Monday, December 01, 2014

Schrodinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark

Last week's Black Friday officially ushered in this year's holiday shopping season. Undoubtedly, there are a few Physics Buzz readers seeking gifts for their physics-minded friends and family.

Here's one possibility: a quantum mechanics-themed platform/puzzle video game. Schrodinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark comes loaded with plenty of physics humor, eccentric characters, and quirky yet attractive art design. Although the game may not appeal to every gamer, it provides a fun introduction to plenty of quantum mechanics concepts while deviating (intentionally) from the realm of strict scientific facts.

The game takes place in and around the "particle zoo" — an enclosure for the varied elementary particles ranging from quarks to gluons and everything in between. The game's creators at italicpig game studios took some artistic license with the various particles, however, giving them eyes, odd shapes, and even a bit of personality.

While the particles are typically locked up safely within the zoo, someone or something has allowed all of the particles out of their enclosures. Now, gluons, leptons and bosons are running amok. As the protagonist, Schrodinger's Cat, you are tasked with rounding up the rowdy particles with the help of some friendlier particles: the top, bottom, up and down quarks. The roles of the two remaining types of quarks — strange and charm quarks — become more clear as the game progresses.



The game features platform-style levels filled with the released particles (gluons, leptons, and bosons) along with your allied quark particles. Throughout the game, you'll collect the four basic types of quarks to aid you in your task.

Each of the four basic quarks has its own ability, and combining the quarks in sets of threes will enable you to reach previously inaccessible areas and capture the other released particles. For example, one combination creates a trampoline for bouncing to hard-to-reach platforms while another combination creates a parachute to descend smoothly over treacherous terrain.



Two examples of the quark combos used to help Schrodinger's Cat roundup the escaped zoo particles.
Image Credit: Italicpig Game Studios

I've spent a few hours playing the game, and I've really enjoyed discovering the various quark combinations and their effects. The level design and character designs feature an interesting mix of grimy, slimy, and colorful textures.

The characters have more personality than I was expecting as well. Much of the interactions between the protagonist and the zoo's characters features nerdy physics jokes and clever dialogue. You can see a sample of that in the screenshots below.


Screengrabs from Schrodinger's Cat and the Raiders of the Lost Quark.
Image Credit: Italicpig Game Studios

I don't usually play platform puzzlers like this game, but I've had a great time so far navigating this strange, fictional quantum world.

The game is available on Steam for $14.99 (Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux), but its price has been cut in half for the next 20 hours or so to $7.99. More information about the game can be found on Italic Pig's website, and critics' reviews can be found on metacritic. Give it a look, and it might just be the perfect cyber stocking stuffer for the physics fanatic in your family.

2 comments:

  1. I truly dislike the Schrödinger's Cat experiment as a result of how it accept that human observation is by one means or another pivotal in the functions of the universe.It is similar to stating that there could or couldn't be dinosaurs until we found the first fossil that affirmed that there were.This,obviously,is outlandish on the off chance that you consider that the dinosaurs had officially existed for millions of years before humanity even developed,however for reasons unknown the exceptionally paramount human mind is expected to validate their existence.
    @Teresa Cooper.

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