I haven’t taken the time to try this yet, but this seemed like something quite a few people I know would be into: a Zork-style game with an AI backend, so you can do…well, anything, apparently.

I wrote earlier about a neural net-powered dungeon crawling text adventure game called GPT-2-Adventure in which gameplay is incoherent and dreamlike, as you encounter slippery sign text, circular passages, and unexpected lozenge rooms. A PhD student named Nathan trained the neural net on classic dungeon crawling games, and playing it is strangely surreal, repetitive, and mesmerizing, like dreaming about playing one of the games it was trained on.

Now, building on these ideas (and on an earlier choose-your-own-adventure-style game he built), Nick Walton has built a new dungeon-crawling game called AI Dungeon 2. Nick made a few upgrades, such as beefing up the AI to the huge GPT-2-1.5B model OpenAI recently released, adding a penalty for repetitive text, and expanding the dungeon game training examples to a bunch of modern human-written games from chooseyourstory.com.

I CAN’T STOP PLAYING THIS GAME

Here’s the actual game site: AI Dungeon. Have fun!

This is hilarious…and (at times) freakishly accurate.

Disaffected! – a videogame parody of the Kinko’s copy store, a source of frustration from its patrons. Disaffected! puts the player in the role employees forced to service customers under the particular incompetences common to a Kinko’s store.

[…] Disaffected! gives the player the chance to step into the demotivated position of real FedEx Kinkos employees. Feel the indifference of these purple-shirted malcontents first-hand, and consider the possible reasons behind their malaise — is it mere incompetence? Managerial affliction? Unseen but serious labor issues?

[…] Disaffected! is an arcade-style game with fast action and high replayability. The player controls one or more employees behind the counter at a typical copy store. As each level starts, customers enter the store through the front doors and line up behind the cashiers at the counters. The player must try to find and deliver each customer’s order. Obstacles include confused employees, employees who refuse to work, employees who move orders around indiscriminately so the player cannot find them.

After the number of years I spent working at Kinko’s (now FedEx Kinko’s)…heh. Count me as very, very amused. And very glad I’m not working there anymore.

(via Boing Boing)

Okay, yes, diff’rent streaks for diff’rent freaks and all that, but — without meaning any offense — I’ve got to admit that an all-economists Dungeons and Dragons game just might rank fairly high in my personal descriptions of hell. ;)

Is it really financially prudent to go after this troll?

What’s the expected profit-to-loss ratio if we attempt to capture the dragon’s hoard?

Does our raiding party’s net worth really justify attacking in this instance?

Disclaimer: I am neither an economist nor a D&D player, so I have no real personal experience to draw upon for this — though while my exposure to economists is nearly nonexistent, I’ve known, been around, and lived with enough D&D players to know how wacky they can get on their own — I just thought that the combination of the two was simultaneously amusing and frightening. Please take this post as the good-natured ribbing that it’s meant to be. ;)

This was originally a LiveJournal meme, but it was so goofy and intricate that I had to join in the fun. So. Bear with me.

  1. Take your LJ username and replace each letter with the corresponding number (A=1, B=2, etc…). If your name contains numbers, you’ll need to convert them to letters first before you can convert to numbers.
    • Michael Hanscom = 13 9 3 8 1 5 12 8 1 14 19 3 15 13 (Since I’m doing this here, rather than on LiveJournal, I’ll use the name I post under on this weblog — which, conveniently enough, just happens to be my real name.)
  2. Add all of the numbers together to create a kind of super number.
    • 124
  3. Make a note of the first digit of this number, then add the digits of the number together.
    • First digit is 1.
    • 1 + 2 + 4 = 7.
  4. Find the post of this number in your LJ. If you don’t have that many posts, add the digits together again. Keep doing so until the number is smaller than your pathetic number of posts.
  5. Take the digit you noted in step 3, and count that many words into the post.
    • Just
  6. Use the resulting word in a Google Image Search, and select a picture from the first page. Post the results for us all to see.

'Just Try It' from Anger Dog StudiosA quick note regarding this image: while it was by far the best of the images that Google found for me, it was found on this journal page (no permalink, entry “Wow wow wow!!!” from Jan. 25, 2004), where it had been re-posted from Anger Dog Studios. I debated re-re-posting it here, but liked the image enough that I decided to go ahead and toss it up with credit to the original artist, who I’ll also be e-mailing and asking formal permission to leave the piece up. There’s a lot more excellent artwork at Anger Dog Studios, too, so feel free to wander that way and peruse what’s available in their galleries.

How many petals around the rose?

I figured it out in under a minute (my first guess was half right, three subsequent rolls allowed me to fine tune and confirm the answer).

If you know the answer, please don’t spoil the fun for others. Let ’em figure it out for themselves. ;)

Related: Bill Gates and Petals Around the Rose at a 1977 computer conference. Memorizing dice rolls. Fascinating.

(via MeFi)

Another good online time-waster: a version of Breakout that actually manages to put a new twist on the game by giving it a circular playfield — Plastic Balls.

Rather than running your paddle back and forth across a plane…well, you know those bright yellow plastic funnel coin collectors where you drop a coin down a trough and watch it go spinning in circles down the funnel? Put bricks around the outside edge of the funnel, put your paddle rotating around the funnel, and let the ball bounce between your paddle in the center and the bricks on the outside.

Very cool, and the extra level of pseudo-dimensionality adds a nice new touch to the gameplay.

(via Collision Detection)

This rocks.

I’m not much of a gamer. Never have been, likely never will be. Most computer games bore me, requiring far too much time and mental effort to bother with (any strategy based game — StarCraft, WarCraft, WoodCraft), or just being so pointless I can’t envision devoting time to them (EverCrack). Generally, if I get into a game, it’s for a few minutes at a time, and either brainless but fun point-and-shoot (Doom) or brainless drive-around-in-circles racing games (Star Wars Pod Racer, Wipeout for Playstation).

One of the few games that ever really got my attention was Descent. At the time it came out, it was a groundbreaking game — taking the then-typical pesudo-3D first-person-shooter approach of Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, and so on, and putting it into a true three dimensional world.

Where previous “3D” games were actually two-dimensional (your only real choices of movement were on a plane — forward, backwards, left, and right turns, etc.), Descent put you in control of a small spacecraft flying through tunnels within planets and asteroids, adding the final third dimension, allowing you to pilot your craft through all three axis of movement. You could dive, barrel roll, loop-de-loop, swoop down on targets, anything.

We had some great multi-player Descent games at The Pit (my old apartment in Anchorage), and for once, I had the advantage. While I would occasionally play games, I wasn’t enough of a gamer to have very many old habits built in, so when I started playing with the controls of Descent, it didn’t take me long to get the hang of moving through a fully three-dimensional world. My roommate Jason wasn’t able to adjust as quickly, due to the ingrained habit of only thinking along two axis of movement. Many was the time when he’d end up behind me, blasting away, when suddenly I’d go round a bend in the tunnel just out of his sight, fly into a large open room, and immediately shoot straight up to hover just above the entrance. Jason would come screaming into the cavern and start trying to find me — panning left and right. Meanwhile, I’d be targeting him from above, suddenly unleashing a blistering stream of laser fire onto the top of his ship, and sending him off into blissful digital oblivion.

Of course, Jason being the jobless obsessive-compulsive that he was, he soon spent far too many hours doing nothing but play Descent, so it was only a matter of a week or two before he was flying circles around everyone else in the apartment. Still, my little reign of terror was fun while it lasted.

What got all this started running through my brain, though, was Phil tipping me off to some wonderful news — Descent 2 has been ported to run on Mac OS X, and is freely downloadable!

Schweeeeet.

It’s downloaded, just waiting for me to install it. I think I better wait ’till the weekend to do that, though, otherwise I’m likely to get nothing done from here on out.