Saving Puzzle Games for Posterity

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[Image courtesy of Medium.]

One of the coolest things about the Internet is how it facilitates the gathering of information. Not only does it connect you to valuable sources around the world — experts, researchers, scholars, and collectors — but it grants you access to libraries and repositories of knowledge unlike anything the world has seen before.

I mean, think about it. Looking for a famous text? Google Books or Project Gutenberg probably has you covered. A movie? The Internet Movie Database is practically comprehensive. Different fandoms and franchises have their own individual Wikis that cover episodes, characters, and more.

Although there’s no single repository for all things puzzly — though we here at PuzzleNation Blog certainly try — there are some online repositories of puzzle knowledge available, like XwordInfo, the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project, and Cube Index.

And other place online that’s helping to preserve puzzle history is The Internet Archive.

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[Puzzling out a jailbreak in The Secret of Monkey Island with a curious piece of equipment. Image courtesy of Final Boss Blues.]

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital library that archives computer games, books, audio recordings and videos. In terms of computer games, that means everything from text adventures to more well-known ’80s and ’90s games, and even early experiments with 3D modeling.

Recently, more than 2,500 MS-DOS games were added to the Archive. Adventure and strategy games were among the numerous entries included in the latest update, as well as a fair amount of puzzle games, both famous and obscure.

“This will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago,” Internet Archive software curator Jason Scott wrote on the site’s blog.

In addition to Sudoku, Chess, and Scrabble games, there were loads of Tetris variants (like Pentix), a crossword-inspired game called Crosscheck, and even TrianGO, a version of the classic game Go played on a hexagonal field.

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[Image courtesy of Google.]

In this update alone, you can find virtually every kind of puzzle to enjoy. If you like building Rube Goldberg devices, there’s The Incredible Machine 2. If you’re looking for a puzzly version of the beloved Nintendo game Bubble Bobble, then try Puzzle Bobble.

You can building dungeon romps with The Bard’s Tale Construction Set or crack challenging cases in Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Serrated Scalpel. You can find your way out of maze-like platforming traps in Lode Runner or enjoy the tongue-in-cheek humor and devious point-and-click puzzles of one of my personal favorites, The Secret of Monkey Island.

There are even iconic horror puzzlers like Alone in the Dark and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream if you’re looking for something a bit spookier and more sinister.

This is a treasure trove of old puzzle-game content, and it’s all available with the click of a button. These games will be joining such previously archived classics as Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and The Oregon Trail in the Internet Archive’s vast and ever-growing library.

And thanks to their efforts, more than a few puzzle games will be saved from obscurity or oblivion.


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International Games Week is Almost Over!

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All week, libraries around the world have been celebrating International Games Week, an event about bringing people together through games.

Whether we’re talking about games with educational value or just games that help forge friendships (and friendly rivalries), it’s a terrific way to introduce people to new games and fellow gamers. Not to mention it drives attention toward local libraries, which is always a good thing!

As a huge proponent of game-fueled socializing, I love events like this. You can introduce people to games they’ve never seen before — potentially even styles of games they’ve never seen before, like wagering games, cooperative games, and more — and helping to build a community of gamers.

I myself have hosted Dungeons & Dragons demos in the past as a way of introducing new players to one of my favorite pastimes in a way that is welcoming and inclusive, and hopefully inspires them to play again!

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Who knows, you might end up forming a game club, or making new friends, or even discovering something that inspires you to create a game or tell a story on your own!

You can find listings for events all over! For instance, my Friendly Local Game Shop — Gamer’s Gambit in Danbury — is actually providing games to play for the Danbury Public Library, including staff to teach the games and encourage gaming fun in groups.

International Games Week continues tonight and tomorrow, so it’s entirely possible you haven’t missed out on a fun time with fellow gamers! Keep your eyes peeled for events in your area.

And hey, if you’ve already attended a library event for International Games Week, let us know what you did and how it went! We’d love to hear from you!


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A Newsworthy Week for “Jeopardy!”

The Jeopardy! 2019 Tournament of Champions is upon us, and this year’s tournament is attracting more attention than most, as it marks the return of James Holzhauer.

Earlier this year, the sports gambler and trivia master went on a 32-day winning streak, amassing $2,464,216 (the second highest amount in game history), and setting all sorts of records. (He holds 21 of the top 25 spots for highest single-day winnings.)

Now he’s back to compete in the Tournament of Champions, and although his play style remains the same, his performance last night seemed less aggressive than his previous appearances. Sure, he still went for the high money questions early and pursued the Daily Doubles with a vengeance, but his wagers for both Daily Doubles and Final Jeopardy weren’t nearly as ambitious as they’d been before.

His lead over his opponents going into Final Jeopardy was insurmountable, and yet, he only made a small wager. Perhaps he feels like he proved himself during his impressive streak, and now he’s just out to play well, dominating through performance rather than riskier high-money wagers.

Holzhauer joins 14 other former champions in this year’s tournament, and his victory last night means he’ll play again next week against the other winners from this week (plus four high-money competitors). More intriguingly, Emma Boettcher — the competitor who ended his winning streak — will be competing on tonight’s show, so we could see a rematch between the two trivia fiends in the very near future.

Holzhauer’s return and the Tournament of Champions caps off a newsworthy week for the famous game show. Earlier this week, former competitor Avi Gupta — a Columbia University freshman who won $100,000 during the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament — donated some of his winnings to the Oregon Health & Science University’s Knight Cancer Institute.

Gupta, a long-time fan of both the show and its host, made the donation in honor of Alex Trebek, whose struggles with his own cancer diagnosis have been well documented.

In an interview, Gupta stated that Trebek is someone he has considered a role model his entire life. It’s a kind and thoughtful gesture from a lifelong fan.


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The Fold and the Beautiful

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Anyone who has tried to fold up a road map knows that origami is a valuable skill to have. With the right folds, you can transform a few square sheets of paper into practically anything, from cranes that flap their wings and balloons that inflate to frogs that jump.

Origami is truly a puzzly art form with all sorts of unexpected uses in the modern day, providing a unique solution to confounding problems.

For instance, it’s rare to encounter a spacecraft that doesn’t incorporate folding solar panels, wings, or other collapsible/expandable parts that are based on classic origami folds.

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This mechanism, a solar array, is based on a Miura fold. The creation of Japanese astrophysicist Koryo Miura, the Miura fold allows a checkerboard-like field of interconnected parallelograms to unfold like a flower into a large, flat, circular surface.

This design is easily scaled up by adding more pieces to the network of folding peaks and valleys, allowing for different sized circular fields to be formed as needed. The array of motors around the Miura fold work like a Hoberman sphere, one of those expanding plastic toys that blooms outward with ease.

Not only does this allow them to save space for travel (and remain safe in transit), but it maximizes space when unfolded, allowing for greater surface area for energy absorption. The Mars landers, for instance, routinely incorporated folding mechanisms not only for solar panels, but for the landing platforms from which the landers emerged onto the surface.

That sort of space-efficient thinking has led to another unexpected solution, this time for plant lovers.

One recurring problem with plants is that, as they grow, they sometimes require repotting into larger containers. But what if that wasn’t necessary? What if the flower pot could adapt to the needs of the plant?

Once again, origami principles rush to the rescue.

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This is Growth, a resizable origami planter designed by Studio Ayaskan, and it incorporates origami folds into its basic design so that it can expand to fit the needs of a growing plant.

Unlike the Miura fold, Growth relies on a recurring series of triangular folds (possibly a variation of the Yoshimura folding pattern) that allow the piece to balloon outward, increasing the interior space for the plant’s root system to grow.

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This feels like one of those RVs where the ceiling can be raised and the sleeping area expanded out beyond the camper itself, offering greater freedom of movement and more living space than allowed when the RV is closed up for travel.

Watching the unfolding pot accordion outward is thoroughly impressive, and this feels like a smart step forward for all sorts of storage. Imagine a suitcase with a similar design that becomes bigger as needed. That would be super-handy.

As we continue to invent and innovate forward, it’s amazing how new creations can trace their origins back to classic techniques, just applied in a clever new fashion.

That’s the puzzly way, of course.


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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!

Answers to the Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

Halloween has come and gone, but the glorious puns remain.

That’s right, today we’ve got the answers to our latest edition of the Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the punny answers!


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It’s Hawaiian Punch!

[Image courtesy of Hikendip.]

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It’s back to the drawing board for this fella!

[Image courtesy of Country Living.]

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It’s Scar-Face!

[Image courtesy of Upbeat News.]

#4

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It’s prime rib!

[Image courtesy of The Kitchn.]

#5

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It’s a Rey of sunshine!

[Image courtesy of Hannah Sloan.]

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Snitches get stitches in this lovely mix of idiom and Harry Potter!

[Image courtesy of sprace.]

#7

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It’s a two-fer here with the cat’s pajamas and the bee’s knees!

[Image courtesy of Devon Prokopek.]

#8

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It’s a creative outlet!

[Image courtesy of Mental Floss.]

#9

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It’s chicken cord on blue (chicken cordon bleu)!

[Image courtesy of Hikendip.]

#10

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It’s Edgar Allan Poe Dameron in this mix of Star Wars and classic literature!

[Image courtesy of rottenartist.]


How many did you get? Have you seen any great punny costumes we missed? Let us know!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

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A Punny Costume Challenge Full of Tricks and Treats for Halloween!

Happy Halloween, puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

One of the best things about Halloween is guessing what people’s costumes are. Clever costumes can be great fun, and I’m a huge fan of costumes that only cost a few bucks to put together, because they really let your creativity shine through.

Punny costumes lend themselves to the low-budget costume genre brilliantly. So it’s only appropriate that we celebrate Halloween in the puzzliest way possible by looking at some punny costumes!

It’s simple. I post a picture, and you guess what the costume is.

For example:

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It’s BEE-yonce!

I’ve compiled ten costumes for you to figure out. Let’s see how many you can get!


PuzzleNation’s Punderful Halloween Costume Game!

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#4

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#5

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[Note: credit and sources for all images will be given in our answers post tomorrow!]


How many did you get? Have you seen any great punny costumes we missed? Let us know! And Happy Halloween!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!