New puzzle progression

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  • (Edited)
UPDATE: Now that the site is now live, please continue discussion at the new feedback topic so we can make sure to keep things clean and tidy.

Hi all,

To ramp up to Eterna-medicine, we're building a puzzle progression to take players from zero to switches.  So when players finish a puzzle, the next puzzle will be a new challenge that builds on what they already know and teaches them something new.  Think Portal, if you have experience with that.   I'll be drawing from the Nova tutorials and the many wonderful player guides and tutorials.  I could really use player help and feedback.

First:  I've tried to collect the things that players should know to tackle the Eterna-medicine switches here.  If you have things to add, please comment in the document or reply here in the forums and I will add them.  The idea here is to give players the foundational tools they need to be successful switch puzzle solvers.

Second: I've been working from Eli's tutorial puzzle guide to find tutorial puzzles that players have designed.  If you have puzzles that demonstrated a particular strategy or concept well, please send them my way.  You can either reply in this thread or PM me here.

Once we put a progression together, we will need to beta-test, both with veteran and with novice players.  I'll update this thread as the project proceeds.

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, please get in touch.  So many of you have already been a huge help by making tutorial puzzles and strategy guides.

Thanks!

-Ben
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bekeep, Learning Researcher

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  • excited!

Posted 4 years ago

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LFP6, Player Developer

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While on the topic of a 'progression', I'd like to bring something up (which I'll probably bring up at the dev chat Friday too): We need to do something about the challenge puzzles. There's a few reasons I say this.

1) Most of the points will come from challenge puzzles when starting out as a new player (it's the most efficient), and the game encourages you to play those before anything else, so this is where new players will spend the majority of the time up front (and it takes quite a while to get through the challenges, even to the point where a player may very well get bored/frustrated and leave without ever doing anything else).
2) The point was to help learn, but not only will we have the progression now, but after you play enough (or read a generic puzzle solving guide) all of them can be solved ALMOST THE EXACT SAME WAY. This is an issue because...
3) The solution data from challenge puzzles are not used.

Soooo, players will spend most of their time on puzzles that are meaningless (in both result and helpfulness for the player). This is, personally, an extremely broken model that encourages players to never get to the 'real stuff'.


Also, I am open to helping with building the tutorials in the tutorial creator once I finish up with the stuff I'm currently working on in the forums (I actually started to make one tutorial for the various parts of an RNA, but that got put off to the side).
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MoabUtah

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Excellent essay, LFP6. I think your comments present the core issue with Eterna. I have reached the stage where I can plug in a pattern that works and slog through the puzzles. I have no idea how to advance to the lab. The instructions etc. on the lab are, to me, confusing, not very helpful, or simply non-existent. I really like this game/idea/process and would love to continue, but I am stuck. If some of the talented folks who participate in the lab could make a series of tutorials that explained the basics of the lab, I think you would have a lot more participants. As of now, the game promises a lot more than it delivers.  You don't learn much about RNA design, only how to solve an abstract puzzle with four colored dots and some fairly simple guidelines. Eterna is a great idea, but until a better gateway to the lab is designed, it will attract far fewer participants than this excellent concept deserves.
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nando, Player Developer

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@MoabUtah: please do not take anything I'm going to say personally, I'm only trying to address some points you made, because they seem to be quite common misconceptions (probably something the dev team needs to work on in terms of communication and PR)

As of now, the game promises a lot more than it delivers
To the contrary, the "game" delivers exactly what it promises. I'm not exactly sure where the misunderstanding comes from. Possibly, it has to do with the fact that most, if not all other citizen science projects are initiated by scientists asking for help from the public. In all these cases, the scientific community needs resources that are difficult to acquire, like huge amounts of CPU time, or data acquisition around the globe, or the classification of the millions of pictures of galaxies collected by some telescopes, etc.

Eterna players are not just better random sequence generators than computers are though. And the Das Lab and Greenleaf Lab are not asking for our "help" in the lab area of the game. They have invited us players to be the scientists. And being a scientist is not a matter of education or diplomas, neither does it consist only in applying a method (even though that's important), it's a state of mind, a philosophy. 

You don't learn much about RNA design
We, players, are not asked to learn it. Learning it would mean that someone else already knows the topic well enough to teach it. We are cordially invited to discover it and/or to invent it.

It already happened in the past with efforts centered around single states design, which culminated with the construction of the EternaBot and a scientific publication in the PNAS journal. We did it! 

And we're working now on even tougher problems centered around riboswitches, an ambitious objective with very far reaching potentials (like designing medically relevant molecules)

If some of the talented folks who participate in the lab could make a series of tutorials that explained the basics of the lab,

Let me ask you: how do you think the "talented" folks got where they are? Don't you see the flurry of contributions from players like Eli Fisker in this forum? Have you cared to check his Eterna profile and the gigantic number of references he has meticulously classified? ever visited his Youtube channel full of introductory material about nucleic acids and science in general? Did you check the wiki? (old joke: yes, we have one). Ever bothered to check my own wiki blog? or any of the recorded online sessions I did in the past? Did you, just like Brourd, Eli, jandersonlee, Omei, etc (sorry for the many I forgot to list here) look yourself for information online? I've read easily 100+ scientific papers about RNA since I joined Eterna. I'm not saying everyone should do the same, but there is no excuses for finding no information, it's out there, within Eterna and outside of it.



And if you now tell me "this is just nuts", I'll say "yes!!!". This challenge is among the hardest there are, and in my opinion, this is exactly why this is so fascinating, so exhilarating and so unique. Where else do you, as a non-scientist, get indirect access to a wet lab and get the opportunity to do all of the science (hypothesis, experiment, analysis, peer review, publication)? Eterna is not "citizen science", or at least, not in the usual sense, It is much more than a simple appeal to the public to do something good because it is the "duty" of decent and generous members of society (I suppose that this is what the "citizen" bit refers to). The dream of the founders of Eterna is, and has always been the crowdsourcing of science. Not just data acquisition or classification, all of it. The whole scientific process done by the whole crowd, scientists and the public together.



Finally, if for some reason you cannot or don't want to contribute in the fashion described above, it's absolutely fine, really, there are still plenty (plenty!) other things that can be done for Eterna. In essence, I did put aside my own scientific interests, at least a little, for the good of the project and the community. Someone had to help with coding in the Flash applet, so I did. If anyone has programming skills, they can contact Omei, jnicol and me, we have plenty of tasks waiting to be coded: scripted tools and boosters, data visualization, etc. If you are talented with video-editing, please get in touch with Ben. If you simply have time, give Ben some feedback on the new puzzle tutorials when he will request it. Good at solving puzzles and writing? Make tutorials, guides, walkthroughs, etc. and get in touch with LFP6 who's been admirable in his dedication to reorganizing all sorts of materials here on GetSat and wants to tackle the wiki as well. Knowledgeable about game design and/or gamification? Contact Ben and Rhiju. Etc, etc. There is just no way to get bored here.
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bekeep, Learning Researcher

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@MoabUtah: We could really use help in testing the puzzle progression.  If you're interested, please contact me and we can set up a time.  I'm not sure what level you're at, but it would be great to have some more experienced players check that the puzzles are useful, that the messages and images convey the right concepts, etc. The most important part of improving the learning progression (or ramp to the lab, or however you want to think about it) is to get people to test it and tell us where things are going wrong.  So please, get in touch - I'd love to talk to you (and anyone else who is interested) about it!

With a project like this one, there is always going to be a frontier.  In some cases players ask for how to best design X thing, and in many cases the answer is simply: we don't know (yet).  So we're kind of all in this adventure together.  A lot depends on how far down the rabbit hole you want to go.

That being said, I think there are vast improvements to be made in teaching everyone what we do know.  Getting someone who knows nothing about physics, microbiology, or RNA (AKA: me) to participate meaningfully in the current labs is a huge, huge challenge.  But we are trying our best to improve this process, especially over the next few months.
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MoabUtah

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Nando,
Thanks for taking the time and effort to post such a detailed reply. 
I will contact bekeep and see if there is something I could add to his development of the puzzle progression.

MoabUtah
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bekeep, Learning Researcher

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Hi Everyone!

We're moving forward on the tuberculosis challenge and a piece of that is the new puzzle progression which will help us all prepare to develop molecules for tuberculosis diagnosis.  We're still working on a few things, but we'd really love your feedback on the latest iteration.

You can see the new site here: medicine.eternadev.org 

Let us know:

- What you think of the newer, simplified look
- If there are any hints to puzzles that don't make sense
- If there are puzzles that seem to difficult to solve (I'm particularly interested in the last dozen or so puzzles)
- If there is content that you would like to see on some of the mission accomplished screens
- If there is mission accomplished screen content that doesn't make sense in context
- If there are any technical issues (loading times, broken links, other problems)

Note:

- Some of the earlier puzzles don't have hints but we haven't gotten rid of the hint functionality for those puzzles yet
- Hints for switch puzzles haven't been implemented yet
- The last dozen or so puzzles are awaiting some mission accomplished screen updates
- We'll be crediting individual players for the puzzles and design templates that we use in the progression


A whole lot of credit goes to Caleb and Nando.  If you experience technical problems with the puzzle or with the site you can contact Caleb directly at calebgeniesse [at] gmail [dot] com.  For bug reports, but as specific as possible (browser information and screenshots are helpful). For other issues contact me.


Best,
Ben
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bekeep, Learning Researcher

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Here's a list of the mission screens with the puzzle id in the corner to use for reference.  Thanks!

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1msi6-Obi8udx_53M_PUYWRt90WsPo2aMAhHFAONeReQ/edit?usp=sharing
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LFP6, Player Developer

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Ok, I've been going through this whole thing with a brand-new account. I have quite a bit of feedback to share, but I'm going to wait until I finish. :) With the day off tomorrow, hopefully I can do that! Thank you all so much for all the hard work you put into this, this is a huge step in the right direction for EteRNA.
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bekeep, Learning Researcher

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Great!  Thanks!

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