Category Archives: Site Updates

Site Updates: Fall 2016

An ongoing catalogue of Knossos Games website issues and minor updates.

Updated through WordPress 4.7

As part of the holiday-themed update at Thanksgiving, I created a new Knossos Games banner for all pages.

This fall included several big content updates: a new Neuron Activation Level puzzle and website update, a new Gerrymandering puzzle, the return of the holiday logic problems, and a feature article about logic and puzzlemaking in Imagine magazine.

More updates are on their way in the new year!

Fall ’16 Updates Just Around the Corner

It was an active summer here at Knossos Games HQ, with two warm-weather themed updates (Park Trails and Park Cleanup Logic puzzle). But the big news was that Tim moved to Chicago to start his new job as the Director of the Mathematical Sciences Learning Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

As always, the Knossos Games summer hiatus was spent preparing updates and puzzles for the magazine and website (as well as packing and unpacking a lot of boxes!). As I’ve commented before, several things are always going on at once, and the summer was spent writing puzzles, preparing site updates, and generally getting things organized. There are a lot of exciting updates coming!

Site Updates: June 2016

An ongoing catalogue of Knossos Games website issues and minor updates.

Updated through WordPress 4.5.3

Fixed a bug I discovered in the old version of the Categories listing (from the Version 6 section of the site) that occurred when I updated the Greek Temple puzzles in April. That listing is not regularly updated, but is maintained to support the Version 6 section of the website.

This month’s major updates included the Park Trails puzzle in celebration of National Trails day (June 4) and Logic puzzle #19: Park Cleanup in celebration of the solstice (June 20).

Unfortunately, the Park Trails puzzle wasn’t completely finished in time for June 4 as planned. The solution page was later updated to include a detailed solution and the photo on the instruction page was updated to fix a resolution problem (using the standard trick of having a higher resolution image, in this case 800 x 600, displayed at a lower resolution, 400 x 300).

Update: DNA Transposition

Note: this entry contains minor spoilers about the solutions to the two DNA Transposition puzzles. Go solve them first!

Back when the first DNA Transposition puzzle was printed in Imagine, we were concerned that readers would not completely understand how to solve the puzzle given the abbreviated instructions printed in the available space. In situations like this, the website comes in handy: we can post detailed instructions and examples and print a link in the magazine in case readers want more information. So that’s what we did, but I never got around to posting the actual puzzle (or the second one) until now.

Regardless, I discovered and fixed a few flaws in the original graphics before posting this update. Most of my attention focused on the solution graphics, both the path through the apparatus and the tree diagram showing the problem space. Finding the appropriate way to show a path that loops and doubles back on itself in a single diagram was tricky. I found that creating template path pieces worked best – these could be assembled then merged together to form one seamless, semi-transparent path.

path pieces

Representing loops in the problem space diagrams presented a similar challenge. I first charted out each problem space on paper, then created a digital version that could be rearranged so that loop connections would be close together (or as close together as possible). Several alignment issues were also corrected in the problem space diagrams.

Compounding all of this in the second puzzle was, in addition to an intended (shortest) solution, an additional solution that merited attention. This meant creating multiple solution path graphics, all of which needed to share the same visual language, and creating a single problem space chart that could highlight each solution separately while still being compact and coherent overall.

Site Updates: April 2016

An ongoing catalogue of Knossos Games website issues and minor updates.

Updated through WordPress 4.5.1

At the beginning of April, finished a major update to the Greek Temple puzzles, in the works for months, including detailed solution graphics. Also posted blog entries about the update and the origins of the puzzles.

Then at the end of April, posted the Pathogen puzzles for the first time. Posted blog entires about the update and the origins of those puzzles as well.

Update: Pathogen

Even though this is the first time the Pathogen puzzles have appeared on the website, they still went through several design refinements. It took a while to get the right look for the contact chart and accompanying solution labels.

First row: initial attempt. Second row: larger circles, thinner connections. Third row: visual style used for first publication, medium connections between mid-sized circles, thicker boundary. Fourth row: final adjustments for second publication, thinner boundary, font and color changes.

Forming the seamless shape that encapsulates the contacts between circles/people was accomplished by merging shapes together (left column above), instead of trying to draw the shape from scratch. Unfortunately, there is a bug (I think) in the SVG rendering engine inside of Adobe Illustrator, as these complex shapes are not perfectly displayed on the website, regardless of browser. It’s a problem that I’m going to have to live with for the moment, as I can’t read the raw SVG code and mentally translate it into the visual shape to determine where the problem is.

Left: print. Right: website.

An additional complication was the fact that different sizes of graphics would be necessary for what appeared in print versus on the website. This is something I try to avoid, as it creates twice the number of images that need to be produced, but occasionally it makes sense. Here, the print images needed to be smaller to fit on the page, while larger web images were more legible on the screen. The print images are scaled by 150% with further adjustments to lighten the stroke weights.

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.

Site Updates: November 2015

An ongoing catalogue of Knossos Games website issues and minor updates.

Just before an election where gerrymandering was on the ballot in Ohio, updated versions of the gerrymandering puzzles were posted.

Logic puzzle 18 was posted.

An updated version of the instructions page for the Greek Temple puzzles was posted. This is a sneak preview of an upcoming major update to the entire set of Greek Temple puzzles.

The spacing of the homepage, in particular along the lefthand sidebar, was adjusted to better match that of the rest of the site.