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 Post subject: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:32 pm 
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Hey forum,
After wondering why I started to loose interest in twisty puzzles, I began to think, "What must a perfect twisty puzzle have?" So I started to wonder, [reader] what is your definition of a perfect twisty puzzle? What do you believe are qualities that a perfect twisty puzzle should have and which puzzle falls close to possessing those qualities?

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:40 pm 
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In my view, the perfect puzzle has:

1. Simple and intuitive goal
2. Transparent logic
3. Extreme challenge and complexity
4. Ingenious mechanism, does the unexpected
5. Perfect symmetry (= beauty)
6. Solid quality, elegant design and great looks
7. Few components, cheap/easy to manufacture
8. That little something extra...

I haven't seen anything which comes close to the original Rubik's Cube in all these respects.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:16 pm 
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In my opinion there are a ton of competing factors and no puzzle can have them all because sometimes they are contradictory.

For example sometimes I like smooth intuitive solves like what you get with the Dayan Gem III. You don't really run into any problems and the solve "just works". This has caveats like the Dino Cube which is pretty boring.

But I also like extreme treachery. Sometimes I want to get stuck in a situation on a puzzle that confounds me and requires a ton of thought. The more treachery the better. This also has caveats like the parity in the 3x3x3 edges on the Dino + 3x3x3 which winds up being frustrating because the shortest known fix is annoyingly long and repetitive.

I also really like puzzles that have a whole bunch of piece types and it's hard to find the right order to solve the pieces in. The time spent exploring the different options available on the puzzle to try to find an efficient order can be a wonderful odyssey of twisty puzzle discovery. Puzzles that come to mind are the Vertex-turning Master Brilic look-alike (1.2.7), the Master Skewb + 3x3x3 (3.4.17 and 3.4.20) and even the deepish-cut FTI (2.1.2).

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:01 pm 
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I feel that a perfect puzzle is one that I would desire to pick up at any moment and play with. What causes a puzzle to have this attribute? For me, it is all in the challenge. A puzzle that takes lots of patience to solve, that is complicated enough that I cannot solve it right away, but yet easy enough that it can be solved in one sitting.

So far, the Starminx, Curvy Copter II, and Latch Cube all fit this category, and I would say these are my three favorite puzzles and will continue to be.

Chris

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:02 pm 
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It depends on the situation.

First of all, there's the overall aesthetic. The Teraminx is lovely in my eyes, because the curves all combine to look really snazzy. My KO Super Floppy, on the other hand, is ugly and terrible. It has white stickers on white plastic, and the square stickers over the center aren't even cropped, so they actually interfere with the turning. That makes it look like the designers didn't care.

As for solving difficulty, I love fairly long solves without many algorithms that draw on previous experience. The Mefferts' "triad of recent puzzles that cost $42" of Vulcano, Mosaic Cube, and Professor Pyraminx are all examples of this. (I did come up with an algorithm-less way to solve all of these, if you don't count the simple Pyraminx-shuffle with four moves) If anyone can recommend a puzzle that can be solved like this that I don't have, give me a PM!

Also, jumbling or a neat gimmick (gears etc.) is a plus but is by no means required.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:43 pm 
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Consider the most basic "perfect" puzzle, the original Rubik's cube... Seemingly simple, aesthetically pleasing to look at, but challenging enough to keep you working on it for a long time. Really doesn't get more perfect than that...

Maybe that's why I like the Square 1 so much too...

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 12:48 am 
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One of the criteria I've been looking for has been puzzles that do not change shape. I don't know what it is about shape shifters, but they just don't appeal to me.

Lower order puzzles, I find, are also more amusing and elegant than larger ones.


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:35 am 
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patrickcondon wrote:
One of the criteria I've been looking for has been puzzles that do not change shape. I don't know what it is about shape shifters, but they just don't appeal to me.

Lower order puzzles, I find, are also more amusing and elegant than larger ones.
I understand what you mean completely! You've just described the puzzles that I find tedious and not fun to solve at all:

Shape mods -- they add unnecessary confusion to what could otherwise be an elegant puzzle (I feel the same way about sticker mods like the maze cube r sudocube).

Large puzzles -- tedious and very repetitive regardless of the actual difficulty of the solution (v-11, teraminx, and to a very small extent, even lower order puzzles like the megaminx).

A perfect puzzle should take some special insight to solve intuitively, so that it takes a while to solve for the first time, but then not actually take too much time to solve (provided you've found a reasonably efficient solution, of course). That way, it's still fun to resolve after you've come up with a solution. I don't like puzzles that I don't feel compelled to re-scramble. I suppose that why I've never been one to like jigsaw puzzles.


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:32 am 
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stewSquared wrote:
patrickcondon wrote:
One of the criteria I've been looking for has been puzzles that do not change shape. I don't know what it is about shape shifters, but they just don't appeal to me.

Lower order puzzles, I find, are also more amusing and elegant than larger ones.
I understand what you mean completely! You've just described the puzzles that I find tedious and not fun to solve at all:

Shape mods -- they add unnecessary confusion to what could otherwise be an elegant puzzle (I feel the same way about sticker mods like the maze cube r sudocube).

Large puzzles -- tedious and very repetitive regardless of the actual difficulty of the solution (v-11, teraminx, and to a very small extent, even lower order puzzles like the megaminx).

A perfect puzzle should take some special insight to solve intuitively, so that it takes a while to solve for the first time, but then not actually take too much time to solve (provided you've found a reasonably efficient solution, of course). That way, it's still fun to resolve after you've come up with a solution. I don't like puzzles that I don't feel compelled to re-scramble. I suppose that why I've never been one to like jigsaw puzzles.

Nice post, I agree completely with all of this, especially the last paragraph. Also, regarding, sticker mods that add unnecessary confusion, like maze cube and sudocube, this is actually the one nagging doubt I have always had about my own puzzle, Qubami: whether the combination of colours and symbols might look too confusing and put people off. Clearly some people like it, but I can't help thinking this is the one point that could limit its potential.

Anyway, you've summed up very nicely all of the main qualities that would put me off a twisty puzzle, which is just as helpful as listing the qualities that would make the ideal puzzle.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:02 am 
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Great topic, cubeguy, I like this one a lot! As a mod and shapeshifting fan, I wanted to weigh in a little on the topic.
stewSquared wrote:
Shape mods -- they add unnecessary confusion to what could otherwise be an elegant puzzle

You're absolutely right about this, and in matters of taste, there can really be no disagreement regarding matters of personal aesthetics. I would also never disagree with another's definition of what is elegant. However, I will say that my original criteria for puzzles were cubes and only cubes. No shapeshifters, mods, jumblers, mumblers, tumblers, fudgers, supers, crazies, tetra's, octos or dodecs! That obviously didn't last.

I think the thing that endeared the mods and shapeshifters to me was the discovery that I can use the exact same strategies that I use with the cubic puzzles to solve it. In my line of work, I often need to think "outside the box," and the process of skewing my perspective and making a cognitive shift to solve "outside the cube" is very appealing to me. This is especially appealing given the fact that the method is exactly the same, just with some minor tweaking and some gymnastics with perspective. If each of these puzzles and mods required completely different strategies, I would have no interest. To me the "unnecessary confusion" helps remind me to broaden my thinking and applying known strategies to novel situations can uncover universal consistencies in mechanisms.
stewSquared wrote:
Large puzzles -- tedious and very repetitive regardless of the actual difficulty of the solution

Again, I have to admit you have a very good point. The thing about collections, though, is the marveling at the technical genius that went into making something that before didn't seem possible. Usually I'll solve them sparingly, but to gaze at the giants in my collection is almost like appreciating a work of art hanging on your wall. Only these works of art you can play with!

The question of the perfect puzzle is really a question of the situation you are considering. I have puzzles that help wile away the hours spent on a plane ride, which would be the higher order ones (so many trips that would be otherwise tedious made very enjoyable!) such as the teraminx, supercubes, crazy planetary puzzles, professor/master/elite/emperor puzzles etc. When sitting at home after work to unwind, something that shares the simple elegance that patrickcondon, stewSquared and KelvinS spoke very eloquently on would be preferred.

For me, for some reason, I never cultivated a desire for the gears or the jumblers. Given what I've already invested, I don't think I'll go in that direction for a while either :)


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:57 am 
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As I get older (and wiser?) my opinions on this changes. But I guess the basics are still there. So here's my list going backwards.

1) It must be pretty :lol: :lol:
2) It must be affordable. I mean, we can't all afford a diamond cutters cube no matter how much we want one (and yes, I know I just bought an 'expensive' puzzle but I also waited to get one at the right quality and the right price)
3) Increasingly more so now than in the past, it must be small (space is now becoming such an issue I'm seriously thinking of selling off a few)
4) It must be stackable-or packable. Odd shapes just don't cut it anymore. I've no space for odd shaped puzzles. (Oh what I would give for a house back home...)
5) Probably most importantly, it must be solvable!

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:14 am 
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stewSquared wrote:
Shape mods -- they add unnecessary confusion to what could otherwise be an elegant puzzle (I feel the same way about sticker mods like the maze cube r sudocube).


The words that stick out here are "add" and "confusion". Two complimentary words for a puzzle in my opinion. Unnecessary? Shape variations in most cases gives you another 'layer' of solving i.e. working out what should go where. Each to there own of course.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:27 pm 
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Tony Fisher wrote:
stewSquared wrote:
Shape mods -- they add unnecessary confusion to what could otherwise be an elegant puzzle (I feel the same way about sticker mods like the maze cube r sudocube).
The words that stick out here are "add" and "confusion". Two complimentary words for a puzzle in my opinion. Unnecessary? Shape variations in most cases gives you another 'layer' of solving i.e. working out what should go where. Each to there own of course.
Lots of "shape mods" create a completely new puzzle with surprising properties, for example by exposing inner hidden pieces or adding orientation to previously symmetrical pieces. Who can not say that they were not surprised that the Mental Block is based on a Skewb or the Hexaminx was based on a Megaminx?

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 1:35 pm 
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Gus wrote:
Who can not say that they were not surprised that the Mental Block is based on a Skewb or the Hexaminx was based on a Megaminx?
:?
Just need a few more double negatives in there to make it even less comprehensible:
Not Gus wrote:
Who can not say that they were not surprised that the Mental Block is [not] based on [not] a Skewb [nor] the Hexaminx was [not] based on [not] a Megaminx?

:D

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 4:20 pm 
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Gus wrote:
Who can not say that they were not surprised that the Mental Block is based on a Skewb or the Hexaminx was based on a Megaminx?
Makes perfect sense to me, but I have been practising my double negatives for over 45 years now. My most annoying (to others, hilarious to me) habit is, when asked something like "Is Fred not in today" is to answer "Yes" if he is absent, whereas the person asking the question is really unaware of the negative, and then asks "Where is he then?". Ho Ho, what fun. I have lots more word related stuff on my website here. Please excuse the blank links, I really mean to get it finished some day, and the puzzle list is well out of date.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:44 am 
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I us to go for every thing that I could get my hands on when I started collecting but now I just go for the expensive rare one or rare one that are Mass produced.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:28 am 
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Hi Cubeguy,

I like what people have said about the Rubik’s Cube. Simple, elegant design/ apparently easy, intrinsically difficult. I think the `drive ya nuts` factor, along with the, `no solution released` and the `impossible to disassemble` declaration in the original packaging, all add up to `the greatest practical joke (to the intellect)` ever released on a generation. EVERY spin-off twisty puzzle carries with it that legacy. So it’s now hard to distinguish `from` that idea.

For me, the perfect puzzle carries with it some of that legacy (that, with modern methods, the Rubik’s Cube has `somewhat ` lost). The idea of it needing some deliberation, for example. I like a puzzle (and a method) that is not completely rote, that has within it `some` unpacking that needs to be done during the solve.

Something that will take a while, like `at least` 10 or 15 minutes.

Something not completely straightforward, that has an interesting parity situation. Something like the Master Skewb. Or something that is `not symmetrical`, like a crazy cube or a Bermuda. Bring on the series’ I say, I love that `they all look alike` but they all have their own personalities and attributes and range in difficulty. And I really like how they `resemble the Rubik’s Cube`.

A recent thing for me is that I am beginning to like the idea of the multi-puzzles, like TomZ’s Dodec and Carl’s Real5x5x5. They fit really well into that idea of `being the original`, but also being somewhat more difficult, time consuming and interesting, and importantly: adding a `layer of meaning (not just difficulty for difficulty’s sake)`. (I kinda don’t like the idea of getting a cube and just `bandaging it for no reason`, for example).

Cheers,
Burgo.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:33 am 
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I don't know why but I only like cubical puzzles that don't change shape, rubik's cubes (3 to 5 layers), bandaged cubes and circle cubes.


Last edited by marcom on Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 11:21 am 
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marcom wrote:
I don't know why but I only like cubical puzzles that doesn't change shape...
I too use to be a fan of puzzles which didn't change shape. I didn't necessarily require them to be cubes. But the longer I've been in puzzles (designing and collecting) the more I see opportunites that can't be explored without either considering shape changing or spherical puzzles and I think I prefer shape changing over spherical as it adds another element to the solving. You must restore the shape as well as the colors. This is true for me not just of shape changing but for concepts like bandaging, stored cuts, jumbling, fudging, etc. I used to think of these as "imperfections" but they do really grow on you if you give them time and open up all sorts of interesting new opportunities.

To me the "perfect puzzle" isn't the finished product. I.e. the puzzle itself. The perfect puzzle is a process. Its coming up with an idea which is original, something that hasn't been done before, and requires a new unique mechanism. This puzzle is solved by designing that mech and bringing that idea into the real physical world. As a puzzle designer I view that as the perfect puzzle. At least its the kind I enjoy solving the most.

Carl

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:02 pm 
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Doctor who wrote:
I think the thing that endeared the mods and shapeshifters to me was the discovery that I can use the exact same strategies that I use with the cubic puzzles to solve it.
I suppose this, for me, is what I don't like about them -- I don't feel like I've really been given a chance to come up with a new solution.
Gus wrote:
Lots of "shape mods" create a completely new puzzle with surprising properties, for example by exposing inner hidden pieces or adding orientation to previously symmetrical pieces. Who can not say that they were not surprised that the Mental Block is based on a Skewb or the Hexaminx was based on a Megaminx?
While it's true that new elements of the old puzzle are revealed, I've often already thought a lot about the puzzle and considered those elements. For example, with the megaminx, orientation and permutation of the edges and corners are already visible -- the Hexaminx reveals orientation of the centers. I've actually already figured out how to orient centers, so this puzzle wouldn't really feel like "a completely new puzzle" to me. It's by no means a bad thing to reveal orientation, I'm just arguing that shape-mods aren't really always as new as they initially appear. Looking for something new, I'd be inclined to just to find a new mechanism, or change the depth of the cuts. (also, this is starting to drift off topic, but once new pieces start being exposed, wouldn't it no longer be just a "shape mod" but a completely new puzzle? i.e. The cuts are different, so it's not the same puzzle?).

Now, as Tony Fisher says, with many shape mods there is the added element of figuring out where each piece should go. This isn't as attractive to me, though that is just me stating my personal preference.

Now let me just make it clear that I do like shape mods and collect them. I just don't think they're as fun to solve, so I rarely re-scramble them. Directing this post back towards the topic of the thread, I suppose I could forward the proposition that a perfect puzzle is one for which it is fun to find a solution, but also fun to re-scramble and re-solve (regardless of what you consider 'fun').

wwwmwww wrote:
To me the "perfect puzzle" isn't the finished product. I.e. the puzzle itself. The perfect puzzle is a process. Its coming up with an idea which is original, something that hasn't been done before, and requires a new unique mechanism. This puzzle is solved by designing that mech and bringing that idea into the real physical world. As a puzzle designer I view that as the perfect puzzle. At least its the kind I enjoy solving the most.
I still consider myself a "young" puzzle collector. I'll definitely keep this in mind and give it a chance to grow on me.


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:41 pm 
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stewSquared wrote:
I suppose this, for me, is what I don't like about them -- I don't feel like I've really been given a chance to come up with a new solution.

Good point, and I applaud you for your desire to come up with new solutions to novel situations. Me, I'm an old dog that tends to try to optimize my old tricks :)
For me, the elegance and beauty of art or science is where the theme is still buried somewhere in the variation. Listening to theme and variation in baroque, classical, and jazz music is a perfect blend of order and creativity, ornamenting and expanding on a known motif, has always appealed to me.

I also enjoy seeing how nature does the same thing. I would much rather study a Homo Sapien alongside a Neaderthal alongside a Homo Erectus alongside a Homo Habilis alongside a Homo Ergaster alongside an Australopithecine rather then alongside an elephant (unless you put it next to a mastodon, a mammoth, a deinotherium, and a gomphotherium).

When studying physics, great minds like Einstein were able to solve mysteries in physics not by approaching each field as totally separate disciplines with completely different strategies, but rather to unify them in single consistent perspectives, a perspective that was already there, just not applied quite right; unifying electromagnetism and newtonian physics to come up with a total greater then the sum of the parts.

In other words, relativity is a mod of Newtonian physics, Homo Sapiens are a mod of Homo Erectus, and jazz is a mod of classical.
This is not to say I'm right, but I wanted to share some of the reasons for my preferences.

To get back on topic, my idea of a perfect puzzle would have to be TARDIS CUBOID!!! YES, I SAID IT AGAIN, AN "UNNECESSARILY CONFUSING", SHAPESHIFTING, "TEDIOUSLY AND REPETITIVELY" LARGE, MULTILAYERED, INORDINATELY EXPENSIVE, FULLY FUNCTIONING MOD TARDIS CUBOID!!

Hey, to each their own :D


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:16 pm 
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Doctor who wrote:
FULLY FUNCTIONING MOD TARDIS CUBOID!!


But when it comes to studying your Tardis Cuboid don't you need it sitting alongside your Police Box Cuboid, alongside your Phone Booth Cuboid, alongside your ... ;)

Carl

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 4:41 pm 
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wwwmwww wrote:
But when it comes to studying your Tardis Cuboid don't you need it sitting alongside your Police Box Cuboid, alongside your Phone Booth Cuboid, alongside your ...

Ha! Well played sir! :lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:52 pm 
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I've started my Tardis cuboid design:
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I hope you like it :)

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:21 pm 
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But how will you finish it! Unless you are from Gallifrey (unlikely) then how do you suppose you will get round the problem of designing a core the is bigger than the puzzle :lol:
Honestly. The hubris of man. I may just go back to my own planet - except the puzzles and the music are not as good...

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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:25 pm 
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Gus wrote:
I've started my Tardis cuboid design:
Gus wrote:
I hope you like it

Like it? You've filled both my hearts with joy! Brilliant! :D
oxymoronicuber wrote:
Unless you are from Gallifrey (unlikely) then how do you suppose you will get round the problem of designing a core the is bigger than the puzzle

Very informed question! Well, let me put it this way, if I'm really from Gallifrey, then I'll be able to get round the problem of puzzle dimensional transcendentalism. If I'm not, then there is no such thing anyway. Either way, I've got it covered :)


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 Post subject: Re: Your def. of the perfect puzzle
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 12:44 am 
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I somewhat address this issue in my last paragraph of this post.

Dave

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