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   Author  Topic: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them  (Read 3637 times)
paperflowergirl
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Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« on: Nov 25th, 2013, 4:36pm »
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I'm very new to this game and like it a lot. Smiley  However, having recently lost several matches to a bot because time ran out, I am losing my enthusiasm...  The problem is not that I could not decide what to do in time, but rather that technical hang-ups (the send button did not respond) and people ringing my doorbell / calling my phone resulted in time being up and me losing the game.  It appears that I lost also when the bot did not make a move on time.  
 
This is extremely frustrating because it feels very unfair - I did not lose because my playing was inferior to that of the bot.  It is also frustrating that as a novice playing against a computer, I cannot take the time to really think about and understand the implications of my moves.  Strict time-limits for those trying to master the game encourages a habit of rash action rather than deep thinking.  As for the send button not responding, I imagine there is continuous development going on to iron out such wrinkles, and won't spend time complaining about something I'm sure you're already aware of.  
 
I would therefore encourage the introduction of turn-based games against the bot, as this will improve the quality of learning.  I am sure this is the case for more people than myself.  I would also really like to se a pause button for those times when the phone rings, or when a game takes longer than expected and I have errands/other things I need to do.    
 
I understand that this may be different when playing against other humans (who are waiting for me to move) or when there are spectators.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #1 on: Nov 25th, 2013, 5:29pm »
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on Nov 25th, 2013, 4:36pm, paperflowergirl wrote:
I'm very new to this game and like it a lot. Smiley

Super.  Welcome to Arimaa.com!
 
Quote:
However, having recently lost several matches to a bot because time ran out, I am losing my enthusiasm...  The problem is not that I could not decide what to do in time, but rather that technical hang-ups (the send button did not respond) [...]

I can thoroughly relate.  When I first learned to play Arimaa, the glitchy interface was so frustrating that I nearly quit forever before I got very far into the game.  But I struggled through, found some workarounds, and eventually got so addicted to Arimaa that I have played over two thousand times!
 
Quote:
It appears that I lost also when the bot did not make a move on time.

In fact, what almost surely happened is that the bot did move on time, but the move didn't make it onto your screen.  The workaround for this circumstance is to reload the game window (In many browsers this can be done by hitting the F5 key.) as soon as the bot appears to be taking more time to move than it usually does.  Seconds will be running off your clock while the screen reloads, but at least you will get to see the bot's move and have a chance to reply.
 
Quote:
I imagine there is continuous development going on to iron out such wrinkles, and won't spend time complaining about something I'm sure you're already aware of.

Alas, Omar Syed, the inventor of Arimaa and maintainer of arimaa.com, has not been around for months.  He has been very busy thanks to a new job and a new child.  Thus there is no server development going on, and even known bugs are not being fixed.  On the bright side, he continues to rent the server and let us all play for free.  Smiley
 
Quote:
I would therefore encourage the introduction of turn-based games against the bot, as this will improve the quality of learning.

This is an excellent idea.  Omar had set it up for all newcomers to be paired in a turn-based game (which is called a "postal" game on arimaa.com) against the first bot on the ladder, ArimaaScoreP1.  Alas, this feature is now broken, and anyway there were no postal games offered against higher-rated bots.
 
However, we ought to be able to create a workaround for this.  I have an old Windows computer that I rarely use, and wouldn't mind leaving on all the time.  This could host a bot playing postal games against all comers.  I have a copy of bot_Arimaanator, an old bot from 2003, but one that would nevertheless be quite challenging to beginners.
 
All I would need is a script that would periodically log in to check for games in which the bot was on move, and to make sure it had a game open as an invitation for anyone to sit down and play.  I don't have the skills or server knowledge to write such a script, but I'll bet that someone in the community would be willing to figure out something, given that I'm offering to have it run on my computer.  There are an inordinate number of kind, skilled, generous programmers in the Arimaa community.  Anyone?
 
Quote:
I would also really like to se a pause button for those times when the phone rings, or when a game takes longer than expected and I have errands/other things I need to do.

Alas, a pause button would require server-side changes, which can't happen without Omar.  But I imagine that a bot available for turn-based games would meet much of this need, as long as the bot moved promptly, which is what I intend.
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to report your problems and suggest solutions.  I fear the interface has driven away many newcomers less patient than yourself, but I truly hope you stay around long enough to discover some of the many joyous mysteries of Arimaa.
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harvestsnow
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #2 on: Nov 28th, 2013, 9:39am »
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Quote:
I have an old Windows computer that I rarely use, and wouldn't mind leaving on all the time.  This could host a bot playing postal games against all comers.  I have a copy of bot_Arimaanator, an old bot from 2003, but one that would nevertheless be quite challenging to beginners.  
 
All I would need is a script that would periodically log in to check for games in which the bot was on move, and to make sure it had a game open as an invitation for anyone to sit down and play.

 
Is bot_Arimaanator capable of making single moves on its own with the game id as command-line argument? If so, Janzert's AEI and a modified version of his postal_controller.py script could do the trick. The script already monitors the postal games, and could call the bot directly instead of gameroom.py. A few more lines are needed to make it leave an open game and send the greeting.
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harvestsnow
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #3 on: Dec 5th, 2013, 9:58pm »
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If you're still thinking about this, here is my contribution (python 2 script).
 
http://pastebin.com/ewGXAAEB
 
Put it in the AEI directory and edit the gameroom.cfg file as for an AEI bot, with a new section and the username, password, timecontrol, rated, greeting and cmdline parameters; plus a special one, "isaei = False".  
The command line parameter should contain a {gid} placeholder for the game id. If the bot doesn't receive its input this way or needs other parameters, the command could be a handler script.
The name of the bot section to use can be passed as first argument (otherwise it will be the "default_engine").
 
I've also added some network exception handling to the original script, and a max_games variable for the maximum number of simultaneous games (arbitrarily set to 25). I tested it with bot_opfor2011 on windows XP. I haven't done a full game with a non-aei bot, but at least the game creation part seems to work.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #4 on: Dec 6th, 2013, 10:27am »
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Super, thanks!  I won't be able to try this out for a couple of weeks as I have end-of-semester crunch followed by family for the foreseeable future, but I am still planning to dedicate that old machine 24-7 as an opponent if I can figure out how.
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mokidugway
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #5 on: Dec 13th, 2013, 12:48am »
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paperflowergirl, I agree, it would be nice to have postal bots easily available.
 
As an alternative, if you have an android tablet or phone, I recommend getting lightvector's Arimaa app:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.icosahedral.arimaa
 
forum post:
http://arimaa.com/arimaa/forum/cgi/YaBB.cgi?board=talk;action=display;nu m=1344383970;start=
 
$1, no internet needed, no time restraints, you can save and come back, and a good challenge for beginner-to-intermediate players.  However, since there's no connection to the website, games aren't rated. And there's no sense of community, so its good to mix in some online games and get some feedback on play-style.
 
I don't think there is a comparable app with a strong bot for iOS or WP8 however.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #6 on: Dec 22nd, 2013, 7:30pm »
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Huge shout-out to Janzert and harvestsnow for helping me get this up and running.  Now everyone (up to 25 games) can play bot_Arimaanator postally.  Please let me know if you are having any issues with it.
 
This is old software on an old computer, so don't expect too much, but it should play in the 1700-1800 range, especially when I boost the thinking time to ~100 minutes per move.
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Fritzlein
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Re: Turn-based games against bots and pausing them
« Reply #7 on: Dec 26th, 2013, 11:19am »
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Hippo, I'm sorry I caused bot_Arimaanator to resign in its game against you.  When I pasted in Janzert's latest script, I restarted incorrectly, causing it to resign in your game and mine.  Hopefully now (a) the script has stabilized and I will stop/start less often and (b) I will remember the proper way to stop/start.
 
I hope you will give it another try despite my incompetence.  Undecided
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