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Light-bot is a pretty fun, if simple flash game that I wrote about last year. At that time, I realized that by giving the robot recursive solutions, it was possible to reduce the commands needed to win from the previous bests of 160 or so down to 132.

Recently, Mark Beyers has found an even more compact solution.

Already a lot of people have worked on improving their score for this game. I wanted to either beat the best known score (132 commands) or prove it to be minimal by trying every possible solution for every level and seeing if it completes the level.

To cut a long story short, the solver managed to beat the best known solution for level 8, reducing it from 10 commands to 9 commands. The solution is complex and I find it difficult to imagine how a human could discover this solution without assistance from a computer.

Mark Beyers: Light-Bot in 131 commands

Here is my old video for level 8 (apologies for the sound):

Here’s Mark’s solution, which uses one fewer command. Level 8 starts 45 seconds in.

From the first time I played Super Mario Bros., I’ve always loved platform games. Unfortunately, the genre has been pretty dead ever since Gex. Fez, from Montreal-based start-up Kokoromi, looks ready to change that. The game is so creative that words just don’t do it justice.

Related: Lead designer, Phil Fish gives an interview on Fez.

My second grade class just finished book three of Up and Away yesterday. It’s the last book of the series they’ll do, since they’ll be third graders and switching to the normal buxiban classes soon. In my normal classes, we really don’t play games much. With 30 students per class, they just aren’t usually a very effective use of time. For the second graders though, we play quite a few games. I’m still pretty picky about which games to play though, since anything that requires kids to run to the whiteboard entails a significant amount of class time in which they aren’t listening or speaking. Most games we play are either variations on Tic-Tac-Toe, Concentration, Knife-Gun-Medic-Bomb, or Castles&Catapults.

Yesterday was different though. continue reading…

Tonight, I went to the only non-creepy bar in town and learned a fun drinking game with dice. It’s called 吹牛, and it’s basically a Chinese version of Bullshit. Here’s how it works: continue reading…

It’s been two more wonderful days of hanging out with old high school friends and serious geeking out. On Friday, I went over to Dan’s place with Chris (another high school buddy), Aubrey, Matt and Robb. Since Dan and Chris have never been too keen on being photographed, I decided not to put their picture up on my blog. They taught me how to play a card game called “Munchkin“, by Steve Jackson Games. In role-playing lingo, a “munchkin” is a selfish, greedy bastard who doesn’t care about helping the group but just wants to get as much loot and experience as possible. In the card game, “Munchkin”, each player takes on the role of just such a greedy, selfish bastard.

Everyone takes turns drawing from a stack of “door” cards. That represents kicking down a door in a dungeon. Sometimes there will be a monster. You can fight them on your own or get someone to “help”, for which they will almost certainly insist on a share of the treasure. The first one to get his or her character up to level ten wins. This means that people in your “group” helps only when they can gain from it, and everyone will screw you over to keep you from getting to level 10. On top of this, the rules are intentionally vague and exploitable, leading players to bicker over convoluted interpretations of them. I got wasted because Matt, figured out a way to abuse the rules in such a way that allowed him to pick up the entire treasure deck and basically become invincible. All in all, its like role-playing in middle school, but a whole heck of a lot funnier.