Games Interactive: Time and Scoring

Three times now, I have attempted the third of the five Battleships sets in Games Interactive, only to give up and quit the game at the fourth or fifth grid because I couldn’t stand to sit there hunting for answers a moment longer. I frequently do spend hours at a time playing puzzle games, but somehow, the sense of being constrained makes it chafe. At any rate, this set has just proved more difficult than the first two sets, possibly because the solutions aren’t unique, which limits my ability to solve them through logical deduction alone. At some point, my solving techniques must shift to trial and error, which is exactly what the UI makes inconvenient. Unfortunately, the makers of the game don’t seem to have realized that the solutions aren’t unique. When I submit solutions that are as far as I can tell perfectly valid, sometimes it marks some tiles as incorrect. 1EDIT 13 June 2016: I no longer believe this to be true. See today’s post.

Yes, the game lets you complete puzzles without solving them correctly. The Trivia section would have been a great deal more troublesome otherwise. It gives you a score based on what proportion you got right, multiplied by a factor determined by how long it took. Thus, it’s hard to get 100% on a large puzzle, while small ones tend to yield multiple hundreds of percents, even if you get large portions of them wrong. That time factor is a large part of what motivates me to try to actually complete the Battleships sets in a single sitting, rather than take a break in the middle with the game still running and the timer still ticking.

And yet, if I really wanted to maximize my score, I’d let the timer override my desire for completeness. I’d zip through all the grids, filling in every tile that I could figure out quickly and leaving the rest empty, just to get through it all in enough time to get a very large time multiplier. I’m not doing this, because it would be clearly and obviously missing the point of logic puzzles. And yet this is the behavior that the scoring system is set up to reward.

But at this point, I’m not above recording my answers to the first several grids in Battleships 3 so that I don’t need to figure them out afresh every time I want to make another attempt at the set. This is essentially an offline way of saving my progress, which is something the game should be allowing me to do anyway.

1 EDIT 13 June 2016: I no longer believe this to be true. See today’s post.

2 Comments so far

  1. Jota on 10 Jun 2016

    In theory, you could use this same method to take a break: spend as long as you need, and once you’ve finally figured out (and written down) all the solutions, restart the puzzle and re-enter them.

  2. matt w on 13 Jun 2016

    I’m rather shocked by the lack of unique solutions, becuase it indicates a problem that wasn’t in the shovelware adaptation but in the original puzzles from Games Magazine, which I always remember as having good quality control. (I remember one particularly groveling correction when they had misspelled Yehudi Menuhin’s name in an acrostic, which as they said did destroy the puzzle.)

    Also, it seems like once you’re taking notes on paper, and recording solutions on paper, and presumably using some way of keeping track of which puzzles you’ve solved because the application isn’t doing it for you, that what you have is no longer a computer game but a rather odd way of displaying a bunch of puzzles from Games Magazine which you then do on paper.

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