What is it about?

Particular is a level-based game and a sandbox in which the player uses (simplified) physics to control atoms and molecules. The objective in the levels is to steer a bunch of molecules to a given location inside the box they are in. The difficulty lies in the fact that control is exerted via indirect, physical forces: temperature, “wind”, electric fields. These forces are created by devices placed in the box and they are, depending on the level, partially or fully controllable by the player. The molecules interact with each other (in a simplified physics simulation) and are at the same time influenced by those external forces.

The sandbox mode allows the creation of levels as well as playing around with the molecules and watching their interaction. It is also possible to experiment with the physics parameters, e.g., mass, damping, Coulomb and Van der Waals force and others.



Particular for Windows 7/8/8.1 64bit v4

Particular for Ubuntu 14.04 64bit v1

Execute the script run_particular.sh, not the actual executable particular. In some cases, your file manager might not allow the execution of scripts. If that is the case, either run the script from a terminal or change your file manager preferences.

Particular depends on a number of libraries, some of which might not be installed by default. You can install them like this:

sudo apt-get install libboost-serialization1.54.0 libqt5opengl5 libqt5widgets5 libqt5gui5 libqt5xml5 libqt5core5a

If it still doesn't run afterwards, check the output in a terminal when executing run_particular.sh for hints of other missing libraries.

Mac OS X version to come.

Please note: The game requires OpenGL 3.3 (i.e., usually a graphics card from Nvidia or AMD with 3D acceleration from the past 5 years should work).


Feedback is more than welcome! If you have any suggestion, comments or questions, please mail them to particular@waefrost.net.

The longer story

The objective of this project is the creation of a chemistry game for middle school students who have not yet had chemistry classes. It is meant to give them a first idea of molecular structures and their interactions in a game context. The game contains simple molecules like water whose interactions can largely be understood as repelling/attracting particles and are thus a useful choice when introducing the notion of how molecules assemble into structures and materials. Using a game for this introduction rather than an explicit traditional learning tool helps keep students interested and allows them at the same time to get an idea about basic, universal concepts without the feeling of being in a “learning situation”.

The game itself gives the player the context of the scale of molecules as well as their building blocks (down to atoms). It then progresses by introducing inter-molecular interactions between molecules and move to higher level structures where the player needs to achieve certain goals such as moving a number of molecules from one place to another. The player will be given step-by-step a number of means to indirectly control the molecules.

A guiding design principle is that players are not able to control the molecules directly (i.e., drag or push them) so as to not give a misleading impression over the level of control that exists in reality at these scales. For example, a possible task in the game might be to move water molecules from one side of a barrier to another. In order to accomplish this task, the player may have to control the temperature in a certain region while exploiting surface tension or gravitational forces. One solution could be to heat up the molecules so that they move (randomly) over the barrier while cooling them down on the other side in order to condense them into a larger “droplet” that then falls down to the desired location under gravity. A scoring mechanism tracks the players' performance and displays them in real time, thus allowing understanding and directed improvement of solutions.