Sunday, October 24, 2004

Information Systems

Squares, what I consider a "busy" game, involves a non-complex, but extreemly efficient system of information. Played on a piece of paper and drawn in with a pen similar to tic-tac-toe or handman, a set of dots are drawn. The size or weight of the information on the game depends on how large the playing field (how many dots are dawn) and the length of the game can also be shortened or lengthened by choice of quantity of dots. After deciding on the game grid players begin taking turns creating lines in between dots. Lines can only be created vertical or horizontaly in order to produce complete squares, no diagonals. Players after completing a square with a line (you are only allowed to produce one line a turn) put an inital in the box to denotate their ownership of that box and are to move again until they do not produce a complete square. The information system in Squares is more than perfect. Not only is all the information in the game available to all players at all times but like the games named earlier possible next moves and opportunities in game are also available. After playing squares enough you can easily see where the game is headed, either in your favor or not. Not only will you be able to easily judge the point score in the game by visually estimating using the opposing initials but you can also pretty much tell after a while whether luck is in your favor to win. After a while, the information system tells you whether your next turn and the number of turns it will take to get a certain string of squares coincide. This system of information really kills the lasting power of the game, the only perk of its obviousness is the ability to recognize mistakes and faults of your opponent immediately. The games unlimited time constraints has a lot to do with margin for error but that still dosen't change that the only way to win the game if the pattern of turnover you have been given isn't a winning one is through a players misjudgement or nearsidedness.


Blogger Jane said...

Interesting analysis, Jacob. I've never heard the phrase TMI applied to games before, but you've made a good case for criticizing Squares as simply having Too Much Information. You know, of course, that could be seen as a design challenge-- mod Squares to make less information available? Perhaps in digital format... the player's last move would be hidden until you attempted to make your move. If you make a move that isn't legal (b/c your opponent drew a line there), you lose your turn. Then, you'd have to use psychology and try to predict where a player moved-- or where they might expect you to move. Lots of outwitting potential! What do you think?

October 25, 2004 at 12:41 PM  

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