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Leisure Genius
Board Game
ZX Spectrum 48K/128K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

Other Links

Graham Taylor
Chris Bourne

Q: You are asked to review a computer game based on an astoundingly complicated board game. You barely understand the instructions. Do you bluff it out?

A: Yes. you're not allowed to write reviews that say "I'm sorry I don't understand this game.

Q: You are asked if you expected the computer version of Scruples to be any good. Do you tell the truth?

A: Yes, you state clearly and honestly that you thought Virgin Games had stuck itself with an absolute do-do conversion wise.

Q: You are wrong in every way. Will you admit it?

A: Yes. I was completely wrong, the simulation is astonishing.

Q: Someone demands that you describe the game Scruples to an unfamiliar audience in order to show why a computer version seemed unlikely. Can you do it?

A: Depends How's your gobbledegook? Try this: Each player has a number of Scruples cards which pose some moral dilemma like "you find a wallet containing £500 do you keep the money?" Alongside the Scruples card is an Answer card on which are written the words Yes, No or Depends. Each player tries to match a Scruples card with a player he/she thinks will give the answer on the Answer card if the given answer and the actual answer match, the player has won that round and can remove the Scruples card from his/her hand

Q: Can you explain what's supposed to be so complicated about that?

A: Yes. Can you imagine the horrendous complications and complexities that arise when you try to get someone to give you the answer you want, knowing that they know what answer you expect them to give, and knowing that they know that you know that they know what answer you expect them to give? If the player doesn't get an answer that matches with his card he gets an extra Scruples card to get rid of. If the Questioner wants to challenge the Answerer and declare that he/she is lying - then all the other players vote on whether they believe the Answerer is lying or not...

Q: Wouldn't you say that was enough explanation? How can all this possibly work on a computer game - surely it can't?

A: Yes it does. The programmers of Scruples the computer game have effectively created ten independent computer characters with sufficiently realistic personalities to make an incredibly social game like Scruple work on computer.

Q: But surely not only does the computer have to have personalities it also has to know your personality - so it can judge your likely response?

A: Yes. At the beginning of each game you teach it your personality - it works simply - you just move the bars in a 3D bar chart to levels which represent the amount you do or don't have some quality like "honesty"

Q: Honestly?

A: Yes absolutely. You can trust me. So it goes on for ten or so other categories. This becomes the 'blueprint' for the computer's reactions to you.

Q: What about the computer personalities, are they really convincing?

A: Yes, each character - as many as you choose to play against, up to ten - has his or her 'own' personality curve' which you are shown for a few moments - and which you must use when deciding who to ask what question

Q: I suppose the game looks like crud then with all this memory being taken up with ultra sophisticated artificial intelligence and those different questions to be stored?

A: No it looks pretty fab. Each character has a little animated face, you couldn't exactly call them digitised but they are really not too bad. All the menus and select option are tastefully done with the usual icon/joystick control type stuff. It's true however that the art of the game is all in the logic, though.

Q: I don't suppose you could provide a concrete analogy could you?

A: Yes. It's a bit like computer chess games How they look is ultimately far less important than how they think.

Q: You are asked to write a concluding paragraph, in which, like all review concluding paragraphs, you restate what has already been said, and provide a neat ending to the piece. Will you do it?

A: No (Oh alright, Scruples is a surprisingly clever conversion of a board that seems even more determinedly 'uncomputerisable' than Trivial Pursuit The programming is awesome and it looks pretty good too. I think the game is still more fun with at least one more human player - who's going to giggle about our ooer moral predicaments? - but this could well become a serious Christmas biggy).

Q: YOU find £20,000 has been sent to you by mistake from a greedy Swiss bank. You know the error will never be discovered Will you keep the money?

A: Um ... Oh cripes we've run out of space.

Label: Virgin
Author: Sentient
Price: £9.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: Graham Taylor

Brilliant version of a board game that should by rights, have been impossible to program. Lots of fun.


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SENTIENT SOFTWARE is a development house with a convincing track record producing games for the likes of US Gold, Ocean and Virgin. Scruples is the work of various people. Elliot Gay does not spell his name Eliot Gay as we implied in Codetalk last month - he did the coding. John Mullins did the Artificial Intelligence, the graphics were by Alister Watt and Clive Paul and game design was by Elliot again and Tony Fagelman.

SOFTOGRAPHY Match Day (Ocean, 1985). Winter Games (US Gold, 1985), Impossible Mission (US Gold, 1985), Cluedo, Monopoly (Virgin, 1986), Falcon (Virgin, 1986), Taipan (Ocean, 1987), How to be a Complete Bastard (Virgin, 1987), Delux Scrabble (Virgin, 1987).