DropN, or: Why7?

by Darius Kazemi on November 4, 2012

in game,project,projects

I made a programmatic exploration of the game Drop7. I call it DropN. Here’s the statement accompanying the game:

Hi. I’m Darius Kazemi. I built this thing, DropN, as a programmatic exploration of Drop7. I play Drop7 every day. I’ve been playing it since it was an ARG for a mediocre TV drama. Anyway, I’ve always wondered: why 7?

I was going to write a long-winded essay, but instead opted for a bit of carpentry instead. This program lets you change two key numbers in Drop7: the 7 itself, so central to the game, and the number of turns between block advancement.

My hope is that, by playing with these parameters, you’ll get a better sense of why 7 and not 6, or 5.

TECHNICAL NOTE: I was originally going to write my own version of Drop7 in JavaScript to test this idea. But thankfully, Tony Chang had already written it. All I had to do was modify the code a little, and expose some parameters. Thanks Tony!

Play DropN here.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Bateman November 9, 2012 at 7:56 am

Loving what you’re doing here. :)

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Darius Kazemi November 9, 2012 at 8:12 am

Thanks Chris!!

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Chris Bateman November 10, 2012 at 11:44 am

Did you see my remarks about the volatility of Drop7 that I posted about a year ago:
http://blog.ihobo.com/2011/10/drop7-and-volatility-in-puzzle-games.html

*waves from afar*

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Darius Kazemi November 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for the link. I’d never thought about block puzzle games (broadly) in terms of volatility, but you’re right, it’s the dominant mode of every major stacking game except Tetris.

I disagree on a couple points in it: 1) “hardcore” mode provides very very short games. I usually get 10 games done during a 15 train ride. 2) I think there really is strategy and room to grow, and that luck plays less of a role than you think. It was actually Eric Zimmerman who taught me that. Every time I lose I think about the last 10 or so turns and what I could have done better, and believe me, there are plenty of moments when I could have done better. It’s about understanding probabilities: being able to look at each of the 7 moves you can possibly make on any given turn and figuring out what the best one probably is. Luck plays a huge role, but your job as player is to mitigate the bad outcomes

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Chris Bateman November 12, 2012 at 3:23 am

I stopped playing the game quite rapidly because I found it too addictive and distracting, so I may not have reached the point of strategic play you mention. Most likely by the time I would have been getting to the point that state-space searching could mitigate the luck, I wouldn’t want to play anyway – this was always what I disliked about Chess. I prefer a game where strong intuition is more valuable than accurate turn projections – mostly, I don’t want to be playing games if I feel I could create a computer program that could play better than me. :)

*waves*

Giles Bowkett December 12, 2012 at 4:57 am

I started on a CoffeeScript port, but never finished it, so I’m excited to see this code. I used to play it obsessively, stopped for a while when I noticed similarities with poker, but over Thanksgiving achieved my highest-ever score in normal mode (well over 500K). I have some YouTube videos on strategy for it as well.

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Darius Kazemi December 12, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hey, you wrote Github vs. Skyrim! I thought about that one a lot, since I work at a company that more or less does things the “Github way”. I appreciated that you took time to point out the tension that exists between the “Github way” of doing things and the various compulsion loops that are easy for us to work at.

Also, I imagine Drop7′s similarities to poker are intentional. If you haven’t watched this talk about Go and Poker by the creator of Drop7, you should drop everything (pun not intended) and do so.

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Giles Bowkett December 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Glad you liked it! I’ve got the video in my cue. (Would have watched it already but no HTML5.) My hope with my blog post is to figure out my own real-life quest log that even comes close to being as addictive as these games.

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Darius Kazemi December 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

I think the key thing is: the quests have to be compelling, and they have to take place in a compelling context. So… make your life more like Skyrim, I guess!

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