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# Conway's Game of Death

Adding violence to a mathematical quandary
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Conway's Game of Life is a cellular automaton developed by John Conway in 1970. The Game of Life is a "zero-player game" where its evolution needs no human input to continue after the game's initial state is determined.

(To save myself the burden of explaining the rules of 'Life', from now on I will assume that the reader already knows them. If you don't, I advise you to skim through the provided link and gain a basic understanding of the game's principles.)

Conway's Game of Death is, in contrast, a two-player game. The rules are quite simple. Each player, on opposite sides of a four- sided grid, rapidly draws designs in real time to launch gliders, rakes, puffers and spaceships at their opponent. Squares that each player places are that player's color (example: red vs. black) and react with live squares of their own color normally. However, the grid is divided into three sections; each player is on their own section, with a neutral zone between them. If two squares from opposing players come into contact, the square that is on its own side is annihilated. If the squares are in the neutral zone, both are annihilated.

The game is divided into thirds. Each third of the game ends when a player has a pulsar oscillator going in their side for a specified amount of rounds. That player wins the third. To win the game, a player must win two out of three thirds.

 — DrWorm, Sep 01 2009

Rules to Conway's Game of Life. If you don't read this, the above idea will seem like absolute nonsense. [DrWorm, Sep 01 2009]

A two-player version of the Game of Life was a central plot feature of David Brin's book "Glory Season". It didn't feature real-time interaction, just teams creating initial conditions.
 — lurch, Sep 02 2009

[21 Quest], didn't you know? The winner's prize is the Conway Twitty Collection. And [lurch], with realtime interaction I think the game is more like a "dynamic game" and less like a "math problem", if you know what I mean.
 — DrWorm, Sep 02 2009

WTF is a Conway Twitty?
 — coprocephalous, Sep 02 2009

 What is the frame ('round') duration? And how wide are the sections?

 You see, the winning condition ("...when a player has a pulsar oscillator going in their side for 30 rounds") seems a bit easy to me.Suppose I draw a pulsar to the rear of my section in the first frame. If nothing modifies this, I'll win the round in 30 frames. The best the opponent can do is draw a lightweight spaceship at the front of their section. This will advance at one row per 2 frames, so the furthest it can progress in 30 frames is 15 rows.

Even so, the idea of maintaining something for a duration as a winning condition is a good one. I just think you've slightly over-specified the rules in that respect; they may need iterating to give a good game.
 — Loris, Sep 02 2009

You're right, [Loris], and in fact I was just thinking about that very problem. 30 rounds is far too little time. Perhaps it would be better if I left it ambiguous. In fact, I'll change that now, thanks.
 — DrWorm, Sep 02 2009

One thing that I question: some structures tend to be very durable; some react to collision (in a normal rule-set) with a violent spray of moving debris. However, under your rules ("If two squares from opposing players come into contact, the square that is on its own side is annihilated.") no pulsar, block, fence, glider, automaton or whatever, stands a chance: at first touch, they die.
 — lurch, Sep 02 2009

Feeling terribly old and obscure, I raise my hand knowing what a Conway Twitty was, without looking at link.
 — blissmiss, Sep 02 2009

The astonishing thing is that he changed his name *to* Conway Twitty.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 02 2009

[MaxwellBuchanan] I was just about to say the exact same thing!
 — Dub, Sep 04 2009

 I am thinking that a game as proposed might not require much strategery.

 1. plant pulsar.

 2. plant things (eg gliders) that will fly over and hit your opponents pulsar.

 3. plant things (eg stable shapes) that will intercept or block incoming flying things from your opponent.

4. go to 2.
 — bungston, Sep 04 2009

[bungston], what? No guns? Also, you can't plant stable shapes to block the opponent's gliders, because you can only draw in your own zone, and your stable shapes would only get destroyed anyway. You need to carefully send ships and gliders to intercept. Or make glider guns.
 — DrWorm, Sep 04 2009

 This might be the "killer application" for a touch table the same way Solitaire was for Windows...

 I might make the game a bit easier to win. Also, some "cheats" might be helpful (pre-made glider guns, etc that you can cut & paste).

 It'd be interesting to bake this and tweak the speed, etc. I suppose it would be easier to implement as a networked game for now.

 It may also be interesting to simply let the squares interact normally on all parts of the grid, with the rest of the rules intact -- that way, you could set up defenses for your side, etc. I am not a life expert -- I wonder if a 'reflector' is a possibility.

Do you mind if anyone here bakes this?
 — cowtamer, Sep 04 2009

 Having cut-and-paste patterns is a brilliant idea. Maybe there could be a "library" of patterns for players to choose from, so they don't have to remember so many.

Also, I would love it if someone baked this. In fact, I would be the first to try/buy it.
 — DrWorm, Sep 04 2009

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