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MarkSteere
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #240 on: Jul 10th, 2010, 2:31pm »

Small world  Smiley
 
A connection game would be confusing if you had to zoom in and out to follow a path.  It'd be hidden information, or obscured information - something that would reduce clarity.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #241 on: Jul 10th, 2010, 2:43pm »

Like what's that stacking game where you have to remember what type of checkers are in the stack since you can't tell from the side?  That wouldn't be a fun game for me.  I can't even remember what it's called, never mind what checkers are in a stack.  That's like remembering where the spots are on blank dice.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #242 on: Jul 11th, 2010, 1:45pm »

It seemed to fail as a connection game indeed, even with a limited recursivity. Fractals make pretty pictures but are basically about endless repetition, something best left to computers. It might work as a pattern building game but I haven't tried hard enough.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #243 on: Aug 30th, 2010, 9:34pm »

Cage flaw
 
Daniel Schultz discovered a flaw in Cage.  There were no legal moves available in the following scenario: A ring of 8 stones around the center, arranged red, blue, red, blue...
 
I relaxed the rule constraints a tad to allow for a legal move in that situation.  See Figure 5.
 
http://www.marksteeregames.com/Cage_rules.html
 
Daniel played the Cage program about 50 times before this special position occurred to him, so it wasn't real obvious.  I don't see how any problems could exist in Cage now but that's how I felt about the original version.  So, stay tuned I guess  lol
 
The new version allows a new type of move but it doesn't disallow any old move types, so it's a superset of the old version.  There's a larger tree and there should be a correspondingly richer gameplay.  
 
Yeah it's a little embarrassing when flaws turn up, but at least a fan discovered it and broke it to me gently.  I didn't have to learn about it from the usual YIPPEE I PROVED MARK STEERE WRONG!! public announcement.  
 
Bottom line, an outstanding game just became a little more outstanding.  I took the downloadable Cage program off my website for now, but hopefully Thomas Plick will agree to incorporate the change into his program.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #244 on: Oct 11th, 2010, 3:50pm »

Symple
 
Here's what occured to me last friday (oct 8th), just before falling asleep (when else Wink ).  

 
Of course there's a little story attached. It started with a mail by Zick that I quote here, in part, with his permission:
Quote:
You are among the most cluesome abstract gamers/designers I know.
I have been thinking a lot about a certain class of games recently and I want to share my thoughts with you, hoping for feedback.
 
There is the family that got started with Star, moved on to Superstar, *Star, and YvY. The games of this family share a pattern, namely:
 
a) you score by taking certain fields and  
b) imposing a tax: the more groups one has in the end, the more is subtracted from the score.
 
I have three issues with these games:
 
1. So far, the scoring fields have been placed on the edge of the board. That seems somewhat arbitrary, and games have taken counter-measures in order to bring the center back into play.
 
2. The bigger the number of scoring fields, the more filling in has to be done. Smaller numbers seem more convining.
 
3. There is dead group removal, i.e. groups without ontact to an edge do not enter the result. This seems somewhat arbitrary, too, and is along the line of bringing the center back into play, but at least not punishing it.
 
I have long thought of a remedy. My proposal is the following: (...)

 
And there followed a number of proposals that I couldn't really set my mind to, because it was otherwise occupied. So part of my answer was:
 
Quote:
Concerning Superstar and YvY, they don't matter all that much. A bit forced, both of them. I'm sure there's something better on the same general idea, but you'll have to find it without me Smiley

 
But Zick had struck a chord and I could hear the whisper I mention in my answer: there must be a simpler, better deeper game on the general principle. I was also reluctant unless you consider this cooperative:
 
Quote:
A generalized connection/counting game. I'll put it where I did put the idea of linear movement in Draughts, after inventing Bushka. Might take 15 years though Smiley

 
A reference to the 15 years it took before a shotgun marriage between Bushka and Croda resulted in Dameo.
 
It should be clear I had no high hopes or expectations, nor any plans to wrap my mind around it. But it did, and drifting in the twilight between going to bed and falling asleep, I saw 'bacteria in a petri dish' like Phalanx, and groups one needs for growth, but not too many, because there's a penalty .... and suddenly it became too simple. And my last thought was ... "could it really be so simple? what's wrong ...".
 
The next day I was fortunate enough to suddenly remember I had had a thought of sorts ... and reconstruct it. Here's another telling except from our correspondence, the mail I sent after I remembered:
 
Quote:
> In other words, I am at the limit of design without heavy playtesting. I cannot achieve what I want. A telling experience.
 
You asked for it, so don't complain if this works Wink
 
(...)
 
First question obviously: is there something wrong?

 
In between the above rules, be it that I gave both players the right to use both options, instead of either the one or the other. That was Zick's suggestion and rightly so: it pushes the game from the tactical to the strategical.
 
Here's Zick's latest comment, after I posted the rules:
 
Quote:
Hi Christian,
 
Having many groups is not a dilemma in this game. The more groups you have, the more you can grow. If a group has sufficient space for growing, it hurts only to start it on the last move.
 
The real dilemma is: how long to start new groups, instead of growing  them. And then: _not_ connecting groups, because a smaller number of groups grows your own territory more slowly.
 
A lot of strategy appears in how to claim territory, of course. That is why it telegraphs to be a deep game.

 
Amen  Cool
« Last Edit: Oct 12th, 2010, 6:19am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #245 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 7:51am »

Thanks for sharing this with us Christian. Funny how these ideas come right when you're about to fall asleep. I've had similar experiences many times. When I was younger I used to jump out of bed and try them out right away. Now adays I just sleep on it and trust that if it's a good idea I'll be able to recall it in the morning Smiley
 
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #246 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 8:29am »

Interesting game!
 
I find the near sleep state very exciting since I am able to "play music" in my head, i.e. spontaneously improvising, which I'm not capable normally.
 
This might interest some of you:
 
Quote:

Sitting in the warm sun after a full lunch and feeling somewhat somnolent, Dalí would place a metal mixing bowl in his lap and hold a large sthingy
 loosely in his hands which he folded over his chest. As he fell asleep and relaxed, the sthingy
 would fall from his grasp into the bowl and wake him up. He would reset the arrangement continuously and thus float along-not quite asleep and not quite awake—while his imagination would churn out the images that we find so fascinating, evocative, and inexplicable when they appear in his work…” —from Provenance is Everything, Bernard Ewell

 
http://www.arthurmag.com/2010/06/25/diy-magic-dropping-the-sthingy
-by-anthony-alvarado
 
edit: I don't get the url working. If I use url tag, it works in preview but not after posting. Just copy-paste without the space.
« Last Edit: Oct 12th, 2010, 8:32am by clojure » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #247 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 8:51am »

Off-topic, but is your given name really "Christian" with just one 'a' or is it the more Dutch-like "Christiaan" and you anglicized it?
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #248 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 9:28am »

on Oct 12th, 2010, 8:51am, aaaa wrote:
Off-topic, but is your given name really "Christian" with just one 'a' or is it the more Dutch-like "Christiaan" and you anglicized it?
The latter.
 
I was thinking, a long time ago, what would have happened to Christian Dior if his name had been Christiaan Dior Roll Eyes .
 
By the way, is it really 'aaaa' or 'aaaaa' Wink
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #249 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 11:28am »

Interesting idea. It took a few times through reading the rules to understand what they meant - so it might benefit from more examples.  I think I've got it now, but that was my first impression.  
 
I was also wondering how to actually play this.  It would be easy enough on a computer, which could track which groups had already been added to.  On a physical board, it seems like a third color (let's say red) of stones would be helpful, used temporarily from the beginning to the end of a turn, making it easy to tell which groups had been added to - and where - on that turn.  When the turn is complete, the red stones would be replaced by white or black.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #250 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 11:32am »

on Oct 11th, 2010, 3:50pm, christianF wrote:
Of course there's a little story attached.

Of course.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #251 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 11:37am »

on Oct 12th, 2010, 11:28am, ocmiente wrote:
Interesting idea. It took a few times through reading the rules to understand what they meant - so it might benefit from more examples.  I think I've got it now, but that was my first impression.  
 
I was also wondering how to actually play this.

Welcome to the club. I haven't tried yet, but looking back at how we played havannah, the first year or so ... like riding a bicycle for the first time Cheesy
 
I hope actual play will provide some examples. There's dilemma's all over the place, and Go-like territory control seems essential (with less of an edge/center division). A strategy game by the looks of it.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #252 on: Oct 12th, 2010, 3:41pm »

Here's Zick's comment again, after I posted the rules:
 
Quote:
Having many groups is not a dilemma in this game. The more groups you have, the more you can grow. If a group has sufficient space for growing, it hurts only to start it on the last move.
 
The real dilemma is: how long to start new groups, instead of growing  them. And then: _not_ connecting groups, because a smaller number of groups grows your own territory more slowly.
 
A lot of strategy appears in how to claim territory, of course. That is why it telegraphs to be a deep game.

 
I haven't played it yet, but then, that's what this thread is about in the first place, so I'll give it a shot.
 
Just to get an idea, suppose both have started 3 groups, i.e. isolated stones, and now white starts to grow while black starts 2 more groups. We get the following count in the subsequent moves:
 
4: (0) - (-4)
5: (3) - (-5)
6: (6) - (0)
7: (9) - (5)
8: (12) - (10)
9: (15) - (15)
 
Now white has 3 groups of 7 and black has five groups of 5. There are 46 stones on the board and white has gloomy prospects because from this point on black can outgrow him 2 points a turn and, should white start new groups, follow suit.
 
So obviously one shouldn't start growing too early.
 
If one starts too late however, the opponent's growth will hinder the above assumed 'free growth' strategy. One of the tactical goals will indeed be to cover territory in such a way that one eventually can grow 'inward', whereas the opponent would be forced to start a new group to prevent it, preferably a group with little prospect on growth or connection - were talking a fairly crammed board here already.
The kind of position that signals the endgame in which connections may pay off more than growth in itself, despite the implied loss of growing options in subsequent turns.
 
Just to elaborate, suppose both have started 7 groups, i.e. isolated stones, and now white starts to grow while black starts 2 more groups. We get the following count in the subsequent moves:
 
8: (0) - (-8)
9: (7) - (-9)
10: (14) - (0)
11: (21) - (9)
12: (28) - (18)
13: (35) - (27)
14: (42) - (36)
15: (49) - (45)
16: (56) - (54)
17: (63) - (63)
 
Now white has seven groups of 11 and black has nine groups of 9. There are 158 stones on the board.
That's fairly crammed on a base-8 board, and it is unlikely that a game would develop according to these numbers, because stones get in the way of the presumed 'free growth'.
 
Starting new groups on a base-n board may indeed be a good strategy up to turn 'n' or thereabouts.
 
I also presume two stages, sprouting and growing, although the rules leave either option open at any turn.
 
Symple Square
A usual thought, on this occasion put forward by Frans Faasse in a mail just after this publication, is translation to another grid. The Go board for instance, or any odd numbered square board of sufficient size. All things being equal, a 'group' then is: one stone or two or more like colored orthogonally connected stones.
« Last Edit: Oct 13th, 2010, 8:43am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #253 on: Oct 15th, 2010, 12:13pm »

The old link to Symple is redundant, here's where we are now:

Symple

 
Symplex


 
Now here's the thing. This thread is about my claim to, sometimes, be able to predict a game's behaviour. You can read how this started. Zick wrote:
Quote:
I have been thinking a lot about a certain class of games recently and I want to share my thoughts with you, hoping for feedback.  
 
There is the family that got started with Star, moved on to Superstar, *Star, and YvY. The games of this family share a pattern, namely:  
a) you score by taking certain fields and  
b) imposing a tax: the more groups one has in the end, the more is subtracted from the score.

Suspecting, as I did, a simpler and more fundamental game at the core of the principle.
Despite his thinking, and despite my reluctance to do so, the game, in an unguarded moment, came to me. It embodies the thematic hallmark:
Quote:
A player's score is counted as the number of stones he has placed on the board minus two points for every separate group.

with, basically, a single rule:
Quote:
On his turn a player may either put a stone on a vacant cell, not connected to a like colored group, or grow any or all of his existing groups by one stone.

Barring Hex, you can't get much simpler than that. I've yet to play it, but I already mentioned the dilemma:
Quote:
The dilemma is, to a substantial degree, how long to create new groups and when to start growing them. More groups are needed to be able to grow faster in the subsequent turns, but every new group starts at -1, and too many groups will eventually affect the score in a negative way in the endgame.

Think about it, when to start? My calculated guess is with a move near the square root of half the board. A 169 board? around move 9 or 10 (if you dare).
 
Before that there's the placement strategy: you can place the stones dumb, so you can also place them better. Initial placement affects the growth potential of both players. Or you can start to grow or place just one more before you do - that moment always comes.
After that, strategy is shifting to tactics. Keep the groups isolated with as many 'liberties' to grow as you can realize, to maximize growth and minimize the opponent's potential, but take into account that towards the end it will at a certain point be advantageous to connect groups, especially those with limited potential for growth.
There's a lot of positional play there, and many means to combine the many moves at one's disposal.
 
This game is quintessential (that is: it is the basic game around said principle), very simple, very organic, very 'fast' and very deep. The only factor that's difficult to establish without actual play, is the first move advantage. A swap just may be enough in the square game, but I'm not sure about the hexgame.
 
Anyway, I'm surprised at the lack of comments (barring the one by Mark who feels that stories are his prerogative).
Too symple perhaps Huh .
« Last Edit: Oct 28th, 2010, 11:13am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #254 on: Oct 17th, 2010, 9:47am »

Symple can now be played at MindSports.
 
Just register, add it to your prefs, and you're ready to go.
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