Monday, December 30, 2013

Smarter Dancing Robots AI

My new Dancing Robots AI is now available to play against (here). It should be much smarter than previous incarnations (though still not as smart as I am when I make no mistakes).

I need to decide if my next goal for the website is to make the game play more graphical (add card images and the likes) or if I want to add in dancing animations at the end of the dance off.

As I have been testing the new AI  I have been also testing the feel of the recent rules changes to the game. I like how discarding all the unused cards at the beginning of the dance off makes parts scarcity a bigger problem, but I am not quite sure about the way that that makes saving extra moves impossible (like holding onto the move that you just needed one more part to dance so that in the second dance off you can dance it easily). The changes also makes Bomberman a worse judge. Perhaps I will increase his bonuses to compensate for that.

Nuclear reactors (with the additional heat that I recently added to the multi movers and the tractor beams) are a little bit better, and sometimes a good idea. (the Rutherford judge pushes them over to often being a good idea).

Creamsicle Pink Hotness

I have been working more on my card art and making the AI play more strongly. I will post a new version of the game to my website after I run a few more acceptance tests on it (so that everyone can be devastated by a strong AI snatching the victory away from them).

Alison reminded me last night that my spacious chassis didn't have a heat capacitance on it. Because of that, I began to fool around with more artwork. I first added the heat symbol (which might need to be bigger to look good), and then made it a creamsicle pink to try to indicate that it is a passive heat capacitance instead of an active heating.

I am starting to think that passive things like provided space and heat capacitance should be in a light color, and active things like adding heat or reducing space should be dark. I wonder if a blue fire symbol might reasonably indicate that the card reduces heat.

The only real worry that I have is that colorblind individuals might not be able to correctly parse that.

Either way, with the pink fire symbol, I decided that an orange creamsicle provided space symbol was needed as well and I updated the space symbol accordingly.

Since I have been making so many text layers look sort of fancy, last night I made a Gimp script to do it for me (basically you select a text layer and run the script and it makes it look like all of my text looks like on the card). The script can be found here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DR =? NP-Complete

Andrea got a late Christmas gift from her grandmother. It is a game called 'Herd your horses'. The game is a roll and move game where you play as mustangs and attempt to gather a herd of mares and make it to a safe place called 'Green river valley'. You can take multiple paths to get there, but there are certain choke-points which everyone must pass through. It is seems to have more strategic depth than monopoly, but it is certainly meant for young horse crazy girls as well. It does have the honor of being the first roll and move game that Andrea will play (all other ones we have tried before were way too boring), so if you really want your three year old girl to play board games with you this might be the right one.

We have limited her to 4 games a day since playing it more than that is a bit ridiculous.

I have (over the last few days) greatly improved the AI for dancing robots. My attempts to make the AI better have gotten me to ponder the game greatly. I wonder if it is NP complete to code an AI that will make optimal decisions based on the information that a player would know.

There is certainly the Knapsack problem that picking parts represents (from n available parts pick the one that will maximize the return that you get from your dance moves (do this repeatedly until you are ready to dance or your chassis is full)) as well as a difficult ordering problem (from your n moves, pick and order up to 5 to maximize your score (different ordering can change your score and the amount of parts you have to discard)).


Thursday, December 26, 2013

More art (Work In Progress)

We played a fairly nondescript game of Bang, and two games of Avalon at lunch today.

I fooled around with artwork some more, but am still fairly unhappy with it. I decided that the basic claw looks OK and that I should start seeing what other types of cards would look like, but when I began to do that I realized that the title text takes too long to make, and is prone to mistakes. I fooled around with various plug ins, but I think that I will have to create my own plug in to be really happy.

As I was fooling around with that, I also considered whether the symbols in the upper right of the card are actually useful. Perhaps I will remove them all together. I also tried to figure out a way to make the positive space provided by the chassis cards look different from the negative space provided by the other parts, but didn't come up with anything that I liked.

Finally, As I worked on those things I also decided that since the Spacious Chassis has no rule text I would have to make it also have no rule text box (it looks really stupid with a blank one.) In the end I need to figure out how to make these things look better. Here's to hoping that Dave comes up with something better.

The Wild West Show

Yesterday at a family get together we played a game of each of Two Rooms and a Boom, The Resistance, and Bang (With the Wild West Show expansion).

For the first time ever (that I have seen) Two Rooms was won based on solid logic and not just guessing what was going to happen. We had the bomber, the president, and two other good guys in the room on the second round. We kept both the bomber and the president in the room so that we could send out the bomber on the last round and save the president.

For the game of Bang, we had never tried the Wild West Show expansion before, and it ended up being super overpowered, but still very fun. I ended the game with a volcanic and a card that allowed me to convert any card in my hand to a bang (any number of times). I killed the outlaws and got three more cards and repeated. It was pretty silly.

I talked with Dave about my Dancing Robots artwork. He is still finishing up the other pieces, but then he might make me backgrounds for the cards. The AI for the game is still moving toward completion, but not there yet.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It's practically here!

I have been working a lot on the AI for my game. Specifically I have been making the AI better able to plan a dance. It now considers all possible combinations of the dance cards that it has, and it will dance the moves that give it the most points, and it will also dance them in the order that gives it the most points as well as damages its robot the least.

I have been sitting on the artwork changes until I talk to Dave tomorrow. I figure he will have something to say (him being a graphic designer and all).

At work we have played more Resistance. We finally combined Avalon with the plot cards of Resistance (that made the game different). I also convinced them all to play 2 Rooms and a Boom, which was well received.

Seeing as tomorrow is Christmas it is possible that I will have a gift worth reporting here. If so, I will report it in my next post.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

More Test Cards

This post will end up as a bit of an image dump.

I had a guy (Darin Shepit) commenting on my attempts to make Dave's great looking artwork into playable cards for my game (for those new to this story, I asked my Brother in law Dave to draw me robot parts for my WIP Dancing Robots game, and he just came through with about half of the drawings looking pretty much complete, so I decided that I needed to actually work on the formatting of the cards and so forth.)

To the left is my third attempt to make a card out of the art. Following Darin's advice I tried to remove all borders and place a shallow looking platform underneath the card (I also put one under the rule text, just to see what that would look like.
He also advised me to increase the contrast of the artwork (which ends up making the part stand out more). This is my second attempt, by the way. I ended up exporting this because before I could figure out how to make a good looking platform Alison said that it looked pretty good.

You can see here, that I have not yet entirely removed the border around the image, but I did remove the cyan glow (Not entirely necessary, since it only indicates that this card is a grasp (and therefore from the cyan colored deck))








For the record, this is the original artwork that Dave gave me for the Claw card
















Finally, here is my first attempt at making a card out of it.

I am still not entirely happy with attempt 3. It is much better than 1 was, (mainly thanks to Darin's helpful advice), but now it has other problems: it seems that the support cost icon (the gray cube in the upper left corner) and the reminder icon (the gray square in the upper right corner) seem fairly out of place. As it is nearly midnight and I have work tomorrow I have to stop image editing at this moment.

I will come back to it tomorrow morning if the weather permits that I get to work a bit early. If not, it will probably wait till tomorrow night (I plan on playing Resistance at lunch tomorrow unless they can't find five - in the which case it will be the online version of Dancing Robots and perhaps some Coin Age)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Neural Networks of Slow Learning

For the last few days I have been coding up a neural network for my dancing robots AI so that it can learn how to properly decide when to improvise. It isn't really ready yet, but right now it plays at least as good as the current naive approach to the problem (which is to never improvise no matter what.)

I have been training it for a few hours (which should be enough for a simple neural network at least, but it doesn't seem to be catching on very fast (probably I am not doing a good job of coming up with training data)).

I was figuring that the problem was a difficult one (I didn't want to figure it out personally), but I didn't think that it would be this hard. I will continue to fool around with it a bit, but probably not too much. Perhaps the other stupid parts of the AI will fall to neural networks more easily.

Also, I played some more games of Coin Age.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Gimpstrosity has emerged


I have been fooling around with Gimp again.
This card reads:
Claw: This part takes up 1 space. If you spend 2 electricity you gain the ability to dance Tap dance moves this step of the dance.

I am not yet sure about any part of the card, so if anyone has helpful hints about what I should do to make it look better I would be happy to entertain them.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Robot is Forever

I played some more (5) games of Coin Age, and decided that it is worth pledging to get an official copy of it. The game has a moderate amount of randomness, but also a fair amount of strategic choices that players can make when playing, and for $3-5 it is not that big an expense.

I made some updates to dancing robots today and hope to make more tomorrow. I am wrestling with a way to prevent a skillful player from building a robot that can run forever on photo-voltaic cells, a droid chassis, one of each appendage, and luck (add a capacitor for the ability to also dance the ultimate dance once before blowing up spectacularly).

One thing that I am really not happy about (in terms of the website version) is the AI. It is sometimes passably intelligent, but most of the time really dumb. Hopefully I can fix it soon. Perhaps I will put in a neural network to prevent me from having to teach it myself.

We played some Resistance Avalon today at lunch. I was Merlin for the last game and we rocked. I was pretty blatant about calling out one spy, but I do that so often that no-one thought I was acting unusually.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Coin Age

I was watching the kids today because my wife is sick. When I put them down for a nap I read some more about Coin Age (which is on kickstarter and already funded, with 10 days to go)

It is a very small game where you use coins to vie for control of a land. The game has a map and each player has a set of coins as well.

The unique mechanic is that you shake up to 4 coins and slap them down to determine what you can do each turn. 0 of your chosen coin face and you capture an enemy coin. 1 and you place a coin of your own on the board. In either case you may move any coin stack in the board as well. 2 or more of your face lets you place 2 coins, and if all four are your face you may give a coin to the opponent to place three coins

A very simple set of rules which (combined with the equally simple scoring mechanic) allows for fairly deep strategic play.

I somehow convinced my sick wife to play a game with me and even with her feeling under the weather she beat me by 11. (Apparently my initial strategy needs some improving)

It is the type of game that this world needs more of. Not scary like so many good games are to non gamers (auto correct wanted me to type mom gamers, which is not really the largest market segment), but also not mind numbingly boring like other games which I will not name on this blog.

My opinion is that the game is definitely worth the three dollars they are asking for it (and probably worth the 5 they are hoping you will donate for it).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deterministic endings

I played a few more games of Moar Moai over the weekend. I like the way that things work in the beginning of the game, and I like the way that the recent changes change the ending of the multiplayer game. The two player game still has some tricky bits to work out. The main problem is that the ending can be deterministic. Alison and I thought out some fixes for that which include:

  1. Making an 'interest level' for the explorers and every time that you pass their interest goes down by a random amount. When it reaches 0 the game ends immediately. (This would allow a player that has fewer artifacts to possibly end the game before the player with more artifacts is done playing)
  2. Deal a card from the deck out every so often to shake things up
    a. After every pass would be too often: you couldn't determine for sure where the explorer would end even with quite a few artifacts.
    b. After every turn would be even worse: you might never get anywhere, and if you did get somewhere you would probably overshoot.
    c. After every two turns would probably be fine: it would simulate a third player (though a random third player).
    d. Randomized: Yo Dawg, I herd you like randomness, so I put randomizers in your randomizers so you can randomize when you are randomizing.
  3. Build a deck of cards (10 large?) and shuffle all but one of them. The last one is the 'it's over' card. Reveal some of them (five), and allow players to pay tokens to use the cards (perhaps the lowest one would cost the least and higher ones would cost more.) Players may pass to discard the top card. slide the cards down and reveal new ones as the old ones are used up. Once a player is winning, that player may purchase the end the game card if they have enough tokens and the card is revealed. If the end of the game card is ever discarded then the game ends immediately.

I have also been working on the Dancingness of the Dancing Robots. I have cool looking tentacles already, and I should soon be able to get my chassis and arms swapped out.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Here lies Mike the adventurer, killed by a king cobra on level 8 of the dungeon.

I was testing out the balance of Roguelike last night and had a pretty fun game. I took pictures during the process so that I could more easily do a write up.

Starting gear: Potion of speed, Helmet

Level 1: Got a item drop and fought two kobolds (for two more items). I lost one hp to a fox, but other than that remained unscathed. An altar allowed me to curse identify a short sword that I got from a kobold. Also got a wand of sleep (which saved my bacon a few times later on).

Level 2: After getting kicked by a bunch of emus I picked up some potions, a leather armor, a scroll of enchant weapon/armor, and a ring of hunger (though I didn't know that was what it was at the point).

Level 3: Killed a bunch of zombies, Ided my ring of hunger (and uncursed it to make it a ring of slow digestion), got a spear and a ring of attack off of an orc (for big damage). The wolves were really hurting me so I was having a hard time. Eventually I had to flee the level because a giant ant was going to kill me.

Level 4: The level started with a rothe cornering me on the stairs. I had to zap ye olde unidentified wand of sleep at it to survive. After that I was doing well until this water demon came up and started chasing me. I ran down a long corridor and to a dead end. I zapped it with my wand of sleep and left it at the end of the hall.

Level 5: I got chased by a bunch of ocher jellies (two of them) and a centaur. I had to zap them all with my wand of sleep. I got an iron wand (which was a wand of death, though I didn't know it at the time). The wand of sleep blew up later when I was trying to fight off a centaur so in desperation I zapped my wand of death. As a side note, you want to save all your charges on the wand of death for the chromatic dragon, so that was a bad move for my chances for surviving the end game. Either way it died and I got a bunch of armor and a two handed axe. I also found a second ring of slow digestion as well as a +1 dagger of slow digestion! I dumped the rings since the dagger was way cooler. I left when I was being chased by a killer bee.

Level 6: A degenerate level. killed a jabberwock and got a potion.

Level 7: I fought entirely vampires and giants on this level. I found a magic cloak (of attack) and a glass and a silver wand. I burned out the wand of death and nearly burned out my wand of cancellation fighting the vampires. I also had managed to squirrel away 2 potions of healing.

Level 8: I came down the down stair and was face to face with a king cobra. It was faster than me, so I had only the chance to zap a wand at it. Accidentally I zapped it with a wand of speed monster (they were both unidentified). It bit me for 4 damage and put me at 1 hp. A potion of healing brought me back to full, but then it bit me for 4 more and I was at 2 hp. I had another potion, but realized that it was futile. There was no way out. I zapped it with my other wand (a wand of fire), which put it at 3 hp and then it killed me.

The game ended up pretty fun. I added dual wielding, limits on free actions, altar identification/curse removal (for the price of a corpse), and instant poison of death (cause king cobras should be worse than they are).

It was a happy game.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Artwork

I just got some more art from Dave for Dancing Robots, and I am really impressed with it. I will include some highlights at the end of this post. Now that my NaGaDeMon game is 'complete' I will probably go back to working on Dancing Robots more, and spend less time working on Moar Moai, but I still very much enjoy Moar Moai (and will probably continue working on it for a while).

Perhaps I should start working on the layout of the cards. I suppose that I need to test the balance of the game again (after a month of respite I hope to see things with new eyes).

Either way, things on the game design front are going pretty well. Alison and I played two games of Moar Moai last night to try to iron out the idea that Bob instigated after our game at lunch yesterday. The change was having the explorers move a little before the players get control over them. This makes the game a little less deterministic at the end but still allows players who are in the better position to win most of the time.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A map update, and rules trouble

I just played a game with the new rules, and am not entirely sure that I like them. If one player is winning on the coast and he also has more artifacts than all the other players combined he can be guaranteed to win. This is only a problem really in the two player version of the game since having the most artifacts is much easier in that version.

Also, I have produced (for Bob's sake) a new color version of the map and (for everyone else's sake) a new black and white version of the map.

The files have mostly been updated, however the rules are still in a non final state (because I need to determine what to do about artifacts.)

Here are updated files: Rules, Score Track (color & bnw), Map (color & bnw), Player Mat