The Game System

The Shibumi set is a minimalist game system created for an experiment in automated game design.

The set consists of a square board with a 4x4 grid of holes and 16 balls in each of white, black and red. 30 balls can be stacked to fill the board with a square pyramidal packing. The Shibumi set was invented by Cameron Browne and released by nestorgames in 2011.

The term shibumi comes from Japanese aesthetics, where shibui is the epitome of minimalist elegance. Shibumi objects may initially look simple but will reveal hidden depths the more time is spent with them. Shibumi is simplicity hiding complexity. See Elegance in Game Design and Computational Creativity in a Closed Game System for more details.

The Experiment

The experiment aims to explore questions of computational creativity and automated game design, and how Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS) methods might benefit this problem. The intention was to create a simple game system with a fully defined rule set, then use automated means to help human designers with the search for optimal combinations of these rules.

This page gives a more complete overview of the experiment and further details of the system.

The Shibumi Challenge was a game design contest run over christmas 2011 to find a representative sample of the best games that human designers can devise for the system. The best 37 games are collected in the Shibumi Rule Book (pdf).

The next step is to define a Shibumi grammar in Backus-Naur Form (BNF) that allows the definition of the widest possible range of Shibumi games in the simplest possible way, for input into a generative software system.