PDA

View Full Version : New feature - input needed!


admin
04-13-2011, 08:24 PM
Hi folks -

A common request for cryptograms.org is to make it so that a user can't use the same letter twice on the same puzzle. Right now the system will allow you to make A into T and B into T, and won't show you there's an error. Some find this annoying because the error often won't become apparent until they hit submit.

I'm working on two fixes for this, and would like your input on which you feel is most beneficial (and least intrusive) for gameplay. You can try out the two options via the urls given below, but note that these urls are STILL TIED INTO COMPETITION. If you want to test them out and are worried the change in gameplay may affect your solve times, be sure to log out first before trying any of these test urls.

First option: If a letter is re-used, it is placed into the new box(es) and automatically removed from all previous placements. (If A was already T, and you mark B as now also being T, all A's will revert to blanks.) No warning or error message acknowledges the change.

Test this at: http://www.cryptograms.org/play8.php

Second option: If a letter is re-used, all previous placements of that same letter are shaded in pink to give visual indication of the double-usage. But both old and new placements retain the same letter - the user must make a decision to remove one or the other manually.

Test this at: http://www.cryptograms.org/play9.php

I'm including a poll on this thread to allow you to vote for your preferred method - either "Auto Replacement" (1st option), "Visual Indication" (2nd option) or "Leave it the Heck Alone" (if you prefer things as they are).

Thanks for your input!

Stephen

pootie49
04-13-2011, 08:40 PM
I prefer to leave things as they were.

However, the first change is less intrusive to game play, I find.

The second one would be excellent for new players.

riceballattack
04-13-2011, 10:09 PM
Hey,

There are so many times I screw up a puzzle because I put in a letter that's already there, and don't notice (especially on the really long puzzles).

ANYTHING that's an indication that a letter is already there is better than nothing! No matter what puzzle site - sudoku, other cryptogram sites, dropquotes, etc - if you can't put in a letter or a number because it already exists, it doesn't let you. It's a basic user experience piece that's missing, and seriously detracts, from the cryptogram experience.

Especially for beginners, this will really help to make the puzzles more user friendly.

I'm choosing highlighting the previous letter in pink, because if letters are going to be removed, I want to be able to easily see where the letter is being removed from so I can correct the word that they were in! (Because if one letter in a word is wrong, chances are high other letters in the word are incorrect as well). For instance, if I have "the" and then end up using an "h" somewhere else, then I'll end up with t-e. Obviously, that word is now not "the" so another letter in it must be wrong. But what if I don't notice this right away, and later in the puzzle I have "b - t"? I'll put a "u" there, making that word "but". And then maybe I'll have "y - u", so I'll make that "you". And so on - until soon the whole puzzle is completely wrong and confusing. If the "h" in "the" were highlighted to begin with, then I'd notice "the" is wrong, change the "t", and then correctly get "bar" (instead of but) and "yet" (instead of "you"). And so on and so forth.

For sheer user-friendliness and ease of use, I'm choosing the highlighting method.

Thanks!!

jimdgar
04-13-2011, 10:59 PM
I'm with Pootie on this one; leave things as they are. Making the game easier for newcomers is admirable, but it's already much easier than pen-and-paper cryptos due to auto-completion, letter counts, etc. Making a fundamental change like this breaks continuity with all the record times posted in the past.

-jimdgar

dpm39560
04-13-2011, 11:22 PM
For registered users, it seems it would be a fairly easy programming matter to allow each user to have a set of PLAY OPTIONS that they can change. E.G., "Show duplicates? (Y/N)" and "Eliminate Previous Entry when Duplicated?" and "Don't Show Duplicates" (radio button to select one of the three). Since you've already done the programming to do each method, all you need to do now is to let each user pick which to use. Presto, no more "Which way to go?" dilemmas.

Another option could be "Show On-Screen Timer?" Etc.

dpm39560 in MS

Lurker
04-14-2011, 02:49 AM
I'm voting for the auto-replace because it's faster than scrolling down to hit the reset button. A lot of the time, I start with 3-letter words and just randomly type whatever words look like they work. Between that and typos, I often have to go back and clear words. This way, I could change my mind as I go along.

The only thing I don't like about the highlighting is that it cancels the auto-advance until you fix the problem. Other than that, it is certainly a useful option.

Lily H
04-14-2011, 03:48 AM
I agree with Pootie and Jimdgar. I think we should just leave it the way it is. Some players may be complaining because their average times are high, but my advice is practice, practice, practice. When I first started playing three years ago, my average time was probably over 100 seconds, and now it is in the high 40s. I know I will never beat the fast players, but I'm content to keep my solve rate at 100%. I was thrilled to finally make it into the top 20 in speed, but I earned that medal. It would be taking the challenge out of the game if you make all these changes just so people can decrease their solve times. Sure it is frustrating to get stuck, but that's the nature of the game. Some of the puzzles you get right away, and some take a really long time. Plus if you change the options, the new stats will no longer be comparable to the existing stats.

fishbum
04-14-2011, 10:28 PM
I opt for leaving things the way they are. I think the visual, with letters of choice, give the best view. If I see a combination that does not work I delete the offending letter. I have programed a mouse button to 'delete' to clear up the picture.

I have noticed that the "unused" letter list is often incorrect using this method.

admin
04-15-2011, 07:09 PM
Thanks for your input everyone!

At this point I'm leaning towards making the default behavior option #1 - and allowing a user-option setting to either enable or disable automatic duplicate removal, for those who like the site exactly the way it is. Hopefully that will address most people's concerns.

Cheers!

Stephen

fishbum
04-15-2011, 11:25 PM
While I have your attention I would like to mention that apparently some folks feel that they should rate each category. I suspect that is why there seems to be many one star ratings.
Perhaps a note suggesting that one need only rate applicable items.

bansaisequoia
04-16-2011, 09:39 AM
I voted for the automatic replacement option. I tried both options and solved a few hundred puzzles with each, but I found it really doesn't make a difference to me. In fact, after solving a few hundred puzzles, I never saw the pink highlighted letters occur even once. Most people seem to be voting for the "Leave it the heck alone" option. I say, why should we be worried? Let's give all newcomers to the site every advantage that will help them to solve even faster. Everyone who has voted would have to admit that they have become much faster solvers after using the site for a while. If we look back at the monthly speed records, it's obvious we've all become much faster. I would encourage Stephen to introduce one of the two, just to make this an even more attractive, trafficked website. Ultimately, don't you want to have more solvers, Stephen? Two years ago, I asked the site administrator of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament website if he would add a link to cryptograms.org. This site's link has been posted there since. I did my little part to try to bring super-fast solvers to the site. I have always welcomed ever faster solvers, and I would like to see one of these two new facilitations implemented, just to bring the new solvers up to speed. Leave it the heck alone? Heck, no!!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a4/Bring_it_On_-_In_it_to_Win_it_cover.jpg

http://www.videospot.co.za/scripts/upload/img/bringiton4.jpg

pootie49
04-16-2011, 06:10 PM
Following that line of thinking Bansai, lets suggest a site rename to:
Quick Solve Cryptograms.Org.

Since when has the onus shifted from just solving these things for the love of the game to speed?
Why is how fast we solve them so darned important?
Obviously yes there is a competition for it, I do realize that, however enticing new members
by making these puzzles faster and easier to solve, just doesnt sit well with me.
Sure we all got faster. We practiced and learned and played and played.
Wouldnt it be more fitting to entice new players to the site simply by saying challenge your brain, try these out. See how many points you can get, hey, why not see if you can get a perfect solve rate?
But above all come and enjoy the game for the love of the game. For the sheer bit of
satisfaction when you work a puzzle and figure it out and get that success screen come up.
Maybe that's a too simplified ideal ...to solve and learn and watch yourself get faster.
There is satisfaction in that as well.
Alot of us by word of mouth and in our own ways, have helped to get the site more players. We just dont feel the need to let everyone know.
When did speed become the be all and end all of cryptograms.org?
If admin keeps implementing changes to make it easier and easier, those new members or potential member with 'smarts' will wander away wondering where's the challenge?
Leaving us with demon speed solvers simply trying to be the fastest.
I would think Stephen would like to see this site grow and attract members simply because its challenging and fun.
I realize we live in a new world. "I want it all and I want it now."
I prefer to work for what I get. To learn. To enjoy. As most of us did.
The new solvers will get up to speed. We all did. By working at it...not having more and more options
offered to us so we could solve faster.
Perhaps I'm being too old-fashioned...bristling at change. I dont think so. I think I just want to see the
site grow and attract intelligent people who love puzzling...not by how fast they can do it but just the pure
love of solving.

admin
04-16-2011, 07:15 PM
To be fair, I've never made (and will never make) a change to the site to make a puzzle "easier to solve".

You have to keep in mind that there is a difference between making a puzzle easier to solve (i.e. providing hints, removing more difficult puzzles from rotation, etc.), and improving the mechanics of puzzle solving (i.e. auto-removing duplicate letters, or auto-copying letters from one box into all others, or auto-shifting the cursor to the next open square, etc.). The only changes I will ever make will be always in the latter category.

All I'm trying to do is to make the mechanics of solving as intuitive and irritant-free as possible. Copying a letter from one box into all other boxes is annoying - so we've automated it. Manually moving the cursor to the next open box is annoying (and was how the site was originally set up) - so now we've automated it. Having to remove duplicate letters when you change your mind on a decryption (or make a typo) is annoying - so we're now going to automate duplicate removal.

Auto-removing duplicate letters is never going to be the difference between someone solving a puzzle and someone not solving it. It doesn't make it easier, it doesn't give a hint... it just removes a minor annoyance that may occur once in every 100 puzzles you solve. Its impact on average/record solve times is almost certainly going to be infinitesimal at best.

I understand that there are often requests made on these forums for functionality that would allow unfair advantages in solving - and you're right to point these out as improper. But to lump this change in with all those others I believe is a bit unfair.

pootie49
04-16-2011, 07:28 PM
I was in no way casting aspersions on the changes that you are implementing.
I do understand the need for them. And I completely understand that in no way would you make this site unfair ...Im sorry if you inferred that from my post.

My response was a reply to Bansai's post.

My apologies if it came across as an affront to you or the work you do.
That was not my intent.

I was only trying to put forth my opinion on the whole "speed solving" issue.

(will now spend five minutes in the naughty corner)

admin
04-16-2011, 07:45 PM
No worries, pootie - in the end we all want the same thing, the best possible cryptograms site. :-)

afulton
11-07-2011, 08:53 AM
I'd like to see the pink indicating a duplicate because it gives me the option of which one I want to delete. I can't see it really speeding it up - I'd still have to make a decision about which one to keep, and try reading the words to see which makes the most sense.
I enjoy the challenge of completing the puzzles and each quote is a glimpse into someone's mind. I wonder at the speed some people achieve, and am content to finish mine. I do them as quick as I can, but when I am one second longer than the average and see that "below average" rating, it rankles a bit. I am thrilled to be under two minutes on average, considering sometimes I spend 20 minutes on one! Everyone has their own reasons for playing, and those that want to set records will strive for that, while others get the thrill of completion and some could care less about rankings.
I just think it's a wonderful site! And I wonder if some of you folk have any interests besides cryptograms :) (do you eat? How do you do so many in a day??)
And thanks for asking us for our opinions!

locodad
11-12-2011, 05:08 PM
I like the way the cryptograms are set up for us to solve I don't think we need any changes. I think it takes time to learn all the tricks and ways you could solve a puzzle. I started doing cryptograms from the bookstores but they would have less and less books and magazines on cryptograms every time. I believe this is the best site where you could find them.

patsy86
11-13-2011, 09:00 AM
Please don't change it. It's not duplication, but the right substitution that I'm searching for.

I have intentionally repeated a common letter, when I'm clueless and waiting for the "aha" moment, such as typing "the the the" to see what works. And when I'm frustrated and hit keys at random:

asondvalsnv;alsjkdfl';sfjaophvoahgsdfljkfj

I don't need to see pink, as I'm seeing red.

BuzzBuzz
12-02-2011, 07:24 PM
I notice that there are possibilities of getting one or more hints. I suggest that solution times and scores be compared only with other times and scores that use the same degree of getting hints. I suggest that the user should be able to specify for a session (multiple cryptograms solved in sequence while logged in) the degree of hints desired: no hints, 1 hint, 2 hints, 3 hints, 4 hints, max available hints (which would depend on the difficulty of each cryptogram). It seems unfair to compare times and scores using no hints with ones using the maximum available hints.

pootie49
12-02-2011, 09:04 PM
If a player is getting hints then they arent competing in the monthly competitions.
I am fairly certain that only registered competing players are achieving scores which
appear on the boards.
So no one in competition is getting hints.

fishbum
12-15-2011, 12:49 AM
I'm taking this opportunity to input a couple of things that made it more fun for me.
1. I am not a good typist so it often takes me a while to locate certain keys such as 'delete'.
I have a programmable mouse and programmed a button for the 'delete' function.
2. At one earlier time I was going to suggest to management that perhaps they could provide a drag-and-drop option for letters. I had this in mind because I would like to lean back in my chair and not have to sit upright to address the keyboard. (physical issues). Well, I have overcome this when I discovered the on-screen keyboard option. It also frees up one hand to hold my whiskey glass.

pootie49
12-15-2011, 01:29 AM
Fishbum? The on screen keyboard... How does that work?

Do you just use your mouse to do the typing so to speak?

Isnt that alot of work? You would have to locate the letter with your mouse then
position it into the puzzle is that right??

Just curious Ive never used an on screen keyboard I dont think this old computer
even has one.

Thanks.

fishbum
12-15-2011, 02:51 AM
Hi Pootie,
I find it pretty easy. The keyboard came available with Windows 7. It looks very much like a standard version and takes up about 25-30 % of the screen and can be moved about. I am typing this with it now, just one hand on the mouse. When solving, I just hit the letter with the mouse and click, just like my regular keyboard. If I want to move the cursor around within the puzzle, I do that as I normally would. I found the 'On screen keyboard' under 'Control Panel' features and opening 'Ease of Access Center'.

fishbum

pootie49
12-15-2011, 03:15 AM
That sounds pretty cool actually.

Im finding its hard at times to sit up as well, and resting this huge old keyboard on my lap
just doesnt work.
I went into control panel and I do have an on screen keyboard, so I want to say thanks!
Maybe I can play some if I practice a bit.
Be nice to be able to just lean back and stretch out and play.
yes a laptop...I can hear everyone saying, LOL.

Well cheers and dont spill anything, lol.

fishbum
12-19-2011, 04:11 AM
It seems that our last couple of messages have killed discussion of the 'new feature'. While I am not of a strong opinion one way or the other an auto replacement, I would like to see a drag-and-drop feature.

momof7
12-28-2011, 11:16 PM
Hi!

I just want to say that it can be annoying when the letters on the bottom that are supposed to show which letters are still available, are not correct. Often I find that letters that I have already inputted into the puzzle are still showing on the bottom as unused.

fishbum
12-31-2011, 12:05 AM
I'm with you MOM.

ladie
02-04-2012, 10:52 PM
I'm a rank newbie, never having solved a cryptogram in my life until solving some from the newspaper in January. There weren't enough available there, so I looked online and found this site, and have been playing as a guest until joining today. I'm delighted to be able to complete almost all puzzles correctly, but it takes time. While some of you are working on the left hand side of the bell curve with your super fast time records, I'm setting my own records on the right! Actually in my short crypto history before I came here I never thought to worry about the time, just enjoyed solving the quote for its own sake, but I can see where being more efficient / skillful is going to be fun too.

I've read much of what's written here on the forum re the new proposed alert using replacement or pink for doubles. I think the latter allowing a moment to examine the choices is a great idea for beginners like me. Actually it's very similar to what I do with pencil and paper, putting a couple of choices up and examining them. If players are allowed to choose from all three options while playing in competition mode, it seems to me it wouldn't effect the best scores as it would probably cost time to use the new option. At any rate it would be available to all, so the playing field would be level. If it's voted down for competition, another idea might be to have these options available, but only in non-competition mode like the hints.

I'm so glad I found these online cryptos and the forum and FAQs which are very helpful. Now if I could just find the tips for newbies which someone said were on page 8 but obviously have drifted ....

Thanks,
ladie

LiveLoveLaugh
02-05-2012, 03:03 AM
http://www.cryptograms.org/forum/showthread.php?t=53

hope it helps

ladie
02-05-2012, 04:45 AM
LiveLaughLove, this is just what I needed.

I've bookmarked the thread you sent as well as the link to the Pattern Word Dictionary.

Thanks for the help!
ladie

universalmom
02-07-2012, 04:45 PM
I think it should be left as it is...I like it that it's up to me to figure out if I've used the same letter twice! The only way I'll make that mistake less and less is to have to find it myself.

Here's a feature I'd love to see though...I'm still seeing most of these quotes for the first time, and I wish I could compare my first time to everyone else's first time, in addition to the current stats. At my fastest, I'm about 3 times bansai or lurker's record time, and I'm actually pretty proud of that :)

Lurker
02-07-2012, 10:59 PM
Wow, a subset of stats for the first time everyone sees a quote? I'm not even sure how to write the program for that one.

What I would love to see on that side bar where the average time is listed is the solve rate percentage.

And you SHOULD be proud of every quote you solve, regardless of the time it took. I'm happy every time I come in under the average time.

fredsevent
02-07-2012, 11:28 PM
What I would love to see on that side bar where the average time is listed is the solve rate percentage.



Do you mean the Success rate which is already there (first row)?

This Cryptogram's Statistics
Success Rate: 23.3%
Average Time: 72 seconds
Record Time: 18 seconds (Lurker)
Your Time: 39 seconds
Performance: Above Average

Lurker
02-08-2012, 04:03 AM
No, the bar on the right while you're solving the quote. It lists letter frequencies, difficulty rating, average solve time, the time you started to solve it, and a link to print.

Basically, if I saw a quote had a success rate under 10%, I wouldn't feel as bad about giving up on it. Or, maybe I'd become more determined to become one of the 10%. You never know.

fredsevent
02-08-2012, 11:07 AM
No, the bar on the right while you're solving the quote. It lists letter frequencies, difficulty rating, average solve time, the time you started to solve it, and a link to print.

Basically, if I saw a quote had a success rate under 10%, I wouldn't feel as bad about giving up on it. Or, maybe I'd become more determined to become one of the 10%. You never know.

Sorry, for my confusion. In fact, (hilariously) I've never noticed the stuff to the right at all.

shivawn
02-09-2012, 01:59 AM
what stuff tothe right??

pootie49
02-09-2012, 03:33 AM
http://i40.tinypic.com/e7xt9k.jpg



The box on the right...the grey one.

maggiemouse
07-02-2012, 06:28 AM
Stephen, If all players old and new, are competing against each other in time and % solved, it would be unfair to the best players (who don't often designate two different letters for the unknown) to give the advantage to slower players of having the program tell them when they have made a mistake. As soon as there are two different options at a point of decision, the race course becomes easier for some players who wouldn't otherwise be able to compete with the best players. I would personally like to see the "pink" option when I am only playing against myself because it would make solving puzzles easier. If that option were available during competitive play, would give an unfair advantage to us newbies.

margio
07-28-2012, 12:53 AM
Don't fix what's not broken. It works just fine. Part of the puzzle if you put the same letter in twice is to figure that out. Leave it be!

Kgun5
04-17-2013, 04:22 PM
Just a few suggestions for future updates, should any be forthcoming:

1) A "Currently Held Records" stat on each user's My Scores page. This assumes the site won't crash when calculating Bansai's total.

2) Along side the record time on each quote page, display the date it was set.

3) Alert a user if they have unfinished puzzles from the prior two hours (once for each puzzle.

Thanks,
Steve

chopstix
04-17-2013, 08:15 PM
I've noticed lately that there is a newer player who seems to be posting their completion time in the comments section - there's just the player's name and 52 secs., or whatever.

I don't think the comments area is a good place for this person's record keeping, as, if everybody started doing the same, the comments would become cluttered with completion times.

However, I do see and understand what this player is doing - which is to keep track of their personal achievements. I kind of like the idea, just not in the comments section, but then there's really no other way to do it.

Perhaps there is some way to add a feature which would track a player's personal information, just for that player to see?

Hmmm, I don't know enough about web sites to know if this would be possible...

jnoodles
06-07-2013, 07:37 PM
leave it the way it is
Hi folks -

A common request for cryptograms.org is to make it so that a user can't use the same letter twice on the same puzzle. Right now the system will allow you to make A into T and B into T, and won't show you there's an error. Some find this annoying because the error often won't become apparent until they hit submit.

I'm working on two fixes for this, and would like your input on which you feel is most beneficial (and least intrusive) for gameplay. You can try out the two options via the urls given below, but note that these urls are STILL TIED INTO COMPETITION. If you want to test them out and are worried the change in gameplay may affect your solve times, be sure to log out first before trying any of these test urls.

First option: If a letter is re-used, it is placed into the new box(es) and automatically removed from all previous placements. (If A was already T, and you mark B as now also being T, all A's will revert to blanks.) No warning or error message acknowledges the change.

Test this at: http://www.cryptograms.org/play8.php

Second option: If a letter is re-used, all previous placements of that same letter are shaded in pink to give visual indication of the double-usage. But both old and new placements retain the same letter - the user must make a decision to remove one or the other manually.

Test this at: http://www.cryptograms.org/play9.php

I'm including a poll on this thread to allow you to vote for your preferred method - either "Auto Replacement" (1st option), "Visual Indication" (2nd option) or "Leave it the Heck Alone" (if you prefer things as they are).

Thanks for your input!

Stephen

momof7
06-09-2013, 06:33 AM
Please don't go with option #1.
Just because I've doubled up a letter accidentally, doesn't mean I prefer to remove the first one. Shading it in in pink would be a lot more helpful.
I'm also fine with leaving things the way they are.

madrone
09-13-2013, 06:54 PM
I like visual indication. Thanks for asking.

damsel22
09-14-2013, 11:27 AM
I like the visual indication as well

wvwoman
09-14-2013, 12:03 PM
is this 2+-year-old poll still active?

fishbum
04-10-2014, 11:29 AM
I think it is fine the way it is. You might consider making it a "preference" setting so it could be turned off or on.

Puffer
04-10-2014, 02:30 PM
Let's not keep reopening old threads.

wvwoman
04-10-2014, 03:08 PM
what's the harm?

Puffer
04-10-2014, 08:45 PM
I belong to a lot of forums, and they all have rules against re-opening old threads after a certain amount of time, especially if it's been discussed. New content, not rehashing old content.

wvwoman
04-10-2014, 09:00 PM
i still don't see the harm. especially when it's never been officially "wrapped up" or closed by admin. i haven't noticed that he has ever indicated whether or not he is still pondering this issue, or that he has closed the discussion (which i'm sure he can do if he desires), so additional input isn't hurting anything.

obsessedreader8
06-05-2014, 01:44 PM
I'm with those who say leave things as they are. I believe this can help a person become a more skilled player.

I don't need training wheels all the time.