Hugo Simoes
simple living, careful thinking, collective fun


Page 3

Cross-Pollinator - daily global challenge

Today is a special day...
It has been 30 years since my wife and I shared our first kiss and she managed to put up with my foolish endeavours ever since.
I dedicate my latest project to her loving endurance: Cross-Pollinator – a daily challenge.

The puzzle is the same (BZB bee would still like to bring the most pollen to the hive), but in this new game mode, a challenge is created every day.

Cross-Pollinator screenshot puzzle

It is a global challenge: everybody is looking at the same garden, searching for a path to the hive, before the 24-hour limit runs out.
The first to find a solution of a given length (counting the number of flower bed patches visited) will enter the leaderboard with an anonymous cryptographic secure identifier called BZID.
In such case, remember to bookmark/copy the link in the address bar, so that you are able to build a reputation using your BZID. Just be careful not to share the 64 characters that follow your BZID in the web address, otherwise other people could also add entries to the leaderboard using the same BZID.
I have designed these BZIDs to be difficult to forge. One player can have multiple BZIDs, but each BZID should belong to one player only.

Cross-Pollinator leaderboard

I have also implemented a hint system, to ensure that each challenge is never frustrating.
After six hours have passed since the start of the active challenge, the system will gradually show an optimal path without the final 10 steps.
If someone feels a challenge is too difficult, they just have to return to it within less than an hour remaining and get the maximum available hints.
Once the time runs out, an optimal solution is always provided (to learn/inspect), but new leaderboard entries are no longer accepted for that challenge.

Looking forward to see your BZID when browsing the ephemeral leaderboards of recent challenges!
Most importantly, I hope you have fun... :)

EDIT 2022/05/03: Cross-Pollinator link updated; changed challenge frequency; BZIDs are no longer needed/used.

February 12, 2022


For a few years I have been mulling over the longest path problem on a 6x6 grid.
It is now time to tell you the story of a busy bee called BZB, her garden, flower bed patches, and the funny way she moves to bring pollen to her hive.

Cross-Pollinator is my newest multiplayer puzzle and it takes place on a garden with 36 patches on a 6x6 grid.
Each patch has two flowers (represented by a letter and a number) and BZB collects pollen from each flower bed patch she visits, flying, orthogonally (same row or same column), from one patch to another, as long as the two patches have one flower in common.
Cross-Pollinator row movement
Note that BZB will not visit the same patch more than once, since such patch would have no more pollen left.
The more pollen BZB collects before sunset, the more honey is produced when she reaches the hive.

Cross-Pollinator screenshot puzzle

I believe the interface is simple: try to reach the hive by clicking on a valid next patch (eventually clicking the undo button if you reach a patch with no further valid moves).
To avoid multiple undo/redo clicks, it is possible to shortcut to any patch contained in the undo/redo history just by clicking on it.
Your best (longest) path to the hive is saved and you can restore it by removing the hive patch from the redo history and then clicking on the hive.

By sunset, up to six players get a vote to decide the garden arrangement for the next sunrise.
Cross-Pollinator votes: replay / continue / shuffle
They can vote to replay the same garden, with the same starting place and destination.
They can do nothing and implicitly choose the same garden, but starting on the previous destination.
Or they can vote to have a completely random garden arrangement.
The choice with the most votes wins. If it is a tie for the most votes, the least disruptive choice wins.

There are no cookies, no ads, no tracking.
If the public garden is too crowded and you don't have a vote, or if you are already too familiar with the default garden and need fresh challenges, sponsor your own private garden to relax alone or to invite some cross-pollinator friends.
Cross-Pollinator screenshot sponsor garden

That's it! Happy honey making!

If you like it, please share it.
If you don't like it, please share it with people who might.

EDIT 2022/05/03: Cross-Pollinator link updated.

February 1, 2022

PrequelBots - create account

I have found the Libravatar service and it fits my need to validate new accounts, reset passwords, and show meaningful avatars in PrequelBots.

Creating an account at PrequelBots is now easier.
First, enter your email and the password to use on our website and click "Create account":

PrequelBots create account step 1

Then, follow the PrequelBots signup procedure and go to Libravatar to temporarily replace your avatar with the single colored image requested:

PrequelBots create account step 2

Confirm this change on the PrequelBots website by clicking "Validate account":

PrequelBots create account step 3

... and you are ready to log in.
Remember to restore your profile picture:

PrequelBots create account step 4

EDIT 2022/05/03: PrequelBots link updated.

January 11, 2022

Open source

It is amazing to realise all Prequel projects are based on about six thousand lines of urcode.

Urcode is a proto programming language I came up with to solve my need of running Prequel, on browsers (JavaScript) and servers (Python), from the same source code.

ZXText - open source initiative logo

Both urcode and the Prequel parser and interpreter are open source, released under a permissive license.
Their source code can be found here and here.

December 22, 2021

WarpChase - improved UI

WarpChase has been merged into PrequelBots.
Its user interface is more streamlined and these changes have given me the opportunity to design the following bug/debug icons:

Bug/Debug icons

I have removed the feature that spontaneously accepted user contributions from forked repositories.
(As I had later realised, this feature was technically limited to about 30 users anyway.)
I believe the feature will not be missed since users can still see their bots interacting with others at the new website and they no longer have to share their code to do so.

I have more updates planned by the end of the year.
Until then, happy Prequel programming! :)

EDIT 2022/05/03: PrequelBots link updated.

November 22, 2021
WarpChase, PrequelBots, Prequel

Later entries: Page 2
Earlier entries: Page 4