In Phase I, the objective of the project is to develop a program that can react to specific elements displayed on the computer monitor on which the program is running. This is accomplished by the AI component of the program, which reacts to objects displayed on the screen by the Dr. Mario game, a legacy Nintendo game that shares similarities with Tetris. (It is discussed in greater detail in the next subsection). The program must accomplish four primary goals. The first is to detect the playing field, which is the area of interest displayed on the screen. Second, it must detect objects currently in the playing field. Third, it must detect changes between frames in the playing field, recognizing which objects are moving or have been eliminated. The fourth and final goal of Phase I is to create an AI that can react to changes in the playing field. All four goals are presented in greater detail in the next section, the Procedure.
Dr. Mario is an action puzzle game that shares similarities with Tetris. The main differences are as follows: 1) Unlike Tetris, Dr. Mario's falling objects are all the same size and shape. 2) The falling objects (vitamins) in Dr. Mario consist of two pieces that can be any combination of three colors: red, yellow, and blue. 3) Another striking difference between the two games involves the objective. Unlike Tetris, there are objects (viruses) in the playing field (medicine bottle) that one needs to remove by lining up the falling pieces. When four objects of the same color are aligned either horizontally or vertically on the screen, then the pieces disappear. (See Figure 1 below for a labeled screen shot of Dr. Mario in play).
Figure 1. Dr. Mario by Nintendo.