Update: Greek Temple

Note: this blog entry shows some parts of Greek Temple puzzle solutions. Go back and solve the puzzles first!

Before this update, I had only ever posted to the website the first two Greek Temple puzzles (12.1 from 2004 and 13.2 from 2005). Subsequent Greek Temple puzzles (18.2 from 2010 and 19.2 from 2011) published in the magazine fell at a time when website updates were sporadic at best. With the most recent puzzle, it was time for a major update.

Most of the graphics have remained the same since my initial conception of the Greek Temple puzzles. For this update, I did, however, adjust the positioning of the alpha and beta labels on each tile.

Old (red, top) vs. new (blue, bottom), magnified 8x

This realignment was necessary to accommodate the biggest part of the current update: new, detailed diagrams that indicate solution steps though open and filled circles on each tile. Solutions were originally posted (and will continue to be posted in the magazine for compactness) as text through cardinal  directions (N, S, E, W). This solution representation isn’t optimal, since it requires the reader to move through the solution one step at a time, going back and forth between the text of the solution and the puzzle diagram.

Thus, I’ve created these solution diagrams that show the path of the solution on the puzzle diagram itself, grouping several steps together at a time (using the same slideshow technique used with the Space Pod puzzles). It isn’t typically possible to show the entire solution at once, since this type of puzzle often relies on moving back and forth between tiles in order to change the state of the gateways.

Greek Temple puzzle 1, solution step 3: you have to take a step backwards first in order to open the gateway and move to the altar

Working out how to represent the overlapping parts of the solution path was one of the hardest aspects of designing clear, useful solution diagrams. Another challenge was that the solution path needed to represent two simultaneous pieces of information: your physical position in the puzzle, as well as the orientation of the gateways. This was resolved with using the open and filled circles.

One benefit of these new diagrams is that it also allows me to point out important parts of the puzzle space, so that I can describe why the solution must go the way that it does. While it is possible to represent the problem space of each puzzle as a tree diagram, I think it is more useful (for similar reasons described above) to show the loops, dead ends, and traps in the actual puzzle space.

Greek Temple puzzle 5, traps and dead ends

One final conundrum involved describing these pathways through words as your orientation to the puzzle space changes as you move through it. I decided to give directions for turns (left and right) based on your current position, but to describe parts of the temple (front and back) with respect to facing the entrance. This seemed to be the least confusing out of many bad options.