Sat

20

Dec

2014

Another useful Alcazar technique: Bouncing

One Way, puzzle 1 - Click to play in your browser
One Way, puzzle 1 - Click to play in your browser

Let's have a look at the first puzzle of the book One Way, in the Alcazar app (available for iOS and Android).

 

With a bit of experience in puzzle solving, you will probably start this one by filling the squares that have two walls (corners and pipes), and end up with all the black lines on the image.

 

Experts will go one step further and trace all the red lines on this image. With some practice, this step will become trivial, and you will do it automatically.


But what is it about? It's a simple technique that I call Bouncing. I'll show you how to use it in the 4x2 upper-right room of this puzzle. 

 

The basic idea of bouncing is the same as the Weak Points technique that I presented a few months ago, when Alcazar was still a paper-only puzzle. Start by completing square #1 (it's a corner), and move to square #2. Notice that there are only two possible ways to cross that square: left-up (A), or left-right (B). In conclusion, you must enter this square from the left.

 

Now you can start bouncing. Very often, when you draw a conclusion from a weak point like this, you create another weak point in a nearby square. You can bounce from square to square and draw many conclusions for the price of one.

 

In our example, let's bounce to square #3. Because of the line that we traced in square #2, it's now impossible to cross square #3 down-right: this would automatically create a 6-squares cycle. Thus, there are only 2 possible ways to cross square #3: left-down (A) and left-right (B). In conclusion: you must enter this square from the left.

 

Let's continue bouncing! There are 2 ways to cross square #4: right-down (A) or up-down (B). Conclusion: you must enter from the bottom.

 

This technique can be used in the vast majority of Alcazar puzzles. If you play often, this will be automatic for you. You will bounce from square to square without thinking about it.

 

Have fun, go ahead and try it!

 

Jérôme


10 Comments

Thu

18

Dec

2014

Solution to the impossible puzzles

A few weeks ago, I proposed two Alcazar puzzles that have no solution. Some readers came up with very clever ways to explain why they are impossible. Here is my summary.

 

The key idea is to notice that all the possible lines fall into two categories: those that fill an even number of squares, and those that fill an odd number of squares. When the puzzle is colored like a checkerboard (black, white, black, white...), you can extract important information about these lines (see image).


Solution to the first puzzle

With 18 white squares and 17 black ones, we need an odd path to fill this room, and it needs to start and end on a white square. Unfortunately, there is only one door on a white square. This is why the puzzle has no solution.


Solution to the second puzzle

It was meant to be much harder than the first one, but "jh" (one of the blog's reader) came up with a very elegant solution that I summarize here. Congratulations, jh!

 

Like the first puzzle, this one has an extra white square, which means that the solution must start and end on a white square. We can close all the black exits of the puzzle.

 

Then, let's have a look at the 6x6 area in the bottom right. It has as many white squares as black ones, which means that if we want to fill this area with a single line, this line will need to start on a white square and end on a black one (or vice versa). But now that the puzzle's black exits are closed, this area has only white exits. In conclusion: we cannot fill it with a single line.


One last question remains: could we fill this area with more than one than one line? In other words, could we enter this area, exit, and then enter it again? Let's see...


There are only 3 squares that link this area to the rest of the puzzle and they are white. It means that we must enter and exit on white squares with our first path, and then, enter again on a white square before exiting the whole puzzle (again, on a white square). Each of our lines will cross one extra white square, but the area doesn't have extra white squares.


And that's why the puzzle has no solution.


What about normal puzzles?

Click to play in your browser
Click to play in your browser

When playing some of the advanced puzzles in the real game, using the square colors can be very useful. Look at the first level of the book "The Six Rooms", for example. The upper right room has an even number of squares and 4 exits: 3 are white and one is black. Conclusion: you must use the black one.



I hope that this article was helpful. Don't forget to get the Alcazar app (iOS and Android), and if you like it, leave a comment and a rating!

> Click here for the iOS version

> Click here for the Android version


In other news, you can now get the new edition of my game Manifold from Brainwrights' website.


Have fun!


Jérôme


7 Comments

Sat

22

Nov

2014

These puzzles have no solution

Small Alcazars can be solved with just a bit of intuition, but as you tackle larger levels, the many elegant and complex techniques of the game become more and more relevant.

It's much more fun to find these techniques by yourself than to read about them, so let me simply propose an exercise that may put you on the right path. Here are two Alcazar puzzles. I made the first one, and the second one was created by Edderiofer. Don't try to solve them! They are both impossible. But why? How can you prove that they have no solution?


Leave your questions and hints in the comments! You may use ROT13 (http://www.rot13.com/) to hide important clues for those who don't want to see them. I will give a complete explanation in about a week. Have fun!


By the way: the Incredible November sale ends very soon. Make sure to order your copies of the Alcazar book before it ends!

17 Comments

Thu

13

Nov

2014

Introducing The Ball Rooms

A few weeks ago, I got an email from an Alcazar player named Arthur Ball. He made the second puzzle generator in the history of Alcazar, and gave me the following puzzle, as an example.

 

Click on the image to solve the puzzle in the app or in your browser.

 

After a few minutes of trying the puzzle, I realized that it was one of the most challenging Alcazar I had ever tried. It can still be solved by pure logic, but one must be very clever to find the points where the puzzle offers the least resistance.


At that point, I was planning a new series of puzzles for the app for experts only. Something that is more difficult than any other puzzle in the app, without being too large. Arthur was very interested in collaborating, and he accepted the challenge.

 

And that's the story of the new book of puzzles: The Ball Rooms. Update your Android app to try all 30 puzzles in this collection. For those with an iOS device, don't worry, you'll be able to play on your device in just a few weeks.


You can also...

 - Follow this link to try the first puzzle of the book, or

 - See a step by step method to solve it, published on Edderiofer's puzzle blog.


Have fun!


5 Comments

Sun

02

Nov

2014

Manifold: Last chance to get a copy

Thanks to Alexander Minets (twitter: @shamivr) for sharing this photo.
Thanks to Alexander Minets (twitter: @shamivr) for sharing this photo.

Only a few hundred people had the chance to try this incredible origami game, and probably less than 100 were able to solve all of its puzzles. Now it's time for bad news and good news...

 

Bad news: We only have 20 copies of the game left in stock! If you don't have your copy, make sure to order it very soon. We will not produce more of them.

 

Good news: The reason why we don't produce more is that another company, well established in the world of puzzles, will publish the game very soon. I'm not allowed to say more for now, but I look forward to see thousands of new players fold this amazing puzzle!


Thanks to all of those who took gave it a chance and tried this game in its early stage! Looking forward to receiving the last orders, we wish you all an excellent week.

9 Comments

Sat

19

Jul

2014

An excellent hand-made Alcazar

This puzzle was made by Reddit user edderiofer, who was also one of the most active beta-testers of the Alcazar Android app.

 

With only 4 exits and lots of walls, it doesn't look so hard at first glance. However, you will soon realize that it's one of the most surprising and difficult Alcazars to date.

 

How will you approach it? If you find a simple and elegant way to solve it, please share it in the comments below. However, when you give a clue, make sure to encode it using this tool:

http://www.rot13.com/

 

Click here for a full screen version of the puzzle.

 

Have fun!

Coordinates

 

An easy way to talk about different techniques is to use chessboard notation: column are called A,B,C... (left to right) and rows are called 1,2,3... (bottom to top).

 

Example:

- C3D4 has a wall

- The room A1:D4 has 4 exits 


17 Comments

Thu

03

Jul

2014

Alcazar on Android

Alcazar for Android will be released on the 9th of July!

Would you like to talk about it on your blog, magazine or other media? Don't hesitate to get in touch with me directly!  jerome@theincrediblecompany.com

6 Comments

Thu

19

Jun

2014

Alcazar on Android - Screenshots

With an extraordinary group of beta testers, we are currently fine tuning the game. It's very exciting!

 

Today, we selected 8 screenshots to represent the game on the Google Play store. What do you think? Don't hesitate to leave a comment!

5 Comments

Wed

11

Jun

2014

From Alpha to Beta

Thanks to everyone who asked to join the group of testers! I apologize for making you wait, but I have good news: next weekend, the app will enter a short beta test phase, and I will accept everyone who asked, as testers.

 

It also means that the Android app will soon be available for everyone!

 

If you didn't do it already, you can join the beta test by asking to be part of this group on Google+:

https://plus.google.com/communities/115999952301884548258

 

Thanks!


1 Comments

Sat

31

May

2014

Manifold Erratum

Dear Manifold players,

 

All puzzles were created and tested with great care. However, 2 errors found their way into the final product, on puzzles #57 and #96. Please accept our apologies and use the following erratum.

 

By the way: #96 is harder than it looks!

Manifold - Erratum
erratum.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 255.7 KB

2 Comments

Thu

22

May

2014

A new puzzle for the new Alcazar players

Have fun!

I made this puzzle for those who discovered Alcazar in the last week, since I released the book. By the way, I'd like to hear how you heard about the game!

 

Don't hesitate to post a comment. The Alcazar community is still very small.


15 Comments

Sun

18

May

2014

Alcazar - Advanced puzzles

Hi everyone.

 

A puzzle expert, on Reddit, solved all the Alcazar puzzles on the website with very clever techniques, and recommended that I give a preview of some advanced puzzles.

 

Good idea! Here are 2 pages from Alcazar - Volume I that I would normally recommend to experienced Alcazar solvers.

 

Warning: these puzzles are for experts only! If you feel ready to try them, feel free to print the following pdf page.

Alcazar - Levels 77 and 97
Alcazar_77and96.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.0 MB

If you need to guess and erase too much, it just means that you need some practice. For that, the Alcazar book is available, and contains 100 puzzles from the easiest to the most difficult!

Alcazar #77
Alcazar #97

1 Comments

Thu

15

May

2014

Manifold: How to solve an advanced puzzle

Don't underestimate this game!

 

If you can solve the first 50 levels of Manifold, you are already an excellent player. If you can solve all the levels before #80, you are truly an expert. Take a moment to celebrate, before you start the final 20 levels.

 

I'll be honest with you: it takes more time to solve the last 20 puzzles than it takes to solve the first 80. I recommend that you try them all by yourself, without reading this post. Then, if you need some help, have a look at my solution for #84.

 

You may also have a look at my explanation for level #10 (easy), and for level #43 (intermediate).


After folding two horizontal lines that separate the middle 4 rows from the rest (this will help me later on), I try to figure out how to bring all these little white triangles together so that they join the big white 2×2 square. The picture on the right shows how I want to achieve that: I will hide the two gray triangles under the big white square. I don't know exactly how it can be done, but I can already prepare some of my creases, as shown by the green lines.


I try to fold along the green lines that I just made, but it doesn't hold. It can be frustrating, but it's important to take my time and never squash the paper. The only way to have a nice and clean solution is to fold straight lines: horizontal, vertical or diagonal (45°).


The trick is to get rid of the two gray hexagons. I start by folding clearly along the green lines (picture on the left), in a way that would push their center towards the table. After doing that carefully and precisely, the paper seems to like my plan: gently pushing the top and bottom of the paper toward each other works perfectly.


When I release the paper, it forms a nice 3D shape with lots of 90° angles. I simply continue to hide the gray areas, and then flatten the part where the white spaces are. The whole form isn't flat, but the most difficult part is done.


I flip the shape over. There are two corners of paper right in the middle of the shape. Without folding anything, I bring them down and hold them with my finger. The challenge is now to bring back the black spaces, and this can be done by folding along the green lines (picture on the right).


I flatten the shape to form a nice square, and that's it!


Problem solved!

 

Did you reach this level or were you just curious to see what the game looks like? In that case, you should consider ordering the game for you and your friends!

 

And don't worry. The first levels are much easier than that.

 

 


15 Comments

Thu

15

May

2014

Manifold: How to solve an intermediate puzzle

Manifold has 100 puzzles, all very different from each other. The first ones are easy enough to be solved by anyone, and then, the level increases smoothly as you discover new techniques and improve your skills.

 

We don't recommend that you try an intermediate level, like #43, before you've solved most of the previous ones. But many of you want to know what the game looks like when you approach the end of the first half, so here is my solution to #43.

 

For an easier puzzle, see my solution to #10.

For an advanced puzzle, see my solution to #84.


I start by removing folding the bottom two rows to hide the long gray strip. Doing this hides a few white triangles, but let's worry about them later.


To bring back two of the white triangles and, at the same time, complete the black side of the solution, I carefully flip the bottom-left square to the right.


Time for some clean up. Many gray areas can go on the other side: the whole bottom row, the two top corners, and the small triangle on the right.


At this point, almost all the gray spaces are hidden on the other side, so our task is to form the white side of the solution. Let's mark the lines between white and black, and flip the whole paper over.


First, I fold the top row, and then, the left and right sides. The problem is solved!


One side black, one side white.

 

But the real fun is to try it by yourself, feel the paper and "think with your hands". Manifold is truly unique!

 

The game is not expansive and makes a perfect gift!

 

 


15 Comments

Thu

15

May

2014

Manifold: How to solve an easy puzzle

Many of you didn't have the occasion to try Manifold. It's still possible to print some puzzles here, but maybe you don't have time, or the right paper and printer to do it. So let's look at one example.

 

Manifold is the unexpected fusion of a Rubik cube and Origami. Starting with a square piece of paper, the goal is to bring all the black spaces on one side and all the white spaces on the other, only by folding.

 

The game has 100 levels, all very different from each other numbered the easiest to the most difficult. Let's have a look at level 10.

 

Are you looking for something more advanced? Have a look at my solution to #43, and my solution to #84.


First, I fold most of the white spaces on the other side.


Then, I do the same for the large gray area.


After flipping the paper over, I realize that the white spaces are hidden, but I can bring them back by bringing a large triangle back on top.


Finally, I carefully hide the gray squares on the right, behind the white ones. At the same time, I bring the last white square to the bottom right of the puzzle.


And it's done! All the white spaces are on one side, all the black spaces are on the other, and all the gray parts are hidden inside the puzzle.

 

Curious? You should get your own copy of the game! I'm sure you will love it!


18 Comments

Fri

09

May

2014

Alcazar: The Official Poster

An Alcazar fan had the idea to print a giant Alcazar, solve it, and hang it on his office door.

 

It's such a great idea that I made 2 official printer-friendly posters. If you like Alcazar, here are the instructions: Download it - Print it - Solve it - Show it!

 

Alcazar Poster Small (A4/Letter)
AlcazarPosterA4.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 519.6 KB
Alcazar Poster Large (A3/11x17)
AlcazarPosterA3.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 571.6 KB

Have fun!

Alcazar Poster
Download it - Print it - Solve it - Show it

2 Comments

Tue

22

Apr

2014

Testing Alcazar on Android


I am currently looking for testers for the alpha version of the Android Alcazar App. All you need is an Android device, a Google Play account, and a Google Plus account. Interested? All you need to do is:

  1. Ask-me to join this Google+ group: https://plus.google.com/communities/115999952301884548258.
  2. Visit Alcazar's Google Play page on your device: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.theincrediblecompany.alcazar2

For now, the test is only open to people I (know, but don't worry, it will soon be available to everyone.

 

Thanks in advance!

 

Jérôme

4 Comments

Mon

24

Mar

2014

"Do it yourself" Manifold

To the popular demand, you can now try Manifold at home! You only need a printer and a pair of scissors.

 

Just download the "DIY Manifold" pdf file, print it on a normal sheet of paper (thinner is better) and cut along the black lines in the margin.

 

You can now try five of the 100 puzzles of the game! For the 95 others, you just have to wait a few weeks...

 

Have fun!

DIY Manifold
Five of the 100 Manifold puzzles in one page.
DIYManifold.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 1.3 MB

7 Comments

Wed

12

Mar

2014

Alcazar: Volume I

Dear Alcazar fans.

 

Great news! The 100 puzzles are chosen and ready to go to press. I think they are amazing.

 

The first ones are easy enough for anyone to enjoy and learn how to play. The last ones are way more difficult than anything I've posted on this website. They are not tedious, just surprisingly deep. I think you will love the book.

 

And it'll make a perfect gift, even for those who never played before!

 

While we wait for its publication, you can have a look at some photos of our last testing session, and try the daily Alcazar.

 

To receive a message when the book is available, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter:

© 2014 The Incredible Company
© 2014 The Incredible Company
© 2014 The Incredible Company
© 2014 The Incredible Company

5 Comments

Sat

22

Feb

2014

Choosing paper, making boxes, rating puzzles

Some people are asking about the release dates for Alcazar and Manifold. It's still not in the calendar, but I can tell you that we are in the last steps. Here are some photos of this week's activities at The Incredible Company.

The Alcazar department created and organized 100 exceptional levels for the first book of Alcazar. However, the first half is still too hard, so we are adding some clues to help beginners to master the game. For the experts: you will not be disappointed by the last part of the book. It's very difficult and incredibly fun.

Box prototypes

The Manifold team is folding a lot of paper. We are carefully looking for a paper from sustainable sources, that is thin and strong enough for the game. At the same time, we make some packaging design and prototypes. Don't worry: the final box is not going to be pink.


22 Comments

Fri

31

Jan

2014

Felix and Caro play Manifold

This week, I invited two friends to my place to test 100 levels of Manifold. We are making sure that each level is fun, that it's never repetitive, and that the difficulty curve is just right. 

 

It was a lot of fun! Here are some photos of the event.

© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

They discuss Felix's solution to a particularly challenging level.

© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

After a few strategic creases, Caro takes a moment to find the right tactic.


© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

Caro brings all the white squares together, while the next puzzle is already waiting for her on the table.

© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

Solved puzzles start accumulating on the table. Don't worry: it's all recycled paper.


© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

Felix is about to start a new one...

© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company
© 2014 all rights reserved - The Incredible Company

After hours of playing, Caro is still happily asking for the next one.


It took more than 4 hours to complete the 60 first levels, but I know that the 40 next ones will take way longer. I think it will take about 10 hours on average to solve the 100 levels.

 

Thanks to Felix and Caro, but also Frank, Chinh, Khoi, Cécile and all the others who helped me. We are looking forward to producing more copies so everybody can play!

5 Comments

Thu

30

Jan

2014

Welcome to our new Website!

During Christmas, the idea of Manifold came up, and just a few hours later, it was clear: it had to be published. I'm looking forward to writing more about it and launching it.

 

It means that The Incredible Company will soon launch 2 products instead of only one, as originally planned. This is why I quickly switched from an Alcazar-only website to one with a broader purpose. I moved to a platform that can host pages, a blog, and more importantly, a webshop. 

 

But without a logo, the home page looked quite empty. Fortunately, my desk was very messy: dozens of Manifold levels, other games, material and Alcazar demo sheets were almost covering the whole table. I added a few more items in the background and took a picture.

 

So here it is! Welcome to our website, and don't hesitate to leave comments! 

1 Comments

Wed

15

Jan

2014

Giant Alcazar

 Hello 2014!

 

Nothing new happened on this blog for a while because during holidays, I invented a new puzzle that is completely different. I'll tell you more about it later. It's almost ready.

 

Meanwhile, I improved my puzzle generator so it's now possible for me to create larger puzzles in a decent time. Have a look to this giant Alcazar, and have fun solving it!

Giant Alcazar
Click here to download it as a pdf
giantAlcazarJanuary2014.pdf
Adobe Acrobat Document 758.5 KB

1 Comments

Fri

13

Dec

2013

Solution to the Empty Square Puzzle

In Alcazar, easy puzzles can be solved either with logic, or intuition. But as puzzles get larger and harder, intuition alone will not be enough. That's why it's good to start sharpening your logic skills with small puzzles, like the one I proposed in my last post.

There are several ways to solve this puzzle step by step. Here is one method I like, because it contains several different tricks and techniques.

First, there is only one way to enter and exit each of the corners, so it's a good idea to start by filling these 4 squares.

Then, notice that there are only 2 exits in this problem. We need to use them both, otherwise we won't be able to enter and exit the room.


At this stage, the two squares near the exits are complete, which leaves only one possibility for the 2 squares on top of them.

Now, we created a "C" shape in the top-left corner. To avoid closing the loop, we must complete the line on top of the puzzle.

If we did the same on the bottom side, this would create a path that enters and exits the puzzle without visiting the whole room. The only way to avoid that is to move up.


Finally, to complete the puzzle, we have to link the top-half with the bottom-half, and there is only one way to achieve that.

It's done! And in every step, there was no other alternative. This proves that the problem had a unique solution.


8 Comments

Thu

12

Dec

2013

It's a good day for a new puzzle

Hi everyone! I've been solving a lot of Alcazars today, because I'm preparing a book of 100 puzzles that should be available early next year.

 

I like when a puzzle takes me by surprise and has exactly the right level of challenge for me. I had a lot of fun solving this one, so I thought I could share it with you.

 

Have fun!


1 Comments

Mon

09

Dec

2013

To solve an Alcazar, find its weak points

In this article, I reveal what is probably the most useful Alcazar solving technique, using level 4 of the December series as an example. I strongly recommend that you try it before reading. You can visit the website to print it, or try it directly here, by drawing in the image with your mouse.

 

Although it's not the most difficult Alcazar, it's not an easy one. I have seen good Alcazar players who took more than 30 minutes to solve it. If you are struggling more than you would like, maybe all you need is the following technique.


The main rule of Alcazar is: cross every square exactly once. There are normally 6 ways to cross a square, but when a square has a wall, only 3 possibilities are left.

Squares with two walls have only one possibility. It's a good idea to start the puzzle by filling them.

This usually provides a very good start, but in our case, the result is quite disappointing: only 5 squares are filled, and there are still 12 possible exits. Trying to guess the rest of the solution could take a while. Fortunately, every Alcazar has weak points.

Let's focus on the small room in the upper-right corner and ask: what would happen if we would do what is shown here. This would create a small closed loop in the corner. So we can't do that.

This leaves 2 ways to fill that square: going either left-up or left-right. In any case, we have to enter this square on the left, and we can already draw this line.


We can use the same technique another time nearby. We notice that going up and right (shown here under the ?) would create a closed loop again. Discarding this possibility, there are only two ways to cross that square: up-left or right-left. Conclusion: we have to exit this square from the left.

With this new clue, I'm sure you can finish the puzzle by yourself. Have fun! Leave a comment if you need more help, or if you want to share some of your own techniques.

And now that you are an expert, enter the secret code invisible-air on the website, and you will unlock an even more difficult puzzle.


5 Comments

Fri

29

Nov

2013

An Empty Square

Welcome to the Alcazar blog, where I will be posting puzzles, tips, news and exclusive stories about the game. A few puzzles are already waiting for you on the website.

One fascinating fact about Alcazar is that each puzzle has a unique solution. Because of that, there is always a way to solve them using pure logic.

It's sometimes hard to believe, like in the example right here. It's an empty room, but there is only one way to enter, visit the 16 squares once, and exit. You can try directly here: simply draw lines with your mouse!

Do you see the solution? How can we prove that it's the only one? Have fun!


2 Comments

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© 2013-2014 Jérôme Morin-Drouin - All rights reserved