Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Grow Valley

I like simple games, games that I can play using only a mouse, games that don't require using the keyboard, games that only take five or ten minutes to play. It might be that my hand-eye coordination is not all that good. I have never liked any of the first person shooter games, probably because I never got the hang of manipulating the controls well enough to kill all of the zombies, which means I get killed in the first 30 seconds. I did have a heck of a basketball hook shot back in the 6th grade. So there.
    Mostly I play Spider Solitaire (two suits), 247 Mahjong, and an easy version of Sudoku. I always finish the Sudoku. The other two I win maybe one out of five. Of the three I like Spider Solitaire the best, but after playing nine thousand hands it gets kind of old.
     Recently I came across a game called Blocks. It is a ridiculously simple game that can be the very devil to solve. There are something like 100 puzzles. Each puzzle takes between one and three moves to solve. Some of them are ridiculous easy. Others are insanely difficult. I still have not solved them all. What's even weirder is that even after I have solved some of them, if I go back and try them again, I can't remember how I did it. It's like a brand new puzzle all over again. Bonus: the background music sounds a whole lot like Enya, who I enjoy sometimes.
    While out poking around I came across some new Grow puzzles. I played all there were a few years ago, but the author has been busy and produced some new ones. There are some small ones called Nano that are relatively easy to solve, and some more complex ones like Grow Valley that are more difficult. They are simplicity itself to play, just determine what order to pick the buttons at the bottom of the screen. With 3 buttons there are only 6 possibilities (3! = 3 Factorial = 3 x 2 x 1 = 6). With 7 buttons it's a little worse: 7! = 5,040. That wouldn't be so bad, except each selection starts an animation that runs for several seconds. Some of them are really long, so it could take a while to run through all the combinations.
    The picture shows the best result I have gotten with Grow Valley so far. I keep a record of my selection order so I can reproduce it. I got similar results once before. I maxed out the score on 4 or 5 of the selections, but when I went back to try and reproduce it some neanderthal had made chicken scratches over it and the original order was no longer obvious. I probably spent an hour trying to figure out my previous best guess without any luck. Finally I gave up and tried a new tack from scratch and shortly thereafter arrived at this "solution".
    I keep thinking that I should be able to devise a program to help me find the correct order, but so far I have not been able to come up with any kind of scheme. The general idea would be to record the order of your selections, and then enter the score that you ended up with for each one. The program would digest this and then offer up a new selection order. Problem is that I haven't been able to come up with any criteria for making a new selection that is amenable to being encoded in a computer program.


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