Message #711

From: Melinda Green <>
Subject: Re: [MC4D] Re: 3^4 parity problems
Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2009 15:16:04 -0700


I think your basic suggestion for macro timing is great. I probably
shouldn’t have brought up my minor concerns because now it is leading to
designing refinements which I think is a bit premature. If we start
holding speed cubing contests and if we implement your basic suggestion
and if we find that proves to be a disadvantage to macro or non-macro
users, then I’m sure we’ll figure out the refinements that seem fair to

I don’t think we’d need to hold competitions in a single location in
order for it to be fair but it would certainly be the easiest way. I
agree with you that cheating will always be possible. I just feel a duty
to think about it and to take measures to discourage it. I don’t see any
way to create any sort of official speed records that are produced
remotely but that shouldn’t stop us from letting people claim their
private results. I also like the idea of holding informal races timed
only by the wall clock. I think that it makes good sense to include a
timer in MC4D that solvers can use as they like in order to more easily
measure and compare their personal, unofficial speeds.

This is probably a good point to announce our intention to set up a wiki
to let you guys maintain your own unofficial hall-of-fame for
accomplishments and records. I still intend to maintain the current
official list of solvers and shortest records for the 3^4, 4^4, and 5^4,
as well as the shortest 2^4; but it will simply be too much work for me
to do the same for the veritable zoo of new puzzles and sizes that are
about to become available. If anyone has suggestions for how to
administer and official HOF for these, please share your ideas. Until
then then this will simply have to be based on the honor system.

Regarding your question about allowing half turns in addition to quarter
turns: this is not a grip vs. sticker issue but it does involve the log
files. The existing product supports half turns internally but not in
the log file format. The new version will now support it in the log
files as well but not yet in the UI. I had experimented with the idea of
using the shift key to "double" the amount of twist you get when
clicking. That actually would work fine but now with all the new puzzles
it wouldn’t seem right to support only doubling of twist angles when
some puzzles would benefit just as much from multiplying by 3, 4, 5,
etc. The problem is that we can’t think of a good usable way to support
that in the UI. This will make more sense once you’ve had a chance to
play with the new puzzles a bit. We will then count on you guys to make
suggestions for how we might implement that and how to compare records
set before and after any such feature becomes available.

Regarding your question about correcting past records due to changing to
grip vs. sticker based log files: the only record that I think of that
might need to be corrected would be the shortest 2^4. Thinking now about
how to do that gives me an interesting thought about how to count twists
in general. Maybe any number of consecutive twists on a given face with
the same slice mask should only count as a single twist.

Fun stuff to think about!

Klaus wrote:
> I am happy that my solution seems to be considered as a possible way to work around different styles of macro usage. However I don’t understand why you think everyone has to be in the same place. Well, if you want to account for illegal "teamwork" this might be true. But
> there will be almost always a way of cheating, even if it just consists of hacking the programme. Well, at least until someone builds a working model of a 4D cube.
> If you think, using macros could still be an advantage with the use of a macro timer, you could just add some penalty time whenever a macro is executed. This could be some fixed amount like 10 seconds or just generally a certain percentage of the macro time, for example 5%. If you want to be really exact, you could even vary this percentage with the size of the puzzle. However, I admit there will likely never be a truely fair solution to this problem, despite just making two separate categories for macro and non-macro solves.
> Another problem dealing with this issue is, that one could cheat by klicking on "define macro" and then work out a way of getting the next steps fast and then never execute this macro. By this one could gain an infinite amount of thinking time without the stopwatch running. There are different ways of working around this problem.
> One of the easier ones could be to just let the cubers always define their macros on a solved cube. This could, however, not prevent that someone makes a screenshot of the cube and then clicks on "define macro".
> Another way could be, that the penalty time (10 sec./5%) is not only added when the macro is executed, but also when it is defined. This, however, would not be strong enough to prevent this way of cheating and to just raise the penalty percentage would prevent serious macro usage at all.
> If all of this does not help, you could even say that each macro has to be executed at least twice in every solve or otherwise the solve will not be accepted. I said "twice" on purpose because if you only need the macro once you could just do it by hand this one time. However, there will be a problem if you are not able to predict, whether you need it multiple times. Therefore you could also set this limitation to "at least on execution".
> To get really safe you could of course combine these methods arbitraryly.
> About the new grip based twisting system I can’t judge yet, because I didn’t have the chance to try it out, but you will have to correct all of the old records. And does the grip based system also support half turns around 2c-pieces?
> Have a nice twist,
> Klaus
> — In, Melinda Green <melinda@…> wrote:
>> I also think it is a clever solution. I’ve added it to our feature wish
>> list along with the idea of a solution timer which will be rather easy
>> to add. Of course to guard against cheating it seems like we’d need to
>> have everyone in the same place whereas speed solving without such an
>> equalizer can be done by distributing a shared scramble and seeing who
>> can post the first solution.
>> One thing that worries me a little is that either way we might be
>> forcing people to use macros in order to stay competitive. This may be
>> true even with Klaus’ macro timer because the solver only needs to
>> concentrate really hard at the beginning in order to perform the
>> algorithm as fast as possible once and then take advantage of that speed
>> every time they apply it, whereas a person solving without macros will
>> be penalized whenever they make a mistake or simply perform it more
>> slowly when they start getting tired. This might not apply to the 2^4
>> where the solutions might become so fast that the advantage will go to
>> the non macro users. At the minimum I will plan to add a solution timer
>> while we think some more about Klaus’ fascinating refinement.
>> And speaking of the 2^4, I should probably give you a heads-up regarding
>> the new version which may affect the shortest records. Twists in the new
>> versions are "grip" based rather than sticker based. One nice
>> side-effect of this change is that it allows macros created for a puzzle
>> of one size to be used on other sizes as well. That will provide one way
>> in which you will be able to apply your 3^4 macros to the 2^4 that
>> include twists that the UI currently does not offer directly on the 2^4.
>> There’s even another more subtle way this affects you which I hesitate
>> to say but I aught to disclose because some people will figure it out
>> anyway. The fact is that you could perform your shortest solution to
>> just the corners of the 3^4 (with or without macros) and then change
>> your log file to declare the puzzle to be a complete solution to the
>> 2^4. I would not consider this to be cheating because I see it as more
>> of a problem that the UI does not currently give you a way to get at all
>> the grips of that puzzle. For this and other reasons, I don’t like the
>> 2^4 very much but obviously lots of you do and you therefore deserve to
>> know about these things so that you can discuss and decide what you
>> think is fair and how the various records and competitions should be
>> handled.
>> -Melinda