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TIGSource ForumsCommunityCompetitionsVersus (Moderator: Melly)Pressers of Mental Arithmetic [Finished]
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ham and brie
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« on: February 26, 2011, 08:11:25 AM »

Without meaning to, I made a confusing one button game of rapid fire mental arithmetic.

I wanted it to be an abstract one button game with a minimalist mechanic that would result in play where you'd try to anticipate your opponents' action, read ahead and gain an advantage. In trying to make that, I rather walked into filling the screen with a load of numbers. Figures.

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Windows exe. Source included too. It's C++ using SFML 2 which should make it portable to Linux and OS X, but I've not tried yet.

No audio currently. Other than that, it might be finished. Edit: Couldn't make anything that didn't sound annoying to me, so calling it done without sound.

How it plays
Each player picks a button on the keyboard, mouse or a gamepad (it's local only). Not everything works: players need to avoid key conflicts and buttons that do stuff, but I wanted it to be flexible. You simply join before the game begins by holding your chosen button. I technically allow up to 8 players join, though actually I think that would just be unplayable chaos in practice... Once the players confirm they're happy with their button by all holding for a 3 second countdown, the game will be ready to begin once everyone lets go.

The players, by when they press and release their buttons, control the route taken through a grid. One circular node is the current one. When a player presses a button, play moves diagonally upward to another node, and that player scores the points marked on the diagonal link. Likewise, when a player releases their button, play moves diagonally downward.

In this shot, what's shown is that after the game started, the purple player was the first to press and then green player followed almost immediately after.



The purple player scored +7 points from the first diagonal and green scored +2 from the second. Both players would have been trying for the +7, but purple edged out green.

The reason purple lost 0.02 points is because of play passing briefly through the circle marked -1/s...



In this shot, the green player was first to press. Although the upward diagonal was -1 penalty, play is on a +5/s node. For every second green holds his button, he scores 5 points. The x0.9s on the horizontal link next to the circle means there are 0.9 seconds left until play moves to the circle to the right (marked -2/s).

Green must have gained +10.86 points from the +5/s circle, so he must have been on the circle for almost 2.2 seconds, so the timer's original value must have been 3.0s (the time of 0.9s is rounded up from just over 0.8s; I round up to the nearest tenth so that 0.0s means the timer really has reached zero).

What either blue or orange could have done to stop green scoring all those points would be to quickly press and release. Pressing would be a -3 loss but releasing would then be +6, making +3 overall and green would be left in a worse position.

The nodes on the bottom and top levels don't affect scores, because it wouldn't change the relative scores anyway: at the bottom no one is holding and at the top everyone is.



Sometimes two players try to do the same thing. In the above image, pink was presumably trying to score +5 and +2 by releasing and then quicky pressing again. But red had quicker reactions and let go first, leading pink to get a -6 loss.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 03:00:49 PM by ham and brie » Logged
mcc
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 11:38:52 AM »

A note: I tried this on Windows Vista and it ran, but no window appeared; an item appeared in the taskbar with a generic Windows file icon and a name like "Pressers of Mental Arithmetic", but clicking it did nothing. I had to right click and hit "maximize" to get the window to come up.

I really wanted to like this-- I thought the basic concept was fascinating and the game looked gorgeous-- but I simply could not figure out how to play! I couldn't work out the rules for, when I press a button, which tile do we move to and by which path (up or down?). It was also unclear to me exactly what the nature of the "choice" I was making in this game was-- it seems like, what I must do at any one moment is figure out whether the current "thing that happens if I press the button" is desirable, if it is press the button, if it isn't leave it to the other player-- but if both players figure out it's undesirable, what then? I guess you wait until a new "target tile" gets selected (although I couldn't figure out when or how that happens)? I fear that even if I understood the rules for movement, it would take me so long just to take in the nearby bubbles that I would already have missed the chance for that particular tile. Maybe the game should move slower, or steps should be smaller, or the game should or give you a couple seconds to study the board before you start?

Anyway it's interesting and I'd be curious to see it developed further. (I incidentally really feel like, since there is so much "information" in this game, trying to convey or hint at some of that information using sound would actually help the player a lot!)
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ham and brie
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2011, 06:59:06 AM »

Thank you very much for trying it and giving your thoughts. It's really appreciated.

A note: I tried this on Windows Vista and it ran, but no window appeared; an item appeared in the taskbar with a generic Windows file icon and a name like "Pressers of Mental Arithmetic", but clicking it did nothing. I had to right click and hit "maximize" to get the window to come up.
Oh, that's a concern... The window is created by SFML 2, which I'm also using for what I'm currently working on. I will do what I can to look into this.

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I really wanted to like this-- I thought the basic concept was fascinating and the game looked gorgeous--
Thanks.

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but I simply could not figure out how to play! I couldn't work out the rules for, when I press a button, which tile do we move to and by which path (up or down?).
Sorry, it's a shame I didn't at least make this much clear.

Up when someone starts holding their button.
Down when someone stops holding their button.

So height within the grid corresponds to the number of people holding their button (bottom = no one, top = everyone).

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It was also unclear to me exactly what the nature of the "choice" I was making in this game was-- it seems like, what I must do at any one moment is figure out whether the current "thing that happens if I press the button" is desirable, if it is press the button, if it isn't leave it to the other player--
That is pretty much it.

There's always only one action each player can take: if you're not holding your button, you can start holding it; if you are holding it, then you can stop holding it.

So the choice is always whether to act or wait as you are. You have to work out which is best, trying to take into account what your opponent(s) might do.

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but if both players figure out it's undesirable, what then? I guess you wait until a new "target tile" gets selected
That's right. Sometimes the best thing is to just wait.

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(although I couldn't figure out when or how that happens)?
There should be a timer to the right of the current node, actively ticking down in tenths of a second. If that runs out, play moves the right.

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I fear that even if I understood the rules for movement, it would take me so long just to take in the nearby bubbles that I would already have missed the chance for that particular tile. Maybe the game should move slower, or steps should be smaller, or the game should or give you a couple seconds to study the board before you start?
The game does let you study the start of the grid, by not starting so long as someone keeps hold of their button.

But, yeah, having a time pressure while taking in all those numbers and trying to work out what the immediate consequences of your action would be is hard enough. Then there's at least one other person to also factor in and there's only one shared game position, so everyone affects everyone else...

It's too much. I played it with a few people and I don't think anyone got through a game without getting confused and giving up on trying to think things through.

Perhaps the timers should be made longer, but the main time pressure comes from the other player(s). Things move on whenever someone decides to act, at which point you have to start thinking from the new position. I think that makes people feel like they should try to act first, but the game is balanced so that this mostly loses points...

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Anyway it's interesting and I'd be curious to see it developed further.
Thank you again. I thought it was kind of interesting too and worth giving the idea a go, but I doubt whether all the flaws could be worked out to make it fun, so I've moved on.

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(I incidentally really feel like, since there is so much "information" in this game, trying to convey or hint at some of that information using sound would actually help the player a lot!)
Yeah, potentially. Unfortunately it's something I'm not very good at. I ought to work on audio more, to get a better feel for ways of making samples or at least finding them.
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