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M11k4

March 2013 Time Trial

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Here are the levels for this month's time trial:

 

http://cczone.invisi...ccz-tt-1303ccl/

 

I worked on these levels quite a bit, so I am interested to see how you guys respond to them. The first one, Hexominos, is partially inspired by the previous time trial levels from August 2009 and January 2012. All of these are relatively simple to chip collecting missions, but to do so optimally is no easy task. The other level, Nested Replay, is my attempt to make a level where you can pick which rooms to visit. There are four quadrants, each with four rooms, but you only need to visit three quadrants and three rooms in each of those quadrants. Once I get a submission or two, I will post some more comments on making the levels.

 

If you know the routine, you are set to go. Enjoy!

Here are more details if you must know:

 

1) The person with the highest combined remaining time on the levels #2- #3 wins! You may enter in either Lynx or MS, with the latter being the primary rules (meaning that any Lynx solution times that exceed the best MS solution time will be considered equal to that MS time, but otherwise all the times will be compared together in one category). Ties in overall score won't be broken.

 

2) Please send your solutions (either the tws file or avis) to me at valeosote at hotmail dot com. Do not post your solutions or solution times or share them with others. All times will be published at the same time, and the quickest solutions will eventually be released. I will strive to respond to your message by a confirmation that your score has been recorded.

 

3) The levels shouldn't be too hard to solve. Don't be afraid to send in your solutions even if you sense they aren't perfect, and simple casual solutions are also appreciated. To give an idea of how long the solutions are to the levels, eat a doughnut and that should take about as much time.

 

4) This is part of the new 2013 season of the Chip Cup. Winner will be awarded 15 points, second place 12, third 10 points, and so on. If you win a competition here for the first time, you receive the "You're Winner!" award. All participants who haven't participated in a time trial earlier receive the "Run, Chip, Run" award. If your name is James, I will write you a poem and post it in my blog.

 

5) Submission deadline is at the end of the month. In practice this means I will post here during the first week of April announcing that no more submissions will be accepted, and judge the competition soon after that. This can happen sooner than you hope, so get your solutions in early rather than later! You can send in improvements while the competitions is running, so there is no downside to sending in something you know might not be your best effort if you had forever to work on it.

 

6) I reserve the right to update the levels within the first week of release. If you find any odd things about the levels, please give me a nudge. I will only apply changes that make the competition better, which means I might fix a ridiculous bust or some other aspect that is obviously meant to work in some other fashion. If any updates are made, I will alert you in this thread. However, no updates will be made after March 12th in any case.

 

Report any problems or ask any questions here! Have fun! :blob:

 

-Miika

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In the second level's upper room with the tanks, there's a block cloner without the actual clone machine underneath it (unlike its counterpart below). In Lynx, this can be pushed around. Is this intentional?

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In the second level's upper room with the tanks, there's a block cloner without the actual clone machine underneath it (unlike its counterpart below). In Lynx, this can be pushed around. Is this intentional?

Michael also asked about this in the chat. Yes, I meant it to be this way. The force floor at the other end of the room won't allow you to step off it backwards in Lynx, so without moving this block it is considerably more complicated to get all three keys in this room. :spy:

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The first submission is in so I thought I'd write something about how I made these levels, as promised.

 

Hexominos.

I wanted a simple level to solve yet one that would not be easy to optimize. Collecting chips is simple, and I like pop-up walls so I thought I'd combine the two in some nice pattern. I played around with some pentomino shapes, but there are only twelve of those, for a total of 60 tiles/chips and that didn't provide enough complexity. Going to hexominos wasn't an easy choice as there are 35 of these things for a total of 210 chips. I was afraid that might be a bit too much. However, the longer I fiddled around with how to pack them neatly, I slowly convinced myself that it would not be too bad. So after I settled on an arrangement, I still needed to work out how to restrict movement. I mean I could just have no walls and it would still be a decent level to optimize, but maybe a bit boring. I wanted to find a way to use pop-up walls to force a bit of thinking just to solve the level, and of course not have the optimal route be evident. First I tried to have each hexomino only have three points of entry, so that you couldn't visit any of them more than once. This proved to be too easy to optimize, and too hard to solve casually, as there were only around ten solutions (which didn't use the outside area to go between rooms). I then increased the number of paths between rooms that connected more than two rooms and allowed some of the rooms to have four exits. Hopefully I now found the right balance. As a last minute addition, I added the teleports to a allow entry from more than just near the starting position.

 

This graph should help you solve the level:

MT_2013_Hexominos_graph_color.jpg

 

Note that you can visit a node more than once, but can't travel through a path more than once. You also have to visit each node, but not each path, and then end up on the outside. Once you find a path like that, you can directly translate it into the actual level.

 

Nested Replay

One of my first ideas for a TT level was to try a Replay variant, which essentially means that not all the areas are required to solve the level. I did that here with the added layer of picking which quadrant you visit and in each quadrant you pick which rooms to visit. I first worked out the mechanism for this, and drew out the rooms. I was quite happy with how none of the quadrants are closer to each other or the starting position (with respect to the distance Chip needs to travel). Of course the whole idea still rested on filling in those sixteen rooms with something. I wanted to have some repetition of themes in the rooms, but not too much.

 

I first worked on the corner sokobans, thinking that block pushing always takes time and has optimization potential. Since I wanted four of these rooms, I set some small restrictions on what I could do in those rooms. Each needed three keys, and they should be in the corners. Each room should be solvable in both MS and Lynx. There should be as many floor tiles as possible without losing the puzzle. There should only be one way to connect the traps and still be able to get all three keys. (This last restriction didn't quite survive in all the rooms.) It took an incredibly long time to come up with the rooms that are in the finished product, and still the trap connections are not easy to guess. (In my defense, I was making a TT level and assumed most people would just look in an editor even before playing.) You can see the trap connections in this map.

MT_TT-1303B_NestedReplay.gif

 

I think I next worked on the pink ball and tank rooms. These were meant as the action packed rooms of the level, but I wanted them static in a way that no matter what time you arrived at the room, it would take you as long to complete. I think they turned out quite as I expected, and they are the toughest to solve. I thought this would be ok, since you could avoid any of them by picking different rooms to play, but still some of the other rooms also proved to be tougher than I anticipated. Here I also settled on making all the rooms workable in both MS and Lynx, as I had first thought it wouldn't be bad if some keys were not reachable in Lynx, since you could still solve the level by going elsewhere. I'm now glad I strived to keep the level as equal as possible.

 

Then I mapped out what types of rooms I still had left in me to build. I wanted each remaining theme to appear twice, but not so that two themes would appear in the same quadrant together twice. I wanted at most a couple of the themes to not be static, since more than that would draw too much focus. So the Bug and Paramecia room really require you to arrive at the door at the right time or you lose moves. I couldn't use keys as part of a puzzle in any of the rooms, as they were already in use for the mechanism of the whole level. So for two rooms I used footwear and some simple block pushing. I also explored teeth leading in two rooms that were shaped the same but one was vertical and the other horizontal, which meant I couldn't use the same bomb arrangement even if I wanted to. The trap rooms with fireballs were the last ones I made, and at that point I was trying to balance the time it took to complete a room.

 

That topic deserves its own paragraph. If I made all the rooms take exactly the same amount of time, it wouldn't matter which rooms you visited and you could still score the exact same time. So there needed to be variance, and I had to decide how to distribute this variance around the level. I couldn't just make one quadrant with all the slow rooms. I also had to take into account how long it took to pick up only two keys in a room, as this was part of the plan to allow some craftiness in the solution. (See, I didn't allow for practically any interactions between the rooms.) Some rooms could be slow to pick up all three keys, but fast if you only took two, and actually what mattered was the difference between those two times. Hopefully I ended up with something that isn't too obvious which quadrant to avoid (I'm not 100% sure myself), though the rooms in the quadrants you pick might be easier to choose Oddly enough the "time consuming sokobans" I had envisioned, are now some of the quickest rooms to complete :) But this is fine, as they are still tricky to figure out and are definitely the easiest to play through.

 

In the end I'm pretty happy with how the level turned out, though it did prove to be harder than I meant it to be. I thought that being allowed to go practice any room from the start would help, as well as not having to do all sixteen rooms, but still even nine of these rooms are not simple to complete casually. And of course there is always the threat that someone crazy will come and bust the level really badly :P

 

Can't wait to see more solutions and maybe hear your experiences with these levels!

 

-Miika

 

P.S. If you only manage to solve one of the levels this month, you can still send in your solution and take part.

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I have some entries already, but I assume many of you are still working on these levels. It's the last week of the month, so you guys better get busy! If someone needs more time, you can ask for it and I'll give you a bit more time, but otherwise I will stop the competition as soon as I can at the start of next week. I have levels ready for next month to keep you busy then too! :D

 

Any more comments on the levels?

-Miika

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I've pretty much got my solutions ready to send, but I want to take one last look this afternoon and evening. I will say, though, that I have printed your Hexominos map over 25 times and have crafted even more routes. :)

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As the site was down yesterday, I wasn't able to post the results, but in the mean time I also promised a bit of an extension for someone. Now the entries are all in (that I know of), so I'll post the results tomorrow, just in case anyone still wants to take a last look at their routes, while giving me time to upload the best solutions and check the results. This means I'm still accepting entries for 24h, but am very pleased for all the ones that already came in on time. I will also upload this month's new TT levels today, though I probably won't announce it in a new thread until after these results.

 

-Miika

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Fingers crossed! I can't wait to see what's to come for this month.

Edited by jblewis

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The Results!

 

I'm uploading the winning solutions as I'm typing this, but it's taking a bit of time so here are the standings and I'll post more details a bit later.

 

Winner - pieguy!!!

Runner-up - jblewis!!

 

Third place - random 8!

Fourth place - Markus!

 

Quickest casual solutions - Jupey95

Second quickest casual solutions - Flareon350

 

Congratulations! Thank you for participating.

 

-Miika

 

 

Oh, you want more details? Very well, here are the actual scores, in the order from above:

 

__________pg__jb__r8__m___j___f

#13.3 A - 055 055 053 054 049 036

#13.3 B - 298 296 293 282 206 206

total_____353 351 346 336 255 242

 

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Grrr...I spent so much time searching for another second on the first level that I really didn't give the second one nearly as much attention! I did find at least three 55.8 routes, though.

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