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Pac-Man Patterns and Gameplay


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#1 DanielJSorenson OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:04 AM

I've found much about patterns for the arcade Pac-Man, but none (at least not clear) for the original 2600 version. Are there maze-negotiating patterns for Atari 2600 Pac-Man or are the ghosts just programmed to go toward Pac-Man? If the latter, then there would be no real winning pattern or patterns to use in gameplay other than "avoid the ghosts!" Do any of you have info on this? I'd be interested in patterns for Ms Pac-Man, Jr. Pac-Man, and the homebrew Pac-Man 4K as well.

#2 Flojomojo ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:31 AM

I would think the ghosts are programmed to chase. Admittedly, I don't really know, but pattern books seem to have gone out of style in the early 1980s. Did they ever work reliably after the first few levels?



#3 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:08 PM

I've read some pattern books too but it was actually back in the 80's. But from what I remember, the patterns were patterns *you* could use to take advantage of the rudimentary AI programmed into the game, they weren't patterns that were specifically programmed. So the 2600 probably would have similar patterns even if the ghosts are just programmed to chase, the question is just whether anyone has found and documented them. I kinda doubt it.



#4 fiddlepaddle OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:58 PM

I understand the 'patterns' in the arcade game to be a consequence of the determinism of the game.  As long as the player/Pacman does the exact same thing every time, the ghosts will as well because they always choose what to do based on where Pacman is and which way he's moving.

 

For example, movement of ghosts is specifically NOT affected by the position of the joystick itself, which you can certainly move in some cases without affecting game play, like during moments when Pacman is moving along a straight corridor and cannot turn.  It's also never random, either.

 

It's unrelated to whether or not are the "ghosts just programmed to go toward Pac-Man", but I am not familiar enough with the 2600 version to know if patterns apply.

 

 



#5 fiddlepaddle OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:58 PM

edit: double post


Edited by fiddlepaddle, Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:58 PM.


#6 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:05 AM

I also recall reading that patterns didn't work as well in Ms. Pac-Man cause the ghosts used different behavior.  I had a 'How to win at Ms. Pac-Man' book as a kid and while it had patterns for the first several boards it stressed it MAY not always work perfectly due to that random factor.



#7 CapitanClassic OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:17 AM

All games are deterministic, but patterns exist in Pacman arcade rather than Ms. Pacman arcade because the momements of the ghosts do not contain any Pseudo Random Number Generator variation.

The difference is having to memorize 256-65535 patterns versus only a few.

Patterns do exist in Pacman 2600 (skip towards near the end)
https://m.youtube.co...h?v=k6dct6lwEYI

#8 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:44 AM

All games are deterministic

 

Why would you say something so obviously wrong?



#9 CapitanClassic OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:11 AM

 
Why would you say something so obviously wrong?

No true randomness exists in Pacman or Ms Pacman. Why would you say something so obviously vague?

I didn't speak correctly, I meant all arcade games are deterministic whether they use a set pattern, or use a pseudo random number generator to modify change their pattern. The only difference is the number of patterns that you have to know.

I cannot think of any games off hand for arcade/vcs that introduce true randomness. The closest thing I can think of is that some games use when a player enters input (like game reset) to seed a random number generator.

Edited by CapitanClassic, Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:36 AM.


#10 BillyHW OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 11:58 AM

No human player could possibly figure out what random number seed was used in Ms. Pac-Man, and then base his pattern on this on the fly.  For all intents and purposes it is non-deterministic.  That's why patterns aren't really possible on Ms. and why it's a harder game overall.

 

The original Pac-Man on the other hand did not use random numbers, and the ghost movements were completely determined by the player movements, so players could figure out patterns to clear a map without ever getting caught by a ghost.  That's why Billy Mitchell was able to score a perfect game in Pac-Man.  He even knew where to rest so he could go to the bathroom without getting killed.



#11 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 12:01 PM

You can blather on about whether or not random number generators are "really" random, "Capitan", but that would be obvious goalpost-moving on your part, now wouldn't it? No, the only deterministic games are ones in which all the computer's decisions are predetermined and/or based strictly on player input. As soon as randomness is introduced, the game becomes non-deterministic.

 

Enemy attack patterns in Missile Command? The paths barrels take to the bottom in Donkey Kong? Asteroid position and direction in Asteroids? Enemy placement in Defender? Mushrooms in Centipede? Walls and robot placement in Berzerk? All random elements that make deterministic play impossible.



#12 CapitanClassic OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:12 PM

You can blather on about whether or not random number generators are "really" random, "Capitan", but that would be obvious goalpost-moving on your part, now wouldn't it? No, the only deterministic games are ones in which all the computer's decisions are predetermined and/or based strictly on player input. As soon as randomness is introduced, the game becomes non-deterministic.
 
Enemy attack patterns in Missile Command? The paths barrels take to the bottom in Donkey Kong? Asteroid position and direction in Asteroids? Enemy placement in Defender? Mushrooms in Centipede? Walls and robot placement in Berzerk? All random elements that make deterministic play impossible.

How did I move the goalposts? I corrected what I said, NOT all games are deterministic, but all the games on the vcs/arcade are. At most they use a PRNG to simulate randomness, which means that they are deterministic. Eventually the PRNG will repeat its pattern.

Randomness doesn't make a game impossible to beat using a predetermined pattern.

Here is a simple example to illustrate this isn't the case. Imagine the same deterministic Pacman game, but with one small change, at the start of the game the game randomly (choose whatever method you want here that you will accept as real randomness) starts the ghosts moving in the opposite direction. So at the start, the player can see Clyde's eyes and know which random state was chosen.

Is this game impossible to beat with a predetermined pattern?

#13 BillyHW OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:29 PM

How did I move the goalposts? I corrected what I said, NOT all games are deterministic, but all the games on the vcs/arcade are. At most they use a PRNG to simulate randomness, which means that they are deterministic. Eventually the PRNG will repeat its pattern.

Randomness doesn't make a game impossible to beat using a predetermined pattern.

Here is a simple example to illustrate this isn't the case. Imagine the same deterministic Pacman game, but with one small change, at the start of the game the game randomly (choose whatever method you want here that you will accept as real randomness) starts the ghosts moving in the opposite direction. So at the start, the player can see Clyde's eyes and know which random state was chosen.

Is this game impossible to beat with a predetermined pattern?

 

But all you've done is create two starting states, for which patterns can be memorized.

 

My understanding is that in a Ms. Pac-Man game, there is no way for a human player to know with certainty which direction a ghost will move at any given intersection.



#14 CapitanClassic OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:36 PM

 
But all you've done is create two starting states, for which patterns can be memorized.
 
My understanding is that in a Ms. Pac-Man game, there is no way for a human player to know with certainty which direction a ghost will move at any given intersection.

That was my point, randomness isn't a catch all for determining whether patterns can be used to solve a game. In my simplistic example, it just meant that only two possible patterns were needed to exactly how to solve 2-random state Pacman.

With MsPacman, it is probably beyond the capabilities of a human player to know which way a ghost will turn at any particular intersection in real time.

With even a simple 256 PRNG seeding when the machine was powered on, it would be unlikely that any player would devote the time to figure out all 256 patterns, or figure out how to get the game in a state where when they start the game it is on a particular seed. (Actually, the latter I could see someone trying to exploit, but determining how to make it happen seems like a lot of work)

#15 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:49 PM

How did I move the goalposts? I corrected what I said, NOT all games are deterministic, but all the games on the vcs/arcade are. At most they use a PRNG to simulate randomness, which means that they are deterministic. Eventually the PRNG will repeat its pattern.

 

That, right there, is exactly what I meant by goalpost-moving. You attempted to expand the notion of a truly deterministic AI like Pac-Man's, into a "nae true randomness" argument encompassing ALL (arcade/VCS) games. Which is of course bullshit. For any competently-coded random number generator, there is no practical difference between a pseudo-random number generator and true randomness. If players never notice a pattern, then for all practical purposes there is no pattern. Et voila, non-deterministic gameplay.



#16 toiletunes OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:02 PM

It never ceases to amaze me how, 35 years after the release, people still find new ways to argue about Atari 2600's Pac-Man.



#17 Torr OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 6:58 PM

I agree (in the sense of text/legal/code book or by 'definition') that a random number generator is not true randomness.

Me and friends have had this discussion while comparing D&D to real life.

 

Basically, since numbers are infinite, anytime you narrow a selection of numbers down, be it as small as [1 - 6] or as big as [1 - 1,048,576] when you compare it to inifinity?

If you compared it to a shot at a bulls eye, someone might split hairs and say your bullet hole is actaully .001% off the bulls eye and in the ten ring.

 

To compare it to our D&D conclusion, we could never roll enough dice to really simulate life.

 

Therefor I say, unless we let a computer truly decide on it's own (or rather NOT decide and let it do it's first 'impulse' we'll say), with none of our input, what it does ISN'T random.

 

It may be some crazy patterns that take great memory/recall/anticipation/observation/analysis/etc over what seems like an impossibly short amount of time... but just because a human can't decipher it's cryptic behavior right now, doesn't mean one won't in the future, or some other life form possibly.

It was hard for humans to grasp the ideas of the very world around them once upon a time...

When inventions like the wheel/gear were amazing, who thought the atom bomb would someday be a thing?

When Billy Mitchell outsmarted a computer (in the days when computers were still magically genie things), who though that ??? ???? would figure out ??? ?????

 

Just to clarify, I know the argument is going to be randomly choosing a number from any group is still random.

And I agree with that, one could easily (and honestly) say they randomly switch sides as they chew. That's only switching between between two option, but it is random.

However, when I entered a tavern, and something randomly happened to me, it didn't.

It happened as one of X choices from a table in a book.

There are many MANY things that were just as possible to have happened, but actually impossible, because they weren't on the table.

You can say the ghosts move randomly, but they don't.

They can only move in one of X patterns from a table in a datafile.

 

Feels random to the mind though.

Just as I don't understand how ANYONE can find patterns in Pac-Man, I know they're there. I just can't comprehend them.

Doesn't mean they aren't there though.

Therefor, just because no one yet has been able to comprehend something, doesn't mean it is incomprehensible.


Edited by Torr, Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:11 PM.


#18 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:44 PM

However, when I entered a tavern, and something randomly happened to me, it didn't.
It happened as one of X choices from a table in a book.

 

Something happened that was randomly selected from a predetermined list. There, was that so hard?

 

By your silly application of the word, real life isn't random either, because reality is constrained by physical laws. You never wake up to find yourself transformed into an ice cream cone.

 

Hell, to those who believe in the "clockwork universe" theory of cosmology, there is literally no randomness at all, ever, in anything. The entire universe, down to the smallest subatomic particle, behaves deterministically.



#19 Torr OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:30 AM

By your silly application of the word, real life isn't random either, because reality is constrained by physical laws. You never wake up to find yourself transformed into an ice cream cone.

 

Well no, that's just exaggerating for the point of being silly.
 
Switching between two sides of your mouth while chewing IS random. That's only a limit of two options, but you are not consciously choosing, or even aware usually unless you stop and focus on which side you are using.
You are having no personal input in the outcome, but of course you can't chew with the top side because that is impossible.
Just as is turning into an ice cream cone when I wake up. (as far we know)
However, the exact moment in time I woke up, my physical body shape position, and location on the bed, positioning of blankets, whether I woke with a snort or calmly, whether there's a fly in my room, whether or not possible fly just bit me or is planning to bite me, etc...
Infinity is all around us, and what cause randomness
Randomness can't be limited or controlled, if it is, it isn't random.
 
Like saying you have a wild lion for a pet that you've tamed. I understand what the statement is saying, but grammatically it's contradictory.
 
Those ghosts DO have a predetermined set of paths they can take at each turn. it maybe from a huge list of options, but the point is, it IS limited.
It may be a limit that's beyond our minds ability to work with, but that doesn't make it impossible.
In that case our mind is like floppy drive that's trying to read a CD.
The CD isn't unreadable, we just can't read it.
 
But I feel this is also a more philosophical debate, I don't wanna derail the actual Pac-Man strategy here!

Edited by Torr, Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:39 AM.


#20 NE146 ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:11 AM

Geezus H you guys. Funny how something that I assume everyone "just knows".. isn't the case. You guys talk about Pacman and patterns like it's ancient history you were informed about, and not something you were immersed in yourself. What gaming board is this??  :)

 

It's easy.. 
       1. Original Pacman/Puckman (arcade) = patterns.  
       2. Everything else = forget it.  :lol:
 
Actually the 2600 Pacman, I wouldn't call it a pattern-per-se, but I definitely had a initial route for a few seconds circling around the ghost pen, where the ghosts (set on fast) would react similarly. It doesn't take them long though to start varying their courses.  Also Ms. Pacman I believe only TWO of the ghosts are randomized initially during their initial scatter at the start of a board.. so that's how they break the pattern scheme. However after that, their behavior is exactly like in Pac-Man and is determined by the players movements.  You can actually have some little patterns in Ms. Pac.. like this famous one where you can pass through a ghost on the strawberry level:
image1.png

 

The original Pac-Man on the other hand did not use random numbers, and the ghost movements were completely determined by the player movements, so players could figure out patterns to clear a map without ever getting caught by a ghost.  That's why Billy Mitchell was able to score a perfect game in Pac-Man.  He even knew where to rest so he could go to the bathroom without getting killed.

 
Everyone knows the pac-man hiding spot. You should too. :)  Also actually I believe the whole deal with Billy Mitchell's score was he did not rely on patterns and instead used his grouping skills to eat 4 ghosts 100% of the time.. even on the fast-blue boards. 

Edited by NE146, Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:11 AM.


#21 SoulBlazer OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:22 AM

You guys realize your having a straw argument with the most argumentative, negative, and hostile poster on AA, right? He's been mean to everyone and never has a nice or positive thing to say. That's why he's the only person who I have blocked. Don't stop talking about this if you enjoy it, by all means...some interesting stuff here. Just don't direct anything toward him cause it's not worth the time.

Edited by SoulBlazer, Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:23 AM.


#22 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 11:37 AM

By your silly application of the word, real life isn't random either, because reality is constrained by physical laws. You never wake up to find yourself transformed into an ice cream cone.

 

However, according to the laws of quantum mechanics, you could.

 

Could happen every day for all we know! How many "missing persons" are now just ice cream cones?



#23 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:20 PM

Oh no, someone whose avatar is "Breast Breakout" has me blocked. Truly I am shamed.



#24 Flojomojo ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:26 PM

giphy.gif



#25 ZylonBane OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:13 PM

So in conclusion, most arcade and 2600 games are non-deterministic, for any meaningful definition of the term.






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