33 replies [Last post]
axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None

I was wondering, what do you find fun in protein folding? What parts of it are enjoyable for you, what kind of puzzles are fun or rewarding to solve?

And conversely, which parts are not fun? Which are boring, and which are frustrating?

I figure that this might help guide the Foldit team's decisions on which suggestions would be most important to implement. It's about what would make the most enjoyable experience for players, both newcomers and veteran folders.

My particular interest is in making the game better for newcomers. It seems to me that though the intro puzzles currently present the skills required for folding, they don't really let players experience what is fun about folding. And that's a big problem. Who would want to go on to fold if they don't see what's fun about it?

So, what do you find fun about folding?

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None
That is a question which

That is a question which needs several answers, I think....

first, why do I like folding?

- competition, and being able to keep track of other people's score real time is a big benefit.
- I just want to know how things work...there's lots to learn, and the time I spend (especially in the beginning) is rewarded by better folding abilities.
- getting lucky with a rebuilt or something can totally lift my spirits, but on the other hand I like the fact that the same bunch of people end up top every time...it tells me it's not a "game of luck" and there's still a lot more to learn.
- it's something you can come back to, or you could even surf the net while folding, flipping back and forth.
- the more time you spend on them, the more points you get, it never gets old.
- and the fact that you cannot "solve" a puzzle....I heard so many people use that word, and in the beginning it made me feel like I was missing something, but the fact that there's no "solving" makes it interesting to me in the first place.
- probably a lot more reasons
- I'm crazy

What is no fun / boring?

- hmmm, probably the manual backbone walks
- not so much else to me, but I'm still starting out and am still learning

How could the game be made better for newcomers?

- I think the lack of proper guiding is a big issue.
When i first started out, I was totally confused for days on end....to me that made it more interesting (as I enjoy working out how stuff works), but to many many others it's probably a fair reason to leave and spend their time elsewere.
Yes, there is a wiki...but I couldn't get hold of a good start when i first scanned through it...so many new words, and how do you look up something when you don't know the name of the thing you're looking for?
The intro puzzles helped A LOT, but I still feel there should be some written guide in addition to the wiki maybe?

disclaimer: the statements made are my personal views today, but do not necessarily reflect my views when I'm sober. :P

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Thanks for the detailed

Thanks for the detailed reply, Nicky666, it's very helpful to me to see what you think.

I definitely agree about the lack of proper guiding for newcomers. So for you, figuring stuff out and learning, and getting points and competing are the main things that you enjoy about folding?

I'm curious what your folding process is, as I haven't really been able to watch people playing except in the intro levels. What are you doing, moment-to-moment, and what are you thinking about? Are there certain parts of it that are more fun than others?

Thanks again, everyone. :)

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None
[Axcho quote] I definitely

[Axcho quote] I definitely agree about the lack of proper guiding for newcomers. So
for you, figuring stuff out and learning, and getting points and
competing are the main things that you enjoy about folding?[/Axcho quote]

Ok, sober now (lol)...I left out one biggie:
The fact that this whole folding has a purpose is why I allow myself to spend so much time on it.
The figuring stuff out and learning, and getting points and
competing is why I keep wanting to spend so much time on it.

[Axcho quote] I'm curious what your folding process is, as I haven't really been able
to watch people playing except in the intro levels. What are you doing,
moment-to-moment, and what are you thinking about? Are there certain
parts of it that are more fun than others?[/Axcho quote]

I don't have a very rigid folding process, but it goes something like this:
- wiggle/shake - shake/wiggle -start with the best one (thinking: whoohoo, new puzzle!)
- pulling it around (thinking: is that all?), nudging some more (thinking: really?), nudging and finding points (thinking:yay, cookies!)
- sidechain flipping
- rebuilding
- sometimes a bit of banding or twisting
- repeating step 2 to 5 until I get bored (thinking: I'm bored)
- doing some team-work (thinking: cool, now I'm not bored)
- going back to my solo to repeat steps 2 to 5 a couple of times more (thinking: how come others squeezed 100's of points more out of this than I did?)
- doing a backbone walk (thinking: too early, I'm SO going to regret this).
- repeat steps 2 to 5 a couple of times more (thinking: yeah, I shouldn't have done that early backbone walk)
- doing some team-work (thinking: cookies)
- and towards the end I probably do a lot more of rebuilding, crossing my fingers I hit a good spot...when I do I tend to directly wiggle everything out of a good rebuilt at this point (nudging, wiggling and walking that specific part of the backbone).
- walking the backbone (thinking: chocolate chip cookies)

that's about it :)
I'm not sure if there are certain parts I enjoy more than others...whatever brings points is good enough for me, heheh. What I do know is that the ability to work on a group solution, and the ingame chat are important things to avoid any part where i might get bored..there's always something else to do.

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Thanks, that helps a lot! It

Thanks, that helps a lot! :)

It seems to me that the fun of Foldit is not so much in finding the "right answer" as it is about finding all the little places where you can get a few more points. It's more like Minesweeper (or Solitaire?) than a jigsaw puzzle.

Right now each of the intro puzzles is designed like a "right answer" puzzle (though not very fun ones, at that) but really, they should be more about collecting points by doing stuff. Kind of like a Mario level where you're going around, collecting coins and avoiding obstacles, except it's a protein...

Thoughts?

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None
lol....

I don't think any of those examples do justice to how folding works. Even the Mario level (which comes closest probably), is something you can "beat" with a high score.
One of the fun things when it comes to folding is the fact that you cannot solve it....of course, you could make the exact replica of the real protein, which would theoretically mean you've maximized the score, BUT even when you do, there's no pop-up screen telling you "solved" it, is there?

If you want new thoughts about how to incorporate that part of the folding process into the tutorial puzzles, here's my take on it:

1.
the tutorial puzzles gradually introduce the available tools, I do think new folders need that, so don't change that part!
What could be changed is the fact that you automatically "finish" a level once you reach a certain number of points.
It should be easy to change that to "opening" the option to go to a next level once you reach a certain number of points.
New folders can then choose to give the puzzle a couple more nudges and wiggles to reach a higher score if they wish.

2.
If the first idea is a valid option, it might be fun to keep track of the scores in the tutorial levels...competition is a big part of folding, so why not start and show that in the tutorial levels as well? To keep it fun for newcomers, you could choose to clear those scores every first of the month maybe, or every week? that way reaching the top of the list will stay a goal anyone could reach if they work hard enough for it.

I think those are my biggest ideas, which should be easy enough to change? (speaking with little knowledge when it comes to programming skills....it's just my guess as those options are already available in foldit).
Other ideas (and probably ideas that need a bit more work?) are these:
- there's a puzzle in the tutorial that only needs a wiggle to reach the needed score, which doesn't need the skill/tool it is supposed to explain. (can't name it right now, but if you need me to point it out, just say the word)...that would be a good one to change.
- maybe add a puzzle (toward the end) that points out successive ways to reach the needed points...start with wiggle/twist...pulling...twisting...rebuilding a hot spot....all in one tutorial puzzle, reflecting the actual folding process, but with a little guidance. In this puzzle, the (folding strategies in the) wiki could also be pointed out.


axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Those are great ideas,

Those are great ideas, thanks Nicky666! I totally agree about the first idea, and I think the second idea would make sense as well.

What I'd really like to do is something like World of Goo, where the extra points you get beyond the level requirement (extra goo balls) go to this big pool of points (goo balls) that you can use as resources for a cool competitive metagame (build the highest tower). I'm not sure what the metagame would look like for Foldit though... Protein design? :p

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Or maybe a collaborative

Or maybe a collaborative metagame! :D

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None
maybe.....are you solely

maybe.....are you solely thinking about the tutorial puzzles still?

I think I kiiiinda get what you mean, but to me the actual folding is a fun game on its own merit, so the only changes I'd suggest for the tutorial levels would be to let new folders grab the concept, possibilities and tools faster (thus far, only the tools are covered I think), and show them every aspect of folding in a nutshell.

By the way, I didn't think the tutorial puzzles were boring at all when I came to this place (only a couple of months ago, so i still remember vividly, haha). My only problem was that even after the tutorial levels, I still felt like I had no idea what i was doing. A better guide (or a little nudge to point out relevant sections in the wiki) would've been welcome, whereas an additional game (fun as it may be) would've confused me even more.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm just saying I don't think I fully understand what you want to do (or what you want to achieve by it).
could you clarify a bit further? (hahaha, I could've just asked that, but I obviously like to talk...a lot!!! :P )

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Yes, just the tutorial

Yes, just the tutorial puzzles.

The metagame isn't that important. I'm thinking what would be better, for now, would be to make an achievement for each level, that you can earn by filling certain difficult requirements. So after you get through the levels, you might go back to unlock the challenge achievements.

What would have been a "A better guide" for you?

Joined: 11/20/2008
Groups: None
What would have been a "A better guide" for me...

Nothing fancy, really...

- background of the whole folding thing (short version of what can be read here: http://fold.it/portal/info/science)
- tools with short explanation
- some general info on the scoring (that "least energy" theory)
- some general info on backbone and sidechains
- giving some examples of folding strategies

all that info can be found in the wiki, but so much more can be found there, I felt lost when I took a first look...maybe it wouldn't hurt to use some of that info to make a short "beginner guide" that can be pointed out to people?....maybe links to the more detailed parts part and pages in the wiki could be given at the end of each chapter?

After that, the rest of the wiki could serve as "the big and detailed encyclopedia" :P


Hmmm, maybe instead of talking, I should try and set something up, so you can see what i mean, lol...

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
That makes sense to me.

That makes sense to me. Where and how should such info be presented to the new players, in your opinion?

Joined: 12/14/2008
big text coming

I'm currently writing a text on this thread after thinking about it for two days and I have a nice suggestion I think on that. Basically: include it in the tutorial puzzles.
But I have to work a bit on the ideas, refining, I hope I'm done with it in a few hours.

Joined: 12/14/2008
And here the text

I'm writing my thoughts basically from top to down of the thread, and then include what I think about your ideas, so there may be things already said, but that helps if you see that others think the same.

Axcho:
Fun in foldit

I think the most motivating thing is the increase in score at a point where you thought you can't see any way to improve.
Basically its the finding of a better solution, if something you have done has worked.
In the same way it gets frustrating if the score hasen't increased for half an hour.
It is also motivating to improve a teammate's puzzle. Its a bit on the line of „I'm better than you!“ in a friendly way.

(btw: There was an interesting article about game design a few month ago in a game magazin. The most important parts is the constant feedback to the player and rewards. He must see what happened why.
Just ask a Prof on game design about the other points, I would say ;) Invite some students of computer game design, or whatever they are called, to have a look. )

Intro puzzles: They are boring. 2 reasons:
1. You are showed what you have to do, but there is no why! Score increase is NOT an answer on that.
Write a short explanation to each level in an window: wiggling is the computer trying to fill holes with siedechains or whatever it is. (I think no player really knows this?)
You can explain in this way, from puzzle to puzzle, how folding works, something that is really needed, I think.
2. You make the move, get the score and than... over. Go to next puzzle. Deadly wrong. That violates the 2 most important rules of game design: feedback and rewards. It is no reward to go to the next meaningless puzzle. (Here thanks to Nicky666 for the base idea)
Make a „fork“ at the end of these puzzles: go to next, work on current, work on bigger puzzle.
Work on current puzzle: to see if you can further improve it (not the first few puzzles, too small, but later ones). Work on bigger puzzles: An solo puzzle where the new player can try what he had just learned. Perhaps a puzzle from the first closed puzzles, with the highscore shown from the time of the closing (like in open puzzles), with „rank up“ included. [You should mention that these players used all tools and so got better scores then are possible at the moment in this tutorial]

Also include a point „help“, where is 1. what the player should do 2. a picture of a sucessfull folded version or an guide 3. a video on the complete solving.
I say that because I needed several tries on some of the tutorial levels. I have the impression that they can get stuck in a way that is not solvable if you do only what is expected. [Like the newest one with the flipping: I only succeeded in my sixt try, and there was at least one try where I took he right spot but got stuck (and so tried it on other points of the protein).] If this happens in a tutorial, epecially an early one, there is a good chance that the player says goodbye.

Also for rewards/motivation: What about a nice picture of a protein between the levels with a description of what the protein does, why it is impotant and so on. I find this very interesting, it shows the importance and possible goals of the game. If the player doesn't want to read it, he can skip it, but at least he has seen more than a boring 4-parts protein ;)

Nicky666:
The why do I like folding reasons are more or less correcct for me, except one
„and the fact that you cannot "solve" a puzzle“ that is basically wrong, you can solve it. Thats the goal. I think he means, that you don't know if you reached the goal, but hat is not a good point. I really like games like X3 (worked on a mod ^^), where you can build and build and build... but I think it is very important to know how good the puzzles was solved. The CASP8 results where very motivating for everybody. (I only quote spvincent: „Great news: I fear that this will only encourage me to waste even more time playing foldit than I already do.“) So give feedback (yeah, again feedback :D) on the previous puzzles. If the players where sucessful or not, what was a key point or whatever. A few lines per puzzles only. 5 minutes per week.

Not fun:
manual backbone walks: I think everything that is done repeatedly over a long time gets boring, especially if it doesn't bring points. But that is hard to solve.

Better for newcomers: mentioned it above. Seems Nicky666 sees the same problems.

Second post: „The fact that this whole folding has a purpose is why I allow myself to spend so much time on it.“ Big point. Very big. That's why you should explain the purpose and give feedback on how well the players did. Very big Point!!! Just think of the people who have half a dozen computers running on BOINC projects. They maybe like the teams, they maybe like the statistics (as there are several statistics sites, that seems to be an important point, you can improve on that), maybe... but at least half of them wouldn't even run their one used computer with BOINC if they would not think that they do something important.

Ingame chat: I think you also underestimate that. Folding can be a depressing or just boring thing if you wait for your computer to finish the wiggling, 0.001 point at a time...
Thats when I ( a really silent guy offline) start chatting. Making jokes. Saying stupid thinks. It covers time.
Improve the chat: Make it possible for 1on 1 chat or invited-groups-chat.

Axcho post:
„It seems to me that the fun of Foldit is not so much in finding the "right answer" as it is about finding all the little places where you can get a few more points. It's more like Minesweeper (or Solitaire?) than a jigsaw puzzle.
Right now each of the intro puzzles is designed like a "right answer" puzzle (though not very fun ones, at that) but really, they should be more about collecting points by doing stuff.“
Thats exactly what I think and have talked about above.

„where the extra points you get beyond the level requirement“
Highscore with the sum of all tutorial levels. (not the extra ones I suggested, but they could be rated in an all-together-highscore, too).

Other suggestions:
Make the achievements more rewarding. Add a nive picture to it. Give the best solver of a puzzle a diploma with his name that he can print out or just make a desktop picture. Give the best team a medal on their team page.
As I said in a feedback, make the rankings more visible for the players: difference to last puzzle, ranking graph... (if you want to see how to not make a rank graph, I can give you a link to my animexx Go-rating, that graph is hillariosly unuseful. Don't make the same mistakes ;))
Thats just gimmiks, but many small things add up.

I thought on a randomizer. A tool that changes sidechains (choose amount) around a sidechain you clicked in random positions. You never know what this brings. Like a rebuild for sidechains.

And one idea I can't remember that I had 2 days ago in the bed. Unfortunately my page that is pinned to the wall at the side of my bed for exact these reasons (that I get the most ideas when I want to sleep and forget them on the next morning) was full from the night before and I hadn't changed it, so I didn't wrote it down. You see, its a regular problem for me with the ideas at night :D
I hope I can remember it again...

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
LennStar, thank you very

LennStar, thank you very much! I totally agree with everything you've said here. Especially about why the intro puzzles are boring, and especially the lack of "constant feedback to the player and rewards. He must see what happened why." You have covered almost all the areas of improvement I see for Foldit, at least in terms of improving the experience for new players. I'd like to write up a summary of it in my own words. I'll post it here and we can all go back and forth on it.

I had started coming up with a plan for completely new intro puzzles, which I was excited about testing out. However, since I am almost done with my time on the Foldit team, I have been advised to focus on wrapping up the various things I've started rather than launching into a whole new refactoring of the design. In the slight chance that I'd stay on for another few months, I'd definitely make this redesign my goal.

But given that this is unlikely, the plan which seems to have the best chance of success would be to later make a 2D protein-folding game in Flash where I can more easily experiment with these better game design practices. Then if I am able to create a successful protein-folding game in 2D, I can hand this to the Foldit team and allow them to model their design after this proven 2D prototype. Though I am not confident that there will be anyone on the team prepared to put their time into improving the game rather than adding technical features. But that's my plan.

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
What do you think of guide-based puzzles?

I was just talking with Seth (the main developer on Foldit) about the problems with the current intro puzzles and how we might improve them to be more clear, more robust, more informative, and more fun. He suggested that we could start by making puzzles where the objective is to get your protein to match the shape shown by a guide rather than to get past a certain score.

I'm thinking about this, and I'm curious what everyone else thinks of this idea. What might be the advantages or disadvantages, and how it might affect the way players learn or how levels could be designed? I'm thinking using guides as a goal could be a good compromise between the current tutorial-ish levels and more experimental exploratory levels that may be too hard to design at this point. At the least it would provide a stronger foundation for tool-based progression, letting players make use of the tools they've been introduced to in previous levels rather than being forced into using what the particular tutorial level is trying to show you.

The guide-based, rather than score-based, approach would have the advantage that feedback to the player's actions would be much less arbitrary, in that seeing how closely your protein matches the guide is much more informative than seeing whether a single score went up or down. You're moving around in 3D, so you really want to have more than 1D of feedback to guide you. Having a protein guide would help provide a few extra dimensions of feedback. Localized feedback such as clashes, bonds, voids, and exposed hydrophobic markings also provide some much-needed guidance for your 3D actions beyond a 1D score change. I'd like to make use of voids and exposed hydrophobic markings (which needs a shorter name, by the way) to a much greater degree in the intro puzzles as well, for this same reason. You'd still see your score, of course, but it would feature less prominently.

There could still be some levels that use a score requirement instead of a guide. Seth suggested that we make the last level of each levelset a "boss" level where you don't have a guide to follow, and you have to use what you've learned to get a high score. I'd also use the score for the extra degrees of completion you can earn for each puzzle beyond the basic requirement. You could unlock the next level by matching the guide, but to get the "Expert" completion distinction for the level, say, you'd have to get a certain number of points that would require some more sophisticated fine-tuning of the structure.

So it seems that using a guide as the primary goal of each level could make sense. It certainly fits into the common physics game idiom of "get this one thing to the other thing" whether it is an armadillo to a portal, a goo tower to a pipe, or a contraption to an exit. I'll have to think about what such a level might look like.

Any thoughts?

Joined: 05/30/2008
Groups: Contenders
Good Idea

I like this idea.  There are already a few intro levels that use guides(at least there were), but more extensive use of such guides would be useful.  I would suggest using them for each new tool. I would suggest separate tutorials for each of the uses of tweaks(I don't think there is a good straighten one at the moment), and several different examples of rebuilds, as they are probably the most complicated tools.  A color change of the guide to indicate how close the current protein is to it.

As for suggestions for shorter names for exposed hydrophobics, I think wet willies sounds good:)

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Thanks

Hey, glad you like the idea. :) I agree that Tweak and Rebuild both deserve several puzzles each. Currently the guide becomes more transparent as you get close to it. I'd imagine that a color change would be too distracting. What do you think?

I was just trying to come up with some names for exposed hydrophobics. How about "leak"? Like, the orange part is leaking out instead of being contained within.

  • clash
  • void
  • leak
  • bond
Joined: 05/30/2008
Groups: Contenders
Color change vs. transparency

The reason that i suggested a color change rather than transparency is because I would think that it would become more difficult to work wit the guide if it became too transparent.  I don't use them often, so I don't know if this is a problem.

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Okay

I work with guides a lot in the intro puzzles and I would imagine that the reverse would be true.

Would anyone else like to offer an opinion about the guide transparency versus color change?

Joined: 03/26/2009
New User

Hey, I just started playing this game less than a week ago, and thought I would chime in on the whole intro puzzle discussion. Before I get to that though, i would like to say this is one of the coolest games I have ever come across. I still don't feel like I know what I am doing most of the time, but just watching this is somehow therapeutic...and frustrating all at the same time.

Might help to start the whole process with a simple video that describes what it is your are trying to do. I know the website has a lot of text devoted to that, but I was not able to transplate the verbage on the site into anything meaningful when first confronted with one of these chains. I am much more a visual person so if you can show me something instead of describing it to me I am much more likely to have it click in my head.

Now I know that the intro puzzles are designed to "show me" how to do this, but it seemed like I lost the context of why I was doing this while doing the intro puzzles.

Then maybe show a somewhat simple protein and make a couple improvements that show how the process works. I know everyone on here probably has their own techniques, but there are still some simple things that can be shown that pretty much everyone does. Nothing fancy, maybe just tweak a protein a couple times, shake it out and rebuild a small section. Then show the before and after so people can see that it has "compacted" into a lower state. People won't necessarily understand the techniques, but it might give them some context when actually doing the intro puzzles.

You also need change the intro puzzles to allow people to play with them even after achieving the needed passing score. Or as some of the others have suggested, make a second puzzle for each intro that is a little harder or have them fit a specific shape.

I guess you could always do them over, but redoing something that may not have made sense the first time might not help the second time either.

There were a couple of intro puzzles where I actually thought I had done something wrong, only to have the program calculate my score and tell me I passed the level. What...Huh...I don't get it, were an all to often comments.

Maybe at the end of the intro puzzles you could take all the individual lessons and wrap them into a simple challenge to get people started. Kind of like the suggestion for an intro video, maybe make a more detailed video, or a simple challenge to let the ideas set in for people.

I know when I finshed the intro puzzles and looked at some of the challenge puzzles out there I was at a loss for even where to begin. I suppose that is all part of the learning curve, but going from the intro stuff to the challenges is quite a leap. You end up going from 3-4 chains to something with 30 or so.

It is amazing to see comments by people who have been playing for months or even years who say that they are not sure exactly what they are doing. So maybe we ARE all in the same boat here.

Joined: 12/14/2008
sorry, its late, havent seen it

"Currently the guide becomes more transparent as you get close to it."
That would explain why I get troubles seeing it when it comes close :D

How much do you want to go to puzzles?
It is no problem to have it shown on the current puzzles, so that the players sees what should be done, but if you want a player to really rebuild after a guide, forget it. I never succeeded in this, and I'm not alone ;)

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Thanks for all the

Thanks for all the suggestions, kammueller!

"Might help to start the whole process with a simple video that describes what it is your are trying to do. I know the website has a lot of text devoted to that, but I was not able to transplate the verbage on the site into anything meaningful when first confronted with one of these chains. I am much more a visual person so if you can show me something instead of describing it to me I am much more likely to have it click in my head."

Yes, we are actually planning on making a short video that will explain the idea behind Foldit, with some short text underneath. This would be linked on the front page instead of the Science Behind Foldit page that is currently linked from the front page.

"Now I know that the intro puzzles are designed to "show me" how to do this, but it seemed like I lost the context of why I was doing this while doing the intro puzzles."

I have also found this to be a problem. I am trying to think of a good way to present each intro puzzle in such a way that the context of Foldit is not lost. I think one thing that could help is using real proteins for each intro puzzle, and explaining a bit about each one on the side or something, making sure to highlight the difference between the intro puzzles and the actual science puzzles.

"You also need change the intro puzzles to allow people to play with them even after achieving the needed passing score."

Definitely. And I'd like to add higher levels of completion that can be achieved by getting past an even higher score.

"There were a couple of intro puzzles where I actually thought I had done something wrong, only to have the program calculate my score and tell me I passed the level. What...Huh...I don't get it, were an all to often comments."

Yep, this is a problem with some of the puzzles. The way we've currently set them up it can be very difficult to really ensure that the player has gotten the correct solution. One thing that may help is to use guide-based requirements, where the goal is to match the guide (and maybe get above a certain score) rather than only to get above a certain score. With guide-based requirements, the level design should also be more robust in the face of changes to the score function or tool settings.

"Maybe at the end of the intro puzzles you could take all the individual lessons and wrap them into a simple challenge to get people started. Kind of like the suggestion for an intro video, maybe make a more detailed video, or a simple challenge to let the ideas set in for people."


Yes. I'd like to do this in an even more integrated way, not just at the very end, but every few levels (or every level). Without such an opportunity to practice all these lessons together, I agree, people will not be able to make use of them effectively when they come to the science puzzles.

LennStar, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Could you rephrase that?

Joined: 12/14/2008
I wanted to know how "much"

I wanted to know how "much" of use of guide you want to make.

There is a puzzle where you have to drag a helix to a position given by a guide - thats OK, you click, drag, finish.
But if you want the user to rebuild a buch of loops after a guide, than that wont work. Its just too hard to do.

A puzzle where you drag around different parts from different angles of view would be useful, I think. As a sort of otional. "You just have dragged a helix. But that was easy. Now you can train a bit. You have different parts frozen. You need to move the puzzle around to see the parts you need to move. Choose one and move it to the postition from the guide. After you have finished, you can unfreeze all, pull the puzzle to all sides and then try again to move it to the correct position. You can always finsih this puzzle if you think you have trained enough by clicking on skip on the right side"
Something like this.

axcho's picture
User offline. Last seen 7 years 24 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 12/18/2007
Groups: None
Okay. I'm not sure how much

Okay. I'm not sure how much use of a guide would be best - I'll have to try a few possibilities and see how they work.

I think what would probably make things interesting is to have the starting protein be pretty far from the guide, and would take a lot of folding before it gets similar. It might start out simple, like moving helices from different angles, but probably just for very early levels. There's not a lot you can learn if you just move things a little bit and the solution is obvious based on the guide.

Joined: 12/06/2008
Groups: Contenders
No color changes, please!

axcho said:
"I work with guides a lot in the intro puzzles and I would imagine that the reverse would be true.

Would anyone else like to offer an opinion about the guide transparency versus color change?"

I am badly colorblind. Reds, greens, and browns in the puzzles? They all look alike to me. Stick to transparencies. They won't be mistaken for the actual components of a puzzle.

Joined: 09/17/2008
Groups: None
competition

The most fun part of folding for me is the competition (and the chat, but that is not unique to folding). This is the type of game that draws people who like to compete at a "battle of wits". That is the element missing for me in the intro puzzles--there is no competition at all, as has been discussed. Obviously reaching a certain score is integral to the intro puzzles, but they are simple enough (once you know what you are doing) that creating rankings isn't very meaningful.

Maybe competition could be arranged around the number of moves it takes to complete the puzzle. There could be a move tracker, kind of like the duels, but counting up. For each puzzle you could provide the minimum number of moves necessary to complete the puzzle, and also the current average number of moves it takes players to complete it (only counting the first time people try it to calculate the average though, or it may be disheartening to new players). That way people can gauge how they are doing both in terms of ultimate goals and in comparison to other players. This provides an opportunity for bragging rights for new players who aren't quite ready to compete in competition puzzles. Plus, I don't think any of the intro puzzles need more than 3 or 4 moves to complete, which sets a good challenge for new players, without being as abstract as the competition puzzles.

admin's picture
User offline. Last seen 8 weeks 4 days ago. Offline
Joined: 11/10/2007
Groups: vi users
Great idea! Just like chess,

Great idea! Just like chess, in fact. The intro puzzles would never get old, even for experienced players. We might have to constrain what a move means, for really long pulls, but perhaps we won't even need that.

Joined: 09/21/2011
Groups: None
I'm educated in molecular

I'm educated in molecular biology and biochemistry, so this is fun for me in seeing complex work done on my personal PC, like it was Battlefield Bad Company 2. That and it is a little bit of a self-study in those topics to try to devise a move that will gain a few points in score.

But I'm also enjoying watching the vast improvements in my folding due to just looping various scripts of others.

enszyme's picture
User offline. Last seen 5 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 09/20/2011
Groups: None
Philosophy of the game

After 5 month playing this game i'm in a position to loose my interest for it. My main philosophical question is : what is the interest of seeing my total global points and rank increase? Will i be more happy when my rank will reach the top ten (it's not possible but everybody can dream..) than when i succeeded to access to rank 300?

The main question to my mind is: "what is the interest of that play for science. Why was it so important for the community that i obtained a better score in the last puzzle played. What have I really learned with that game?"

I would be very happy to be enough informed of goals and science interest for each puzzle. That is done i think, but that kind of information need to be hardly worked. A short explanation for each puzzle should be for me the answer to that important question.

Please , excuse my bad english writing this text.

Salut a tous....

jeff101's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 days 10 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 04/20/2012
Groups: Go Science
Why Fold?

I often ask questions like in enszyme's 1/20/2012 post above.

The Tutorial Puzzles were nice in that they went fast and I could see definite endpoints.
They also gave fireworks and rewards on completion of each puzzle.

The other puzzles have been incredibly time-consuming,
and it's hard to feel like I'm ever finished with one.
Sometimes I feel relieved when a puzzle ends.

I do get excited when my score is steadily rising.
I also like trying to think of better ways to fold things,
and seeing that others are getting higher scores shows me
that it can definitely be done somehow.

I have enjoyed writing scripts and trying to figure out how to implement new methods.

It is also nice to think that playing Foldit can be contributing to real advancement in science.
Many other similarly-addictive online massive multiplayer games cannot say that.
I also like how Foldit motivates people to learn more about science and computer programming.

It would be nice to hear more from the scientists about
how even the lower-scoring solutions are important.
If your results don't matter and you can't be one of the best, why bother?
Is it really that much fun to manipulate a protein and watch it move around on the screen?
How long can that be entertaining?

I think there need to be more smaller, attainable goals that folks can strive for.
Striving to be the #1 soloist or evolver in the world isn't very motivating to me.
What other incentives can be built into the game?

infjamc's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 years 45 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 02/20/2009
Groups: Contenders
Re: jeff101

"It would be nice to hear more from the scientists about how even the lower-scoring solutions are important."

1. Regarding this issue, the best example would probably be the monkey virus case from last September: the Foldit solution that helped the researchers solve for the structure of the protein came from the third-placed group. How can this happen? Because the score function isn't perfect. This is because the best one can do is to model the chemical interactions and determine the relative weights of the numerous terms by fitting them to real-world data. The result is a one-size-fits-all model, which may be more accurate for some proteins than for others.

2. Another issue of note is that sometimes a "good" structure could score badly because it hasn't gone through enough "fine tuning." For example, suppose that you have a protein with 100 amino acids, and your structure has 98 of them scoring an average of 20 points each while 2 of them score -500 points each. Since you get 8000 points for free, the result is a grand total of 20*98-1000+8000=8960 points. Suppose that another player has a structure that scores an average of 18 points each, which gives a total of 18*100+8000=9800 points. In this situation, your structure is not necessarily worse as a whole despite the lower score, because all you have to fix are the two segments that score very badly. If you can even get them to zero points, you would score 9960; even if you can't, it might still be possible for the researchers to take your structure and further refine it on their own.

3. The theory behind the idea of getting as high as score as you can is that the actual structure in nature is often one of the most energetically stable ones. However, this assumption is not always true, because there's also a possibility that a structure might be too stable to achieve the needed functions. (This can be an issue in design puzzles.) In such a scenario, a solution that scores "high enough" but isn't quite the unique highest-scoring structure might actually be preferable.

jeff101's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 days 10 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 04/20/2012
Groups: Go Science
Proteins don't just have one structure

Thanks, infjamc. It is good to know that lower-scoring structures do matter. I think proteins are not rigid rocks either. They must sample a range of conformations at finite temperatures, and some of these motions are probably vital to a protein's function. Maybe some of the lower-scoring (higher-energy?) conformations can be important as intermediates during protein motions.

jeff101's picture
User offline. Last seen 2 days 10 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 04/20/2012
Groups: Go Science
What has Foldit accomplished?

http://fold.it/portal/node/989575 has an interesting discussion of what Foldit has accomplished.

Sitemap

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