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Subject: Information on game design rss

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Val Teixeira
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I've been working on a blog here on BGG recently and the topic I'd like to cover is on hidden vs open knowledge. I've looked at and referenced the Ludology podcast a handful of times already and I'm trying to broaden the number of voices in my blog.

Does anyone know about any good blogposts, podcasts, articles, videos, etc. related to this topic (hidden/open knowledge)?

Thanks for reading!

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Philip Migas
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http://www.rpg.net/news+reviews/columns/virtually14feb03.htm...

Only one I have is one talking about Randomness. Hidden information is perceived as randomness from the players perspective.
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Jeremy Lennert
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pmigas wrote:
Hidden information is perceived as randomness from the players perspective.

But is it, really? In what sense?

Lots of games have hidden information that also happens to be random--for example, when you shuffle a deck of cards and deal one face-down to each player, the card that each player receives is hidden, but it was also determined randomly. We don't need to invoke any supposed similarity between hiddenness and randomness to explain the cards being perceived as random, because they are random.

If a game has a hidden-but-trackable element, like the victory points in Small World, I don't think most players perceive that as random; if you suggested that players determine their scores at the end of the game randomly, rather than using hidden but deterministic tracking, I think most people would agree that changes the game. Of course, some might argue that the information isn't really "hidden" if it can be perfectly tracked.

Then there are "precommitments"--another player makes a choice in such a way that he can't change it later, but doesn't reveal the choice to you immediately. Is that perceived as randomness? Well, to some extent, you can model all player choices as random--but to whatever extent that works, I'd argue it works whether the choices are hidden or not.

Broadly speaking, I only know 3 ways to determine something: randomly, deterministically, and by choice--the three cases outlined above. Which of them are perceived by the player as being more random when they're hidden than when they're not?

I do think there's an important similarity between hidden information and future information, in that neither of them are known to you right now, and therefore they increase the number of possible future states you need to worry about. And it's a useful rule of thumb that purely randomly-determined variables can always be treated as if the randomization occurred when the variable first affects the game, which is usually the first time they're revealed (thereby allowing players to make decisions based on the outcome). So hiding the information could be viewed as preserving the randomness.

But I assume that any discussion of hidden information in games is going to focus on information that is known to some but not all players, in which case I'm not sure in what sense you can usefully treat it as more random than it actually is.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Antistone wrote:
pmigas wrote:
Hidden information is perceived as randomness from the players perspective.

But is it, really? In what sense?

Lots of games have hidden information that also happens to be random


I'm with Jeremy ... Not all Hidden information is necessarily perceived as randomness. Some might originate from a randomizing mechanic and then kept hidden from a subset of the players... But there are games where the hidden information is not randomly set

Just take, for example:
Stratego
Battleship

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Corsaire
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Hidden information is a large topic area in game theory. You might find more information from that direction. I'd make a distinction that it has the essence of random in that in both cases where the player is facing either hidden information or a forthcoming random event a probabilistic model is correct. Good hidden information games are fun because you are adjusting your model as you interpret clues about the hidden information and adjust your probabilities in accordance.

Here's a cool little slide show: http://www.autonlab.org/tutorials/gametheory02.pdf
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Brian Wittman
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Corsaire and philip are right on this one. While hidden info technically isn't "chance" (as in randomness) in and of itself. It IS technically chance from the players perspective, because hidden information necessarily means that a player will be forced to guess, and any true guess involves the odds of being right or wrong.

Jeremy and sturv should consider the fact that having friends try to guess "the number I'm thinking of" is used as a source of randomness just like having them flip a coin (or roll a die, or draw a card). And if a given player is not forced to guess, then it is necessarily implied that they are not dealing with any hidden information.

Remember that the player of a game like Go is technically not "forced" to guess because they could just have a computer perfectly solve their turn (given enough time): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computational_complexity_theory

Some people (very rare, but I am one of them) only enjoy perfect information games because we like to feel 100% responsible for the outcome. By "responsible" I mean this: If you have no way of knowing that a person in the next room is being robbed, they cannot hold you "responsible" for not calling security, while if you were totally aware and do nothing, they have every right to be a little angry with you.

Please do not think that I am insulting imperfect-info-games or the people who like them.
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Jeremy Lennert
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simpledeep wrote:
Jeremy and sturv should consider the fact that having friends try to guess "the number I'm thinking of" is used as a source of randomness just like having them flip a coin (or roll a die, or draw a card).

That's because "the number I'm thinking of" is presumed to be chosen randomly. If you know that I always pick 3, then no randomness has been introduced.

The only time you have to guess at the value of the hidden information is if it was determined by a process whose outcome is not predictable. If the game rules specify that that process is going to be used to determine something at some point in the future, then you need to guess even if the information is never hidden. Hiding the results just forces you to treat past events with the same uncertainty as you would treat future events.

simpledeep wrote:
Remember that the player of a game like Go is technically not "forced" to guess because they could just have a computer perfectly solve their turn (given enough time)

I'm not an expert, but I think competitive Go is usually played with a time limit. Saying you could win if you didn't have a time limit is kind of like saying you could win if you were playing Checkers instead.

Even if you had a magical quantum supercomputer in your back pocket, you seem to be assuming that there is a winning move available. If no move guarantees a win, but you still want to try to win, you have to guess what kind of mistake your opponent is most likely to make. (Assuming he will play optimally is neither realistic nor helpful in this case.)
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Ed Chen

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I listened to:

http://jonshaferondesign.com/2013/04/30/tgdrt-25/

and he has a linked article from there:

http://jonshaferondesign.com/2012/08/20/the-more-you-know/

 
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Sturv Tafvherd
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simpledeep wrote:
Corsaire and philip are right on this one. While hidden info technically isn't "chance" (as in randomness) in and of itself. It IS technically chance from the players perspective, because hidden information necessarily means that a player will be forced to guess, and any true guess involves the odds of being right or wrong.


We're beginning to argue semantics here.

Technically, Hidden Info is sometimes not random; therefore, I can't accept the claim that Hidden Info is always Random.

Going by perception, Hidden Info is also sometimes not random. Jeremy alluded to it, but in playing that "Guess the number" game, both players are making _choices_; and those choices -- consciously on unconsciously made -- those choices mean the guesses are not random.

(Heck, I can probably even argue that an electronically generated "random" number is not random; there's always some kind of algorithm that generates those random numbers.)

Now ... a person may _sometimes_ try deducing someone else's Hidden Info by using a "random" guess. However, because there are cases where you don't use a random guess, I cannot accept the claim that responses to Hidden Info is always Random.

(And arguably, that "random" guess actually had some kind of logic behind it ... whether it be good logic or nonsensical logic is besides the case.)

 
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Noah Gadea
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Stormtower wrote:
Antistone wrote:
pmigas wrote:
Hidden information is perceived as randomness from the players perspective.

But is it, really? In what sense?

Lots of games have hidden information that also happens to be random


I'm with Jeremy ... Not all Hidden information is necessarily perceived as randomness. Some might originate from a randomizing mechanic and then kept hidden from a subset of the players... But there are games where the hidden information is not randomly set

Just take, for example:
Stratego
Battleship


I still see an element of perceived randomness in these two games. When you roll a die you can get any of 6 random results, but you know what the realm of possibilities are. To a different degree these two games have setups and you are unaware of what is where, but you are aware of where things could possibly be given simple logic and deduction, but whether you are right or wrong remains to be seen.

As I perceive, when hidden information is known to "some but not all", ignorant players may still be able to guess at the information. In Clue, hidden information exists in the form of the cards in the Solution envelope as well as in the form of the cards in each player's hand. Careful deduction can sometimes determine who is holding what or what one player is showing another using processes of elimination and reasoning. This, as I perceive, is hidden information that does NOT necessarily have a random feeling.

Alternatively, when information is hidden from all players, there is an element of randomness. This can be achieved by a card drawn from a deck and put into play face down without anyone looking at it. This card might fluctuate the climate of a game, manipulate and affect outcomes of actions, or influence who can and can't do what for a given round. Player of such games must "expect the unexpected" and therefore these such games DO have perceived randomness.

I hope my input makes any sense
 
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Philip Migas
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I am going to look at 4 simple games to help explain my opinion of hidden information perceived as randomness.

6 Chance game 1
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. A die is rolled. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the die, they win. I would perceive this game as being random.

6 Chance game 2
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. A card is drawn from a deck of cards that is numbered 1 through 6. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. I would perceive this game as still being random.

6 Chance game 3
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game the first player draws one of the cards that will be played as the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. With the exception of start player everyone else has just as much information as game 2. The players don’t know which space will win until the card is revealed. It would be perceived as a random event. Obviously the game dynamic has changed. Will the first player play on the winning space or not?

6 Chance game 4
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game the every player draws one card from a deck of cards labeled 1-6. After all players have placed their pieces, a last card is revealed to determine the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. Now every player knows what space can’t win. But for they still don’t know what space can win. I would still perceive this game as being random.

6 Chance game 5
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game one card is revealed from a deck of cards labeled 1 through 6 as the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. No hidden information. No randomness. A player can choose if they win or lose.

Obviously I have oversimplified the games. It doesn’t work this way in real games. I think it shows how players would think of hidden vs revealed information in a very simplistic way.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Heya Philip!

Exactly what is the Hidden Information in those game(s) below?

I understand that the die roll mechanic and the card draw mechanic is perceived as random.

But do you really think the player choices are random as well?


pmigas wrote:
I am going to look at 4 simple games to help explain my opinion of hidden information perceived as randomness.

6 Chance game 1
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. A die is rolled. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the die, they win. I would perceive this game as being random.

6 Chance game 2
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. A card is drawn from a deck of cards that is numbered 1 through 6. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. I would perceive this game as still being random.

6 Chance game 3
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game the first player draws one of the cards that will be played as the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. With the exception of start player everyone else has just as much information as game 2. The players don’t know which space will win until the card is revealed. It would be perceived as a random event. Obviously the game dynamic has changed. Will the first player play on the winning space or not?

6 Chance game 4
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game the every player draws one card from a deck of cards labeled 1-6. After all players have placed their pieces, a last card is revealed to determine the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. Now every player knows what space can’t win. But for they still don’t know what space can win. I would still perceive this game as being random.

6 Chance game 5
Players have a choice of placing a player piece on board spaces labeled 1 through 6. At the start of the game one card is revealed from a deck of cards labeled 1 through 6 as the winning space. If the players piece is on the numbered space that matches the card, they win. No hidden information. No randomness. A player can choose if they win or lose.

Obviously I have oversimplified the games. It doesn’t work this way in real games. I think it shows how players would think of hidden vs revealed information in a very simplistic way.
 
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Philip Migas
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The hidden information are the cards that let players know the winning space in games 3 & 4. Players choice are not random even if they sometimes feel random.
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Sturv Tafvherd
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Sorry to belabor this, but maybe I'm missing the point, somehow.

I agree with...
pmigas wrote:

Players choice are not random even if they sometimes feel random.

Which is why I support the concept that a Rock-Paper-Scissors game is not random.

Now for the next point...
pmigas wrote:
The hidden information are the cards that let players know the winning space in games 3 & 4.


Agreed: the card drawn is hidden.
Agreed: the card drawn is perceived as random.
But that doesn't mean that every hidden thing is perceived as random.

That would be like saying:
I am Filipino.
I am considered a Geek.
Therefore, all Filipinos are Geeks.

All I'd need is to come up with a non-Geek Filipino.


So if I can come up with a game using Hidden Information that is not perceived as random, then I think I can refute the statement that
"Hidden information is perceived as randomness from the players perspective."

And that's why I said:
Just take, for example:
Stratego
Battleship

In both cases, the placement of the player pieces is hidden information, but every placement is done by player choice. And we've already agreed that player choice is not random.
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