Archive for September, 2019

The Measurement Problem and other related problems

Memory is a funny thing. It’s happened more than once that I see a title of a game I’ve played a bit, and think “Ah yes, I remember that one!” — only to find out that it’s a completely different game than the one I’m remembering. So it was with The Measurement Problem. I was trying to free up some space on my hard drive, and noticed that this was the second-largest game in my steamapps folder, at over 13 gigabytes. “Ah, I remember that one! It’s that 2D platformer themed around charts and graphs. I remember playing the first couple of levels. Weird that a game like that is so big. I should finish it, then delete it.” But in fact it’s a minor Portal-like, which I had also played the first couple of levels of at one point. I have no idea what the 2D platformer I was thinking of is called, but now I want to find out so I can finish it too.

I think I gave up on the actual Measurement Problem before because it was sluggish on my machine at the time, which is a little strange considering how simple and abstract its level geometry and presentation is. This is a game mainly composed of stark blacks and whites, with just a little shine to them to keep it all from being too abstract and occasional colored lighting. The main conceit is that you can toggle between two versions of the world, one decorated predominantly in white and the other in black, with approximately but not exactly the same layout and contents. Not the freshest idea in videogames, perhaps, but I don’t recall seeing it used in the first-person solver genre before, and it gets some mileage out of combining it with jump pads to make puzzles where you have to toggle the world while airborne. For that matter, those jump pads also enable a neat trick involving checkpoints that you can teleport back to at will. This seems at first like just a “get me out of trouble” option, but then you get puzzles exploiting the fact that teleporting like this doesn’t change your momentum, including the momentum you get from jump pads elsewhere in the level.

It’s a decent little game, but I can’t recommend that anyone else play it. For one thing, you’d find it difficult to find a copy. It’s been delisted from Steam, and the developers apparently banned. This happened just a couple of months back. I was surprised to find that The Measurement Problem wasn’t even listed in my Steam library — I wound up running the exe directly from the install directory, rather than through the Steam interface. Well, it turns out that it actually is still in my library, but as “App 534960”. Valve had had to change its name to this generic description because someone had hacked into the developers’ account and renamed it to “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (with a cyrillic “a”, according to someone on reddit). Even with its genericized name, Steam still uses the PUBG logo for it. So I’m guessing there were a few people other than myself who ran the game and didn’t get what they expected.

Apparently this was part of a scam; the hackers also added Steam inventory to the game, presumably so they could sell counterfeit items to PUBG players. And it all makes me rather sad. This is a very stupid reason for a perfectly good game to disappear. But then, aren’t they all?

And on top of that, the version of the game that I played is apparently one uploaded after the developers got hacked. The original is nowhere near 13 gigabytes, as one might have guessed from its content. It seems to have been padded to match the size of the real PUBG, although I’m not sure how that fits into the scams exactly. Still, I’ve very likely installed some kind of malware by playing it. We’ll see.