Bitwise Operators

version 1 by Bart Massey

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  • Example: ** Behind This Door - Using bitwise operators in a puzzle

    The classic "toggling lights" puzzle is the "Magic Square" mode of the 1978 Parker Brothers electronic game Merlin. There's a certain addictive fascination in figuring out what is going on with the lights. This is a much harder version of this "Lights Out" style of puzzle in that there are few regular patterns, but easier in that the search space is small. The lights are rendered as ASCII graphics, for lack of a better plan.

    The puzzle size is configurable; it can be NxN for any N greater than one. The Table of Toggle Values, below, gives the full configuration of a particular puzzle instance. One must be careful with the entries here: it is easy to create an unsolvable puzzle. The table given follows the additional constraint, borrowed from Merlin, that pushing a given button always toggles the light at that button.

    It would certainly be possible to write this game in pure Inform, representing each button and light with an object. However, this approach tends not to scale well. A lot of source text (and a high object count) ends up being needed to implement a reasonable-sized puzzle.

        "Behind This Door" by "Bart Massey".
        Include Bitwise Operators by Bart Massey.
        The Antechamber is a room. "This barren metal room has two doors. The [entrance door] to the south is locked: can't go back now. The [exit door] to the north is locked as well, by an [electronic pushbutton lock] on the wall next to it."
        The entrance door is a scenery door. It is south of the Antechamber. It is closed and locked.
        The exit door is a scenery door. It is north of the Antechamber and south of the Unreachable Room. It is closed and locked.
        The electronic pushbutton lock is scenery in the Antechamber. The description is "This peculiar lock has a horizontal row of buttons. Each button has a light in the center. The lights currently look like this:[state of the lights]". Understand "button" or "buttons" or "light" or "lights" as the electronic pushbutton lock.
        The puzzle size is a number that varies. All-ones is a number that varies. The button state is a number that varies.
        When play begins: now the puzzle size is the number of rows in the Table of Toggle Values; let M be 1 bit-shl by the puzzle size; now all-ones is M - 1; now the button state is all-ones.
        To say button instructions: say "You must press a button between 1 and [puzzle size] by number. For example, PRESS [puzzle size]."
        Pressing is an action applying to one value. Understand "button [number]" or "light [number]" or "[number]" as "[button number]". Understand "press [button number]" or "push [button number]" or "touch [button number]" as pressing. Understand "push button/buttons" or "press button/buttons" or "touch button/buttons" as a mistake ("[button instructions]").
        To say state of light (X - a number): let M be 1 bit-shl by X; let B be the button state bit-and M; if B is 0, say "-"; otherwise say "*".
        To say state of the lights: say "[conditional paragraph break] "; repeat with X running from 0 to the puzzle size - 1 begin; say state of light X; end repeat; say "[conditional paragraph break]".
        Check pressing a number (called N): if N is less than 1 or N is greater than the puzzle size, instead say button instructions.
        Carry out pressing a number (called N): let B be N - 1; let T be the Toggle Value in row N of the Table of Toggle Values; say "You see the lights go from [state of the lights]"; now the button state is the button state bit-xor T; say "to [state of the lights]".

        Table of Toggle Values
      Toggle Value  
        Report pressing a number: if the button state is not 0, continue the action; now the exit door is unlocked; now the button state is all-ones; say "You hear a loud click from the vicinity of the [exit door]."
        After pressing a number for the first time: say "Hmmm... Maybe if you could get all the lights turned off the door would unlock."
        Carry out going through the exit door: end the story saying "You made it! Just in time, too!".
        Test me with "n / s / x lock / push 1 / push 3 / push 5 / push 6 / n".
    Spoiler Alert! That last line tells you how to solve the game.