[TINS 2017] Peppy Peptide Puzzle

Max and I present our TINS 2017 entry - Peppy Peptide Puzzle.


It is a puzzle game where you have to cure a bunny by mutating its DNA. (the bunny is being treated for a nasty paper cut). You have to combine different kinds of mutations to get the correct sequence. There are 12 puzzles in total.

Use the arrow keys & enter to select a type of mutation, then use arrow keys and enter again to select the position in the gene where you want to apply it.

I put some of my molecular biology knowledge into this game. The puzzle itself is very simple, but I put a lot of time into animations and tutorial text to make it all understandable. The types of mutations, as well as the way the gene is translated into a sequence of amino acids, is realistic. (The idea that this would be an effective treatment, or that it would be possible to make a single targeted mutation with a ray gun, is not realistic).

So give it a try! I'm curious to know if you find the puzzles easy or hard, if the whole concept is understandable, and if you learned something new from it.

How to get it

edit: here are newer versions with two hotfixes:

Linux binary and source: http://www.amarillion.org/speedhack/peptide-src-linux-x86-bin-post-competition.tar.gz

Windows binary: http://www.amarillion.org/speedhack/peptide-win-post-competition.zip

These entries have two small post-competition fixes
1. After finishing the last level, the game used to crash (changeset)
2. Add a quit button, so that you can escape the game in fullscreen mode, without resorting to the task manager (changeset)

(The original submission is still available here:


Your gif hurts my head. :o I tried to play this last night, but I think I failed to build it from source. The binaries should bypass that headache, but it looks like the gameplay is going to hurt my head more than building it did. :P


a headache? why? Because of the flashing cursor?

The gif recording has a nasty alias effect with the flashing cursor, making it look kinda bad here. The gif isn't supposed to put you off from playing, if that's the case then I'll remove it.


I think because it's full of unfamiliar, unconventional words in a difficult to read font. :P Probably A.cc shrunk the image down to fit the forums which makes it worse. I've forgotten how to even pronounce chemical compounds from high school chemistry, and I never even took biology really. It makes me have to try to think about how to pronounce them, and it makes it difficult for me track them in my brain not just implicitly knowing how to refer to them. I'll give the actual game a shot and report back how it actually went with the real thing.


First nitpick: the text changes too fast. Not everybody reads quickly, and often you are distracted by your cat or your girlfriend or whatever. If the text automatically changes then you can easily miss something and you never know if it was important or not. It would be better if the text waited for user input to change.

Second nitpick: It was also confusing that the tutorial said to use the arrow keys to select a mutation when there was only one to choose from. Pressing the arrow keys didn't update the screen so it wasn't clear if the user was doing it correctly. It would be better to tell the user to just press enter (or implicitly skip that requirement in the first two levels) and then later when there's an actual choice introduce that control then.

Third nitpick: Since I've missed about 50% of the text I don't really know what's going on anymore. I did random mutations on level 3 and somehow still completed the level. I legit have no idea what's going on at this point.

Forth nitpick: Hitting F1 to reset the level after failure seems to clear the text area rather than repeating it or preserving it.

Fifth nitpick: Apparently you didn't implement ESC or q to quit or the window close event. :)


Haha, this brings bad memories of genetics in college... it's a super creative idea though, I really like it. This could really be a nice educational tool. I didn't get very far with it as I'm still groggy from staying up late finishing my entry... I'll definitely get back to this.


Ok, that's usetul feedback. I can try to slow down the introduction, and limit the new concepts.

I could have made the intro text wait for keypress, but I also didn't want to make you wait very long when replaying. I think i'll make something so you can scroll back if nefessary.

I'm targetin the level of high school biology here, so it should be understandable. If not, I consider that a bug.


Alright, I got pretty far this time. It was challenging, but definitely fun. It could have used some reaction of the bunny to when you really screwed up though, hah. Unfortunately, after the level with amino acids spelling HPAA, it crashes for me (I think it's 1 level past the stop codon introduction). EDIT: Just noticed the edit, I was playing the original game. Looks like I didn't miss much!

Chris Katko

How do you record GIF's like that? Is there an easy way? Best workflow I can have right now is dumping from OBS, manually clipping it with ffmpeg on the command line, and then finding some kind of MP4 to GIF tool/website.


I record them with the byzanz-gui script described here. This works on linux.

@SiegeLord - indeed, if it crashes, you finished the game!


Ha! This was the most frustrating experience of my life, even though the game itself was really fun - once I slowly and painfully had figured out what I was supposed to do.

I think the explanation texts have several very glaring omissions (despite all the stuff they do tell you). These are things that need to be added:

- the relationship between letters (like A) and colors (like green)
- what a transversion does before you first have to use one (it's the only thing you actually do get told eventually in level 3 when you already would have needed that knowledge in levels 1 and 2)
- what/where a "codon" is (in the game, not in molecular biology) - for example say "one of the boxes" or "one of the colored bars" (I'm still not sure)
- what/where an "amino acid" is (again, in the game!)
- what the 6 boxes to the left of the screen are supposed to be
- what the 9 bars at the bottom left are supposed to be
- the difference between the upper and lower row of the 6 boxes (it seems the lower row only there to confuse - I tip my hat to the evil game creator for that twist, heh)
- the "stop codons" still need to be shown in the upper row of boxes, how else would I know what they are? memorize a set of random letter sequences??

But yeah, the biggest wtf is the lower/middle row of boxes to the left, sitting right between your input (at the bottom) and the target (at the top) and so you will always look at those random boxes in the center and get confused... unless that really was the idea to begin with :P

Elias said:

Ha! This was the most frustrating experience of my life

Does that include cross-compiling allegro games for windows on a linux system? :P

Seriously, I'm working on a new version with a better tutorial. Stay tuned...


I tried to compile (on OSX) simply using "make" but ended up with a lot of warnings and a final error of:

clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)
make: *** [build/debug/tins17] Error 1

I've attached the full output for your reference.


It looks like the linker is missing all the allegro symbols, as well as _main.

I think the makefile simply doesn't refer to the allegro libs correctly for OS X.I never adjusted the makefile to OS X, so that is not so surprising.

Bruce Perry

I've been playing the entries in the order of 'thread that looks as if it'll close first' so I could make sure I can post in all of them, and I've finally got to yours. I liked it - I did have to make one or two guesses as others have highlighted, and I had to know a bit already (the way T pairs with ... something, hence how the 180-degree rotation can make sense), but with that knowledge, the puzzles made sense and were challenging and fun :)

I think you might have got your arrow key logic inverted when choosing a thing on the right.

Good work making so many things animate while still allowing user input and progress during the animations :)


Good work making so many things animate while still allowing user input and progress during the animations

Thanks! I had the puzzle itself more or less finished on Saturday. The rest of the time was spent to visualize what is happening with animations etc. If you thought the game is confusing now, you should have seen how it was on Saturday morning :)

OneWing, any luck compiling for OS X? I imagine a small fix to the makefile should do it. Too bad you can't install OS X on a VM, or I would be able to try it out myself.

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