Author Topic: GradHack  (Read 7666 times)

hilbert90

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GradHack
« on: August 21, 2014, 02:14:12 PM »
Hello,

I've been making a short and simple roguelike set in grad school on the night before your thesis defense. Your rival steals your thesis and tries to plagiarize it, so you must ascend the building to his office on the top floor, get your thesis, and safely leave the building.

The whole concept is a race against time. The three classes are what you are specializing in: math, literature, or music. Each class gives you a set of special skills.

I've never really programmed anything substantial before (a couple hundred lines maximum), so this was mostly an experiment in managing a large project + learning how to handle the elements in a game. As they say, "fail fast" because that's how you learn.

I'd say it is in alpha-ish stage now. I don't see this as something people will sink a huge amount of time into, but I hope it is fun figuring out some strategy. I think with appropriate strategy, all classes are winnable most of the time.

I streamed myself playing it on twitch yesterday while I found some lurking bugs and balance issues. Here is a really short clip that I think doesn't spoil much if you want to see it: http://www.twitch.tv/hilbert90/c/4956286

Watch the whole stream at your own risk. I manage to win with the different character classes and explain why I think the strategy will work as I do it, so I give lots of spoilers about what everything does.

The download is here: https://github.com/wardm4/gradhack

Sorry about the pygame dependency. If I could do it over, I would probably have just used ncurses or something, but I really wanted to learn how pygame worked, since I've seen some cool games made with it.

Zireael

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 07:11:14 AM »
I like the idea!

mushroom patch

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 10:02:29 AM »
Not a very realistic premise. The outcome of your thesis defence is already determined the night before. It's way too late in the game for someone to try to plagiarise your thesis and physical possession of a copy of your thesis is obviously meaningless. No one on the committee will read it anyway, except perhaps your advisor and then only partially and only early drafts.

A more dire premise would be something like someone stole the slides for your defence presentation, injected you with some kind of drug that makes you unable to answer simple questions about your work, and the person who did it is on the committee.

hilbert90

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 12:10:37 PM »
Well, first I'd say, which roguelikes have a realistic premise? But second, you actually give good arguments why it is more reasonable than you claim. If no one has read it, and your rival steals a physical copy, then they could go upload some results to the arXiv as their own. No one will know the results are yours, because no one has read it.

Bear

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 04:52:18 PM »
Or you could be Dr. Eldritch... 

"My thesis was immediately classified, of course - which is a shame, as I thought some of the poetry was quite good." 


mushroom patch

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2014, 12:47:11 AM »
Your advisor knows what your results are whether he reads them in your thesis or not. Your "rival" in this scenario would have to have a career death wish to publish someone else's work on the arxiv under his own name. Within a few days, the preprint would acquire an editor's note saying it was plagiarized, which would permanently eliminate any chance of an academic position at any research institution. If the rival is a student, he would be expelled.

Now if your advisor is the bad guy stealing your work, that's something that can happen and can turn out badly. There have been high profile cases in which there were such allegations. Without the advisor's backing, students don't generally do well in this situation, whether they possess a copy of their thesis or not.

hilbert90

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2014, 02:05:36 AM »
I don't buy it. It is really hard to prove plagiarism. People get their results scooped all the time (it happened to me while I was writing my thesis, and my advisor had seen a fully written up form of the result by me ... the result appeared on the arXiv by someone else). The thought never even crossed anyone's mind that it was plagiarized. It happens way too often. If that note appeared (which it wouldn't), the person could claim they got the result independently.

Not that the premise was meant to be serious. It is a MacGuffin to have an excuse to have a grad school theme. I grant your point that even in such situations, the outcome of the defense would not be changed. The committee probably wouldn't even realize it had appeared.

mushroom patch

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2014, 02:21:49 AM »
Scooped and plagiarized are radically different and it's not hard to detect the difference. I was scooped twice in graduate school (not work related to my thesis, stuff I did early on and didn't think was worth writing up -- a position I later regretted). I never thought anyone plagiarized it!

I think your premise might work in 19th century university setting where this stuff was complicated by limited communication and publication technology, but I think it presents an unrealistic view of academia to impressionable youngsters the way it's stated here.

mushroom patch

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2014, 03:02:04 AM »
Also, proof is not necessary. In the current market a credible rumor alone would sink a graduate student. In fact, the word of a senior researcher would be enough in the circumstances you're describing.

hilbert90

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 03:52:54 PM »
I'm not too concerned about giving "an unrealistic view of academia to impressionable youngsters" in the same way that I'm not concerned that impressionable youngsters got the wrong impression of professional ice skating from Blades of Glory or of the beauty pageant world from Drop Dead Gorgeous. There are times that people are trying to create an accurate depiction of things and there's times when they aren't. I think youngster can tell that a roguelike game which involves computer viruses wandering a building with random generated floors that you attack to gain time is not trying to accurately depict grad school.

That being said, I did post here looking for comments, and I was given them. I can certainly see that having something as serious as plagiarism be so casual in a game could be offensive. I'm also not strongly tied to the concept, but I'm having some trouble trying to rephrase the premise with minimal disruption of the rest of the game. Any ideas on why you would have to ascend a building in a short period of time to get your thesis?

Samildanach

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 05:20:57 PM »
As a former grad student and friend of people who have faced (contrived) plagiarism charges, I don't see anything wrong with the premise. Feedback is useful but you don't have to act on every suggestion.

Eudoxus

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2014, 01:22:29 PM »
Ha ha! I love it!  The banach-tarski skill is quite funny. :)

Are you a logician?  (with a name like hilbert...)

I have no issues with the plagiarism hook, but here's a couple others I thought of: 1) Missing committee member!  You have until XX o'clock to find him/her and get their signature before missing the deadline.  Beware the margin lady, she hates you and want to never let you graduate (Oh the stories I have...).  2) Citation missing!  One of your committee members won't sign off on the thesis until you find a citation for an elusive 'folklore' result.  You must search the depths of the library... 

hilbert90

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Re: GradHack
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2014, 03:17:18 PM »
Thanks Eudoxus. I studied something called arithmetic geometry. The preliminary work for such study is in algebraic number theory, which Hilbert essentially founded.