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Time Tunnel Strategy


by pianoru

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GAMES ROOM - Neopets has just released a new game - Time Tunnel. If you've tried it, you know that it has fantastic music and a cool look and that it features cute little Gorix the Grundo. But have you figured out a good playing strategy? If not, this guide may be able to help.

Time Tunnel is basically the old game of Codebreakers remodeled. (In fact, Codebreakers went to the game graveyard the day that Time Tunnel came out.) Both games have the same basic goal: you're trying to figure out four-stone codes in a certain number of tries based on hints given by the game. In fact, a guide to Codebreakers would probably be very helpful for Time Tunnel as well, so if you'd like to read some more guides, you might want to look up articles about Codebreakers in old issues of the Neopian Times (after you read this guide, of course)! They have some good strategy suggestions that are a little different than mine.

The Basics

Here are the official instructions for Time Tunnel:

"To play Time Tunnel you have to work out what secret code of four coloured stones opens the door. You have twelve tries in total. Click on each stone to change its colour, and then press UNLOCK to submit your guess.

Once you have guessed the door will tell you how close your guess was to the correct answer. An Orange mark means that the stone is the correct colour, but in the wrong position. Each Green mark means that it's the correct colour in the correct position, and a white coloured mark simply means an incorrect stone."

If you haven't played Time Tunnel before, I suggest trying the game before you read on so that you have an idea of what I'm talking about. It's really rather simple, but I found it easier to understand from playing than reading the directions.

You actually have twelve different parts of the door to unlock before you can open the whole door. Each time you figure out a code, you unlock one part of the door, and you have twelve tries to figure out each code. Each code is comprised of four stones, and your job is to determine the color of each stone. At the beginning of the game, the only possible colors are gray, black, blue, and red, but by the end of the game the stones can also be orange or purple. (One caution: it can be difficult to tell the difference between the orange and red stones, so look carefully!)

Scoring

Every time you figure out a code, you earn 25 points. Once you figure out all twelve codes and you unlock the door, you get a 200 point bonus. But this only gives 500 points in total. The key to a high score in Time Tunnel is in the time bonus!

Every time you start guessing a code, your time bonus clock begins counting down from 120. If you were to somehow solve the code instantly, you would receive all 120 points for that code. But if the clock counts down to 0 before you guess the correct code, you don’t get any time bonus at all, so it’s crucial to solve the code before you’ve lost too much time! Time Tunnel differs from Codebreakers in that it doesn’t offer any reward for solving the codes in fewer steps. The only thing that matters to your bonus is how long you take figuring out the code.

Strategy

I found a strategy that works very well for me. Time Tunnel has the very handy feature of giving you “off the clock” time to think between guesses while it processes your guess, so my strategy is designed to use that time for my thinking so that as soon as I’m allowed to make another guess I make one. When the clock is counting down, you should already know what your next guess will be so that you don’t have to waste that time thinking! I find it difficult to consult past guesses in this game because they’re placed around the circle, so try to remember what you learn from guess to guess so you don’t have to check back.

Move 1: As soon as the clock begins counting, hit the unlock button. Don’t bother changing any of the stones. This is basically a free guess because it doesn’t take any time at all. Your result will tell you how many gray stones are in the code.

Move 2: Since you know how many gray stones are in the code, start your guess with that number of gray stones. Turn all the remaining stones black. Your result will tell you how many black stones are in the code AND tell you whether you have the gray stones in their correct positions.

Move 3: Since you know how many gray and black stones are in the code, use the proper number. If you had the gray stones in the correct positions last time, keep them there; otherwise, adjust their positions to a better guess. (I find it easiest to follow a left-to-right pattern in guessing. That is, if you know the gray stone isn’t in the first position, your next guess should be the second position, then the third. That way it’s easier to remember what you’ve tried.) If you know the positions of the black stones, put them where they should be; otherwise, adjust their positions to a better guess. Turn all the remaining stones red. Your result will tell you how many red stones are in the code AND give you information about the positioning of the gray and black stones.

Continue this pattern of putting the colors you know into the first possible places and filling the remaining spots with the next untried color. Once you have determined the colors of the stones in the code, rotate them into different possible spots in each guess until you get the solution. If you forget which spots are possible, don’t waste time thinking while the clock is counting down (unless you’re almost out of guesses)! Make a very simple guess to buy yourself thinking time and give yourself a little more information. (For example, if you know that the code has 1 black, 2 blues, and a red, you might guess Black Gray Gray Gray. Your answer will tell you whether the black is in the first position, and you’ll get more time to think while the clock isn’t counting down.)

Let me give a specific example of how to use this strategy. Suppose the code that you’re trying to figure out is Red Orange Gray Black.

Move 1: Gray Gray Gray Gray - you get one green mark. Now you know you have one gray stone in the code.

Move 2: Gray Black Black Black - you get one green mark and one orange mark. Now you know that you have one gray stone and one black stone in the code. But how do you know which stone was in the correct position? Here’s the logic, which with some practice you should be able to go through very quickly in your head. If the gray stone were in the correct position, then one of the black stones would also have to be correct, because the only unsolved positions would be the last three. But you only got one green mark, so the gray stone must be in the wrong position. That means that one of the black stones is correct, but you don’t know which one. (Note that if you got two orange marks, you’d know that the black stone must be in the first spot, and two green marks would mean that the gray is correct but you don’t know where the black should be.)

Move 3: Blue Gray Black Blue - (Reasoning: You don’t know where the gray should be, but it can’t be in the first spot, so it goes in the second spot. You don’t know where the black stone should be, but it also can’t be in the first spot, so it goes in the third spot. You fill the rest of the spots with the next available color, which is blue.) You get two orange marks. Now you know there are no blue stones in the code. You have also ruled out spots one and two for the gray stone and spots one and three for the black stone.

Move 4: Red Black Gray Red - (Reasoning: the black and gray both go in the first possible spots, and the rest of the spots get filled with the next available color, which is red.) You get two green marks and an orange mark. Now you know that there is one red mark in the code. One of the red stones must be in the correct spot, because if they were both wrong the red would have to be in the second or third position, but those positions would have to be black and gray. You don’t know which of the black or gray stones is correct, so you have to guess. But you know that gray can’t be in the second position, because if it were, black and gray would both have to be wrong, and similarly you know that black can’t be in the third position. Therefore, the last position must be black or gray. This means that the last position can’t be red, so the red must go in the first position.

Move 5: Red Black Orange Gray - (Reasoning: you know where the red has to be. You just have to guess whether gray or black was right last time, and the other goes in the last position. You fill in the remaining spot with the next available color, which is orange.) You get one green mark and three orange marks. Now you know that you have all the colors correct, so you just have to put them in the correct order. You also know that the red stone is correct, so all the others must be wrong. Since you knew that the last spot was either gray or black and now you see that it isn’t gray, you know it’s black. Since orange is incorrect and the first and last spots are filled, the second spot must be orange, and therefore the third spot must be gray. You have figured out the code!

That logic gets very complex by the end, so if you haven’t managed to think it all through by the time you get to make a guess, just guess something simple (i.e., Red Gray Gray Gray, to find out if the red is in the correct position).

If you practice with my strategy for a while and you still can’t get everything thought through while the clock is paused, I suggest using a simpler strategy. You might try the one suggested in an article about Codebreakers written by sassysarah656 in Week 40 of the Neopian Times.

Feel free to direct any questions, comments, or constructive criticism about this article to me by Neomailing pianoru:) Good luck with Time Tunnel!

 
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