So, I've flogged the "Crazy Clever Kakuro" puzzle book (volume 1!) just about enough. (There's still time to order for Christmas - maybe! Or probably New Years! Better get two for Valentine's Day!)
But that's not what this post is about. I'm leveraging my success* in the Kakuro puzzle field and taking on my own variation on Sudoku. More details on that as it comes together - there's still some work to be done before I can show off the first sample page, but once I do, I can just about immediately put in my order for the first copy of the book, which means a week before I open it up to the puzzling public.
(The public is puzzling! I always thought so, too!)
One of the ways I'm differentiating my Sudoku puzzles is by using a range of sizes - most Sudoku you've seen are probably 9 squares by 9 squares. My current plan is to range from 4x4 up to 26x26. However, I'm already considering the possibility that I might be totally loony. Perhaps 16x16 is a perfectly good upper range on the puzzle size.
I'm generating puzzles of varying sizes right now, and it's taking a while to make the "easy" 18x18 puzzles. This doesn't seem promising for solvers - if it takes a computer hours to make the puzzle, it might take a human an unacceptably long time to solve it. Or, maybe not. If you're a rabid fan of Sudoku, drop me a line (email, reply here, whatever), and I'd be happy to give you an advance copy of some of the larger puzzles to test.
Anyway, I've got one machine churning out Sudoku puzzles right now. As I started the post, I was working on puzzle 170, but it looks like it just found a solution, so now it's working on 171; so there's only 29 to go. Probably by sometime tomorrow, I'll have the puzzle generation complete. Hopefully by this weekend, I'll have a PDF of some candidate puzzles.
Whee! There's yet another book I want to kick out once this Sudoku one hits the shelves - a puzzle format called "Slither Link". I like the puzzle more than Kakuro or Sudoku, but maybe that's because I only do a few of the puzzles over a year's time. If I had 200 all at once, would it lose its luster?
Even as I'm typing here, it occurs to me that one of the ideas in the back of my head for a puzzle game might be easier to deliver as a puzzle book. Hmmm. It involves dominoes, just as a reference.
Hm. I find myself on a weird flip side of the whole "bits vs atoms" marketplace revolution. I'm a big fan of electronic distribution, but I'm finding printing entertainment content on dead trees to be a compelling experience. In part because the notebook (ink and paper) is as portable or moreso than the notebook (computer), and is substantially cheaper, so I get more sales to my parents' friends. Also, the lack of interactivity of a book means that I don't spend time writing user interface code. Maybe this whole "computer" thing is a crock, and the next big thing will be a resurgence of pocket books.
* where "success" means I can buy dinner off the total proceeds of the books I've sold, unless you count the books I've bought to verify that the puzzles aren't being printed wrong.