Monday, January 19, 2009

score four

There is a classic game from my youth called score-four, it's one of the better three-dimensional tic-tac-toe games.  Unlike Qubic (I think that's what it was called) you can only play your marker on top of one that was already played.  You might think of it as a combination of Connect-4 and three-D tic-tac-toe.

I am always looking for new ways to engage the imagination of my boy with autism, and he was really interested in tic-tac-toe, so I thought I'd build a score four game, to see if he would be interested.  The problem with the real game is that it's pretty fragile, and I thought it wouldn't survive Thomas' attention for very long.

The time to write it, oddly, came as I was on a cruise over Christmas, 2008.  Everybody had gone to bed, and I spent a few hours writing the game in the ship's library.  I modeled it loosely on the game from "Funtastic".  I thought it was very important to make it simple to play, but also to allow the players to move around the game easily, to view all the possibilities.  So, I set it up so that if the player mouses down anywhere except near the top of one of the pegs, you can orbit the game -- but if you are near a peg, it locate-highlights, and clicking on it drops your marker on that peg.

Finally, in the last couple of days, I've added a computer opponent.  Sadly, even the stupidest computer opponent beats me almost every time -- I set it up to just try to get two-in-a-rows and three-in-a-rows, and to avoid me trying to do the same...that is enough.  The three-dimensional aspect of the game is challenging enough for me that I win rarely.

The other sad thing is that, so far, I've not had much luck interesting my little boy.  We'll see how that goes in the future -- I still have some tricks up my sleeve.

Anybody interested in a copy of the game, either as a Mac binary or OpenGL source, can write me.