Saturday, October 27, 2007


Title: Gate
Author: Quinn Dunki
License: Freeware

Games Magazine recently released their Top 100 Computer Games of 2007 just in time for the Christmas buying season. Once again, PC puzzle gamers came up short. But the 2008 Independent Games Festival Entrants were also announced recently. It contains a whole slew of puzzle/logic games. I have not had time to go through all of them, but I did play Gate this weekend.

Gate is your basic program the robot game. If you are a regular reader, you know that I am a sucker for these sort of games. The goal is to program the robot, the white sphere, to reach and stop at the goal, the black and yellow stripped square.

The inputs are the four side sensors. They sense whether or not there is a mountain on that side of the robot. The outputs are the four side thrusters which move the robot. You can fire multiple thrusters at the same time to move diagonally or counter act each other. The program which you construct is a circuit diagram of and, or, xor, and gates wired together. Gate also includes a toggle switch which acts like one bit of memory. You wire together the input and outputs with a circuit, then turn it on.

The pictured level contains additional switch tiles which when passed over, lower certain mountains. The circuit below uses the toggle switch to cause the robot to move back and forth, left to right triggering each of the switch tiles. Once it reaches the goal, the activation of the top and bottom sensor causes the robot to stop. Well, actually, it fires both the left and right thruster and effectively stops.

The actual mechanics of creating and wiring a circuit is a bit clumsy. It takes a little getting used to. But Gates does a nice job of teaching the basics of circuit design.

There are 30 levels which must be solved in order. The first 10 or so are more of a tutorial. Then they start to get difficult. There were a few that made me think. Given that I am comfortable with circuits and wiring diagrams, it is hard to me to judge how the difficulty of Gate for other people. It could imagine that this game might be quite difficult to most

There is a level editor, but I do not know of any user made levels.

My one tip is to play around. Try something, hit the power switch, and see what happens. Gate graphically shows what is happening with the sensors and the effect of your circuit. There is no penalty for failed attempts.


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