Thursday, May 28, 2020

PUZZLE 23 - THAT'S KINDA CRINGE (themeless)



Solving Music: 40mP - Torinoko City


New themeless today! This one was gridded on-stream over on Twitch; definitely a lot of fun to get feedback from other people, as usual. The spanner hit me after coming across it on Twitter, and from there I got some wonderful stacks going in the NW/SE. Hope you enjoy.

Btw, if you want a bonus puzzle, I made a funky word search that got some traction on Twitter the other day. Try it out if you'd like.


SOLUTION:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

ANNOUNCEMENT - Crossing Words: an Animal Crossing Puzzle Suite




Hey guys! I've been spending the past month or so putting together an Animal Crossing suite, and today it's finally out!

Crossing Words is a suite of five puzzles themed around Animal Crossing: New Horizons. It's got four themed puzzles and finishes off with a tough themeless. Difficulties roughly correspond to Monday-Friday NYT difficulties (though Puzzles 3 and 5 are probably a bit tougher than most NYT Wednesdays/Fridays); I highly recommend solving these with friends/family to get the most out of these. I also recommend printing out the PDF and solving on paper (though .PUZ files are provided); some of these puzzles contain visual elements that don't translate to digital solving 100 percent, and I guarantee it's the best way to solve the suite.

The suite is completely free, but I've left the option to pay what you want available if you feel so inclined. This is my first experience with Gumroad, so if you have any difficulties downloading, let me know over on Twitter and we can get things worked out smoothly.

I've had a lot of fun putting the suite together (the visuals especially were fun to create), and I hope it's an enjoyable solving experience for you. Have a good time!

In case the embed down there is broken, you can go directly to the Gumroad page here.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

PUZZLE 22 - ...BRUH (themeless)


Solving Music: Starwolf - Mysterious Love


Pretty standard themeless today. I started this puzzle off with the intention of making a grid to submit to the Times, but there were too many good options for nerdy fill that presented themselves, and I gave in. I think as a result, this puzzle has hit a happy medium between the super-niche stuff I've been putting out lately and general-audience fill. Less "you-know-it-or-you-don't" and more "unfamiliar but gettable" is the goal. Hope y'all enjoy.

SOLUTION:


Monday, May 4, 2020

PUZZLE 21 - LOOSE ENDS


Solving Music: Kero Kero Bonito - Trampoline


Pulling a puzzle from the backlog today; this was originally made as an NYT submission a few months back, and was turned down (rightfully) for being too "cerebral" for the general audience (definitely using that word more often). When I got that feedback back, I realized that yeah, this theme's probably too tricky to try submitting for any general audience, so I slated it as a blog puzzle. You guys can take cerebral.

Since it's an older puzzle (one made for submission, at that), there's not nearly as much nerdy stuff as y'all are used to here. Thus is the way of the backlog.

Apologies for the lack of puzzle the past couple weeks; but there's a reason! I've recently been busting out puzzles for Crossing Words, an Animal Crossing-themed puzzle suite that I'm releasing later this month. The suite will have 5 puzzles, roughly corresponding with Monday-to-Friday difficulties (the final puzzle being a themeless). I'm not 100% sure how I'll be handling the release; I'd like to implement a pay-what-you-want system, that way anyone can solve the puzzles for free while still allowing for donations. No idea what services allow for that model, so we'll see. There'll be a fancy release post here on the blog when that drops, so be on the lookout for that!

Enjoy the puzzle, y'all.

SOLUTION:

Saturday, April 18, 2020

PUZZLE 20 - KERO KERO (themeless)


Solving Music: KNOWER - Time Traveler


This puzzle was entirely gridded on-stream on my Twitch. I don't know if I'll stream again anytime soon, but I'll share over on my Twitter if I do. Live-constructing is very interesting, because it very much shapes the end result to have people in chat commenting on it. I don't think this puzzle had as much chat influence as Sid Sivakumar's live-constructed puzzles, but there are definitely some entries here that wouldn't be here otherwise. 53-Across, for example, is dear to me, as I became familiar with the Epic of Gilgamesh in college, but I wouldn't expect anyone else to be familiar with it. But someone in chat was familiar with it, so I decided to keep it in. It was definitely a fun experience; it isn't anything I'll start doing regularly, but I might be inclined to do it more often.

SOLUTION:


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

PUZZLE 19 - MIGHTY MORPHIN (themeless)


Solving Music: Moe Shop - Highlight


This grid pattern.
If you haven't noticed, I'm really really really really fond of stair-stacking in themelesses. It was only a matter of time before I had two crossing 11-stairs, and I finally managed it. Construction-wise, this flowed super smoothly; if you can get the stacks to cooperate, all the corners turn out to be smooth sailing. Sure enough, this exact pattern and its reflection have been used about 5 times in the New York Times alone (I imagine several times more in other outlets and indie blogs).

This puzzle in particular, if my own test solve is any indication, is going to be quite a difficult solve. I had a super rough corner in this puzzle that was unevenly combined with less-mindbreaking sections, and in that one I should've eased up the cluing there to make it nice and even. This puzzle has that all around, so I decided to not ease up here. Oh, I did ease up in one clue: 24-Down was originally [Jaguar, e.g.]. I had to fight the urge to leave that one in. Hope you enjoy.

EDIT [4/15 1:01 AM]: The clue for 28-Down was originally [Partner of agape and eros]; turns out this is incorrect! The image above and the puzzle links have been updated with a new Skullgirls-related clue.

SOLUTION:


Friday, April 10, 2020

PUZZLE 18 - NINJA HUNTING (themeless)


Solving Music: dark cat - Maple Adventure


It's a return to stair-stacks; I love doing these 11 stair-stacks a lot. This puzzle in particular was fun to construct because of all of the nice long answers throughout the grid. Only one of them (54-Across) seems mediocre to me. I usually constrain the answers crossing the stack, but this time I tried leaving things more open, and I feel it paid off. Hope you guys agree.

Also, update on the move to CrossFire: it's not as great as I'd hoped, but it's got some significant advantages. The NE of this puzzle was mostly done with the auto-fill, which is way more flexible in CrossFire than in Crossword Compiler. The downside is that it seems to block off possibilities that I was able to find by hand (21-Across, for example, was an adjustment I had to make to compensate for the computer not registering the 9D/24A crossing as valid for some reason). Also, it's way more of a pain to remove words from wordlists in CF than in CC. My guess is that I'll be switching completely over to CrossFire purely because the advanced autofill and displaying of forced squares speed things up so much, which kinda trumps all the downsides.

Enjoy the puzzle, y'all.

SOLUTION: