# Count Out

Logic puzzle fans of Minesweeper and the recently reviewed Slither Link will enjoy this latest puzzle design from Wouter Visser, author of PLANned.

The rules of Count Out are simple to understand: derive the locations of all the golden squares on the board from the numbers given. The number on a square represents the count of how many golden squares are adjacent to that square, *horizontally and/or vertically only*.

Click on a square to turn it gold; click again to minimize it indicating that it cannot be a golden square. By turning all the correct squares gold and minimizing all others, the game will automatically tell you if the puzzle has been solved. If you get no such indication, then keep trying.

Choose between 6x6, 8x8, and 10x10 puzzle sizes depending on how ambitious you're feeling. Every puzzle is randomly generated with each one offering a fresh new challenge.

**Analysis**: Wouter's game designs exhibit an elegance, both technically and aesthetically, that we have come to expect from other great casual game designers, such as Tonypa and Taro Ito. As with other games in this class, although visually appealing, the gameplay is the star attraction. And this is as it should be. Count Out is yet another simple, compelling and enjoyable game, and is one of those puzzle games that you can come back to again and again whenever you have a few minutes for fun.

The inclusion of an undo button is a welcome feature for a game such as this. The random level generator is also a welcome addition, but it cannot control the level of difficulty in a puzzle, nor does it seem able to prevent a situation in which multiple solutions are possible. I found that some puzzles were just too difficult to solve, while others were exceptionally easy. The difficult puzzles seemed to be those in which there simply was not enough information given to derive the locations of the final golden squares. One such puzzle contained two possible solutions.

If there were a way to select the relative difficulty of a puzzle—as well as prevent puzzles with multiple solutions—that would be a significant improvement to an already exceptional little puzzle game. Thank you, Wouter! =)

This game is good, but it makes my head hurt! It's like trying to play minesweeper but there's mines and numbers on every square...

Also, I keep having to remind myself that diagonals don't count! But good presentation, I love the hefty "SOLVED!" noise.

Yes, the "diagonal problem" was my biggest headache too. It's funny. I'm not positive what exactly is funny, but something about that is funny.

I enjoyed the game a lot but it gave me a pretty rapid headache.

What might have been nice is to have a totally

blankboard, with the numbers lighting up as you mouseover the square (and perhaps another click option to lock numbers in place). That may be getting way too fancy though.im just stupid im not getting it, im thinking too literal (hope i spelled that right). and im confusing myself with 3's and 0's

I wasn't great at playing this game at first, as I have never been an avid minesweeper. It wasn't until I began to identify some important strategies to the game that I was able to begin solving the puzzles with fervor.

Yes, my head hurt initially, too, but that just means there is a challenge waiting to be bested. ;)

If you need a helping hand getting started...

Immediately turn to gold all four adjacent squares around any 4 on the board.

Likewise, minimize all four adjacent squares around any 0 on the board.

You can do similar with any 3 that appears on the sides, and any 2 that appears in a corner. By now you should know why.

Work your way from the corners and the sides inward, as there will be likely be more information given in those areas to help you begin the process of elimination.

I nearly jumped out of my seat at the end. :)

I made a lot more headway when I realized that...

...there's two separate boards to play. If you imagine a checkerboard, the black squares and white squares can be solved independently, in a manner of speaking.

Can the amount of tiles be stacked? Say for instance:

2XX

or

X

X

2

Where X is the Gold Tiles.

Moises - No, they cannot be 'stacked'.

For example, a "4" means all four of the 'x' symbols below are golden...

-x-

x4x

-x-

Something that drove me crazy... the numbers getting smaller when you decide they arent going to be golden. It draws attention to the larger numbers, and often messed me up. The greying out was more than enough already.

Keep the logic games a-comin!

I have to agree with LazyPint, the SOLVED! noise is a bit jarring. Other than that, a very fun game. Good to keep the brain thinking.

2 things bugged me with this game:

* Graying out squares is strange. I feared that I'd click on it for the first time, but not the second and make a mistake thereby. That Slither Link game had a much better system (Space + Click).

* When I make a mistake and complete the board wrong, it is really hard to find out where I made the mistake. It comes especially apparent on larger boards: I spent considerable amount of time finding it on 8X8 board. Maybe there should be a button that checks the board and tells me where I had gone wrong.

Otherwise the game is very well done and the idea is damn good.

OK, here's what I perceive to be the problem here: Each puzzle is really two puzzles. It's a like a checkerboard. All the numbers on the red squares help you determine the black squares, and vice versa. But there's no inter-relation between the two. You can solve the "red" squares completely, but it won't give you any help at all in solving the black squares.

Neat puzzle, but it needs another rule to join the even and odd squares somehow. Perhaps something like that all the lit up squares will be connected along their edges.

It reminds me a bit of Zotmeister's "Smullyanic Dynasty", only much, much easier without the liars. (an initial puzzle and the rules and another rather nice example)

Yeah, each board is like two games in one.

Agreeing with the review, it would be nice to have some grouped difficulty puzzles, purely because the sense of achievement is there and it encourages you to keep coming back to try and get a certain level.

But it's still something different and fun to play.

Fun game, it's like playing "minesweeper" witn your brain on backwards.

I have yet to find a board that has insufficient info to solve, though, and I've done several 10x10s now.

I can always resolve things by counting -- i.e. if there are three unknowns surrounding a "2", but the "2" is diagonally adjacent to a "1", in the appropriate direction, then you know only one golden square borders the "1", so the "third" unknown space must be a golden square.

Sometimes the chain of counting can be long, but as I say, this strategy has worked in every case I tried.

Interestingly, you can have a correct solution that the game doesn't recognize as correct, where all the numbers and markings are mutually consistent but the "SOLVED!" doesn't appear. Apparently the game is written such that it starts with an answer in mind, and if you find an alternate valid solution, the game doesn't credit it because it doesn't match the answer it started with.

I like this a lot, but a difficulty scale would be nice- I have found them exceptionally easy after the first half-dozen puzzles, since there are simple patterns to follow.

I love this game! I would love to see more games like Slitherlink and Count Out on the site.

This is a clever, original game that would make for a good daily puzzle, rather than something to push through many times in a single sitting.

Perhaps selecting a series of a dozen puzzles or so of increasing difficulty and creating a "Campaign Mode" would be a good addition. Once the player completes the campaign, then they can enjoy the random puzzles and their assorted difficulty for the rest of their time on the site.

this is a very nice game. i really dig puzzle/logic games like this. sadly, the one complaint i'd like to present... and i don't want to sound like i'm bragging or anything, but... this game is really easy... like, after a couple of quick runs on the 6x6's, i had already figured out enough patterns (like the tips jay posted above) to tackle a 10x10 without any problem at all.

i think what this game needs is a timer of some sort. maybe it could be a count-up timer, like go for the fastest time you can, or a count-down timer, like beat-the-clock. i'm all for the casual puzzle game, but when you've got the gameplay boiled down to a couple of simple algorithms, you need another challenge to spice up the mix. that's just my take on the news from lake wobegon.

ooh! ooh! I bet to solve the one in the screenshot, you should click the top right one. Hope you kept your browser window open! -MANAX

The first 2 games i played i didnt quite understand the game and was confused if the numbers counted themsleves. after a few games though i was able to complete a board without fault! :) fun game, although possibly limited play?

(i got an error when posting so sorry if i post 2!)

Thanks for being so kind Jay! I feel sorry there still seem to be some design-faults in the gameplay, I insist to solve them in the next days.

I really appreciate the feedback in the comments, funny that I never percepted the game as a checkers-board with 2 puzzles layered, you guys are pretty smart :)

Considering that there are three states which numbers can be in: not touched, golden and eliminated, I think I can bring down the rules of solving the puzzles down to these 2:

* when from a picked number, from the neighbours, the amount of "not touched + golden" = the number, you can change all not touched to golden.

* when the amount of golden neighbours is the same as the number you can eliminate all not touched

The computerprogram could use this rules to solve a puzzle with unique solution, and in case of a multiple solution it will fail. I think if I count the "tiles" the program can make golden or eliminate every step it uses the solving-algorythm, I could make a sort of difficult-rating. Nevertheless, the game can't have a difficulty-range like sudoku. The game should be designed to be easy but enjoyable I guess.

Thanks again for all of your positive constructive criticism, and thanks again Jay for "hosting and posting" too. :)

Wouter

I cannot say I don't like this game but...

with this kind of logic puzzles you usually pass through three phases:

(1) Learning the mechanism of the puzzle

(2) Figuring out the system of solving

(3) Actual solving the puzzle

For the puzzle to be good, (1) should be as intuitive as possible, (2) should be not too easy to crack and once found not too mechanical and (3) should be rewarding and challenging.

Phase (1) in this game is the toughest part - even though it's logical and clear once you figure it out, still it's somehow mind-bending when every square is both a marker and a..ahem.. markee or whatever.

Once you pass through (1), (2) is a breeze. There isn't really much to the system, you clear it out one square at the time and every solved square instanly reveals the ones near him. Yes, the logic is there, but it's as hard as an average paint-by-numbers.

So basically, once you hit phase (3) you might just as well give up. There's nothing more to learn, no challenge, no nothing. You don't evne get a nice picture in the end or anything. Scaling up the grid just ups the feeling you are doing some kind of a chore, it doesn't scale the difficulty at all and it's just more of the same.

Final verdict - a nice try, but nothing to get excited about in the long run. It's just a Minesweeper without the danger of blowing up and with clumsier interface. Still, there's potential for future work, I guess...

Why not have a number give feedback (turn green) when the number of surrouding golden squares is equal to the number (not necessarily correct)? This would help in the visual recognition of problems in the grid.

I love the game. However I hate the winning sound, no matter how much I know it is coming it is always a horrible jar to to hear that slam at the end. I would much prefer something like a tune or a bell.

I honestly would play Count Out more if the ending wasn't such a jolt. It's a lovely game.

The game has already spawned a clone with diagonals involved (link was posted in Flashkit thread), so it may inspire whole new family some day :)

There is bunch of things that could be changed to see how they affect the game: using hextiles, triangular tiles, hiding some numbers etc...

Great! The first moments I thought "Oh just some Minesweeper clone, why is it on JIG.."

But it got really intersting twist. Its quite a differnet game! Not so much because diagonals don't count, but more that you see ALL neighbours, not counting the file itself. You can't have that on minesweeper...

In fact this game is a made of two completely independant problems. The one where x+y is an even number and the one where it's odd. Therefore, the easiest way is to write the two problem separately, and to solve it quickely on a piece of paper. In fact, it's not really a problem of thinking but a problem of seeing.

Thanks anyway for these game, it's funny to understand how it works.

Jay, you happened to find the only unsolvable situation, where the entire diagnonal is undefined. However, there are still only two possible solutions. The mines must be every other mine and the only question is which corner to start in. This happens in mine sweeper occaionally when a mine was in the corner and you are left with two possible solutions. The difference here is that you don't die if you pick wrong and you can just go plug in the alternate solution to complete it. Furthermore, I doubt you would see this on any of the bigger game boards since the chances that the entire diagonal line is like that is so slim.

the game is great!!!

the only thing is could improve is a button to turn off the sounds.. because a like to play this kind of game listen to music.. and with the sound of the game together it bothers a little..

anyway.. i will keep playing..

I really like this game, but after awhile, it seems like some of the puzzles are unsolveable. Since they are randomly generated, it seems like a few will come up without solutions.

For instance,

113011

121220

021302

104031

030321

102112

Is that solveable? Because once you get fade all of the ones around the zeros, and you get down into the bottom right corner with the 21 on top of the 12, it seems impossible to get a solution.

Some of you countout 'whizzes' up there who found this game easy, maybe you can give me a solution.

Hi byebyebaby!

I solved your puzzle with logic only:

http://img168.imageshack.us/img168/2120/countoutyk2.png

Allthough I really like to solve the problem soon, I must say it really doesn't happen that often that a multiple solution occurs, and especially not on a 10x10.

Cheers,

wouter

I'd like to see this game ported to the Portable Puzzle Collection:

http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/puzzles/

It seems like it would fit in there well.

The only thing it really needs is an indicator that tells you when you have too many gold squares around a number, such as coloring the number red. Otherwise, it's perfect!

>.

Ah, I like this more than playing Minesweeper :)

I hate explosives and this kind of 'fill-a-pix' games are much more relaxing.

Honestly, I didn't "get it" at first, but once you do, it becomes quite addicting. Some puzzles are really hard, and don't seem to have a solution, but other than that, a great game with a beautiful presentation.

I liked this game. It's like minesweeper on steroids... Very challenging!

I spent a lot of time finding where I was wrong, when I thought I had solved the puzzle. I would like to see a "test" button to show me which of my selections was wrong. Perhaps make the cells that I have set incorrectly flash red. Unselected cells wouldn't flash, so it couldn't be used to "cheat".

Or perhaps the easiest thing to do would be to have a "SOLVE" button, which shows the solution with my correct selections in green and my incorrect ones in red.

Pleeeeease change the "solved" sound. It's a bit startling when you're concentration is so focused :-)

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