Saturday, August 29, 2009


If you're wondering exactly what I do in order to cool off after a day's work, I can give you the regular suite of answers: I read books. I walk around malls. I sleep till noon. And I play games.

It's probably the latter item that distracts me on the Internet nowadays. While I do spend a bit of time in the evenings chasing my email and doing one bit of writing or another, I'm usually too tired to conceptualize and execute entire blog posts in one sitting. Thus, I play games.

And lately, the most prominent of those games has been Grid.

Grid is a remarkable Flash game of the puzzle persuasion, something that immediately caught my mind from the clean execution to the strange gameplay. What the game does is that it gives you a layout of various glyphs, each one contained within a given cell. One of the glyphs is a power source, which means that any other glyph connected to it can therefore supply that power to other glyphs that are similarly connected. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to rotate each of the glyphs such that power is supplied to the entire grid.

There are, of course, some hitches: You can't change or swap any of the glyphs, which means that you can only rotate each of them in their current positions and figure out how each one of them fits in the final configuration. You can only rotate a glyph is power is being supplied to it, which makes for quite a bit of frustration and fine-tuning. And you can't have any "loose" connections in the final grid, which means that every glyph must be clearly connected in all available connections.

Take the configuration below, for example.

Rotating each of the glyphs correctly gives us the following correct solution:

On each level, you're given a limited number of moves (rotations); it's often plenty for you to finish the level, but completing a grid within a smaller number of rotations gives you a higher score.

The games gives you 35 such grids to solve, and they gradually escalate in difficulty. The previous grid, for example, is one of the earlier ones — the first grid that you get to do for yourself after the tutorial's completed. Further grids tend to be head-scratchers...

And after a while, of course, the grids get more and more confusing. Whoever put this thing together tested the level design quite well.

And if you get far enough (the game saves your progress via unique ID), you can graduate up to the malevolent, labyrinthine jigsaw-like conundrums. You run into stuff that requires you to plan your moves well in advance, stuff that forces you to double back and redo old configurations, and stuff that just plain takes up the whole screen. In the later levels, you might even run into all of them at once.

That grid above is level 31 out of the 35, which is the most recent one that I've managed to solve. It's the first one that's taken me more than one session to finish, which means that yes, I was working on it for a week.

I imagine that my time on this game will end fairly soon, seeing that I'm only three or four grids away from completing everything. I'm going to miss it when I finally finish; it's one of the better games that I've come across, and I've recommended it to a few people so far so that they can suffer as I do.

Sure, it has some significant mental requirements to begin with... but I do look for those games. Otherwise, well, I'd have to fall back on my other online diversion, which involves untangling a bit of string...

I'll probably leave that for another time and another discussion, though. I just need to get to that 32nd grid right now...

* Grid, of course, is the property of, which offers "the sweetest games online". Seriously, they have some pretty good stuff on their site. Don't sue me over the free publicity, guys, or at least not until I manage to complete all 35 grids first.

* Planarity is the work of John Tantalo, and is an insidious time-waster if I ever saw one. Who would ever think that untangling string would be so addictive? Don't sue me either; I'm all tied up at the moment.


Clair said...
So many quizzes, so little time.

And have you seen those Excel worksheet quizzes? There are days when we slack off and answer them together here in the office. Bonding times through trivia quizzes seems to be a common occurrence here.

Sean said...

Clair: Hah. I made an Excel quiz once. I lost it in my last system crash, but I did make one at some point. :)