know that it still has a lot more potential than what the masses attribute to it, given its popular mobile device and web development. Ample lighting effects make the textures in the game truly pop and give extra dimensions to the designs chosen. This is equally true for the water particles, shimmer and reflection effects that seem true to life. A second clever implementation is used with blurring effects that cover up some shallower surfaces, while at the same time enhancing other, better textures. It drives the focus to the most capable design at all times.

What’s the point of this presentation? Well, in the first place it’s to define the strength of the platform it’s built on; it’s to show aspiring developers and companies that Unity can rub elbows with your Unreal engine. In the shallow game elements, the goal is to guide a moth from a glowing cave over a chasm and into the outside world. For that, it needs to attach itself to a body that can carry more weight, but doesn’t fly, as the moth acts as its head. After a few simple maneuvers the game goes into the outside world, onto a patio where a moth friend is trapped in a jar. Here, body and head must interact to find things around the garden that can be used to get to the jar and free the moth.

The inside and outside world offer a different perspective, from grimy inside locations to verdant outside environment. A simplified puzzle mechanic is also shown with the pressing of a lever or getting some items for a friend. It’s nothing major, but this shows that the world can stick together through the processing power of Unity. Any gameplay element is more of a bonus than anything else, but the created atmosphere in Mothhead is one that doesn’t bow down to its peers of ages past, such as the T-Rex demo on Playstation. Remember that?

Games and Art: Mothhead and Curiosity: What's in the cube - NoobFeed Editorial

On another spectrum of simplicity, we find Peter Molyneux’s new project Curiosity. Whether or not it’s marketed as a game or an experiment or whatever it may be is now as abstruse as the thing itself. The certainty is that if this were a game, its simpleton busywork guised underneath pretty pretenses of social conduct and other interesting examinations would see it flunked by some margin. The premise is simple: Players tap at small cubes that together form a gargantuan cube that must be handled layer by layer. As each coating is hacked off, the community collectively moves closer to the ultimatum of what only 1 person will see when they reach the last cube. However, all is almost said with that instance: You click on cubes and then click on cubes. What appears are more cubes. The name suggests that our curiosity will lead us on to proceed, but after just a few screen taps, the modus operandi has been set and barely anything alters, besides color shading. There is a promise of exciting events to take place as layers perish, but as even the first coats are tremendously dull to sustain interest, what could really be that fascinating to hack towards? At this rate, only something as cataclysmic as the cure for cancer would offer reasonable justification for this menial task, but that would also be extremely cynical to juggle it this way.

Is there really no way to pass the tedium to find out what’s in the cube? In fact, there is; but these are self-sustained illusions. However, it is possible to let the imagination run wild as it takes a descent into madness by waiting. The community can be seen writing secret messages, greetings or even elaborate drawings that can only be seen from afar. These works of art, but in most cases just slur words and crude drawings of genitalia, also refresh themselves as others pass and destroy what once was born in order to clear the next layer. Through this mechanic of real time server updates that affect everyone, players can start anew each time, instead of sitting idly by to marvel at their creation. All serves the cube. Didn’t the Borg have something similar? Is Molyneux trying to assimilate us into the mindless work regimen? We dwindle, so let’s press on.

Even though this basic title, which may or not be a game, has only a few concerns, developer 22 Cans had not foreseen sustainable support for their servers upon launch. Hence, the first impression of Curiosity to most was a cluster of strange issues and glitches, as their servers strained to take in the masses. Sure, they hid it under being overwhelmed by the success, but everything in Curiosity is but idle banter; pretty words made to justify that which isn’t there. The reality is that if a game is literally a cube with the only activity being more cubes, then at least some sizable server support would be appreciated. It happens in many titles, yet many titles also had a lot more non-server related things to focus on; Curiosity does not. Then there’s the matter of collecting coins for enhancements which seem to bear a ridiculous price to start with or even having to buy stats for more ludicrous reasons not explained. Yes, someone sure is enjoying this “experiment,” but whether it’s an exhibition on social interaction or messing with people is not certain. It is certain that it isn’t at all engaging and that anyone still tapping after one day is a die-hard fanatic that suddenly forgot any other game.

Most games can essentially get boiled down to just tapping buttons to make things happen, but Curiosity is the literal application of that. Tap a button, a cube disappears and repeat that for an amount of times that is out of this known realm. When even an art demonstration surpasses you in several fields of interests, then maybe it’s time to pack it in. Feel free to wallow in more imagination however. We all enjoyed playing in an empty box as kids by pretending it was something completely different. We can pretend Curiosity is not completely terrible.


Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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Mothhead

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Unity
Developer(s): Massive Black
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Adventure
Release Date: 2012-10-30

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