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If Tech Companies Made Sudoku

Sudoku is perfect. It can be as engaging, addictive, and flow-inducing as the flashiest real-time rendered, explosion-filled game on the planet. But I can't help imagine what would happen if someone like, say, Microsoft had designed it. Or rather, if some developers (leaf-nodes) at Microsoft designed it--perfectly--and then upper management stepped in...

I'm just having a little fun with Microsoft ; )
(they're an easy target), but it's not just MS that might do something like this:

We've reviewed the design doc for your new game code-named Sudoku, and we're giving you the green light to build the alpha. We've made just a few revisions to the spec (see attached annotated picture).

Marketing is still working up some final names (the target market would have trouble spelling and pronouncing Sudoku), but the top two candidates are:

Grid Masters IV (we know this is the first version, but the "IV" gives it some punch)
DeathNum Continuum, Special Edition (the VP loves this one)


Frankly, we're a little baffled that your original design was so... simple. I'm sure we all recognize that our target market demands a much more media-rich, interactive, high-action experience. Love the whole grid thing, though.

[Bonus link: Microsoft designs the iPod packaging]

Posted by Kathy on May 16, 2006 | Permalink


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Tracked on May 19, 2006 12:48:05 AM


You do know that the iPod video was actually produced by Microsoft themselves, right?

iPod Observer via Scoble

Posted by: Brad Corbin | May 16, 2006 6:14:39 PM

"Where are the guns?" Heh, love it!

Posted by: Firas | May 16, 2006 7:44:54 PM

I'm with Brad. This posting is too much of a knock-off of the iPod packaging video that came out recently.

Posted by: Bob | May 16, 2006 8:05:24 PM

Brad: that definitely makes the video more interesting... on a lot of levels.

Bob: that was the point (and why I linked to that video). But this "if [whoever] edited [whatever]" has been one of my (and others) favorite spoofs for as long as I can remember. I made a similar one for the back of my EJB book, with hand-written annotations (supposedly by marketing and design) marking up fictional "rough draft" cover designs. [The actual cover designer did not find it amusing, but we couldn't resist.]

My favorite example, though, was at an ad agency I worked at where designers took a book of famous works of art and marked them up in the style of their worst agency clients. My personal pick was "reduce head 20 %" pointing to Michelangelo's David ; )

The original inspiration for the one I put in my EJB book was this VERY fun book:
Rough Drafts.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | May 16, 2006 8:47:15 PM

You're taunting me, right?

Posted by: Mike | May 16, 2006 9:33:54 PM

Microsoft is touring with WinFX at the moment.
Showcasing... yup, a Sudoko game with multiplayer functionality and fireworks of visual cues.

I know that it was made for tech-demo purposes, but still ;-)

Posted by: dalager | May 17, 2006 1:31:59 AM

This post made me laugh, but it was definitely a rather wry laugh, since there is likely to be a whole heap of truth in what you say.

As a sudoku addict, I would have to say: it ain't broke - don't fix it! When it comes time to unwind there's nothing better than a cup of coffee and a sudoku in the sunshine. Of course, the sunshine makes it difficult to play onscreen, so I tend to opt for hard copy, pencil and eraser.

How retro!

Posted by: Karyn Romeis | May 17, 2006 2:39:33 AM

FYI, Microsoft has already released (on MSDN) a version of Sudoku and I believe it will be bundled on future Tablet PC versions or at least on the Origami/UMPC editions.

And despite what you might think, it's actually very slick.


Comes with full source code as well.

Posted by: Mike | May 17, 2006 7:33:18 AM

Best Sudoku programming I've found is at http://www.ironsudoku.com. Usability++.

Posted by: Dave | May 17, 2006 8:21:18 AM

Ha! so true. Kathy, i know you always like things that stretch your brain- try playing Sudoku with shapes or colors rather than numbers. I swear it works a different set of neurons... I have this app for my treo->
it lets me toggl the board to shapes, flags or digits. Or you can also create a legend from any traditional sudoku puzzle and transcribe the board yourself. Being the nerd I am I actually kept puzzle times on a mini excel sheet doing the same puzzles via three different methods- there were interesting, consistent results. I won't spoil it- you gotta try yourself.


Posted by: Sean Tierney | May 17, 2006 10:12:17 AM

In line with sean's comment, here's what I gave my wife for Mother's day:
(sodoku using a flickr image set, our family plus the grandparents as children)

On the topic of "simple", I must admit I've speculated on enhancements of sodoku into the third dimension... Talk about unworkable!!!

Posted by: greenup | May 17, 2006 4:38:11 PM

You don't seriously think Microsoft would come up with names like that, do you? They are way too short and fun-sounding.

Something more along the lines of "Number Gathering Calculation Grid Foundation Server" would be my best guess. ;)

Posted by: Justice | May 17, 2006 5:12:20 PM

You can't seriously expect us to believe annotation comments from Microsoft marketing didn't include:
"is it skinnable?"!

NOTHING is a good product for Windows unless it allows "skins". Never mind how useless it is.

Posted by: Noons | May 17, 2006 8:59:47 PM

Have you played the Washington Post's online version of Sudoku? It's great. I'm pretty passionate about it I guess. It does have sound and animations though.... but the effects make it fun and give meaningful feedback instead of being fluff.

check it out: http://www.uclick.com/client/wpc/wpdoc/

Posted by: alicia | May 17, 2006 9:45:41 PM

Don't forget the sudoku widget for Mac OSX: http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/games/sudokuwidget.html

Course, I had to remove it because it's totally addictive and I have *ahem* better things to be doing with my time right now...! ; )

Posted by: Louise Barr | May 18, 2006 7:18:00 AM

I showed it to a geek in my office. He asked: Whare is the humor?

Posted by: Idea, Execution, Profit | May 19, 2006 1:06:06 AM

The winfx tutorial is at...


Posted by: Nigel | May 30, 2006 4:26:23 PM

> Something more along the lines of
> "Number Gathering Calculation Grid Foundation Server"
> would be my best guess. ;)

No, they'd name it ActiveNumbers.

Posted by: inactivist | Jun 3, 2006 12:28:53 AM

I don't like Sudoku because I find it antisocial. With crossword puzzles, you can ask your neighbor, "What's the capital of Topeka?" etc., i.e., you can involve someone else, start a little chat. Where's that with Sudoku? Nowhere.

Posted by: huh? | Jun 6, 2006 2:18:03 AM

Well, Sudoku is a name for Latin Squares (developed by Howard Garns), except it has a few guidelines as to how many numbers the "player" can start with and where they can go. But thinking of it as Latin Squares helps to emphasize what the real puzzle is. It's not one square with 28 numbers you need to complete, it's finding the square the most given numbers that have two solutions. Thats where the fun begins.

Posted by: Migs "Blog Monkey" | Jun 9, 2006 7:30:55 PM

progarming of suduko

Posted by: fatemeh | Jun 12, 2007 7:31:29 AM

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