Tuesday, November 12, 2002
      ( 11:17 AM ) Matt  

Game Exploring

I think it would be really neat if there was one collective game of go which any number of human or AI players could navigate. This is similar to one big teaching game on KGS, but I'd like people to be able to diverge on their own branch of the game tree when they want, and return to the branch where everyone else is.

Each user would see two things, the game tree, and the board position that they are currently viewing. The game tree would be annotated with the number of people viewing each node, and perhaps the number of comments on that node. A user could select a user, or multiple users which they would like to follow around the game tree.

When viewing the tree, the most popular branches would be moved to one side, and the least popular branches would move to the other side. Branches that are very unpopular, or are unexplored would not be displayed. I hope that users would be encouraged to explore the popular branches, and that the popular branches would contain interesting and insightful game play and comments.

When two users choose to play a game, they would be exploring the same tree. They are choosing to be unconditionally linked to each other for the duration of the game, with some other restrictions. (e.g. limited undoing of moves, limited time, etc.) Users playing a competitive game would also be displayed on the game tree, but would not be able to read the comments posted there. Other users would be able to watch and comment. These comments would persist until the branch became unpopular.

I've said a lot about popular and unpopular without giving any sort of definition. I think there is a nice way to achieve this with the distributed network. Each okonomigo client will store the entire game tree that it has explored recently. A cap will be placed on the amount of space it takes up, or on how old it is. (This is similar to a browser cache.) As each okonomigo client explores a new branch, it queries all the other machines on the network for comments on that branch. These are then merged with the comments on the client's machine. This way branches which are visited by many machines are likely to persist on the network for longer than those which are visited only once.

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