autocorr 25 days ago [-]
The principal investigator of the project, Cameron Browne, has invented many very interesting abstract games himself [1]. He also investigated how computers could create games with the program LUDI used to create Yavalath [2] among others. I'm really interested to see how the optimization and learning framework he used in LUDI will shed light on ancient games we only barely know the rules of!

Although something I'm curious about is that the rules predicted are chosen on metrics of elegance and complexity (and maybe fun when you do them yourself) but how accurate will this be in reconstructing rules for games in which know them? For example, how accurate would it reconstruct backgammon or 13th century chess? This sort of verification I think is very interesting in quasi-testing observational science, like testing the methods of comparative linguistics by predicting French from Latin.

[1] http://cambolbro.com/games/index.html [2] https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/33767/yavalath

beefman 25 days ago [-]
I can highly recommend Nestorgames, the vendor linked from your second reference. Great source of affordable sets for Yavalath and many other interesting abstracts.
sankalp210691 25 days ago [-]
Wow, this looks really interesting. I wonder how the internals work!
gwern 25 days ago [-]
Based on https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/kz483y/scientists-are-dis... the idea seems to be that you encode the possible rules into a standard software framework which provides a general interface to board games; then you use MCTS as a general game-playing agent (since MCTS works on anything you can build a game tree for), and you run the MCTS agents for many long games. The games then get 'scored' for game quality: were there reversals of fortune as the search depth increased? Did sometimes the losing player early on wind up winning in the end? Did games usually end in a victory for one side? Did they go on for a reasonable length of turns, neither too long nor too short? Each set of rules gets a quality score, and the rulesets which lead to the best corpus of games are considered more likely to be close to how the original games worked.
eukaryote31 25 days ago [-]
Many popular games even today are not "high quality" in the slightest, though. (Think Monopoly)
gwern 24 days ago [-]
I dunno about 'many'. Monopoly is infamous for being bad, is popular only for legacy reasons, and is rapidly fading. (My own family used to play Monopoly frequently, but I can't remember the last time we did, because the last few times we were able to play on the holidays, we were playing games like Pandemic or Settlers or Hill House or D&D...) If you look at how kids spend their time, on things like Minecraft or Fortnite, I think the overwhelming majority of them are better games than Monopoly.
jsnell 25 days ago [-]
I don't think the system actually exists yet. But there's a paper with more details on how they intend to do it: http://ludeme.eu/outputs/cig-ludeme-1.pdf

(Basically a GGP system using MCTS, but using its own higher level game description model instead of the standard Game Description Language.)