Yacht AI

One of the lessons that we learned from PAX is that it is very nice to be able to switch between a human and AI player while playing the game. The only game that had this feature at PAX was Parcheesi. It made people more likely to start a game since they knew that they could be replaced by a computer player if they got bored or had to leave.

So one of our goals is to update the existing games so that you can switch back and forth between a human and computer player during the game instead of just at startup. Most of the games will be fairly easy to adapt to this system. We generally write the computer players in C++ while the rest of the game logic is in torquescript. This separation has meant that we generally pass everything the AI needs to make a decision each time the AI has to play.

Yacht didn’t have an AI at all, so to adapt it to the new system required me to write a computer player for it.

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Solitaire Dice AI

I spent the past week building an AI for Solitaire Dice. William created this game for the touch table from the Sid Sackson book “A gamut of games”. The game plays by rolling five dice each round. You pick one die to be the reject and then make two scoring pair from the remaining four dice. Each round you reject a number (1-6) and then score two pairs (2-12). Once you have rejected three different numbers, you always have to reject one of those three if possible. If the five dice don’t contain any of your rejects, you don’t pick a reject and make two scoring pairs from the five dice. Once you have rejected a number 8 times the game is over. Your score is based on how many times you have taken each scoring pair during the game. You lose 200 points if you have scored a number 1-4 times. 0 or 5 times is zero points. You get points for each score >5 and <10. So, the first time you pick a number it cost you 200 points, once you have taken the number five times you are back to zero. Each additional score gives you points based on the number 2 or 12=100, 3 or 11=70, 4 or 10=60, 5 or 9=50, 6 or 8=40, and 7=30. It is a fun game that you get better at as you play.

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Land Bridges complete

William and I have completed the Land Bridges program. After playing a similar game, we were inspired to make the game with an AI. We imagined that the AI would be fairly easy to write and could play so much better than humans.

William wrote the interface to the game and created all the art. I wrote a back-end model of the game and the AI. The front-end of the game is written in Torque, a C++ game engine.

The AI was much harder than I expected it to be. The number of possible moves for the AI to consider was much larger than I initially thought, and it became impossible for the computer to “see” more than a couple moves into the future without trimming down the move tree.