Monday, October 10, 2011

Fast Games and Good Times: The Benefits of a fast and stupid AI

When I started the Forge project I had some major doubts in my mind.
1.  Will the program be usable? 
2.  Will a fast, stupid AI be fun?

Thankfully issue number one isn’t an issue.  Forge is very usable by non-programmers.  I know that Forge isn’t the prettiest piece of eye candy that you have ever seen but I’m very happy with it.  99% of the user interface complaints went away when Forge actually drew the cards in hand and on the battlefield, instead of only displaying the card picture on the right.

Issue number two hasn't been a problem.  Having a simple, fast, stupid AI seems to be a major benefit instead of a weakness.  I can play a Magic game in about 10 minutes which is about 3 times faster than a normal game against another player.  The benefit is that I get to play 3 times the number of games in the same time, which equals 3 times the fun.

Forge minimizes the longest, most boring part of the game: waiting for your opponent.  The gooey goodness of Magic is when I’m thinking about how to beat the computer into submission with some absurd combination of spells and abilities.  Maybe I get to cast a crazy 7UU costed spell or use a nearly worthless card to win the game.  The computer is just smart enough to keep me on my toes by using counter spells and punishing me for any foolish combat decisions.

I also worried that Forge would be dead meat compared to a program with a smarter AI but that didn’t happen.  Magarena was released (for free) and it has a great AI that plays like a real person.  I love playing Magarena because the computer will completely pound you into submission and will never say, “I’m sorry”.  In like manner, it is great fun to win because you can feel the computer working against you.  Magarena is absolutely brilliant but it hasn’t made Forge less fun.  In a way, Magarena has allowed me to see how fun Forge really is and that having a better AI wouldn’t increase its fun factor.  (You can read more about Magarena here and how to download it.)

Forge is absolutely fantastic with a fast, dumb AI.

One of the cheapest Magic players in the world,


The Turquoise Mage said...

I agree wholeheartedly!
Forge is more fun while Magarena is more challenging (to some degree).
I play quite extensively on both of them depending on the type of game I would like to play.
For my online and Commander fixings I play using Cockatrice (also free).
Who says free, fun and challenging is not available for free?
Keep rocking with Forge, I need my regular draft and quest games to keep me sane.

Anonymous said...

@Turquoise only problem I have with Cockatrice is lack of rules checking

crapsticko said...

Hi! I've been keeping myself updated with the recent Forge's version, which is 1.1.4, and I believe there's a persisting bug for the quest mode. First of all I'm sorry for reporting this on the comment, as I didn't save the crash report :( Anyway it occurs most of the time I receives random rare. I dunno if it's caused by me changing the numerical value in the quest preferences (yes I cheated in the starting credit and the starting rares, no. of wins and such). Perhaps that's what causing it. The bug will cause me unable to continue my current quest. In the mean time, I'm trying to be honest and just using the original setting and such, as well as trying to make myself win occasionally to trigger the random rare. Oh plus, when I cheated, the random rare triggered for me 3-5 times before it blew up the bug crash. When the bug report appeared, I close, an be allowed to choose another booster pack for myself, and caused the bug crash report to reappear again. Apart from that, Innistrad dual lands got different pictures linked to them. In my case, it's Drowned Catacomb. Sorry for taking so much space :(
I <3 the booster addition for Forge!

Forge said...


Reporting bugs anywhere is fine. Forge will always have a few bugs because new features equals more bugs. Contrast this with commercial software which tends to have less features but less bugs also.

Forge said...

Forge just surprises me with its "fun factor". Who knew that playing a dumb computer could be so fun?

This harkens back to the question, "What is a videogame?" and "What is fun? Of course, different people like different types of games. I don't like first person shooters but I know they are a big market.

crapsticko said...


I just want you to know that this post really enlighten me on how video game should be. It should be the kind that relieves stress off your shoulder when you're back from work, not that pressures you more, up until the controller ends up through your flat screen TV haha. I'm seriously enjoy Forge more than I play DoTA whenever I finished my class.

Forge said...

Challenging games can be fun but they are a mix of both fun and frustration. I love Guitar Hero/Rock Band and I often feel "in the zone" while playing my simulated instrument which is similar to Forge, simulated Magic.