While True: learn() promises Machine Learning, cats, puzzles, and the prospect of a lucrative career if you use it as a jumping off point. And it just about pulls it off.
While True: learn()
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review
I love weirdo indie titles and I work in Big Data. I have cats. A weird puzzle game with an oddball narrative conceit? Yeah, that’s me. And something that’s educational, but not in a “thin candy shell of game wrapped around LEARNING” way? Perfect. On that note, Mavis Beacon, if I see you, I’m going to check you into the Beatdown Motel at the corner of Know Your Role Boulevard and Jabroni Drive. She knows what she did.
While True: learn() provides a way to familiarize yourself with machine learning–one of the hottest topics in big data and one of the few jobs people can still get–inside of a compelling story of a man and his cat. Machine learning is, basically, teaching the computer to do stuff so you no longer have to do stuff. As we all know, cats are smart but can’t speak English. They only speak the languages of yelling, pooping, and clawing you. But they’re secret savants of machine learning, so we just have to help them, then use our proceeds to buy them stuff, which is the central loop of the game.
It’s the sneakiest educational game I’ve ever played. There’s not the shell of something fun around MATH PROBLEMS or IT’S GRAMMAR BUT WITH A SPACESHIP. Instead, you’re using visual programming concepts, so instead of trying to figure out a screen of impenetrable code, there’s screen widgets you click, drag, connect, and futz with–there’s lots of futzing–to do the same thing.
While True: learn() walks you through the history of machine learning and the important concepts in the field by having you build systems and set up servers to earn money to buy things for your cat. Since my life entirely revolves around working to make money to buy things for my cats, I related to this instantly and found it a 100% accurate simulation of my life.
If you get stuck on a puzzle or concept or want to know more about it, there are links to tutorials built into the game itself. Imagine a game was thoughtful enough to include links to a YouTube walkthrough for the tricky parts. There’s even an Education link that’ll connect you with resources to explore learning Python and machine learning if you wound up enjoying the game.
The art is charming and the story made me laugh several times. Your hapless programmer has to get answers from the nice people at CatOverflow on trying to understand his cat translation device. Marvelous. The music is nice without being overwhelming when you’re trying to think. There’s even a colorblind mode to increase accessibility.
Now, obviously an indie puzzle game that’s secretly a way to understand machine learning and programming by building cat translation devices isn’t for everyone, but if the idea sounds intriguing and you want an in on a career field where you can actually find a job, it’s worth your time.
The Final Word
This one’s a very niche game, but if a puzzle game that could turn into a six figure salary sounds intriguing–or if you just like dressing up cats–it beats another run through CodeAcademy.
MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great