Wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka
April 14, 2011 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Do you like Pac-Man but always thought "What this game really needs is to be a gigantic, player-created never-ending maze of interconnected Pac-Man boards"? Me neither. Fortunately, someone else did.

Sample boards include the obvious, the juvenile, and IA! IA! PAC-MAN FHTAGN!
posted by 40 Watt (38 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish it were multiplayer.
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:33 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It kind of plays like Pac-Man crossed with The Swimmer.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:37 PM on April 14, 2011


I always hated Pac-Man. This does nothing to change that. Life reaffirmed!
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:37 PM on April 14, 2011


It's a shame about the stupid Facebook requirement to be able to make your own board. Didn't notice that until after I posted it.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:39 PM on April 14, 2011


Apparently, you have to be logged in to Facebook to see anything.

You'll just have to picture the "dying Pac-Man" sound in your head at this point.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:40 PM on April 14, 2011


Curious, I was able to play without being logged into Facebook. It's only when you try to build a new level that you need to log in to Facebook.
posted by 40 Watt at 8:41 PM on April 14, 2011


Apparently, you have to be logged in to Facebook to see anything.

There's a "Play for Fun" button. Mash that.
posted by marxchivist at 8:49 PM on April 14, 2011


I really like the enemy mechanics. Major points are to be found in the larger areas, but those ghosts will lock right in on you out in the open.
posted by cyphill at 8:57 PM on April 14, 2011


I'm glad I didn't discover this at work, otherwise I would have accomplished absolutely NOTHING that day!!!!!
posted by theartandsound at 9:20 PM on April 14, 2011


That's pretty damn cool, FB integration aside.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:26 PM on April 14, 2011


I always hated Pac-Man. This does nothing to change that. Life reaffirmed!

Play Pac-Man Championship Edition on XBox Live or your phone or whatever. Makes the game so much more fluid and awesome.

Anyone else noticing lots of people wearing Pac-Man shirts? i've got Madness of Mission 6 and i've seen a few more traditional designs. my sister cross-stiched a Pac-Man ghost onto my bag.

this is a pretty awesome idea, and it is Friday for me. yay
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:26 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kill screen at (256, 256).
posted by Eideteker at 9:27 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


reminds me of making levels in Jetpack. simple, so you can spell your name, but complicated so you can make challenges
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:32 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


those ghosts will lock right in on you out in the open

If that's all they do, then it's not really Pac-Man.
posted by straight at 10:08 PM on April 14, 2011


I've been playing this for a while now, and finishing a level in Firefox causes the game to freeze for like a whole minute while the board slowly flashes. But it doesn't seem to work in Chrome or IE. (And "Made for Internet Explorer 9"? Even if it worked, FUCK THAT NOISE VERY HARD.)
posted by JHarris at 10:24 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the ghost AI is not even close to that of the arcade. Orange is a much more dogged pursuer than he should be, for instance.
posted by JHarris at 10:25 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a "Play for Fun" button. Mash that.

There is? Where?

(Is this something I actually need IE9 to understand?)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:25 PM on April 14, 2011


BTW, I was the first person to complete the "Cthulhu Ftagn" board. Go me!
posted by JHarris at 10:30 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Is this something I actually need IE9 to understand?)

works on Firefox too
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:45 PM on April 14, 2011


Not for me, it doesn't. Frowny face.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:56 PM on April 14, 2011


I wish there were some way of pausing other than waiting to come across a maze where the ghosts can't get you.

But still one of the coolest links I've ever seen on MetaFilter.
posted by gnossie at 11:28 PM on April 14, 2011


Gah! The ghost AI is about 95 percent of what made this game ever have any staying power, and as usual, clone programmers got it wrong or just skipped it entirely. I'd rather play the Atari 2600 port.

fuck no i wouldn't
posted by scrowdid at 11:34 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I played for hours until I got to this maze,

http://worldsbiggestpacman.com/play/#9,30

which is a death trap if you lose a life there.
posted by gnossie at 12:25 AM on April 15, 2011


Could someone please post a 4000 word treatise on the Pacman ghost AI mechanics? I've always just assumed it was mostly random and that the level design made the randomness seem malicious.
posted by doublehappy at 12:26 AM on April 15, 2011


Could someone please post a 4000 word treatise on the Pacman ghost AI mechanics?

"Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behavior" (4170 words)
posted by prinado at 12:49 AM on April 15, 2011 [11 favorites]




Could someone please post a 4000 word treatise on the Pacman ghost AI mechanics? I've always just assumed it was mostly random and that the level design made the randomness seem malicious.


I had a paperback book about this ages ago called 'Mastering Pac-Man'.

here's a link from MeFi that answers it MeFi thread
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 12:50 AM on April 15, 2011


Now I'm evilly busy making my own death trap mazes.
posted by gnossie at 1:05 AM on April 15, 2011


Could someone please post a 4000 word treatise on the Pacman ghost AI mechanics?

I can do it in less than that, having internalized most of the information from The Pac-Man Dossier. (I had Mastering Pac-Man back in the day and may still have it somewhere still. I remember it being okay, but mostly a pattern book.)

The first thing you need to know is that there are three "modes" the monsters can be in: Scatter, Chase and Vulnerable.

In "Scatter": Each monster retreats to its "home corner" and circles there until Scatter mode ends. The home corners: Pink is upper-left, Red is upper-right, Orange is lower-left and Blue is lower-right.
In "Chase": Each monster uses its own algorithm in an attempt to catch Pac-Man. These are explained in detail below. The monsters spend most of each level in Chase mode.
In "Vulnerable": The monsters are blue and eatable. They move pseudo-randomly; the mechanism used is complex and references arbitrary locations in memory, but the seed is reset at the start of each board and life, which preserves patterns.

At the start of a level, the monsters begin already in Scatter mode. They switch between Scatter and Chase at predetermined times in each level. That first Scatter mode lasts a good long while, long enough for the monsters typically to reach their corners, but later Scatters are much shorter, seven seconds in early boards, then five seconds. The first step to good general (as opposed to pattern) Pac-Man play is knowing about Scatter modes, when they happen, and what signifies them.

Whenever the monsters go from Scatter to Chase, from Chase to Scatter, or from either to Vulnerable, they reverse direction. Pac-Man's board has no dead ends, so this is the only time that the monsters, in their normal travel through the board, will reverse direction. Knowing this, you can watch for the reverse that signals the beginning of Scatter mode, and use the ensuing five seconds to clear out some hard-to-reach dots, go for the fruit, or approach an Energizer.

The monsters have their own idiosyncratic means of chasing Pac-Man. They are:
RED: Tries to take the shortest route to Pac-Man. Precisely, when it reaches an intersection it checks a little ahead in each direction and picks the one that shortens the distance to Pac-Man by the most.
PINK: Does the same thing as Red, except that instead of homing in on Pac-Man directly, tries to home in on the space eight dot-lengths ahead of Pac-Man, in the direction he's facing. This means Pink tends to get ahead of Pac-Man, often trapping him between itself and Red; it also means that Pink is vulnerable to well-timed "fake-outs," especially if he's close to Pac-Man. Note that there is a bug in Pink's behavior that causes it to home in on the wrong spot if Pac-Man is facing up; in this event, Pink will instead home in on a spot somewhat up and to the left of Pac-Man.
BLUE: The most complicated monster. Draw an imaginary line from Red to Pac-Man. Extend that line beyond Pac-Man by the same distance. The spot you arrive at is Blue's target location. It's not a very efficient chase route, but adds unpredictability to Blue's motions, and it's harder to quickly predict his actions than Red or Pink. It does mean, the closer Red is to Pac-Man, the smarter Blue will seem to be. There is also a bug in Blue's targeting that, similar to Pink, will sometimes home in on the wrong location when Red is below Pac-Man. Explaining it is complicated (and I don't fully understand it), but the wrong location is still closer when Red is near Pac-Man, so it isn't a particularly grievous exploit.
ORANGE: The "dumbest" monster isn't actually that dumb. From a distance it is a more ruthless pursurer than Blue. The key to understanding Orange's actions is to understand that he has two potential targets in Chase mode. If he is further than a certain distance from Pac-Man, he will use Red's chase algorithm and home in directly on Pac-Man's location. If he is closer than that distance however, he will instead home in on his "home corner" in the lower-left corner of the board. The fact that the monsters never reverse directions except on mode changes helps to obfuscate this behavior. Although Orange is shy when approached, it is still a dangerous pursuer in two ways. The first: if Pac-Man is between Orange and its home corner, it will readily chart a path through his location. The second: Even if Orange gets within fleeing distance of Pac-Man, it won't change direction until the next intersection, making the long straightaways at the bottom of the board dangerous.

When Pac-Man consumes certain numbers of dots on the board, the Red monster enters a state colloquially termed "Cruise Elroy." You can tell this state has begun because the siren in the background speeds up. There are actually two or three states of Cruise Elroy. Each one gives Red a small speed boost. Even on early levels, this is fast enough to outrun Pac-Man, and so the level should be completed quickly at this point. Additionally, in all boards after the first, Red does not scatter with the other monsters if a Scatter mode begins. He still reverses direction though. If you're depending on the behavior caused by a scatter, this can easily throw you off.

As levels are completed, both Pac-Man and the monsters speed up, but relatively the monsters get slightly more of a speed boost than Pac-Man. Pac-Man can counter this somewhat by turning corners; if the player holds into the direction of a turn before he encounters it, Pac-Man will actually take the turn slightly early. This can be perceived as a slight "jump" as Pac-Man takes corners, like he teleports a very short distance. Monsters always go all the way through corners, so this can be an effective way to gain distance on them.

In later levels, monster "blue times," the amount of time they are vulnerable after an Energizer is eaten, decreases. After each intermission though, the blue time is relaxed a great deal (relative to Pac-Man's speed). In late levels, monsters will cease turning blue at all -- they still reverse direction though. At a very advanced level, called by players "9th Key" since under the original chipset it was the ninth consecutive level with a Key as its fruit, Pac-Man's speed takes a great drop while the monsters continue at full speed. This change makes the game very difficult; players will probably want to have patterns after this point. The game gets no more difficult after this point until the kill screen on level 256.
posted by JHarris at 2:03 AM on April 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


Oh one more thing, and I don't think this is even in the Pac-Man Dossier but it stands up to my observation:

During an Energizer's effect, the Chase/Scatter timers are all paused. The effect ends when its time runs out, or immediately when the last monster if the four is eaten.
posted by JHarris at 2:09 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


“Well, there’s not much entertainment in a game of eating, so we decided to create enemies to inject a little excitement and tension. The player had to fight the enemies to get the food. And each of the enemies has its own character. The enemies are four little ghost-shaped monsters, each of them a different colour - blue, yellow, pink and red. I used four different colours mostly to please the women who play - I thought they would like the pretty colours.”
From the "Understanding Packman Ghost Behavior" link. Actually I think we now know that's not specifically true. There are lots of games that have interesting mechanics. The question would be how to make the game fun on really low-end hardware.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 AM on April 15, 2011


See also: massively multiplayer Scrabble.
posted by archagon at 2:33 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Namco shutdown in 3.. 2.. 1.. They're serious a-holes over "Pac-Man infringement".
posted by pashdown at 6:11 AM on April 15, 2011


if the player holds into the direction of a turn before he encounters it, Pac-Man will actually take the turn slightly early.

That's the part the irks me the most about recreations - they never get the turn mechanics down! I don't care what's chasing me or what algorithm it uses, but God help me if I can't run away from it properly.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:46 AM on April 15, 2011


Looks like it's a Microsoft project, so Namco are probably on board.
posted by seanyboy at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2011


Also - When was the last time Apple did anything this cool?

+++trollmodeoff
posted by seanyboy at 8:29 AM on April 15, 2011


Could not connect to DB: Too many connections.
posted by safetyfork at 10:33 AM on April 15, 2011


Yes, Namco Bandai directly sponsored this.
posted by JHarris at 12:05 PM on April 15, 2011


One more thing:
There are four passages on the board that are one-way to the monsters while they aren't vulnerable. That's the two vertical passages directly above the monster box, and the two vertical passages directly above Pac-Man's start location. The monsters never go up through these routes. One test I've found for how good a version of Pac-Man's monster AI is is whether its monsters obey this rule.
posted by JHarris at 1:02 AM on April 16, 2011


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