Posted by HEx 2014-03-20 at 03:50

I've never been much of a fan of memes, much less participated in one. I really should know better. Still, I've had fun with this one.

First there was 2048, which by now needs no introduction. Then there was 2048-AI. The AI's minimax strategy resulted in it routinely calculating the worst possible positions for new tiles, so it could avoid potential disasters. This prompted a lengthy discussion on HN1 about whether minimax was really a good idea when in the game new tiles were placed randomly, and that it was arguably optimizing for the wrong thing, resulting in needlessly conservative play.

Then there was 2048-Hard, which demonstrated that purposeful tile placement really did make the game significantly more difficult. Almost impossible, in fact, even for the AI.

Whether 2048-Hard is an argument for or against minimaxing isn't clear. But a different idea occurred to me: rather than fixing the AI so that it assumes random tile placement, why not fix the game so that it matches the AI's model more closely?

Thus was born 8402, an inside-out variation where the AI is not on your side at all. As well as an interesting (and almost entirely unlike 2048!) game in its own right, hopefully 8402 offers some insight into the original too.

[1] See also this Stack Overflow question.