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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 20:26, 5 December 2012

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Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Just created so people can start/comment

The comic features a game which Randall appears to have made to celebrate the release of his new book on the 24th of November 2015. It seems the game was actually made by a guy called Max, the person behind the comic 1416: Pixels. The source code for the game (in a obfuscated form) can be found here. The game features Cueball on a hover board which looks a lot like a skateboard. At first glance, it appears the aim of the game is to see how fast you can collect coins, but due to a (purposeful) bug in the game, the player can "jump" (hover higher) multiple times without needing to land. This allows the character to go out of bounds of the "Play Area" prompting multiple warnings insisting the player returns to said "Play Area". Exiting this area reveals a world similar to 1110: Click and Drag, which can be explored via the arrow keys.

There are 17 coins in the "Play Area" and a lot more in the out of bounds region.

This is achieved by either carefully jumping upwards to escape through the way just above on startup, or by going to the far-right side of the 'game' and escaping from the hole near the top. The player then continues right to a large wall, which is traversable by continually jumping. The player can then explore. The game is markedly similar to "Click and Drag", and the bounds are currently unknown. The comic is made in much the same way, with 'drawn' images compiled together, in the world, with all remaining spaces simply coded white. The boundary between blank squares and 'drawn' squares is made clear as any white space in the normal images has a very light hatching. Thus, seems between images and blank spaces are clearly seen.

An example of the file extentions for image panels are as follows: Using this format the files could conceivably be fully extracted by trying extentions and harvesting resulting images.


There are many different areas beyond the initial starting area, exploration has found so far:

Notable features include a number of large ships in the sky, with various interiors which can be entered from several places. To find them, follow the strings which several characters are holding near the first ground area.

West: Washington Monument - Volcano - Lava pools - LOTR Eagles - Elon Musk's Volcano Lair - Landing re-entry capsule - Floating rock island in the sky (x: 507163, y: -567537)

East: Wedding - Giant bird nest - Desert - Ocean Yelper - Graveyard - Talking Rogue Wave - People holding anchor lines to a Star Destroyer, among other ships.

Quickly hacked overview - courtesy of kyledavide on reddit.


The controls are as follows:

  • Go Left - Left arrow key, a or h
  • Go Right - Right arrow key, d or l
  • Go Up (jump or hover) - Up arrow key, w, or k

Through inspection of the game's source code, it can be derived that down, j and s are also accepted keystrokes, but it is unclear if the game actually uses these or not.

This control scheme covers the three commonly used directional key sets: WASD a set of keys commonly used by modern games; HJKL a set of movement keys used by vi and applications which attempt to mimic vi key controls (vim); and the arrow keys, the most generic set of keys which is usually accepted by most applications which take movement as input, these were commonly used in older games.

Cheats and Exploits

Aside from the obvious ability to move out of bounds in the game, there are some more obscure hidden features which can't be enabled through normal gameplay, the ones found so far are as follows:

Modes are activated by opening the Javascript Console (F12 to open Developer Tools, then Console tab) and writing corresponding commands:

  • Gandalf Mode: = true - jumps and runs further
  • Speedhack: explorer.opts.speed= *Value* - Speed hacking, with 1 = normal speed
  • Jump Hack: explorer.opts.jumpForce= -*Value* - Jump hacking, with -1 = normal jump (positive values cause the hoverboard guy to move down when jumping)
  • Mewtwo mode: window.mewtwo = true - disables gravity
  • Noclip mode: window.noclip = true - player is able to move around the map without collision. Combine with Gandalf and Mewtwo modes for free easy map traversal.
  • Goggles mode: window.ze.goggles() - displays a small window showing area around the player in a pixelated manner
  • Position Tracking: window.explorer.pos - Returns the player location to the console. Can be used to track position and test to ensure you are still moving. Must be re-entered to compare positioning.
  • Position Setting: window.explorer.pos.x = *Value* or window.explorer.pos.y = *Value* - Can be used to manually set a position within the world. The start is at x: 512106, y: -549612. The left terrain bound is at x: 475210, y: -553711. The right terrain bound is at x: 567281, y: -549712. Mewtwo and Noclip modes are a must for exploring in this way.
  • All the above: window.explorer.opts - Contains all the game's parameters. You can directly mess with gravity, collision (disableCollision), jump force (jumpForce) and speed (maxSpeed), among others. Run Object.keys(window.explorer.opts) to list all available parameters you can tweak.
  • List all coins: window.explorer.objects - Array containing the position of the 169 coins of the game.


By observing page code while playing, the game grabs and displays images based on location, and subsequently clears all non-visible images. The game uses what seems to be a position syntax to retrieve the intended images live, and returns an error if such an image does not exist, such as a blank area. This technically means things could be added to the world and updated live. If the player is moving sufficiently fast or if the internet connection is slow, this means that the player can get stuck in a black area that does not load in time.

This also means that the game does not have coded top or bottom limits, so any attempt to find the ceiling of the game will be futile unless the game is tweaked. The game does however have side limits.

When you get a certain number of coins, you will get one of the following messages:

  • 0 coins : You got 0 coins in (n) seconds/ You successfully avoided all the coins.
  • 1 coin : You got a single coin in (n) seconds/ It's a start.
  • 2-4 coins : You got (n) coins in (n) seconds/ Not bad!
  • 5-9 coins : You got (n) coins in (n) seconds/ Terrific!
  • 17 coins : You got 17 coins in (n) seconds/ You found all the coins! Great job!
  • 42 coins : You got 42 coins in (n) seconds/ No answers here.
  • 169 coins : You got 169 coins in (n) seconds/ Are you Gandalf?
  • All others: You got (n) coins in (n) seconds

Opening the console will display the text: what? hoverboard not enough for you!? in the log. Activating goggles mode will cause the text 'B-)' to appear in the log.

Leaving the play area will cause the red text 'RETURN TO THE PLAY AREA' to rapidly blink 3 times (150 msec duration), followed by a pause, and this will repeat 5 times for a total of 15 blinks. This will also reoccur if the player passes through the play area on their way back from exploring one side.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Something similar to 1110: Click and Drag

The game features Cueball on a hoverboard in a simple map. On the map are coins which Cueball has to collect. It appears Cueball can jump multiple times without needing to land, this means that Cueball is able to escape the designated "Play Area". This prompts a warning which soon disappears allowing Cueball to discover the world.




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