If These Computer Controlled Players Could Talk… - subsaint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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If These Computer Controlled Players Could Talk…

Up until a few weeks ago I had never played Magic: The Gathering. I was familiar with the game but never really had any desire to play it. Alas, a few of my co-workers used to work at Wizards of the Coast - the company that publishes the game now - and they are big into it. And then there was the recent release of Magic 2015. Needless to say, I have been coerced into learning and playing it. Well, the digital version of it. I do have some of the actual cards, but have primarily been playing the PC / Steam version. I've kind of gotten hooked on it (and a lot better than when I started).

Today I was playing one of the campaign missions against the computer and we were taking turns chipping away at each other. In case you don't know, you start the game with 20 hit points and if you get to zero, it's pretty much game over. So the computer did a couple points of damage and I did a couple points of damage, but then we sort of left each other alone while we cast spells and built up our army of creatures. I could tell the computer was building up a stronger army than mine but there wasn't much I could do about it. Comes down to luck of the draw. None of his cards were overly powerful, but he (or she?) had so many of them. I only had three, but he had seven. It's then he launched a full on assault and depleted half my health in one round. There wasn't much I could do - I was defenseless. But then, I drew "the" card...

The card basically damages every card in play - my own and my opponents. I could use it, but it would destroy two of my three cards. But it would destroy ALL of my opponent's cards. I used it without a second thought. I had no other option. In one move...with the play of a single card, I destroyed my opponent's entire army that he had spent several rounds amassing. I lost all my guys but one. Unfortunately, I would go on to lose the match a few rounds later...but it didn't change my opinion of that moment in time - the card that destroyed an army.

In the second or two it took for the computer to reconcile the round and run through its automated battle scene, I couldn't help but think of Wreck-It Ralph and how the games essentially came to life...and imagined what the computer player I was competing against thought of that move.

Was he cursing me under his breath?

Was he just as shocked and impressed with the move as I was?

Did he want to flip the table and resign the round like I've done when I suffered a huge loss and knew defeat was imminent?

Well, of course the computer player is nothing but pieces and parts...bits of code...and ones and zeroes. It wasn't "thinking" anything. It was merely reading and processing instructions.

But I couldn't help but think about what if...

It's not the first time I've imagined what the computer AI must feel when a human player pulls off or brilliant move against the computer - or even more...what the computer might feel after pulling off a brilliant move against a human player.

Yesterday I was playing Titanfall when a human dropped a Titan on top of my Titan. It crushed me. It didn't just crush me, it caught me off guard - I totally didn't see it coming. I literally jumped when it happened. I couldn't be angry. It was a brilliantly executed plan. Perhaps a bit of luck to it. I wished I had a comm link with the player who did it so I could tell him it was a great move. Do you know how many Titans I've dropped on Auto Titans - the ones without a human pilot being controlled by the computer. Plenty. Dozens at least. I always wonder if the computer has a similar reaction... You know, he wants to tell me, "Wow...that was a great move."

There was a game, I want to say it was Counterstrike, that had bot players that would talk to you. I remember sometimes I wasn't sure if I was talking to a real player or not. I was reluctant to respond until I knew one way or another. This is kind of a similar notion.

Aw, it's late...and I'm tired...and should probably quit thinking about (and admitting) what my computer or video game console would think if it were real before I end up in Arkham Asylum.

Here's to a great weekend.

Cheers.

 

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