Need to keep your kids busy while you do your housework in peace? Give them puzzles to solve. It will keep them occupied for a few minutes and at the same time stimulate their developing grey cells. Mazes are quite addicting, even for grown-ups, and very convenient too – hundreds of free mazes are available on the Internet. Just download them, print it out on a sheet, give them a crayon and set them to work. If that’s what you want, you can stop reading here, go to Google.com or Bing.com or whatever your preferred search engine is, and search for freely available mazes. If on the other hand, creating your own puzzles sounds interesting, even mildly, then read on.
Amaze is an open source, multi platform maze creating software that lets you build your own mazes of varying size, complexity and color. The program’s user interface has a pretty standard menu-bar at the top, a set of controls on the left and a canvas area on the right.
Using the sliders you can adjust the height and width of the maze and two other parameters called “Stay” and “Cut”. The maze is immediately rendered on the canvas area. Adjust the values of the parameters and watch how the maze changes. You can change the shape of the tiles from square to triangles, hexagon and octagon, the colors, and can also click in the canvas area, to change the entry and exit points. Each time the entry and exit is changed, the maze changes too. Using the menus and controls it is possible to create essentially unlimited number of mazes.
If square mazes sounds boring, drag and drop an image into the canvas and the maze will take the shape of the outline in the image. For best results, use PNG images having a clear outline of the object like the one used in the example below.
You can also embed a secret message into the maze. The path which reveals the message is the right one. In the example shown, the message is “INSTANTFUNDAS”, the letters interspersed with “0” and the rest of the boxes filled with random alphabets.
Mazes can be saved as an image file, Blender python script or Maya script files (which you can import into the respective 3D program). By default, the program will also print the path in the maze. Remember to uncheck the ‘Show path’ option from the menus.