Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

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Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Ati » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:03 pm UTC

Let's say that somebody gave you a blank check, a team of competent programmers, and a blue gene supercomputer cluster, and asked you to make something like the Fantasy Game from Ender's Game, for evaluating recruits.

How would you design it? Not necessarily specific code, but general principals of design. What language would you use, and how would you structure the basic mechanisms? What algorithms would you use? Is it even possible, using modern technology?


Just a thought,
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Gizzmo0815 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:31 pm UTC

The Fantasy Game...one of my favorite inventions to come out of literature...

First off...is it possible to develop today? I would argue that it might be mimicked, but one crucial piece would be lacking in the puzzle. The Fantasy Game is designed to be entirely player driven. That is to say that nothing happens in the game until the player does something. And currently there isn't anything out there that works like that. Essentially the game is "built" as it's played. Designed and created by the psyche of the player, and crafted with an almost infinite well of material to draw from. You'll remember that the game was designed to mine data from the net based on the input that the player gave (inputs which seemed to be almost without rules...I.E. the player could make his character do anything a human could). And in some cases it mined data from sources that would be inaccessible to the average person (you'll remember the conversation where Graff explains that the game is given almost limitless privileges to go where it needs to go in order to find whatever information that it deems necessary).

So do we have the technology to do that today? No.
Would it ever be allowed to operate in such a fashion? No.

As I said, it might be mimicked by creating a world that operated with a huge decision/consequence tree, but by definition that still limits the game's capabilities.

In order to create such a game you would have to have an AI that was capable of programming on the fly. Developing it's own code to create the game world and the decision/consequence tree as it was played.

Which, I would argue, would be one of, if not THE major step that could be made in game development technology. Developing a self programming system would allow for almost limitless possibilities in a video game.

It's also a $%@!ing terrifying thought. :|

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:12 am UTC

In other words, the fantasy game as presented by Card needs actual AI.

That said, I'd say a team of psychiatrists could probable develop a game that would give you some kind of psychoanalysis, maybe, but it probably wouldn't be worth the cost.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby integral » Wed Apr 09, 2008 5:46 am UTC

Plus, in Shadow of the Giant Graff mentions asking it to learn how to invest stocks. I don't think there's any code that can rewrite itself to do anything.

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby JET73L » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:47 am UTC

I want that game. always have.

It's not feasible now, but theoretically, linkable Direct Neural Interface could allow this game to be made. First, program the computer with a basic scenario tree and malleable NPC designs. Then, Tell it to use the character's subconscious and memories as a read-only drive. It could formulate the consequence of one's action by deriving from one's subconscious mind the worst possible outcome for a choice, and use their memories to adjust the scene to do so. This would allow the player character's conscious mind to attempt finding a solution to the situation, and, the best thing is, they don;t even know they created the entire scenario. It could be presented as infinitely pre-programmed code, with the player character's former choices added to the scenario tree, allowing scenes to reoccur and the player to go to a particular problem and try to work out how to solve that particular scenario (for example, what he did with the giant's drink).

Like I said, not feasible now, but it could work further down a theoretical future timeline.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Gizzmo0815 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:27 pm UTC

I've always wanted to use my brain as a hard drive. It would be so fucking awesome...

No more loading mp3s to an ipod/mp3 player. No more storing movies on a drive, or DVDs. No more losing documents and having to reinstall my OS (given I don't crash my car and have severe trauma, but if that happens I probably won't care, and who knows I may turn into a famous artist who can paint masterpieces with my left foot). Not to mention the fact that I could literally tune out when I was bored during a lecture.

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Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout to fall...

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I simply think "I want to hear Superstitious by Stevie Wonder" and it starts playing in my head. The only problem is that I couldn't really share that with other people. Perhaps they'll find a way to implement wifi brain transmissions (as long as they don't call it squirting, maybe something more like neuronizing or neurosynch).

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Ati » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:24 pm UTC

Hell, I want to keep my brain *on* a harddrive. System backups FTW.

But that's offtopic.


The question is, can it be done with today's technology.


Might I suggest biofeedback? Use an evolutionary algorithm (we do have a lot of computing power to work with here) to subtly alter the scenario a little at a time to find the one most traumatic for the subject. With an expert system places over this, it becomes plausible to find the images with the strongest connotations, find out more about them, and insert more of the details unearthed into the scenarios in other place.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby malarkie » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:28 pm UTC

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Leesam » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:37 pm UTC

What about that LOVE game? That seems to be a good step towards a procedurally generated game i guess you would still need an AI to figure the psychoanalysis stuff.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Gizzmo0815 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:02 pm UTC

Leesam wrote:What about that LOVE game?


Does anybody know what the hell that LOVE game is?? I've been to the site but I can't for the life of me figure out the premise...
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Ati » Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:11 am UTC

Another thing to consider: The computer has a lot of time to experiment. Ender had been playing the game regularly for years before he was confronted with some of the particularly mentally tailored scenarios. The game had plenty of time to carefully experiment with his responses to various circumstances, and to evolve a series of mentally traumatic scenarios. As I recall, nothing in particular happened in the earlier stages of the game (though presumably enough happened to hold his interest). However, toward the end of the book, the game's scenarios became particularly pointed.

From a design perspective, this would imply that the game has an initial experimentation/learning period, followed by a carefully tailored series of scenarios generated from these examples.

To give an example for how this would work, the game could try taking random samples of information from it's knowledge bank on Ender, and try integrating some of it in an extremely elaborate scenario tree - subtly surround him with features that remind him of, say, Valentine, and then gauge how it effected his play style, and/or biofeedback responses. It could even try rotating roles, having an ally that looks much like Valentine, and then an enemy that looks a little like valentine (though not enough that his conscious mind would pick up on it) and figuring out which he's more comfortable with (to define her role in his mind). Then, once it had defined a long series of particularly sore points in his history, the game would begin it's second phase, randomly stringing together scenarios from a special database, and elaborately, working the people and events from his past in, in perversions of their original roles (in Ender's case, this would begin with him beating the giant's drink). This tree would be finite in size, and extremely linear but elaborately tailored to cause maximum trauma to the player. After it had completed it's job, it's done until the player needs the game again, and in the interim, it would probably revert back to the play tree (leading to Ender's insistence that he had 'won the game').

The question is really one of giving the machine sufficiently powerful data mining algorithms, and a sufficiently elaborate database on the person involved to be able to complete it's role.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby JET73L » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Ati wrote:Use an evolutionary algorithm

Actually, now that you mention it, I'm reminded of the CREATURES game from a few years back, the one that used the genetic evolution and taught behavior systems for the creatures. Well, if that could be done that long ago, I havelittle doubt that with a sufficiently powerful modern computer, one could effectivley apply a similar program to the environment and have it "mate" with a combination of the current scenario and the players raction to it, creating a new scenario based on it. So, basically similar to what Ati said, but it would be possibly to build a workable simulacrum of the game using modern technology. (it would be even easier if there was a hub conecting different players' single player games so that a reconstruction team could adapt non-self reprogrammable portions of the games as necessary)
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Torvaun » Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:36 am UTC

Ati wrote:Another thing to consider: The computer has a lot of time to experiment.

It did for Ender, but Bean only gave it one chance, and the computer pulled out Achilles right away.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby lasercannon » Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:58 am UTC

I think we all agree that our current level of technology is insufficient to successfully run such a game (Actually, we probably could program something, but it'd likely be a piece of crap). We simply don't have the knowledge to create a functional AI. Instead, what I propose is a system where you pit people against other people. After all, one of the goals of AI is to emulate the thought process of humans, something which (most) humans have no difficulty with.

So really, all we need are a group of sadistic bastards and Facebook.

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby aion7 » Sun Apr 13, 2008 5:58 pm UTC

It would probably be easy to come up with the giant's drink, but after that it gets complicated. I mean, this is the program that (speaker for the dead spoiler)
Spoiler:
became most of Jane's personality, right?
I've only read Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, but it seems like making separate stuff for each player that aren't pre-programmed seems impossible as of now.


Edit: Amusing typo. "Speaker fro the Dead". Tee hee. Afros are funny.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Akula » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:11 am UTC

I doubt such a thing could really be created...

Spoiler:
Remember, for those who have read the entire series, that the program was basically the foundation for the creation of Jane, who borders on godly omnipotence.


As for the actual Battle Room game currently in development, could be cool, could be a total flop. They'll have to capture the 3-dimensional, zero g aspects. Pull it off right and it's insanely fun. Screw it up... not so much.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby 4=5 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:19 pm UTC

I can't think of any intuitive controls for spin and bounce direction

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby aion7 » Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:08 am UTC

4=5 wrote:I can't think of any intuitive controls for spin and bounce direction

Remember when two analog sticks were new? I think we now need at least four. Possibly six or more.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby integral » Tue Apr 15, 2008 5:18 am UTC

aion7 wrote:
4=5 wrote:I can't think of any intuitive controls for spin and bounce direction

Remember when two analog sticks were new? I think we now need at least four. Possibly six or more.


But count the thumbs :(

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby aion7 » Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:53 pm UTC

integral wrote:
aion7 wrote:
4=5 wrote:I can't think of any intuitive controls for spin and bounce direction

Remember when two analog sticks were new? I think we now need at least four. Possibly six or more.


But count the thumbs :(

Two words: thumb transplants.
You take some donor thumbs, and splice them onto your hands.

Alternatively, you wouldn't need more than one button, so you could just use your other fingers.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Woxor » Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:35 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:That said, I'd say a team of psychiatrists could probable develop a game that would give you some kind of psychoanalysis, maybe, but it probably wouldn't be worth the cost.

Well, the graphics are a little primitive, but I think this has been done ...
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby 4=5 » Sat Apr 19, 2008 1:47 am UTC

I see a pelvis

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby aion7 » Sat Apr 19, 2008 2:49 am UTC

I see two wizards and a fire extinguisher. Now I see a Zero Punctuation style devil. Now I see two UFOs abducting the Earth.

I'm special.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Ati » Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:47 am UTC

I see three chihuahuas.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Torvaun » Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:05 pm UTC

And how about on this one? Potentially NSFW - goes to Perry Bible Fellowship Comic - open at your own risk.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby 4=5 » Sun Apr 20, 2008 5:37 am UTC

I see your mother entertaining guests.

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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Torvaun » Sun Apr 20, 2008 10:54 pm UTC

4=5 wrote:I see your mother entertaining guests.

Well played...
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby JET73L » Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:20 pm UTC

Actually, I went back anbd reread Ender's Game, and there are several things that I wanted to mention. For one thing, it's in a book from 1985, so everything is m,ost likely 2-dimensional, with pixels rather than polygons (I made a note to see page 282 of the paperback 188th edition (Tor, I think), Author's Definitive Edition, but I don;t have the book with me to check it). For another, You could have Reaction commands reminiscent to Kingdom earts 2, sucxh as that the reaction at the Giant's Drink would be to drink, and one could go through the menus to find the Pick Up Selected Object and the Aim and Throws Selected Object actions. Jump, and if you have a handholdf or ledge to stand on, and you can land on whatever is there. Use the dig command instead of a normal attack. So on and so forth. And, when the administrators werte refverencing the previous kid who had been stuck at the giant's drink and eventually been the suicidal first casualty of the battle school, there would have had to have been a source tree, especially since they later mentioned how Fairyland had been programmed, but they doidn;t know anythijng about the end of the world. And, when it showed Peter in the mirror, they specifically said that it was taken from an restricted network, so even without using other computers to increase processing power, it could certainly use information freom other computers to synthesize a more intricate encvironment, and since uit was built to self-reprogram at least the environments in reaction to the player, eventually something seeming to be AI would develop out of it, whether it was actual AI or not. It would simply move the reprogramming up a notch from environmental factors to environments themselves based on hacked information when a player ran out of environments on a given source thread. This all would be perfectly feasible, especially if you weren;t trying to make it anything really complicated based oin today's gamnes, but were rather trying to make something based on a futuristic expectation from twenty-three years ago. (Also, I have not yet been able to read Speaker For the Dead, I think m,y local library has one, so if any details of what "ive said are flatly contradicted later, please just say so).

That's all. We've jut been looking at it from a current perspectuive, and as it was envisioned would likely be possible.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby Akula » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:54 am UTC

JET73L wrote:Actually, I went back anbd reread Ender's Game, and there are several things that I wanted to mention. For one thing, it's in a book from 1985, so everything is m,ost likely 2-dimensional, with pixels rather than polygons (I made a note to see page 282 of the paperback 188th edition (Tor, I think), Author's Definitive Edition, but I don;t have the book with me to check it). For another, You could have Reaction commands reminiscent to Kingdom earts 2, sucxh as that the reaction at the Giant's Drink would be to drink, and one could go through the menus to find the Pick Up Selected Object and the Aim and Throws Selected Object actions. Jump, and if you have a handholdf or ledge to stand on, and you can land on whatever is there. Use the dig command instead of a normal attack. So on and so forth. And, when the administrators werte refverencing the previous kid who had been stuck at the giant's drink and eventually been the suicidal first casualty of the battle school, there would have had to have been a source tree, especially since they later mentioned how Fairyland had been programmed, but they doidn;t know anythijng about the end of the world. And, when it showed Peter in the mirror, they specifically said that it was taken from an restricted network, so even without using other computers to increase processing power, it could certainly use information freom other computers to synthesize a more intricate encvironment, and since uit was built to self-reprogram at least the environments in reaction to the player, eventually something seeming to be AI would develop out of it, whether it was actual AI or not. It would simply move the reprogramming up a notch from environmental factors to environments themselves based on hacked information when a player ran out of environments on a given source thread. This all would be perfectly feasible, especially if you weren;t trying to make it anything really complicated based oin today's gamnes, but were rather trying to make something based on a futuristic expectation from twenty-three years ago. (Also, I have not yet been able to read Speaker For the Dead, I think m,y local library has one, so if any details of what "ive said are flatly contradicted later, please just say so).

That's all. We've jut been looking at it from a current perspectuive, and as it was envisioned would likely be possible.


Well a lot of Card's universe is pretty visionary for that time. I mean, not even a lot of computer techies probably could of envisioned the internet.

Another very interesting thing was his take on military tactics. Ender's command style mimics very much the style which the military began to embrace only a few years later. If any of you are familiar with USAF Col. John Boyd's work, you'll know what I'm talking about. Out maneuvering your opponent - making decisions quicker but not necessarily always better, and over time (seconds in a battle) this adds up to a situation where you are the one more aware of circumstances then your opponent, because you've been the one changing those circumstances. And when you have perfect situational awareness and your opponent has none, then making perfect decisions becomes easier.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby aion7 » Mon Apr 21, 2008 3:42 am UTC

We all know that Card is an incredible visionary, who not only wrote books that we go through at ungodly speeds, and invoke emotions that were previously unknown, but also imagined incredible ideas that would eventually be ingrained into the modern lifestyle that many people couldn't imagine not having them. That's not what we're discussing.

Even if it were two dimensional, there are still major technologies that we're missing. It needs to adapt itself to the players mind, memories, feelings, and connections with others. Perhaps someday that sort of technology will be normal, as the internet is now, but currently the closest we could get is to simulate the game as if it were being played by a specific individual, or just make the Giants Drink actually impossible, and have a finite number of actions possible.
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Re: Fantasy Game (Ender's Game)

Postby JET73L » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:04 am UTC

Yeah, I know, the graphics was just a bit of an aside where I was saying it would be easier to import mid- and foreground images, especially if the computer had access to the player's personal history files, rather than to rebuild the 3-d model every time something was changed. But still. The game was definitely major, but with infinite programmers and money (for space and hardware), it would be possibly to build the game with modern technology in a form that would require minimal... People. Who run system diagnostics every so often (the "problem" with the game was probably that "errors" and additional information built up as Graff and... Anderson? observed the gameplay without checking on the functioning)
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