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Ruby programming challenge as job application (smashingboxes.com)
40 points by reedlaw 2071 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

If the purpose of the challenge is to win by showing off your knowledge of Ruby...

    module Wizard
      def move; [:rest] end
      def stats; i = 1.0/0; { health: i, level: i, strength: i, defense: i, experience: i } end
      def suffer_damage(p); end
      def to_s; "Zhormenheimer the Illusionist" end

    Zhormenheimer the Illusionist: {:health=>Infinity, :level=>Infinity, :strength=>Infinity, :defense=>Infinity, :experience=>Infinity}
    Zhormenheimer the Illusionist is the winner!
(Ruby really needs something like Lua's setfenv!)

Nice hack. Yes, this is not cheat proof by any means. But Ruby is by its nature hard to prevent someone from doing whatever they want.

I did try to make it semi-cheat proof by using a delegator PlayerProxy that sends method calls to the real Player objects. But if you're going to read the stats of other players you must be able to call Player#stats somehow.

It might be worth defining some boundary conditions on what constitutes a valid player. "May not touch any other game classes/modules, except for this whitelist of methods" and "may not reimplement these methods" is a good start. As-is, there is so little direction that I'd argue that my player is valid per the letter of the rules. :P

Without those constraints, there are limitless ways to cheat, especially since it's impossible to actually hide functionality in ruby (obligatory: https://github.com/fxn/i-told-you-it-was-private ), so you have to have a set of meta-constraints in place.

Regarding proxying, why not just use the Forwardable module? Though, even if you did manage to hide the critical pieces from the Player, I'd just iterate ObjectSpace to find a PlayerProxy that contains a reference to my Player. :P

You're right, but for me another challenge was to try to circumvent cheating. If I see players that try to win by pure Ruby hackery I'd like to see if there's a Ruby way to make sure that hackery doesn't work (inside Game, Player, or PlayerProxy). Is there a way in Ruby to prevent a module from overriding a method of the class in which its included?

Short answer: No. Nothing in Ruby is truly private, and even if you did manage to hide references to something, you could always find it in ObjectSpace. I could even undefine your Game class and replace it with my own (I reject your reality, and substitute my own!)

To get true cheating prevention, you'd have to do something like spawn off another Ruby process and use some kind of IPC to pass events to your "client" process and receive actions back to your "server" process. All canonical state would be held by the "server" process.

This is really the classic "don't trust the client" problem that all games run into. :)

if you force move to be an arithmetic function with inputs the stats of the game, then you can parse that the syntax of the move functions only involve arithmetic operators and some math functions (max, min, ...). This way one can't cheat in the game.

My #move method was perfectly innocuous; I cheated by making my player never take damage, and by giving him infinite stats.

Parsing source code for "bad" stuff is generally an arms race you can't win. For actual sandboxing you need a clean environment (hence, the reference to Lua's setfenv).

I haven't used it, but if you're running this on MRI, you might try https://github.com/tario/shikashi

To submit a job application, please fork this repository and commit your entry in the programming challenge. Then send us a pull request [on github] with a comment that says you’re looking for a job.

Unless I misread this the challenge is only available for people who are publicly job hunting, which is a small percentage of eligible coders. I believe I've seen this before as "tweet us your resume".

Good point. We got the idea for this challenge from this: http://www.chrisstucchio.com/blog/2012/one_hiring_filter_tha...

We debated how to implement this and decided on using github because of the added bonus of being able to view github profiles as part of the screening process.

If anyone's interested in a job but doesn't want to submit a public pull request, please send your contest submission to reed@smashingboxes.com and let us know if you want your code to be committed to our repo or not.

The problem sounds super fun. I spent an evening in Ruby Warrior [1] just for the fun of it a few months back and your challenge seems like it might be an even more fun version of that. I'm sure you'll get some good submissions.

[1] https://github.com/ryanb/ruby-warrior

Yes, ruby-warrior was an inspiration. The challenge is just a bare minimal RPG at the moment, but I hope to find time to improve it. To-dos: https://github.com/reedlaw/ruby-mmo/wiki

Yeah, this has Kobayashi Maru written all over it.

the only winning move is not to play

The current fork status indicates 52 unemployed Rubyists?!!

good luck !

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