There are now 50 layers left on 22 Cans' enigmatic Curiosity - what's inside the cube. As of 16:22 BST/08:22 PDT today, a countdown timer will now appear in the game saying what the predicted end date for the quirky long-running experiment actually is--and how close one person is from unlocking what creator Peter Molyneux calls its "life changing" contents.
"I thought six months was about the length of time that Curiosity should go on before it closed, and this is almost exactly the six month anniversary of the end of Curiosity," said Molyneux in an interview with GameSpot. "Bizarrely, as part of that controversy, is that the end of the cube--the last layer of the cube--might well be, I mean probably if you look at our analysis of probability, the same day that the next Xbox is announced. Which would be a bizarre twist of fate."
Curiosity launched on iOS in November 2012, with an Android version following shortly after. In April an update for the game introduced in-app purchases that would allow users to add or remove cubelets to the game's layers.
Are the two dates linked by more than coincidence? "There's an interesting opportunity, possibly, for me to well, I can't say any more than that. There may be some words from me around that time. I'm not saying any more," said Molyneux, who worked at Microsoft between 2006 and 2012.
"I thought six months was about the length of time that Curiosity should go on before it closed."
Reflecting on the six-month period that has seen the Curiosity app downloaded over five million times, Molyneux said that much of its success had been "completely unexpected."
"I never thought in a million years that it would be downloaded five million times," said Molyneux. "Political debates have raged on the surface of the cube, with people drawing the twin towers and other people drawing planes crashing into the twin towers, and other people writing 'God Save America'. All of that stuff is completely unexpected. This was supposed to be an experiment that maybe would interest a handful of thousands of people, not millions of people."
Molyneux added that one of the other things 22 Cans has learnt is about how much perceived anonymity can change the way people interact online. "Lots of people on Curiosity gave their Facebook details, but when they did they tended not to be so brave with what they drew and tapped. We had thousands of penises drawn on the cube, but not many of those penises came from people who left their Facebook details. There's a lot of learning to be done there."
"I've always tried to be very clear with Curiosity: it is an experiment."
Speaking about Godus, the in-development god game from 22 Cans which raised £526,563 from Kickstarter in December 2012, Molyneux pondered how much connectivity with social networks it should have. "Seeing how many people were tempted to leave their details and how many people went anonymous is part of the experiment. A fascinating part. If you're making a game like Godus, which is all about self-expression and creativity in the land that you sculpt, you have to ask yourself if it's a good idea to require people to go on to Facebook."
"Quite clearly with Curiosity the answer would be no," Molyneux added, "although some apps require you, almost force you, to use your Facebook profile before you can dive in. There's some really interesting stuff about that."
"I've always tried to be very clear with Curiosity: it is an experiment. It is an experiment with tech, and getting servers right. We didn't do that terribly well at the start. But it's also an experiment in psychology, and the psychology of being anonymous, and the psychology of giving people these big, huge, insane objectives--like get to the center of the cube--and how that psychology plays into peoples' behavior."