Planarity

There’s this game called Planarity. It’s quite old, and very simple. Arrange the dots so that none of the lines connecting them overlap. According to the FAQ, “There is no last level, but if you get past 10 or so then consider yourself in select company.”

However, I have a hard time believing this statement. As the levels go up, they simply take more time, they don’t really get harder. The only thing that makes the higher levels difficult is seeing all the dots, and fitting them on the screen. The strategy seems totally self-evident, to me. But maybe not everyone thinks about these things the way I do. I also started playing this game over ten years ago, so maybe I’m just forgetting that I had a learning curve.

So my question is: do you find this difficult? What about at level 11? Or 20? Do you have a strategy? Is it the same as my strategy (which I will reveal below)? If you DO find it difficult and DON’T have a strategy, does the game become easier by following the strategy I outline?

How to play: Go to Planarity.net, and click “large window”. Allow flash player to run. You can click the right-facing arrow in the lower left hand corner to skip to whatever level you want. (Enter a number and click Skip.) Click and drag to move the blue dots so that none of the lines that connect them overlap. As you’re clicking on a dot, all the dots connected to that one turn red. The lines start as light gray, but darken as you move the dots they’re connected to. (This is just an indicator of which dots have connections that you’ve already done something to.) When finished, click the check-mark in the lower right corner to verify that none of the lines overlap.

Don’t read my strategy until you’ve played through the game at least once, on level 11 or higher. Then come back here and see if your strategy is the same as mine. Or maybe you have a different one? I’d love to hear it!

My strategy is below. Remember, don’t look at it until you’ve played the game once!

No peeking!

Okay, here comes my strategy!

Pick one dot at random and move it to the center of the circle. Then move each dot that is connected to the first one. Form a cross or star shaped pattern around the first dot. Then click on each of the secondary dots, in turn, and move the dots that are connected to them. Sometimes the dots form neat triangles or squares, but sometimes not. Sometimes I find I’ve made a mistake, and have two dots too far from each other. So then, I have to move some things over. You can see all of this in the video below:

I find this game oddly satisfying. Not just solving the puzzle, but solving it in as neat and orderly a fashion as I can. I liken this process to folding proteins. I feel like I’m trying to make a protein in the correct shape so it can do its job. Nothing to do with the game, I know, but it makes my brain happy.