Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #344: A Possible Feature
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 14, 2012

So here's a feature I'm thinking about:

While solving a puzzle, you'd be able to issue a "check" request, either by typing the "C" key or hitting a "check" button.

The computer would compare your partial solution to the goal solution and tell you if what you had was correct so far. If there were errors, cells marked incorrectly, it would not tell you where they were, but it would give you the option of automatically "Undoing" your moves back to the point where you made the first error.

When I'm working on a big puzzle, I'd frequently like a feature like this, mostly just to reassure myself that I didn't make a bad dot back in the beginning and aren't working my way down a long blind alley. Or at those points were I find that I have a contradiction, being able to figure out what point to rewind to would be very nice.

But you could also solve a puzzle by (1) marking a random cell a random color, (2) hitting check, (3) keeping it if it is OK, reversing it was wrong, (4) repeat until the puzzle is done. This would be moronic. A person could get over-dependent on "check" and never really learn to solve puzzles properly.

So I thought I could put the check option at the puzzle load screen instead. That's the screen you see when you resume work on a previously saved puzzle, where you currently have the option to reload your saved puzzle or start with a blank canvas. I'd add an option to that screen that would check the saved solution, and rewind it, if you choose. So you could still check puzzles, but you'd have to leave the normal puzzle solving screen to do it. The whole thing would be rather inconvenient and probably only something you'd use if you were convinced your puzzle was messed up. But it seems stupid to design a feature in a way that makes it deliberately hard to use.

I suppose I could go half-way between and put it on the "Options" button, so you'd have to hit a button on the pop-up window that that brings up. It wouldn't make much sense there though.

There are, of course, already various helper features on the site, like the redballs and the "L" key, but those are fundamentally different, because they don't know anything about the solution of the puzzle. They don't give you any information that can't be directly inferred from what is on your screen. The "check" feature would actually give you information about the intended solution of the puzzle, so in that sense it is a much bigger cheat than the others.

So I'm still undecided. Should I implement this at all? In what form?
#2: Kristen Vognild (kristen) on Aug 14, 2012
I'm going to vote that feature unnecessary. On larger puzzles, if I find myself with a 50-50 choice and can see no other options, I'll save the puzzle and work until I find a dead end (or solve it). A check button may be convenient, but I think it would defeat the purpose of coming here to solve logic problems.
#3: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Aug 14, 2012
about the only time i would use a feature like that would be on very large puzzles, where i have worked forward from a mistake a significant distance,, but am very far into the solve. i know these complicate things, but i wonder if a restriction or two could help. here are some ideas, that may or may not work well in some combination:

- only becomes active on puzzles of a certain size
- only becomes active after puzzle is a certain percentage (50% as an example) complete
- only rewinds if puzzle was at least a certain percentage (25% as an example) completed correctly

the first two could be combined into a single criteria relatively easily...for example, "becomes active only after 500 squares have been completed". on the third one, it would seem that there is a threshold after-which it would be better for the person to just re-start.

just some thoughts...
#4: Teresa K (fasstar) on Aug 14, 2012
Hmmmmm. Not sure it's all that important. Of course, there are times I would have liked this, but when I get a red dot, I just remind myself to be a bit more careful. If I do make a mistake, and I can't tell where I made it, I think it's a nice challenge to try and fix it. If I'm not too far into it, I can always start over. If I'm more than half done, I can usually find where I need to make corrections.

You have given us so many helpers already. I think having an error checker like this might encourage careless guessing. I'd rather use my brain, that's what these puzzles are all about. :-)
#5: David Bouldin (dbouldin) on Aug 14, 2012
i'm just thinking that sometimes, especially for people like us that won't carelessly guess no matter what, the red dots show up WELL past the actual error. i'm thinking of it's usefulness where the red dots pop up as you are marking the 2000th square in a 3000 square puzzle and, little did you know, the crucial error happened at square 1600. right now, that is where i burn half an hour looking to see if the mistake was recent and then start all over. if i am very close to the end i usually solve it out rest of the way (working from furthest-from-red-dots to nearest) and see if i can correct the finished puzzle to eliminate the dots, otherwise it is a redo, which is killer on the huge puzzles with complicated logic.

here is another idea (...just brainstorming here). if the check button detects an error, it undoes back to the error PLUS some number of moves (15...20 maybe?). that could discourage the guessing you mention and i would be thrilled to only lose a couple dozen moves rather than the whole thing.
#6: Wombat (wombatilim) on Aug 14, 2012
I like David's suggestion of rewinding a bit past the error. There have been times working on large puzzles where I suddenly find that I'd made a mistake who knows how long ago and would love to just have it rewind to a point before I made it... but I don't necessarily want to know exactly where I made the mistake. As he mentioned, that would discourage its use as a puzzle-solving technique.

That said, most of us are here because we enjoy solving the puzzles. If someone wants to come here just to auto-solve them, I don't suppose it really matters to me that they're doing it, unless it's causing such a server load to make things no fun for the rest of us. I can't imagine it would be FASTER to solve things that way.
#7: Billie Patterson (bpat) on Aug 19, 2012
I'd love a rewind to the error feature.

But even if someone did overdo a "check" option from the puzzle screen itself, do we really care? They're only cheating themselves out of the satisfaction of really solving the puzzle, and I can't see that it hurts anyone else.
#8: Jota (jota) on Sep 16, 2012
I am working on a puzzle that Al made and has tons of "blots" (19787), at the moment I wish I had this feature to tell me if I'm right up to know or have I made a mistake. It'll give me courage to keep going.
#9: Joel Lynn (furface1) on Oct 7, 2012
I wouldn't mind have a "Peek at Solution" button on the puzzle screen. When hitting "L" results in "No hint available" sometimes I'd like to "cheat", especially on larger puzzles. I know I can save the puzzle, go to a list of my saved puzzles, then peek at the solution, then go back into solving the puzzle, but I wouldn't mind a shortcut.

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