Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection – Games for the Brain
Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection
I recently published an article identifying 13 fun open source puzzle games. Each game is worth downloading. As a reader pointed out, the article didn’t include an exquisite puzzle collection. That’s Simon Tatham’s Portable Puzzle Collection. Let’s call it the Puzzle Collection for brevity.
In fact the portability of the games are one of their chief virtues. You can be just about anywhere, on any combination of hardware and operating system, and indulge in a few minutes of puzzling. That’s the lead developer’s intention. These games aren’t intended to hog the whole afternoon. Instead, they are great to dip into when you need a brief diversion from whatever you are meant to be doing.
Many of the puzzles are not invented by Simon or any of project’s other contributors. A number of the puzzles were invented by Nikoli, a Japanese publisher that specializes in games and, particularly, logic puzzles. There are some classic puzzles included in the Puzzle Collection. Implementations of quintessential puzzle games like Master Mind, Sudoku, and Minesweeper are featured. And there are lots of small puzzles that most people will never have played elsewhere. The diversity of the collection makes it a treasure trove.
Here is a short video demonstrating Guess (Master Mind), Inertia, Tents, Mines (Minesweeper), and Solo (Sudoku).
Besides the 39 puzzles below, there are a few unfinished puzzles lurking in the project’s repository including implementations of Block Puzzle (another puzzle invented by Nikoli), the block-sliding puzzle ‘Klotski’, and the well-known Sokoban barrel pushing game. There’s also a puzzle called Group which is, in fact, complete. It’s a Latin-square puzzle, but played with groups’ Cayley tables. You are given a Cayley table of a group with most elements blank and a few clues, and you must fill it in so as to preserve the group axioms. It’s not included in the puzzle collection because Simon considers it too esoteric and hard. But it’s easy to compile at least.
|Black Box||Find the hidden balls in the box by bouncing laser beams off them|
|Bridges||Connect all the islands with a network of bridges|
|Cube||Pick up all the blue squares by rolling the cube over them|
|Dominosa||Tile the rectangle with a full set of dominoes|
|Fifteen||Slide the tiles around to arrange them into order|
|Filling||Mark every square with the area of its containing region|
|Flip||Flip groups of squares to light them all up at once|
|Flood||Turn the grid the same colour in as few flood fills as possible|
|Galaxies||Divide the grid into rotationally symmetric regions each centred on a dot
|Guess||Classic, deductive, code-breaking game, Master Mind|
|Inertia||Collect all the gems without running into any of the mines|
|Keen||Complete the latin square in accordance with the arithmetic clues|
|Light Up||Place bulbs to light up all the squares|
|Loopy||Draw a single closed loop, given clues about number of adjacent edges|
|Magnets||Place magnets to satisfy the clues and avoid like poles touching|
|Map||Colour the map so that adjacent regions are never the same colour|
|Mines||Find all the mines without treading on any of them|
|Net||Rotate each tile to reassemble the network|
|Netslide||Slide a row at a time to reassemble the network|
|Palisade||Divide the grid into equal-sized areas in accordance with the clues|
|Pattern||Fill in the pattern in the grid, given only the lengths of runs of black squares|
|Pearl||Draw a single closed loop, given clues about corner and straight squares|
|Pegs||Jump pegs over each other to remove all but one|
|Range||Place black squares to limit the visible distance from each numbered cell|
|Rectangles||Divide the grid into rectangles with areas equal to the numbers|
|Same Game||Clear the grid by removing touching groups of the same colour squares|
|Signpost||Connect the squares into a path following the arrows|
|Singles||Black out the right set of duplicate numbers|
|Sixteen||Slide a row at a time to arrange the tiles into order|
|Slant||Draw a maze of slanting lines that matches the clues|
|Solo||Fill in the grid so that each row, column and square block contains one of every digit|
|Tents||Place a tent next to each tree|
|Towers||Complete the latin square of towers in accordance with the clues|
|Tracks||Fill in the railway track according to the clues|
|Twiddle||Rotate the tiles around themselves to arrange them into order|
|Undead||Place ghosts, vampires and zombies so that the right numbers of them can be seen in mirrors|
|Unequal||Complete the latin square in accordance with the > signs|
|Unruly||Fill in the black and white grid to avoid runs of three|
|Untangle||Reposition the points so that the lines do not cross|
Below is a short tutorial showing you how to download and compile the latest source code for this game, and the other 38 games in the puzzle collection. The tutorial takes place in Linux, using the Ubuntu 17.10 distribution, but the procedure will be the same, or very similar, for other Linux distributions.
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|Besides the main 3 operating system, the puzzle collection has also been ported by contributors to Palm, Android, Symbian 60, iPhone, iPad, and the Windows Store.
Developer: Simon Tatham, Richard Boulton, James Harvey, Mike Pinna, Jonas Kölker, Dariusz Olszewski, Michael Schierl, Lambros Lambrou, Bernd Schmidt, Steffen Bauer, Lennard Sprong, and Rogier Goossens
Great writeup. I like that you threw in there some more of the background that I wasn’t as familiar with
Thanks for throwing this in here.
As I mentioned in the other blog post, each puzzle is procedurally generated, so there’s an unending supply of new puzzles to do.
Some of the puzzle games have varying levels of difficulty (besides the size of the grid) which may range from trivial to mind-bending.
There are also no high scores, no timers, no push to finish-as-fast-as-you can or to beat-your-previous-best, so they’re great to just leave up in the background somewhere for when you have a couple of minutes to kill or for when you want a challenging puzzle to work through or think about without the pressure of a timer ticking off the time you’ve spent.
This was helpful (though I’d have preferred a text list I could copy and paste), but although I have installed both autoconf and gtk3-dev, I’m getting this message when I go to ./configure
configure: error: cannot build without GTK 2 or GTK 3
Some of the games still seem to work (without make!), but pattern does not