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admin 04-13-2011 08:24 PM

New feature - input needed!
Hi folks -

A common request for 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:

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:

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!


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.

04-13-2011 10:09 PM

Visual replacement!

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.


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.


dpm39560 04-13-2011 11:22 PM

Give Us The Option
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.



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.

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