North Texas Daily

Engineering students team up to create online puzzle game

Engineering students team up to create online puzzle game

September 12
00:46 2014

Kaitlyn Stockton / Intern Writer

UNT electrical engineering students are pushing boundaries with a new game titled UNTANGLED II: Unbound.

Electrical engineering assistant professor Gayatri Mehta held a competition to introduce her team’s puzzle game to players across the world. The contest began Aug. 21 and ended Wednesday. Winners will receive Amazon gift cards.

Mehta created the game’s predecessor, UNTANGLED, with former students to help them see an interactive and fun side to their studies. It was launched online in 2012.

“The goal there was to harness human intelligence, to discover algorithms that would help us with new architectures for next generation portable devices,” she said. “We give untangled puzzles to the players. They need to pack those in the best possible way. At the same time, they need to obey the constraints of the grid. We pose the constraints, and they need to pack the puzzle.”

However, in the sequel, Mehta and her team provides players with a twist. While users find challenging puzzles, they have more freedom to create their own constraints and grids.

“We gave the players a few puzzles. They have to come up with a low energy grid for the puzzles. They come up with a grid that can fit those. At the same time, they are the ones composing the constraints,” Mehta said. “We called it ‘Unbound’ because we are pushing them to a bigger challenge, but at the same time, we are giving them a lot more freedom to play.”

Mehta said more than 800 users played the first game, allowing her team to view over 11,000 solutions. For the sequel, they have had more than 100 players with approximately 600 solutions. The team plans to continue data mining in order to find new algorithms.

Her students’ hard work on the project is paying off. Former student Anil Kumar Sistla said his work in Mehta’s class and on the game assisted him in obtaining a job across the country.

“Working on the game has improved my ability to reason,” he said. “Whenever we get results, we make interpretation and have to perform data analysis on information. They gave me an edge in getting the job. Hardware design, data analysis.”

TAMS student Latané Bullock joined the project after most of it programming was completed. However, he enjoyed the opportunity to assist in debugging the program.

“When Mehta first proposed the idea of a competition, I was eager to finally see the game widely publicized after months of work on it,” he said. “Many players have been very enthusiastic about our games and I hope they continue this trend.”

Bullock said working with Mehta has been great experience and that his professor passes on her passion for the project and field onto her students.

“She is one of the few in the world exploring electronic design automation via human computation-based games,” he said. “She cares for her students and each of our interests.  She sets goals for the team and makes it clear how we should go about achieving those goals. She is always smiling, always teeming with enthusiasm and extremely optimistic.”

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