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Artificial Intelligence

Strike-A-Light uses state of the art Artificial Computer Intelligence (AI) to give you a challenging game with almost human like strategy and capability.  

For the computer to play a good game of Strike-A-Light on a competition standard 8x8 board, the following needs to be considered for each move in a game:

  • Choose the best position to place a Disc in one of 64 possible board locations, or

  • Choose one of 30 possible Laser types (2x 4way + 8x 3way + 12x 2way + 8x 1way) and place it in the best position of 64 board locations, or

  • Choose one of 8 possible active Lasers and decide which (if any) should be struck.

A typical approach for computer artificial intelligence, when applied to board games, is to play every possible combination of moves in advance.  The series of moves that leads to a guaranteed win is then followed by the computer.  Since the computer cannot know which move you will make next, this calculation has to be performed for each turn in the game.

In the case of Strike-A-Light, the total number of moves possible for a given turn is the total number of available piece types times the total number of empty board locations.  For example on an 8x8 board the number of opening moves is:

(1 Disc + 30 Laser types) x 64 empty locations = 1984

Assuming a Laser is not placed, the second move would be:

(1 Disc + 30 Laser types) x 63 = 1953

The third move would be (31x62) = 1922, the fourth (31x61) = 1891 and so on.

To play every possible game the computer must play every possible move, hence for every one of the 1984 opening moves, there will be 1953 possible second moves.  For every one of the second moves there will be 1922 possible third moves and so on.  So the total number of moves in just the first four turns of a 8x8 Strike-A-Light game is:

1984 x 1953 x 1922 x 1891 = 14,082,793,893,504 moves! 

...and there are still 44 more turns to go! 

The Artificial Intelligence Engine of Strike-A-Light (affectionately named 'Big Brother') obviously does not play every move.  Even on the most powerful computer known, the opening move would not be played before the end of the universe!

Instead 'Big Brother' plays a random number of games for each possible move, building a statistical database on which to determine the best move.  The more games played, the more accurate the estimate becomes.  Fortunately, being 100% accurate in the early part of a game is not as critical as it is towards the end of a game, where the numbers involved become a lot more manageable.

So the next time you see your CPU usage hit 100% whilst playing Strike-A-Light, bear in mind that it has probably already played the current game a 100,000 times.  Luckily humans don't need to be so thorough!

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