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Pac-Man: Good start?

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Would you say that pac-man would be a good start for a yearning programmer? From my view, it contains everything a game basically needs: A player character Collision detection Player input Obsticles(Ghosts), and with that, AI A plot (albeit loose) A goal A reward system(points) Varying difficulties Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? ~Justin

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Pong has all those(except obstacles.in which you could make) and is 10 times easier. Its up to you and your experience though. If you really want a simple game then tic tac toe has those basics you''ve mentioned to give or take a few. Good Luck.

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Start with Pong, then move on to Breakout or Tetris (tetris is easy to code slopily, but can you make an elegant Tetris?) then after that, do Pac-Man. After Pac-Man, you may want to experiment with side-scrollers and so on.

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my advice to you is to try and write a game that you would think would be fun to play. i started writing a breakout game because a lot of people advised that was the second game people should make after tetris. but i never really completed the game because i really could give a damn about playing a boring game like breakout. if you actually want to play the game you have made it will be easier to find motivation and easier to complete it.

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I''d say pac-man is just fine. I''ve written pong and tetris numerous times and they both have really tedious details that get really annoying when you can''t fix them. For instance in pong you have to deal with the ball (be it a square or circle) hitting the corner of a paddle. How do you detect it properly? How do you react once you''ve detected it? etc. There are great methods to deal with this, but the ones that work best involve fair amounts of math or evil hackish tricks.

I found tetris to be much worse though. Pong you can play around and have lots of fun doing things like making gettable items, or obstacles and what not. But tetris has so many subtle issues that need to be tweaked to get the game to feel good. If you''ve ever played the new tetris for N64 then you know what I mean. The biggest issue is rotating the peices. Next biggest would be the best way to go about the timing system in your game.

Now, with that all said, pong and tetris are still very simple games. Pac-man is also a very simple game. If you''re good at recognizing patterns and breaking complex problems down into smaller subproblems then you should be able to handle pac-man just fine.

I suppose the big issue with pac-man is how to deal with the level environment. I''d make a grid I guess, with cells that you can move on and cells that you can''t. Throw in a bunch of dots and some computer controlled ghosts and voila! Pac-man.

Of course, if you''re just starting out with graphics for the first time, maybe you should just play around with drawing and moving things on the screen and not even think about jumping straight into a game. Really basic Pong typically follows right after you figure out how to animate a box moving around the screen.

-out

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Well, the way I''m doing it is (in Java, since I''m more comfortable with graphics there) making bounding rectangles around drawn rectangles (soon to be a background) that your character''s (and the ghost''s) squares can''t go through. So far, it''s working rather well. I''ll post a link once I''ve got something workable.

~Justin
((I really, really /hate/ trying to write an intersection detecting AI...))

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Pac-Man is a challenging start. Not impossible, but certainly a challenge. I would say that the graphics, movement, etc. etc. are very similar to what you''ll see with Tetris or Pong with a few idiosyncracies. I''ve just finished a PacMan close myself.

People seem to be missing an important point - ghost AI. Random moving ghosts are very boring, and ghosts that just move toward the PacMan are very boring. Giving the ghosts a bit of a personality through their behaviors is much harder. Plus you have to throw in things like pathfinding, and differential behaviors. Ghosts that are blue behave differently from non-blue ghosts behave differently from ghost that are in the cage. Once a ghost has been eaten, it has to find its way back to the cage. Lots more to think about than meets the eye.

Just my $0.02.

-Kirk

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Maybe you should read this: http://www.lupinegames.com/articles/path_to_dev.html

A good article on the subject and there's also something about pacman:
"You may not have been aware of this, but in the original Pac-Man the four different ghosts had different goals to trying to defeat you as a team. The aggressor would try to follow the shortest path to you, making you directly avoid him. The interceptor would try to go to a junction that was closest to where you would have to move to avoid the aggressor. A second interceptor would try to stay more towards the middle and try to cut you off from using the tunnel through the sides. The last ghost would sort of wander aimlessly about which often kept him staying in a section you needed to finish the map."

[edited by - milzer on February 10, 2004 9:05:50 AM]

[edited by - milzer on February 10, 2004 9:06:09 AM]

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milzer - good link! Geoff Howland makes a number of excellent points in that article.

asdasd12345 - I''d be glad to send you a copy of my PacMan if you promise not to laugh. 8^) Send me an e-mail - you can find my e-mail address in my profile.

-Kirk

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quote:
Original post by kirkd
Pac-Man is a challenging start. Not impossible, but certainly a challenge. I would say that the graphics, movement, etc. etc. are very similar to what you'll see with Tetris or Pong with a few idiosyncracies. I've just finished a PacMan close myself.

People seem to be missing an important point - ghost AI. Random moving ghosts are very boring, and ghosts that just move toward the PacMan are very boring. Giving the ghosts a bit of a personality through their behaviors is much harder. Plus you have to throw in things like pathfinding, and differential behaviors. Ghosts that are blue behave differently from non-blue ghosts behave differently from ghost that are in the cage. Once a ghost has been eaten, it has to find its way back to the cage. Lots more to think about than meets the eye.

Just my $0.02.

-Kirk



Call me crazy, but didn't the ghosts in the original Pac Man just move towards you?



[edited by - xegoth on February 10, 2004 3:32:38 PM]

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Nope. If that were the case, the ghosts would eventually all pile up on each other and follow you around the maze as one unit. You could very easily avoid them assuming you''re faster. Read milzer''s post and check the link he suggested. Each ghost has a unique personality and they change from level to level.

-Kirk

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<< the ghosts would eventually all pile up on each other and follow you around the maze as one unit >>

True, however the way to fix this is to make some ghosts more "random" than others. For example, I have three colors. Red Ghost is least random (90% chance of always chasing), Green is somewhat random (80% chance of always chasing), and Blue is most random (70% chance of always chasing). Looks like they follow different paths with different "personalities" but programming that would be difficult. Occasionally they do follow the same path, but you can make one ghost more random than another to fix that.

Example: my pacman which you all might have seen

VazPac.cpp | EXE

Working on design doc for a side/vertical scrolling platform game similar to Super Mario Bros, so I guess I''m following Geoff Howland''s advice. Its a good path to take....

A Path to Game Development

VazGames.com

Phil P

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Vaz,

I''ve seen your site and it is quite impressive. Your games are very nice too. Regarding the PacMan, your approach is definitely one very good way to go and plays well.

I''m taking a different approach for different reasons. The Pac-Man I made represents my simulator. I''m going to use Genetic Programming to evolve the AI for the ghosts and the PacMan simultaneously. I''m hopeful that the coevolution will yield some interesting results. I''ve just finished the simulator and am just starting to work on the AI site. I''m more interested in the evolutionary computation than the game. Lots left to be done.

You also mentioned the "path" that Howland outlines. I''m on the same exact path. First run was breakout. Very boring but taught me the very basics. I skipped Tetris and jumped up to PacMan where architecture became much more important. Next I''m hoping to do a side scroller much like Mario Bros - Pitfall is my choice. I also want to do a top down scroller like Galaga. Interesting how we''ve all converged on similar paths, eh?

-Kirk

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<< I also want to do a top down scroller like Galaga. Interesting how we''ve all converged on similar paths, eh? >>

Yeah, a Galaga would be cool. I think after my side scroller Super Vaz Brothers I''ll do 3D only, OpenGL to start. I figured out how to play MIDI and WAV with Fmod which is so easy. Goodbye DirectSound (which can''t play MIDI).

Good luck on the A.I., its one of the most complex parts of game programming (or so I''ve read).

Phil P

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No!! Not 3D!! Don''t do it!! 8^) Seriously, I look forward to seeing a 3D post on your web site. The others you''ve done are quite good and 3D should be interesting.

I find it interesting the evolution of games. What''s the difference between Pitfall (from the good old Atari 2600 days), Mario Bros., and Quake? Degrees of freedom - 1D, 2D, 3D.

I just get a kick out of the simple ones. I could still play Galaga (or R-type or Parsec or Munch Man ...) for hours, but I get bored with 3D stuff. Just different preferences, really. Or maybe I''m just getting old. 8^)

Sorry to go off topic...

-Kirk

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