Tic-Tac-Toe 4×4

4×4 tic tac toe. It has a simple user interface that is intuitive and easy to use but also offers a lot of features. There are many levels of play strength, including undoing history and playing against a human. Each side can also choose to self-play, with a selectable level of strength. You can access full coaching functionality through an intuitive color system, which allows you to either get hints or explore the depths. The game also includes a variety of challenging problem positions that will keep the user interested in solving puzzles.

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The game:

Two players play on a 4×4 board. X and O start and take turns. The goal of the game is for four pieces to be placed in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. The game ends if you achieve this, or the game is over. Otherwise, there are no further moves.

How to play:

To play, you can click on any of the 16 positions in the default settings that appear after the program starts. To have the computer start playing as X, set O to manual and hit “Play!” For more options, explore the controls. You can find context help and tip strips on all controls, or hover over one to see more details. If you need context help, press CTRL+H. For a welcome dialog with a few tips, press the “about” button.

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The Game AI (artificial Intelligence)

Although it may not pass the Turing test the program still has complete knowledge of the game thanks to a retrograde analysis that covered all positions. The embedded database contains all 462327 decisive positions. Any position that is not found in the database will be considered a tie or impossible to reach. Computer opponents can play flawlessly and randomly choose from all the best moves. The outcome of a game is always tied if it’s played perfectly. The computer opponent can be reduced to two levels to give the player an opportunity. The computer will include one “second best” move in its pick list when it is set to “weak”. This gives the computer the chance to make mistakes just like a human. All possible moves can be played in random settings. We could also program a weaker setting so that the computer only picks the best moves. But, what fun? The computer can also play against itself, so each side can have its strength settings.

Undo buffer

The computer keeps a record of every move for each game so that you can inspect the game move-by-move in both directions. To see where mistakes have been made, enable hints during replay. To try a new line, a new move can always be made from any position.

Hint system

The program can give tips to users if they wish since the quality of every possible move is known at any time. You can enable or disable hints by checking a box. Hints are also displayed temporarily when a button is pressed. All empty fields will display the hint code. The color intensity indicates the number of moves required to win. Winning moves are displayed in green. The faster the win, the more intense. Losing moves are also shown in red. Losing moves are more intense the faster they happen. Yellow is used to color neutral fields.

Problem mode

A thorough analysis of the database revealed that the longest force win was “win in four moves”. There are many hundred of these positions, or about 8 times as many if you consider symmetry-related transformations. There are 32 positions with exactly one solution. These are the most difficult problems for humans. These 32 positions can all be called up, and the human will have a chance against a perfect computer opponent. You can make a mistake and it could be a tie or worse. To avoid spoiling the fun, hints will be disabled whenever a new problem is chosen.

Code Notes

The main program is a simple event-based state system that handles user events. As needed, the board recalculation takes place in the timeout. The timeout is set to zero for any regular event that requires a board calculation. The timeout can be set to infinite (-1) if recalculation is not required. The code is simple enough to understand, with no extras such as objects, user events,s, or x-controls. All code sections are optimized to my best knowledge. However, it is worth reading the code to try to understand it. Diagram comments provide extensive documentation, so there is no need to repeat them.

Diagram constants contain the game database. Although it was created in LabVIEW several years ago for the tic tac tee challenge, the retrograde analysis has not been included. It is very complex and makes extensive use of binary searches, bit-wise operations, caching and extensive caching to speed up the process. Perhaps I’ll have another go at it and present the code in a more accessible form in the future. The boards are stored as U32 integers with bits representing the pieces. Each position’s score is an I8 constant. Unique positions can be stored. The database is significantly reduced by removing all symmetry-related transformations. The database is small enough to manage (2MB) since only the decisive positions are considered and any tied or impossible positions are removed. Scores are classified by the number of pieces, so only a small subset of the database must be searched for any table look-up. This program is not compatible with the TTT_trainer, which only provided a database search without any play options.

VI Snippet

Sorry, this is just a screenshot of how the scoring function works.

This code is too complicated to be a snippet, and it would not work standalone.

VI is attached below

Zip The project file in LabVIEW 2010. This is the official entry. It was uploaded before the deadline.

I also included 8.6 and 8.0 versions for legacy users. They may not work. LabVIEW 8.0 required a minor code modification in the move generator to remove the conditional FOR loop terminal.

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