Molyneux's 'Curiosity' to be followed by 'Cooperation'

Curiosity isn't just universal, it's timeless. And sometimes, disappointing.

Curiosity isn't just universal, it's timeless. And sometimes, disappointing.

Just ask the people of Norway who waited 100 years to open a package labeled "Can open in 2012," only to discover it contained a sheaf of papers and some old newspaper clippings.

The buildup to the Unboxing of the Century featured performances to a packed crowd that included Princess Astrid of Norway.

That the lead-up to that revelation, one capped by the unboxer spontaneously muttering "Oye yoy yoy" into his microphone, happened during my interview with developer Peter Molyneux is mostly a coincidence. One that hopefully isn't a portent of how Molyneux's own international unboxing will end.

Next month, Molyneux plans to release his first iPhone game from 22Cans. The whole idea behind Curiosity: What's in the Cube is to see what curiosity will drive people to do.

"This is insanely weird," Molyneux told me when I pointed him to a video stream showing the unboxing going on as we spoke.

"This is insanely weird."

Molyneux, whose 28-year-career included creating Populous, Magic Carpet, Black & White and Fable, is all about experimentation these days. The idea of his fledgling studio, 22Cans, is to create 22 interactive, game-like experiments, all leading up to one final, "big" game.

Molyneux describes the first, Curiosity, as an iPhone game that has people collectively unwrapping a giant package, one layer of wrapping paper at a time.

"Potentially millions of people can come together and see people doing things on this cube," he said.

Participants can even purchase better tools for unwrapping, improving their chances at being the final person to get the cube's center, where, Molyneux promises, there will be a secret.

The journey to the center will also be peppered with special awards and little secrets, he added.

Each tap on the layer gives players coins which they can ultimately use in the game's store to unlock better picks, bombs, surprises or things like "crazy fire crackers," Molyneux said.

And the way a layer is unwrapped may change over time.

"You can think of each layer of the cube as being a level in a game where the rules can or may change," he said. "Let's say we decide to make one layer paint and you have to dissolve it.

"But only one person will find out what's inside the cube. We will leave it up to that one person to spread what's inside the cube. It is absolutely an experiment."

The core of that experiment is seeing how curiosity can drive people to work together to solve a single mystery, he said.

"Is the power of one simple mystery strong enough, like it was in Norway, to get the world to play this," Molyneux said. "How powerful is that?"

And 22Cans is already working on its next game, another experiment that Molyneux calls Cooperation.

"Cooperation is very, very different, maybe it's not a game."

"Cooperation is very, very different, maybe it's not a game, or maybe you'd call it a social game," he said. "If you think of (Curiosity) being the biggest mystery posted to the digital world, Cooperation is the biggest cooperative effort the world has ever known."

While Molyneux declined to detail the upcoming game, he did say it would be competitive in nature and noted that he's always found Tug of War to be an interesting social experiment.

As our interview wound through the ideas behind Molyneux's new studio and the games it would produce, the developer seemed anxious to get off the phone. Finally, we wrapped things up, Molyneux saying he wanted to watch the climax of the Norwegian unboxing.

"What an amazing incredible coincidence this is," he said. "I didn't know anything about it, but I want to get off this interview and play the video of what's in the box. The fact that this is being reported on, is a testament of how powerful curiosity really is."

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