Cube Your Enthusiasm: Molyneux’s Curiosity Delayed

And inside, we will find a single acorn. Then the world will explode.

I was ready. I spent weeks studying cubes – pouring over research, feeling them, learning their structural weaknesses, biting them, stacking them, attempting to fit them into round holes, living among them in their natural habitat, trying to understand what they fear most. I was going to crack open Curiosity‘s chocolate shell in one definitive swing and devour the “life-changing” nougat inside. But now it’s been delayed into September, and I really just want a candy bar. Peter Molyneux and co have, however, released a trailer that depicts a cube doing cube things. So that’s something, I suppose.

Sure enough, that’s a cube. For now, 22 Cans has shifted the release date to “September 2012” and left it at that. As for why, I haven’t the foggiest, but I’ll see if Molyneux’s willing to elaborate.

Speaking of, he recently defend his decision to include purchasable chisels – one of which will go for £50,000 – during a keynote at 2012’s Unite conference in Amsterdam (via Pocketgamer).

“Monetisation is a dirty word for indies – but it shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t think of it as monetising gamers, but rather turning them into investors.”

He further noted that anyone who makes a purchase in Curiosity will be granted “investor” status, which gets them beta access to the big game that’ll eventually emerge from mad doctor Molyneux’s 22 tiny experiments and their name in its credits. Problematically, that doesn’t sound like any investor I’ve ever heard of. It sounds like someone who purchased a videogame – which is what it is. I’m all for small developers getting the monetary dues they so rightfully deserve, but this comes off as warping the meaning of a word to make things sound nicer than they really are. At best, it’s unnecessary. At worst, it obscures Molyneux’s message and makes him seem downright disingenuous.

That said, he also noted in a chat with Eurogamer a while back that he doesn’t “expect for a second for the cube to make us any money.” To hear him tell it, the tech’s majorly expensive, and it’s all motivated by, well, curiosity more than a desire to chip away at our wallets. “The reason I’m charging for the chisels is as a proof point on that motivation,” he said. “Is the simplest form of motivation in the world – what’s in the box? – sufficient to ask people to invest money in it?”

But then, that’s Molyneux for you. Sometimes he’s tough to take at face value, but I do think his heart’s generally in the right place. I mean, it is an interesting question to pose in this day and age. To a lesser extent, things like Cow Clicker – which originally implemented microtransactions as a joke – have tested similar waters, and the results have been surprising (i.e. yes, people wanted to spend money in order to click on cows better). We live in a strange new world. Why not figure out how it works?


  1. John Connor says:

    …how much work could a game like this possibly take? What exactly is so complicated about it?

    • Premium User Badge

      Aquarion says:

      From interviews, he’s said that a lot of the tech is server-side, scaling up an app that millions of users might be clicking on at the same time (Scaling is a Hard Problem, especially if you’re going to have a lot of Burst traffic in the first few days/hours. Talk to Blizzard), plus there’s a lot of stuff about the Cube concept that’s not encapsulated in the “Click it ’til it opens” box-blurb, like revealing pictures that stretch across levels.

      If you play Minecraft, then basically they’re attempting to build a single-level server where hundreds of thousands of people can dig though a few hundred layers of blocks at a slow speed, all at the same time, but with higher texture quality (than the default game).

      Also, I think it was the Edge interview that said that they want to develop technology that will stretch to all the various different social projects that 22 Cans want to play with, so it has to be fast, scalable, and also stretch to things we haven’t seen yet. None of which are generally compatible with “cheap” in terms of dev time.

    • lordcooper says:

      The sheer quantity of people they expect to be logged into the thing?

  2. DestructibleEnvironments says:

    I don’t really care much, but now I’m imagining a video game based on the Cube movie.

    Why should we trust any of Peters hype? Because he changed to some new studio? Yeeessh.

  3. jikavak says:

    Cow Clicker thing.Scary.

    • lorddon says:


    • The Random One says:


    • mittortz says:


      link to

      not spam, promise, but prepare your mind for fuckery

      • Cute stuff and blood says:

        but, duuuude, have you tried timecube on weeeeed?

      • Davee says:

        That is such an eye-opener!

      • Aatch says:

        Holy crap… That is the most insane thing I have seen…

        I’m not sure what he is getting at, since the crux of his argument seem to be that it isn’t day everywhere. However that would mean there are (in his twisted logic) infinite “days” in a single 24 rotation (assuming that both time and space are continuous).

  4. McDan says:

    As long as this isn’t just for squares I’m still cautiously optimistic about the next madness Molyneux brings.

  5. Shakermaker says:

    This project confirms that Peter Molyneux and @PeterMolydeux are actually one and the same person.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      In the same way as Jekyll and Hyde, one proclaims ideas as jokes, the other proclaims jokes as ideas

      and together they make a glorious mess

  6. pigchicken says:

    While I enjoyed his rezzed talk, that is what Molyneux is primarily composed of: Talk.

  7. CrookedLittleVein says:

    I know it gets said a lot, but I haven’t trusted Molyneux since Fable.

    I’ve never seen a series with such promise and potential take such a consistent nosedive towards absolute mediocrity (and that’s being generous).

    Thus, I’m not particularly curious about Curiosity.

    • Yachmenev says:

      Yes, it´s old.

      Seriously, the hype thing that keeps haunting him is more than 10 years old now, and wasn´t that big a deal to begin with. He backtracked, apologized and explained.

      Let it go and just se where this experiment (it isn´t a traditional game in any sense) goes.

      • CrookedLittleVein says:

        “Seriously, the hype thing that keeps haunting him is more than 10 years old now, and wasn´t that big a deal to begin with. He backtracked, apologized and explained.”

        Yes, he did. But the hype thing isn’t exactly ten years old (unless you mean that’s how long he’s been playing the same tune).

        He did basically the same thing with Fable 2.

        And then he did it again with Fable 3.

        Big promises, poor realisation.

        • Yachmenev says:

          He didn´t do the same thing with Fable 2 and 3.

          The first one – promised things that weren´t in the game (which he actually admitted before the release).

          The second one – didn´t do that, just streamlined it a bit to much, but the things he promised were in there, even if the coop did suck.

          The third one – just said that it was going to be good, and it was really shitty (like really really shitty), but that´s no different from any developer who makes a shitty game.

          People just like to hate things on the internet. Mob mentality and all that.

          • Reapy says:


            He keeps doing it.

            Maybe he doesn’t outright lie, but it is the same marketing bullshit most people want to cut through that gets spewed from his mouth every time he takes the stage. Usually he shows some half finished tech demo and presents it like a finished, soon to be product with huge potential.

            Yeah, his ideas are interesting, but hardly ever does he deliver on anything, or even stick it out on one of them to figure out why it would or wouldnt work.

            His ‘shut the hell up peter’ that follows him around is well earned imho.

          • CrookedLittleVein says:

            Reapy seems to be an intelligent chap and has pretty much covered everything I was going to write, plus I can’t really be bothered to compile the incredibly long list of Molyneux’s lies, half-truths and exaggerations.

            But, as an aside;

            “People just like to hate things on the internet. Mob mentality and all that.”

            No. Just no.

            Please don’t attempt to apply your generalizations here. I don’t hate Molyneux; I’ve enjoyed many of his games and wish he could get away from this type of behaviour. This doesn’t change the fact he’s repeatedly misled his fans/audience/customers over the course of the last decade or so, and I think I have the right to take issue with that.

          • Yachmenev says:

            Reapy: Not lies but PR, yes. As long as we agree on that, then all is well :). I just get annoyed at there bing too many kneejerk reactions with people screaming “Lies!” as soon he says anything, no matter what he says.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I still enjoyed Fable.

      • CrookedLittleVein says:

        Same here. It’s on my shelf now and I have a copy on Steam.

        Just wish I could say the same for the sequels.

      • roryok says:

        me too. I missed most of the hype, and picked it up on the original Xbox. It was one of those games that had a real atmosphere to it. The music and level design combined to make albion a truly magical experience (no pun intended). I still listen to the soundtrack regularly, but then I’m obsessed with soundtracks.

        Never played the other two, because I don’t have an Xbox360 and I didn’t want to skip the second one and go to the third.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I haven’t trusted him since Black & White (2001) at least. The first Fable pleasantly surprised me by being pretty enjoyable, because I knew it wouldn’t deliver on any of its promises and wasn’t expecting it to be any more fun to play than B&W was. Then Fable III disappointed me again by not being half as good as the first one. Those minigames and that whole economic system, iesu christe.

      Actually, my first memory of pre-pre-release hype for a game being completely unrelated to the actual game that came out is Syndicate – for a while it was supposed to be a corporation simulator with a streak of black ops running through it, as I recall, and at one point it was all about the mind control aspect (which eventually manifested itself as three little sliders that mostly didn’t do very much). And actually, have you gone back and played Syndicate lately? Maybe I haven’t really trusted him since Syndicate.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Since Fable? I remember this really interesting looking game called Creation that he talked up for ages in magazines…

  8. NicholasTimothyJones says:

    So the reason it is life changing is when you finally get to the centre you are presented with another cube that you must reach the centre of and then it starts over again and again driving the player crazy all the while they are playing some kind of pheromones are released from the speakers that make you addicted to the game and each cube has different properties that cause a vast variety of emotional states of mind?

    Or you just get a hug from a virtual cubeman?

    • Urthman says:

      I’m pretty sure the only way he can guarantee that it’s life changing for whoever gets there first is if it somehow kills you (and that’s the tech that he’s still working out).

      A million dollars would be life changing for many people, but what if Bill Gates gets to the center first? Wouldn’t change his life. It could be the freakin’ Holy Grail, and some French person would say, “No, thanks, we’ve already got one. It’s very nice.”

      So it’s gotta be death.

  9. Leaufai says:

    Don’t worry RPS, there is no enthusiasm here.

  10. Kollega says:

    Right now, there are two things being PRed under the name “Curiosity”. One is a serious scientific project that might yield at least some new knowledge, and the other is an excuse to make people spend obscene amounts of money on rock-cutting instruments that won’t benefit anyone but the seller. Try to guess which is which.

    (And, for clarification, Curiosity rover is the first and Molenux’ cube thing is the second.)

    As for “monetisation” being a dirty word for indies, yes it is, and it should stay that way. Big part of the appeal of indie games to me is that the developers can allow themselves to be at least a little ethical.

  11. rustybroomhandle says:

    The thing in the cube is that you get all the money people spent on virtual tools. 22 would look terrible if they kept it.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Aquarion says:

    I kind of miss the days when Peter Molyneux exceeded expectations, rather than couldn’t deliver on his own hype. Less is, sometimes, more.

  13. ComplexConf says:

    It would be MAD CRAZY if the cube actually ended up containing a SPHERE!!! Just imagine it!

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      A Sphere you had to click on to destroy, to find out what’s inside.

  14. lordcooper says:

    Inside the cube is a *bigger* cube.

    Seriously though, I love the fact that this is being made. It’s genuinely made me quite curious. Also, anyone who tries chipping away at the corners is a big silly.

  15. Eclipse says:

    pfft, silly Molineaux, inside the cube? that’s a green lightbulb…

    • roryok says:

      … but if he tried to turn one of my hula hoops into a cube and put it inside a socially connected game world and make people pay for digital chisels to chip away at it?

      I’d say “Oi! MolyNEEAAAAAAAAAAAUUUX!”

  16. db1331 says:

    What are the odds that this never sees a release? I’d say pretty decent.

    • roryok says:

      nah he’s quite good at convincing people to give him money to make games. I think it’ll come out. and I can tell you what’s in the box right now.

      An Anti-Climax.

  17. Flukie says:

    Most investments are only worthwhile when the ROI is greater than the initial investment.

  18. Belialsp says:

    Pouring what over research? /disengage pedantic spelling mode.

  19. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Oh dear. So how many people do you reckon will be actively turned away from gaming (or indiegaming) altogether because they unwittingly got lured into this gamer’s flytrap?

  20. DickSocrates says:

    There doesn’t appear to be an actual game here. It’s a pointless activity with nothing rewarding about it. The lure of what’s inside isn’t luring me. While I am mildly curious, as I would be if i saw any box anywhere (because I’m human), there’s no myth or world surrounding what *might* be inside.

    A man wearing a black scarf over his head walks into a news studio during a live broadcast and plonks down a box. That’s intriguing, and scary. A sterile white room with a black cube that Molyneux says has something in it, isn’t that intriguing. It’s being sold the wrong way. Perhaps as time goes on and the layers have pictures or text that sets up a world it may get interesting. But then because the inside will be a thing that is interfacing with reality, i.e. it’s us that’s affected by what’s inside, rather than the inhabitants of a piece of fiction, it can’t possibly live up to the hype.

    There needs to be a way for what’s inside to matter to a character in the real game he’s making next year. The MacGuffin doesn’t work on real people. Wanting to know what’s inside is the thrill, not finding out, so the entire premise being set around ‘do this boring thing to find out’ seems inherently broken. And if it wasn’t boring, then I still wouldn’t care what’s inside.

  21. JackDandy says:

    I thought this was all a joke.

    His batshit project is an actual thing?

  22. Jackablade says:

    I don’t get all this “ooh we don’t trust this Molyneux character. Rabble rabble rabble” business. Sure intially a few folks might have gotten taken in and maybe a little bit burned by it, albeit not to any particularly serious degree, but that was years ago. We all know Sir Peter is an excitable old bugger who likes to tell everyone his stories. He’s like your grampa telling tall tales about catching enormous fish and walking 15 miles in the snow to bring it back into town.

    Everyone knows that Sir peters announcements tend to be a little fanciful. I’m inclined to think it makes him more of a likeable character in an industry with far too many cutthroat business men and petulant brats. Even beyond that, the fact of the matter is, he’s still bringing out interesting experimental titles even after a couple of decades where he could easily be resting on his laurels churning out sequels to the games from his early days.

    Curiosity is a peculiar idea and may not work out in any shape or form, but hell at least it’s something different.

    • Skabooga says:

      I very much agree. Just because Molyneux is prone to failure, it doesn’t make him any less endearing. If anything, it makes him more so.

  23. somnolentsurfer says:

    Given how many times this has been delayed now, I’m not sure how confident I’d feel ‘investing’ in their next project. Vaguely curious though. Not because of any particular interest in the “what’s in the box?” question, but more because of the question “WTF is Molyneux up to now?”

    Had no idea it was coming to PC though.

  24. TechnicalBen says:

    How is this a “game” and not “gambling”? Please, anyone?

    I think I’m gonna bunker in until the casinos leave my spare time hobby on the PC alone.

    • Cim says:

      I’ve come to the same conclusion as you.

      It’s a free2play lottery, that’s all. It’s no more a game than a scratch-off lottery ticket is.

  25. MythArcana says:

    Let’s hope Notch doesn’t pop out of the cube. Or even worse…Bobby Kotlick. But this whole BAWKS idea makes me nervous nonetheless.

  26. AlienMind says:

    Articles’ title got me an idea: How about a random game headline generator. It takes care of words which groups semantically close words together, like
    “Molyneux delayed”
    “UBI drm”
    “EA statement untrue”
    .. and just fills in some other words

  27. etho says:

    Spoiler alert: It is Gwyneth Paltrows head.

  28. cheeley says:

    What a load of fucking balls. I mean, seriously.

  29. mikado says:

    Forget about the cube! What’s inside the egg?

  30. MD says:

    This whole thing leaves me a little bit disgusted.

    It’s like, nobody is even bothering to pretend that the Emperor is wearing clothes. He just wandered out into the crowd buck-naked with a big dumb grin on his face, and now we’re all gazing from afar at his dangling sack, a look of respectful incomprehension on our faces, hoping one day to grasp the meaning of this bold new idea he has graced us with.