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[Coming Soon]Madball!: A RAP Concept Demonstration

 
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: [Coming Soon]Madball!: A RAP Concept Demonstration Reply with quote

My first RAP demonstration game is almost ready to go. I Know that I said it would be done Sunday, but a little extra development time has turned it into something that might actually be playable.

I've been able to implement some of the suggestions of the previous thread, but in so little a time frame it will inevitably be subject to some of the pitfalls that hurt "The Battle of Walcot Keep"(too many characters doing too many things, and it's sometimes hard to appreciate all that's going on). I've been able to compress some of the text output and hope to compress more, but it's a work in progress. The game itself is crude, but I hope that it helps demonstrate what can be done with a Reactive Agent Planner in a very short period of time. I'll post it here when it's done!

Also, I know that I don't have room to complain, but I'm not sure I can handle this color scheme. It's giving me a headache.

-lc
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking forward to it!

Yeah, I hate this color scheme, too, but what can ya do? ICJ is taking a hiatus from this place. In the meantime, we could move Hugo discussion to the intfiction.org forums, possibly, or we could try out Flack's telnet BBS (which I've been meaning to do) and post messages all old school. Alternatively, we could even post at pinback's new forum, http://moltobenny.com/bbs/ , as it has a better color scheme (even if he is part of the reason that we have this color scheme here).

Or possibly we could make a Google Group or something.
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tomorrow should be the day. I promise this will not become an infamous piece of vaporware. It's just that life thing keeps getting in the way.

I think the idea of temporarily moving the Hugo discussion elsewhere has merit; reading JC right now literally makes my eyes hurt.

The intfiction.org forums isn't a bad idea, since it would raise the profile of Hugo a bit and likely involve more people in the discussion. However, I don't like the fact that Hugo is lumped in with Adrift Alan, Suds, choice script, AGT, AAS or any other non-Inform/Tads development system. That's probably not a fair criticism; Hugo has few users and probably doesn't need its own base there. Still, it wouldn't be my first choice.

Flacks BBS, which I assume is the Gas Chamber, is a very nice looking forum and I notice that ICJ is posting there, so it would be nice for him to be able to chime into the Hugo discussion, if he wanted to. The main drawback to Flack's forum is that He and Tdarcos don't appear to be on speaking terms. I don't think the world is so full of Hugonauts that we can afford to leave any out. Still, it's such an attractive forum that I wouldn't want to rule it out completely.

I admit making our own Hugo forum is a tantalizing idea. However, I really don't like the Google Groups format; mostly because it reminds me a little of r*if and its painful death at the hands of trolls. There are plenty of other free forums out there, but all that I've seen include some form of advertising.

Pinback's forum might be the way to go. It's nice looking and I'm sure will only get better as it grows. I really don't see any drawbacks, as long as he's willing to host the Hugo discussion.

-lc
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
...or we could try out Flack's telnet BBS (which I've been meaning to do) and post messages all old school.


Huh, somehow I didn't read this part carefully. It must not be the Gas Chamber after all. I'm not sure where to find this.

-lc
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

loafingcoyote wrote:
Huh, somehow I didn't read this part carefully. It must not be the Gas Chamber after all. I'm not sure where to find this.


You telnet to bbs.robohara.com on port 23, but you really need to use a bbs-specialized program like SyncTerm to get the full effect. Anyhow, I checked it out tonight, and I don't think it's quite there to actually use yet.

So, yeah, pinback's BBS. I suggest that we just use the Outpost base, as I don't know how you can get more "out there" and "edgy" than Hugo.
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Wed Sep 19, 2012 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
So, yeah, pinback's BBS. I suggest that we just use the Outpost base...


Sounds good. I'm in.

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
...as I don't know how you can get more "out there" and "edgy" than Hugo.


That's funny. Not content with having an extremely obscure hobby, we represent a fringe element within that obscure hobby!

-lc
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Flack



Joined: 18 Nov 2008
Posts: 4953
Location: Oklahoma

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry for the confusion, but yeah, I actually have two things online called "The Gas Chamber" -- one's an Internet forum (TheGasChamber.robohara.com) and the other is a telnet BBS (bbs.robohara.com). My old BBS from the 90s was also called The Gas Chamber, so when I set my forum up I named it that too. I had no idea that I would ever be putting a real BBS back online.

Based on what little I know, it looks pretty easy to back up and restore an entire phpBB database, but difficult to export/import selected posts and/or message areas. If there's an easy way to do it, I'm not sure how (especially with a completely different user base).

Like I said in the ACK area, I think Pinback's comments of shutting down the Hugo area were said jokingly. If, however, something does happen to JC, you guys are welcome to set up shop over at my forum. I can set you up an area like this one that's publicly accessibly with guest posters (and of course, TDarcos would be allowed over there). I would just make Roody a moderator and you guys could run it however you see fit.

With all the Hugo games Robb has written I would hate to see this base move anywhere else, but I would hate to see it go away even worse.
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ICJ
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry about the color scheme and confusion. I will never go to the Banzai Bug colors again.

If Pinback says he is going to delete something, he is kidding. There has never been a thread or base deleted on this site and there never will be. I need some time away but I hope that you all feel confident that this base and the ACK base will always be here for you. I would hate to see the Hugo discussion fragment, but I do need some time away from BBSs personally.
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ICJ wrote:
There has never been a thread or base deleted on this site and there never will be. I need some time away but I hope that you all feel confident that this base and the ACK base will always be here for you.


This is a huge relief. I didn't mean to sound overly negative in my previous posts, but I thought your abrupt absence and the new color scheme were the first steps in scuttling the JC forum. Naturally, that's well within your rights; I'm just glad that's not what's happening. I haven't been around here long, but I've grown fond of the good ol' JC forum, even though I experience it more as a lurking reader than an active poster.

ICJ wrote:
I would hate to see the Hugo discussion fragment, but I do need some time away from BBSs personally.


I understand this. The pressure to be constantly connected to everyone, all the time, bothers me. That's why I've given up on Facebook and other forms of instant social media, for now. The interactions in such formats are mostly so banal as to be meaningless(and not very funny).

Anyway, I rescind my previous vote for abandoning the JC Hugo base. I want to stay here.

Enjoy your sabbatical!
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flack wrote:
My old BBS from the 90s was also called The Gas Chamber, so when I set my forum up I named it that too. I had no idea that I would ever be putting a real BBS back online.


Yeah, I haven't been to an actual BBS since the late 90's. But, you know, it's some of the most fun I've ever had online!


Flack wrote:
If, however, something does happen to JC, you guys are welcome to set up shop over at my forum. I can set you up an area like this one that's publicly accessibly with guest posters (and of course, TDarcos would be allowed over there). I would just make Roody a moderator and you guys could run it however you see fit.


Thank you for the offer. As you can probably tell, I think your forum looks great. I may have to start visiting it regularly.
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Gerynar



Joined: 11 May 2010
Posts: 12
Location: Indiana

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can also set up a Hugo forum over at my site (hugo.gerynarsabode.org) if anyone is interested.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love the history of this place. The fact that this base goes back so many years makes it one of the best Hugo knowledge repositories on the net. Several times, I've dug through old posts to find old questions to use as personal coding challenges, and Mike Snyder's posts were instrumental in teaching me about glk behaviors and oddities/typos in the existing library.

I would have complained had I thought this forum was actually shutting down, but I didn't know how long we'd have the Bonzai Bug color scheme and was willing to support a temporary residence in the meantime.

Now that the forum theme is back to normal, I'm not sure how necessary it'd be to have multiple forums. That said, I've run into issues on this one where pasting code has lost code if I use <or>, so I'm not against having a "backup" forum to use in such cases and times of catastrophe.
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, I just played with it for a little bit, and for future reference, I just need to use the 'disable HTML' option when I am sharing code.
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As promised, here is Super Madball!

This isn't likely to make it to the archive anytime soon, but it is an effective demonstration game and I hope it's at least a little entertaining. Like I said before, this game is sometimes going to be hurt by too many characters doing too many things. I was able to implement some message compression, mostly when characters score points and when they recover from losing a fight. But that's only a small part of what happens in this game.

I would prefer to package this with the source, but it's too rough and the core RAP code needs to be revised. I will however, share a little bit about how it works:

The extension is broken into two parts. The core simply cues up the actions that have been defined in their proper order. If an action can't be taken then it is skipped and other actions are tried until one is executed successfully. The resulting code is small and efficient.

The second part is made up mostly by what I've termed "action tokens" or just "tokens", for short. The extension will come with a standard library of these tokens. They will work for very simple character behavior(i.e. picking up and dropping specific items, opening and closing containers, locking and unlocking objects, ect...)

This is fine for very simple behavior. But to have characters react to more specific situations in your game, it will be necessary to modify these existing tokens or write your own. Writing an action token is as simple as making a routine that defines a discrete action that you want a character to take. A silly example:

Code:

!   KickObject
!
!   Makes a character kick an object, giving it the "kicked" attribute.
!
!   requires:
!      obj1 [object to be kicked]

routine KickObject
{

if test_plan.obj1 is kicked
{
   if test_plan.priority = 20: test_goal is special
                       ! This simply tells the core
             ! of the RAP that if the can is
             ! already kicked and all lower
             ! priority items behind it should
             ! be skipped as they are not needed.

   plan_flag = false   ! plan_flag set to false when an action isn't taken.
   return false      ! Always return false when an action isn't taken
}

if Contains(parent(char_obj), test_plan.obj1)
{        ! Is the defined object(in this case a can)
          ! in the same place as the character?

   test_plan.obj1 is kicked

   if Contains(location, char_obj)
   {
      CThe(cha_obj)
      " kick";
      MatchSubject(char_obj)
      " ";
      The(test_plan.obj1)
      "."
      return true      ! Always return true when an action is taken.
   }

   plan_flag = false   ! The can wasn't kicked, but it wasn't accessible to
   return false   ! the character either, so no action was taken.
}
   
}



The object that called this token routine could be given whatever priority is required. The higher the priority, the sooner it's checked. If it's given a priority of 20 and the can already has the "kicked" attribute, then no lower priority action tokens are tried that are in the same cue. Other items in the same cue as this one might include moving the character to the can or taking the can from another character. And, of course, other higher or lower priority cues can easily coexist with this one. So if your character happened to find a gold coin, then he could pick it up and then continue on his quest to kick the can next turn.

That's the bare bones version. I'll work on the RAP and try to make it presentable soon. For the time being, enjoy the game!

-lc
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Roody_Yogurt



Joined: 29 Apr 2002
Posts: 1993
Location: Milwaukee

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great news. I played around with this a little. First off, I love the intro.

I can't play too far into the game itself without throwing it down in frustration when the NPCs start scoring repeatedly on my ass. It may be just because I didn't play long enough to discover any, but I found it a bit hard to guess what a winning strategy might be without having a glimpse at the inner mechanics.

It feels to me like the game would be more accessible if it had difficulty settings, where the easy setting might make evading/attacking more weighed in the player's favor (or keep opponents unconscious for longer).
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
I can't play too far into the game itself without throwing it down in frustration when the NPCs start scoring repeatedly on my ass. It may be just because I didn't play long enough to discover any, but I found it a bit hard to guess what a winning strategy might be without having a glimpse at the inner mechanics.


The first few times I played, the NPC's beat the crap out of me too, so yeah; I laughed out loud when I read this.

Believe it or not, the computer doesn't cheat. The other players don't have any special information on where to find the balls and they are not stronger in a fight than the PC. The problem is that there are eleven of them, competing against you and each other.

If you decide to have another go at it, I have a couple of suggestions. First, try to avoid large groups of NPC's. They sometimes get into one or two large brawls and leave other parts of the arena relatively unpopulated for awhile. These are good opportunities to score easy points. You also may have noticed some players carrying weapons. The right ones significantly improve your chances in combat.

Of course, you could always cheat. If you type "special", you'll be given a list of special commands. The cheat commands are kind of fun in their own right anyway, so I recommend them.

Roody_Yogurt wrote:
It feels to me like the game would be more accessible if it had difficulty settings, where the easy setting might make evading/attacking more weighed in the player's favor (or keep opponents unconscious for longer).


You're right; a difficulty setting would seriously improve this game. The PC is on a level playing field with the other characters and has no way, other than cheating, to shift the odds in his favor. This is completely unacceptable. The mechanics for doing this are already a part of the game. All that's needed is one additional routine and a few lines of code.

Thank you for trying this out, by the way. Your comments have given me a lot of ideas about how to turn this into a full fledged piece of IF. One idea is to add some traditional IF elements(i.e. puzzles) into the arena that can help the PC improve his or her odds of winning. Solving puzzles would give the player special powers, weapons or helpful information. Additional scenery would also make the arena more interesting to explore.

As to the development of the RAP; it's going better that I had hoped. The most important revisions are done. Now I just have to clean up the core routines a little and make sure all the action tokens work properly. I'll do the latter by writing a tiny demonstration game with a few NPC's preforming simple tasks. I swear this demonstration game will not become another "Ice Station Hippo" or "Super Madball"!
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went ahead and added the ability to select a difficulty level. It can be found at its original link above, or here.

-lc
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Tdarcos



Joined: 16 May 2008
Posts: 4441
Location: University Park, Maryland

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I found that even on easy level it's too tough. I can either hold a weapon or a ball, but not both, means to be able to play the game or make scores I have to be defenseless, which means, the first strike is going to cause me to lose whatever I've acquired. I don't think it's possible to get anywhere.

Also, a guy hits me and I drop 3 different colored balls. I wasn't carrying any at the time...
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loafingcoyote



Joined: 04 Jan 2012
Posts: 89
Location: Texas

PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tdarcos wrote:
I found that even on easy level it's too tough.


Yeah, unfortunately I see all to clearly that this game, in its current form, isn't very good. Of course, it was written more as a demonstration of how easy it is to code complex character behavior with a reactive agent planner than anything. Still, that's no excuse for it not to be well done. I solemnly swear this with be remedied!

Tdarcos wrote:
I can either hold a weapon or a ball, but not both, means to be able to play the game or make scores I have to be defenseless, which means, the first strike is going to cause me to lose whatever I've acquired. I don't think it's possible to get anywhere.


You should be able to hold three items(balls, weapons or a combination of items) no matter what. I balked a little at the inventory limit at first, but then figured it kind of fit with the theme. Also, not having a weapon doesn't make you defenseless, but it certainly helps. On the misnamed "easy" level having a weapon should make you almost unassailable.

Tdarcos wrote:
Also, a guy hits me and I drop 3 different colored balls. I wasn't carrying any at the time...


I couldn't replicate this behavior, so I was wondering if you might have a transcript of that? If you do, I wouldn't mind having a copy of the conditions where it happened. I'm sorry that your experience was less than positive. Like I said before, I will fix it!
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