Author round-table 023

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Two great founders talk about Omopa -- inventors of unique puzzles

In nikoli.com, we began a new puzzle, Shakashaka, in June 2012. Here today we have Guten a very familiar author who created this puzzle. And we also have HIRO FUKUSHIMA who thought up the Heyawake rules that made it a popular puzzle in nikoli.com. Both Shakashaka and Heyawake came out of the Omopa pages of Puzzle Communication Nikoli. We will talk about Omopa today. From Nikoli we have NyanBaz and Nob.

NyanBazToday, we have invited two creators of puzzles which started out in Omopa.

GutenHeyawake and Shakashaka don't have much in common. But both need black coloring in.

NobAnother common point is that when they were published in the Omopa pages, and both were in the final form from the beginning.

NyanBazThe Omopa pages are where everyone can propose an idea, and make or improve new puzzles. It often happens that several people's ideas get used till a puzzle is complete. How did you hit on Heyawake?

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI thought to make a puzzle where you have to put black cells as the number indicates in the room. Then I added the rules that "the painted cells must not be connected" and "white cells must not be isolated by painted cells" without thinking deeply. I was a high school student in those days, I didn't know puzzles well.

GutenA high school student made Heyawake! I was around 40 years old when I made Shakashaka. That is more than double your age then.

NyanBazHow did you hit on Shakashaka?

GutenHmm, how far do I go back to start the story? May I make the starting point, how I make Omopa?

HIRO FUKUSHIMAGreat! I'd love to hear that.

GutenWhen I create a new puzzle, I think of three elements, the purpose of the puzzle, the main ideas it presents, and other secondary constraining conditions. I always make each element clear to myself. Then I decide whether to start with the purpose or the main part, and I get down to actually working it together. It's often that I begin with the main parts. With Shakashaka it grew out from the main point which is placing black triangles. The purpose of also making white squares was set in the early stage. I had an idea with the solution as a line that is made into a loop, but right away it turned out to be useless.

NobWas it completed immediately after you settled on the white squares?

GutenNo, it took time till it was complete. I thought about only diagonal squares at first. I thought that everything would only fit in with diagonal squares, but it wasn't successful. Then I suddenly hit on that what's necessary is just to allow the formation of squares.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAGreat!

GutenI first thought that I should have used numbers such as in Akari as a controlling constraint. And that completed the current rules.

NyanBazWell. In fact, with Heyawake, the part with putting black cells into the rooms was the beginning. I really feel that the way of thinking for both is so similar.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI guess that's very true.

GutenContinuous white cells can not exceed two rooms in a straight line. This rule is an auxiliary constraining condition like I said a while ago. This rule is very clever I think, exquisite really. Such auxiliary constraining conditions are important too.

NobIt is a wonderful rule you hit on there. Just great.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAWhen I am thinking now, even I think it is amazing such a great idea occurred to me. At that time I felt that it looked bad with black cells across a line. It's a simple idea. You can't have problems where you cross a line. The painted cells cannot be connected. White cells cannot be cut off by painted cells. Because that was how everybody was thinking in those days, these rules developed naturally.

GutenIf all elements are novel, it will not be readily accepted. The purpose, the details, and the auxiliary constraining condition, if all these are new, it'll put people off, not seem attractive.

NobBut, all Shakashaka elements are new except the numbers like in Akari.

GutenTrue enough. I felt uneasy about having a number rule at first. I thought that the appearance resembled Akari too closely. But then, I also thought that a familiar rule was necessary.

NyanBazThe result was that it was a success. Shakashaka became popular, so much so that problems were put on nikoli.com. How do you think about that as the one who set it off?

GutenShakashaka is a puzzle that is made by logic and solved by logic. But it can be solved by intuition. My son solves big problems without any trouble. He is faster than me. He said that Shakashaka is his forte. When I look at him solving it, it seems that he has a feeling for the pattern that is going to be painted in. To people with a sense for figures, it can be solved like by intuition.

NobThere is this idea that what is difficult by logic may be overcome by intuition. It resembles Shikaku in that.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAThe problem with lack of room for many triangle cells when there are 0s has a little of that feeling. I think that a Shakashaka problem will be interesting if it has a lot of numbers.

NyanBazWell, that may be so.

GutenHeyawake cannot be solved by intuition.

HIRO FUKUSHIMABut I may have come to solve Heyawake by intuition recently. (laughs)

GutenWhat, really?

HIRO FUKUSHIMAIt happens when I guess that some pattern will be like this, then this, and then get to the end. It may appear to me in an instant. Is that by empirical rules rather than calling it intuition?

NobYou have me thinking now. It resembles intuition, but it's different.

GutenIt isn't intuition, but it omits the logic steps in the middle and understands the result.

HIRO FUKUSHIMABack to Omopa. Masyu is great.

GutenMasyu has absolutely perfect rules. Heyawake has too, but for a puzzle with just one singular point to speak for it, and succeed, that is excellent.

NobI guess you are thinking about this rule "lines make a right-angled turn on at least one side of the white circle cell". That is a brilliant rule.

NyanBazThe attractive part that has me interested is the "at least one side."

HIRO FUKUSHIMAWhen I first saw that rule, it nearly knocked me over.

GutenYou get to know the real advantage when it gets used. But when I saw the rule at first, I felt that this will not fly. (laughs) It echoes those two rooms in a straight line rule of Heyawake.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI didn't feel anything yucky about it either. Instead I was surprised at how the rules ended up the way they did. It had just the white circle rule at first, and then the black circle rule was added before it was sent in. But it was while thinking about another rule that it got finally set. The rules for the white and black circles could still have been tweaked. It was also an option to add another kind of circle. The rules were set without examining the options any further.

GutenGood point, there was tweaking of the rules from how it was published at first.

HIRO FUKUSHIMABut, even thinking about this and that I didn't come up with anything to beat the present rules. It's the right decision to go with how I made it up then.

NyanBazHow did you get the idea for the white circle rule?

GutenI think that it was white circles at first, and then to make it a puzzle with a loop. Probably it was Omopa that was the main inspiration.

NyanBazWell there is that possibility. Are there many who make Omopa from parts they see there?

GutenHmm. There could be someone beginning from only an adaptation of an Omopa that somebody else made.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI seem to contribute adaptations of other Omopa recently. Even if some puzzle doesn't become popular, but I think it would be a pity that a rule disappears then I'll contribute an adaptation.

GutenIt's along those lines that the Omopa page started.

NobIt's quite something to make a new puzzle from nothing. It's easier to come up with some adaptation for a better puzzle. The Omopa pages want many people to participate.

NyanBazLet's talk about you two guys. HIRO said that Guten was a favorite author in the interview.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAYes. I think that Guten is a really towering outstanding person. Seeing him, makes me relax and feel confident that I may send in new Omopa when I'm 40 or 50 years old.

NyanBazAnd how do you think about HIRO, Guten?

GutenHIRO's love of Omopa is very deep. He has opinions about every puzzle, the good and not so good points.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI realy do love Omopa. (laughs)

GutenI can honestly state that when I see a good puzzle which another person has created, I feel frustrated. I always think that I wanted to hit on just that. I'm always frustrated.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAWell. When I see a very good puzzle, I'm frustrated too. I've seen that kind of frustrating puzzle no more than 10 times so far. Oh, I'm really frustrated by Shakashaka. (laughs) But it's the white circle rule of Masyu that is the most frustrating for me.

NyanBazWell. How do you think about the Omopa page? Both of you.

GutenI think it is happy if people don't pay too much attention to the past and make Omopa just like they want to.

HIRO FUKUSHIMAI can agree with that. I would like to solve puzzles that are not caught in our existing frameworks.

GutenI'd like the page to be pleasant and enjoyable not just with puzzles created to develop in the future. That's why I'd like to see more puzzles which show eccentric ways and are really curious.

NyanBazWell. Trust us to think deeply about that. It's an ideal page that is beneficial to the future and to make today pleasant. Thank you for today.


Discussion on Jun 2012 Published on Apr 15, 2015

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