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Turk Official Thread
Posted: 16 November 2012 05:41 PM
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Project Lead: Ben Peck

Turk is a puzzle game that uses photomosaics to allow players to explore the 6 degrees of separation between tagged images, where your objective is to get from one image another in as few moves as possible. Using the visual and semantic cues in the images onscreen, you’ll travel into a recursive photomosaic to plot a unique path towards your goal image. Turk will challenge you to think creatively, and lead to rich community interactions as players share and compare their association chains with one another.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 02:26 AM
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Welcome to the Turk MegaThreaaad! My name is Ben! Now would you please put your hands together as I tell you a bit about this game:

Q: What is Turk?
A: Turk is a cerebral puzzle game involving imagery and creative thinking!!

Q: What is a recursive photomosaic?
A: Well, you know photomosaics? Cool. Well, now imagine if you were to zoom into one of the subimages of that photomosaic, and as you got closer, you saw that this subimage wasn’t a regular image, but ANOTHER photomosaic embedded within the larger one! Now imagine this goes on to infinity. BAM. Recursive photomosaic.

Q: Ok, so how are you going to make a game out of that?
A: First we’ll assemble a large database of images and use them to generate mosaics on the fly. THEN, we’ll give you some image A, and ask you to try and zoom into a recursive photomosaic of image A until you can find a photomosaic of a target, image B.

Q: I see. So kind of like the Wikipedia game, but all visual-like?
A: By jove, yes indeed! You took the words out of my mouth.

Q: Well what else do you have for me? Any kind of twist involved? No offense but it seems pretty straight forward so far…
A: Oh, sorry bro! Forgot to tell you the coolest part! So when you’re zooming into this recursive photomosaic, that new mosaic you see can be generated in two different ways, providing two distinct paths you can take while trying to get to your target. 1) You can generate a visual mosaic, where all the images are chosen to have similar colors to the photomosaic you’re zooming into. Or 2) You can generate a semantic mosaic, where all the images are chosen to have similar metadata tags as the photomosaic you’re zooming into.

Q: Whaaaat? I am a learning computer. I need examples to understaaand!
A: Sweet! Let’s say I present you with a photomosaic of a pine tree. A visual mosaic would contain images similar in color, so lots of greens, browns, and blues. Images of dinosaurs, lettuce, Slimer! A semantic mosaic would contain images similar to the pine tree in meaning; so you’d get images of other types of trees, landscapes, chain saws… a salad with pine nuts in it! So you see what I mean? There are two orthogonal modes of travel through this massive database of images we’re putting together for you, and it’s up to you to take advantage of them to reach your target in as few moves as possible!

That’s all for now! Have a question! Post it in this thread and I’ll update this post with answers. Thanks for your interest in Turk! We are the music makers! We are the dreamers of the dreams!!!

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Posted: 19 November 2012 02:36 AM
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I’m going to use this post to share inspirational media with you guys and get everyone PUMPED UP!

1. The opening credits from the movie Limitless!
I love this endless camera zoom in Limitless. There are some great articles online discussing the techniques they used to construct this shot.
2. Lincoln in Dali Vision!
Beautiful!
3. The avatar in Rez
For some reason I always envision some kind of avatar navigating this recursive photomosaic, flying through each image as you select them.  I always look to the avatar in Rez for inspiration on this. I’d also love to incorporate music into the game in some fashion.

[ Edited: 20 November 2012 06:02 PM by DF Ben Peck ]
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Posted: 19 November 2012 01:44 PM
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I think this is brilliant, and has the potential to be beautiful and fun.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 05:48 PM
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Thanks man! I agree! I want people to have really intense dreams after they play this game.

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Posted: 19 November 2012 06:54 PM
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I think it would be more “Zen” than fun and certainly beautiful. But I am suspecting that tagging for symantics will be close to impossible to do well (for many pictures).
Like if you tag the tree with “plant” and link the chainsaw by that [because it’s a “plant (cutter)”] you will get funky results for small flowers. I mean, google’s image search is very complex under the hood and it is far from perfect. 
Maybe I’m not getting the idea. Will every puzzle have preselected pictures or something like that?

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Posted: 19 November 2012 06:58 PM
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I had to google first what the Wikipedia game is. I may not have been the only one. While the comparison is apt, I had no idea what you were comparing it to. So your pitch made me only go: “huh?” But now that I informed myself I think this is a great idea! It is a difficult idea to pitch though, probably the most difficult one out of all them, with many concepts that need explaining. Tough job in 30 seconds!

[ Edited: 19 November 2012 07:03 PM by Acorino ]
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Posted: 19 November 2012 10:24 PM
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I admit that part of what appeals to me about this particular pitch is that the game’s concept is simple enough that the prototype could be fairly complete and fun to play on its own.

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Posted: 20 November 2012 03:21 AM
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It seems like more of a mini-game than full game to flesh out, but then I’m only imagining what I can see, visual learner and all. I just imagine a series of pairs of images. The same puzzle over and over.

Can you detail the level of depth involved?

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Posted: 20 November 2012 05:57 PM
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Thanks! Here are some responses to the questions so far:

I think it would be more “Zen” than fun and certainly beautiful. But I am suspecting that tagging for symantics will be close to impossible to do well (for many pictures).
Like if you tag the tree with “plant” and link the chainsaw by that [because it’s a “plant (cutter)”] you will get funky results for small flowers. I mean, google’s image search is very complex under the hood and it is far from perfect.

I agree it is going to be tricky to gather accurate and relavent tags for all these pictures. But keep in mind I am simply using tags that have already been applied by human users, ie I am not trying to recreate Google’s image search.

Specifically for this prototype, we’re going to be working out of Flickr, using their wide collection of CC-Attribution and public domain images that have been tagged by their users. Now, we’ll have to do a bit of cleanup on the tags we get, but the aim here is not to be perfect. Turk is not a search engine; my only goal for the semantic mosaics is to provide a similarly fuzzy set of results for a given image as you would get from a visual mosaic.

Maybe I’m not getting the idea. Will every puzzle have preselected pictures or something like that?

Great question. I am envisioning a “Story mode,” where there is a preselected set of images a designer has specifically chosen for you to navigate through. There will be a literal story that is narrated to players as they play, but more importantly, the sequence of these preselected images in themselves should tell a story. Imagine telling a love story using a slideshow of found photos. What images you use to get from start to finish will allow you to “shape” the story in your own way as well.

There will also be a “Free Association mode,” where you can select a start and and target image, and share & compare your association chains with others, or you can ask for a random start and target image.

I had to google first what the Wikipedia game is. I may not have been the only one. While the comparison is apt, I had no idea what you were comparing it to. So your pitch made me only go: “huh?” But now that I informed myself I think this is a great idea! It is a difficult idea to pitch though, probably the most difficult one out of all them, with many concepts that need explaining. Tough job in 30 seconds!

Thanks for your feedback on the pitch! Yes, it as definitely a challenge to get the idea across in 30 seconds, and I learned and am continuing to learn a lot from this AF process. I’ve found there are not many widely known references I can invoke to create a shorthand description of Turk. “Visual Wikipedia game,” “six degrees of separation amongst tagged images,” and “recursive photomosaic” are attempts at that, but I’d love hear more from you guys on this topic!

It seems like more of a mini-game than full game to flesh out, but then I’m only imagining what I can see, visual learner and all. I just imagine a series of pairs of images. The same puzzle over and over.

Can you detail the level of depth involved?

I agree, this project will more likely be an app you may turn to for a quick play session here and there rather than an epic experience you spend 4 hours at a time on your couch to experience. However, Turk will keep people coming back for those quick sessions of play for a long time. I’ll give you a couple examples of gameplay depth Turk:

1) Limiting the number of visual vs. semantic associations you can make. Imagine trying to get from a leather chair to white wooden chair using only visual associations. It will probably take more effort than it would to get there using semantic ones. Imagine it costs resources to perform a certain association; you’ll have to manage this resource, make risk vs. reward decisions.

2) Continually expanding and refining the image database. Turk can have a near infinite replay value as we expand the set of images we use to compose mosaics from, even accepting user submissions for images.

3) Sharing your results with other players. Can you find an association chain shorter than Sally’s? Can you get there in a shorter amount of time? Can you get there using only 25% visual associations? 95%? Do you think John’s association chain is more creative than Doug’s?

Some open design questions that I think also relate to the depth of gameplay:

What happens when you find a cycle in your association chain?
I think it would be awesome to have a sort of “shoot the moon” mechanism in this game, some huge payoff after a big risk. Creating a large cycle in your association chain could be one such way to incorporate this.

Will you be able to “undo” choices you’ve made, and try again, or will you have to keep going?
On one hand, I want people to put thought into their choices, and try and find interesting paths between images, and on the other I want people to be willing to make mistakes, be flexible and open minded about their play. This is something that will certainly be experimented with.


Thanks for checking out the Turk guys! I love the feedback so far! Keep it coming!

[ Edited: 21 November 2012 12:34 PM by DF Ben Peck ]
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Posted: 21 November 2012 06:23 AM
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I think that this is the most unique and fascinating of the concepts. I don’t know how addictive it will be as a game, but I want to find out.

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Posted: 22 November 2012 02:57 PM
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It’s sad to see that people doesn’t want solve wikipedia puzzles. But is there a chance to you guys make this game apart from the double fine ? Like drm-free on desura etc.

By the way, does the name of the game (turk) related with the Turkish people ? Just curiosity. Because i am turk smile

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Posted: 23 November 2012 02:35 PM
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By the way, does the name of the game (turk) related with the Turkish people ? Just curiosity. Because i am turk smile

Haha, thanks for the question! The name is based on on a couple of things, but not the country of Turkey unfortunately. Nothing personal smile

Turk comes from a street in San Francisco, an unforgivingly steep street that has defeated me and my bicycle many a time. But more importantly, it is based on the Mechanical Turk, which is a concept used a lot today by large tech companies, most notably Amazon. It’s a fancy term for crowd-sourcing a hard computational problem.

Turk (the game) would rely on Mechanical Turk techniques in that it is compiling mosaics of images using metadata tags that have been created by the human users of websites like Flickr. So the game would appear to be solving the computationally hard problem of image classification, when in fact it was just using data compiled by millions of humans on their free time. Pretty cool, huh?

Mechanical Turk will also be a theme featured in the game’s story. What if the association chains you made while playing were used by a machine to help it appear intelligent? What if your associations were used to train a machine? What would it learn, and what would that say about the humans teaching the machine?

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Posted: 25 November 2012 05:41 PM
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This is a fascinating game idea! I especially like that its mechanics are rather simple, but could be offering very complex gameplay possibilities.
Sadly it seems to be too niche for most people…

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Posted: 26 November 2012 01:39 AM
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Hope to see this still get made. You rock, Ben!

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Posted: 26 November 2012 11:48 AM
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... Mom is that you???

Haha seriously though thanks for all the support guys! You rock! I’m sure this won’t be the last you’ll hear about many of the pitches you’ve seen so far. Now go play some Brazen and get ready for some AF Madnessssss smile

[ Edited: 26 November 2012 12:15 PM by DF Ben Peck ]
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