Uncrossed Examined (pt1 Opening Arguments)
This is a cross-examination of the mobile game Uncrossed by Michael Economy.
The objective of the game is simple. The rules are stated on the first screen you see, “Move the dots around until no lines are crossing each”
The game feels sparse and possibly incomplete (like the instructions). But the game is a diamond in the rough.
On average, the impossible level has:
- 50 dots (aka nodes or vertices)
- 131 lines (aka edges).
- A single node can have up to 15 connections (aka degrees), but the average is probably around 5.
- In a solved state, that’s about 88 triangles (aka faces).
Here’s a video of me solving it in about 4 minutes. I’m sure it be solved more quickly, but sometimes it can take 10 minutes. I’m curious about the cause of this variability. Is it the state I’m in or are some puzzles just much more difficult?
You may have noticed the number 530 at the top. I’ve played the Impossible level 530 times.
The first question we must answer is: Why did I play the game 530 times?
I started playing Uncrossed during Covid, and it stuck with me ever since. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who sound solace in video games. Untangling the arbitrary dots gave me the illusion of order and control. Nothing was hidden, and nothing was timed; it was just a simple, pleasurable mess.
I continued to play the game after Covid settled down. It turns out, the job stressed me out more than the pandemic. My job consisted of pretending to be the expert council, the trusted advisor, in a wide array of telecom tangles I had no first-hand knowledge or control over. With the game, I could directly manipulate the factors and side effects. More on that in a bit.
The game is rough around the edges — literally. When a dot is too close to the edge or too close to another dot… it can get frustrating. But that’s part of the appeal. (It’s kind of like going to a restaurant’s website and they just have a pdf of the menu instead of a fancy Squarespace website — I kind of respect that.)
The absence of pizzazz let my mind unwind. That’s when I started to notice how unusual this game is.