Jump to content
M11k4

April 2013 Time Trial - Item Fetchers

Recommended Posts

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

 

http://cczone.invisionzone.com/index.php?/files/file/225-ccz-tt-1304ccl/

 

Important! The levels were updated to version 2.0. Do not use the initial release for the competition!

 

Everyone knows what an item swapper level looks like, but these are not quite like that. I wanted to make some easier levels this time, but still keep the optimizing a challenge. The result is these three levels that I'm dubbing "item fetcher" puzzles, as you keep fetching free items after losing your earlier ones (as opposed to an item swapper, where you are rewarded with new items for using your old ones). I have seen this concept explored in at least the custom levels Full Houses (#43 of geodave3.dat) and Combinations (#32 of ajmiam-pit-or-100-tiles.ccl), but would be interested in hearing of more examples. I'll post more on the creation of this set once I start receiving submissions.

 

The scoring is a bit different this time, so you might want to read the specifics below, but basically if you have the fastest time you'll win. Enjoy!

 

EDIT: The first versions of the levels were a bit too complex to be as fun as they could be, so two of them were updated. Make sure you have version 2.0, which includes more levels but only three for the competition. See details in posts below. (Red text in this post highlights changes during the update.)

 

Details:

 

1) Instead of looking at the combined time remaining on the three levels (Freshmen Fetcher, Sophomore Fetcher, Junior Fetcher), this time we will focus on the relative placement of entrants for each individual level. The full method I have in mind is a bit complicated, as it takes into account all sorts of ties, but the idea is that first place on a level is worth a little over twice that of second place, which in turn is worth more than two third place finishes on a level and so on. The winner will thus be someone who has the best time on at least on of the levels, and if someone has the best time on two levels (not tied), it won't matter what time they scored on the third level. Once the winner is decided, the remaining players will be examined as if they were the only entrants and the winner out of this group will come second overall, and so on until everyone's placement is settled. If there are unforeseen problems with this method, I will settle it as fairly as I can.
 
2) 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. There may be a tie in the overall score.

3) Please send your solutions (either the tws file or avis) to CCZoneNextLevel at gmail dot com, or to my own email 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.

4) 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. You may enter if you solve at least one of the levels, but solving more will obviously place higher. The levels have time limits of 120, 240, and 240, and you most likely can complete each one on your first try if you are careful. (The original versions had time limits of 120, 360, and 360 seconds, which might not have been enough to guarantee that you could solve them all on your first attempts, but competitive runs should still have left over half of that time unused.)

5) This is part of the 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 short poem in my CC blog.

6) Submission deadline is at the end of the month. During the last week of April, I will announce a precise cut-off time that will be at the start of May, after which no more submissions will be accepted, and judge the competition soon after that. To avoid losing on time (it is a time trial after all), 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. This is subject to change due to the update on the levels. Specifics to follow in good time.

7) 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 April 11th in any case. (See? I knew I'd need this rule some day.)

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

-Miika

Edited by M11k4
notice about update to levels

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good gravy, these look even more insane to optimize than the ones from last month! Does the scoring work such that we'll get something like Chip Cup points for each level depending on our placement, and the final scores will involve totaling those up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I hear what you're saying, J.B. These levels are not intuitively optimizable and require quite a bit of work. I intended them to be easier than they currently are.

 

Taking into account that the survival competition this month also has three levels, we should simplify this a bit. One option would  be if we only used one of these levels this month, and saved two of them for later, like maybe next month's levels? Or used two now and added some easier ones into the mix for next month? What would you guys prefer?

 

Another option would be for me to rework the two last levels and make them simpler, removing half the keys in Sophomore Fetcher, and some of the options in Junior Fetcher. I think the first level is fine. The levels still wouldn't be an absolute joy to work on, but at least somewhat more manageable.

 

Or we could change the scoring such that scores within some amount of seconds of each other would be considered tied, allowing for more relaxed routes. Normally we consider scores within the same second as equal, but this window could be enlarged, maybe keeping it at one second on the first level, five seconds on the second, and ten seconds on the third.

 

I'll expand on the points system once we sort this out first. For that I really need you guys to weigh in on how you'd like me to change this competition and make it better.

 

-Miika

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another option would be for me to rework the two last levels and make them simpler, removing half the keys in Sophomore Fetcher, and some of the options in Junior Fetcher. I think the first level is fine. The levels still wouldn't be an absolute joy to work on, but at least somewhat more manageable.

 

This would be my vote.

 

I guess my issue with these levels - particularly the latter two - is that optimization for them is pretty much all about trial and error. Last month's TT levels, as well as most of the others, required some amount of logic in determining what was fastest and what wasn't. On Hexominos, for example, tracing certain portions of the route that can be deduced as optimal and then piecing together those portions to form a fast final product both involve logic, even if there's some experimentation involved. On Nested Replay, optimizing is about trial and error, but the endpoint of the experimentation is certain, as you explained the objectives yourself: finding which three rooms in each quadrant were the fastest, and from that, which three quadrants were the fastest. And along the way, secondary objectives could come into play, such as which differences between collecting one, two, and three keys in each room were worth exploiting. But even those were uncomplicated. The challenge was in making sure that you had the definitively fastest route for each room. Here, though, barring a computer program, you'd almost need to create a fairly lengthy decision tree just to cover every possibility to absolutely ensure that your route is optimal, not unlike Tool Box or especially Which One Next? It's just not as fun.

Edited by jblewis

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another option would be for me to rework the two last levels and make them simpler, removing half the keys in Sophomore Fetcher, and some of the options in Junior Fetcher. I think the first level is fine. The levels still wouldn't be an absolute joy to work on, but at least somewhat more manageable.

I like this option. The "larger scoring window" idea is workable but I'd rather avoid that if possible. Edited by James

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also feel simplifying the levels will make the most sense. I will post an update within a day or so.

 

Sorry for the inconvenience to everyone. Let's hope pieguy isn't awake and we'll still get to see the optimal routes for the original levels from him :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok guys, I've posted an update of the levels. Check them out. The first level is unchanged. The second one has half the amount of chips. The third level has much less elements to worry about. I kept the original versions of the two latter levels in the set for reference, but not for use in the competition. If these are the final versions, should I extend the deadline to account for this hassle?

 

I worked over an hour on optimizing each of the new versions of Sophomore Fetcher and Junior Fetcher, so I should have a better grasp of what kinds of results I can expect on those levels than earlier. I also worked on optimizing the original versions after this and they weren't quite as daunting as they might have seemed at first glance, but I admit that squeezing the absolute best route out of them would be a tremendous task. Nevertheless, I think the new versions are better for the competition, and should prove more interesting than the originals. It's not simple to find the fine line between too easy to optimize and way too complex, while still being an otherwise interesting TT level.

 

Now I'm going to sleep and I expect constructive feedback upon waking again :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Miika, you previous stated that you'd set a deadline for this competition by the end of April. Do you have a general idea of when you'd like to set the cutoff date? I've got fairly optimized solutions, but I'm still working on the last level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I apologize for dropping out of the loop for the end of April. Let's set the deadline at the end of the week, shall we? So I'll judge the entries four days from now, on Monday morning at about 10 (GMT+2, which is about midnight for most of you on Sunday). I'll try to figure out what to do with the March create results by then too. Anything else I'm behind on?

 

EDIT: yes, I have to start the new TT of course!

Edited by M11k4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't wait to see the results! Though I just realized down at the office that I may have missed something potentially huge on the second level. Will test out my theory when I get home, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, the results. Usually by this time I have shared some thoughts on the making of the levels, but last month was a bit busier than normal so I never got around to that. That means you'll get a bit of a longer explanation of the levels as well as the results.


 


So the March time trial levels were a bit tougher to solve than I had planned. As a reaction to this, my thought was to make easier levels to solve for April, but ones that still were hard to optimize. Upon releasing the levels, the immediate feedback was that they were too complex to optimize, which was a fair thing to say considering that much simpler levels can also be tough to work on. So I reworked the two tougher levels (as I'm sure everyone reading this thread already knows). The other thing I realized from looking at the March levels (and other older ones) that the levels were very disconnected from each other. So this time I wanted to keep a small theme running through the levels. To emphasize that there was a theme like this, I expanded the number of levels from two to three.


 


Though I was hoping all these things might attract more entrants to the competition, I received fewer submissions than for any other competition so far this year. Perhaps having levels that look hard to optimize scare away more players than I thought. Of course April is also often a busy month for most, so it's always understandable that real life stuff can push things like this to the sidelines. I did hear from at least Michael, Jupey95 and Hornlitz, that they solved some of the levels, but never received any submissions, which is a pity since this month I stated that you can place in the competition even by solving a single levels, and you can always send in improvements if you work on them more later. Perhaps releasing the CCLP1 white/black-lists was a ploy from JB to distract everyone else and he might be the only entrant and win by default. Unfortunately, that plan did not work quite so simply, as pieguy also found the time to crunch out some routes!


 


So the first level was meant as a simple introduction to the concept of a fetching puzzle. There is footwear in the middle of the level that are surrounded by rooms, each with a chip guarded by elements. Before entering a room, Chip must pick up the right combination of footwear which he will then lose as he exits the room. Other factors in the level include pop-ups that are in the way after you have used them, and toggle walls that lose you time each time you toggle them. My own time for this level upon release was 79, while Hornlitz claimed to have reached 80 when I say him in the chat, and our two golden boys both submitted times of 83. So congratulations to both of you for not getting beaten by the other on this warm-up level! (And that's the only time I can say that for this month's levels, as the scores for the other two levels are not equal.)


 


For the second level I wanted to expand the fetching theme in a way that didn't use pop-up walls, and instead used keys to simulate the effect of not being able to gather all the items in one go. The result is a level where the 'reward area' to gather chips is large and you can get more than one at a time, but once you go back to get more keys in the 'fetching area', you lose your footwear, as opposed to always losing your footwear when picking up a single chip. As a side result of using force floors to deny re-entry into a room, this level has more boosting possibilities than any other that I have made for a time trial. I allowed for a single press of the toggle button in the reward area, as well as an exchange of a key to another (down by the teleport), as I found that without these tricks the level felt more compartmentalized than I wanted. My own efforts at optimizing this level were concentrated on lowering the number of trips needed between the two large areas, and I scored 188 by only using three trips, while pieguy used four trips to score 191 and JB used four trips to score 192. Wait, what?! Did I write that correctly? Yes, pieguy lost out to JB by one second on this level. That means JB is in good shape to win overall this time. Let's look at the last level and see if pieguy can pull off a miracle victory, shall we?


 


I have a confession to make. I actually built this third level before creating the second one. I'm sorry for having switched the order in the set. Oh wait, I'm just receiving word that this doesn't matter and I had every right to use them in any order I wanted. Never mind then, forget I said anything.


 


The third level feels somewhat like just a more complicated version of the first one, but there are some qualitative differences. Each of the eight rooms actually has two ways of passing through, meaning there are two combinations of items that allow Chip to reach the chip. The toggle and tank buttons are used in the level in a way that is similar to the logic of using the footwear, except that you can "hold on to a button press" while traversing a room without that button. As the original version of this level required three types of items to be fetched between each room, and the simplified version only one or two, I removed some of the available footwear and added the need to have all four to reach the exit. Since now the logic of going through the rooms was slightly less complicated, a new and quite large aspect of optimizing the level was how to get all the boots at the end. My own effort had Chip visiting three corner stashes and scored 187. Of course pieguy found a quicker way by taking a shortcut through the center at the end, scoring an incredible 189! Very well done! I hope I'm not forgetting anything. Oh yes, JB also managed to solve the level. His solution also went through the center at the end, but it did not score the same as pieguy. He scored more! An astounding five seconds more! Yes, by only visiting two corners at the end, JB found a route that scored 194, awarding him the best time on each of the three levels, and the uncontested win for this time trial! Congratulations! You also take control of the Chip Cup leader board with this wonderful effort. Well done, well earned, and well played.  (Y) You the man!


 


...or at least you are until the end of the next competition, which I will announce soon, and we can all live through all of this again! I'll also post some of these routes to Youtube as soon as I am able. Have a good day everyone, and don't let the gliders get you!


 


-Miika

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<pieguy getting 2nd place in a TT>

 

April Fools was last month... :P

 

 

Congrats J.B.!

Let's see if I can bump PG down to 3rd place this month B)

 

 

Edited by James
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

James, your optimism is admirable. Not that you couldn't beat pieguy given the right circumstances, but that you would actually manage to enter one of these competitions :P

 

I uploaded the winning routes. Here's the first and you can find the other two posted as video responses:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×