August 19 RussCon Report

There were 12 of us again. I was surprised and delighted by the appearance of that friend from SimTex and all around obnoxious gamer, ChrisW!


Errata: last week it was erroneously reported that Marty won a game of Euphrates. In fact, JP won that game. The management regrets any inconvenience. Those responsible have been sacked.


We test drove my new Edison game, in which each of us influenced the race of four test vehicles. Sadly, my preferred vehicle was spun around by an oil slick early on and never did recover. It's a clever game with really nifty components (including 4 metal miniatures). However there is a definite lack of individual player control: each of 3 players plays a card which together determine movement options, which the 4th player then executes on one of 2 cars. They actually suggest 2-player teams as the recommended mode of play for this reason; perhaps we should have done so. Marty won Edison.

James won Medici.

Clayton won Acquire. Festival! Festival! Tim suggested that his losing score of 14900 might be a notable record-breaking low score. A quick scan through the archives reveals, however, that (ironically) the very first game entered into the RussCon Records (from December, played at the lavish SimTex suites) was another 6-player Acquire game in which the dearly departed RussD lost with 13200. Sorry, Tim: a nice try for fame, but you'll have to do worse than that!

A game of Arkham Horror was lost. This has no effect on the ratings of those involved, but they bear the heavy burden of knowing they failed to save our world from the unspeakable nightmare of eldritch terrors. (It raises the question whether games like that should have the concept of the game itself being a player and beating the players, to penalize those bumbling would-be saviors of humanity who fail to stop the Great Old Ones from annihilating mankind.)

Guillotine was the most popular game of the night. Dawn won 1, Russ & Doug tied 1, Doug won 3 on his own, and Jay & Ken tied 1.

JP won Euphrates. No, wait, it was Marty. No, really it was JP.

RussW won Titan The Arena. It was an enjoyable nostalgia blast to play a game with ChrisW which he didn't know the rules for, and only wanted them revealed to him incrementally on a need-to-know basis... It brings back memories of the time he beat us in Settlers without knowing the rules, an especially impressive feat when you consider the implications of initial settlement placement in ignorance of the rules and victory conditions. Unlike that time, justice was served here, as he came in last in Titan the Arena.

Ken won El Grande.


Evening's soundtrack:

Tori Amos, Under the Pink
The Doors, Box Set (disc 1)
Ennio Morricone, Once Upon a Time in the West (soundtrack)
My Dying Bride, The Angel and the Dark River
Samba Thistle (The pipes of Scotland meet the drums of Brazil)


Rank ratings:
 0.5000 Doug (7 games played)
 0.3333 James (4)
 0.1290 Ken (7)
 0.0000 Clayton (2)
 0.0000 Tim (3)
-0.0294 RussW (9)
-0.0769 Dawn (4)
-0.0909 Marty (3)
-0.1034 JP (8)
-0.1667 Jay (6)
-0.2143 JonathanC (3)
-0.7143 ChrisW (3)

Win ratings:
 0.6667 Clayton (2)
 0.5446 Doug (7)
 0.3043 Marty (3)
 0.2174 Ken (7)
 0.1905 James (4)
-0.1111 Dawn (4)
-0.1285 RussW (9)
-0.2577 Jay (6)
-0.4479 JP (8)
-1.0000 Tim (3)
-1.0000 JonathanC (3)
-1.0000 ChrisW (3)

These ratings give rise to the messiest partial order diagram yet, a very nonplanar graph! It would be madness to attempt it with ascii art. Suffice to say that Doug is the Devil, as should be obvious by seeing he's #1 in the rank ratings and #2 in the win ratings. Doug has the unique distinction of being the only RussCon member not on the email list, so he won't know he's the Devil unless someone tells him. Clayton is the Vice Devil, should Doug not show. That Diabolic Duo of Ken and James tie for 3rd this week. Tim receives the rare and coveted Extra Average award (for an exactly 0 rank rating combined with having won no games).

Basically, Doug > everyone except Clayton. Clayton > everyone except Doug, James, and Ken. James and Ken are incomparable, and > everyone except Doug, Clayton, and Marty. Russ, Dawn, and Marty are incomparable, and > Jay and JP. Tim, Jay, and JP are incomparable, and > JonathanC > ChrisW.

Clayton > 8 players, and has 4 levels of players below him. James and Ken > 7 players - 1 (Doug) above them, and > 4 levels - 1 above them. (8,4) > (6,3), hence Clayton scored 2nd place above James and Ken.


Fight! news (from the ultrasecret exclusive fight mailing list):

JonathanB has been a moving force behind speccing out and starting to implement a tournament director program.

The subject of time limits generated some discussion. We've reached agreement that we want to have a per-turn time limit (rather than a per-game time limit). For simplicity, JonathanB (the heir apparent for implementing the director) suggests we not worry about monitoring the time limit, leaving it to the discretion of the human operator to interrupt the program if it appears to be in an infinite loop. (It can still notice that an AI which returned a result took too long; the only issue is whether to time and terminate a still-running AI.)

EricH suggests another intriguing idea for the interface between tournament director and AI players to address the concerns of some contestants who might prefer varying development languages or environments: make a Fight AI be a standalone executable which the tournament director spawns. Data on the game state could be passed in to it via stdin or a file. This would slow down execution, but arguably not in a dramatic way. It would enable people to write in whatever language they want (or at least have more flexibility than before). JP might even be able to program his fighter in LISP! I can see pros and cons to this idea. What say you, fellow fighters?


Cultural News:

Those who enjoy non-mainstream movies should check out the unusual low-budget film Pi at the Dobie. It's got conspiracy action, hallucinations, mathematical weirdness, and the main character actually plays Go in several scenes!

The live production of The Who's Tommy at Zach Scott is pretty rockin', but it ends this weekend. If you can get in, it's cool.


That's it for this week. Tune in next week for another thrilling episode of RussCon!