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Archive games | the valley of lost things


pacman pianos

After I recently wrote  about Monomania’s solitary obsessions, Prosthetic Knowledge has posted with what seems like perfect synchronicity about Six Pacmen by Tacit Group in South Korea. The audio visual performance of a multiplayer version of Pacman, combined with ‘Six Pianos’ by Steve Reich  smacks of the relentless obsession involved in Monomania. OK, neither the Pacman element nor the piano playing is solitary, but the obsessively intense and repetitive nature of each, combining to form visual and audio patterns  seems appropriate for Monomania and is an example of the generative art that has been fascinating me recently, as well as an example of someone else mining of the 1970s as a source of rich material because ‘Six Pianos’ was released in 1973.) ‘Structural‘, Tacit’s work based on Tetris, is slow but equally fascinating, with a soundtrack closer to 1970s Kraftwerk than to modernist classical music.


Friday, March 7th, 2014 games, generative art No Comments

but you still need a human to replace the car on the track…

In what may well be the best (in the sense of most fun) use of Arduino that I’ve yet seen, someone has created an equivalent of Scalextric. It has an arcade game cockpit for the remote control of a car with an on-board camera, where the video feed is sent back to the cockpit. Yes, it looks like a lo-tech game of Wipeout without any competitors, but I’d love to have a go.


Monday, August 9th, 2010 coding, games No Comments

mr jack

I’ve just played Mr Jack, a board game with a Jack the Ripper theme that’s a mixture of Cluedo and Mastermind. The mechanics are simple – there are only eight character pieces, any one of which could be the murderer, plus a few streetlamps, cordons and manhole covers that can also be moved. One player knows who the murderer is and has to prevent his or her identity becoming known, while the other has to deduce the identity correctly within a limited number of moves. Each character piece, however, has particular abilities, so there are sufficient variations and permutations to make it difficult to work out the best moves.

The reason I mention this game here is that the simple mechanics would make it a good candidate for a computer to play as the computer wouldn’t be distracted by the major changes to the board after each turn, rather like Reversi, though there would be more potential moves per turn. Looking several moves ahead as in chess would be impossible because of the random play of cards, which would limit the depth of the search of options. I’m tempted to try to write a version of the game as practice in coding, so I’ve just dug out from a box my old book Computer Gamesmanship by David Levy, with its useful suggestions about evaluating decision trees. I’m still working on the genetic algorithm sketch in Processing, but this might be my next project.


Friday, August 6th, 2010 coding, games No Comments

sudden burst of activity

I’ve not done much creatively for several months, but just recently I’ve had a surge of interest. Playing Martian Fluxx encouraged me to start designing a version based on Star Wars, not just substituting one set of text and graphics with another but altering the mechanics in an appropriate way.

I’ve also resumed reading about genetic algorithms, and arranged for online tuition sessions with Ollie Glass to help me use them in Processing. The tutoring was due to start last night, but had to be postponed  for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, at Ollie’s suggestion, I’ve summarised my understanding of evolution in plain English then expressed it as a flowchart. I can glimpse the structure of a Processing sketch, but I’ve still to grasp some of the bigger hows and whys.

Thirdly, I’ve been exploring some elementary Arduino projects, and ordered parts for a touch screen controller, taken from Practical Arduino, which I might link initially to the virtual colour mixer example on the Arduino website. Yes, I know that touchscreens are no longer exotic, but I’m intrigued by the possibilities. I can imagine using the touch screen controller to adjust a genetic algorithm project, perhaps even intervening wirelessly as simple robots attempt to pass on their learning to future generations.

Alternatively, the touch screen could be a remote controller for a stop motion camera…

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Saturday, May 8th, 2010 coding, creativity, games No Comments

happy times ahead

Hurrah! Machination, the new game from Amanita, the makers of Samorost, is now available. Get playing.


Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 games No Comments


I’ve never really done much with Facebook, but today I came across an interesting use for it: try watching the trailer for Prototype and allow it to access your Facebook account…


Friday, July 3rd, 2009 games No Comments