2587: For the Sake of Simplicity
|For the Sake of Simplicity|
Title text: For the sake of simplicity, gardeners are assumed to move through Euclidean space--neglecting the distortion from general relativity--unless they are in the vicinity of a Schwarzschild Orchid.
Cueball appears to be explaining a gardening-related board game to Ponytail and White Hat. As he describes the game mechanics he states that many things have been made more convenient "for the sake of simplicity" — but as his mechanics are revealed to be incredibly complex after simplification, the refrain "for the sake of simplicity" instead comes across as a warning that the rules could be even more complicated.
It's shown pretty quickly that Cueball's mechanics are needlessly intricate, and his definition of "simplicity" is not nearly simple enough: the lore of the game says gardeners may tend to secondary plots no more than "a 30-minute walk from their home plot", but where most games would simply state an arbitrary number of tiles a gardener token may walk, Cueball expects his players to calculate how far an adult human actually walks in 1800 seconds. This immediately spirals into the game tracking far more variables than necessary such as height and "cardio score", or even things like the curvature of spacetime in the area, and the direct inheritance of a single "cardio score" which requires tracking the gardener's matrilineal line — instead of factors more typical to games such as weather or terrain.
Features of Cueball's game include:
- Tokens to represent competing gardeners
- Plots for the players to garden, both home plots and secondary garden plots
- Mechanics to assign speed of transit between plots
- Gardener attributes, including height and cardio scores
- Hereditary trees to determine gardener attributes according to the gardener's ancestry - matrilineally refers to inheritance from the mother's side
- Euclidean and non-euclidean space, in accordance with the theory of general relativity.
- The presence of particular species of flora that can warp space-time
As gardening is itself an oddly mundane premise for a board game, it is entirely possible that gardening is just a minor element of a much broader game.
The title text mentions that the space is assumed to be Euclidean, which is what most people would assume since it corresponds to our normal experience, so this is not something that normally needs to be explained. But then it says that this isn't true in the vicinity of a Schwarzschild Orchid. An orchid is a type of flowering plant, which is relevant to a gardening game, but Schwarzschild refers to Karl Schwarzschild, a physicist who solved equations related to general relativity; the Schwarzschild radius is the boundary of a black hole, and spacetime is severely warped in this vicinity, so Euclidean geometry and Newton's Laws don't describe motion here well. Most boardgames that even care about Euclidean principles only apply them to the 2D planar playing-surface, it seems possible that Cueball has already accounted for the slight (but non-zero) effects of the curvature of the Earth and/or changes in elevation across the apparently detailed simulation within the game environment, through 3D Euclidean space. And, further, the title text implies he actually sat down to calculate the distortion of general relativity upon the walking speed of an adult human, then later used these equations for an entire game mechanic — albeit one that players can mercifully skip when there are no gardeners in proximity of Schwarzschild Orchids.
The next comic 2588: Party Quadrants, also mentions complicated rules for scoring a contest. This seems somewhat related to the complicated rules of this game.
- [Cueball is standing beside a table holding his arms out to each side. He has a small object in his right hand. Ponytail and White Hat are sitting on either side of the table. They have a board game between them with several small objects, like the one in Cueball's hand, but with different heights standing on the table. There is also a stack of cards near Ponytail to the left. Both players have their hands on some of the small objects on the table.]
- Cueball: You may assign each gardener's token to a secondary garden plot within a 30-minute walk from their home plot.
- Cueball: For the sake of simplicity, each gardener is assumed to have a constant walking speed proportional to their height and cardio score.
- Cueball: For the sake of simplicity, cardio scores are inherited matrilineally...
- [Caption below the panel:]
- If you're worried that you're making something too complicated, just add "for the sake of simplicity" now and then as a reminder that it could always be worse.
- When the comic was first published, the third paragraph said "stamina scores".
- This was later changed to "cardio scores".
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