Ruminations

Why is Armagetron so good? Here are some reasons. Feel free to add and anotate as you see fit.

what exactly is a team?

If we are flexible with a non-seeded or non-set-up play-off tree, so team-captains or whatever arrange matches with whoever, how about playing around with the notion of a team.

Let's say my team beats another team which contains the amazing Mazuffer. We could ask him to join our team as a sub. If we encounter a team where our strategies don't work and we look like we are going to lose, perhaps we could ask Maz to play for us... This may sound a little odd, but the Romans did it with their soldiers, and I think the Greeks did it with they generals...?

What is important, is that the team wins. It is kind of like how to learn GO well, or maybe chess. You compliment the opponents move, and by doing so, you learn what a good position is, rather than taking sides...

why choose a better team?

If team-captain/exemplars can choose which team to play, what stops them from choosing some crappy team, and leaving the better ones for later...? Nothing... apart form the risk that they may be beaten and they don't get a chance to meet a good team, and that good team wins the championship after beating a team that had a freak win.

However, to balance things out, what happens if there was an incentive to play a good team, even the favourites? Well, I remember playing some hockey tournaments, and when we were beaten by a team, I would support them. Why? Because if they ended up winning the tournament, then we got beaten by the champions, and in some way, we were in the same position as the people who came second. Now, this has little value in a poxy hockey tournament, however, if prizes were given not only for how far they got in a knock-out tree but also by how close they were to the winning team... So, a team might want to play against a good team if they were going to win more prizes by doing so...

It also opens up the opportunity for related teams, teams which are part of the same clan, to knock each other out, work their way up the leader-board, until risking it by playing an outside or unknown team... And if their team set-up was flexible, they could re-organise the winning teams.

re: what exactly is a team?

Teams have become groups of players that stick together for many Ladles and attempt to improve over time. Personnel moves around to a limited extent, but the idea is that the more you play with the same players the better you'll become as a team. Seeding has integrated the idea of Ladle interdependence into our competitions, which seems to make sense in today's environment of more long term teams. My concern is the point where does a spectator insert himself and become a player. That player has either been recruited or has joined the open team. It seems that there needs to be focus on individual players joining together to become teams.

strategy game

Millions used to play chess. With a few simple rules, an active mind can combine moves to win an advantage over an opponent. No luck involved, apart from the matching of player styles and contextual factors effecting the players' states of mind.

Computers introduce another level of play to the classic strategy board game with their processing capacity: automated tasks can be performed by the computer, creating a more complex 'board', one that changes through time. For example Tetris and Snake both include the irresistable momentuum of time, forcing players to develop preventative strategies to avoid unpleasant future events.

The internet expands the notion of a two-player strategy game (opening up the field, setting a level playing field) and thus heralds multiplayer and team games. Of course, multiplayer games are quite taxing in terms of board-games, with players taking turns traditionally, sequentially, with administrative tasks taking up too much time thus limiting the number of players than can practically play a game.

So, as computer games continue providing people with ever more complex environments, realistically simulating battle-fields for example, so there is space in the virtual library of games for chess-like or GO-like strategy games. Armagetron is such a game, and specifically Fortress. It is simple, with defined parameters. Because the game can be played with only two keys, and the motion of the lightcycles is relentless, the real game is shifted away from the representation, from lightcycles and trails as much as from bits of wood or stone on a board, to the abstract relationships in space and time in the mind of the players. Simple rules providing complex behaviour. It pits player against player, and with the judicious balance of teamwork and individual skill, winning teams display the grace of effortlessness and depth of play.

teamplay

There are two operational levels of a team: interteam competition and intrateam co-operation.

Competition is the obvious result when teams come together. It is merely the extension of the individual competition which we are so familiar with growing up in a family and what we nominally term the educational system. Competition between.

At a lower level of organisation is the co-operation between elements of a team. A good team works well together. They know what their respective roles are, and they are ready to step in and assist their teammates when required.

Teamplay involves both levels: a target for the team to gell together, for the elements to combine effortlessly, to produce a result impossible alone, and even improbable as a collection of individuals.

Fortress is about individuals working together, supporting one another... the result of which is a formidable team which might even be able to compete against a gang of highly skilled though individualistic players.

voicing alternative ideas

There are two main problems with voicing alternative ideas, for example organising a tournament to be played out on a few hours which is the tronic progression.

  1. the merit of the idea is judged on past experience
  2. there is only argument

A wiki has the potential of avoiding both of these problems.

Alternatives are expressed, clearly, standing side by side. If a person wishes to improve upon an idea, they can modify the text or, if their idea departs too much, they can start another alternative. In this way, it is possible to have several mutually contradictory alternatives presented fully. In this way experience is fed into different ideas.

There is no argument. A decision is only made once alternatives are fully voiced. Instead of people arguing their point from the beginning, their ideas are fully explored to their satisfaction, and then once completely explored, the faculty to decide, to judge is brought in.

In this way, prejudgement, or prejudice, is avoided, and experience is sublimated into new formulations. Has this happened with our discussion? No. I presented my ideas within a framework of mutually exlusive ideas, inviting people to present their alternatives. Instead, this was replaced with one way of doing it, and any suggestion otherwise was considered heretic or even deluded from the start. Which is a shame. My ideas were criticised from the start, with no proper airing, no discussion or exploration.

If we are to evolve new ways in this world, and perhaps make it a better place for our children and our children’s children, then I think it wise that we explore these alternative ways of organising ourselves. And what better place to practice this than in our playtime, with things we love, such as playing Armagetron...?

And in case you think I take this too seriously, then please consider that my alternative is merely to make an opportunity where we can all have more fun. I think the way it is being conducted is too heavy, to labour-intensive, too tricky to organise, troublesome, and unscalable, which prevents development into greater and greater competitions. That is, the means of organising proves that larger-scale competitions are unfeasible. That is, if we do not play around with alternatives, we shall never evolve a means of self-oprganising which is capable of.

And finally... why am I going to all this trouble of stating this, of thinking this...? It has nothing to do with control. I believe that if we can self-organise something we love, then we have the proof that we can self-organise with things that are a mite more important – the political environment for example. One day, computer programmers will realise the power they hold in modern society, and when this manifests socially, they will need tried and tested ways of exercising this power. And in the same ways that computer games has evolved some important developments in AI, so networked games have the potential to evolve some important developments socially... Have fun with these thoughts.... they are free... along the lines of fight club, matrix and v for vandetta.... the only difference is: here we are putting some ideas into practice, rather than just consuming them as films....

gleick group and ranking

A gleick group is a group relative to an individual in it. If a player is asked to rank other players to be A better B about the same C worse and D don't know, how could this be represented...?

In a normal ranking system, there is an absolute ladder from high to low rankings... But with a gleick group, this representation can't be linear.
Take two players. If they agree, we have a simple solution. Say the players think they are about the same, or one is better than the other. However, if they disagree, this can not be represented linearly; for example both players think they are better than the other.

Now take three players, and a more complex phenomenon is possible. Player 1 thinks he is better than player 2 who might agree; but player 2 thinks he is better than player 3 who might agree, while player 1 thinks he is worse than player 3 who might agree. Hence, is should be 1>2; but 2>3 and 3>1... interesting.

I wonder if there are ways of representing this in 2d or 3d or even 4d if we think of time and changing evaluations... relative to players of course. I suspect there would be general clumping, and there may be a ladder kind of formation. I suspect there will be boundaries between good and medium players where there is a lot of this kind of complex, inequal weightings...