Settings in 0.8
  • The game is now simulated on the game setup screen, to give an indicator of each player’s chance of winning.
  • A new option in settings to control whether game simulation happens in the cloud or not.
  • A new option in settings to control whether any cloud features are used.
  • Settings layout cleaned up.
Chance to win in 0.8

A while ago, I wrote about how some game modes are just “bad”, but I was going to include them anyway. Despite that, it would be nice if there was way to avoid the worst of them. One of my planned features is match-made online multiplayer. If I want to allow players to choose settings, then potential opponents definitely need to know whether the game is going to be fair.

I came up with a plan to generate a load of potential game settings, and run the AI on them, and see what the results were. That way it would be possible to identify fair games (games in which both players have a similar chance of winning) and add them as options to the game. Although I may still end up doing that, it occurred to me I could just add this information to the app.

So, on the game setup screen in 0.8 will be a new section called “chance to win”. This is how measure of how good the AI believes the best move is for the first turn of each player. A you can see, in a standard game of Tic-tac-toe, it does not look good for player 2.

For general use, this is calculated on the server, and cached per game setup. It can technically be run in the app, but the results vary more (but will probably be added as a fallback - I strongly believe the app should work offline).

Winning in 0.7.1

Version 0.7.1 of Tic-tac-toe Collection includes new AI difficulty settings. It turns out making an easy AI was quite hard.

At some point I plan to write an in depth post into how the AI works, but for now all you need to is effectiveness is based on how long it thinks for compared to how many possible moves there are. In this way it is quite unsophisticated.

So, for easy, I made the AI think for less time, and for hard, I made it think for more (I also made normal a little easier while I was at it). In general, this worked well. The problem was, even when I made it really easy, it was still impossible to be at it at standard game of Tic-tac-toe. Standard Tic-tac-toe is a bit of problem all round frankly. I want the game to generally be a fun game, in which players have a good chance of winning (or losing). And that is not true of standard Tic-tac-toe.

But not including it seems odd, so I have to try and accommodate it. Since you can’t beat the AI on normal anyway, I was already facing the problem that normal and hard would be the same, so I felt that it was important that at least easy would be different.

So in the end, I had to make the easy AI a little stupid. It still does scale it’s thinking down but now it also has a chance of just choosing a move at random. That chance should be low for games with more moves, so it doesn’t become silly on larger boards. But it does mean you can, occasionally, win a game of Tic-tac-toe.

Game setup in 0.7.1
  • Added AI difficulty options.
  • Improved how players’ default names are handled.
  • Made lists of buttons wrap more nicely.
  • Fixed a bug which prevented the AI from realising it was playing Chain.

You can now get Tic-tac-toe Collection on the Amazon app store. I would generally recommend still using the Play Store if you can, but if you have a Kindle Fire, then this is now an option for you. Fire TV devices are not yet supported however.

Chain main menu in 0.7
  • A new game variation option I decided to call “chain”. Get an extra turn after completing a line.
  • See what the AI is thinking (when not running in the cloud). This has existed in some form for debugging, but I cleaned it up enough for the public.
Analytics opt-in in 0.6.3

An apparently minor release with lots of changes under the hood, including:

  • Fixed a bunch of layout issues on smaller devices.
  • Fixed the very odd text of the analytics collection warning.
  • Simplified the implementation of some of the layouts to improve performance
Analytics opt-in in 0.6.2

Analytics are now disabled by default and a message briefly explaining why the app would like to collect analytics is now displayed at startup.

Fixed a minor issue that caused a crash introduced in 0.6.

Drop Four game in 0.6

0.6 brings a new game mode called Drop Four, also known as Connect Four, Captain’s Mistress, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four, Four in a Row, Four in a Line and Gravitrips.

This was on my shortlist of features to add for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to justify the “collection” part of the name (you may have noticed that Tic-tac-toe and Gomoku are the same game mode). Secondly I expected it to be quick to add.

And it was. The logic for determining winners is exactly the same as Tic-tac-toe, the only difference is a restriction on your valid moves. To differentiate it visually the board is also drawn differently (to look a bit more like you’re dropping pieces in) as well as the pieces (to look a bit like counters, but different from Gomoku).

Interestingly, the longest part was creating the image used on the game selection screen. The images used for Tic-tac-toe and Gomoku were created manually. I decided that would be a pain to keep having to do, so I developed a feature to let me cleanly screenshot games. At some point this may become a user facing feature…

0.6 is currently in beta for any one wanting to play Drop Four.