July 18, 2017 Subject:
Not a review, but a memory as one of the authors... In addition to deploying in schools, MECC Maze was featured as a student competition during one of the annual MECC Conferences. Scoring was based on time from start to completion as a typical race. It was interesting seeing the different strategies used by students. Some did left or right hand rule. Some moved forward at maximum speed, but used impact checking to look for encountering an object (e.g. wall). And yet another took a radically different approach by scanning the entire playing field, building an internal map of the maze and calculating the best route through. That student's run was strange at first because the "puck" would just sit there at the start for a while, but then would run through the maze at warp speed.
Purely for fun, and knowing that it broke all of the design rules, the judges tossed in a non-scoring "bonus" maze just to offer an unanticipated challenge: a maze that included 45-degree angles. Prior to now, all mazes had only 90 degree corners.
The choice of strategies implemented had a direct impact on how well this "out of spec" challenge was met. Some of the algorithms worked perfectly, navigating the playing field correctly, whereas another looked like it amusingly also broke the rules -- it simply burned a who new path through the maze and crashing through walls and barriers, made it to the exit in near record time, though leaving digital carnage behind.
Considering the short prep time, and the very limited environment available, these kids all did a great job.