Sunday, February 25, 2024

Puzzle #646 - Numbers are Overrated (Nurimisaki)

Someone in Puzzlers Club mentioned a Nurimisaki pattern that would force a deduction, which put me in the mood to make one. So I did, finding my own neat pattern that somehow managed to finish without needing any clue numbers. This is such a fun genre.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Puzzle #645 - S is for... (Slitherlink)

I completely forgot I had this old Slitherlink lying around until recently. It was originally intended for PuzzleDuel until I made a puzzle I liked better for that role, and then this one just say in my spreadsheet for months and months, forgotten. There's not even anything really wrong with this puzzle either, it's just a bit plain.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Puzzle #644 - Two Good (Akari)

I don't have a witty comment for this Akari puzzle. The reason I made it was I linked a friend pzprrt, messed around and made a bashy puzzle afterwards, and felt bad and wanted to make a legit puzzle. So I made this one, which I like quite a bit.

I then made something even worse than the other bashy puzzle. Look at it. Just look at it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Puzzles #641, #642 & #643 - Almost Symmetric (Masyu)

About 3 months ago at this point, I got a bit obsessed with trying to make a non-trivial Masyu that was almost symmetric in its clue layout, but didn't solve symmetrically. The second puzzle I made was a small one based on a simple yet somewhat advanced idea.

Another interpretation of the theme would be to have a symmetric clue layout with only a minor "blemish" from being fully symmetric. My third attempt - still posting out of order - ended up with two such pearls and a fill that got a little bit insane in the end.

Ultimately though, I think my first attempt at this theme was the best. Definitely the hardest break-in of the three, and though the later stages are easier than the prior puzzle that's not really saying much.

Thus concludes my backlog of unposted puzzles. With any luck, I'll have more queued and ready to go by the time you're reading this, but no promises!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Puzzle #640 - Fourced (Light and Shadow)

Light and Shadow is still such a good puzzle type. I spent a while toying with this layout of 4s and trying to find any good solution for several white layouts, with all white clues being question marks, before finally finding one. The first version was super bashy and I wasn't going to share the puzzle widely, but something compelled me to keep tweaking it and before long I actually did find a fair, albeit hard variant.

Also, these rules could potentially appear in Islands of Insight, which should launch about a week ago (I'm writing this on January 25th and may not update this space before it goes live). I've worked really hard on that game, especially the puzzle content for the past 3 years and I'm really, really excited for it to be out there for anyone to see.

Sometime around my birthday, I might post a collection of my favorite puzzles from the game. Regardless of your puzzle experience level, you won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Puzzle #639 - Chained Again (Yajilin)

A few years after the first Yajilin chains on Puzzlers Club (apparently about 4.5 years), the old spreadsheet was rediscovered. Somebody noted that the amount of givens would always be an even number, so... I made a starting point with an odd number, which also served as a way of unsticking the chain, as it must be constructed linearly.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Puzzle #638 - Too Many Questions (Chained Block)

Some people on Puzzlers Club were making Chained Block puzzles. I realized I hadn't made one before. So I made one.

Yeah, I don't know either.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Puzzles #636 & #637 - Monkey Madness (Compass Galaxies)

Before WPC 2023, I ran a Puzzle Getchu!, a contest themed on Ape Escape. I had intended to queue these puzzles for posting before WPC, but didn't have the time. Better late than never!

Monkey Madness is the final level of Ape Escape, taking place first in an amusement park, and ending up in a castle floating in space. The level has 24 monkeys - 11 in the first (bottom) half, and 13 in the second (top) half. It's also huge, taking up 20% of a speedrun, so for the contest puzzle I had to go big. 14x14 was where I started, but was actually too small, so I bumped it up to 16x16. Oh right, the genre choice: I really liked the "one X per region" rule from the Pentominous in So Many Bees, so I brought that back with monkeys instead of bees. It ended up at 40 points, which on finishing pace would be 16 minutes for this puzzle. Interestingly, Ken Endo got here with more time than that and did not solve in time, similar to his performance in Puzzle Zodiac - also arriving at the final puzzle with plenty of time and coming up short. My contests always seem to have a "boss puzzle" at the end that really kicks people around, but it's always a standout and this was no exception: in the feedback I got afterwards, this was the most mentioned puzzle by far.

Rules: Divide the grid into regions along cell boundaries so that each region contains exactly one monkey (shown as a monkey inside a hexagon) and exactly one other clue. A white circle (Spiral Galaxies clue) indicates that the region has 180 degree rotational symmetry centered on the clue. A number in an X (Compass) clue, if given, indicates the number of cells inside that region that are further than the clue in the direction of the number.

Oh right I also had to make an example puzzle. So I did - it's pretty uninspired, but meh. I needed an example and this was the last one I made, and I knocked out all the examples over 2 days to rush the contest out before WPC. But also, I didn't want to re-use ideas from the main puzzle!

Friday, February 16, 2024

Puzzles #634 & #635 - TV Tower (Multi-Skyscrapers)

Before WPC 2023, I ran a Puzzle Getchu!, a contest themed on Ape Escape. I had intended to queue these puzzles for posting before WPC, but didn't have the time. Better late than never!

The penultimate level, TV Tower, is a skyscraper. But I didn't just want to go with a big Skyscrapers puzzle since I felt an 8x8 or larger would be less interesting. I also didn't think I could pull it off well! So I added the multi rule: Circled cells act as clues for all adjacent grids and will have the same value for all grids.

The example had a lot to show and I'm kind of surprised this grid layout even has any solutions, let alone working with such a sparse antisymmetric cluing. I almost like the example more than the contest puzzle.

The 20 point contest puzzle had to be multiple stacked grids, of course. My first attempt was a pair of 7x7 grids, but after a few hours I found I had no way to resolve the middle. So I scrapped that start and briefly considered three 5x5 grids before discarding that idea - WSPC 2021 did a 3x3 array of these and I had nothing new to add. I then set up three 6x6 grids and thought it looked way too large, so I nerfed it down to a pair of 6x6 grids and went for it. I used the same break-in as the aborted 7x7 attempt since I'd already discovered it, and there was no point not using the things I learned from that failed attempt.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Puzzles #632 & #633 - Specter's Factory (Yajisan Sokoban)

Before WPC 2023, I ran a Puzzle Getchu!, a contest themed on Ape Escape. I had intended to queue these puzzles for posting before WPC, but didn't have the time. Better late than never!

The seventeenth level, Specter's Factory, was actually by far the hardest slot to pick a genre for. I ultimately went with Yajisan Sokoban to emulate the conveyor/crate room near the end of the level, but I considered a lot of other genres for this slot. 10 points is probably a bit undervalued for this puzzle, but when I've only had "undervalued" puzzles and no overvalued... eh, testsolve results weighted this one to be about 10 points, not counting my solve on paper with a much harder to read presentation.

This genre is so hard to make a concrete starting point in - coming up with a good start for the example was quite tough for me.

As for the main puzzle, the "conveyors" around the outside gave a lot of potential starting points that were still tricky to finagle something nice, and even trickier to continue. This was the least solved puzzle in the entire contest, which I think is due to being placed late, being an uncommon genre, and being lower value so lower priority to go for early.