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Games Ella Plays

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Ella is always eager to play games.  She can also play Chess and other interactive games that require a graphical display, but of course, she does all these games using a natural language interface. 

Simple games: Rock-Paper-Scissors and Guess-the-Number provide a chance to changing emotional expressions during play.  There are plans to give Ella an advanced AI algorithm so she will have an edge in playing Rock-Paper-Scissors (Roshambo), so you had better play her soon while her guard is down.

Chess: (AI Bush only) AI Bush plays a great game of chess at the level of difficulty of your choosing, with either natural language commands or with your mouse.  HINT: If you ask for help, as in "what should I do?," the AI Bush's chess advice uses the highest search level.  So when playing at a lower level, his own advice will allow you to prevail.

Slot Machine:  Ella will accompany you as you play a slot machine, with symbols and payouts adapted from a 1930's example.  Random number generators provide appropriate odds, and sound effects give the impression of casino play.  She is a little more generous than those old one-armed bandits, however, and provides an exciting jackpot that builds in size as you play.  But don't accuse her of cheating when your luck goes bad, she'll put you in your place!

A computer slot machine is no major feat, but many of the features are unique (decide for yourself which are original):

  • Audio clips to simulate spin and payout.
  • Audio clips for Ella to call out the reel symbols as they stop (including intonations: flat, bored, questioning, excited, and upset).
  • Ella's changing expressions, according to context, from a set of 24 emotions, represented by 88 images (well, they don't ALL get used here).
  • Making comments on the play as it progresses.
  • Answering "What is my bank balance?" and "How many times have I played?"
  • Responding to "This is fun," "What are the rules?", "How much is the Jackpot?" type comments.
  • Appropriately responding to "help", "quit", accusations of cheating, and the inevitable profane utterances.

Blackjack: While playing, Ella can dispense advice just like a professional dealer.  If you ask often enough, "what should I do?" after being dealt a card, Ella's context sensitive tips will have you playing like a pro in no time.  And there is no point and click, so with a voice recognition you can get all the action you want.

Ella deals a version of Atlantic City style Blackjack which allows for splitting and doubling down.  Here are her house rules:

  • Dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Double down on only 8, 9, 10, or 11 initial hands.
  • Only full double, no double-for-less.
  • No double after splits.
  • No re-splitting.
  • Surrender is not allowed.

I Ching: Another ability Ella has is reading yarrow stalks to produce a hexagram as would an ancient Chinese fortune teller.  The I Ching (Yi Jing), dating as far back as 2000 B.C., could be considered to be the first computational AI, and the first binary computer.  Different combinations of Yin and Yang, stable and moving, build 64 different hexagrams.

Physically reading yarrow stalks is a time consuming skill, taking several minutes.  Ella's virtual method is able to duplicate the probabilities produced with a proper yarrow stalks.  

I Ching is unique in that it offers guidance on a path forward, not merely a prediction of future events.  Often a Hexagram will have moving lines of yin and yang that require special attention.  The moving lines then age the hexagram to a new one, which Ella explains after you have taken the time to consider the first. 

Of course, it is up to you to clear your mind, think of the question on which you need guidance, and get in tune with the cosmic influences that will ultimately determine where those random probabilities will fall.  Ella can't do everything. 

Considering the millions of hours spent playing solitaire on computers world wide, Ella is surely a good alternative as a time killer.  Additional games are planned, especially those that are well suited for a natural language interface.  Please let us know your suggestions.

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