Borderlands 3 has added this arcade game in the corner of Dr. Tannis’s lab:
It presents you with simple block puzzles that you solve, and you’re supposedly helping map the human microbiome.
It is inconceivable to me that I’m solving these puzzles faster than a computer could, even just using brute force. However, when I play the game, all my computer fans go on, even though the graphics and sound are very basic.
Could it be the case that, by playing the game, you’re allowing Borderlands to use your computer processing power to really do some number crunching? Sort of like a reward for letting them use your computer for the equivalent of Folding@Home or SETI@Home?
I haven’t tried it yet but I believe the idea is that right now the computers are analyzing the data and coming up with analyses that are mediocre. Gearbox and the other organizations have turned some of these analyses into puzzles that humans can solve at a much slower pace but far more creatively. Those solutions then get fed back into the algorithm so that it can use those more creative processes to better analyze the data.
The game is pretty simple, so far at least. If it was really asking humans to solve these problems, they should release it on the general internet, as an iOS and Android app, and so on. Also, I don’t know why my fans would spike up – something serious is going on.
I have played it a fair bit, because… well, frankly, you “beat” the various NPCs and you get some skins and they have me at “free cosmetics”. I’ll own that.
The quick-and-dirty bruteforce approach I came up with with solving these puzzles computationally would be astronomically expensive, though. Now bear in mind that I spent all of 60 seconds thinking this up and I know there are better solutions, but on a “hard” puzzle that’s 13x9 blocks with 20 moves, it would take 117!/97! iterations. If I could crunch a billion iterations a second, it’d only take 1.3x10^27 years per puzzle.
There’s quite a lot of pruning that can be done to make that an easier problem. It’s just a deceptively difficult one.
That McGill site is really up and down. Thanks, though, for that one and the Folding one.
I would play the game in Borderlands 3 all day long on my phone. I wonder why they didn’t release an app for it. Also, I wish I could turn off the music, or at least change it. It’s like Dr. Mario all over again, but at least with that, there were two choices.
I wish they made it easier to get to. Why not just release the mini game as free-to-play on Steam or Epic? As it is, you have to load the game, get back to the Sanctuary from wherever you happen to be, then make it over to the lab.
While they’re at it, maybe they could release the mini game for IOS and Android.