Simon McGregor on Sat, 24 Jul 2010 03:07:05 -0700 (MST)

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Re: [game-lang] a survey of previous work

Hi all,

On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 4:25 PM, Marc Lanctot <lanctot@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> On 07/23/2010 11:17 AM, Joel Uckelman wrote:
>> Thus spake Simon McGregor:
>>> What do we want our game representation language to do?
>>> I'd like the following features: -
>>> 1) A playable GUI version of a game can be automatically generated
>>> from its description, assuming that the game is composed of standard
>>> generic components (e.g. dice, cards, counters, tiles, board, etc.).
>>> If the game features some weird component like a card which changes
>>> appearance depending on the polarisation of ambient light, it should
>>> be possible to write a plugin for it.
>> I'm hovering between 'orthogonal to a game rep language' and 'not
>> possible' on this one. The actual appearance of game components isn't
>> relevant to the proper logical relations between them, which is what
>> the rules capture. I think it's a good idea to have a standard format
>> for storing visual representations of game objects, because then programs
>> could use those to map objects in our nascent rules lanuage to their
>> visual representations---but I think it's a completely seperate issue
>> from representing game rules.
> I'd like to second this. I think this was similar to Dave's original idea
> from the BGG post, eg. to make a "standard module format". I do certainly
> think that the game logic should be separated from any GUI implementation --
> but that a standard module format should include the game rules in the
> general game language.

> For the record, I think that standard module format (where images are
> bundled with the rules) would be a huge step towards standardization in the
> online gaming community, but I think we need the language first.

I'd like to suggest that we adopt different terms for (at least) two
meanings of "game":
1) the abstract structure of the game as it would be defined in
mathematical game theory
2) the overall structure of the game as it presents itself
experientially, including its component organisation and appearance

I suppose it boils down to what we want the language to represent. We
can represent the rules in a purely formal way, and separate that
more-or-less completely from the GUI. My preference would be for a
language which includes both the rules (in a "gameplay description
language"?) and the elements relevant to the GUI and appearance (in a
"game presentation description language"?).
The reason I put question marks over the separation is that (board)
games are usually made from standard components (e.g. cards, spaces,
dice, counters) which affect both the cognitive ergonomics (including
appearance) of the game and the logical relations which the components
can have to one another.

It would seem a bit perverse to me to have a language which spells out
that the game logic involves a randomly permutable list of (hidden
side, public side) pairs, and independently specifies how this list in
the GUI can be represented by a deck of cards.

Does that make sense?

> I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but... I'd really like to know
> why we wouldn't want to form a superset of GDL.
> Marc

The only reasons I can think of, and it isn't particularly compelling,
is that the syntax could probably be made more intuitive. At the
moment it looks rather like a classical computer science construction
which makes no concessions to human reasoning.

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