The Electric Field Mystery, part 1

Posted in: Electric Shocktopus, Lesson Time! | August 11, 2015 | No Comments

The forums were quiet.

…too quiet.

In this neck of the woods, Andy knew that meant trouble was brewing.  It was then that A Random Player walked into the room with a problem.  And that problem’s name was Shocktopus.

.     So I heard you made a game about electric fields.

.     That’s right, Andy said, looking up from the line of impeccably tilted test tubes that covered his desk.

.     And I heard the game is scientifically accurate.

.     Well, aside from the questionable marine bi   ology, I sure aim for it to be, Andy said cautiously, memories of Velocity Raptor’s bullet-conundrum swirling like a mist in the back of his head.

.     Then how do you explain *this*? Random said, throwing a picture down on the desk:


Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 3.02.48 PM

Andy had seen volcanoes before… and they never looked like this.  There was nothing on the top of the screen, but there was an electric field emanating from it.

That was five nights ago, and Andy had been hitting the pavement ever since.  Looking for clues in a town full of shadows.  Where did he go wrong? Was this a bug?  Or worse: not a bug?  Either way, he knew that an understanding wouldn’t come easy.  Where did all this trouble begin?  Oh yes, with the Relaxation Method, which, as it turned out, was anything but.

The Case of the Relaxation Method

Back when he first started out as a gumshoe – programing the first prototypes of The Electric Shocktopus, the world was a simple place.  Electric fields were easy to come by, so long as you knew how solve a simple equation.  And with a computer at his fingertips, solving equations was one thing Andy could do.  Find all the electric charges in a level, find where the Shocktopus is, and you’ve found yourself the force.  Perfect forces.  Perfectly easy.

But, like all things in life, it was simple precisely up until the point when it was not.

And that point was when Andy took on the case of a grounded Conductor (who, incidentally, had been sent to the sleeper car without his supper).  As Andy pieced together the puzzle, he realized that you couldn’t just add conductors into The Electric Shocktopus.  There’s no simple rule for figuring out the forces, then.  No easy equation to solve.  For the fields affect the charges in the conductor, just as the charges in the conductor affect the fields.  You may as well try to track down a criminal who knows you’re on his tail.  Each move you make changes which way he’s running.




But, just like with that criminal.  There was a solution.  You just needed boundaries.  Walls, gates… or in this case, an electrified fence would do the trick.

If you’ve got a conductor all around the outside of your level, you’ve got a way to hunt down the electric field.  It’s called the Relaxation Method.  And just like playing a game of cat-and-mouse, it involves a lot of guessing.  But with each guess, you get closer to the criminal.  Or closer to the final, true electric field.



A Found Field


There’s only one problem.  By putting a ring of conductors up, you’ve changed things.



It just wasn’t the same anymore.


So, how can you put up a ring of conductors around the level, while at the same time not having them affect the level?  In all his years watching crooks melt into the shadows, Andy knew that everything leaves a trace.  Footprints. Cigarette ash. Or warped electric fields.

But there had to be a way.  And Andy had to find it.

To be continued…

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