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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #45 on: Apr 13th, 2009, 4:31am »

More news, more thoughts
 
3-fold and the 'swap' may be unnecessary in Choccer. Ed van Zon suggested '4-moves-per-turn' as a variant, and I agree. It would make the character of the game somewhat wilder:
 
1. A piece can grab the ball (1), play it to an opponent (2), capture the opponent (3) and kick the ball (4) therewith avoiding capture itself, or ...
2. A piece can get to the ball in two moves (2), play it to an opponent (3) capture the opponent (4) and stay in possesion of the ball, therewith risking capture.
 
So a 'turn' can have both a different and more of an impact.
 
The 'hands-of-fate' variant mentioned above neatly fits in between with 3.5 moves on average.
 
Then there's this:
I've googled around to see whether blending Chess with Soccer, however unintended, was an original idea.
It's isn't, in fact: far from it.
 
Most attempts were deliberate and resulted in very different games. One however is fairly similar, especially at first glance. It has been invented by Joćo Pedro Neto, a fellow inventor with whom I've been in contact for many years and who's work I value very highly. His Internet Home has always been prominent in the mindsports linkpages, and his game Gonnect is featured at mindsports.
 
His version, dating from November 1997, can be found at the Chess Variant Pages ('crossover games'). It is called Soccer Chess.
 
The similarities are obvious: 11 chesstype players, who can obtain and kick the ball on a similar playing area with the same goal (literally), though his field measures 11x17 while Choccer uses 9x15.
There are '5-moves-per-turn', however the moves must be made with different players.
 
The other differences soon become obvious. Soccer Chess is more of a long range game, more 'soccerlike' if you want, where the ball may range from one side of the field to the opposite side in one shot. Less 'soccerlike' is the fact that many players move as far as the ball does in one move, as rooks, bishops as queens, which makes it a far more a game of 'surprise tactics' than Choccer (although there's no lack of surprise tactics there).
 
More importantly, pieces may not move with the ball and cannot keep it in possesion: the ball must be 'kicked' as part of the same move - very modern, considering the 'one contact' school of play that has become so prominent in soccer.
 
Most importantly, pieces cannot be captured or 'red carded'. All of this makes Soccer Chess more 'soccer' than 'chess', while Choccer leans towards the reverse.
 
There's no 'hands-of-fate' variant included, though a die to determine the number of move a player is allowed to make, could be applied the same way as in Choccer-6.
 
cheers,
 
christian
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #46 on: Apr 14th, 2009, 10:12am »

I drew the board on a sheet of paper, cut out some disc pieces out of paper; labeled them with red and blue markers and tried it out. I didn't play it with Aamir yet, but I tried playing both sides myself. As soon as I started playing, I thought there should be a Zillions of Games file for this. It is difficult to play test new games without it. Even though Zillion won't play games like this very well, it is helpful because it can make sure that you aren't making illegal moves, can easily take back and redo moves and it automatically records the moves, which you can easily email to human opponents. Christian you might want get a ZRF file made for this. If you are not familiar with ZRF programming you might want to post over at the Zillions of Games forum and see if someone can help you with it.  
 
Some thoughts on the game. At first I tried to have a couple lions from one side go forward and score, but found that as soon they near the opponents side of the board, they become vulnerable to being captured. So a quick offensive strategy won't work. Though initially I thought capturing pieces in a soccer game was weird, I can see why it is needed to prevent one side or the other from hogging the ball. It also makes the ball a bit of a weapon Smiley. It is not really the opponents pieces that can hurt you; they need the ball to do it. It also adds an interesting twist between your pieces wanting to get close to the ball and away from it (to avoid capture). Also the captures are needed to add committal moves to the game. Without committal moves games can easily become non-progressive. I am not good enough at the game to know if captures can always be avoided. But even if they can the threat of captures may be enough to keep the game progressing forward. The amount of change per move did feel a bit overwhelming to me; especially with different pieces moving/shooting in different ways. Can't really say much more by playing just one game, but one thing for sure is that games like this need to be play tested a lot. Good luck with the game Christian.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #47 on: Apr 14th, 2009, 10:46am »

I haven't playtested Choccer at all, but just from looking at the rules I would be concerned about piece density.  It seems like it would be difficult for the game to be good both when the pieces are strung out sparsely across the board, and good when the pieces are all clumped in one area.  More specifically, the rules must make it possible to defeat defensive play where one player clumps all of his pieces in front of goal and merely tries to avoid being captured (three-step strategy: jump out to the ball, kick the ball away, jump home to safety).  But I would worry that rules which can handle the defensive huddle won't also make for a good game when pieces aren't all near each other.
 
Given the obvious advantage of massed pieces that mutually protect each other, there needs to be a compensating advantage of spreading out pieces.  In Go, for example, there is the strength/territory tradeoff where players are continually torn between playing thinly and playing thickly.  Will well-played Choccer be a slow-moving game because the pieces stay clumped of necessity, and therefore you have two mobs slowly pushing each other forward and back?
 
I eagerly await the reports of the playtesters.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #48 on: Apr 14th, 2009, 12:29pm »

on Apr 14th, 2009, 10:12am, omar wrote:
Christian you might want get a ZRF file made for this. If you are not familiar with ZRF programming you might want to post over at the Zillions of Games forum and see if someone can help you with it.

Hi Omar, thanks for your kind comments. As for Zillions, Ed van Zon, my partner in crime, has done a load of games for Zillions and is already working on this one Smiley .
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #49 on: Apr 14th, 2009, 12:37pm »

on Apr 14th, 2009, 10:46am, Fritzlein wrote:
I eagerly await the reports of the playtesters.

Hi Fritzlein,
 
I understand your comments, but my feeling is you worry too much Wink . It's hard to avoid excanges in close contact. 'Merely' avoiding capture isn't all that easy. Material dwindles.
 
Meanwhile there are now 'officially' three variants: 3-moves per turn, 4-moves per turn (you will appreciate the impications regarding capture) and 1-6 moves, depending on a die. That's the 'commecial angle': quick games, dramatic turns of events, beginning players can win.
 
Also, the keepers shot and ricochet range has been extended from 5 to 6 squares.
 
I'm enjoying a game against Adanac by mail Smiley
 
cheers,
 
christian
« Last Edit: Apr 14th, 2009, 1:01pm by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #50 on: Apr 14th, 2009, 3:13pm »

on Apr 14th, 2009, 12:37pm, christianF wrote:
I understand your comments, but my feeling is you worry too much Wink .

I get that a lot.  Smiley  Worrying is one of my strengths, but I can see how it would be an obstacle to an inventor/innovator.  Anyway, if I believe my own arguments, I should shut up and playtest, because I'm not going to be able to deduce anything from the rules alone.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #51 on: Apr 15th, 2009, 3:12am »

I've chewed a bit on 'Choccer' but I got trouble swallowing it. I think I'll revert to 'HanniBall'. It isn't soccer anyway ...  Roll Eyes ... it's an old Carthaginian ball game, played in between feeding Romans to the Lions.
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #52 on: Apr 15th, 2009, 10:17pm »


1. Hf4-e6-f8/Lg2-f4
2. Hf8-g10/b4-c6/Lf4-g6
3. Hc6-a7-c8/Ed3-e4
4. Ee4-e7
5. Hc8-e9/H*e9-g8/*gh8
6. Ee7-g9/Hh4-i6
7. Lg6-h8/*h8-i10/Hg10-h12
8. Lh8-i10/*i10-h12-i13
9. Lc2-d8

Hd14-c12/Ed15-d14-e13
Hc12-d10/Hb14-c12/Ee13-e12
Ee12-d11/Lc16-d14-e12
Hf14-f10/Hh14-g12
Hg12-h10/Lg16-g12
Hf10-g7/Hd10-f9
Eh15-i12
Ei12-i13/*i13-g12-e11
...

* = ball
 

 
This is the position after white-9 in the game between Adanac (black) and me. No clogging or clumping till now  Cool
 
Note: there should be an Elephant (rook) on h3. I found it under the table. My cat's name is Simba Angry .
« Last Edit: Apr 16th, 2009, 4:47am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #53 on: Apr 18th, 2009, 2:25am »


1. Hf4-e6-f8/Lg2-f4
2. Hf8-g10/b4-c6/Lf4-g6
3. Hc6-a7-c8/Ed3-e4
4. Ee4-e7
5. Hc8-e9/H*e9-g8/*gh8
6. Ee7-g9/Hh4-i6
7. Lg6-h8/*h8-i10/Hg10-h12
8. Lh8-i10/*i10-h12-i13
9. Lc2-d8
10. Hh12-f11-d10/*c9
11. Hg8-e9-d11/Li10-g11
12. Ld8-b7/*b7-c9/Hd11xc9
13. Hd4-f5-d6-c8

Hd14-c12/Ed15-d14-e13
Hc12-d10/Hb14-c12/Ee13-e12
Ee12-d11/Lc16-d14-e12
Hf14-f10/Hh14-g12
Hg12-h10/Lg16-g12
Hf10-g7/Hd10-f9
Eh15-i12
Ei12-i13/*i13-g12-e11
Lg12-f10/Hc12-e11/*e11-d10
Ed11-c9/*c9-b7
Hh10-f11/Eb15-c13
Lf10-d9xc9/*c9-d9
...

 
* = ball
 

 
According to the 'broad definition' in the MindSports site:
 
"Strategy games have strategies varied enough to allow different styles of play, tactics varied enough to induce their own terminology, and a structure that allows advantageous sub-goals to be achieved as calculable signposts along the way.
Tactical games have strategies that are either fairly obvious (however deep), like Pente, or fairly obscure, like Othello."

 
HanniBall leans towards the tactical. No pawns. 'Advantageous sub-goals' boil down to winning a piece or forcing an actual breakthrough in which a piece 'escapes' with the ball and cannot be stopped. The advantage in the latter case may dwindle if the piece fails to score.
 
The ball goes around rather quickly, so running after it with as many pieces as possible seems rather pointless. No clogging or clumping in sight.
 
We've declined several exchanges, but now I've traded a Horse for an Elephant - not sure about their relative strenght, but Horses are more mobile.
 
13. Hd4-f5-d6-c8 serves to protect the Horse on d10 that risks capture by 13. ... Lcd9/*d9-10/Hf11xd10
 
The game seems to behave properly, but we should be able to establish that more objectively in about two weeks time, when Ed will have the first version of the Zillions implementation ready (without the 1-6 random version, but with both 3 or 4 moves per turn).
 
« Last Edit: Apr 18th, 2009, 6:50am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #54 on: Apr 19th, 2009, 12:54am »

on Apr 18th, 2009, 2:25am, christianF wrote:
The game seems to behave properly, but we should be able to establish that more objectively in about two weeks time, when Ed will have the first version of the Zillions implementation ready (without the 1-6 random version, but with both 3 or 4 moves per turn).

 
For the start of the game I'm reverting to a 'swap' that will be the same for all versions (3 moves per turn, 4 moves per turn and 1-6 moves per turn).
The first player wil make a number of white moves up to the maximum of the chosen variant (3, 4 or 6, inclusive). The second player then decides whether to play white or black.
In the 1-6 version this first turn is the only one that is performed without the use of a die to determine the number of moves.
 
The implementation of a 'swap' in Zillions is not easy because it's not built into the system, but according to Ed it can be done.
 
Meanwhile Adanac launched a sudden attack that brought the ball to h2, and almost succeeded. It forced my Horse and Keeper into an emergency 'ricochet' cooperation (the only escape, I was very lucky to find that line) that sent the ball to the leftcenter.  

1. Hf4-e6-f8/Lg2-f4
2. Hf8-g10/b4-c6/Lf4-g6
3. Hc6-a7-c8/Ed3-e4
4. Ee4-e7
5. Hc8-e9/H*e9-g8/*gh8
6. Ee7-g9/Hh4-i6
7. Lg6-h8/*h8-i10/Hg10-h12
8. Lh8-i10/*i10-h12-i13
9. Lc2-d8
10. Hh12-f11-d10/*c9
11. Hg8-e9-d11/Li10-g11
12. Ld8-b7/*b7-c9/Hd11xc9
13. Hd4-f5-d6-c8
14. Eh3-f5/*f5-g3
15. Hi6-g5-i4/Ke1-g2
16. Hi4-h2/*h2-g2^b7-a9

Hd14-c12/Ed15-d14-e13
Hc12-d10/Hb14-c12/Ee13-e12
Ee12-d11/Lc16-d14-e12
Hf14-f10/Hh14-g12
Hg12-h10/Lg16-g12
Hf10-g7/Hd10-f9
Eh15-i12
Ei12-i13/*i13-g12-e11
Lg12-f10/Hc12-e11/*e11-d10
Ed11-c9/*c9-b7
Hh10-f11/Eb15-c13
Lf10-d9xc9/*c9-d9
Lc9-d9/L*d9-e7/*e7-f5
Hg7-h5-g3/*g3-h2
Le7-g6-h4/Hf11-e9
...

 
* = ball
^ = ricochet
 

The position after white-16

 
 
« Last Edit: Apr 19th, 2009, 1:00am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #55 on: Apr 19th, 2009, 10:00am »

on Apr 14th, 2009, 10:46am, Fritzlein wrote:
I haven't playtested Choccer at all, but just from looking at the rules I would be concerned about piece density.  It seems like it would be difficult for the game to be good both when the pieces are strung out sparsely across the board, and good when the pieces are all clumped in one area.  More specifically, the rules must make it possible to defeat defensive play where one player clumps all of his pieces in front of goal and merely tries to avoid being captured (three-step strategy: jump out to the ball, kick the ball away, jump home to safety).  But I would worry that rules which can handle the defensive huddle won't also make for a good game when pieces aren't all near each other.
 
Given the obvious advantage of massed pieces that mutually protect each other, there needs to be a compensating advantage of spreading out pieces.  In Go, for example, there is the strength/territory tradeoff where players are continually torn between playing thinly and playing thickly.  Will well-played Choccer be a slow-moving game because the pieces stay clumped of necessity, and therefore you have two mobs slowly pushing each other forward and back?
 
I eagerly await the reports of the playtesters.

 
I had also expected a lot of clumping and thought that the best strategies might involve large walls of pieces that that block off key squares and shield off the enemy from the ball.  However, the ball has been moving around the field so quickly that neither of those things has occurred in my game against Christian.
 
I also wonder about how easy it is to score once a material advantage has been established.  Scoring with a lion seems easy enough but can 2 elephants score against a single lion and a keeper, for example?  Probably, but we haven't reached that stage yet  Undecided
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #56 on: Apr 19th, 2009, 12:47pm »

on Apr 14th, 2009, 10:46am, Fritzlein wrote:
I eagerly await the reports of the playtesters.
on Apr 19th, 2009, 10:00am, Adanac wrote:
I had also expected a lot of clumping and thought that the best strategies might involve large walls of pieces that that block off key squares and shield off the enemy from the ball. However, the ball has been moving around the field so quickly that neither of those things has occurred in my game against Christian.
See, Fritzlein, I can "see" how a game will behave ... well, more or less at least, depending on the nature of the 'organism' Wink . This one, like Arimaa, is very 'organic' for a game with chess type pieces and mechanics.
 
In fact my trust in what shaped itself in my head was the reason to engage in a 'live on stage' invention process in the first place, and this trust appears to be justified. That's why I have published the game in the "almost complete games" section of MindSports too, now, with due reference to JDB's and Anadac's contributions: HanniBall
 
Shortly the story of its genesis will be part of the Epilogue of my essay on game inventing.
« Last Edit: Apr 19th, 2009, 1:20pm by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #57 on: Apr 19th, 2009, 1:43pm »

on Apr 19th, 2009, 12:47pm, christianF wrote:
See, Fritzlein, I can "see" how a game will behave ...

Heh, I'd say it's a mixed verdict so far.  Why do you have variants of three actions per turn or four actions per turn if you can tell in advance which would make a better game?  But I would quickly concede this: you can see from the rules how the game will behave better than I can see from the rules how the game will behave.  I'm not trying to pit my game-inventing instincts against yours; the unresolved tension in my mind is between instinct and play testing.
 
Although you may have enough evidence from the games of Hanni-Ball you have already played, and Adanac's report is independent verification, the jury is still out in my mind.  I still believe that it is difficult to know how the game will behave when it is played well.  To know that one must have players who play the game well, right?  As evidence for my claim, I hold up early Arimaa games which were replete with captures and goal races.  Only after the players developed a certain skill level did it emerge that Arimaa is a rather defensive game, and races are the exception rather than the rule.  From the bare rules I wouldn't have worried that Arimaa might be a defensive stalemate; that worry was emergent given the way experts played a year after the game's Internet release.
 
You would have really knocked my socks off if you could have definitively said that Rekushu was or wasn't a defensive draw without playing it.
 
All of which is not to say that you exaggerate your prophetic abilities.  I say only that my limited information doesn't let me see that you can do what you claim.
« Last Edit: Apr 19th, 2009, 1:46pm by Fritzlein » IP Logged

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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #58 on: Apr 19th, 2009, 11:45pm »

on Apr 19th, 2009, 1:43pm, Fritzlein wrote:

Heh, I'd say it's a mixed verdict so far.  Why do you have variants of three actions per turn or four actions per turn if you can tell in advance which would make a better game?  But I would quickly concede this: you can see from the rules how the game will behave better than I can see from the rules how the game will behave.  I'm not trying to pit my game-inventing instincts against yours; the unresolved tension in my mind is between instinct and play testing.

I'll settle for a mixed verdict. As for three or four moves, it basically remains the same game, but the 4-moves variant will give more room for opportunism, because the margin for tactical mistakes is wider.
I'm not saying the comparison goes all the way, but I cannot "see" which bordsize would be the best for Hex. Players may prefer different sizes for different reasons, but Hex is still Hex.
 
on Apr 19th, 2009, 1:43pm, Fritzlein wrote:
Although you may have enough evidence from the games of Hanni-Ball you have already played, and Adanac's report is independent verification, the jury is still out in my mind. I still believe that it is difficult to know how the game will behave when it is played well. To know that one must have players who play the game well, right?

If that's 'by definition', then there's no argument, is there? My claims could be discarded as being silly and baseless. In my statement I also added "more or less". Not all games have the 'organic' qualties that enable me to 'identify' with a game mechanism and I've never claimed I could foresee the behaviour of any given game.
 
on Apr 19th, 2009, 1:43pm, Fritzlein wrote:
You would have really knocked my socks off if you could have definitively said that Rekushu was or wasn't a defensive draw without playing it.
It's clear that the inventor thinks it isn't. One good thing about Rekushu is that it reminded me of a game I invented one night at the games club Fanatic, in the early eighties, only to forget all about it later.
Some might add "and rightly so" Wink .
I ressurrected it just yesterday as Square Off. It's not in any way like Rekushu, except that it blends configuration mechanics with a territorial theme. I've also added it to the 'miscellaneous' section of the essay.
 
on Apr 19th, 2009, 1:43pm, Fritzlein wrote:
All of which is not to say that you exaggerate your prophetic abilities.  I say only that my limited information doesn't let me see that you can do what you claim.

Don't worry, I actually do exaggetate sometimes, and there's no definite answer as long as experience with HanniBall is so limited. Moreover it may remain limited - "you can take a player to a board, but you can't make him play", to paraphrase an equine proverb. And even if HanniBall should turn out to be a game that can handle the pressure of accumulating strategical insight, it would not in any way 'prove' my claim, only make it less outrageous.
 
For the record, I do feel that HanniBall would withstand the pressure, but making a fair prediction of, say, a margin of draws, can be very difficult. It took over a century of grandmaster games to establish that 10x10 International Checkers indeed does have a problematic margin if played on the highest level, especially in match play (as opposed to tournament play). It's a great game, but a slightly flawed 'weapon'.
 
Which is to say that everything, after all, is relative.
 
cheers,
 
christian
« Last Edit: Apr 20th, 2009, 12:09am by christianF » IP Logged
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Re: Essay by Christian Freeling on inventing games
« Reply #59 on: Apr 20th, 2009, 1:47am »


1. Hf4-e6-f8/Lg2-f4
2. Hf8-g10/b4-c6/Lf4-g6
3. Hc6-a7-c8/Ed3-e4
4. Ee4-e7
5. Hc8-e9/H*e9-g8/*gh8
6. Ee7-g9/Hh4-i6
7. Lg6-h8/*h8-i10/Hg10-h12
8. Lh8-i10/*i10-h12-i13
9. Lc2-d8
10. Hh12-f11-d10/*c9
11. Hg8-e9-d11/Li10-g11
12. Ld8-b7/*b7-c9/Hd11xc9
13. Hd4-f5-d6-c8
14. Eh3-f5/*f5-g3
15. Hi6-g5-i4/Ke1-g2
16. Hi4-h2/*h2-g2^b7-a9
17. Lg11-e10-c9-a10
18. Lb7-a9/L*a9-b11/*b11-a13
19. Lb11-b13/La10-b12
20. Lb12-a13/L*a13-b14/*b14-a16

Hd14-c12/Ed15-d14-e13
Hc12-d10/Hb14-c12/Ee13-e12
Ee12-d11/Lc16-d14-e12
Hf14-f10/Hh14-g12
Hg12-h10/Lg16-g12
Hf10-g7/Hd10-f9
Eh15-i12
Ei12-i13/*i13-g12-e11
Lg12-f10/Hc12-e11/*e11-d10
Ed11-c9/*c9-b7
Hh10-f11/Eb15-c13
Lf10-d9xc9/*c9-d9
Lc9-d9/L*d9-e7/*e7-f5
Hg7-h5-g3/*g3-h2
Le7-g6-h4/Hf11-e9
Ec13-b12-a11/Le12-c11
Ea11-b10/Hf9-d8-b9
He11-c12/Ef15-d15
Ed15-c15/Eb10-a11/Lc11-d13
...

 
* = ball
^ = ricochet
 
Position after white-20

Note that the ball was still on h2 after black-15
and is now on a16 after white-20.
 
 
« Last Edit: Apr 20th, 2009, 5:57am by christianF » IP Logged
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