Provided by: sgt-puzzles_9411-1_i386 bug


       blackboxgame - guessing game


       blackboxgame [--generate n] [--print wxh [--with-solutions] [--scale n]
       [--colour]] [game-parameters|game-ID|random-seed]

       blackboxgame --version


       (Note: the Debian version of this game is called blackboxgame to  avoid
       clashing with the window manager blackbox.)

       A number of balls are hidden in a rectangular arena. You have to deduce
       the positions of the balls by firing lasers positioned at the edges  of
       the arena and observing how their beams are deflected.

       Beams  will  travel  straight  from  their  origin  until  they hit the
       opposite side of  the  arena  (at  which  point  they  emerge),  unless
       affected by balls in one of the following ways:

       +o      A  beam  that hits a ball head-on is absorbed and will never re-
              emerge. This includes beams that meet a ball on the  first  rank
              of the arena.

       +o      A  beam  with  a ball to its front-left square gets deflected 90
              degrees to the right.

       +o      A beam with a ball to  its  front-right  square  gets  similarly
              deflected to the left.

       +o      A   beam  that  would  re-emerge  from  its  entry  location  is
              considered to be 'reflected'.

       +o      A beam which would get deflected before entering the arena by  a
              ball to the front-left or front-right of its entry point is also
              considered to be 'reflected'.

       Beams that are reflected appear as a 'R'; beams that hit balls  head-on
       appear  as 'H'. Otherwise, a number appears at the firing point and the
       location where the beam emerges (this number is unique to that shot).

       You can place guesses as to the location of the  balls,  based  on  the
       entry and exit patterns of the beams; once you have placed enough balls
       a button appears enabling you to have your guesses checked.

       Here is a diagram showing how the positions of balls can create each of
       the beam behaviours shown above:


       As  shown,  it  is  possible for a beam to receive multiple reflections
       before re-emerging (see turn 3). Similarly, a  beam  may  be  reflected
       (possibly  more  than once) before receiving a hit (the 'H' on the left
       side of the example).

       Note that any layout with more than  4  balls  may  have  a  non-unique
       solution. The following diagram illustrates this; if you know the board
       contains 5 balls, it is impossible to determine where the fifth ball is
       (possible positions marked with an x):


       For  this  reason,  when  you  have your guesses checked, the game will
       check that your solution produces the same results as  the  computer's,
       rather  than  that  your solution is identical to the computer's. So in
       the above example, you could put the fifth ball at any of the locations
       marked with an x, and you would still win.

       Black Box was contributed to this collection by James Harvey.

Black Box controls

       To  fire  a  laser  beam, left-click in a square around the edge of the
       arena. The results will be displayed immediately. Clicking  or  holding
       the  left  button on one of these squares will highlight the current go
       (or a previous go) to  confirm  the  exit  point  for  that  laser,  if

       To  guess  the  location  of  a ball, left-click within the arena and a
       black circle will appear marking the guess; click again to  remove  the
       guessed ball.

       Locations  in  the  arena  may be locked against modification by right-
       clicking; whole rows and columns may  be  similarly  locked  by  right-
       clicking  in  the  laser  square  above/below  that  column,  or to the
       left/right of that row.

       The cursor keys may also be used to move around the grid. Pressing  the
       Enter  key  will  fire  a  laser  or add a new ball-location guess, and
       pressing Space will lock a cell, row, or column.

       When an appropriate number of balls have been guessed,  a  button  will
       appear at the top-left corner of the grid; clicking that (with mouse or
       cursor) will check your guesses.

       If you click the 'check' button and your guesses are not  correct,  the
       game  will  show  you  the minimum information necessary to demonstrate
       this to you, so you can try again.  If  your  ball  positions  are  not
       consistent  with  the  beam paths you already know about, one beam path
       will be circled to indicate that it proves you wrong. If your positions
       match  all  the  existing  beam paths but are still wrong, one new beam
       path will be revealed (written in red) which  is  not  consistent  with
       your current guesses.

       If you decide to give up completely, you can select Solve to reveal the
       actual ball positions. At this point, correctly-placed  balls  will  be
       displayed  as  filled black circles, incorrectly-placed balls as filled
       black circles with  red  crosses,  and  missing  balls  as  filled  red
       circles.  In  addition,  a  red  circle marks any laser you had already
       fired which is not consistent with your ball layout (just as  when  you
       press  the 'check' button), and red text marks any laser you could have
       fired in order to distinguish your ball layout from the correct one.

       (All the actions described below are also available.)

Black Box parameters

       These parameters are available  from  the  'Custom...'  option  on  the
       'Type' menu.

       Width, Height
              Size of grid in squares. There are 2 x Width x Height lasers per
              grid, two per row and two per column.

       No. of balls
              Number of balls to place in the  grid.  This  can  be  a  single
              number,  or  a  range (separated with a hyphen, like '2-6'), and
              determines the number  of  balls  to  place  on  the  grid.  The
              'reveal'   button  is  only  enabled  if  you  have  guessed  an
              appropriate number of balls; a guess using a different number to
              the  original  solution  is  still  acceptable,  if all the beam
              inputs and outputs match.

Common actions

       These actions are all available from the 'Game' menu and  via  keyboard
       shortcuts, in addition to any game-specific actions.

       (On  Mac  OS  X,  to conform with local user interface standards, these
       actions are situated on the 'File' and 'Edit' menus instead.)

       New game ('N', Ctrl+'N')
              Starts a new game, with a random initial state.

       Restart game
              Resets the current game to  its  initial  state.  (This  can  be

       Load   Loads a saved game from a file on disk.

       Save   Saves the current state of your game to a file on disk.

              The  Load  and Save operations preserve your entire game history
              (so you can save, reload, and still Undo and Redo things you had
              done before saving).

       Print  Where  supported (currently only on Windows), brings up a dialog
              allowing you to print an arbitrary number  of  puzzles  randomly
              generated  from the current parameters, optionally including the
              current puzzle. (Only for puzzles which make sense to print,  of
              course   -   it's   hard   to  think  of  a  sensible  printable
              representation of Fifteen!)

       Undo ('U', Ctrl+'Z', Ctrl+'_')
              Undoes a single move. (You can undo moves back to the  start  of
              the session.)

       Redo ('R', Ctrl+'R')
              Redoes a previously undone move.

       Copy   Copies  the  current state of your game to the clipboard in text
              format, so that you can paste it into (say) an e-mail client  or
              a  web  message board if you're discussing the game with someone
              else. (Not all games support this feature.)

       Solve  Transforms the puzzle instantly into its solved state. For  some
              games  (Cube) this feature is not supported at all because it is
              of no particular use. For other games  (such  as  Pattern),  the
              solved  state  can be used to give you information, if you can't
              see how a solution can exist at all or you want  to  know  where
              you  made  a  mistake.  For still other games (such as Sixteen),
              automatic solution tells you nothing about how  to  get  to  the
              solution,  but it does provide a useful way to get there quickly
              so  that  you  can   experiment   with   set-piece   moves   and

              Some  games  (such as Solo) are capable of solving a game ID you
              have typed in from elsewhere. Other games (such  as  Rectangles)
              cannot  solve  a  game  ID they didn't invent themself, but when
              they did invent the game ID  they  know  what  the  solution  is
              already.  Still  other  games  (Pattern) can solve some external
              game IDs, but only if they aren't too difficult.

              The 'Solve' command adds the solved state to the end of the undo
              chain  for the puzzle. In other words, if you want to go back to
              solving it yourself after seeing the answer, you can just  press

       Quit ('Q', Ctrl+'Q')
              Closes the application entirely.

Specifying games with the game ID

       There  are  two  ways  to save a game specification out of a puzzle and
       recreate it later, or recreate it in somebody else's copy of  the  same

       The  'Specific'  and 'Random Seed' options from the 'Game' menu (or the
       'File' menu, on Mac OS X) each show a piece of text (a 'game ID') which
       is sufficient to reconstruct precisely the same game at a later date.

       You can enter either of these pieces of text back into the program (via
       the same 'Specific' or 'Random Seed' menu options) at  a  later  point,
       and  it  will  recreate the same game. You can also use either one as a
       command line argument (on Windows or Unix); see below for more detail.

       The difference between the two forms is that a descriptive game ID is a
       literal  description of the initial state of the game, whereas a random
       seed is just a piece of arbitrary text which was provided as  input  to
       the random number generator used to create the puzzle. This means that:

       +o      Descriptive game IDs tend to be longer in many puzzles (although
              some,  such  as   Cube   (cube(6)),   only   need   very   short
              descriptions).  So  a random seed is often a quicker way to note
              down the puzzle you're currently  playing,  or  to  tell  it  to
              somebody else so they can play the same one as you.

       +o      Any  text  at  all  is  a  valid  random seed. The automatically
              generated ones are fifteen-digit numbers, but anything will  do;
              you  can type in your full name, or a word you just made up, and
              a valid puzzle will be generated from it. This  provides  a  way
              for  two or more people to race to complete the same puzzle: you
              think of a random seed, then everybody types it in at  the  same
              time,  and  nobody  has  an  advantage  due  to  having seen the
              generated puzzle before anybody else.

       +o      It is often possible to convert puzzles from other sources (such
              as  'nonograms'  or  'sudoku'  from newspapers) into descriptive
              game IDs suitable for use with these programs.

       +o      Random seeds are not guaranteed to produce the  same  result  if
              you  use  them  with  a different version of the puzzle program.
              This  is  because  the  generation  algorithm  might  have  been
              improved  or  modified  in  later versions of the code, and will
              therefore  produce  a  different  result  when  given  the  same
              sequence  of  random  numbers.  Use a descriptive game ID if you
              aren't sure that it will be used on  the  same  version  of  the
              program as yours.

              (Use  the  'About' menu option to find out the version number of
              the program. Programs with the same version  number  running  on
              different platforms should still be random-seed compatible.)

       A  descriptive  game  ID  starts with a piece of text which encodes the
       parameters of the current game (such as grid size).  Then  there  is  a
       colon, and after that is the description of the game's initial state. A
       random seed starts with a similar string of  parameters,  but  then  it
       contains a hash sign followed by arbitrary data.

       If  you  enter  a  descriptive game ID, the program will not be able to
       show you the random seed which generated it, since it wasn't  generated
       from  a  random  seed. If you enter a random seed, however, the program
       will be able to show you the descriptive  game  ID  derived  from  that
       random seed.

       Note  that  the game parameter strings are not always identical between
       the two forms. For some games, there will be  parameter  data  provided
       with  the random seed which is not included in the descriptive game ID.
       This is because  that  parameter  information  is  only  relevant  when
       generating  puzzle grids, and is not important when playing them. Thus,
       for example, the difficulty level in Solo (solo(6)) is not mentioned in
       the descriptive game ID.

       These additional parameters are also not set permanently if you type in
       a game ID. For  example,  suppose  you  have  Solo  set  to  'Advanced'
       difficulty  level,  and  then a friend wants your help with a 'Trivial'
       puzzle; so the friend reads out  a  random  seed  specifying  'Trivial'
       difficulty,  and you type it in. The program will generate you the same
       'Trivial' grid which your friend was having trouble with, but once  you
       have  finished  playing  it,  when  you  ask  for  a  new  game it will
       automatically go  back  to  the  'Advanced'  difficulty  which  it  was
       previously set on.

The 'Type' menu

       The  'Type'  menu,  if  present,  may  contain  a  list  of preset game
       settings. Selecting one of these will start a new random game with  the
       parameters specified.

       The  'Type' menu may also contain a 'Custom' option which allows you to
       fine-tune game parameters. The parameters  available  are  specific  to
       each game and are described in the following sections.

Specifying game parameters on the command line

       (This section does not apply to the Mac OS X version.)

       The  games in this collection deliberately do not ever save information
       on to the computer they run on: they have no high score tables  and  no
       saved  preferences.  (This  is because I expect at least some people to
       play them at work, and those people will probably appreciate leaving as
       little evidence as possible!)

       However, if you do want to arrange for one of these games to default to
       a particular set of parameters, you can specify  them  on  the  command

       The  easiest  way to do this is to set up the parameters you want using
       the 'Type' menu (see above), and then to select 'Random Seed' from  the
       'Game'  or  'File' menu (see above). The text in the 'Game ID' box will
       be composed of two parts, separated by a hash. The first of these parts
       represents  the  game  parameters  (the  size  of the playing area, for
       example, and anything else you set using the 'Type' menu).

       If you run the game with just that parameter text on the command  line,
       it will start up with the settings you specified.

       For  example:  if  you run Cube (see cube(6)), select 'Octahedron' from
       the 'Type' menu, and then go to the game ID selection, you will  see  a
       string  of  the  form 'o2x2#338686542711620'. Take only the part before
       the hash ('o2x2'), and start Cube with that text on the  command  line:
       'cube o2x2'.

       If  you  copy  the entire game ID on to the command line, the game will
       start up in the specific game that was described. This is  occasionally
       a  more convenient way to start a particular game ID than by pasting it
       into the game ID selection box.

       (You  could  also  retrieve  the  encoded  game  parameters  using  the
       'Specific'  menu  option  instead  of 'Random Seed', but if you do then
       some options, such as the difficulty level in Solo,  will  be  missing.
       See above for more details on this.)

Unix command-line options

       (This section only applies to the Unix port.)

       In  addition  to  being  able to specify game parameters on the command
       line (see above), there are various other options:


       --load These options respectively determine  whether  the  command-line
              argument is treated as specifying game parameters or a save file
              to load. Only one should  be  specified.  If  neither  of  these
              options is specified, a guess is made based on the format of the

       --generate n
              If  this  option  is  specified,  instead  of  a  puzzle   being
              displayed, a number of descriptive game IDs will be invented and
              printed on standard output. This is useful for gaining access to
              the  game  generation  algorithms  without necessarily using the

              If game parameters are specified on the command-line, they  will
              be  used  to  generate  the game IDs; otherwise a default set of
              parameters will be used.

              The most common use  of  this  option  is  in  conjunction  with
              --print,  in which case its behaviour is slightly different; see

       --print wxh
              If  this  option  is  specified,  instead  of  a  puzzle   being
              displayed,  a  printed  representation  of  one or more unsolved
              puzzles is sent to standard output, in PostScript format.

              On each page of puzzles, there will be w across and h  down.  If
              there  are  more  puzzles  than  wxh, more than one page will be

              If --generate has also been specified,  the  invented  game  IDs
              will  be  used to generate the printed output. Otherwise, a list
              of game  IDs  is  expected  on  standard  input  (which  can  be
              descriptive  or  random  seeds;  see  above), in the same format
              produced by --generate.

              For example:

              net --generate 12 --print 2x3 7x7w | lpr

              will generate two pages of printed Net puzzles  (each  of  which
              will  have  a 7x7 wrapping grid), and pipe the output to the lpr
              command, which on many systems  will  send  them  to  an  actual

              There  are  various  other  options  which  affect printing; see

       --save file-prefix [ --save-suffix file-suffix ]
              If  this  option  is  specified,  instead  of  a  puzzle   being
              displayed, saved-game files for one or more unsolved puzzles are
              written to files constructed from  the  supplied  prefix  and/or

              If  --generate  has  also  been specified, the invented game IDs
              will be used to generate the printed output. Otherwise,  a  list
              of  game  IDs  is  expected  on  standard  input  (which  can be
              descriptive or random seeds; see  above),  in  the  same  format
              produced by --generate.

              For example:

              net --generate 12 --save game --save-suffix .sav

              will  generate  twelve  Net  saved-game  files  with  the  names
              game0.sav to game11.sav.

              Prints version information about the game, and then quits.

       The following options are only meaningful if --print is also specified:

              The set of pages filled with unsolved puzzles will  be  followed
              by the solutions to those puzzles.

       --scale n
              Adjusts how big each puzzle is when printed. Larger numbers make
              puzzles bigger; the default is 1.0.

              Puzzles will be printed in colour,  rather  than  in  black  and
              white (if supported by the puzzle).


       Full documentation in /usr/share/doc/sgt-puzzles/puzzles.txt.gz.