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[Bug-gnubg] Good beta release! (Suggestions)

From: Richard Anderson
Subject: [Bug-gnubg] Good beta release! (Suggestions)
Date: Sun, 16 May 2004 10:08:20 -0700

The Gnu Backgammon for Windows is really good for a beta release with lots
of neat features.  I find the most useful aspect is for self-training:
playing against the program with tutorial mode on and analyzing my errors.
Some suggestions and bugs, in no particular order, based on the 0.14-devel

1. Add two buttons to the Game Record window that act like the two
arrow-question mark buttons, except that they take you forward/back to the
nearest move where your move was not the same as the best rated move.  (The
arrow-question mark buttons skip past moves that were not best but with an
equity / MWC difference below the tutorial threshold).

2. There should be a pop-up display of a progress bar and estimated time
left when the program is doing rollouts or any analysis that take more than
a few seconds on a modern desktop computer.

3. Currently, the Game Record window only shows the analysis for the user's
moves if tutorial mode is on, which prompts the user when he makes a
mistake.  There should be an option to show the user move analysis without
the prompting.

4. If a move is selected in the Game Record window and the Rollout button in
the Analysis window is clicked, a rollout window opens but I see no way to
initiate the rollout.

5.  A nice feature would be to have a simple way to select any move/position
in the Game Record window and compare rollouts for various alternative

6.  The naming of the evaluation levels is not very intuitive.  Shouldn't
"supremo" be a higher ranking than "grandmaster"?  The term "casual play" is
not a very obvious strength ranking.  Instead of discrete levels, how about
a floating-point numerical selection with a key.  For example, use a scale
of 0-10 with precision to a tenth of a unit and a key like:

0 - Idiot (Random play?)
2 - Beginner
4 - Intermediate
6 - Expert
8 - Grandmaster
10 - World Champion

7.  Some of the displays (such as the Statistics display) show numeric data
without explaining the units or significance of the numbers.  I like
displays that are self-documenting better than cryptic displays that need
extensive documentation under the Help option.

8. There should be more fine-grained control of the threshold the tutorial
mode uses for flagging bad moves. Instead of discrete levels, how about a
floating-point threshold based on the equity difference / MWC difference and
related to the annotation symbols:

Tiny (any move that is not the same as the highest ranked)
Minor (?!)
Moderate (?)
Major (??)
Insane (???)

9. The Analysis window should have a Stop button that halts the Eval

10. The dialog box that pops up at the beginning of each game (You rolled a
3, gdb rolled a 4) doesn't add anything of interest and should probably be

11. In several positions, it rated my drop of the cube as a bad play, but
when I used the 3 and 4-ply Eval functions in the Analysis window the
results supported the drop (as did a visual assessment of the position).
Perhaps this indicates that the 3-ply and 4-ply evaluations (and my cube
play) aren't very accurate.

12. In a racing situation, it indicated that I should have doubled with a
pip count lead of 69 to 71 and a two crossover advantage!  This may be
theoretically correct, but is seems counter-intuitive.  Example attached. 

13.  There's a UI bug in the interaction between the Game Record window and
the main window.  When I scroll back to a previous game, then scroll forward
to the current position, select the current move and try to roll the dice by
clicking in the board, nothing happens.  The workaround is to then select
the previous move and re-select the current move; then clicking on the board
rolls the dice.
14. On the Analysis window, the two buttons labeled "..." would be better
labeled "Set" or "Settings".

15. The Eval function on the Analysis window should cache its results, as
should the rollout function.  Currently, selecting the 3-ply button, then
the 4-ply button, then the 3-ply button needlessly repeats the previous run.

16. While playing a well-timed back game, the program likes to cover a blot
on the 1 point of its own inner board - example attached.  This is
universally acknowledged to be a bad play.

17. The program missed several obvious hits in a back game - example
attached.  Perhaps it is still using the regular game analyzer in this
position?  Or has it given up and is trying to get off the gammon?

18. I like the look and feel of the play, especially the sound effects.  One
exception is that I don't like the sounds is makes during startup and
shutdown and don't see the need for them.  How about eliminating these sound

19.  There is a UI bug when clicking on the board to roll the dice.
Sometimes a single click both rolls the dice and moves a checker in the
nearby quadrant.  

Richard Anderson

Attachment: bad_back_game_play.sgf
Description: Binary data

Attachment: missed_hit.sgf
Description: Binary data

Attachment: questionable_cube_race.sgf
Description: Binary data

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