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Author: Robert Webb
Initial release: 1.0 (2003-07-07)
Latest release: 2.6 (2010-07-04)
OS: Windows
Language(s): English
Genre: Minesweeper Variations
Status: Shareware ($14 or $7)
Website: 3D Homepage
Forums: 3D Forum

MineSweeper3D is a 3D version of the original Windows Minesweeper computer game. It was written by Robert Webb and first released in 2003. The tiles are still essentially 2D, but wrapped around a large variety of 3D shapes. In addition to the traditional square tiling, MineSweeper3D includes triangular and pentagonal tilings, which introduce their own challenges. The boards can be rotated in 3D with the mouse, and zoomed in and out.

Screenshots of MineSweeper3D 2.4.2, 2008-01-18
Screenshots of MineSweeper3D 2.4.2, 2008-01-18


[edit] History

Robert had thought about writing a more traditional 2D minesweeper clone, to make use of additional tilings, but then discovered Professional Minesweeper 1.2 by Bojan Urosevic, which already implemented all the obscure tilings Robert had been interested in. However, with his background in 3D computer graphics, Robert decided to develop this 3D version instead. It was first released in July 2003.

Version 2.0 was released 4 months later, now with a built-in solver, and the addition of Insane! mode, which provided even more mines than Expert mode.

Additional boards were added in releases in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010, along with other minor releases in 2004, 2008 and 2009. Forums for discussion of the game were added in 2008 ([1]).

Version 2.6, released July 2010, includes four new boards, including a Zeolite structure with over 20000 tiles!

[edit] Main features

[edit] The Basics

Every attempt was made to copy the look and feel of the original game so that users of the original minesweeper would be able to jump right in and feel right at home. One minor change visually was to use a pale green colour for open tiles. It was deemed too "grey" otherwise, and as the board rotates in 3D shading changes, so some variety in colour was called for.

The mouse buttons act as usual, but may also be used to rotate the board in 3D. If a player left-clicks on an unopened and unflagged tile, then it is opened. Left-click and drag anywhere else and the board is rotated.

A couple of improvements over the game-play of the original minesweeper were included, in cases where it was deemed that the original behaviour was more like a bug than a feature. These include:

  • Not only is the first tile opened guaranteed not to contain a mine, but neither are any of the surrounding tiles. This avoids the situation where the first tile you click contains a number, which is not enough information to know where to go next.
  • The player can win not only by revealing all safe tiles, but alternatively by flagging all mines (and only the mines). This prevents the user having to guess when it gets down to a 50/50 guess at the end of the game.
  • Timer is accurate to a tenth of a second.

[edit] Boards

A truncated cuboctahedron at subdivision level 2

As of release 2.6, the game has 45 different 3D board shapes. There are 4 subdivision levels, meaning that each face of the board may be subdivided into multiple tiles, with each edge being divided into 1, 2, 4 or 8 segments. This provides a daunting range of board complexities. The simplest is the tetrahedron at subdivision 1, with just 4 tiles. The most complex is the pentagonal hexecontahedron at subdivision level 8, with a whopping 12960 tiles! To this day the board still hasn't been solved at Expert or Insane! levels.

In addition to all this, each board may be played at the usual minesweeper levels of Beginner, Intermediate or Expert, plus an extra level Insane!. The difference is just in the number of mines which are distributed beneath the tiles.

Combining these choices gives a total of 720 possible boards! A player's fastest times are recorded locally, and world records recorded online, for each of these boards.

[edit] World records

World records are maintained online and new records may be submitted from within the program. The submission is encrypted to avoid cheating. The latest world records are also downloaded into the program and displayed for the current board. A player will be informed if one or more of their world records have been beaten.

Bars at the side show three things: (1) percentage of mines remaining; (2) time left to beat personal best time; and (3) time left to beat world record. The idea is to keep the first bar ahead of the others, but you'll be amazed how fast the world record timer drops!

Current world records may be viewed on this page: [2]

Notice that there are a few boards with no world record. They are yet to be solved by anyone!

[edit] Solver

The built-in solver showing probabilities of tiles containing mines.

MineSweeper3D includes a built-in solver. It may be used for the following tasks:

  • Watch the computer solve boards by itself, kind of like a screensaver.
  • Moves may be stepped through one at a time.
  • Ask for a hint. This shows the next move the computer's solver would make, with known safe tiles shown in green and known mines shown in red. Open tiles required for the calculation are shown as blue.
  • In cases where the solver can't figure out a definite answer, probabilities are displayed on each unopen tile, and represented by a smooth colour gradient, with red indicating more likelihood of a mine, and green indicating less chance.
  • Stats mode: collects statistics about games. Games are played as fast as possible (not displayed) and stats shown at the end. Stats include percentages of games won, how often guesses were required, and how often they were successful.

[edit] Trivia

  • The sound effects are all home made (just Robert Webb making explosion sounds with his mouth etc). These were originally intended as place-holders, but Robert liked the result and kept them in. Some people find them amusing, others may wish to turn the sound off! Plans are for the next version to include more "realistic" sounds, with the original sounds as an option.
  • If you don't make a move for a while, the little yellow face goes to sleep and you hear a yawning sound (which has been known to scare people half to death!).
  • When completing a simple board, you will get a balloon. For more complex boards you get more balloons. For very complex boards you can get a colourful sunset and flying angels!
  • As of this writing (2010-07-08) the longest world record is held by Alex Doskey for the Prism-Expanded Truncated Cuboctahedron board, subdivision 8, Expert difficulty level. It took 12374.1 seconds, almost 3 and a half hours. It has 12718 tiles.
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