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Angry Birds and Parabolic Instinct In Humans 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the gorillas-dot-bas dept.
Frankie70 writes "Matt Ridley writes about Angry Birds, an iPhone game (later ported to other platforms) which has sold more than 12 million copies. The spectacular trajectory of the game, from obscure Finnish iPhone app to global ubiquity — there are board games, maybe even movies in the works — is probably inexplicable. Ridley wonders if there is an evolutionary aspect to its allure. There is something much more satisfactory about an object tracing a parabolic ballistic trajectory through space towards its target than either following a straight line or propelling itself."
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Angry Birds and Parabolic Instinct In Humans

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  • Movie...? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday January 17, 2011 @06:30PM (#34909742) Homepage

    An "Angry Birds" movie? Look, I love the game, I really do. But a movie? Please no.

  • Jeez. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orphiuchus (1146483) on Monday January 17, 2011 @06:30PM (#34909748)
    Can't anything just be fun anymore?
  • Then why... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tarsi210 (70325) <nathan&nathanpralle,com> on Monday January 17, 2011 @06:32PM (#34909768) Homepage Journal
    ..don't they fix the parabolic action (or lack thereof) of the "bomber" birds' payload egg? I had gotten so used to the extremely satisfying physics of the game that when that one came along and didn't describe a curved trajectory upon release, it totally threw me off and still does to today.
  • Re:Jeez. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tool462 (677306) on Monday January 17, 2011 @07:14PM (#34910156)

    Umm... Do you realize what site you're on? 'Round here, trying to dissect the appeal of a game like Angry Birds IS fun!

  • Re:Not just people (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:34PM (#34910836) Journal

    That's learned, too.

    It's not 2 seconds everywhere.

    Your brain isn't calculating anything. It's making an estimate based on past understanding of the timing.

    And that's a linear calculation anyway (x = v*t), not a parabolic one.

    I have no doubt that our brains understand physics without knowing any math. In fact, they understand it better than most people can do the math, since almost no real-world physics occurs according to the simple model of a controlled, limited universe under which x = a*t^2 was derived.

    This is all built into the deepest parts of our brains, and requires no "thinking" at all to activate. But it does require learning, and isn't instinctual in us.

  • by tgibbs (83782) on Monday January 17, 2011 @10:22PM (#34911662)

    It is quite correct that physics-based games that involve targeting of parabolic trajectories are very old, dating back almost to the earliest days of computer gaming. Yet over all this time, such games have been at best mildly popular. So how is it that Angry Birds is a mega-hit when nearly everybody has played a game that is sort of like it?

    I attribute its success to these factors:

    1. Excellent puzzle design and progression. Key to a puzzle game is that the player must always feel challenged, but never frustrated enough to give up. In Angry Birds, it is possible to pass a level without a perfect score, reducing frustration, while still returning it to try to improve performance, maintaining replay value.

    2. Excellent user interface. Touch control makes a big difference for games of this sort is a big asset to games of this sort. The use of a slingshot, as opposed to a cannon or catapult also makes the game more intuitive, as most everybody understands the dynamics, and the rubber band provides a visual cue to the trajectory. A dotted line shows you last trajectory for comparison. (For comparison, I took a look at Scorched Earth, a game identified by others--correctly--as similar, and after 5 minutes I still hadn't figured out how to control my trebuchet.

    3. Engaging graphics. Puzzle games go well with bright, cartoony characters. The simple, cute characters and backgrounds amuse the player without distracting too much from the puzzles.

    So basically, what we have is a triumph of execution--a classic concept finally done well.

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