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How do I play ColorTrek?
The rules for ColorTrek are actually quite simple:
- Your objective is to move the game piece (the black circle) to the star. You can move left, right, up, or down, one field at a time. Diagonal moves are not allowed.
- You can pick up color chips to change one of the colors you are carrying in the game piece.
- If you touch a colored field even for an instant without carrying its color, you die and need to start the level over. Note that this implies that you must already have a color before stepping onto a field of that color and that you may not completely lose the color of a field before you step off it.
These rules are also explained in the game itself: In the mobile app version, level pack "Intro" contains 7 levels that introduce the game. These levels are also included in the web version as level 1 through 7.
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The following instructions are numbered by the introductory level in which they are demonstrated so you can play along if you like:
- Your objective is to move the game piece (the black circle in the top left corner of the first introductory level) to the field with the star (bottom right corner). You can move left, right, up or down, one field at a time, by tapping or clicking on the field you would like to move to. You cannot move diagonally and you cannot jump over fields. For your first move in the first introductory level you only have two choices: right or down, indicated by the two pulsating blue circles.
- In each level, you will find a selection of color chips that you can pick up to change the color of the game piece. In the second introductory level, these are the red, green, blue, and yellow circles. Whenever you step onto one of them, you lose the color you were carrying and pick up the color of the chip you just stepped on. The chips always stay on the board even after you step on them.
- While you are always allowed to freely move over gray fields, you are only allowed on a colored field, if you carry its color. For example, in the third introductory level, you are surrounded by red fields. To be allowed to walk over these fields, you first need to pick up the red chip in the top left corner to change the color of the game piece to red. Note that the star is on a green field, so you need to pick up the green chip next before you step onto the star. If you die, by the way, you will always be given an explanation why you died.
- The fourth introductory level explains an important nuance of the rules:
Since the colored fields kill you instantly if you don't carry their color, you need to always pick up a color before you move onto the corresponding field. So, for example, in the fourth level you are not allowed to immediately move to the right, even though there is a purple chip lying on the purple field. You must first pick up the purple chip in the top right corner so that you can already bring the purple color with you when you step onto the purple field. Note: as there are no teal-colored chips in this level, you will never be allowed to step onto the two teal-colored fields.
- The fifth introductory level explains another important nuance of the rules:
If you pick up a new color while standing on a colored field, you die instantly if you then no longer carry the color of the field. In the fifth level, this mean that you cannot move left after picking up the green chip, because when you step onto the green field in the top middle, the blue chip makes you lose your green color, upon which the green field kills you. So you need to walk all the way around the outer edge of the board to safely make it to the star.
- In the sixth introductory level, your game piece is split into two slots (top and bottom) that each can carry a color. To be allowed on a colored field, you need to carry the field's color in at least one of the slots. More than one slot is ok, too, but not required.
The chips on the board are also cut in half and are oriented to fit either into your piece's top or bottom slot. In these types of levels, you need to be careful which chip of a certain color you pick up, as its orientation determines which current color in your game piece it replaces.
In level six you need to carry both orange and blue to be allowed to step onto one of the orange fields and then onto the blue field with the star. You should try out the different color combinations that you can pick up, but the only way to solve this level is by picking up the yellow color in your bottom slot with the chip in the middle of the board and the blue color in the top slot with the blue chip in the top right corner and then moving onto the star via the yellow field in the bottom middle of the board.
- In the seventh introductory level it is possible to get stuck in the bottom left corner of the board if you only carried green in the top slot when picking up the red chip. In cases like this, you can use the undo and reset buttons (left-arrow and circular arrow respectively) to revert either your last move or all your moves. If you accidentally click on reset, simply press the left-arrow to undo the reset. The number of steps (or resets) you can undo is not limited. You can always undo everything all the way back to before your very first move in a level. If you die, though, you cannot undo your last move. Instead you need to click "Try again" to start the level over.
If you need help solving a level, you can click on the light-bulb icon to ask for a hint. Take a look further down in this FAQ for a detailed explanation of ColorTrek's SmartHint™-system.
How can ColorTrek be interesting if the rules are so simple?
Despite their simplicity, these rules allow for some very challenging puzzles. To use them to their fullest potential, we had 24 computer processor cores automatically generate, evaluate, and rank over 3 trillion levels over 3 months to find the very best levels to be included in the game. The large range of available difficulties and the clear grouping by difficulty (IQ-rating) into level packs should allow you to always find levels that are just right for you. But don't just take our word for it. Play and see for yourself! :)
How is my performance in ColorTrek scored?
You earn stars by solving levels. Three stars are awarded if you find the solution with the minimum possible number of steps. Every star is worth points, that depend on the difficulty (IQ-rating) of the level.
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ColorTrek tracks the number of steps you take when solving a board. Each board has a minimum number of steps that are needed to solve it. If you manage to solve the level in this minimum number of steps, you are awarded 3 stars. If you use up to 10% more steps (or up to 2 additional ones, whichever is larger), you get 2 stars. If you use even more steps, you only get 1 star. Each star is worth a number of points that is equal to the difficulty rating (IQ-rating) of the level (or 10 points whichever is larger). As an example, if you solve an IQ 45 level that requires a minimum of 15 steps in 17 steps, you get 2 stars and 90 points. If you retry the level and manage to also get the third star, you get the remaining 45 points for a total of 135. Retrying the level again will not give you more points.
ColorTrek also tracks the time you take to solve a level and displays it for your information. The time does not affect the score, though.
Resetting a level sets your steps and your time back to zero. Undoing a move reduces your step-count by one (back to before you took the undone move), but your clock keeps running. Undoing a reset brings your steps and time back to the values right before you pressed reset.
What are "Achievements"?
The mobile app versions of ColorTrek allow you to earn different achievements during your play. Earning an achievement does not affect your score, but can be a fun challenge in and of itself. For a full list of available achievements and what you can earn them for, return to the "Welcome" screen, click on "Statistics" and then on "Achievements". You can also click on an achievement coin in the green win-dialog to see it in the list.
How do hints work?
ColorTrek features a highly sophisticated hint system called "SmartHints™". It is able to help you out in any possible situation on a board, no matter which predicament you managed to get yourself into. A hint can take one of two forms:
- If you got yourself into a position where it is no longer possible to solve the board, the hint will tell you how many times you need to press "undo" (the left-arrow button) to get back to a state where a solution is possible.
- Otherwise, it will figure out which chip you will need to pick up next and highlight the path to it. The path will always end on a chip that you will actually need to use in a future move and will skip over chips that you will replace again anyways without ever using them.
In either case, to give you the chance to think through the hint, you will need to perform the hinted actions yourself.
I accidentally pressed reset! Do I have to start all over???
No worries! We got you covered! Simply press undo (the left-arrow) to undo the reset.
Can I skip a level I don't like?
To allow you to compete with friends in solving level packs, ColorTrek does not allow you to skip a level. But, you can always use hints to solve a level if you really don't want to think through it yourself.
The animations are too fast/too slow for my taste!
ColorTrek offers 3 different animation levels: off, fast, and detailed. You can chose your preferred level on the Settings screen by moving the top slider to the left, middle, or right respectively.
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Detailed animations can help beginners understand the nuances of the game's rules (how a color is picked up and how the different ways to die come about), while advanced users might find them unnecessary and annoying. Therefore the mobile app versions allow you to chose different animation levels under "Settings". You can chose between "detailed" (slow animations), "fast" (the default, abridged animations), and "off" (for no animations).
Turning animations off completely allows for the fastest possible game play and also saves battery use since it reduces the number of times that the screen needs to be redrawn. Especially if you leave the sound effects on, though, accidentally making a wrong move that kills you can really make you jump due to the sudden, possibly loud, noise without warning. Use with care! :)
What different versions of ColorTrek exist?
Currently, there are 3 different versions of ColorTrek: The web version, the free mobile version, and the paid mobile "Unlimited" version.
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If you count the different platforms, there are actually 14 versions of ColorTrek:
- The web version really consists of 5 different versions to support the different browsers.
- There are two iOS versions: ColorTrek (free) and ColorTrek Unlimited (paid).
- The same two versions are also available for Android on Google Play.
- There are two more versions available for Android (including Blackberry OS 10) on the Amazon App Store: Both are the regular free ColorTrek version, but one is made available via Amazon Underground, which provides free access to all in-app purchases.
- And finally, we have three versions (web, free mobile, unlimited) that run directly in Java on our own computers for quick turn-around development. But these ones are not available to the general public. Sorry.
What is ColorTrek Unlimited?
ColorTrek Unlimited is a paid app available on the iTunes App Store and on Google Play that includes, for free, all level packs that can be purchased on the regular version of ColorTrek, and it includes unlimited hints.
Whenever we add more level packs to the regular version of ColorTrek, we will also release an update to the Unlimited version, which will then also include these level packs.
IN-APP PURCHASES IN THE MOBILE APP VERSIONS
My purchased level packs disappeared! What's going on?
In most cases, simply making sure your device has a working data or wifi connection and clicking on the "Refresh Store Listing" or "Restore Purchases" button in the heading of the "Additional Level Packs" section of the "Level packs" list should fix the problem. If not, click here:
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ColorTrek asks your device's app market for a list of all purchasable products. There are several scenarios in which this list might come back empty. The most likely scenario is that the app market cannot connect to its internet server due to a missing data or wifi connection.
Sometimes, though, the list can come back empty even with a working data or wifi connection. There are three ways we are aware of that affect different app markets:
- Apple frequently updates the billing agreement that we have to agree to before we can offer in-app purchases in ColorTrek. Sometimes such a change is important enough that Apple disables all in-app purchases until we accept the new agreement. In rare cases, we don't immediately see the new agreement, or it takes us a while to examine the changes, and during that time, the level packs might become unavailable temporarily. Please contact us if you don't see your level packs on your iOS device and we will remedy the situation as quickly as we can.
- The Google Play Store app was affected in earlier versions (Play Store v4.3.10 and below) by a bug that causes ColorTrek to not be able to identify the available products correctly. So, if you restore your version of Google Play to a version older than v4.3.10 on your device, your level packs might disappear. Simply update Google Play to the latest version and things should be OK. On some old versions of Android (some of v2.x), the newer versions of Google Play are not available. On those devices, unfortunately, no level packs or hint packs can be purchased.
- Amazon has different country-specific app markets (amazon.com, amazon.de, ...) and the availability of in-app purchases can, in general, depend on a user's home country. Even though ColorTrek's products are available in all countries, the Amazon store app might report an empty list if you completely log out of your Amazon account, so it doesn't know which country is applicable. Simply log back in to your account, make sure you have a working data or wifi connection, and click the "Refresh Store Listing" or "Restore Purchases" button.
If you cannot resolve your issue, please do not hesitate to contact us, and we will help you out as quickly as we can.
If I buy a level pack or hint pack on one of my devices,
can I use it on my other devices?
Level packs: Yes!
Hint packs: No.
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Level packs are "non-consumable products" or "entitlements". Once you purchase them on one of your devices, you will be able to use them on every other device that you are using with the same user account. To make the level packs available, click on the "Restore Purchases" button in the heading of the "Additional Level Packs" section of the "Level packs" list. Packs you own will be moved to the top of the list of additional level packs and will change from "Buy now" to "Install". Simply click the pack to download and install it on this device. Note that you will need a data or wifi connection for this. Level packs are tiny, by the way: Even the biggest ones are just over 1KB. Yep, that really is KB, not MB! :)
All of the different app markets, by the way, prevent users from purchasing multiple copies of the same non-consumable product or entitlement. So, if you don't click on "Restore Purchases", but instead click on the level pack while it still says "Buy now", you should get a message that says that you already own this level pack and the level pack should be installed. It should not be possible that you will be charged again for a level pack that you already own. The app market will make sure of this. This only applies, though, if you are using the same user account on your different devices.
Hint packs are "consumable products", meaning that you use them up and you can buy them more than once. Due to the difficulty of correctly tracking consumption across multiple devices with potentially unavailable internet connections, consumable products are pretty much always bound to a device, not just in ColorTrek. Hints you purchase on your phone will therefore not be available on your tablet, for example. The terms and conditions for your specific app market should include an explanation of this as well.
Unfortunately, this also means that if you uninstall ColorTrek and reinstall it, or reset your device, or delete the data of the ColorTrek app, your progress and your available hints will reset, so you will be back to the original 10 hints that you were given when you first installed the game. Even if you just purchased the 500 hints pack.
The purchase or installation of a level pack failed!
Most likely, this is caused by a problem with your network connection. Both, the purchase transaction and the download of the level pack data require a working data or wifi connection.
I have a billing question! Can you help me?
The actual financial transaction of buying products in ColorTrek is handled entirely by your respective app market (Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, etc.). For any questions regarding your billing, you therefore need to talk to Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. directly.
OTHER QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE MOBILE APP VERSIONS
What permissions does ColorTrek require?
We reduced ColorTrek's permissions to the absolute minimum possible: The only two extra permissions (other than those that every app always gets by default) are "In-App Purchasing" and "Full Internet Access" to allow for the purchase and download of new level and hint packs.
The "Unlimited" version of ColorTrek can even do without any extra permissions at all, since all level packs come pre-packaged with the app and no purchases are necessary.
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"In-App Purchasing" allows us to offer you additional level packs and hint packs for sale inside ColorTrek and we need "Full Internet Access" to be able to verify purchases and download new level pack data. Note that, to our knowledge, there is no such thing as "partial" or "restricted" internet access that we could be using instead, so we are not asking for more access than we actually need here.
Note, also, that ColorTrek does not require any permissions that allow us to read out any personal information from your device. So, even though ColorTrek needs full internet access, it cannot send or modify any of your sensitive data, since it does not have access to such data.
Can I synchronize my progress in ColorTrek across devices?
Unfortunately, the current version of ColorTrek does not offer cross-device synchronization of any kind beyond the purchase of level packs. We did not want to require you to create a user account or log into one of your social media accounts to be able to play. So, we don't currently have a way to identify which devices you own. But we are examining different ways (Cloud Save, iCloud, etc.) that might allow us to provide synchronization in the future without having to require a user login.
What happens if I delete and reinstall ColorTrek?
Unfortunately, for the same reasons that we don't provide cross-device synchronization, you will lose your progress in the game and you will have to start over. But since you can skip to later level packs without completing earlier ones, we hope this will overall be less annoying than having to deal with yet another user account.
ColorTrek crashes, looks strange, or acts weird...
I think I found a bug! What can I do?
Providing a bug-free gaming experience to our users is one of our most important goals. Please contact us and tell us about the issue you are seeing and we will fix it as quickly as we possibly can.
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Unfortunately, due to the large variety of Android devices in particular, there are also often bugs or non-standard behaviors in specific phone models' operating systems that can affect game play in ColorTrek.
Given the huge number of different devices (over ten-thousand!), it is not possible for us to own and test every single one of them. Most likely, there are still several phones and tablets out there that show problems which we simply have not seen yet.
In most cases, once we are made aware of them, we can quickly find a way to work around these issues so that they don't affect game play. So, please contact us if you think you have found such an issue and we will try to reproduce and fix it as soon as we can.
In a few rare cases, though, there is simply nothing sensible we can do. One such example is that the Samsung Galaxy S2 ignores commands to set the volume of audio streams, so the sliders on the ColorTrek Settings screen only allow you to turn the sound effects and music on or off, but not to set their individual volumes. I can think of only two ways for us to work around this problem: Either, we include different versions of each audio effect, each with a different volume, which would significantly increase the size of the game. Or, we could modify the audio data ourselves on the fly before passing it to Android for play-back, but this would likely make the game run less smoothly on low-end devices and consume more battery power. So, this is one of the rare cases, where we decided that ignoring the bug is a better choice than trying to fix it, especially since the impact on game play is fairly minimal as the overall volume settings with the phone's volume buttons still work fine.
There is an update to ColorTrek! Should I install it?
The short answer is "Yes!", since it will likely provide you with more features or eliminate bugs. We are trying to make sure as best as we possibly can to never introduce new bugs with an update and an update should also not cause you to lose progress in the game. Should a new bug sneak in anyways, let us know and we will not rest until it is fixed. Promised!
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If you are trying to decide whether to update, your app market (Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, ...) should provide a way for you to read about the changes we made to ColorTrek in the new version before updating.
Most likely, these will be some form of bug fix that might only affect a certain set of devices. In that case, we will increase the third number in the version number, e.g. from v1.0.3 to v1.0.4.
If we add a minor new feature or fix a bug in the general game logic that affects all devices, we will increase the second number and reset the third number back to 0, e.g. from v1.0.4 to v1.1.0.
For major new features, we will increase the first number and reset the other two back to zero, e.g. from v1.1.6 to v2.0.0.
This means that, for example, v1.0.1 on Google Play has the exact same features as v1.0.4 on the Amazon app store, there have just been more bug-fixes for the Amazon app store already (related to in-app purchasing).
QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE WEB VERSION OF COLORTREK
What happens to my progress when I close the browser window?
ColorTrek saves your progress in the browser's "local storage", so unless you have local storage disabled (sometimes tied to cookies), your progress should be preserved. Note that the web version always allows you to jump to any level you like, so even a loss of progress should not be a major disappointment.
Can I transfer my progress from one browser/computer to another?
Unfortunately, this is not currently possible, since we don't want to require everyone to sign up for a user account that we could then use to track their progress. But the web version always allows you to jump to any level you like, so you will not need to play levels again that you have already completed.
Can I transfer my progress from the web version to the mobile app version?
Since the mobile app versions contain completely different levels from the web version, there would not be much sense in transferring your progress. Also, we do not want to require everyone to sign up for a user account that we could then use to track their progress.
ColorTrek doesn't work or looks strange or is very slow in my browser. What can I do?
Unfortunately, not all browsers provide the features and performance needed to run ColorTrek well on all devices. For the best possible experience, we recommend Chrome and Safari. If your device allows it, you can try to install and use one of those browsers. Otherwise, if you are on a mobile device, we highly recommend that you simply use the mobile app version of ColorTrek as it will provide you not just with better performance, but also with a lot more features (audio, achievements, ...) and more levels (over 900 free levels). Please do let us know, though, if you think you have found a bug in the web version and we will try to fix it as quickly as we can.
Last Updated: March 25th, 2016
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