Version 0.4.0 of my Salta project has been posted. The first thing you’ll notice is an actual installer. Other notes:
The game now autosaves on exit (unless it’s in a Game Over state)
Sound! Only a few, but it’s a big difference.
The button array was getting crowded, so now there’s a separate menu screen for things that don’t need to be quite so accessible from in-game
Added “New Game” button, now that (because of autosave) you can’t start a new game any other way
Various AI changes, generally making it a bit smarter.
Game detects when either side is left with only disadvantageous jumps to choose from, and plays a somewhat applause-like sound in congratulations
Changed the way the Undo buffer works. You can no longer undo an entire game, but you can still undo plenty.
Implemented final scoring! It’s not particularly explained, but after the end of regular play, any side that doesn’t have all its pieces parked yet has to count the moves required to do so, taking that number as a (penalty) score.
I alluded yesterday to a problem with the way my AI ranked moves. In fact, it’s a problem with the way the whole game is scored. See, I took the rule where each side finishes parking its pieces “as if the opponent’s pieces were non-existent” and got it into my head as “as if the other pieces were non-existent.” This is one of those easier-said-than-done kind of distinctions! The latter is simply the total shortest-path distance of each piece from its destination. Easy-peasy. The real rule takes planning, which means more AI work. Continue reading 7/11→
I seem to have taught my game AI the meaning of despair.
Take a look at this board position, for example. With four turns left in the game, any human player would move the 4 of stars aside, and take the 5 of suns three spaces towards home. What did mine do instead? Go ahead and take a look. Continue reading Unsportsmanlike Conduct→
I spent some time this morning recording and editing sound effects, so the game will no longer proceed in eerie silence. My apologies to all of the sound designers I know for putting it off so long. Continue reading Audiovideogames→
I’m back, and as promised I’ve been putting some more work into the Salta game. The latest version is now up on its own page, which will house update links and the comment thread from here on. Thanks again to everybody who has so far spent time with my ramshackle pre-alpha game. Continue reading Version 0.3.1 Posted→
I’ve realized that part of the motivation for my current project is to help preserve a game that was otherwise falling into obscurity. That’s a good feeling. Anyone who’s been paying attention since I did my print on demand version would realize that, but I’d briefly forgotten. There are a lot of reasons I took the project on, after all, and it’s not like I ever did a mission statement. Continue reading What’s My Motivation?→
I’ve gone and written a whole new planner for the endgame mode of my Salta AI. Before, it was already abandoning minimax search in the endgame, to achieve more search depth. But it was still basically just trying to optimize against a static evaluator. This only worked to actually get pieces all the way to their destinations if the moves that got them there were within the search tree, and it was fairly easy for that not to be the case for a number of pieces. Continue reading Sealing the Deal→
Here is the first playable version of my Salta game AI project, except with features to tell you what the rules are, what the score is, and when the game is over. I guess that makes it, what, the second playable? The first public playable? Continue reading Warts and All→
Time to admit that re-tuning my Salta AI has gone on long enough. Not that it’s perfect (its downright embarrassing sometimes) or that AI is the only thing I’ve been doing, but there are better things to be working on.
For example, I’m feeling motivated to get the thing playable by people other than me. This is thanks in part to at least one inquiry about such a thing. But really, it just seems like a good project. Continue reading Okay, Just For You→
I spent my project time yesterday cleaning up the interface for my Salta program, but the real action came by surprise at the end of the day. Surfing for any records from the heyday of the game (I was curious about those newspaper puzzles, which I have yet to turn up), I found this article from the seemingly now-defunct Abstract Games Magazine.
Cool, the author actually turned up a rulebook from 1902!