My last few puzzles were rather easy, or at least quite explicit with regard to what you had to do. Time has come for some change. A bigger challenge. Not too big in my humble opinion, but of course I am biased as the creator. Still full completion is probably not for everybody.
The difficulty at the beginning is that I am not telling you exactly what to do. This is intended. Do not ask questions what to do, you only risk spoiling something by accident and I won't answer anyway.
Later on as you realize what is it that I am asking of you, the complexity grows with each passing quiz.
You have around a week for first two giveways and 2 days more for the final 2 giveaways.
It took me around 5 days to prepare this puzzle. Solving of course is much easier than preparation, especially the early stages that aren't that complicated, but do not underestimate this challenge on later stages. First giveaway in the series should be easy enough to get to, though.
All I'm going to say regarding the solutions is this: all quiz answers, except on the final quiz, consist only of latin alphabet letters. The exception is the final quiz, where one of the symbols to use is
+ (a plus sign). None of the answers have spaces in them. I'd be surprised if you answered the first question without bruteforcing, props if you did, sorry if you didn't.
Also, I'm using itstoohard so remember casing doesn't matter and make sure your answer has registered if you don't see neither "Correct" nor "Wrong" it probably means it's a good time to reload the page. I'm not asking to end the answers with anything funky this time :) Also this is my birthday month so this is part of my running celebration. If you read through at least here, here - have a freebie. I have made and will likely make even more giveaways on that occasion so you may get confused which ones are for the puzzle but well, don't worry too much about it :P
The Shortest Journey, generation 1: ䷂
The timer (final two giveaways end 2 days later)
Like I said, the difficulty at the beginning was that you didn't know what the heck all this is about. So prepare for Captain Hindsight to kick you as it wasn't anything outlandish.
The challenge basically was solving a series of mazes. Your good, old, you-can-only-turn-90-degrees-and-move-one-square-at-a-time type of maze. Except the dimensionality was slowly rising up to and including five (sic!) dimensions. Obviously started much easier than that.
And by "solving" I mean finding a path from starting point to a finish point and presenting it step by step using symbols like
North as directions. On most of the maps the starting point was marked by an open, rounded box with an
x inside, while the finish was a similar box, but with an arrow pointing outside the box. And of course, as the title of the puzzle suggests, you weren't looking just for any path, but for the (a) shortest path possible.
Initially it was mostly about bruteforcing the
N symbol and then figuring out why it was
N, looking and comparing the pictures on gen 1 and gen 2. Perhaps guessing the symbols on gen 2 as well. Subsequently I gave a pretty good hint, Tramontane, which is a name for north wind to clue you into the first solution and generally to the principal winds / compass rose.
Also initially the purple circle and the Pentastar Alignment symbol weren't used. They were there for the final challenge. It was a shout out to some games I played recently, namely Darksiders and Batman, that had some puzzles that you saw pretty much too soon and couldn't do anything with them yet, until you got better gear/powers. Anyway like I said it was about comparing gen 1 and gen 2, what is common (the two boxes with
x and an arrow) and how they are different (configuration is different, at first one is north to the other, then on the other map it's to the east).
Also, the I Ching symbols were there mostly for the flavor, like I said, so another point not to overthink. Sometimes they could be a slight hint. In this solution I present those symbols as they were, along with the names I was thinking about in given stage. You could copy-pasta them and search for example using http://www.fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/search.htm
The solution to generation 1 was then just a single
N, for "one step north". You wouldn't know it by then, but it was easily solvable without any idea with the hints provided (sorry for the bruteforcing part, though :P even though I felt it's the way to go). With the Tramontane hint you could possibly even not have to brute force, but still wonder what it meant.
Yes, you are a wanderer, wandering around in mazes provided by me. One of the solvers actually told me he had a nightmare featuring my puzzle that he indeed was trapped in some kind of excavation and had to use my map to get out. What can I say xD
Generation 2 was still just a kind of one dimensional "maze", this time designed to introduce the symbols
E and the opposite one,
W. Standing for
West. The solution was two steps east,
Both symbols could be bruteforced if you still didn't get the idea from the principal wind or
North on generation 1 that I'm talking about the main compass rose directions. Even question 1 could be bruteforced if you noticed that I asked for the symbol used in Q1, meaning only this symbol is used there and no other symbol. My understanding is a few people did just that, guessed
EE, but sadly still couldn't figure out it meant nothing more than "two steps East" :(
We continue our journey still not exactly sure what the future brings. But generation 3 is first more "legit" maze, two dimensional. Pretty easy though, if you had the idea already what my challenge is about. The
E dimension (I called it
Width) was introduced in generation 2, but the other dimension (persnally called it
Length) only had
N introduced. Obviously though, the opposite symbol was
South) and that was a symbol used in the solution for generation 3.
Actually if you looked closely, you could figure out on this quiz that there could be many solutions even without revisiting a square, but I'm only looking for the shortest ones. And accepting all of them, in case of this maze there were 3 solutions, paths of length 8. Also another conclusion you could draw if you thought about it was that the maze fragments don't have a torus topology (do not wrap around the edges.. so the solution wasn't a simple
N for instance, you had to go east, south and then west).
Yay rejoice, you have actually grasped the idea behind the puzzle, that it was just a maze and you had to provide directions from start to finish. Have a giveaway for that, and continue forth!
We're growing a dimension and will now include going up (and down)! Probably one of the more meaningful hints in that whole I Ching ordeal.
This is a small 3D maze designed to gently introduce the third dimension (
Height :] ). Again symbols could be bruted if you didn't catch the idea it's
Down. The picture had slices of 3D maze arranged vertically to show the third dimension. You could go
U from a cell in 5x5 slice to the corresponding cell on a slice shown above your current one. Or
D to move to the lower 5x5 slice/level.
Obviously the way down, north and up was shorter than staying on the same level and trying to go east, north and west.
A full blown 3D maze. The Well. Seven 5x5 slices/levels. If I told you upfront what was the whole deal about, this would probably be the first real challenge you'd face. It also had the longest solution from all generations, 41 steps/characters long. You could've stepped on a path that was slightly longer but yeah, that's one of the tricky parts of the challenge. It's The Shortest Journey.
Quite a few of the solvers still did it by hand but from this point I would rather consider coding a solver. Anyone with computer science background should be able to EASILY code a solver for mazes like this. I mean, c'mon, it doesn't even really need A* algorithm for performance, simple Breadth-First Search would be plenty enough.
But I did at least try to make solving by hand a plausible endeavor. Seems two of the absolute solvers did it by hand even for the final challenge! Wow. Anyway BFS could've been indeed done by hand: just start at the beginning and mark neighbouring squares that are reachable in one step in any direction with 1. Then for each of those check for not yet visited neighbours one step away and mark them with 2. Unvisited, reachable in one step neighbours of those get 3. And so forth. Eventually you hit the exit and mark it with a number that signifies the length of shortest path(s). Now to recreate the path you could go in the direction of the decreasing numbers. Actually starting from finish would make it easier as backtracking the path would actually produce a proper path without the need to reverse the directions.
And that algorithm works exactly the same regardless of numbers of dimensions. Really if you figured out this part, getting at least to the 3rd giveaway (generation 7) should be perfectly possible.
Well so many people have Metro 2033 already, especially there's this THQ humble bundle now (THQ Swan Song? :(
*). But yay, whoever got there really delivered :]
Of course, it gets more complicated. Brace yourselves.
Complexity increases! Dimensionality increases! This is actually a four dimensional maze! The whole inspiration to my challenge came from a site that has a 4D maze thing going for it. Just decided to actualy take it up a notch and also obscure the whole idea so you had to figure it out.
How would you call a fourth spatial dimension then? It's not time, this is not a space-time continuum from relativistic theory, where the time actually is an imaginary dimension. This is real dimension in Euclidean space. Anyway I called it
This generation, much like generation 4, was a gentle introduction to the next (fourth this time!) dimension and symbols used as directions for that dimension:
Much like slices of 3D maze put vertically above/below each other, slices (should I say hyperslices by now?) neighbouring in 4th dimension were put left or right to each other. And like you went up or down from 5x5 slice to the corresponding square in a slice above/below, you'd go to a corresponding aquare in a slice to the left or right in this fourth dimension.
The solution to this one is just two steps right -
Nice progress! This is actual full blown 4D maze, 5x5x5x5 squares! There were 2 possible solutions, each 21 steps long.
The BFS algorithm I described in generation 5 works here perfectly fine, just like I said. Except you have 4 dimensions now which means up to 8 possible neighbours not just 6 (one step in any of the directions
L). Not sure if manual solvers did it the BFS way but when I was solving the mazes generated on the page I linked I just wandered helplessly around trying to build a path partially from the end, partially from where I am now, but that way isn't really helpful in finding shortest path, just some path.
Indeed you are nearing the final challenge! It's right there, on this 3rd giveaway out of 4.
Okay.. what's going on.. It's a 3x3x5x5 hyperslice, but it doesn't have those boxes that marked start and finish so far! Instead it has a purple crossed out circle. And that omnipresent pentastar alignment symbol.
It is the final challenge!
It is.. a five dimensional maze, consisting of all prior generations (sic!) "stacked together" and "aligned" according to pentastar alignment mark. So yes, that introduced yet another dimension!
Was running out of ideas so just called that dimension
Generations, hence the names of quizzes. And symbols used for directions in that fifth dimension were
+ and the opposite one,
-. I never told you which direction is which, but that was just a 50/50 guess at this point. In the end,
- was used to go to the generation with a lower number, and
+, the opposite one - generation one higher. Dunno maybe I could call the directions more like "Forward" and "Backward" but ended up with
- and put that in the OP.
And your goal, as the I Ching symbol suggested, was to return to the Generation 1. Remember that purple circle mocking you at the beginning that you couldn't get to? Yes, this is your final goal. So solution to the final quiz is a five dimensional path from purple crossed circle (a symbol for vector sticking out outwards.. like an arrow seen from the feathered behind.. also meant to correlate with the boxes that had
x in them as start) to the circle with a point inside (symbol for vector sticking out inwards, as in an arrow seen from the pointy end).
So in the end, this was a 5 dimensional hypermaze, 8x5x9x5x5, and 4D hyperslices for generations 1 thru 7 were mazes on their own (except obviously full 4D potential was unlocked only from the 6th generation, and 3D was from generation 4).
There were 10 possible paths of length 29, mostly using
- direction but I made sure to use also the
+ direction (although just once near the end).
This again worked exactly the same like prior mazes, just you had one extra dimension which meant 2 extra directions, and the maze consisted of all generations. The same way as you used
U to go to a corresponding square on a 5x5 slice above, you'd use
- to go to a corresponding square on a 5x5 slice on the prior generation. And
+ for the opposite direction. You just needed the alignment mark to know which slices neighbour which in that fifth dimension.
At first I was briefly considering to use orienterring symbols that require a use of PMS Purple color and mark a start with equilateral triangle and finish with a circle that has smaller circle inside, but in the end opted for other markings vector related (American people could also thinkg of the goal as.. Target logo, lol). Sorta left the color but with the RGB it's hard to say if it's a proper color (PMS is a printing standard not screen color standard).
Lucky single entrant :) At least they did have it on their wishlist and already had some fun with it :D Congratulations!
(Well, that's something you have to be prepared to suck up if you're making not exactly easy challenge)
But I hope all other solvers at least enjoyed the journey. The Shortest Journey.
To me making a challenge like this is a form of art, but I dont expect anyone to really understand that :D Though I hope at least some of the solvers appreciate it and the detail and thought I put into these.
Like I said I was inspired by a 4D maze representation I saw on one site. But I actually started whole design with creation of a 3x3x3x5x5 hypermaze, then expanded one 4D hyperslice to a 5x5x5x5. The Well (3D maze) was generated separatedly apart from the "face" slice that was aligned with other generations (the final path went through the left eye xD ). Remaining early generations were designed by hand with a special care to cause the
+ direction to be used. Incidentally, one of them has a 2 square chamber that is not reachable at all from any of the starting points via any of the 5 dimensions! :D
Whole maze creation was an algorithm designed and implemented by me, it was essentially selecting two points and then randomly drilling tunnels simultaneously from both sides until they meet - but with some limit so they don't meet too soon. But I would tweak the result manually, sometimes selecting new starting and ending points. I also obviously implemented a solver that would give me all possible answers, and the pictures are pretty much screenshots from the GUI of my app. Coding such a solver should be easy for anyone pretending to have any sort of computer science background :P In hindsight, I could probably include a textual input because probably generating an input for your program was the worst part if going the coding route.
Still, props to those who solved the high end quizzes by hand! :D
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Displaying 1 - 39 of 39 results.