Exercise - Numbers Guessing Game

Now that we know more about actions in Haskell, let's implement a number-guessing game between two players. The idea of this game is very simple and involves two players. The first player thinks of a number that must be hidden and the second player tries to guess it. If the guess is correct, the game ends, otherwise, the program outputs whether the wanted number is higher or lower than the guess, and asks for another guess.

We start by defining the high-level definition of the game itself in Numbers.hs which will have the type IO ():

numbers :: IO ()
numbers = do
  putStrLn "Think of a number: "
  number <- getSecretNumber
  putStrLn "Guess the number: "
  play number

Now, we just have to define our helper functions getSecretNumber and play. getSecretNumber should do two things. Firstly, it should only allow valid numbers (in our case integers) to be read, and secondly, it should not allow the entered number to be visible on the screen. Let's start with the first requirement and implement a getInt function – we have to tell Haskell that we want to read a line, but also that we must get a type Int out of it:

getInt :: IO Int
getInt = do
  number <- getLine
  return (read number :: Int)

We use getLine to get input from the user, i.e. a string that is submitted once the new line character is entered, rather than just a single character as with getChar. And then, remember the Read class? We know Int is an instance of the Read class so we can use the read method to read a String from getLine as an Int. We use the :: Int to explicitly state that we want to read an Int from the input. If that's not possible, we will get an exception, which is okay for now.

ghci> getInt

ghci> getInt
*** Exception: Prelude.read: no parse

As is, this function getInt can be used for guessing, but not for entering the number to be guessed. Now, for the second requirement, we must ensure that both the entering of a number is hidden when being entered. So we will also use the hSetEcho from the System.IO library to prevent printing to the screen while we read the number in our getSecretNumber function:

getSecretNumber :: IO Int
getSecretNumber = do
  hSetEcho stdin False
  number <- getInt
  hSetEcho stdin True
  return number

Now, we have everything we need to define the play function, which represents the main game loop:

play :: Int -> IO ()
play number = do
  putStr "? "
  guess <- getInt
  if | guess == number ->
         putStrLn "That's correct!"
     | guess > number ->
           putStrLn "Too high!"
           play number
     | otherwise ->
           putStrLn "Too low!"
           play number

We first ask for the guess and then use a MultiWayIf to decide what to print out and whether the game is finished. Don't forget that we must add the {-# LANGUAGE MultiWayIf #-} to the top of our Numbers.hs file for this to work. In the case of an incorrect guess, we print whether it is too high or too low and recursively call play again with the same secret number:

ghci> numbers
Think of a number:
Guess the number:
? 9
Too low!
? 11
Too high!
? 10
That's correct!

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