There’s a plethora of articles written in regards to the 2048 vs Threes controversy. The gist of it is that Threes, an innovative mobile match-2 mobile game, took multiple years to develop and was successful, but quickly overshadowed by a free clone released weeks afterward.
2048 isn’t terrible because it’s a clone. There are plenty of things about it that are worse than its cloneliness. Its puke-flavored jewel tone color scheme, unintuitive experience design (simpler is not always better…), and its focus primarily on the score. But the worst of all? It perpetuates the Mindless game genre. 2048’s developer didn’t bother attempting to understand what was special about the design of Threes.
Threes encourages the player to make thoughtful decisions, plan strategically, contemplate outcomes, and in general use their brain to play. 2048 is a smash-and-grab; play as fast as you can, make knee-jerk decisions, and fail (or win sometimes!?) without learning how or why.
In Threes, tiles move by one space (if they can) when you swipe. In 2048, tiles slide until their stacked against the wall direction you swipe. While both of these are valid game design mechanisms, the former is superior for this type of puzzle game. The brain can much more easily predict where a whole stack of things are going if their behavior is obvious and quick; while this sounds good, it encourages fast gameplay and hasty decisions. In Threes, it’s not intuitively obviously where all the tiles will end up when you swipe. The game allows you to preview a swipe by slowly dragging it, and returning it to its place if you decide against that move. This leaves no surprises, and helps the player learn how to make better strategic decisions. The slower pace makes all the difference between these two games, it makes Threes Methodical and 2048 Mindless.
Ultimately, they are both fun experiences. Each game has the lasting power proportional to its development time; that is to say, I’m still playing Threes, over a year later.
[ Today I Was Playing: MouseCraft and Skulls of the Shogun ]
July 11, 2015