As one of the EteRNA Beta-Test Players, I have the advantage of having already seen and learned a few things that really work well in Lab Designs - and also, quite a few more things that simply do not work at all.
Now I am not any kind of expert, and I have little to no science or microbiology background, however, the little bit I have learned in the past couple of months of playing EteRNA, I now feel obligated to share with the HUGE new community of brand new players.
The reason I am writing this is because I have been painstakingly going over most, if not all of the new Lab Design Submissions by brand new players, and have found that some of the mistakes that were made by the Beta-Test Players a couple of months back are now being repeated by the incoming bunch of brand new EteRNA-Players - only this time there are nearly 10,000 instead of merely a few hundred.
I almost convinced myself that I should just keep my mouth shut, and not say anything, but after thinking it over have decided that I need to speak out, because I believe that we will all benefit if someone does. When I say “all,” I mean not only new players, but veteran players, and the Developers and Scientists of EteRNA as well, because, we are all after the very same goal: RNA Design Success!
Ok, Enough preamble.
What’s a “Christmas Tree?” It’s a design made solely, or almost solely of G-C pairs; Guanines and Cytosines; all reds and greens, hence the name: “Christmas Tree.”
What’s a “Cub Scout Project?” Similarly, a design made solely (or mostly) of A-U pairs; Adenines and Uracils; all Yellows and Blues - Cub-Scout Colors.
Finally, as you’ve probably already guessed: an “Optical Illusion,” is a design which is overly heavy on G-U Pairs; Red and Blue (nobody will probably ever actually make this mistake - I just wanted to fill out the three)
I coined these three un-complimentary names for these types of designs, because, as any of the more experienced players will readily testify if asked, these designs simply do not work. They do not fold properly.
(By the way, the same is true for most extremes; super-high or super-low energy designs, overly repetitious patterns in designs, etc); Most winning designs have been moderate, balanced entries in all respects.
Anyway I was chagrined to find that not one or two, but some higher number (approaching a dozen) “Christmas Trees” were submitted in the Lab by New Players this round. Even worse, at least one of them had amassed a dozen or more votes (by other new players, I 'm sure - it had to be, no experienced player would ever spend a precious vote on a “Christmas Tree”)
There were also a couple of “Cub-Scout Projects”, but I did not see any “Optical Illusions,” thanks God.
Now, there is no shame in any of this, not for designing one, nor for voting for one, (after all, how could you have known?), and nor is this a criticism or condemnation of any design or any player, but it IS an attempt to shorten the learning curve and prevent new players from making some common early mistakes; it is an attempt to help new players to preserve their precious design slots for VIABLE designs, and also help keep them from squandering even one of their precious few votes on designs which are certain to not pay them dividends in the form of points earned.
Remember that you get points not only for creating a winning design, but also for recognizing and voting-for a winning design.
There is still time to “un-vote,” any “Christmas Tree Vote” you may have made, and, for those who designed these “Christmas Trees,” (if your design is “un-voted” all the way back to zero votes) you can delete it, and re-submit a better design in its place.
I would like to Strongly Urge all new players to study all the past winning designs in earnest; try to see what characteristics they have in common, which you can then identify and abstract out, and then use in your own designs, as well as use to evaluate others’ designs.
Remember ONLY 8 designs can be synthesized each round! The EteRNA Scientists must accept and synthesize whatever 8 we vote the highest. The holidays are over, please let us not send any “Christmas Trees” to the Lab to synthesize this January! (or ever again).
Let us not waste even one of our precious few design slots, even one of our precious 8 votes, and also let us especially not waste even one ultra-precious Synthesis Slot.
I should add that there were also a handful of new players whose designs looked like those of much more experienced players - some great designs; especially for first efforts from brand new players; many of these will receive many, many votes when the Veteran Players start voting, which will probably happen Friday night or Saturday Morning after the results of Round One are published. (Experienced players often wait to see the results of the previous round before submitting for the following round, first, to benefit from seeing what worked, and what didn’t, and second, because if someone scored over 94% already, the current lab will end, and a new one will begin).
Study up! Get Familiar! Excel in your designs and in your design choices!
And Have Fun!
Thanks for putting up with this admittedly overly impassioned Rant.
Good Luck and Best Regards to all