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Re: Quantum game

Posted: Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:29 pm
by testtubegames
exfret wrote:Hmmm... I'm starting to wonder how Andy has made the game so far.
I like the discussions you are all having -- and a lot of your thoughts/concerns mirror ones that I've had. Looking up at my post, I realize I didn't get into any details about the design of the game as it stands. (Which, of course, would change tremendously)

In a nutshell, you were playing in a platformer as the cat. There were a whole bunch of potential 'quantum' effects that could impact you at various points in the game (kinda like how mario could put on the frog suit or racoon suit, the cat could pick up a token and change the way the world acted). In one example, the cat would have spin, like an electron. And there would be barriers in the world like in the Stern-Gerlach experiment. So, say the cat started with a spin state x+, and there was a gate that only let him through if he had spin state z+. Well, half of him would make it, half of him wouldn't. Now you'd be in control of the two cats. They'd be able to 'interfere' with each other in certain ways... so if one hit a button, it might open a door for the other one. Or maybe they could hop on each other's backs to get higher. And if either of the cats got observed (by guards or cameras, say), the wavefunction would collapse, meaning suddenly only one of the cats would exist.

I still like the general idea of that type of game. I mean, it sounds like it could be really fun! It's just quantum mechanics is *so* often misinterpreted, that I was hesitant to put anything in the game that could reinforce bad quantum instincts. And the vague analogies used to drive the mechanics of the game didn't help. For instance, interference is more complicated that just suddenly having two '50%' particles interacting; their particular states are important, too. And if a cat leaves behind information about where it was (footprints), the interference disappears... but if you clean up the footprints perfectly, the interference reappears. But how would the game accurately reflect the fact that depending on a future action, maybe this button opened the door for the other cat (interference allowed), and maybe it didn't (interference not allowed). And then, of course, the fact these are cats instead of mindless particles might get people caught up on questions of observers... which is not what I'd be going for in the early levels. (Leading to strange Star Trek-y questions like: 'wait, I could see another copy of myself? And we could work together to do things?'). And, and, and...

... in short, mind = blown...

The randomness is a sticking point, too. Like you all, I don't think a platformer would benefit from much randomness. If the only difference between 'yay I won the level' and 'boo I lost the level' is a random number generator... well... I forsee rage-quits -- and rightfully so. One solution *is* to require that at least 50% of the cat wins the level, say, as was mentioned above. That's one of the tactics I was taking in the game... but it still doesn't fix the problem entirely. In the case of levels with observers -- if they indeed cause the state to collapse, which is awesome -- we're back to this problem. "Oops, you are the cat in the pit, not the cat near the goal"

So that's a brief run-down of where things stood with the mechanics. I'm sure there's a nugget to this (and to all your ideas) that could turn into an amazing, accurate game, and I'm a fan of where this thread is going.

My (postive) 2 cents to add -- after all that discussion about how things *weren't* working -- is that the resolution to my 'is it reinforcing bad instincts' question is probably to make the game much more literal. For example, to make the above case more concrete: the cats are electrons, you are the experimenter. The cats would 'interfere' like electrons -- not necessarily by pushing buttons -- but by adding constructively or destructively. You wouldn't control the cats directly, just as the experimenter doesn't move electrons around directly, but you influence the cats indirectly by modifying the experiment.

That still leaves the problem of finding a good, fun 'concrete' analogy, of course!