I have implemented Greed as part of the lisp-koans extra-credit challenge.

I am seeking some general feedback with respect to Common Lisp style, appropriate use of language features, and so forth. For example, the use of some multimethods on the player and game classes seems better suited to plain functions using defun, but I am not entirely sure.

Some of the features I used were just so I could familiarize myself with the language. For example, I realize the defgame macro is next to useless, but I just wanted to get some practice with macro writing.

;; Create a program that will play the Greed Game.
;; Rules for the game are in GREED_RULES.TXT.
;; You already have a DiceSet class and score function you can use.
;; Write a player class and a Game class to complete the project.  This
;; is a free form assignment, so approach it however you desire.

;;; Constants

(defconstant +sides-per-die+ 6
  "The number of sides per die")

(defconstant +nums-in-a-set+ 3
  "The number of repeated dice rolled that comprises a set")

(defconstant +points-per-set-of-ones+ 1000
  "The number of points allocated for set of 1's")

(defconstant +points-per-set-multiplier+ 100
  "Multiplier for each number in a set to obtain points")

(defconstant +points-per-one+ 100
  "The number of points, not part of a set, given for a rolled 1")

(defconstant +points-per-five+ 50
  "The number of points, not part of a set, given for a rolled 5")

(defconstant +points-per-other+ 0
  "The number of points, not part of a set, given for any number that
  is not 1 or 5")

(defconstant +minimum-initial-points+ 300
  "The minimum number of points to get into a game")

(defconstant +points-to-final-round+ 3000
  "The number of points to reach before the game enters the final

;;; Player class holds player data for the GREED game.

(defclass player ()
    :initarg :name
    :reader name
    :documentation "Name of player")
    :initform 0
    :accessor points
    :documentation "Number of points assigned to player")
    :initform 0
    :accessor turn-points
    :documentation "Number of points for the current turn")))

;;; Game keeps track of the GREED game state and provides operations
;;; for playing GREED.

(defclass game ()
    :initarg :num-players)
    :initform 0)
    :initform nil)
    :initform 0)
    :reader players
    :documentation "An array of game players")))

(define-condition invalid-players-arg-error (error)
    :initarg :message
    :initform "must specify number of players as an integer"
    :reader message)
    :initarg :value
    :initform nil
    :reader value)))

(defmacro defgame (name &body body)
  (let ((num-players (gensym)))
    `(let ((,num-players ,@body))
       (when (not (typep ,num-players 'integer))
         (error 'invalid-players-arg-error :value ,num-players))
       (defvar ,name (make-instance 'game :num-players ,num-players)))))

;;; Scoring procedures & helper functions

(defun make-counts (dice)
  (let ((nums-hash (make-hash-table :test #'eql)))
    (dolist (num dice)
      (let ((count (gethash num nums-hash 0)))
        (setf (gethash num nums-hash) (1+ count))))

(defun score-num (num count)
  (flet ((points-per-set ()
           (if (= num 1)
               (* num +points-per-set-multiplier+)))
         (calc-points (new-count)
           (* new-count
              (case num
                (1 +points-per-one+)
                (5 +points-per-five+)
                (otherwise +points-per-other+)))))
    (cond ((= count +nums-in-a-set+) (points-per-set))
          ((> count +nums-in-a-set+)
           (+ (points-per-set) (calc-points (- count 3))))
          (t (calc-points count)))))

(defun score (dice)
  "Score the dice roll and return both the accumulated score for the
roll and the number of non-scoring dice, if any."
  (let ((counts (make-counts dice)))
    (loop for num being the hash-keys of counts
       using (hash-value count)
       summing (score-num num count) into total-points
       when (and (not (or (= num 5) (= num 1)))
                 (< count 3))
         summing count into non-scoring-count
       finally (return (values total-points non-scoring-count)))))

(defun make-players (num-players)
  "Return an array of n players."
  (let ((players (make-array num-players :element-type 'player)))
    (dotimes (i num-players)
      (setf (aref players i)
            (make-instance 'player :name (format nil "Player ~d" (1+ i)))))

(defun roll-dice (how-many)
  "Roll n number of dice and return the results in a list."
  (loop repeat how-many
     collect (1+ (random +sides-per-die+))))

(defun get-high-scorer (players)
  "Given an array of players, return the highest scoring player."
  ;; TODO: fix the below algorithm to account for ties.
  (let ((high-i) (total (array-total-size players)))
    (dotimes (i total)
      (when (or (= i 0) (> (points (aref players i))
                           (points (aref players high-i))))
        (setf high-i i)))
    (aref players high-i)))

;;; Player methods

(defmethod track-points ((player player) new-points)
  "Keep a running tally of points to be added to the player's total
score after the current turn ends. If the player gets zero points for
the current roll, they lose all points for the turn."
  (with-slots (name points turn-points) player
    (let ((next-turn-p (not (> new-points 0))))
      (cond (next-turn-p
             (when (> turn-points 0)
               (format t "~a lost all points for this turn!~%" name))
             (setf turn-points 0))
            (t (format t "~a got ~d points.~%" name new-points)
               (incf turn-points new-points)))

(defmethod add-points ((player player))
  "Add points that have been accumulated for the turn to the player's
  total score, only if they have reached the minimum number of points
  needed to be in the game."
  (with-accessors ((points points)
                   (turn-points turn-points)) player
    (unless (and (= points 0)
                 (< turn-points +minimum-initial-points+))
      (incf points turn-points)
      (setf turn-points 0))))

;;; Game Methods

(defmethod initialize-instance :after ((game game) &key num-players)
  (setf (slot-value game 'players)
        (make-players num-players)))

(defmethod current-player ((game game))
  "Get the current player for the game"
  (aref (players game) (slot-value game 'current-player)))

(defmethod display-current-player ((game game))
  "Displays the current player."
  (format t "The current player is: ~a~%" (name (current-player game))))

(defmethod display-scores ((game game))
  "Displays the scores for all players in a tabular format."
  (with-accessors ((players players)) game
    (dotimes (i (array-total-size players))
      (let ((player (aref players i)))
        (format t "~a ~5d~%" (name player) (points player))))))

(defmethod next-turn ((game game))
  "Calculate the accumulated points for this player's turn and advance
to the next player's turn. Additionally, determine whether the current
player has started the final round before advancing to the next turn."
  (let ((player (current-player game)))
    (with-slots (current-player final-round-player reroll-dice) game
      (add-points player)
      (setf reroll-dice 0
            current-player (mod (1+ current-player)
                                (array-total-size (players game))))
      (when (and (null final-round-player)
                 (>= (points player) +points-to-final-round+))
        (format t "FINAL ROUND!~%")
        (setf final-round-player player))
      (format t "It is now ~a's turn.~%" (name (current-player game))))))

(defmethod play ((game game))
  "Play a game round, which rolls the dice for the player and
calculate points. The current player may optionally end this round,
assuming it's their turn."
  (let ((player (current-player game)))
    (with-slots (final-round-player reroll-dice) game
      (if (eql player final-round-player)
          (format t "~a is the winner!" (name (get-high-scorer (players game))))
          (let ((player-name (name player))
                (dice-roll (roll-dice
                            (if (> reroll-dice 0) reroll-dice 5))))
            (format t "~a rolled: ~{~d~^, ~}.~%" player-name dice-roll)
            (multiple-value-bind (new-points remaining-dice) (score dice-roll)
              (cond ((track-points player new-points)
                     (format t "~a's turn has ended.~%" player-name)
                     (next-turn game))
                    (t (setf reroll-dice remaining-dice)
                       (format t "It is still ~a's turn.~%" player-name)))))))))
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Welcome to CR!)(If and when you make a non-trivial edit your question, please capitalise Greed in the title, too.) \$\endgroup\$
    – greybeard
    Dec 31 '17 at 7:16

Don't take all remarks as absolute. Some are just how I would do things. There are many ways to structure a program.

It's a great way to learn Lisp programming!


  • documented constant values with speaking names
  • names are usually speaking and self-documenting
  • use of CLOS
  • use of documentation strings

Suggestions for improvements:

  • DEFCLASS has a :documentation option, could be used for documentation
  • DEFCLASS slots have type options, could be used to declare&document the legal types of the slot values

  • class PLAYER has accessors, class GAME not?

  • in class GAME the slot CURRENT-PLAYER is a number, but sounds like it would be a PLAYER object
  • in class GAME, what is the slot NUM-PLAYERS for?

  • provides operations for playing GREED. In CLOS classes don't really provide operations.

  • the purpose of the macro DEFGAME is unclear to me. I would rather write a function MAKE-GAME or CREATE-GAME. This function then would check the number of players (coming in as an argument) with something like CHECK-TYPE or ASSERT. Since you don't handle the CONDITION, a simple error would be sufficient: (check-type number-of-players integer) or (assert (integerp number-of-players) (number-of-players) "The number of players needs to be an integer").

  • MAKE-COUNTS: you can use INCF directly with one GETHASH form.


(defun make-counts (dice &aux (nums-hash (make-hash-table)))
  (dolist (num dice nums-hash)
    (incf (gethash num nums-hash 0))))
  • MAKE-PLAYERS: the element-type argument is typically not useful. This argument in Common Lisp is only used in Common Lisp to allocate specialized arrays, but for player there will be no specialized array. All you will get is the usual array, which has an element type of T.

  • MAKE-PLAYER: you can also make a list of players and coerce the list into a VECTOR

  • GET-HIGH-SCORER: you can for example sort a copy of the list and get highest scorer(s)

  • DISPLAY-SCORE: you could use (LOOP FOR player ACROSS (players game) do ...)


  • would make a difference between an object and an index to an object. CURRENT-PLAYER vs. CURRENT-PLAYER-NUMBER

  • I would structure the file not around constants, classes, methods for class 1, ... methods for class N. I would structure my file around the domain:


setup: package, helper stuff
managing domain class 1: game
managing domain class 2: player
domain functionality 1: setup of the game
domain functionality 2: start of a game
domain functionality 3: playing a turn
domain functionality 4: scoring
domain functionality 5: end of a game

Such a 'domain functionality' could be implemented as CLOS generic functions with its methods and its helper functions.

In most OOP languages such a program is structured around the class tree. In Java even a single inheritance class tree.

CLOS allows you to break it up:

  • the class tree can be flattened with modular mixins
  • the classes provide the nouns: game, player, ...
  • generic functions provide the verbs : play, start, play-turn, ...
  • generic functions don't belong to a class, not even textually
  • generic functions can dispatch on multiple arguments
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a good introduction into the thinking behind OOP/CLOS? I have read quite some books on CL but still have the feeling that I do not get the point when thinking about OOP in CL. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2 '18 at 14:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @MartinBuchmann: Sonya Keene, Object-Oriented Programming in Common Lisp: A Programmer's Guide to CLOS \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2 '18 at 16:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ That looks perfect! \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2 '18 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RainerJoswig Thank you very much for your helpful feedback. To your last bullet point regarding structure based on domain functionality: it was my intent to structure the file around each domain using methods and helper functions (e.g. a play method that dispatches on a game instance), so it's still unclear on how to improve this aspect of the program. You mentioned generics; I didn't use defgeneric to describe methods for both player and game, as the two domains seemed different enough that they couldn't be operated on generically. Could you perhaps elaborate on the above? \$\endgroup\$
    – dtg
    Jan 2 '18 at 18:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RainerJoswig To the following point: "class PLAYER has accessors, class GAME not?" This probably indicates a lack of understanding on my part as to when to use accessors or not. I was under the impression that accessors are used to proxy both read and write access to an underlying slot if one wants to make them part of the "public" API for that class. Omitting accessors in game was meant to indicate that these were internal slots. Perhaps I was thinking of something like Python's instance attributes being controlled via something like @property and @name.setter decorators... \$\endgroup\$
    – dtg
    Jan 2 '18 at 23:41

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