Swarmation! Be the pixel!

A few weeks ago (I think…) a brilliant new multi player game popped onto the Internet. Swarmation went back to the basics, back to the old games and decided you don’t deserve a 3D animated body, a picture or even a 16 bit icon. This game gives you only 1 big pixel to move around and play with. Now this is a multi player geme, so everyone get’s a pixel and your pixel is a lovely little fella and is always the same one (according to the cookie : D your score lasts for 10 years and is kept through sessions).

Now what can you do with one pixel? easy, get together with others and make a simple low resolution image (like a 9 pixel block, tetris tiles and so on…). The problem is just one. There’s basically NO WAY to communicate with the other pixels, so everyone keeps moving around and getting in and out of the way thus becoming an amazing simple game about what at first seems to be swarm intelligence, but turns out to be a game about randomness. Well there is a way to send simple messages to everyone else, I admit, you can turn orange while pressing space… but I’ve tried this in so many ways it mostly didn’t get through. I did manage however once to coordinate a fortress with this feature (fortress = imagine a 5×5 grid with the 8 pixels surrounding the center missing).

What makes this game so addictive? It’s a race against the clock to create a self organized system. The creators either created this for fun, or they are brilliant scientists studying chaotic human behavior where there is lack of communication. It makes one wonder how important this ability is to people and if a group of them can’t even move and copy an image together, we could never hope to achieve any higher goal.

Apart from game philosophy, this is my experience with the game and the reason why I find it an awesome little time waster. There are some strategies one might happen to encounter while playing and some of them (like my space spamming theory : D haha, I even have a name for it) might not work as you expect them. When I first got in, I just moved towards the active pixel blob hoping to get in, but this changed fast when I started looking for parts of the model image. The problem of this simple strategy is that everyone uses it to a certain extent, and every pixel sees something else, sooo… the image moves constantly and no one knows where to go for some time. The second idea is to wait a bit for things to settle down and then repeat strategy no 1. Now the third, my creation : D, manifested when I saw a pixel staying orange, but with no effect, and when a fortress image popped up. now I ran about 10 blocks away from the other pixels and started spamming the space button. In a couple seconds about five pixels figured I had set the position for the next image and raced towards me. Soon, more followed and though some didn’t seem to get the point and positioned randomly, they soon saw the image in the making and took their places. It seemed the best way out of the mess, but it had one tiny problem: the next image now had about 5 space spammers : )) so we were back to square one. Now I bet in a couple days, some obsessed players might spend hours on it and figure the best way to control random pixel sized people, but until then, it’s a fun random game to play.

See you in the grid. Well… sort of, I won’t recognize anyone, but, who cares when one gets to be a pixel.


~ by Laserbeam on September 8, 2010.

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