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A Plate of Dots
December 3, 2010 12:45 PM   Subscribe

To locate Inky’s target, we first start by selecting the position two tiles in front of Pac-Man in his current direction of travel, similar to Pinky’s targeting method. From there, imagine drawing a vector from Blinky’s position to this tile, and then doubling the length of the vector. The tile that this new, extended vector ends on will be Inky’s actual target.
Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behavior

Via The Awl.
posted by griphus (43 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ghost Movement Mode is my new fake William Gibson novel title.
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Also due to playing far too much Defensegrid since buying it off of Steam over Thanksgiving, I'm reading this and trying to figure out how you'd make PacMan Tower Defence work.
posted by Artw at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2010


If I move forward on my Arcade documentary series, guys like this are on the plate to talk with.
posted by jscott at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I found the Pac-Man Dossier, which this article cites, to be incredibly enlightening.
posted by sunshinesky at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Previously.
posted by norm at 1:07 PM on December 3, 2010


If I move forward on my Arcade documentary series

I think I speak for everyone when I say "Yes, please."
posted by bondcliff at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


oh I thought I'd see it here. Then I thought to myself "nah, griphus wouldn't do a dub!"
posted by sunshinesky at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2010


Cruise Elroy Mode!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:09 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I did not realize that the origin of the term "Cruise Elroy" was not known. It's such a great name; it's unfortunate that whoever came up with it cannot be credited. On the other hand, an unknown etymology is probably more impressive than whatever the truth might be.
posted by jedicus at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2010


I think I speak for everyone when I say "Yes, please."

Psst, I'm not universally liked, pass it on.

The issue is mostly money - I can't afford to do another movie without a kickstarter, and I can't do a kickstarter until a bunch of other things are sewn up. I'm currently looking for employment to dovetail documentary making, for example. And so on.

But it'd be fun!
posted by jscott at 1:16 PM on December 3, 2010


I did some original research to confirm a few statements here and there, but honestly, most of this article is just rearranged and reworded from Jamey’s amazing work on the Dossier.
Mostly a double, then?
posted by zamboni at 1:18 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mostly a double, then?

He makes it pretty clear that this is the start of a series and he's ramping up. I'm glad, for one, to be turned on to this possible series and will add him to my feedreader to see what else he comes up with.
posted by jscott at 1:25 PM on December 3, 2010


I wonder if Clyde's behavior was reversed at some point before the game's release. It would seem more intuitive from the Japanese name, and generally better strategically to ignore the player unless he gets close. The other way around - chasing you down but giving up just as he gets close to you - just seems counter-intuitive. But it makes it easier for the player, which makes me suspect that they at some point reversed the behavior to lower the difficulty of the game.
posted by ymgve at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Weird. I was just thinking of "plate of dots" this morning and now someone says "plate of dots", out of the blue, no explanation.
posted by Legomancer at 1:48 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


A seminal moment in my development came while playing Pac-Man at Shakey's pizza in South Lake Tahoe, when I realized with a flash that Pac-Man was not only a game about ghosts and fruit and power pellets, but also about patterns and strategies and exploiting the limitations of software.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I'd like to confess here that I completely suck and Pac-Man and have never gotten past the first stage.
posted by griphus at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking of "plate of dots" this morning and now someone says "plate of dots", out of the blue, no explanation.

All part of some sort of "lattice of coincidence" that ties the maze together.
posted by bondcliff at 1:57 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wakka-wakka-wakka round someone's maze, they shit scared. They know I'm not a ghost, think I've come to eat 'em. And I would. I'll eat anybody who crosses me. Know what I mean?
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's why a Pac-Man always takes speed.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:08 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I'd like to confess here that I completely suck and Pac-Man and have never gotten past the first stage.

Me too. All this stuff? I had completely no idea.
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on December 3, 2010


Only an asshole gets killed for a dot.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


It happens sometimes. Pac-Men just explode. Natural causes.
posted by Babblesort at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, this is super inspiring to my tabletop gamer self.

I sometimes will put automata in the D&D games that I run -- things like falling rocks, wavy tentacles, zombies, or drifting ice floes. Fully disclosing their simple rules allows everyone at the table to contribute to game management, and the size and complexity of encounters can really scale up.
posted by Sauce Trough at 2:19 PM on December 3, 2010


"I wanted to come up with a “comical” game women could enjoy."

Think of the WIMMENS!
posted by Splunge at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2010


Pac-Man was a fag!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:34 PM on December 3, 2010


The hell he was!
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on December 3, 2010


This is fascinating and I am positive that somehow it will still fail to make me a better Pac-Man player.

I am not good at it. I still like it. But I am not good at it.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:36 PM on December 3, 2010


Hey folks, I'm the author of this article. Just saw a bunch of traffic start coming in from here, came to check out the comments, and thought I'd register and clarify my objective for this site.
Mostly a double, then?
It's not really my intention to do much original research for my articles, I mostly just want to get greater exposure and appreciation for all the information that's already out there. The thing is, practically every game has an enthusiast community (competitive players, speedrunners, etc) that's already done a ton of reverse-engineering and analysis to figure out the inner workings for their game. But then all this amazing information ends up stuck in a topic on some obsure forum, or on a page on a random wiki, and it's only ever seen by other people that are also experts in the same game. Further, it's often written up in such a way that only experts could understand it anyway, since it's full of acronyms, jargon, etc.

So basically, I just want to try and locate this sort of information, comprehend it, and then rewrite it in a way that's accessible to people that have only played the game casually, or even people that have never heard of the game at all. I'm hoping it'll give readers some appreciation for the complexities of games they don't play at a high level, and give some insights to game designers/developers by seeing how other games implement interesting mechanics.

The upshot of that is that every article will probably be "mostly a double" to anyone that already knew about the subject matter.

I'd love any suggestions you have for future topics I could look into. It doesn't have to be older games either, I'm definitely open to researching and writing about interesting mechanics in modern games too.
posted by ChadBirch at 2:41 PM on December 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


A Pac-Man spends his life getting into tense situations.
posted by fings at 2:48 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


ChadBirch:

the "double" thing is our crazy moon language referring how this subject had been covered in the previous post to the Pac-Man Dossier, not to the worthiness or unworthiness of your writeup. Although now that I consider it....

Just kidding. Carry on.
posted by norm at 2:52 PM on December 3, 2010


I wakka-wakka-wakka round someone's maze, they shit scared.

How many dots do you have?
posted by maxwelton at 2:55 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi, Chad! Thanks for joining in.

As the one who mentioned doubles, I should probably clarify. For MetaFilter, a double post is when someone posts a link that has appeared on MeFi before, or the same content at a different URL.

We've covered The Pacman Dossier before, hence my query. The rewriting's probably sufficient for it to stay, but I'm still on the fence about it. I think the blog topic is fantastic, and I enjoyed the article a great deal, but if I were posting it, I would have waited until there were was more content on the blog.
posted by zamboni at 2:56 PM on December 3, 2010


I've always been struck with how good the AI was in PacMan for such an early game, and when I wrote my own 2D games, never came up with any enemy behaviour that was quite so good. So this article is fascinating for me.
posted by memebake at 3:17 PM on December 3, 2010


"Ghost Movement Mode is my new fake William Gibson novel title."

And though the phrase has been said a few times in this thread already, the main character's name should be Elroy Cruise.
posted by Eideteker at 3:22 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


The sky was the color of intellivision...
posted by Artw at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if Clyde's behavior was reversed at some point before the game's release. It would seem more intuitive from the Japanese name, and generally better strategically to ignore the player unless he gets close. The other way around - chasing you down but giving up just as he gets close to you - just seems counter-intuitive. But it makes it easier for the player, which makes me suspect that they at some point reversed the behavior to lower the difficulty of the game.

This is an interesting idea. But I don't think it's logically necessary. As the designer says (quoted in the post) the goal was to get a tension/release cycle — that's why there's "scatter mode" and so on. If you have a ghost that tends to head towards Pac-Man, but then backs off once he gets too close, you have a constantly running one-ghost mini-cycle of tension/release as well.
posted by No-sword at 3:53 PM on December 3, 2010


Fuckin' Pac-Man ghosts, how do they work?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:20 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


It has been 25 years since I played Pac Man, but I bet I still remember the pattern that you followed that let you beat the ghosts every time. Kind of like the rubic cube pattern, once you learned it, it took all the fun out.
posted by tamitang at 4:27 PM on December 3, 2010


I bet I still remember the pattern that you followed that let you beat the ghosts every time. Kind of like the rubic cube pattern, once you learned it, it took all the fun out.

Time to graduate to Ms. Pac-Man, then.
posted by zamboni at 7:17 PM on December 3, 2010


After digesting the Pac-Man Dossier, I find that the information does tend to help my own playing a bit. Being alert to scatter modes, when they occur and their duration, is of great strategy importance since there are portions of the board that are difficult to clear if the monsters are closing in. Without use of patterns, I can often make it to 1st Galaxian.
posted by JHarris at 7:20 PM on December 3, 2010


I've got Speedy on my tail, and I know it's either him or me!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:27 PM on December 3, 2010


So reading this tomorrow. I love this stuff.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:42 PM on December 3, 2010


Hi Chad

More please. I will be a regular visitor.
posted by Sutekh at 5:31 AM on December 6, 2010


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