I see what you mean by easy to build. Just need a grid with horizontal and vertical groves and tiles with either a vertical or horizontal key. You could have all sorts of different levels of difficulty, some configurations would have very few possible moves at each stage, easy ones. Others would be very difficult.
You could have a third type of tile with a pin instead of a regular key, this could move both horizontally and vertically, like on a regular 15 puzzle. If you had mostly these but a few oriented ones you could get easier puzzles.
You could have all sorts of different pictured/numbered designs.
You wouldn't have to stop at two directions (up/down, left/right), if you used circular tiles you could have a puzzle where some pieces moved diagonally too! That would be insane.
I think it would work well on a cube too, the regular slidey puzzle on a cube is a bit redundent, but this! Wow, if you had a picture on each face and the tiles slide as a orimaze you would be able to make some very hard puzzles!
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2003 9:11 am Location: Marin, CA
Interesting idea with circular motions. Multiple pieces per face has problems with not all the sliding motions being the same, but works if you have exactly one tile per face of the cube.
If each tile has an orientation, and there are two tiles on two axis and one on the third (plus an empty spot) then the underlying puzzle is always held in place by at least one piece on each axis. I just messed with this puzzle on paper, and it seems to be surprisingly hard.
The mechanism funky enough to be worth building on novelty grounds alone.
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