We can think of our basic screen display as taking two different forms: Japanese and Non-
Japanese. The Chinese screen display is the same as the one used for the American game. It is designed to
allow for the largest possible MJ tile (30x40x15) and to use the screen in the most efficient way possible.
The function of the interface buttons will be discussed in detail in following pages. For now let's
only discuss the tile grid shown above. In the center we have the discard area (marked with D's), with space
for 12 tiles for each player on the bottom layer (they can get stacked as necessary). We could have gotten
away with showing only one discard tile in the center of the screen as IMS does (with an extra button to
show the discards on a separate screen), but the tiles would still need to be 30x40 because of the player's
hand at the bottom of the screen. In addition, we want our Non-Japanese game screen to look as similar as
possible to our Japanese game screen (which must be in accordance with established Japanese industry
paradigms). For the left, top, and right players, we do not need to show the hand (H), only the melds (M),
Flowers (F), and Seasons (S). When a player goes out, THEN we need to show the hand -- and it will fit
within the boxes shown above, especially if we show Kongs as stacked pyramids as mig has suggested. An
opposing player's winning hand is shown in that player's M and W boxes (W representing the winning
hand's pair for completeness).
But for the user's hand (H, at bottom of screen) we need to be able to show (worst case) 8
Flowers/Seasons plus up to 13 tiles in the hand, plus the current picked tile (P). There should be 20 pixels
at the two edges of the screen, a 20-pixel buffer zone around the current picked tile, and a 20-pixel space
between the tiles in the hand and any melds.
Each player's discards fill his discard area the same way it is done in Japanese MJ (left-to-right, top-to-
bottom), then repeating on a 2nd layer as needed. User can hit X-Ray to see what's underneath (top
tiles temporarily disappear, making a cleaner view).
Kongs could be shown laid out flat (4 tiles in a row) until space becomes tight, then they could become stacked like a pyramid. Note that pyramid stacks at the top of the screen can obscure the Top Player's name and seat, but I don't think it's a big deal.
But let's start the Chinese game from the beginning (the above sketch has no bearing on the
following), describing an example game to illustrate how it works. It should be noted that our interface
must be somewhat different from the way most competitive MJ games work because we are doing
something those games (such as HKMJ, Four Winds, and Mah Jong Parlour) are not doing: we are letting
multiple human users play (IMS being the one exception). Thus our interface is designed with that key
aspect in mind.
The 144 tiles (unless Flowers are OFF, in which case it's only 136 tiles) are built into 4 equal-
length walls, two tiles high. Wall lengths are 18 stacks each, with Flowers -- 17 stacks each, without
Flowers. The computer rolls the dice, and breaks the Wall according to Chinese rules, and deals 13 tiles to
each player except East, who gets 14 tiles. But most of this takes place internally -- no need to go through
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