Smarter Than You is a game where lying pays off. Or maybe it doesn’t. Luca Redwood, creator of 10000000, is trying to elevate rock-paper-scissors by making the mind game behind player-choice a playable part of the game. And it may all just be part of a devious artificial intelligence experiment.
The game itself, which is played asynchronously online with another player through Game Center, is at its heart rock-paper-scissors: arrow beats counter, counter beats attack, sword beats arrow. arrow and arrow hit each other, attack and attack hit each other, counter and counter do no damage. Basic rules. Each attack has its own value per round that’s the same for each player, so it might be worth going for that low number instead of that high number to trick the opponent.
And really, that’s what Smarter Than You is all about: mind games.
Each round begins with the player forming a statement from a set of word choices to send to the opponent. You can say “You should choose attack,” for example, and then play counter to try and trick your opponent. But these word choices also change the values of each move, so there’s value in tweaking what you’re saying to benefit the number of your choice. But what you say has value, too: will your opponent see through your lies?
Or maybe you tell them truth: that they should go for attack because you’re choosing arrow, and you want them to go for counter, or even for arrow themselves: each player has hit points, and if you have more, you want to draw and maybe win this thing right now. Or maybe in your communique, you’ll say something irrelevant, like that they should play 10000000, tipping absolutely nothing. But it’s also possible to see which moves the player has made in the match, along with their various points values: maybe they have a pattern. Maybe they know they have a pattern and are about to change it. And maybe they have you figured out, but maybe you’re going to change your strategy…
It’s a devious little mindscrew of a game that isn’t so much about the actual game itself, as it is how the players play it.
Interestingly, the AI part of the game has yet to be part of the experience in the playable beta that Gamezebo was provided. However, the recently-teased geolocation puzzles reveal that eventually M_E_T_I_S is expected to beat opponents at a 65% rate once “phase 5” starts. Whether that can be done will be interesting to see: but the game is fascinating enough as a multiplayer competition without the AI aspects coming in.
The game’s monetization should prove to be fascinating as well, because it’s so different from anything else out there. While this game could easily feature ads and sell various forms of flair, instead the game works on a tipping system: you can randomly give an opponent double or triple experience at a random price of free, $0.99, $1.99, or $2.99.
I don’t know how well it will work, but I feel like it’s a necessary counterpoint to the pervasive deception. At the end of all the lies and cruel things being said to each other, the game encourages doing something nice. I don’t know if it’ll make any money, but the fact that there’s a free option there – at least in the preview build – is a nice way to make sure the feature gets used.
I’m interested to see what happens with this game over time: will the M_E_T_I_S component succeed? And will players truly spend money to tip their opponents? And can I pick something besides arrow every single time?