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Joined: 12/20/2007
Groups: None

I like the starter puzzles but I didn't learn much with them.  They were too easy or too hard with little learned towards making progress with a big ole protein.  How about some very simple proteins to start with in a playground to get used to the physics.  For example, 5 or 6 amino acids.  The playground concept might be an experience as follows:

Every action taken triggers a popup message that explains a bit about what is happening from a physics perspective.  For example, if you click an AA and it rotates, tell the user why it rotated.  If the user drags the chain around and the physics engine does someting like pushes the chain apart as a response, explain why it took this action.

Just some thoughts off the top of my head.  Having some idea of the biochem,  physics and objectives I'm a little more patient but I can imagine newbies getting very frustrated with this "game" and walking away from it.  To get people hooked they need to be eased into things very slowly if possible which means a disproportionate amount of work on the introductory puzzles.

Joined: 06/20/2019
Groups: Go Science
I rly agree with your thoughts, & I think there could be more.


I think that the starter puzzles do seem a little bit too abstract to think about. I also agree with your idea that there could be some very simple proteins in the tutorials puzzles to start with in a playground to just get used to the idea of the physics. I was thinking of adding new view options to make the proteins look more relatable to what is seen in everyday life, so that the proteins aren't as abstract, but I don't think that this would be possible in the Rosetta engine that Foldit was based on.

I also like your idea that every action taken in that playground puzzle could have a popup message show up that would explain about what is happening from physics perspective. I think that this would make playing Foldit more easier to understand for new players, but I think that some of the new players might not be interested in the physics part. I think that popular 3-d physics games simulate phenomena that is seen in everyday life, such as gravity and velocity and collisions, but not hydrogen bonds and hydrophobic packing. Maybe there could be a new view option where there are things in real life that would symbolize hydrogen bonds and/or hydrophobic packing, but I think that this could not be implemented in the Rosetta engine either.

I also agree with your idea that you can imagine new players getting very frustrated with this "game" (including the quotation marks) and walking away from it, and that people need to be eased into things very slowly if possible. You know that about 12 years after you posted your imaginative thought, some of the new players say that they are still "frustrated" with the tutorial puzzles in the Global chat, and in a somewhat recent news article from The New Yorker as of now, a news reporter on Foldit said that he was "frustrated" (exact word) after playing the tutorial puzzles, at https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-promise-of-designer-protein-in-the-fight-against-covid-19 . But I think the tutorial puzzles in Foldit have gotten somewhat better than from 2008, as there are now a numerous number YouTube Videos and Foldit Fandom Wiki pages at https://foldit.fandom.com/wiki/Foldit_Wiki that have helpful tips on how to solve the Foldit tutorial puzzles.

I think that you could also have related simple enough proteins, such as insulin, from different species in a sort of multi-start tutorial puzzle, so that new players could see how a change in the amino acid sequence of a protein could affect how the protein would fold in real life. I think that this would make new players understand the concept of how an amino acid sequence would lead to the resulting protein's structure and function more clearly, but I think that new players are not that interested in proteins, as they are not often seen in everyday life. I think that this could be one of the reasons why Foldit has a low player retention rate, which was shown at another Foldit forum post at https://fold.it/portal/node/2010544 . But Foldit developer joshmiller said that he is dedicated to working on making Foldit more better and more interesting to new players, but he also said that it would take a somewhat long time to do that, because they "don't have many developer resources".

Because the Foldit team does not have many developer resources, and since there are no developers that have made the Rosetta engine seem more interesting to more new ordinary people, I think that those are the things that also need to be considered when trying to making the tutorial puzzles more convenient for new Foldit players, and when trying to get more people interested in playing Foldit. Maybe there is a possible way where Foldit can become more interesting even with those two obstacles.

From, donuts554


Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, RosettaCommons