Author Topic: Standard vs Challenge ...  (Read 381 times)

Calilasseia

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Standard vs Challenge ...
« on: February 02, 2020, 01:50:12 PM »
Just recently, the Standard games have been more challenging than the Challenge games, at least from my standpoint.

Over the past week, I've fired up the game, and the Standard game has left me struggling to find the nine-letter word for up to two hours, as well as providing annoying 'so near yet so far' moments with missing letters that would have doubled or even tripled my word tally. By contrast, I've been able to find the nine-letter solution for the Challenge game in under five minutes, and rattle off a decent word list in 30 minutes. Today the nine-letter was the first word that sprang to mind when seeing the Challenge puzzle, and everything else fell into place from that point on.

Am I unique here, or has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?

Today (2nd February) I've had to struggle to find the Standard 9-letter, and only just scraped past the "better" mark, while the Challenge game has been much less frustrating!

Is this some sort of statistical anomaly I've simply been unfortunate to encounter, or are we going to see a permanent role reversal in place? :)


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mkenuk

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2020, 10:20:40 PM »
To be honest, apart from the difference in the targets - Standard 24/60, Challenge 40/85 - I've never seen much difference between the two.

The 10-letter game, now, that's a horse of a very different colour.
One extra letter seems to make a very big difference.


RL

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2020, 05:21:40 AM »
Yes I agree, it's been the same for me,the challenge has seemed easier .
lisa

Alan W

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2020, 12:33:19 PM »
In the beginning, there was just one kind of puzzle. The page looked something like this:



The Challenge puzzle was introduced after only a few months. Its history can be traced on the News Archive page. In Now, a Choice of Two Puzzles (December 2005) we learn that initially there was no difference at all in the puzzle itself. The main thing that made the Challenge more challenging was that there was no way to look at the solution before the puzzle closed. The only other new feature was that the hit rate was shown on the scoreboard.

A few weeks later, in How Different is the Challenge Puzzle? I asked for comments on whether the Challenge puzzle should be tweaked in some way to make it more challenging. I can't recall whether I got any responses. (This was before the forum started, and I can't seem to lay my hands on my 2006 emails.) In any case I soon reported in The Challenge Just Got More Challenging! that I would change the generation of Challenge puzzles so that they would in general have more words to find, and fewer nine-letter words ending in -ING.

As far as I can recall, there's still no other difference between Standard and Challenge puzzles. So, while one might spend on average a little longer on the Challenge, because of the greater word count, it isn't necessarily more difficult. I think the difference on any given day in the perceived difficulty of the two 9-letter puzzles is mainly due to random variations in the letter selection.

So to answer Cal's original question, "Are we going to see a permanent role reversal in place?" - probably not.
Alan Walker
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Calilasseia

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2020, 04:29:30 PM »
Interesting also to note that the website was originally written in Perl, before being migrated to PHP.
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Morbius

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2020, 06:53:24 PM »
Also interesting to note that there appears to be no distinction between common and rare words, not to mention the fact that Alan has chosen to show us a screenshot with himself at the top of the scoreboard!  :D

mkenuk

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2020, 07:54:15 PM »
Well spotted, Dr Morbius!

Some things never change - a plethora of 'anons' then as now.

Alan W

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2020, 08:21:11 PM »
...with himself at the top of the scoreboard!  :D

Ah, those were the days!

Calilasseia, the vast majority of the server scripting for Chihuahua is still in Perl. (The forum is PHP based, but that's a separate software package.) When I started setting up Chihuahua I had to choose between Perl and PHP, the two languages available via the hosting service I was using. I didn't know anything about either of them, but I didn't like the look of some of the PHP code in books so I chose Perl. But in the years since then Perl seems to have dropped out of widespread use, and it can be hard to get technical support from hosting companies. I had to leave the host I originally used for the alternate site, because they implemented a software upgrade that prevented my Perl code from using a mySQL database. The hosting service's solution was to offer me a partial refund of my fee so I could migrate to another firm!

Perhaps I would have been better off with PHP, but if I was going to migrate away from Perl, I'd be checking out Python, which seems to be offered with most shared hosting packages these days. Do you have any views on the relative merits of these programming languages, Calilasseia?
Alan Walker
Creator of Lexigame websites

Calilasseia

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Re: Standard vs Challenge ...
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2020, 09:02:45 AM »
Since migration from Perl to PHP is relatively painless, because they share many internals, I'd head down that route, even if you think the code is ugly. The fun part being that a PHP engine will understand a fair amount of Perl code without modification, and give you meaningful error messages when it hits the parts that it doesn't understand - and you can test the whole lot offline before committing yourself to online deployment. There's also reasonable debuggers available for PHP, if you have the right setup, some of which are almost as good as the in-built JavaScript debugger in Chrome.

There's still a lot of support for PHP, because a number of big organisations still use it.

I'd be a little wary of Python for web use at the moment, until it matures properly. The good news being that you can try out ideas offline in Python, because it's compiled, but it's an idiosyncratic language to get to grips with.

If, on the other hand, you don't mind getting your hands dirty with JavaScript, one way to go would be to try Node.js, which runs JavaScript code on the server side, and which I've been using effectively for full stack development now for 3 years. Be warned, the manual is terse and at times unforgiving! But if you persevere with it, it scales extremely well. Node.js also has the advantage that you can write your own web server to run under it, if you don't like any of the standard options, and you can integrate PHP with Node.js quite nicely (which I've done on my own development machine for code testing. The advantage being that Node.js debugging in Chrome is fully supported, and you can trace your code step by step in offline development, before committing yourself to production code.




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