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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsDeduction - Logic Puzzles (currently on hold)
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grayhaze
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« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2015, 01:38:52 pm »

Since returning from my break I've found it extremely difficult to get motivated about continuing development on the game, partly due to the lack of feedback I've received. I've therefore decided to bite the bullet and offer a very rough prototype for people to download and have a play, which will hopefully spur some on to give me their thoughts on the core puzzle mechanics.

Here's the link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7u0u7vcn8a9tasw/Deduction%20v0.1.zip?dl=0

Note that this is effectively a desktop version (Windows only at the moment) of a mobile game, so mouse control may seem a little odd at first. This version is set to 'expire' one month from now, which will hopefully give enough time for plenty of people to have a go.

Included in the zip file is a "read me" file, which gives a tutorial on how to play and what the big jumble of debug buttons at the bottom of the screen do. I strongly suggest that you read this before attempting to play, unless you're very good at figuring out how to solve puzzles or you've played a version of this puzzle before!

Please respond in this thread with any thoughts you have, and bear in mind that this is still very early in development and is by no means a complete game!
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SirNiko
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« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2015, 03:24:52 pm »

Running the .exe gives me an error.

"Could not load module [email protected]_env_1"
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grayhaze
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« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2015, 12:00:07 am »

Running the .exe gives me an error.

"Could not load module [email protected]_env_1"

The universe hates me! :D

It should be fixed now. Please download again and give it a try.
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SirNiko
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2015, 12:39:56 pm »

Okay, now it works.

Really liked the interface overall. It only took me two games before I got comfortable clicking a set of tiles and then selecting a tile. I didn't detect any problems with the puzzle algorithm giving me bad puzzles. I was pleased to see you can click the titles in the title and they depress.

The "lose" animation is too subtle, such that it's hard to tell the difference between losing and winning. There were a few times when I was unsure if I'd made a mistake and lost or if the game had autocompleted the puzzle due to a choice I made and I had won. Considering adding an additional effect, like a "Win" or "Lose" banner, or maybe tinting the screen red on a loss. It would also be nice if the "lose" screen showed you your incorrect choice in addition to the solution.

I'd also prefer the option to turn off the game from automatically generating a new puzzle after a few seconds and instead have a button to click to generate a new puzzle. This is especially true after I lose, since it gives me the chance to compare the puzzle to my clues and perhaps realize I misunderstood what a clue was trying to tell me.

I played a few rounds with the default set of clues, then started turning on the other clue types. The only clue type that posed problems was the right facing arrow. It's un-intuitive compared to the left facing arrow, and is the only clue to be confusing in this way. I suspect you realized this already and that's why it's not toggled from the start. On the other hand, it might make sense as a feature for higher difficulty puzzles.

The other types of clues, including the red "not" clues all made perfect sense and posed no difficulty for me.

I found the game to otherwise be very relaxing. I could see myself playing a few rounds of this during a coffee break.

I'll probably give this another shot later, and try generating some puzzles with weird combinations of clue types to see if I can break your game.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2015, 01:17:20 pm »

Thank you for taking the time to play, and for the great feedback! Many of your thoughts mirror my own, which is reassuring. Smiley

The "lose" animation is too subtle, such that it's hard to tell the difference between losing and winning. There were a few times when I was unsure if I'd made a mistake and lost or if the game had autocompleted the puzzle due to a choice I made and I had won. Considering adding an additional effect, like a "Win" or "Lose" banner, or maybe tinting the screen red on a loss. It would also be nice if the "lose" screen showed you your incorrect choice in addition to the solution.

This is certainly something I'll improve as I shape it into a proper game. I'm actually considering using a "strikes" system, whereby an incorrect elimination will lose you a strike and this will be clearly displayed on screen. There's also going to be a timed mode which gives you a certain amount of time to make a move.

I played a few rounds with the default set of clues, then started turning on the other clue types. The only clue type that posed problems was the right facing arrow. It's un-intuitive compared to the left facing arrow, and is the only clue to be confusing in this way. I suspect you realized this already and that's why it's not toggled from the start. On the other hand, it might make sense as a feature for higher difficulty puzzles.

You're not the first to say that the "to the right of" clue type is confusing. It's likely that if I keep that one in it'll be one of the last clue types to be introduced to the player, by which time it should be more apparent that clues are best understood as a sentence read from left to right (except perhaps for the "between" clue types). I have noticed that other versions of this puzzle tend to stick to the "to the left of" type only, but it somehow felt a bit unbalanced to have it without the opposite type.

I found the game to otherwise be very relaxing. I could see myself playing a few rounds of this during a coffee break.

This makes me happy, as this is exactly what I'm aiming for. Smiley

I'll probably give this another shot later, and try generating some puzzles with weird combinations of clue types to see if I can break your game.

There are certain combinations which will upset the generation algorithm to the point of crashing the game currently, but mostly when you remove all but one or two clue types on one of the medium to large size boards.
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charliecarlo
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« Reply #25 on: October 09, 2015, 02:03:02 pm »

Yeah, I certainly couldn't tell if I won or lost, either.
And I couldn't tell if there was an "undo" function; I don't think there was, though.
Perhaps, instead of a strike system, give the player an amount of undos.
That way they'd have to realize they messed something up, like in most Sudoku apps.
If you want it to be challenging you could have difficulty modes, like:
Hard = 0 undos
Normal = 3 undos
Easy = 5 undos
Casual = infinite undos

I'd play on casual because I'm simple and like to take my time.

Other than that, this is shaping up to be something I've always wanted: A logic puzzle game with infinite possible puzzles.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2015, 03:07:36 am »

Perhaps, instead of a strike system, give the player an amount of undos.
That way they'd have to realize they messed something up, like in most Sudoku apps.
If you want it to be challenging you could have difficulty modes, like:
Hard = 0 undos
Normal = 3 undos
Easy = 5 undos
Casual = infinite undos

I'm not sure an undo system is feasible in the context of this game, as the mechanics work more along the "instant death" style of something like Minesweeper. Once you've eliminated a solution symbol, I'm not sure what you would expect to see on screen as the game board would be in an impossible state, and "un-pressing" a symbol wouldn't really make sense. The difference with a game like Sudoku being in that game you're adding things to the board to get to a solution, whereas in this game you're removing things.

The idea of the strike system would be that attempting to eliminate a solution symbol would actually not perform the elimination, instead giving an on-screen prompt that you'd chosen incorrectly and lost a strike. This way the game board would remain in a valid state for your next move.
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charliecarlo
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2015, 08:52:58 am »

I'm not sure an undo system is feasible in the context of this game, as the mechanics work more along the "instant death" style of something like Minesweeper. Once you've eliminated a solution symbol, I'm not sure what you would expect to see on screen as the game board would be in an impossible state, and "un-pressing" a symbol wouldn't really make sense. The difference with a game like Sudoku being in that game you're adding things to the board to get to a solution, whereas in this game you're removing things.
In logic puzzles, the presence of something removes the possibility of something else. Get a Sudoku app that has a pencil tool and fill every slot with every possible number that could be there, and then solve it. You'll find it's not much different, logically, from what you've got here.

You could allow the player to deduct incorrectly and have the incorrect tile pop up.
You could represent a block having no possible solution in the current state of the puzzle by having all the buttons pressed down but no big sprite popping up. If it becomes hazardous (infinite loops and such) for the automatic solving script to run when the solution has been obscured by error, you could have each tile check to see if its solution is unavailable and use that check to exclude it from the automation. Additionally, you could have the script attempt to solve based on the context of the current game state, rather than the actual solution.

Something puts me off about the idea of a puzzle instantaneously telling you that you screwed it up, and/or punishing you for it. It's like if a Rubik's Cube electrocuted you for making an incorrect movement. Not that it's a bad idea, it's just a bit more hardcore than what your average puzzle enthusiast is looking for, which would make it a good option for a "Hard" difficulty.

Ultimately, this is all up to you, I'm just trying to express what I, personally, would like to see.
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SirNiko
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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2015, 04:55:26 pm »

I do think a mode where the game doesn't tell you when you make a mistake could be fun.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2015, 02:48:43 pm »

I do think a mode where the game doesn't tell you when you make a mistake could be fun.

I'll most likely look into the possibility of this once I've got the core game modes working. For now I want there to be a sense of tension and consequences for making a mistake, even if on the easier levels you're given strikes as a cushion. The strikes effectively work as an automatic undo anyway, but keep the game moving along without needing a manual button press to roll back a selection. This will be especially important for timed modes.

For now I'm working on improving the hint system and in-game clue descriptions to make the game learnable without having to read separate instructions. I also made some tweaks to the colours tonight, and added a switch for randomising the colours and symbol sets used for a puzzle, which makes each puzzle that much more unique. I'll upload some more screenshots once I have something to show for the clue descriptions.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2015, 01:25:10 pm »

After some initial difficulty getting back into the swing of development, I'm now starting to make some good progress on the things that have been bugging me for a while.

The first thing to show is the new randomisation of the colours and symbol sets used for each row of the puzzle. Gone is the perma-rainbow colour scheme which forever ignored the existence of violet, to be replaced by puzzles which are visually distinct from each other. You'll also notice the colours are a little brighter now, which really helps readability at small sizes.



While spending the time redrawing the colours, I thought it made sense to also add a half-pressed state to the buttons. This is currently used to distinguish between symbols which are already eliminated and those which will be eliminated when you release the mouse or touch over a given symbol. This is best illustrated with an example:



I also finally got around to giving a little attention to the zoomed in state of the clues. Now instead of just zooming in, the other clues fade away and a description of the current clue is displayed. This should really help with learning the game without the need for reading lengthy instructions in a text file!



My next task is to actually get onto the hint system, which will highlight a symbol that you can safely eliminate instead of just showing you the best clue to apply next. I need to work out how best to achieve this visually, as the screen is already very busy. I'm considering something symbol along the lines of just flashing the symbol button, but may end up doing something more complex like a ring of particles circling the symbol instead.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #31 on: October 20, 2015, 01:45:58 pm »

Alongside working on the hint system, which isn't quite ready to show yet, I've been spending some time tidying up the animations. This includes a redo of the zoom animation when you click on a cell, which now mirrors that used for the clues with the background darkening and the surrounding cells fading out to better focus on the cell with which you're interacting, and some new animation when a cell's symbol is revealed. Both of these can be seen in action below:



One day I'll work out how to actually get these GIFs running at the correct speed. For now imagine the above at half the speed. Smiley

I think the reveal animation in particular really helps improve comprehension of what's going on, especially as the reveal itself only happens once the full board is visible. I'm also exploring the possibility of 'chaining' these reveals, as well as the automatic eliminations, so that there's a clear progression of how the board got to its current state when a lot changes.

The hint system is proving slightly more tricky, partly due to the way things are layered to achieve the various animations and partly due to needing to find a way to highlight things without the board looking more cluttered and confusing than it already is. I have a rough idea of what I'm trying to achieve, but it's going to take a few days to get it working.
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charliecarlo
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« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2015, 07:56:07 pm »

Looking good, man.
Also try LiceCap.
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marcgfx
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« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2015, 12:31:22 pm »

just gave it a try. to my disgrace I have absolutely no idea how to solve something like this :S ... the symbols are all nice and clean, but when you don't know what they mean... the player will never more be seen. something like that.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #34 on: October 22, 2015, 03:55:07 am »

just gave it a try. to my disgrace I have absolutely no idea how to solve something like this :S ... the symbols are all nice and clean, but when you don't know what they mean... the player will never more be seen. something like that.

Hopefully the addition of a tutorial will help with that somewhat, but it's true that this sort of puzzle doesn't 'click' for everyone. There have been claims about previous versions that only about 2% of the population are able to solve logic puzzles of this type, but I'm optimistic that with a good, gradual introduction to the core concepts and patterns the majority of people will at least be able to tackle the smaller ones.
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charliecarlo
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« Reply #35 on: October 23, 2015, 08:44:07 pm »

Well, I'll certainly play the next test build and give you whatever feedback I can.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #36 on: October 24, 2015, 12:24:07 pm »

After a couple of days of head scratching and experimenting I finally have fully functioning hints. You can see me cheating my way to success in a couple of games below:





Obviously in the final game hints will be limited, so you won't just be able to breeze your way through like this, but having infinite uses is really useful at the moment as it's actually helping me to identify holes in my generation algorithms where smarter choices could be made about which tiles to eliminate or reveal.

The graphics for this are still a work in progress too. I need something which clearly identifies a symbol, even with 6x6 puzzles, and what to do with that symbol. Currently green means "reveal this symbol" and red means "eliminate this symbol", but I'm considering also adding an additional line of text to the clue description along the lines of "So X must be here" or "So X cannot be here" to make it clearer.

The code for all this is pretty messy at the moment, so I have a lot of tidying to do and a couple of minor bugs to fix before I release the next test version. That should be in the next few days though.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2015, 03:45:49 pm »

Work still continues on tidying things up and improving the puzzle generation. As I don't have any new visuals to show for now, I thought I'd upload a current test build for people to play with. This includes all the work done since the previous build, including clue descriptions, hints and animated transitions. This version will expire one month from now. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

As usual, read the instructions included in the zip if you need some pointers to get started.

Download here
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charliecarlo
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« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2015, 03:37:42 pm »

This is shaping up nicely.
I'm really concerned with the lack of an undo function though; when I mis-click my heart stops for a moment.
Especially in the middle of a 6x6 with no confirmed tiles.
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grayhaze
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« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2015, 04:26:43 pm »

This is shaping up nicely.
I'm really concerned with the lack of an undo function though; when I mis-click my heart stops for a moment.
Especially in the middle of a 6x6 with no confirmed tiles.

I haven't forgotten about the requests for an undo facility. All I ask is that you wait and see how the planned strike system feels before passing judgement, which will be my next job once I've polished the hints a little more.

I'm still of the opinion that I want people to panic a little if they try to eliminate a symbol before a clue positively identifies it as expendable, as at the harder levels I want there to be some consequence to not planning properly.

The real danger of allowing the player to undo their failures is that it could lead to someone blindly clicking things and undoing them until they get to the solution, as you need to remember that if their selection is flagged as incorrect it immediately indicates that the selected symbol is the solution for that cell. So the number of undos is in reality a number of free reveals without having to follow the clues.

I'm hoping to offset this issue with the strike system by penalising the player with either time or points (as this will be a timed game, even in casual mode) each time they lose a strike.

As I say, bear in mind that this it's still early days with this game and there's a lot more to add. If the strike system doesn't work out, it'll at least lay the groundwork for implementing undos. In the meantime, savour that panic. Wink
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