Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Can We Create Fun Games Automatically?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the sounds-much-easier,-i-like-it dept.

Programming 198

togelius writes "What makes games fun? Some (e.g. Raph Koster) claim that fun is learning — fun games are those which are easy to learn, but hard to master, with a long and smooth learning curve. I think we can create fun game rules automatically through measuring their learnability. In a recent experiment, we do this using evolutionary computation, and create some simple Pacman-like new games completely without human intervention! Perhaps this has a future in game design? The academic paper (PDF) is available as well."

cancel ×

198 comments

So Yankish... (3, Insightful)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463599)

You want your creativity to be automated?
You desserve what you'll get, welcome to your dump...
Hope the rest of the world will leave you there, for once.

Re:So Yankish... (2, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464279)

Why this was modded -1 is beyond me - it's true.

From the Internet bubble to the housing bubble, it's all been "let me have it all without having to work."

Sure, this can create a bunch of derivative games ... so you'll end up with 50 variants of tetris, 40 of scrabble, maybe they'll even "rediscover" wordtris. There's no creativity there.

Re:So Yankish... (2, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464387)

Or E.T. [wikipedia.org]

Re:So Yankish... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464501)

Why is it modded -1? I'll tell you why:

TROLLS TROLLING TROLLS TROLLING TROLLS TROLLING TROLLS

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

Re:So Yankish... (3, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464631)

Ever thought that sometimes a troll is right?

Better yet, did you even read the FA?

The formula for how they grade a game is defective. For example - "A game that can be won by random moves receives a -1".

One of the first games you ever played, tic-tac-toe can be won a decent amount of the time with random moves. Ditto rogue.

The article sucked, as does the idea of creating games by combining features of other games. We already have way too much of that everywhere - hollywood, tv, music, etc.

This is what happens when you don't have any creativity - you come up with yet another way to leach off others creativity.

The world doesn't need "Yet Another PacMan Clone." It also doesn't need someone who thinks that they can whore this out to game publishers as a way to save money producing more shovelware. We already see too much of that crap out there. If there is any trolling going on, it's the writers of the article who are doing it.

Re:So Yankish... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464799)

Ever thought that sometimes a troll is right?

Reality is largely subjective. It doesn't matter if he's "right" or not. If you want to get a point across, you don't do it by being a douche, and you don't do it on an account named "Adolf Hitroll" and with a goatse link in your signature. I'm sure in this same story, somebody will make the same point and get modded +5, and rightly so.

Re:So Yankish... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464583)

It wasn't modded -1. That's the guy's karma in action.

If it had been modded down, I would say that it was justified since it's a flamebait directed at Americans.

Re:So Yankish... (1)

uncledrax (112438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464657)

I for one support game makers if I like their product. Because of this I've supported several non-US based game companies like Introversion (Darwinia, Defcon, Uplink), Egosoft (X-series), Relic (aka THQ), CDV (various, mostly historical, RTSes)..

There's a ton of good non-US game companies.. i guess if you focus strickly on Consoles, like alot of people, then it's EA or {JapaneseGameCompanyHere}.

Re:So Yankish... (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464751)

Or we could use Manatees. [southparkstudios.com]

Can we? (4, Insightful)

Elledan (582730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463625)

Can We Create Fun Games Automatically?

Sure we can, depending on your definition of the words 'Fun', 'Game' and 'Automatically'.

:P

Different "fun" for people (5, Interesting)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463763)

Good point. Different levels of "fun" and satisfaction.

Someone wrote about putting Age of Empires 2 on showroom PCs, and all the female customers went ga-ga over this game. They would then build mini cities and so on ... all without fighting. He said they wouldn't give a second look at AoE 3, or The Sims 2 ... they just wanted to play AoE 2.

Someone wrote about his entire family playing mostly older games [slashdot.org] (including all Mario games), and mostly avoiding newer, copy-protected games.

It amazes me reading these posts.

ATTN: SWITCHEURS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463807)

The only thing more pathetic than a PC user is a PC user trying to be a Mac user. We have a name for you people: switcheurs.

There's a good reason for your vexation at the Mac's user interface: You don't speak its language. Remember that the Mac was designed by artists [atspace.com] , for artists [atspace.com] , be they poets [atspace.com] , musicians [atspace.com] , or avant-garde mathematicians [atspace.com] . A shiny new Mac can introduce your frathouse hovel to a modicum of good taste, but it can't make Mac users out of dweebs [atspace.com] and squares [atspace.com] like you.

So don't force what doesn't come naturally. You'll be much happier if you stick to an OS that suits your personality. And you'll be doing the rest of us a favor, too; you leave Macs to Mac users, and we'll leave beige to you.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463933)

What's a mac, some sort of raincoat? I don't get it.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464163)

oooh Player hater in the house, uneducated one at best.

Seriously, why "leave Macâ(TM)s to Macâ(TM)s", instead why not convert windoze users over. I run Linux, Windows and look forward to working on a Mac in the future. Itâ(TM)s all about learning and growing as a person, and FYI your precious Mac is no longer a MAC but Linux with a Mac GUI.

>>UNIX, the robust foundation of Mac OS X is an operating system thatâ(TM)s popular among large company- and university computers, called mainframes.

>>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS

Hmm do I smell a pedestal someone is standing on, precariously, that needs kicking over? Why yes I do.

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464217)

Linux is a UNIX-based OS, and my favourite distro of it is Macintosh OS X, because it has the full support of a major corporation, unlike other distros, which are all operated by maybe one or two nerds in a basement together. The last thing I want is for a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS

Re:ATTN: SWITCHEURS (0, Offtopic)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464309)

Novell is one or two nerds in a basement together?

Re:Different "fun" for people (3, Interesting)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464353)

This is a good point. In fact, there is research on identifying different player "stereotypes", and having ways of automatically identifying what stereotype a player belongs to could enable us to automatically create games for particular players. Or just adapt a given game so it suits some player better.

Re:Can we? (2, Insightful)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464207)

Yeah, like we can generate academic papers automatically, without human intervention. It is called SCIgen. It is readable and understandable, depend on your definition of "Readable" and "Understandable".

Hey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463689)

This is a fun game. [youtube.com] Really, it is.

Re:Hey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463839)

The whole Rickroll thing got old around the time it was being played on talk shows and during baseball games. It was funny at first, but now that even Nanci Pelosi [youtube.com] is in on it, you may as well link to a nice Ricky Martin or Backstreet Boys video.

Rickrolling for democracy (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464015)

Rickrolling can play a positive role in convincing proponents of internet monitoring to change sides. Anyone can trick anyone else into getting caught in the trawl. Just change the target material from Rick to something less innocent.

Re:Rickrolling for democracy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464047)

But then it's not Rickrolling, it's the same old goatse [goatse.fr] / nimp [nimp.org] we've had since the dawn of the internet.

Re:Rickrolling for democracy (0, Redundant)

cosam (460350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464281)

Just change the target material from Rick to something less innocent.

You mean something like this [youtube.com] ?

Seems credible to me (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463699)

The more I play games, both video games, board games or pen and paper RPGs, the more I see the obvious patterns that exist beneath them.

I stopped playing new boardgames as all these become obvious after a few games, and if you tend to like one, old games already implement them perfectly. You basically have 3 (arguably 4) components in any board game : randomness (go play dices if you like it), tactical planning (go play chess), bluffing (go play poker) and, arguably, negotiation that can be seen as a merge between tactics and planning but that often use a whole different range of social skills.

Video games have also some recurring ingredients. I played less of them so I fail to see them more clearly, but some of them are obvious :
- a sentiment of progression. Whether artificial (through leveling in RPG games) or real (from FPS where you get better at shooting, rocket jumping, etc...)
- hidden content of the game, that the player has to find or guess. It is usually some content voluntarily put there by the game developer (quests, levels, maps) some hidden game logic that one must understand (AIs behavior, puzzles, research trees). In the most interesting games (in my humble opinion) there is also content that is almost emergent. The creator only loosely coded some rules and it is the player's actions that create his own problems to solve. It often happens in strategic or development games, where you discover that a design you chose had some vulnerabilities and that by correcting this, you create a whole bunch of new problems.

That one last part is the most difficult to reproduce automatically, in my opinion. But a lot of successful games don't have any such emergent content, so I guess that automated games generation can prove quite fruitful !

I think the research oversimplifies (4, Insightful)

MickLinux (579158) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463989)

Sure, if you define "fun" as "a smooth learning curve", then you can make fun games automatically.

But not all of the fun is in the learning. Some fun is in tweaking humor. Some fun is in triggering a person's likes and dislikes (Nethack, ponies). Some fun is created by changing the venue (is it a space game? a historical shoot-em-up? A politics game?

Yes, there are underlying patterns to a lot of games. But simply limiting our definition of "fun" to "learning" and "follows the pattern" reminds me of the automatic novel generations in Orwell's 1984.

I don't think that this headline defined the problem well. Yes, some parts of fun can be automatically generated. But no, to make a fun game, it has to be interesting to a human, not just to a turing machine. And for that, you really need other humans to make the games, or you don't have the depth required for real "fun".

Re:I think the research oversimplifies (2, Insightful)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464381)

You are right, we are oversimplifying. But we need to start somewhere, don't we? I think that those things you measure (humour, likes and dislikes, genre change) will be very hard to measure/create automatically, but not necessarily impossible.

Re:I think the research oversimplifies (2, Interesting)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464411)

I don't think that this headline defined the problem well. Yes, some parts of fun can be automatically generated. But no, to make a fun game, it has to be interesting to a human, not just to a turing machine. And for that, you really need other humans to make the games, or you don't have the depth required for real "fun".

Why I disagree on the fact that the automatically generatable parts of fun are not enough to make a human-enjoyable game, I don't really have more counter arguments than there are arguments. That would make for an enjoyable Turing test. My only counter-argument is that I know of quite a few games which do not depend on depth to be fun.

Re:Seems credible to me (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464329)

The more I play games, both video games, board games or pen and paper RPGs, the more I see the obvious patterns that exist beneath them....

...Video games have also some recurring ingredients.

The pattern I've noticed is take a successful game and give it better graphics. The games I play from the 80s on my MAME are the same I play with my kids on the Wii, they just have marginally better graphics and a greatly improved controller.

Re:Seems credible to me (1)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464367)

Interesting post. Actually, what we're trying to capture is the "real" sentiment of progression, where you get better at playing the game. But it seems perfectly doable to capture the "level of emergence" as well, via some entropy measure or somesuch. I'll think more about this...

Re:Seems credible to me (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464679)

Well, I have thought a lot about it as well, this being a field of interest for me...
Emergence is one of the most interesting phenomenon in computer science, in my opinion. It happens when simple rules create a behavior that is an order of magnitude more complex than the rules. In gaming, it happens when a ruleset offers simple problems that have complex solution. It may be possible to detect such occurrences, but you would need an AI able to solve the problems and measure the solution complexity. It is not a trivial matter.

Are you of the team who made the program ?

Re:Seems credible to me (1)

drewvr6 (1400341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464573)

The same points can be made for novels. It's been said that all story lines have already been plotted. It is the manner in which the story is related that makes for enjoyment in the reading. The manner encompassing character developement, use of descriptors etc.

Re:Seems credible to me (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464625)

You basically have 3 [...] components in any board game : randomness [...], tactical planning [...], bluffing

One of your stated examples, chess, is lacking the randomness component, making your statement untrue. Although I suppose by taking the Uncertainty Principle into account it could be argued that there are random moves, they are just infinitely unlikely to occur... Though if I were on the other side, I would demand the piece be moved back, unless it was a valid random move.

Creating stories (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463709)

Wasn't there a short story about a computer that created and told stories?

Maybe by Lem?

Not a happy ending. (Ha! My awful memory won't protect you from spoilers!)

Re:Creating stories (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463967)

That was Asimov's "Someday" i believe

Re:Creating stories (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464013)

That was Asimov's "Someday" i believe

Not the one I was talking about.

The one I'm trying to remember is about a computer that tells stories so good that they have to send it to space away from humanity (for some reason). Then, when they want to shut it down they can't, because every time an astronaut goes near, he starts receiving the stories and they are so good that he can't bear to destroy the author/computer.

Or something like that.

Re:Creating stories (2, Funny)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464035)

They should have sent a slashdotter. They never read the story...

Re:Creating stories (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464239)

Hell, most of us don't even read the comments we're replying to.

I have no idea what you said, I'm just throwing this out there.

Re:Creating stories (2, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464305)

Yes, that was Stanislaw Lem; one of his Trurl and Klaupacius stories from The Cyberiad. "The First Sally (A), or Trurl's Electronic Bard"

More to the point (5, Funny)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463719)

Can we get research grant funding automatically ?

I believe the answer is yes.

1. Choose a 25 year old topic (for example, a Pacmangame), reinvent it using lots of buzzwords such as swarm, hive, collective, competitive, but secretly just program a system using some generic rules, and a gradient descent algorithm that will force those generic rules to conform to the behaviour we wanted in the first place. Then publish a PDF (why oh why by the way is PDF proprietary format ANY better than Microsoft's proprietary format ?), and spam it across tech news sites.

2. Make some wild claim that this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius (or similar).

3. ???

4. Profit !

PDF isn't a proprietary format (4, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463809)

PDF has been opened. Admittedly the standards body which supports it is ISO, but I don't think anyone bribed them to approve it.

Re:PDF isn't a proprietary format (1)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463847)

I find it's hard to believe it's truly open when Microsoft were sued for trying to implement it.

Re:PDF isn't a proprietary format (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464037)

Citation?

(Without knowing anything, my immediate gut feeling would be that they may have gotten sued over intentionally implementing it in a wrong, incompatible fashion, kinda like how they tried with Java in the 90s. THAT would be understandable.)

Re:PDF isn't a proprietary format (1)

Talar (1245824) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464307)

It is open. The reason why Adobe threatened to sue Microsoft seems to be that they would use their monopoly situation to force a certain Adobe product line out of business by offering the "save as PDF" in Office.

Believe it or not, but a lot of companies actually pay money for propriety software used only to convert their documents to PDF format. The lawsuit threat proves it.

The monopoly situation is what allows them to sue. If everyone was using OpenOffice I suppose they could sue Sun(?) for making Adobes business idea irrelevant unless Sun removed the PDF conversion.

So Microsoft actually wanted to do something good and implement an open standard, even if it was probably not out of love for open standards in general. They were stopped by anti-monopoly laws that should be a good idea since monopolies are bad, but which in this case is used to sustain Adobes sales of the same function a few more years just because the customers they would otherwise loose doesn't realize they could get the same thing for free. Their terms for letting Microsoft include the function was that they should charge extra for it and let Adobe in on the revenue. Adobe is just after the money whether it comes from their own products or from getting a piece of the monopoly.

You may consider it good or bad, but the fact is that monopoly regulations doesn't let the market leader compete on even terms featurewise with other products when it comes to functionality that can be seen as a separate business niche.

Now I am sure that Adobes package does a lot more than just convert other documents to PDF and some customers actually need that extra functionality, but Adobe still considers the conversion alone important enough for their business model to go to court over so that alone is the important feature here.

Re:PDF isn't a proprietary format (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464621)

Let me synopsise that a bit: "It's open, if Adobe decide not to sue you."

Re:More to the point (3, Informative)

hab136 (30884) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463853)

PDF is documented and can be read and written by open tools. Also it prints the same way every time.

Re:More to the point (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463881)

So presumably those patents on the splash screen are now null and void ? Including the one for the implementation of the LZW algorithm, that they don't even own ?

I fail to see how anything "open" can also be patented ... I mean what would be the point ?

Re:More to the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464191)

Including the one for the implementation of the LZW algorithm, that they don't even own?

Presumably they licensed it.

I fail to see how anything "open" can also be patented ... I mean what would be the point?

Patent is supposed to be on the method of achieving something, not the end result, so you'd need to arrive at the same end by different means. Given that 90% of accepted patent submissions these days seem to be "[something completely obvious]... on the Internet!", though, good luck with that.

Re:More to the point (4, Informative)

Yosho (135835) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464537)

So presumably those patents on the splash screen are now null and void ? Including the one for the implementation of the LZW algorithm, that they don't even own ?

The patent on the LZW algorithm expired over five years ago. You're free to use it for whatever you want now.

PDF reads on all OS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463901)

I can't think of a graphical OS that won't display a PDF.

Re:PDF reads on all OS! (1)

c-reus (852386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464029)

so, which OS can display a PDF without external tools? You still need Acrobat or something similar to view it in Windows (of course, correct me if I'm wrong). Those tools are not part of the OS.

Re:PDF reads on all OS! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464119)

Umm... Mac OS X? Reads PDF quite well, with no external software installed whatsoever.

Windows? Bah!

Re:More to the point (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463983)

why oh why by the way is PDF proprietary format ANY better than Microsoft's proprietary format ?

Probably because it addresses a need which hasn't been terribly well addressed by anyone else - providing a platform-independent mechanism to ship around information which you can more-or-less guarantee will look the same to everyone who opens the file, where the file will be hard to edit but easy to create, where the file will look much the same on screen as it will printed out (notwithstanding the limitations of the printer or indeed its driver).

Re:More to the point (2, Interesting)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464409)

Alright, I'll try that some day. You know, it's not always that easy to get research funding through trying to be original and relevant, so maybe your method is better.

automawhat? (1, Funny)

Langfat (953252) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463731)

I've been reading too much slashdot lately. I saw the title and immediately my brain said 'automagically.'

ugh.

Definition of "fun".... (1, Insightful)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463735)

"You have to make your own fun. If somebody else makes it for you, then it's entertainment."

The most fun of all games. (1)

Planar (126167) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463751)

Fun is learning â" fun games are those which are easy to learn, but hard to master, with a long and smooth learning curve.

That's true, and it's why Go [playgo.to] is the most fun of all games.

So..what? (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463755)

A random maze generator? That's hardly what I'd call "automatically making a game".

Re:So..what? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463863)

It's also completely unrelated to the paper, which explicitly says that they pick a single maze to use for all the games to ensure that it is about evolving the game rather than the maze.

Re:So..what? (1)

kirbysuperstar (1198939) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463935)

My bad. But how much can you improve on a single maze, gameplay-wise?

Re:So..what? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464005)

Nethack.

Perhaps this has a future in game design? (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463757)

Perhaps this has a future in game design

Uhmm, no ? We need versatility in the games we play, and a complexity that such algorithms can't introduce automatically. Sure, such methods could help in creating some (!) game rules, anything more is beyond speculation.

Re:Perhaps this has a future in game design? (1)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464417)

Yes, in practice we're envisioning this to be used mostly for improving on given game templates, but one has to try to do the near-impossible as well, doesn't one?

Erorr (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463785)

Just because a fun game has X learning curve doesn't mean games with X learning curve are fun. The learning curve maintains attention, necessary for the game to be fun. The same learning curve in another situation may maintain attention to something droll. And something fun may have no learning curve at all. I suggest you're not looking at fun, you're looking at ability to maintain engagement. I also suggest fun does not have a single definition, or else everyone would play the same game.

Re:Erorr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463799)

You should read Koster's book, rather than responding with scorn to a poor one-sentence summary of it.

Re:Erorr (1)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464061)

You should read Koster's book, rather than responding with scorn to a poor one-sentence summary of it.

Dear all-knowing AC: You should respond with an informed rebuke to GP's post, rather than responding with scorn with a poor one-sentence mention of a book only very few have read.

In response to GP, quantifying "fun" (which is required for any automated learning algorithm) indeed isn't easy, but evolving game rules using an expected learning curve isn't a bad idea. Games with a too steep or too shallow learning curve can be less fun than because of the learning curve, but "fun" naturally comprises much more than the learning curve alone.

Re:Erorr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464433)

The trouble is, we've been through about a zillion of these discussions of "what is fun" and "what is a game" on GameDev.net and other places. I have no particular desire to reiterate my arguments or those of others. Koster *does* make a compelling case that fun = learning. The book is reasonably short and torrentable. Read it, or don't make silly comments about what you think he means, especially based on someone else's interpretation.

Reminds me of Ender's Game (1)

asaul (98023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463815)

Sounds like the mind test games from Ender - it probes you and comes back with shit to fuck with your head.

Coming up soon... (1)

Wizard052 (1003511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463819)

...the FUNGAME MANIFESTO v1.1!! All the Science behind every fun game there ever was, distilled in a nice, just mix-with-water, logic! 101 best practices for every game developer idiot and game developer dummy!...fun games guaran-teeed!!! ...then all the games get fun. Then it all gets boring. ...then one breaks out from the mold. And that's different. And it's fun. Fun is now redefined! Wowee!... ...And so the cycle continues..

Already been done. (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463821)

It has already been done unless you have some proof that Star Wars Galaxies actually had some thought behind it.

The nice thing about this article is that Raph is out spending his time on worthless stuff instead of sending his time creating a high profile game. He is really good at writing papers on how stuff should work but he cannot implement his own ideas.

Work on Hollywood movies? (3, Interesting)

olddotter (638430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463887)

Seeing movies produced by following the "formula", do you want automated games? Do you even want a "formula" for "fun" game design?

Maybe its possible, but this starts to sound like automated art.

Re:Work on Hollywood movies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464613)

Oh, you mean that terrible stuff where the artist just specifies *what* can be seen, and the computer does the actual painting?

Yeah, automation has no place in art.

It all started going wrong when oil paints became popular and people no longer had to mix their own.

Re:Work on Hollywood movies? (1)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464795)

Seeing movies produced by following the "formula", do you want automated games?

Only if a sequel is involved.

Not a chance. (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463899)

If programming and design could be done automatically, we wouldn't still have programmers. We can't even manage to automate creating simple apps. How could we possibly automate creating entire new games, which means new art, new rules, new everything.

On top of that, everyone finds something different in a game to be 'fun'. Some love challenge, some love adventure, some love collecting things... Attempts to make games that have everything anyone could love are usually pathetic flops.

The future is meta-games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26463917)

Humans will always, or least in my lifetime, have a better grasp of fun. Meta-games like Little Big Planet for the PS3 give the even "newbies" the ability to build their own games with their own rules.

I'll never forget (4, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463951)

Walking into a computer lab at school, spying a mystified user staring at a screen. Investigating further, it turned out he was confused by the fact that

Make Game
Racing Game
2 tracks

In a programming IDE did not yield anything.

So if he starts with PacMan ... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463977)

... will he eventually reach nethack? After all, it's also basically things moving around (you, your pet, monsters, etc.), and actions on getting together (fighting with monsters, picking up things, ...). Ok, it has a third dimension (stair up/down) and a few other degrees of freedom (e.g. additional actions like casting spells or putting on/removing rings) and a few more parameters than just one score, but I'm sure you can generalize the description enough to be able to describe nethack.

But somehow I doubt that he'll create a new nethack this way.

Re:So if he starts with PacMan ... (1)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464425)

Nethack is on the list. Seriously, I think it's one of the things that's actually plausible. At least until I'm disproven!

Re:So if he starts with PacMan ... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464785)

It's not on the list, because part of what is nethack also comes from subtle and not-so-subtle references to hacker culture (e.g. "a scroll named HACKEM MUCHE"). Also, will an automatic program ever get the idea to include features like recieving your (real) mail from inside the game (as a "scroll of mail")? I strongly doubt so. Even the idea that you can find your own grave from an earlier unsuccessful playing in a later game session is something very unlikely to be invented by a program.

The point is, much of the fun is in such details which cannot be created by a simple optimization process, but have to be invented through creativity and cultural knowledge.

Moreover, even if you concentrate just on the game mechanics, a computer couldn't create anything like nethack without providing extensive information. That's because the various numbers mean something. Simply making arbitrary rules simply will not give a consistent experience. A shop keeper will never give you money if you buy something. You cannot find a negative amount of money. A monster hitting you will never increase your hit points. Such rules are obvious when you know the meaning of the points, but how would a computer figure this out? The result of making those rules arbitrary would just result in rules which seem as arbitrary as they are, and therefore much reduced fun.

It has been known (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 5 years ago | (#26463999)

If creation of generated research papers [mit.edu] papers can be considered fun, then by all means!

Off the top of my head (2, Insightful)

slugtastic (1437569) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464043)

fun games are those which are easy to learn, but hard to master, with a long and smooth learning curve.

Best example for this is Chess. Easy to learn but takes many years to master.

Re:Off the top of my head (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464151)

Yes, that's the best example of a game with a long ans smooth curve that most people doesn't find fun to play. I like chess, but most of my friends think it's boring.

Re:Off the top of my head (1)

PeeShootr (949875) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464461)

Clearly you don't play Chess, as chess is not a good example of a game with a smooth learning curve. Chess is easy to learn and difficult to master, I'll give you that, but after learning the basic rules, there is some effort, and a steepening of the learning curve to learn basic tactics (pin,fork, etc.). Then, there is another steep jump in the curve to learn the strategy of the opening, middle, and endgames. Even after learning the basics, most (more than casual) players find a barrier which they can't break through after a year or so of studying. That's when the curve gets very steep and it becomes difficult to rise to the level of master. I just thought that you needed an explanation of what a learning curve was.

Re:Off the top of my head (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464801)

You need the right sort of mind to be good at chess, it is not something anyone can master.

I myself know how to play chess but I will never master it because I do not have the skills to predict future moves and likely outcomes - not that poker interests me at all but in just the same way, I could never be a good poker player.

However, I do consider myself of above average intelligence and I'm very good at looking at a fixed, real-time situation and working out a solution from there. That's why I'm very good at Sudoku, crosswords and other puzzles that give you something to solve right in front of you.

Likewise, I've always done very well in technical support roles or programming because given a specific problem and the point to which I need to get to (i.e. full resolution of a problem or a program that needs to do such-and-such), I'm very good at working out how to get from the start to the end point.

When it comes to chess, which I do quite enjoy playing occasionally, I will always go for attrition and try and swap pieces to remove as many as possible as quickly as possible from the board. That means that there are fewer combinations of possible outcomes with fewer pieces on the board.

I should also say that in college, I always excelled in pure mathematics and calculus but totally flunked out in statistics which I have never managed to get a grasp of. I always took the view that working out the probability for a specific outcome was meaningless because it was just an excuse for being unable to take all the external factors into account that cause a specific outcome.

So, for example, if someone flips a coin, my view was that you can pretty much work out whether it will come up heads or tails if you know the weight of the coin, the force at which it's flipped, the air pressure, falling distance, etc. and that therefore saying "there's a 50% chance of tails" was completely pointless to me.

Yes, an average chess player would wipe the floor with me but I'd give him a good "drubbing" at a game of Scrabble afterwards!

Re:Off the top of my head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464603)

Not really the best example. Someone has to explain how the pieces move. Many people pick up checkers instead because there are less pieces to learn.

A modern video game version would introduce the pieces one at a time with a challenge to defeat with only those pieces.

Re:Off the top of my head (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464715)

I think Go is an even better example, the rules are extremely simple but the emergent gameplay is too complex to be brute forced(unlike chess).

Only works for abstract concepts (1)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464115)

Abstract concepts generally have the best game rules because they offer the widest set of possible options; game designers are not restricted by the constraints of 'the familiar', but players then face the initial bump in the learning curve in order to absorb the initial concept. The problem here is that algorithms cannot draw upon the vast life experience and everyday cultural references that ordinary people possess. Further, abstract games, no matter how well-designed, are difficult to market and sell (take The Sentinel as an example); they need someone else (reviewer) to say, "This is good, go buy it".

Who is the creator here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464147)

create some simple Pacman-like new games completely without human intervention!

Man creates Pacman. Computer clones pacman. Has a new game really been created?

Simplicity of form (3, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464299)

One factor which I've noticed tends to create addictive puzzlers is quite simplicity of form. The resulting purity of function lends itself perfectly to entrancing, mesmerizing marathon sessions of blocks dropping, diamond spinning or whatnot, always seeking "one more combo!" as the points rack up on top of the screen. Tetris, Lumines, Bejeweled, the list goes on. Keep the concept simple, the list of controls short and the rules easy to learn. If I looked up the amount of time I spent trying to line up that four-block line in a perfect spot for maximum points, I'm pretty sure the number would be terrifyingly high.

What? (4, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464303)

Automatically? Most game dev studios can't even make fun games manually!

Raph Koster? eech (1)

cpu_fusion (705735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464315)

Hopefully Raph had fun leaning from all the failings of Star Wars Galaxies. Me, not so much fun playing those failings.

Dead Poet's Society (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464327)

This reminds me of the first 10 minutes of the movie Dead Poet's Society where Robin Williams has them rip out the introduction to their poetry book.

Entertainment's metrics (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464363)

Not very new, since Sudoku became popular when Wayne Gould wrote a program to generate puzzles, graded by difficulty.

I guess most of the paper puzzles can be generated this way (like crosswords...).

The difficulty largely lies into the entertainment's metrics.
The authors seem to have used humans to test their games, so I doubt that creating a game from scratch could be done entirely automatically.

Re:Entertainment's metrics (1)

jtogel (840879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464477)

No, we didn't use humans to test the games. We used evolutionary algorithms.

In fact, one of our main inventions is the idea of using a learning algorithm to grade the game, based on the idea that learning equals or creates fun. There are many other "static" functions for measuring fun proposed already, measuring things such as balance or challenge, but we are the first to use learnability as a predictor of fun.

What did they actually do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26464519)

These researchers start off asking the question, can fun games be created automatically? They end saying that they have proved the idea, but it remains to verify that the more fit games are actually more fun. Uh, wasn't that what the research was supposed to show?

Evolutionary programming can be deceptive. Humans define the rules, humans tweak them until what looks like the desired output is produced. One can easily be deceived into thinking that the product is magically as good as it can be, or has magically used an algorithm that humans would have thought of. If we don't understand the nuances of the rules or the fitness function, the product can be quite different to what one would expect.

The real challenge is coming up with rules and "training" detailed enough to iron out all the wrinkles. This research tackled none of that.

Just ask EA (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464563)

They appear to have some sort of formula for spitting out games year after year with little variation. It seems to be working well for them. Although truth be told most gamers hate it.

koster = time sink / grind (1)

jt418-93 (450715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464601)

having played swg, one of koster's grand designs, i would never touch another game he was affiliated with. his concept of fun is grindage / time sink / drag it out as long as possible. the only person i dislike more than him are the ea ppl that killed mco.
koster is a broken tool

game programming would be like photography (4, Interesting)

tacitdynamite (1013117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26464629)

In photography, you set up the boundary conditions, take a TON of pictures, then select the best ones from the ones you have. The best photographers have the best eye for selecting the remarkable ones out of the pack. This would shift game programming from an art like classical sculpture - where you have to plan far, far ahead, and don't get second chances - to an art like photography where it is more about creative curation than creative engineering. Evoluationary development of games wouldn't eliminate the creativity of the process or the product, it would change the creativity of the process and the product.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...