Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Edge contest video impressions

As most of you probably know, the fan-made Scribblenauts blog Scribblenautics recently came to a screeching halt when author SirPenguin realised he was spoiling the game for himself. It was a sad day indeed, and I'm sure it left a bit of a gap in the daily routine of a bunch of Scribblefanatics out there.
I certainly feel like I'm missing something, without Scribblenautics around. Recently, Edge and IGN released a bunch of videos, but SirPenguin is no longer around to take a closer look at them for us. I guess I'll have to take matters in my own hands!
Keep in mind, though, that I'm not at all expecting to match Scribblenautics' quality with these blog entries. SirPenguin is somewhat of a veteran at video game blogging, while I struggle to create something worth reading in even my own language. (Dutch)

But enough mourning over Scribblenautics' demise. I'm here to look at some videos, and hopefully you are too.

I'm sure you're aware of the premise behind these videos, but in case you're not, allow me to explain.
Edge held a Twitter competition, asking us to solve a Scribblenauts level for them. The level had a Starite in a cage hanging from a rope above a giant pool of lava, Maxwell hanging from another rope right next to it. The videos you are about to see show off the winning entries, as well as some popular techniques that simply didn't work.
Let's have a look!

First up is the first prize winner:

One of the first thing you'll probably notice in this video is the way Edge removes the hat: By wearing a monocle. Edge says it is possible to remove the hat without an item, by simply tapping it and selecting the "remove" option, but that's not the point. The point is that this means you can only equip one accessory per body part. So you won't be able to wear a top hat, monocle and moustache at the same time, which was something I was looking forward to doing.
Also note, by the way, that the termite in this video has a "Battle" emote after it is summoned. Does this mean that the termite "fought" the cage, or did it try to fight Maxwell before deciding to chow down on the wooden cage?

Second place to this guy, whose idea is pretty much the same as the one above.
Both these videos end with Maxwell in the lava, by the way. I'm not sure if this means Maxwell becomes invincible after grabbing the Starite, or if the lava simply didn't damage Maxwell fast enough to kill him, and cause the player to lose after all.

Even though this method failed, it still got third place. Why? Because of the 100 entries into the Edge competition, only 2 actually managed to beat the level! That's pretty crazy when you think about it.
Edge decided to award third place to this solution because of how creative it was. While I can't really argue with that, the video ends in such a heart breaking way!
Anyway, in this video we learn that the player is allowed to leave objects suspended in mid-air if they please, which is a really useful feature in levels such as this one.

With the winners out of the way, Edge shows us why most of the entries didn't work:

The first two videos show two popular flying objects. As you can see, both take too long to lift Maxwell and hit the lava. Once they touch the lava, they are no longer in working condition, and Maxwell is left to die.
The third video has some kind of metal box poking out of the lava. Maxwell can stand on it, but dies anyway. I guess simply getting close to the lava is lethal too.

So how did Edge solve the puzzle?

...Yep, that's right! It turns out you can simply open the cage! None of the participants even considered that one!
Not that anyone can blame us for that, though. It's a cage! The point of a cage is usually to keep its contents inside, or everything else out.
It's an iconic trait of the object that was ignored for the sake of versatility. Another example of that in Scribblenauts would be the ability to ride dinosaurs, even though they are usually portrayed as vicious killers. Personally, I think it's a good move. The more we, as players, are able to do, the better.
It made me realise that Scribblenauts might allow the player to do even more than we anticipated. Objects can be used in ways beyond what we might initially expect from them.
Once you get the game, don't forget to check the actions menu for each item you encounter. Who knows, you might find a surprisingly useful function you didn't even think of!

IGN had some videos to show as well. This blog entry is already getting longer than I anticipated, though, so I'll try to keep it short.

I'm not sure what IGN was trying to achieve with the fan and pole, but the fishing pole seemed to have gotten the cage close enough to Maxwell for him to open it. They might have even gotten the Starite with the fishing pole, had they acted fast enough.
Note, by the way, that the Starite leaves the cage through the top, which seems like an odd choice to me. It might be useful in this particular scenario, but wouldn't it be more logical for the Starite to leave the cage through the side it was opened at?

Here we see a black hole tear the cage to shreds. The gravitational pull of the black hole doesn't seem strong enough to move Maxwell, however. That's hardly realistic.

Lastly, we have a video of an all-new level. We also finally find out what the heck that green creature is supposed to be. It's a "monster". Makes sense.
The level features some kind of trap that activates when Maxwell gets too close to it. I hope we'll be able to make traps like that ourselves in Level Editor mode, and I wonder how customizable these traps will be.

Well, that's all for now, folks. I hope these video impressions helped soften the blow of losing Scribblenautics a bit.


  1. Maxwell can survive in lava for an awfully long time. He just seems to stand there being hurt - no flames, no instant incineration. Strange.

    Realistically, the ropes should have ignited, dropping cage and Maxwell into the lava instantly, but game beats realism any day. :D

    (Why are the "next page", "post comment", etc. buttons written in Dutch (or something), by the way? The rest of the blog's in English. A wrong setting somewhere?)

  2. Yeah, lava should be very painful simply from being able to to look at it directly. But, like the whole black hole thing, it seems like realism is conveniently ignored sometimes.

    (Thanks for catching those. For some reason, the site decided to make my blog's default template Dutch. Because I'm Dutch, I suppose. I had to fix it manually, but I missed a bunch of things.)

  3. Jackson's clarification on the infamous Edge contest flame article helped me out coming to this final conclusion, (not to mention the fact that Edge admitted their touchscreen sucked)that all of the failures can be chalked up to user error and a lack of information. ie; cool down times on flying items, etc. Even with the Pterodactyl video, if you look closely you can see the player fly too high and to the left, bumping the steel block, ending his flight prematurely. also, it looks like if he just would've walked over to the right more onto the plank, he'd be fine. OR he simply couldn've tapped the dino, and instantly mounted it, then spawned something to break the cage from below like KScorp's original solution called for.

  4. Hey,

    Gamespot posted a new video recently that showcases a brand new puzzle level and fleshes out a classic one.

    Maybe you can use it in your next post:

  5. In regards to Maxwell being killed by the lava even though he was standing on a steel block; What do you guys think about the possibility that the heat is transferred through the steel, à la real life?

    I personally don't think it would be a stretch, considering that Miah mentioned that accurate conduction of electricity made it into the programming.

    Man! That would be awesome!

  6. I considered the conduction of heat as well. I certainly hope that's the case, because that's the kind of realism I don't even dare expect from the game. It's awesome!

  7. @DisconnectD Yes. Nobody won the Edge contest because Edge sucks at Scribblenauts. :P

    As for the heat-through-box bit, recall that the heat would also go through the air by convection. Since convection doesn't seem to exist (ropes didn't incinerate instantly) conduction through the box seems to be the only possible heat-transference method. Awesome. :D