March 19, 2007

Instead of Shadowburn, “I differentiate you! I integrate you!”

by Nick Montfort · , 1:24 pm

Project Hippasus is an MMO planned by Frozen North for the PC and Xbox 360 – a Mathematically Magical Optimization? The virtual world will offer “accidental learning” because, according to the plan they’ve put together in four weeks, you’ll have to solve math problems as you roam about. Apparently you’ll need to decompose your opponents into their frequency components in order to defeat them. Or maybe hurl weapons along their principal eigenvectors. Or something. I don’t know … math is hard. Let’s go shopping on Second Life!

4 Responses to “Instead of Shadowburn, “I differentiate you! I integrate you!””

  1. josh g. Says:

    Okay, I like geeking out on math as much as the next person – watching an episode of Numb3rs tends to get me researching for an hour afterwards – but this is where they lost me completely:

    We don’t want like, “Kill ye 20 rats and bring them back to me.” We want a kind of system where there are more mathematic quests and puzzles. I don’t know if you ever played Knights of the Old Republic, but in that game they actually had a version of the Towers of Hanoi–a famous, hundreds-of-years old mathematical problem–which they disguised completely.

    Guys, I’m sure you mean well, but go read this and then get back to me when you’ve got a grip.

  2. ErikC Says:

    granted there is a little self-contradiction there, (i.e., it is really cool if nobody recognizes it), but I really like the sound of this.

  3. josh g. Says:

    Actually my point was that the Towers of Hanoi puzzle in Knights of the Old Republic is far from disguised. It’s one of the most arbitrary and annoying uses of Hanoi in any game I’ve ever played, and to add insult to injury the interface for the puzzle is horrible. It’s one of the only glaring design flaws in what is otherwise one of my favorite games.

    If Frozen North manages to integrate mathematics directly into the game mechanic in a way that doesn’t feel forced and arbitrary, I’ll be the first to cheer them on. But if the KotOR Hanoi puzzle is their ideal example, that’s not a good sign.

  4. breslin Says:

    The KotOR Hanoi puzzle may just be a convenient example. It sounds like they’re dealing more with automatic quest-generation and puzzle-generation, as well as requiring some mathematical-style thought in the production of magic spells and generally the exercise of combat. I guess Towers of Hanoi is arguably a general-purpose puzzle form. So, arguably, is “magic square,” Spillane’s other example. Too bad they’re being so vague.

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