Rodrigo Camargo

 

Hello! My name is Rodrigo Silveira Camargo. I am 21 years old (in fact, I am going to be 22 on March 17) and I live in a very beautiful city called Vitória, in Brazil. I study Engineering at the University here and I am probably going to graduate in March of the next year. I also work as a trainee in a Federal department that exists here in my city. I am going to write a little bit about the history of Minesweeper Clone, the program that I created. Sorry for writing so much, but I always do it, I can't avoid! :)

 

I know Minesweeper from a very long time, maybe since I was 11, but I never faced this game with competitiveness. My objective was only to finish a board, no matter how long it takes. And I also didn't use to play regularly. More or less at that time, I learned the programming language Basic in a kind of computer that my father bought that doesn't exists anymore, a MSX. It's a kind of predecessor of the actual PC's and there was simply no other usage for it other than programming.

 

I always considered myself a reasonable player, but not for being fast, but just because I could complete more games than all of my friends. I believe that in September of the last year, I started trying to finish some games a little bit faster. At the time, I could solve an intermediate board in 47 seconds. Then, I started to learn some patterns by myself and quickly realised that the process of solving a board is very logical, organized, and that there was some kind of rules implicit on it, and that I could probably make a program that could solve boards.

 

After some initial drafts, I believed that someone else would have had this idea before, and decided to search over the internet for a solver. Well, as I expected, I found a lot of them! And I also found Damien's site. I was amazed to see that a very well organized community existed! And got impressed with the records! At first sight, I didn't believe in any of the records! :) For me, all the videos were fast forwarded, and that nobody could click in that speed! I read the entire site, and loved all the tricks, tips, and the Camtasia usage. I already knew this program, but I didn't know people were using it to record Minesweeper games. This first contact made me start to get used to those "famous" names, like Dan Cerveny, Lasse Nyholm Jensen, Matt McGinley, Damien Moore, Sriram Sridharan, and many others, even those who don't play anymore.

 

So, I started recording my games, and then, in October, I got stuck at 31 seconds on intermediate. Until December, I couldn't beat this score, so I decided to work on the solver project. I wrote some initial programs and was building many mathematical studies about the solving question. I came to the conclusion that it was necessary to build a program that could calculate the probability of existence of mines in every square of the board for the solver to be good enough.

 

Then, as I was on vacation in December, I had a lot of time to spend with this. At the time, I started to read the Guestbook on Damien's site, that was the only section of the site that I didn't use to visit. I finally saw that those names listed in the records really existed! :) I remember to read a lot of complaints about Minesweeper and that everybody was in search for a "Perfect Minesweeper". I'm not very sure, but I believe it was Manu who used this term.

 

Then, on January 2, I finally broke my personal record. I got a 30! A few days later, Curtis Bright announced his own Minesweeper game. I found it brilliant! I couldn't believe that someone could make a program that was so similar to a previously existent one that you couldn't see any difference between them. Other clones seemed to be poor, and had low quality. His program looked to be professional and motivated me enormously.

 

I immediately started e-mailing him and showed him my probability calculator project. He stimulated me to continue with it and I began to get many progresses with it. After a few days, the calculations were really fast, and the development of that program was growing. It was getting so complete that I realised that I could almost build an entirely full clone. I told him and he wanted to see it also.

 

I spent the last two weeks of my vacation working hard on it, and finished the clone having in mind all the subjects about a "Perfect Minesweeper" mentioned on the Guestbook. I released the first version on January 30, and made my first post on the Guestbook announcing it. I got very nice responses, initially from Dennis Lütken. After, I had a lot of messages from Elmar Zimmermann, Stephan Bechtel, Lance Votroubek and Marko Jeznik, in this order. When they sent me their first videos, I got convinced that YES, people can really click that fast! All records videos are legit! :) Later, many others wrote to me with good ideas. All the suggestions and opinions were really nice and valuable, and contributed a lot for the development of the clone.

 

As I was in the very beginning of my studies at the University, that have restarted, I could make almost daily updates, and the responses I got from everybody kept me stimulated to program even more during almost the whole February. Some people started wondering if the scores could be accepted for the AR and Best Ever lists. I got very happy and surprised with that! Then a kind of "accepting period" started and now, as far as I know, scores achieved using my program are being accepted for the AR, and there is a poll running in order to really make this decision a community decision, and to make it official.

 

And, of course, I played so much that I am getting a better player also. My record dropped to 28 and then to 25 (2x). Now I have 10 sub-30's! My main objective now is to get a sub-25. After that, I can start dreaming about a sub-20! :) As you can see, I am not a very good player. But I am just a beginner, I still have a lot to develop.

 

Of course I am very happy and proud of the acceptance of my program for the AR. Now I don't have as many free time as I had on vacation, but I am concentrating a lot on weekends. I plan to keep improving the clone continuously, and to include the most possible features suggested and/or wanted.

 

One of my other hobbies is riding my bicycle! I am much faster on bike riding than on sweeping! :) Specially after I bought a cycle computer to measure speed, time, distance, etc. Like most of you pro players, I also like statistics a lot. My fastest speed is 59.8 Km/h (around 37.4 mph) on a plain surface, with no wind, using my mountain bike. I plan to buy a racing bike in order to be even faster, because I think I can't get better results with the bike I have. My other hobby are cars! I simply love cars, love knowing them, drawing them, riding them. I always like to recognize an extremely rare car when I see one on street. I love motors, and all those engineering information details about them. My real dream is to own a Porsche 911 Turbo, that is for me the best car in the world. The second and third are, respectively, the Ferrari Enzo and the McLaren F1. But I think that an Audi TT Roadster or a BMW Z4 is enough for me! :) Just kidding... it may seem to be ironic, but I own a 1.0 liter, 60 HP Ford Ka. It's absolutely nothing compared to my dream's cars, but I managed to achieve 151 Km/h (94.4 mph) on it, what is a good first step! :)

 

I suggest all of you to visit my city's site, that is on www.vitoria.es.gov.br  All right, it is all in Portuguese there, but at the address www.vitoria.es.gov.br/tourvirtual/index.html it is possible to take a virtual tour, and see almost every places in the city, and is basically graphically oriented. No need to understand Portuguese. I selected the places that are very nice to see, all in the same site:

 

My University's Central Theatre, the nice building with stairs:

www.vitoria.es.gov.br/tourvirtual/teatro_universitario_da_ufes.html

 

The Metropolitan Cathedral, very close to the building where I live, in external and internal view:

www.vitoria.es.gov.br/tourvirtual/catedral_metropolitana_de_vitoria.html

 

The Darcy Castello de Mendonça Bridge, also known here as Third Bridge, that is part of my usual bicycle track, behind the girl in the picture. Quite a nice view for bike riding, isn't it?

www.vitoria.es.gov.br/tourvirtual/ponte_darcy_castello_de_mendonca.html

 

I hope you like this site and that you all keep playing my program and giving good suggestions! I thank you all for that!

 

Best wishes,

Rodrigo.