Co-Op Point And Click: Cursors

I eventually stopped playing Cursors some fifteen screens in when, as shown in the image above, I found myself trapped in a small cubbyhole in the top left of the screen. It’s a co-operative browser game where you trace your mouse cursor around mazes, but where advancing through each screen doesn’t merely mean working together. It means some people getting left behind.

The reason I’m trapped is because my way is blocked by coloured obstacles which can only be removed by other players – each represented by their own moving mouse cursor – remaining within certain similarly coloured zones. In this instance, I triggered the removal of those obstacles so that half-a-dozen other mouse users could advance onwards, but that meant that I got left behind.

In this particular level, someone would eventually come through behind me and trigger the obstacles without meaning to, but not every level is so kind. Some require people to actively and knowingly sacrifice themselves; one player or five tracing a route towards the corners of a screen to tap on buttons in order that a crowd of others can make their way forward. There’s arguably a good reason to let others go ahead, since if no one advances with you, you’ll only find yourself stuck and alone further down the path anyway. But other times there’s genuinely no personal benefit. You’ll be nice to other people who’ll have no opportunity to re-pay the favour, and you’ll simply have to hope that future groups of players come through and decide to be as nice as they don’t know you were.

Is this fun? Not particularly, but I do find it interesting. I find it interesting to watch crowd behaviour, to find out how quickly people help each other or don’t, and to read the frustrated messages people write using the shift-click ability to draw on the screen. Mostly I find it interesting to see how often I’m willing to be kind, and how often I’ll stubbornly wait by a blocked entrance until someone else does the good deed for me.

If you’ve five or ten minutes to spare, give it a go and see how generous you really are.

15 Comments

  1. phanatic62 says:

    That’s quite fun. I love writing things to other people. It’s even better when it has nothing to do with getting through the maze.

  2. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    I often found myself being a greedy bastard and rushing to the exit if I’d been selfless the level before. Which obviously isn’t a good way to go about things overall, but interesting that that’s how I behave, some sort of internal fairness scoring seems to be going on.

    Also when I was trapped along with one other cursor, and they draw a sad face, and I draw a sad face back, that reminded me of the “I can’t take this” camaraderie of Dark Souls in a strange way.

  3. pelham.tovey says:

    An interesting idea destroyed by the fact that if you intersect with a reappearing wall you get booted back a few levels. Aint got no time for that!

  4. Tornado Nick says:

    Literally stayed in one area for an hour clicking the same button over and over again to let dozens of others through.
    I’m so nice

  5. Premium User Badge

    Cooper says:

    I got to this level:
    link to imgur.com

    And it needs 5 players to get anyone to the exit.

    But no one is reaching this level. The previous level can be solved by 2 people, but I had to wait 5 minutes for someone else to come along.

    Nice idea, but it either needs vastly more people playing, or to put the levels that require lots of people to hang around and help out to be nearer the start.

    • steriperi says:

      Agreed. The idea is good, but there are (many) levels constructed with perhaps overambitious player numbers in mind.

    • muffinmonkey says:

      I’ve been stuck in this room for well over an hour now. I worked out a method to get people out with 3 players and spent a few waves selflessly helping. Then new cursors stopped appearing. Now I’m in here with 2 other cursors, unable to leave, unwilling to quit. I’ve come too far. Why am I being punished for being a good person? Help me.

      Why isn’t anyone helping me?

      It doesn’t matter. The HMF will save us. Oh yeah, we have a religion now.

      • M. Stouffer says:

        You can open extra tabs and get yourself out, too.

        • muffinmonkey says:

          Not for ones with clicky buttons, surely?

          Anyway, more than 2 hours after getting in, I just quit the game. I just quit. Like I could have done at any time. It felt so wrong.

    • Nouser says:

      “Nice idea, but it either needs vastly more people playing, or to put the levels that require lots of people to hang around and help out to be nearer the start.”

      That’s the point of the entire game. Collective intelligence. It doesn’t matter how complex a task is, it’ll be eventually resolved by a bunch of people who decide spontaneously to collaborate, creating a very organized workforce without needing of a proper organization. And that works even in the worst case scenario, when most people don’t contribute at all to solve the task in question.

      Some people gets frustrated because it isn’t fair, it lacks any kind of reward for those who make possible for others to advance. But the purpose of the game is showing that it works. Cursors doesn’t need to tell who must do each task or why, just presents its players situations in which they need to collaborate in order to advance.

      In fact, there is a couple of levels where someone can decide to stay back just to make easier for others to complete the level. And when I played there used to be people occupying those positions.

  6. ElDopa says:

    This game is pure genius!
    A very interesting cooperative MMO

  7. Ross Angus says:

    Canadian Driving Simulator.

    I didn’t get as far as Cooper did, but I wonder what the end is like? I kind of wished it tracked stats of how many other players exited the level, while you were over a button.

  8. Bugamn says:

    I couldn’t go through the area that sends the cursor back when it goes over red. I’m using a trackball and it’s hard to walk straight.

  9. Baffle Mint says:

    I found this weirdly compelling.

    My system was to do duty on each button long enough to let one other person through, and then move on to the next button.

    Seems fair.

    Although one person trapped at the button which opened the exit urged me to go on without him.

    Being the one person who goes on immediately to let others through while everybody else fights to move on is weirdly rewarding.

    Could use more players, though, waiting can be kind of a bitch.

  10. edwardoka says:

    Very interesting game. I too, got stuck in the EXACT same spot as you. Most infuriatingly there was an inactive pointer in the same area; presumably someone buggered off to play it in another tab. It’s a game where the selfish win. A shame that there’s no way to identify other players, so that you could end up with a dynamic of “well i helped him through last time, he can help me this time”