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Mr Tom
Pernicious and indubitate beggar


Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 350
Location: Surrey

PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2005 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is systematic bruting etc. _really_ as much of a problem as you suggest? I admit that even in my short time here the thought has crossed my mind (hmm... it's probably 8 letters long. What's 8^26 Question ) but it's not going to be the first thought in anyone's mind. As well as being, in many cases, effectively impossible.

A possible new idea- once (say) a week you can give up and just go on to the next puzzle! Your score would not be recorded but at least you get potential access to the later puzzles. I was rather enjoying a couple of the contests, you see...
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Robin
Scurvy, old, filthy, scurry lord


Joined: 06 Mar 2004
Posts: 501
Location: Durham, England

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr Tom wrote:
hmm... it's probably 8 letters long. What's 8^26 Question


You mean 26^8, of course Razz

Mind you, that's only 208,827,064,576, as opposed to 8^26 = 302,231,454,903,657,293,676,544. Suddenly makes bf-ing look so much more attractive, doesn't it Razz
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Strife777
Thou whoreson cullionly barbermonger


Joined: 18 Sep 2003
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My $.02 on this whole matter.

Some people feel the need to cheat. No matter what rules/regulations/etc. you put in to stop something, there will be a way around it, and usually it will take up more resources than the way you originally had it.

Do I think there should be a limit of 10 guesses per day per riddle? Yes and no. Yes, it would help "stem" the guessing tide, but as long as its not mechanized, I don't necessarily see a problem with guessing. Sometimes you can solve a problem in life without going through all the steps, and as long as you aren't using any artificial means to further your cause, you should not be penalized. In the long run, you will not win a contest based on guessing every answer, and it kind've ruins the point of all this if thats what you do. If somebody tries 100 different guesses within 2 minutes, just ban them for wasting your resources. Thats a different story.

Some suggestions, that honestly don't necessarily apply to just this site, but to the riddle community in general...

#1) Be honest with what you want. If you envision a contest as being single player vs. single player. Say so. State that the contest is a single player contest, and that you're more than welcome to work in groups, but please publically remove yourself from consideration of any recognition. Seriously. I agree that group sizes are out of control, but its blatantly obvious in the long run who's working with who. Yeah, people can lie and work together the whole contest, but 1) Its obvious via time-stamp when people move on. 2) If people really get their jollies out of winning single player contests with no prizes and having to cheat, then thats just sad. Let them have their e-penis if its that important to them.

#2) Bring back the fun in riddling. Note this has nothing to do particularly with this site, but an overall trend in general with the larger contests. Some of the riddles are made harder for absolutely no reason other than making them hard. Having to google for obscure images in hopes of finding the right word being looked for isn't fun. Having to decrypt almost everything in the later rounds, isn't fun. Yes, its difficult to write puzzles that will keep the populace at bay for long periods of time, but I personally end up losing interest when things are just so abstract/muddled/or require leaps of logic. In general, the majority of your contests do not suffer from this at all, but it is a suggestion to keep in mind.

#3) Retire old contests. You have some great riddles near the end of PT1 and PT2 that 95% of people will never see. Those contests are long slain, make every riddle available to any person, or at least, consider a "hall of fame" of the best.

#4) Write longer contests that are more "newbie" friendly. I think we set the bar too high, and it ends up being the same 50 or so people completing every contest. We don't get any new blood in here. Our 2nd round of contests are equivalent to the 5th round of Riddle Planet 1. I think it ends up scaring off new players. You might say, "Well then the big groups will blow right through it and thats it"...well too bad for us then. Sure there are plenty of archived contests to get a new player up to speed, but honestly the competition is what interests some players.

#5) Offer more open ended sets. Possibly a regular PuzzleTome 125 question contest, but you unlock the entire round at a time. Choice = good = less frustration = less boredom.

#6) Offer explanations after solving a riddle. I'm blatantly ripping this off from the Stone/Scarecrow/Stone Unturned...but after solving a riddle it would be nice to have an explanation to see if we missed anything, and get any extra background on the theme.

Overall, in an aestetic sense, your site is great. Its well put together, and any changes you make to improve it are just gravy. I think the main thing you guys need is growth of community, which is no easy feat.

Keep up the good work, all of you Smile
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xyphic
Forum git


Joined: 14 Sep 2003
Posts: 2692
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 10:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to write that Strife - it's really appreciated. I'll take your points one by one and let you know my thoughts:

1) There's a case to be made for removing leaderboards completely and making the hall of fame unordered. We should probably stop calling them 'contests' too - the whole point is to give people something to challenge them and to have fun with. By restricting group size we're only going to reduce the fun, which is why it'd take something major to make me even consider considering it! Some people enjoy solving the puzzles on their own or in small groups. Others enjoy it more in large groups. Play the game however you want, in the end it's about having fun.

2) Again, a good point and one that we've tried to take on board. Contest one contained far too many obscure or illogical puzzles. We (the PT admin) try to create puzzles that are logical and have enough direction for everyone to solve. And when you solve you *know* it's correct and there's a sense of satisfaction there. Granted, we occasionally get it wrong but we're all on a learning curve and we can only get better.

Of course, we don't have creative control over the contests that we host for people - though we'll offer our opinion and our experience when we feel something doesn't work. We aim to bring a diverse collections of puzzles and riddles for people and we hope that allowing people to host with us enhances that.

3) I think this is a very good idea. So good that I'm going to give some very serious thought as to how it could be done. One thing I'm acutely aware of is that some people arrive at the site and try contest one and then give up. Tricky one to solve though...

4) Another good idea. It's hard to write puzzles that aren't too hard or too easy. Only experience and feedback will help there! I'd like to think that Back to Basics serves to help bring novices up to speed, but I agree there's nothing like a real contest with competition to get the old neurons firing.

5) After the positive feedback from Festive Fun, we're aware that people enjoy being able to switch between puzzles. In fact, we're working on some ideas right now that will hopefully make puzzle solving a *lot* more enjoyable. Smile

6) Again, good idea. Nothing worse than getting an answer then spending another 3 days figuring out how it works just to satisfy your curiosity. Wink

Once again, thanks for the feedback. Not just you Strife, but everyone who has contributed so far. Please keep contributing to this thread because even the little things can help us make this site a more enjoyable place for you to visit.

Cheers,
xyphic
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Shiz
Pernicious and indubitate beggar


Joined: 10 Jun 2004
Posts: 366
Location: Middle of England, Ex-pat Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Strife777 wrote:
Retire old contests. You have some great riddles near the end of PT1 and PT2 that 95% of people will never see. Those contests are long slain, make every riddle available to any person, or at least, consider a "hall of fame" of the best.


Speaking as a relative newbie (OK I've been on this site for a few months, but never puzzled on-line before) it's still nice to plod through PT1 and PT2 trying to do them in the order in which they were intended. Without a little resistance it's all too easy to give up on a puzzle very quickly and move on, and I know personally I wouldn't have solved a good proportion of the puzzles I have without a good deal of time spent pondering and head-scratching and trying (in some cases) a lot of wrong methods before hitting the right one. I wonder if I'd have had the willpower to persist if the option to skip had been available... I suspect I may well have missed out on some cracking puzzles.

In addition, I know I'd have missed out on contact with other members via PM, firstly asking for help along the way, and also latterly providing a hint here and there to others who are following along after me. There's a great deal of satisfaction involved in being able to provide some assistance, especially when you know you yourself have had a 'leg-up' so to speak. And it's nice to get plain encouragement to keep at it when you're almost there too, all of which I suspect would be lost if old contests were simply thrown wide open.

Having said that, it can be discouraging when you hit a puzzle that just doesn't click with you, especially if no-one else seems to have had much difficulty... there are times when someone could hint until they're blue in the face and I still don't get it...

Once a contest is well and truly won, and the Hall of Fame is amply populated (whether this be judged by time elapsed or by persons finished) could it be feasible to allow those still languishing a number of 'passes' - either so many per round or a total for the whole contest - to enable you to pass on a particularly troublesome puzzle and move on. With a set number of passes you would still have to think carefully about when to use them, which would provide the incentive to give 100% to every puzzle before throwing in the towel.

Shiz
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theandygrant
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet


Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 1264
Location: The Lethargic Dodecahedron

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xyphic wrote:
Some people enjoy solving the puzzles on their own or in small groups. Others enjoy it more in large groups.


And others just have no friends Crying or Very sad

xyphic wrote:

3) I think this is a very good idea. So good that I'm going to give some very serious thought as to how it could be done. One thing I'm acutely aware of is that some people arrive at the site and try contest one and then give up. Tricky one to solve though...
xyphic


Speaking as someone who has been beavering away at Round 5 at a rate of probably one puzzle every six months, I'd be distraught if it vanished before I got to the end. Completing this contest has become a dream of mine only slightly less desirable than getting on the property ladder.
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theandygrant
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet


Joined: 07 Feb 2004
Posts: 1264
Location: The Lethargic Dodecahedron

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In terms of stopping people just trying PT1 then giving up, how about classifying contest as say Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert?

Or just giving it a new name so it's no longer the obvious place to start?
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Stretham
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Joined: 15 Sep 2003
Posts: 19344
Location: Here, there, somewhere, everywhere

PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

theandygrant wrote:
In terms of stopping people just trying PT1 then giving up, how about classifying contest as say Beginner, Intermediate, and Expert?

Or just giving it a new name so it's no longer the obvious place to start?

I was discussing both of these ideas this morning with xyphic, so it's good to see that they're not so daft and that others think the same. At the moment we are favouring the first, although the plan is to introduce (say) a ranking out of 10 for each contest. This will make it easier to compare the contests. Also, rather than just stick an arbitrary number in decided by a couple of people, we plan to automate it to some extent. When a player completes a contest, they can give their opinion of the ranking. The results would then be averaged. (Anyone who has already completed a contest and wanted to help out would merely need to return to the end page.)

This is all (for the moment) thoughts in our head rather than decided, but it shouldn't be too difficult to do.

Stretham
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Robin
Scurvy, old, filthy, scurry lord


Joined: 06 Mar 2004
Posts: 501
Location: Durham, England

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stretham wrote:

I was discussing both of these ideas this morning with xyphic, so it's good to see that they're not so daft and that others think the same. At the moment we are favouring the first, although the plan is to introduce (say) a ranking out of 10 for each contest. This will make it easier to compare the contests.


I do think this sounds like a good idea - however, one has to remember that, with the longer contests, the difficulty level changes drastically from beginning to end. In my experience, there's nothing like a contest which starts off nice and easy, and then gradually gets harder and harder, to get one completely hooked. This is certainly what happened to me when I did Puzzle Donkey contest 2, which was my first taste of online puzzling. And I've been hooked ever since Smile

Personally, I'd rather see a ranking system of this sort for the mini-contests, and not for the two main contests - it should be explained somewhere that these two start off at the easier end of the scale, and rapidly get more difficult, finishing up at the top end.

(Although, having said this, I should point out that I haven't yet bothered to get beyond round 1 of Contest 2... Embarassed )
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xyphic
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Joined: 14 Sep 2003
Posts: 2692
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say that contest one is overall more difficult and less logical than contest two. There's also less of an 'aha' factor, meaning it's harder to know whether the answer you've got is correct. So I'd actually recommend new puzzlers to skip contest one and go straight for contest two!

But you're right - the contests get more difficult as the rounds progress, and it's difficult to apply an overall difficulty grade to them. This is certainly going to require some more thought...
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SparkPlug
Because I can


Joined: 30 Jan 2004
Posts: 11710
Location: Here!

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xyphic wrote:
I'd say that contest one is overall more difficult and less logical than contest two. There's also less of an 'aha' factor, meaning it's harder to know whether the answer you've got is correct.


You do yourselves an injustice !

Constest one can be criticised for misgrading puzzles and therefore placing some tricky customers near the beginning... but little else !
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Sierro
Thy mothers name is ominous to children


Joined: 19 Jan 2005
Posts: 31

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm currently working through contest one and really enjoying it (ok hit a wall on 3.09 but I'll get through it Smile ), so I don't think retiring old contests is a good idea.

I'd say work out the graphics thing, I'm using firefox and the menu at the left doesn't line up with the book image! Smile
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xyphic
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Joined: 14 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sierro wrote:
I'd say work out the graphics thing, I'm using firefox and the menu at the left doesn't line up with the book image! Smile

This is a problem we know about - we decided as it doesn't affect the contests it would be too much trouble to go back and fix it now. So we'll fix it up during this upcoming site upgrade.
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Strife777
Thou whoreson cullionly barbermonger


Joined: 18 Sep 2003
Posts: 119

PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a clarification...by retiring contests, I don't mean remove them, or remove the ability to play through them as intended. I meant, as an option, people would be able to "move ahead" if they are stuck/bored on a riddle, so some of the really really good later round puzzles could be seen by all. They should never ever take any of these contests off-line Smile I just want to give a reason for someone who may be stuck at 4.20 for 3 months to be able to move on and see the rest...it shouldn't affect any player currently playing.
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theandygrant
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet


Joined: 07 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wouldn't the percentage of players starting a contest that have finished it be a good natural indicator of how difficult a contest is?
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