Some months ago, I was flipping through a book on game design, and I ran across a link. That link led me to another link, which led to my discovery of the game of Nomic. Nomic is, by far, the most intriguing game I’ve ever come across. Developed in the 1980’s by Peter Suber, as part of an exploration of the ways governments can legislate themselves into corners, it has received, in my opinion, far less attention than it deserves. Here’s the gist of it.

The primary goal of Nomic is to change the rules. That’s right, the game is all about changing the game’s own rules. Readers familiar with my style and personality will see now why I was so drawn to the game. Play begins with an initial rule set. For example:

  1. All players must obey all rules at all times, in the current form in which they are written.
  2. A rule may be modified, added, or deleted in the following way: a player proposes the rule on their turn, and all other players vote on it. The rule will be enacted, changed, or removed if the proposal to do so receives a simple majority (51% or greater) of votes.
  3. Players perform actions in turn, moving from left to right around the play-circle. On each turn, a player rolls a die and receives the number of points shown.
  4. The winner is the first player to reach 100 points.

This initial rule set is intended to be quite boring, in order to encourage players to begin amending it immediately.  (Note: Peter Suber’s original incarnation included a division between two rulesets: the mutable and the immutable, the latter of which can be changed right away, and the former of which must be “transmuted” into a mutable rule first. This distinction seemed arbitrary and unnecessary to me, and so I took the liberty of doing away with it.)

As I searched the Internet for a good, active, on-line Nomic game, I discovered very quickly that almost no active games exist. As usual, it seems, I’ve stumbled upon something fascinating a couple of years too late. My attempts to start up a forum-based Nomic derivative failed completely.

Oh well. I just thought I’d get the word out about one of the coolest unknown games I’ve seen.

SymbolicAI Update

Well, the SymbolicA.I. project has completely stalled, since life trumps software (I’m pretty sure the International Brotherhood of Geeks is going to take away my pocket protector for saying that), and since I’ve decided that I don’t like C++ (the IBoG is probably going to take my calculator now, too). So, even if the project is still alive, its incarnation will probably be written in Python (with which I have a great deal more experience), if it doesn’t die altogether.

Just thought I’d keep everybody posted.

In Remembrance

Having been absent from my blog of late, I didn’t think to write anything about September 11th. I didn’t mean any disrespect by it, and here, belated, are my thoughts:

I believe that September the 11th is a very particular day. It is a day to remember the people in Pennsylvania, in Washington, and in New York. It is a day to honor lives lost, and to pay respect for the people who withstood the horrors of that day. I’m not going to talk about politics. I’m not going to talk about why 9-11 justified the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’m not going to complain that it didn’t justify the wars, either. Because I believe that 9-11 should be one day bereft of politics. We should not spend the day talking about the threat from overseas terrorist, or government policies. It is simply a day to honor human loss. It is a day to remember those who gave their lives to save the victims of that day. It is a day to reach out and console our fellow people. It is a day to remember that we are all part of the human race, and we all share each other’s grief.

Technical Difficulties

Well, exactly as expected, my moving out has completely jumbled things. I’ve been laboring for the last few weeks, attempting to get my furniture arranged, my carpet cleaned, and all manner of such things. It’s been a malestrom of activity, and in that maelstrom, I’ve neglected to fix my — currently broken — Internet connection. So, I’m writing these words from the UNCC computer lab, and it appears that I’m going to be writing them this way for some time to come. I’ll try to be more regular about my updates, but who knows how likely that is?

More later, and thanks to any readers who are stubbornly clinging to this humble blog in spite of my absence.