Saturday, 26 March 2011

Revomaze Green Extreme

Green is the second in the series of Revomaze Extreme puzzles. On the outside, apart from the colour of the sleeve, there’s no difference at all from the Blue … inside, that’s not quite true.

The Blue is a reasonably straight-forward maze, you always know when you’ve done something wrong, and resetting back to the start of the maze becomes second nature.

In the early versions of the Instruction cards there was a subtle difference between the one that came with the Blue and the one that accompanied the Green. Basically the Blue instructions said that when you hear the click, you’re in a trap and you need to reset the puzzle; whereas the Green changed that to you may be in a trap. That turns out to be a pretty important little clue or realisation.

Having spent some time working your way through the Blue, you get conditioned into resetting whenever it goes click, but doing that on the Green, effectively traps you in the first quarter of the maze, forever … and working out how to get out of there requires a lot of really fine observation skills, or a reasonably decent ability to map what the maze looks like. While you can get away with not actually drawing a map of the Blue, you’d need to draw a map of at least part of the Green to work out how to defeat its new trick. Once you’ve worked out what you need to do form your picture, a reasonably steady hand should see you through to the second half of the puzzle, and that’s pretty straight-forward.

Once again, getting the two dots to line up and releasing the pins opens the puzzle and gives you the second part of the Series Code map and a certificate from the maker.

Having solved the Green, you realise that there’s a definitive progression to this series of puzzles: Blue introduces the concepts and teaches you that you can’t always simply follow a wall in a maze. Green builds on that and teaches you the importance of space, and negative space, and how useful maps can be.

I suspect that if you ask 5 puzzlers who’ve solved these things whether and how to map a puzzle, you’ll get six answers. These are my thoughts; I’ve found the methods useful, if you find it useful, great, if you don’t, also great – as long as you enjoy the puzzles!
  • Mapping in your head – i.e. relying on (muscle) memory for everything will be fine for the Blue and many people swear by it … it does need a bit of visualisation and a decent memory, but it’s certainly feasible.
  • Scribbling notes – my method for Blue involved a list of arrows in various directions representing moves, annotated with notes (“beware right, there be dragons!” or “ease around corner to left”) – it worked OK, but quickly falls flat on the Green.
  • Freehand maps – using some sort of colour coding for walls, paths and traps – this is quite effective and will probably be good enough for most of the series, as long as you pay careful attention to some areas and map them fairly accurately relatives to markings on the sleeve and the core (the core has a serial number engraved on it which can provide a handy depth reference).
  • Measured mapping – I started drawing pretty accurate maps from the Bronze puzzle – mainly to make sure that I wasn’t missing something obvious – this involves measuring depth of the core in / out of the sleeve (using a calliper in my case) and accurately measuring rotation of core relative to the sleeve – I use a bit of masking tape around the end of the core (actually on a trainer handle, if you have one) marked in millimetres as a measure of rotation – then drawing what you can ‘see’ on graph paper. Once you’ve solved one of them, you know how big the maze-universe can be and that gives you clues as to where you should look to go next, sometimes.

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