Gaming the System

All work, all play.

If It Walks like A Duck and Talks like A Duck…


why shouldn’t I call it a duck?

You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. Maybe it was offered smugly as a way to jam an argument past your defenses. Maybe it was offered as the voice of reason, a voice for sanity in an important debate quickly spiraling into esoteric gymnastics. “If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…” Each . dripping with implication. But there are actually a lot of reasonable ways to finish that thought. And tonight I’d like to explore one that doesn’t rely primarily on emotional manipulation.

First off, let’s try to establish some common ground. I won’t ask you to agree that there’s some small, possibly ridiculous-to-you to consider chance that it actually isn’t a duck. Not after we both agreed that it both walks and talks like one (and I do agree that it does). But can we at least agree that someone thinks it might not be a duck? Otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation (tongue-in-cheek self-reference: If it sounds like you’re having this conversation…) At that point, it may not even matter if the person is unreasonably and against-all-decency hedging about or straight up denying duckhood.

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December 16, 2011 Posted by | Education, Ethics, Magic: The Gathering, Rhetoric | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Managing Your Bag of Tricks (How to Decide between Known and Unknown Strategies)


Each time a strategy is employed, it’s predictive success rate changes. In Rock, Paper, Scissors a successful prediction is worth 1, while an unsuccessful prediction is worth 0 or -1. If success rate is (Cumulative prediction value)/(Number of predictions), where each evaluated prediction increments the (Number of Predictions) +1 and the value of the prediction increments the (cumulative prediction value) +1, -1, or 0, then even a value-neutral prediction leads to a more accurate success rate.

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December 14, 2011 Posted by | Education, Ethics, Game Design, Game Theory | 5 Comments

What’s a Game and How Do You Beat It?


This came out in a rush tonight, a dreadfully annoying rush that kept me from getting any reasonable amount of sleep. But still, here it is. Dunno if anything here is new ground or interesting to anyone already familiar with game theory, but it was definitely new ground for me this evening. A dizzying spiral of though prompted by some of my Austin friends discussing A.I.’s built to play Rock, Paper, Scissors (Thanks, Jeff Meyerson, Chris Mabry, Tony Ho, and Nick Lavender). As I worked my way through, much of the material seemed applicable to a Magic and maybe I’ll address that in the future. But right now, finally, I think I can sleep. Probably gonna edit this post later too, get it into tighter shape and shit.

A game exists when one or more players believe they can make strategic choices that perform better than random choice long-term. A game ceases to exist when all players no longer believe they can outperform random choice long-term. This is not to say short-term randomness can not be utilized by a player in a game. In fact, short-term randomness is the default position when none of a player’s strategies suggest a non-ambiguous choice. If the player devises a new strategy to resolve the ambiguity, randomness is avoided and the player is still playing. Also, as long as the player believes that their short-term randomness will produce information that yields a strategic choice that player is still playing the game. It should not be assumed that a player is not acting strategically just because they are being outperformed by random choice. As long as a player believes they can and endeavors to outperform random choice, they are playing the game.

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December 14, 2011 Posted by | Ethics, Game Design, Game Theory, Magic: The Gathering | 5 Comments

Here ya go, Maarten Knaepen! UR Aggro Control v.1


4 Delver of Secrets

2 Grim Lavamancer

4 Goblin Guide

4 Snapcaster Mage

3 Vendilion Clique

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December 11, 2011 Posted by | Deckbuilding, Magic: The Gathering, Modern | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Designer Search 2, Challenge 4: Scott Van Essen’s Malgareth


My first batch of ideas for Scott Van Essen’s prison-themed Malgareth. My priorities while engineering this booster: Continue reading

December 22, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Design, Magic: The Gathering | Leave a comment

The Great Designer Search 2, Challenge 4: Shawn Main’s Wodotha


My first batch of ideas for Shawn Main’s Wodotha. My priorities while engineering this booster: Continue reading

December 22, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Theory, Magic: The Gathering | Leave a comment

The Great Designer Search 2, Challenge 4: Jonathon Louck’s Penumbria


My first batch of ideas for Jon Louck’s Penumbria. My priorities while engineering this booster: Continue reading

December 22, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Design, Magic: The Gathering, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Great Designer Search 2, Challenge 4: Ethan Fleischer’s Epolith


My first batch of ideas for current front-runner Ethan Fleischer’s Epolith. My priorities while engineering this booster:

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December 22, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Design, Magic: The Gathering | Leave a comment

The Great Designer Search 2: Multiple Choices?


Above me, some amount of people who got more answers right on the following test (hopefully less than 100). Below me, said test along with my comments and answers sprinkled in. Behind me (mostly), worrying about the fairness and legitimacy of being eliminated from this competition by questions who’s objective certainty can be tricky to pin down. Continue reading

October 14, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Design, Magic: The Gathering | 10 Comments

The Great Designer Search 2: My Essay Answers


  1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.

 

I’m Billy Moreno. I started playing Magic in 1995 when I was 13, then lost track of it for a number of years before rediscovering the game through Magic Online. At that point I quickly immersed myself in competitive Magic, eventually spending about three years on the Pro Tour “gravy train”. During my time on the Pro Tour I found a lot of friends and made the professional contacts that got me started in game design almost five years ago.

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October 10, 2010 Posted by | #GDS2, Game Design | 3 Comments