2048 (video game)

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2048
2048 logo.svg
App icon
Developer(s)Gabriele Cirulli
Publisher(s)Solebon llc
Platform(s)Web browser, iOS, Nintendo 3DS, Android, Apple TV, KaiOS, Teslatari
ReleaseWeb: 9 March 2014[1]
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)Single-player

2048 is a single-player sliding tile puzzle video game written by Italian web developer Gabriele Cirulli and published on GitHub. The objective of the game is to slide numbered tiles on a grid to combine them to create a tile with the number 2048; however, one can continue to play the game after reaching the goal, creating tiles with larger numbers. It was originally written in JavaScript and CSS over a weekend, and released on 9 March 2014 as free and open-source software subject to the MIT License. Versions for iOS and Android followed in May 2014.

2048 was intended to be an improved version of two other games, both of which were clones of the iOS game Threes released a month earlier. Cirulli himself described 2048 as being "conceptually similar" to Threes.[2] The release of 2048 resulted in the rapid appearance of many similar games, akin to the flood of Flappy Bird variations from 2013. The game received generally positive reviews from critics, with it being described as "viral" and "addictive".

Gameplay[edit]

A completed game. The 2048 tile is in the bottom-right corner.

2048 is played on a plain 4×4 grid, with numbered tiles that slide when a player moves them using the four arrow keys.[3] Every turn, a new tile randomly appears in an empty spot on the board with a value of either 2 or 4.[4] Tiles slide as far as possible in the chosen direction until they are stopped by either another tile or the edge of the grid. If two tiles of the same number collide while moving, they will merge into a tile with the total value of the two tiles that collided.[5][6] The resulting tile cannot merge with another tile again in the same move. Higher-scoring tiles emit a soft glow;[4] the highest possible tile is 131,072.[7]

If a move causes three consecutive tiles of the same value to slide together, only the two tiles farthest along the direction of motion will combine. If all four spaces in a row or column are filled with tiles of the same value, a move parallel to that row/column will combine the first two and last two.[8] A scoreboard on the upper-right keeps track of the user's score. The user's score starts at zero, and is increased whenever two tiles combine, by the value of the new tile.[4]

The game is won when a tile with a value of 2048 appears on the board. Players can continue beyond that to reach higher scores.[9][10][11] When the player has no legal moves (there are no empty spaces and no adjacent tiles with the same value), the game ends.[2][12]

Strategy[edit]

Strategies in 2048 include keeping the highest tiles in a specific corner and to keep that tile in that corner and to fill the specified row with the highest numbers.[13][14]

Development[edit]

Nineteen-year-old Gabriele Cirulli created the game in a single weekend as a test to see if he could program a game from scratch.[15] "It was a way to pass the time", he said.[16] He described it as being "conceptually similar" to the recently released iOS game Threes,[2][17] and a clone of another game, 1024.[18] Developed by Veewo Studio,[19] 1024 is itself a clone of Threes, with its App Store description once reading "no need to pay for Threes".[20] Cirulli's README for 2048 cites another 1024 clone as influence: the homonymous but slightly different in terms of mechanics 2048 by Saming.[21]

Cirulli was surprised when his weekend project received over 4 million visitors in less than a week.[3][22] The game is free to play, Cirulli having said that he was unwilling to make money "from a concept that [he] didn't invent".[23] He released ports for iOS and Android in May 2014.[24]

Adaptations[edit]

A 2048 variant played on a terminal using the curses library

The simple controls allowed it to be used in a promo video for the Myo gesture control armband,[25] and the availability of the code underneath allowed it to be used as a teaching aid for programming.[26] The second-place winner of a coding contest at Matlab Central Exchange was an AI system that would play 2048 on its own.[27] As the source code is available, many additions to the original game, including a score leaderboard, an undo feature, and improved touchscreen playability have been written by other people. All are available to the public.[3][26]

Spinoffs have been released online and include versions with elements from the Doge meme, Doctor Who, Flappy Bird and Tetris. There has also been a 3D version[28] and versions with bigger or smaller grids.[6] Cirulli sees these spinoffs as "part of the beauty of open source software"[5] and does not object to them "as long as they add new, creative modifications to the game".[29] In 2014, an unofficial clone of the game was published in the iOS app store by Ketchapp, monetized with advertising.[30][31] There has also been a Doctor Who spinoff of the game,[32] as well as one for the Nintendo 3DS, which included a retail release.[33]

Reception[edit]

The game has been described by The Wall Street Journal as "almost like Candy Crush for math geeks",[5] and Business Insider called it "Threes on steroids".[1] Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post called it "a nerdy, minimalist, frustrating game",[10] while The Independent called it "addictive".[20] The phenomenon of 2048 has been compared to that of Flappy Bird by several commentators. Both games' success, and their simplicity, led to the rapid creation of many variants, and both games have been described as "viral" and "very addictive".[34]

James Vincent of The Independent labeled 2048 as "a clone of a clone".[20] In April 2014, Pocket Gamer reported that 15 new clones of Threes were released daily in the App Store.[35] When asked if he was concerned that his situation would end up as stressed as that of Nguyễn Hà Đông, the creator of Flappy Bird, Cirulli said that he had "already gone through that phase" on a smaller scale, and that once he had decided against monetizing 2048, he "stopped feeling awkward."[2]

In response to rampant cloning, the creators of Threes published a log of how the game evolved over its 14-month development cycle. They said they had tried and dismissed 2048's tile merging variant, because it made the game too easy.[36] In a 2014 Wired article, they claimed to have each beaten 2048 on their first play.[36]

AI[edit]

The mathematical nature of 2048 has made the game of interest to AI researchers. As of 2022, AI achieved[37] over 95% (likely over 98%, but the measurement has noise) probability of making a 16384 tile, over 75% (likely over 80%) probability of making a 32768, and over 3% probability of making a 65536 (improving over the results in [38] and [39]). Due to randomness and lack of spare room, the optimal probability of making a 65536 tile is expected to be low; this is supported by optimal solutions for constrained boards.[37][40]

2048 AI strategy uses expectimax search up to a certain (variable) depth, plus transposition tables to avoid duplication. Analogously to endgame tablebases, tables are used to estimate success (for building a large enough tile without destroying the configuration) in appropriate positions with many large tiles. A position evaluation function can favor empty squares, having a large number of merge possibilities, placement of larger tiles at the edge, and monotonicity for tile sizes, especially for larger tiles.[41][42] The parameters are optimized by a search for better parameter values; some papers[38][39] used temporal difference reinforcement learning.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dickey, Megan Rose (23 March 2014). "Puzzle Game 2048 Will Make You Forget Flappy Bird Ever Existed". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Ferri-Benedetti, Fabrizio (26 March 2014). "The creator of 2048 tells us the secret behind the game's success". Softonic. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Spence, Peter (17 March 2014). "How One 19 Year Old Won the Internet with Addictive Puzzler 2048". City A.M. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Rodriguez, Salvador (24 March 2014). "Move over Flappy Bird: The latest gaming craze is 2048". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 4 April 2020. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Ballard, Ed (18 March 2014). "Want to Stay Anonymous? Don't Make a Hit Computer Game". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 19 March 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Chang, Jon (24 March 2014). "'2048' Is the Next Mobile Game to Eat Up Your Time". ABC News. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  7. ^ Neller, Todd W. (2015). "Pedagogical Possibilities for the 2048 Puzzle Game". Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges. 30 (3): 38–46 [39]. Archived from the original on 9 July 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  8. ^ Price, Rob (2 March 2020). "This hyper-addictive math game is driving the Internet insane". Daily Dot. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  9. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 March 2014). "19-Year-Old Makes Viral Game Hit in a Weekend". CNBC. Archived from the original on 27 March 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b Dewey, Caitlin (23 April 2014). "Everything you ever wanted to know about 2048, the Internet's latest impossible hit game". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 26 April 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  11. ^ Statt, Nick (22 March 2014). "2048 starts easy; gets hard. Here's how to make it easy again". CNet. Archived from the original on 27 January 2016. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  12. ^ Hartmans, Avery (18 January 2018). "How to play '2048,' the addicting smartphone game Travis Kalanick is obsessed with". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 30 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  13. ^ Johnston, Stephen (7 December 2021). "2048 Game Strategy - How to Always Win at 2048". www.gameskinny.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Six tips and tricks to help you achieve your highest score in 2048!". iMore. 13 July 2018. Archived from the original on 8 February 2022. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
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  17. ^ Hern, Alex (31 March 2014). "'Threes is the reason 2048 exists' - game creators hit out at clone". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 January 2023. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  18. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (26 March 2014). "19-year-old makes viral game hit in a weekend". CNBC. Archived from the original on 13 September 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2021.
  19. ^ Saming. "2048". Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Vincent, James (21 March 2014). "2048: How to play the addictive successor to the Flappy Bird game". The Independent. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  21. ^ Cirulli, Gabriele (10 March 2014). "README.md". GitHub. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  22. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (27 March 2014). "Maker of Hit Puzzle Game '2048' Says He Created It over a Weekend". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  23. ^ Reinsberg, Hillary (18 March 2014). "Why This Free Puzzle Game Is The Most Addictive Thing On The Internet". Buzzfeed News. Archived from the original on 15 May 2021. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  24. ^ "2048, success and me — Gabriele Cirulli". Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  25. ^ Etherington, Darrell (24 March 2014). "Watch The Myo Armband Make One 2048 Addict Feel like He's 'A Part' of The Game". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  26. ^ a b Brown, Andy & Spikes, Sarah. "Make Your Own 2048". Udacity. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  27. ^ "2048 Game Solver". The MathWorks, Inc. Archived from the original on 15 May 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  28. ^ Perez, Sarah (24 March 2014). "Clones, Clones Everywhere – '1024,' "2048' and Other Copies of Popular Paid Game 'Threes' Fill The App Stores". Techcrunch. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  29. ^ Graham, Jefferson (28 March 2014). "2048: The new app everyone's talking about". USA Today. Archived from the original on 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  30. ^ Klepek, Patrick (30 April 2015). "The Messy Story Behind A Game Clone". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 29 September 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  31. ^ Nyugen, Kevin (10 February 2022). "Revisiting Threes, 2048, And The Endless Chain Of Ripoffs". The Verge. Archived from the original on 13 April 2022. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  32. ^ Fullerton, Huw (30 July 2020). "Doctor Who fans are losing their minds over the new 'Thirteen' Doctors game". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 16 July 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
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  34. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (24 March 2014). "Move over Flappy Bird: The latest gaming craze is 2048". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  35. ^ Brown, Mark (7 April 2014). "There are 15 new Threes! / 2048 clones released on the App Store every day". Pocket Gamer. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
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  37. ^ a b Xue, Hanhong. "2048-ai". GitHub. Archived from the original on 31 August 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022. Additional results are on 2048 analysis Archived 31 August 2022 at the Wayback Machine page.
  38. ^ a b Yeh, Kun-Hao; Wu, I-Chen; Hsueh, Chu-Hsuan; Chang, Chia-Chuan; Liang, Chao-Chin; Chiang, Han (19 July 2016). "Multi-Stage Temporal Difference Learning for 2048-like Games". IEEE Transactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games. 9 (4): 369–380. arXiv:1606.07374. doi:10.1109/TCIAIG.2016.2593710. S2CID 6630665.
  39. ^ a b Guei, Hung; Chen, Lung-Pin; Wu, I-Chen (2022). "Optimistic Temporal Difference Learning for 2048". IEEE Transactions on Games. 14 (3): 478–487. arXiv:2111.11090. doi:10.1109/TG.2021.3109887. S2CID 239727759. Corresponding code is in [1] Archived 1 September 2022 at the Wayback Machine.
  40. ^ Xue, Hanhong (13 March 2022). "What does it take for human players to get the 65536 tile?". Archived from the original on 31 August 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  41. ^ Robert Xiao (aka nneonneo) et al. (2014) "What is the optimal algorithm for the game 2048?". Stack Exchange Network. Archived from the original on 2 September 2022. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
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