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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Satisfaction

I was listening to a podcast review of the game Dark Souls, and the reviewer gave it a near-perfect score of 9.5 out of 10. He believes that it will be a contender for one or more Game of the Year awards. What was interesting was that he didn't think the game was fun. Instead, it was frustratingrewarding and satisfying. The problems the game presented were frustrating, but so well done that when he finally solved them, he felt satisfaction at a job well done and properly rewarded for his efforts.

What's funny is that I knew exactly what he was talking about. I stumbled on Project Euler a week or so ago, and have been working the problems there. Yeah, they're frustrating. But the ones that are the most frustrating are also the most satisfying when solved. That's only part of the reward of solving them, as you usually learn something interesting along the way (but don't tell the kids!). Anyone who took any of Dr. Andree's computing classes at the University of Oklahoma will recognize the feel of the problems there - he would have loved this site. The real puzzle is how I managed to fail to find it before now.

Until hearing that podcast, I never would have thought of Project Euler as a game. But it has badges, awards and trophies like many modern games. It also provides the same sort of satisfaction as a game expected to contend for a game of the year, so I'd have to say it is a game.

If you're interested in logic and math puzzles, especially those which a computer can help with, it's definitely worth a look. I feel that the proper tools are a programming language that supports infinite lists (aka streams) and has a REPL to use as a calculator. I'm using Haskell, switching to Python if I want a mutable array.