Nobody Cares: Gaming Edition

Dakota Tebaldi

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VVO Supporter 🍦🎈👾❤
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In 1982, a drunk video game programmer turned out an algorithm for creating working mazes that modern programmers can't seem to reverse-engineer:

Although the blocky, two dimensional mazes from Entombed might look simple by the standards of today’s computer graphics, in 1982 you couldn’t just design a set of mazes, store them in the game and later display them on-screen – there wasn’t enough memory on the game cartridges for something like that. In many cases, mazes were generated “procedurally” – in other words, the game created them randomly on the fly, so players never actually traversed the same maze twice.

But how do you do get a computer program to avoid churning out a useless maze with too many walls, or an otherwise impenetrable floorplan?

Aycock understood the trickiness of the problem. He thought there was a good chance he’d find some clever process at work in the depths of Entombed.

“It was a very deep rabbit hole,” he recalls. “As I dug into this maze algorithm, it became clear that this was something that seemed to be fairly unique to this maze game.”

It turned out that the maze is generated in a sequence. The game needs to decide, as it draws each new square of the maze, whether it should draw a wall or a space for the game characters to move around in. Each square should therefore be “wall” or “no wall” – “1” or “0” in computer bits. The game’s algorithm decides this automatically by analysing a section of the maze. It uses a five-square tile that looks a little like a Tetris piece. This tile determines the nature of the next square in each row.

How? That’s the fascinating part. The fundamental logic that determines the next square is locked in a table of possible values written into the game’s code. Depending on the values of the five-square tile, the table tells the game to deposit either wall, no wall or a random choice between the two.

It seems straightforward, but the thing is, no-one can work out how the table was made.

Aycock and Copplestone have tried retro-engineering the table. They looked for patterns in the values to try and reveal how it was designed, but this was to no avail. Whatever the programmer did, it was a stroke of mild genius. Every time the game is played, a reliably navigable maze is pumped out. Were the table’s values random or even slightly different, the maze would likely fail to be drawn with a playable path through it. It just seems impossible to explain.
 

Noodles

Queen of Ramen
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I didn't play it as much as I had hoped, because it's buggy and there are a lot of odd cumbersome design choices, but Minecraft Earth is closing in June.

It was sort of like Pokemon Go meets Minecraft.

The AR part was pretty cool. Gathering "tapables" was tedeous. By miggest grips was the seasonal challenges, which were not hard, but you have to actually select which one is active, which was incredibly annoying. It would be like if Pokemon Go had you select which field research you were working on, and ONLY that one would count.

Also I imagine the market penetration was abysmal because if the AR requirements. I couldn't play it until a few months ago when I got a phone that was compatible.

On another note, I am surprised we don't have a Minecraft thread around here. MC is kind of Virtualworldey and all.
 

Caete

Scientist Lady of Science
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Picked up Wasteland 3 which somehow I overlooked its release in October. Not a fan of the premade characters selection but they are nice, just nothing fleshed out. The father/daughter team, the lovers, etc, nice concepts but that's as far as it goes. So my team of two is MacReady (who doesn't want him on their team?) because this takes place in snow and myself, Caete. I like it. Just enough changes to make it seem fresh.

However, there's a couple of plot points that are right out of Wasteland 2. After you decide to leave the first city aka where the new ranger base is, you have to make a choice between the convoy or the farmstead. The timing and results are nearly identical to the water supply or food supply choice of W2. Then we have the bottleneck of high radiation areas that you can't survive through until you do some other quests to upgrade your resistance. A bit easier this time as it is just upgrading your vehicle's chasis instead of tracking down lots of kitty litter to pour into your rad suits...

Lots of factions, insane clowns, mutants, the monster army, a brothel in a mall with male strippers who are not quited identical but close to th vocals they use. I mean who doesn't want to stop questing for a short time while listening to gilbert gottfried, don knotts and paul ruebens play to the crowd?