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Subject: Done to Depth rss

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Russ Williams
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NJames wrote:
I don't think accessibility equals clarity, no. As far I as I can tell, clarity indicates an ease in reading several plies ahead.

When I think of how accessible simple strategic ideas are in Chess I think about how readily the mind appreciates the idea of "protect the king," "get the queen into action quickly," "attack on the left," etc. The mind naturally conceives of interesting terms, like outpost, blockade, fortress, while playing the game. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't play a game of Chess without forming strategic ideas. They may not be very good, but that isn't the point.
Ah, interesting clear distinction between "clarity" (of reading ahead and assessing game state) and "accessibility" (of strategic & tactical concepts)!

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In contrast, you could much more easily play Go and never think anything more than "this is weird." Narrative metaphors can be applied, but they come less readily. The whole character of the game is more alien.
This seems less clear to me. I see what you mean, and yet... must ponder further... e.g. this may vary from person to person and not be so universal as you're suggesting.

There is the phenomenon (often discussed in this forum) that many people seem to find placement games (e.g. Go) more accessible than movement games (e.g. Chess).

Purely anecdotally, I have always been a very occasional Chess player, but when someone taught me Go several decades ago I became immediately hooked, and found it easier to progress in terms of strategy and tactics. Which makes me think there was some kind of "accessibility" which Go has (for me) which Chess has less of (for me).
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Nicholas Hjelmberg
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russ wrote:
NJames wrote:
I don't think accessibility equals clarity, no. As far I as I can tell, clarity indicates an ease in reading several plies ahead.

When I think of how accessible simple strategic ideas are in Chess I think about how readily the mind appreciates the idea of "protect the king," "get the queen into action quickly," "attack on the left," etc. The mind naturally conceives of interesting terms, like outpost, blockade, fortress, while playing the game. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't play a game of Chess without forming strategic ideas. They may not be very good, but that isn't the point.
Ah, interesting clear distinction between "clarity" (of reading ahead and assessing game state) and "accessibility" (of strategic & tactical concepts)!

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In contrast, you could much more easily play Go and never think anything more than "this is weird." Narrative metaphors can be applied, but they come less readily. The whole character of the game is more alien.
This seems less clear to me. I see what you mean, and yet... must ponder further... e.g. this may vary from person to person and not be so universal as you're suggesting.

There is the phenomenon (often discussed in this forum) that many people seem to find placement games (e.g. Go) more accessible than movement games (e.g. Chess).

Purely anecdotally, I have always been a very occasional Chess player, but when someone taught me Go several decades ago I became immediately hooked, and found it easier to progress in terms of strategy and tactics. Which makes me think there was some kind of "accessibility" which Go has (for me) which Chess has less of (for me).

The general (too general?) perception of Chess as a Western game and Go as an Eastern game may also contradict this statement. Personally, though, I must admit that I found Go less accessible, but that may be because I've played Chess for decades and think too much like a Chess player when playing Go.
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Nathan James
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Let me suggest that the nature of Go is that if you unlock some understanding of it, the next step will build upon that. While Chess offers lots of strategic ideas at the very beginning and they don't necessarily build upon each other.

My point then about the relative inaccessibility of Go, is that it is easier to stall out at the first, 0-level strategy.

For what it's worth, I think that really effective strategic ideas in Chess are harder to come by than are the obvious ones. Then again, Chess has a host of easy to notice and effective tactics, e.g., forks, pins, discovered check.
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Cameron Browne
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nhjelmberg wrote:
Does this mean that we are further away from the premise that abstract game design is objective, one of the starting points of this thread?
No I don't think it means that, just that we don't agree on the underlying terms and principles.

nhjelmberg wrote:
I agree that the human experience is important but I can't see how it can be objectively measured.
Working on it...

Regards,
Cameron
 
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Cameron Browne
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NJames wrote:
When I think of how accessible simple strategic ideas are in Chess I think about how readily the mind appreciates the idea...
In contrast, you could much more easily play Go and never think anything more than "this is weird."
I wonder whether the accessibility of strategies can be correlated with their observed directness?

For example, it's easy to see that losing a rook or having a piece pinned in Chess is a bad thing, as the consequences are immediately obvious.

Whereas if a professional Go player makes a move in an open area of the board, its consequences may not become obvious for a hundred moves, so it's not as easy for novices to recognise the strategy behind that move.

Which is one reason that MCTS-based approaches work so well for Go, they naturally handle such games with delayed rewards nicely.

Regards,
Cameron
 
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Russ Williams
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camb wrote:
For example, it's easy to see that losing a rook or having a piece pinned in Chess is a bad thing, as the consequences are immediately obvious.

Whereas if a professional Go player makes a move in an open area of the board, its consequences may not become obvious for a hundred moves, so it's not as easy for novices to recognise the strategy behind that move.
But those two examples may be comparing obvious apples and subtle oranges.

I'd say that similarly, it's easy to see that losing a group of 20 stones in Go is a bad thing, whereas many moves by professional Chess players have subtle consequences and intended strategy which are not obvious for novices.
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Cameron Browne
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russ wrote:
But those two examples may be comparing obvious apples and subtle oranges.

I'd say that similarly, it's easy to see that losing a group of 20 stones in Go is a bad thing, whereas many moves by professional Chess players have subtle consequences and intended strategy which are not obvious for novices.
Russ, I wasn't saying that all Chess strategies are obvious and all Go strategies are subtle.

I was just trying to point out that some strategies are obvious and some are subtle, and those are two extreme cases that came to mind.

My point was that the "accessibility" of a strategy may be related to how immediate its effect is. If a strategy does not have any obvious effect until many moves have passed, then I suspect that it will be less accessible than a strategy whose obvious effect is apparent on the next move.

Regards,
Cameron

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Nathan James
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What you describe might more tactical than strategic. I'd certainly put pinned Chess pieces as a tactical consideration. Strategy should perhaps always be somewhat vague, e.g., "control the center," is strategy, 1. d4 is too specific.
 
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Cameron Browne
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Okay, I'm trying (and apparently failing) to narrow down what it is that makes some strategies more accessible than others. Do you think there are any reliable indicators that might be measurable?

Putting aside Chess/Go, subtle/obvious, strategy/tactic, I think that immediacy might be one

Regards,
Cameron
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Nathan James
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I'm reaching here, so bear with me...

Let's consider the strategy "get your queen active early."

This idea is accessible because it is easy to conceive of the queen as a warrior who just overpowers her enemies. The strategy is easy to describe and appreciate in a very broad way. The game practically suggests that you try it.

It is obvious in the sense that the relative power of the queen is obvious and described explicitly by the rule set. It is also a familiar idea. The theme of a powerful fighter defeating weaker opponents is one we are familiar with in a variety of other settings. It seems an apt metaphor, and a potentially workable strategy.

That's my best description of the initial accessibility of that idea. The idea is likely to be reinforced if one plays the strategy against weak opponents, since the queen's multiple avenues of attack offer lots of opportunities for the opponent to blunder away pieces. We might call easy tactical implementation of a strategy, "secondary accessibility."
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Nathan James
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The accessibility of strategic ideas in Chess is seen in the fact that there is lots to do even when you really are terrible at Chess. You will find a plan to execute. The anthropomorphic pieces are very helpful in this regard.

Compare this with making the first move in Go, where individual stones are amorphous, non-entities. Groups of stones eventually take on characteristics, but you must start with stones. Furthermore, the characteristics of groups are strange, and metaphors are not much help.

Or, take Hex for an example. I have felt like I was banging my head against a wall trying to get any better at the game. Why? I think primarily because even the most elementary playable concepts are like almost nothing else. The concepts are there to be found, but they need to be named and illustrated. Even playing a correct reply doesn't mean that you will realize or remember what you did. Because there is nothing familiar about them, they are harder to conceptualize.
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Here's a suggestion: a strategy is accessible if it obviously progresses the player towards a goal (which may be an end-goal or an intermediate sub-goal).

So for the "get your queen active early" example, that strategy progresses the player towards threatening enemy pieces, which progresses the player towards gaining material advantage, ..., which eventually progresses the player towards winning the game.

In Go, an accessible strategy might be protect threatened groups.

In Hex, an accessible strategy might be to play at the cell that most shortens your best path while most blocking your opponent's best path.

Does that work?
 
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Nathan James
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Yeah, I think that's all true.
 
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NJames wrote:
It seems we need to define "the game," although, I think I defined my own use of it a few posts back.

milomilo122 wrote:
To rephrase, the game is the engagement of human perceptual faculties, with the tree, as the tree is represented visually
I suppose this means that no two people have ever played the same game, since their faculties certainly do not engage the, uh, game in the same way.

Does the game not exist unless someone is currently playing it? May we not usefully speak of playing the same game on an iPhone as we play on a table?

I agree that the representation is important, but I'm not sure about the need for the redefinition.
I can only speak from a place of utility: when I started to think of games not as unitary things, but as distributions of experiences, it helped me think more clearly about game design.
 
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On a related topic...

Yesterday a student asked me if complexity and depth amounted to the same thing. My answer was "no", as complexity is more about amount while depth is more about variety.

For example, Go-moku on a 19x19 board would technically be more complex than 5x5 Minichess, but also probably less deep strategically.

But there are different types of complexity:
1. State space complexity (size of board, number of pieces, etc.)
2. Rule complexity (number of rules, number of exceptions, how confusing they are, how they interact, etc.)

I'd say that state space complexity is not a good indicator of depth - larger games with more pieces have the potential for greater depth but do not guarantee it - while games with greater rule complexity are more likely to be deeper.
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christian freeling
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NJames wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
To rephrase, the game is the engagement of human perceptual faculties, with the tree, as the tree is represented visually
I suppose this means that no two people have ever played the same game, since their faculties certainly do not engage the, uh, game in the same way.
Implied in that vision is that no two people have ever lived in the same world.
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camb wrote:
But there are different types of complexity:
1. State space complexity (size of board, number of pieces, etc.)
2. Rule complexity (number of rules, number of exceptions, how confusing they are, how they interact, etc.)

I'd say that state space complexity is not a good indicator of depth - larger games with more pieces have the potential for greater depth but do not guarantee it - while games with greater rule complexity are more likely to be deeper.
Regarding the size of a game I like to argue by example. Draughts on a 4x4 board is not deep and no fun. On a 40x40 board it is deep and no fun. Is it deeper on a 40x40 board than on 10x10 board? That depends on whether you take a mathematical or a human view. In the first case, yes. Does that convince the majority of players to switch to 40x40? Hardly, Canadians and Sri Lankans progressed to 12x12 but that's about it.
So is 'depth' considered objectively or subjectively?

Regarding 'rule complexity' I don't see the correlation you suggest. Hex has hardly any rule complexity but a great 'consequence complexity'. That is what makes it deep, not the complexity (or lack thereof) of its rules.
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christianF wrote:
camb wrote:
But there are different types of complexity:
1. State space complexity (size of board, number of pieces, etc.)
2. Rule complexity (number of rules, number of exceptions, how confusing they are, how they interact, etc.)

I'd say that state space complexity is not a good indicator of depth - larger games with more pieces have the potential for greater depth but do not guarantee it - while games with greater rule complexity are more likely to be deeper.
Regarding the size of a game I like to argue by example. Draughts on a 4x4 board is not deep and no fun. On a 40x40 board it is deep and no fun. Is it deeper on a 40x40 board than on 10x10 board? That depends on whether you take a mathematical or a human view. In the first case, yes. Does that convince the majority of players to switch to 40x40? Hardly, Canadians and Sri Lankans progressed to 12x12 but that's about it.
So is 'depth' considered objectively or subjectively?

Regarding 'rule complexity' I don't see the correlation you suggest. Hex has hardly any rule complexity but a great 'consequence complexity'. That is what makes it deep, not the complexity (or lack thereof) of its rules.
I agree with this. I've several times tried to convince people that the interactivity of the rules is a much more significant factor then their complexity (whatever the latter may mean).

I think this is what Christian may mean by his term "consequence complexity", which surely implies the interaction thing, even though not making it explicit.




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mocko wrote:
I agree with this. I've several times tried to convince people that the interactivity of the rules is a much more significant factor then their complexity (whatever the latter may mean).

I think this is what Christian may mean by his term "consequence complexity", which surely implies the interaction thing, even though not making it explicit.




The 'interactivity of the rules' feels a bit weird. Rules themselves do not interact, the pieces interact according to them. But that interaction is indeed what I mean.
 
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christianF wrote:
NJames wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
To rephrase, the game is the engagement of human perceptual faculties, with the tree, as the tree is represented visually
I suppose this means that no two people have ever played the same game, since their faculties certainly do not engage the, uh, game in the same way.
Implied in that vision is that no two people have ever lived in the same world.
If you're speaking metaphorically, yes. Factually, we all live in the same reality. But we perceive it differently. So our interaction with anything (a game tree, in this discussion) creates a distribution of experiences across the cohort of people who interact with that thing.
 
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milomilo122 wrote:
If you're speaking metaphorically, yes. Factually, we all live in the same reality. But we perceive it differently. So our interaction with anything (a game tree, in this discussion) creates a distribution of experiences across the cohort of people who interact with that thing.
I'm still curious about your perception of Chesstiny.
 
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mocko wrote:
christianF wrote:
Regarding 'rule complexity' I don't see the correlation you suggest. Hex has hardly any rule complexity but a great 'consequence complexity'. That is what makes it deep, not the complexity (or lack thereof) of its rules.
I agree with this. I've several times tried to convince people that the interactivity of the rules is a much more significant factor then their complexity (whatever the latter may mean).

I think this is what Christian may mean by his term "consequence complexity", which surely implies the interaction thing, even though not making it explicit.
Yep, good points. Hex is a nice counterexample, but the simplicity of the rules hide a wealth of underlying mathematical complexity due to its connective basis. As Phil Bordelon says "it's like you get extra rules for free".

Go is another case of a deep game with simple rules. But again, it has the underlying principles of connectivity (orthogonal for groups and orthogonal+diagonal for surrounding chains).

So instead of rule complexity I guess I mean strategic complexity. Going around in circles a bit here

But I still think that games with more complex rule sets are more likely to allow the variety of interactions that produce depth. Chess being the classic example.
 
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christianF wrote:
milomilo122 wrote:
If you're speaking metaphorically, yes. Factually, we all live in the same reality. But we perceive it differently. So our interaction with anything (a game tree, in this discussion) creates a distribution of experiences across the cohort of people who interact with that thing.
I'm still curious about your perception of Chesstiny.
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camb wrote:
So instead of rule complexity I guess I mean strategic complexity. Going around in circles a bit here
I've yet to see a discussion about these matters that doesn't.

camb wrote:
But I still think that games with more complex rule sets are more likely to allow the variety of interactions that produce depth. Chess being the classic example.
I think it's the other way around. Rules describe behavioural options, that is: to formulate the rules the game must be there to begin with. There's a general concensus that rules should be formulated as clear and simple as possible. The possibilities to do so may differ quite dramatically because they depend on the kind of behaviour that must be described. Two games may be perceived as equally deep, but a 'clear and simple' formulation of their respective rules may render a paragraph for one game and ten for another.
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christianF wrote:
Two games may be perceived as equally deep, but a 'clear and simple' formulation of their respective rules may render a paragraph for one game and ten for another.
May be... do you have some examples?
 
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