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Robot Battle Lives.

By Jacques Chester in MLP
Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 01:16:53 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

You have a dirty little secret -- you run windows! Maybe it's your primary, maybe it's your dual-boot or second box, perhaps it's the machine at work. But thank goodness you do, because Robot Battle 1.4 -- one of the few programming games still under development with an active player community -- has just been released.


I've been tinkering with Robot Battle for quite a while now - 4 or 5 years. Robot Battle is one of those games where you program little tanks to cruise around and shoot each other. The premise is simple, but the sophistication of programming that has grown around the game is nothing short of impressive. Champion robots can have thousands of lines of code with complex multi-modal designs.

Recently, the author of Robot Battle (Brad Schick) released 1.4.01. 1.4 adds a lot of things lacking in 1.3x, including arrays, loops, and a swathe of useful system variables.

By now, some of you are saying, "Weendows? We don't need no steeking weendows!", or for the more hardcore, "GUI? We don't need ..."

The good news is that the 2.x system (codenamed "Vanilla") will be a cross-platform program designed to run as a daemon. The target platforms will likely be Windows -- where most of the current players are - and Linux, on which it is being written. 2.x will further extend the feature set and make it possible to automate large tournaments. Currently tournaments must be run by hand.

You can download the 1.4.01 release here. Enjoy.

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Robot Battle Lives. | 15 comments (15 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
ever seen xtank? (3.50 / 2) (#1)
by SEAL on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 06:59:43 PM EST

The Unix world has had xtank for many years now. Robot Battle sounds like a clone of xtank, although I haven't really dug into it to do a side by side comparison.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
"Clones" and programming games. (4.00 / 2) (#2)
by Jacques Chester on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 07:08:57 PM EST

Really, there are too many programming games to claim that any one of them is a clone of another. The author of Robot Battle commented that he drew his inspiration from Robot Wars on the Apple ][. In turn Robot Battle has been the inspiration for RealTime Battle, a program from which Vanilla (Robot Battle 2.0) will itself borrow ideas.

There are dozens of programming games. Generally they fall into either the "warbots" or "corewar" categories. Robot Battle is a game in the warbot genre. Programs like RoboCom are of the corewar genre - programs fighting programs inside a virtual machine.

Robot Battle stands out on the technical side for its event-driven model. Believe you me when I tell you that warbot games beg for an event-driven model. It makes life a helluva lot simpler. Vanilla will itself make the model a little more sophisticated and easier to work with.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, RB has one of the most active programming game communities around. Most programming games wither on the vine, because they are "just a clone". RB can easily claim to be in the top 5 programming games in terms of tournaments, robots available to download, and mailing list traffic. Programming games need the network effect to be useful. The game is no good if you've got nobody to play against.

Thanks for your comment.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]

downloaded it (4.00 / 1) (#5)
by SEAL on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 08:35:52 PM EST

First note: clone was too strong a word. Descendant might be a better term. In fact, I believe Robot Wars on the Apple ][ may have been created after xtank. Yes, xtank is really that old :)

From what I saw in the download, it is very much the same, although I'm not sure what to think of the bot programming "language". Seems to be BASIC-ish but I didn't dig into any complex ones yet.

The one difference I immediately noticed is that xtank is networked, whereas RB is not, at least not yet. I think that would be a cool feature to add... I might lurk on the dev list a bit and see if anyone's planning to work on it.

- SEAL

It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything.
[ Parent ]
Networking (3.00 / 1) (#6)
by Jacques Chester on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 09:48:52 PM EST

Networking isn't in the 1.x featureset nor is it expected to be. It's possible that 1.4's somewhat exposed API will make it possible to create automated, networked tournament servers. Vanilla has the internet-based automatic server explicitly in mind, but is designed so that that kind of functionality will be the responsibility of a third-party program.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]
Omega (none / 0) (#12)
by guinsu on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 02:55:06 PM EST

Don't forget Omega by Origin from the early 80's. I haven't played it yet, but I recently found a copy on an abandonware site and am looking forward to trying it out. And I pestered both EA and Origin for over a year to find a copy to sell me (trust me, I wish I had a manual), so its not quite piracy.

[ Parent ]
Another similar game... (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by scruffyMark on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 07:09:00 PM EST

... is RoboWar for the Macintosh. It's been around for something over ten years now.

Weendows? We don't need no steeking weendows! (2.75 / 4) (#4)
by ObeseWhale on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 08:15:23 PM EST

In the future, before making quick assumptions about your software, do some investigation. Robot Battle works perfectly fine in a UNIX environment using WINE. And remember, WINE is Not an Emulator.

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
Thanks ... (3.50 / 2) (#8)
by Jacques Chester on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 10:10:36 PM EST

Thanks for the update. Last time I checked 1.3 didn't run under WINE. However, I think you will find that 1.4 - which I am linking to - relies on DirectX, which means it will not run under WINE.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]
Not true either (3.00 / 2) (#10)
by QuoteMstr on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 11:19:37 AM EST

Wine has long had DirectX support --- hell, Starcraft has run on it for over a year!

[ Parent ]
Interesting (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by adamsc on Tue Feb 13, 2001 at 10:05:02 PM EST

Has anyone used this and Mindrover enough to compare them? The programming model in MindRover sounds completely different but the idea seems to be the same.

Another Similar Game... (none / 0) (#9)
by Tim C on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 05:38:37 AM EST

...is Real Time Battle, available at Sourceforge

This one is GPLed, and seems to be targetted primarily at unix-like platforms (source is available as gzipped and b2zipped tarballs, for instance)



Cheers,

Tim

RealTimeBattle (none / 0) (#11)
by Beorn on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 01:44:10 PM EST

This one is GPLed, and seems to be targetted primarily at unix-like platforms (source is available as gzipped and b2zipped tarballs, for instance)

But the real advantage RTB has is that it can be used with any programming language - the one you're currently trying to learn, for instance. It also runs real time, not interpreted, so you can do really powerful things with it. I had one running neural networks once.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

RealTime Battle (none / 0) (#14)
by Jacques Chester on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 06:21:52 PM EST

But the real advantage RTB has is that it can be used with any programming language - the one you're currently trying to learn, for instance. It also runs real time, not interpreted, so you can do really powerful things with it. I had one running neural networks once.
I note in passing that Robot Battle was the inspiration for RTB, according to the RTB site.

I'll give them credit tho - using STDIN, STDOUT and STDERR is a very simple and elegant solution to the "multi-language" thing. Unfortunately, Robot Battle 2.0 is aiming to be cross-platform and will so need a less u*x-dependent system of programming. The good news is that 2.0 is targetted to be language-independent, as in RTB, for much the same reasons.

--
Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
[ Parent ]

Another similar game (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by ForceOfWill on Wed Feb 14, 2001 at 03:48:27 PM EST

I think that CoreWars (both kinds) is a similar game, except that it skips the tanks and instead has the programs battling directly for memory and longevity. It's fun. Go check it out if you haven't yet.
Seeing is believing; you wouldn't have seen it if you didn't believe it.
Well I'll be (none / 0) (#15)
by codemonkey_uk on Mon Feb 19, 2001 at 11:34:47 AM EST

I only wrote the FAQ for Robot Battle. Man, those where the days. I didn't think a new version would ever arrive!

I knew I knew that name. Jacques Chester. A RBMLer no less. It is a small world.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell

Robot Battle Lives. | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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