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Information / Cybernetics Robin Burke GAM 224 Winter 2006 Outline Admin "Rules" paper Systems of information Cybernetics Feedback loops Admin Draft design due Wednesday 2 nd Reaction paper due Wednesday Presentations Get the slides to me by Sunday, 22 nd

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information cybernetics

Information /Cybernetics

Robin Burke

GAM 224

Winter 2006

  • Admin
  • "Rules" paper
  • Systems of information
  • Cybernetics
    • Feedback loops
  • Draft design due Wednesday
  • 2nd Reaction paper due Wednesday
  • Presentations
    • Get the slides to me by Sunday, 22nd
    • Presentations, Monday, 23rd
  • Assassin game
    • off-line multi-player game
    • you can play this and write about it for one of your reaction papers
    • rules will be available Wednesday
rules paper
Rules paper
  • Due 1/30
    • Analysis paper #1: "Rules"
    • You should be playing your game and taking notes
  • Note
    • you cannot use lab machines to do word processing
    • laptops are OK
important points
Important points
  • Thesis
    • "great game" is not a thesis
    • This is a thesis
      • "Inertial navigation, fixed firing direction and accurate collision detection in Asteroids create an environment in which ship orientation is highly coupled, generating emergent forms of gameplay."
    • No thesis = paper will not be graded
  • Documentation
    • game itself, book, lectures
    • other sources if used
    • Missing or inadequate documentation = paper will not be graded
how to footnote
How to Footnote
  • Little number at the end
  • Citation at bottom of the page


  • At the end
  • Not a list of references
  • Not inside the text

Follow the guidelines!

rules paper 2
Rules paper 2
  • Schemas
    • Emergence
    • Uncertainty
    • Information Theory
    • Information Systems
    • Cybernetics
    • Game Theory
    • Conflict
  • Do not use more than one
  • Some (most) of these we won't cover in detail in class
rules paper 3
Rules paper 3
  • Outlines
    • suggestions
  • Focus
    • do not catalog every rule, every game object
    • identify those items that contribute to your argument
    • depth over breadth
rules paper 4
Rules paper 4
  • Turn in
    • hardcopy in class 1/30
  • Turn in to
    • on 1/30
  • Late policy
    • ½ grade per day
    • up to 3 days late
    • submit only to turnitin
      • no need for hardcopy if it is late
turnitin com
  • Class id
    • 1432399
  • Password
    • psychonaut
information in games
Information in Games
  • Many games require that players manipulate information
    • Card games
      • dealt card unknown
    • Computer games
      • map / location of opponents unknown
  • Players typically acquire discover information through play
    • Cards held
    • Map locations
systems of information
Systems of information
  • Incomplete information makes for interesting gameplay
    • why playing cards have a front and back
  • Types of information
    • public
      • known to all
    • private
      • known to one player
    • hidden
      • not known by any
example game
Example game
  • Crazy Eights
    • deal 8 cards
    • turn up top card of stock
    • Each player
      • must follow suit or rank
      • or draw from pile
    • First one out of cards wins
  • Special cards
    • 8 changes suit
    • A changes direction
    • 2 = draw 2
  • Public
  • Private
  • Hidden
information economy
Information economy
  • Games of information often have an "information economy"
    • a system through which
      • hidden information is revealed
      • private information becomes public
  • Like all economies
    • based on exchange
example 1
Example 1
  • Crazy Eights
  • I don't know what cards my opponent holds
  • If she changes suit to Diamonds
    • private information is revealed
      • I'm pretty sure she has diamonds
    • but she is closer to winning
  • Tradeoff
    • benefit = knowledge of cards held
    • cost = improved opponent position
example 2
Example 2
  • First-person shooter
  • I don't know what opponents are in the next room
    • or what the layout is
  • If I walk in
    • I'll learn what the opponents are
    • but I might get killed
  • Tradeoff
    • benefit = tactical knowledge
    • cost = risk of defeat
information as reward
Information as reward
  • Often information is a reward
    • (more about rewards in "Play" unit)
  • If you are successful in some action
    • the game reveals more information
  • If you take some extra effort to explore the environment
  • Could be
  • what to do next
    • the location of something valuable
    • a map
    • etc.
information seeking
Information seeking
  • Players will take action to gain information
    • reduce uncertainty
    • enable preparation / planning
  • Meaningful choices arise
    • when there are multiple ways to learn
    • when those choices have different costs / consequences
    • when those choices yield different kinds or qualities of information
information revealing
Information revealing
  • (Especially in multi-player games)
  • Players may need to keep certain information hidden
    • gain advantage over opponents
  • Meaningful choices arise
    • when exercising an option that might disclose valuable information
    • in the possibility of deception
  • Civilization
    • players have the option of trading maps
    • this gives you information about opponents situation
    • but also reveals your assets and weaknesses
game design issues
Game Design Issues
  • What kinds of information are inherent in the design?
  • What is the status of the information during the game?
  • How is information communicated?
  • How is hidden information revealed?
  • What are the costs of information?
  • What meaningful choices revolve around
information flow
Information Flow
  • Systems have objects that interact
    • Information is a quantity that objects in a system may exchange
    • Weiner developed cybernetics to explain this type of system
  • Cybernetics is an attempt to unify the study of engineered and natural systems
cybernetic systems
Cybernetic Systems
  • Cybernetics is about control
    • How is the behavior of a system controlled?
  • Control implies that there are parameters that should be maintained
    • Example: temperature
      • human body
      • car engine
  • Control implies information
    • Temperature messages
      • "too high"
      • "too low"
      • "OK"
feedback loops
Feedback Loops
  • Basic loop
    • A cybernetic system needs a sensor that detects its state
    • The information detected by the sensor is then compared against the desired value
    • If the value is not correct, the system adjusts its state
    • the sensor detects this new state, etc.
  • The system maintains stability by
    • feeding the information about its state back to the process producing the state
two types of feedback loops
Two Types of Feedback Loops
  • Negative Feedback Loop
    • "inhibition"
    • As the state changes, the loop acts to move it in the direction of its previous state
    • Example
      • thermostat
  • Positive Feedback Loop
    • "excitation"
    • As the state changes, the loop acts to move it in the direction that it is moving
    • Example
      • automobile turbocharger
      • home team advantage
feedback loops in games
Feedback Loops in Games
  • From book

game state

scoring function

game mechanical bias


  • game state
    • state of a fighting game
  • scoring function
    • player's health
  • controller
    • near-KO
  • bias
    • increase chance of critical (high damage) hit on opponent
example 232
Example 2
  • game state
    • state of the chessboard
  • scoring function
    • the number of pieces taken
  • controller
    • for each piece taken
  • bias
    • add a pawn to the taker's side in any position
  • Japanese Chu-Shogi has a rule like this
multiple loops
Multiple Loops
  • Games may have multiple feedback loops in operation
  • Examples
    • racing game
      • a player who falls behind may be better power-ups
      • AI racers may adjust their ability to keep pace with player
    • RPG
      • killing monsters gives experience points for gaining levels
      • as a player gains levels, they gain better weapons and greater abilities
      • more success at killing monsters, etc.
      • but
        • game is designed so advanced areas have tougher monsters
        • levels get farther and farther apart
in general
In General
  • Negative feedback loops
    • increases system stability
    • makes the game last longer
    • magnifies late successes
  • Positive feedback loops
    • destabilizes the system
    • makes the game shorter
    • magnifies early success
  • Positive feedback is usually essential
    • propels a player to victory
    • otherwise, game can go on forever
    • one reason that three-player games are difficult to design
the other sense
The Other Sense
  • We also use the word "feedback" to mean
    • praise vs criticism
    • "I got some negative feedback on the proposal, so I'm revising it."
  • This is not the same
    • psychological sense of feedback
      • information about the quality of something
        • good or bad
    • cybernetic sense of feedback
      • a dynamic established by a system's structure that pushes its state in one direction or another
      • in response to information
game design issues38
Game Design Issues
  • Know what feedback is going on in your system
    • analyze how game mechanisms combine to produce feedback
  • Feedback may be undesirable
    • negative feedback may make a successful player feel punished
    • positive feedback may magnify ability differences between players
  • Not too late to think about this in your design project
  • Design project draft due
  • Reaction paper #2
  • Read: Chapter 20