I have written a program to solve a special puzzle, but now I'm kind of stuck at the following problem: I have about 3200 points/nodes/dots. Each of these points is connected to a few other points (usually 2-5, theoretical limit is 1-26). I have exactly one starting point and about 30 exit points (probably all of the exit points are connected to each other). Many of these 3200 points are probably not connected to neither start nor end point in any way, like a separate net, but all points are connected to at least one other point.
I need to find the shortest number of hops to go from entry to exit. There is no distance between the points (unlike the road or train routing problem), just the number of hops counts. I need to find all solutions with the shortest number of hops, and not just one solution, but all. And potentially also solutions with one more hop etc. I expect to have a solution with about 30-50 hops to go from start to exit.
I already tried:
1) randomly trying possibilities and just starting over when the count was bigger than a previous solution. I got first solution with 3500 hops, then it got down to about 97 after some minutes, but looking at the solutions I saw problems like unnecessary loops and stuff, so I tried to optimize a bit (like not going back where it came from etc.). More optimizations are possible, but this random thing doesn't find all best solutions or takes too long.
2) Recursively run through all ways from start (chess-problem-like) and breaking the try when it reached a previous point. This was looping at about a length of 120 nodes, so it tries chains that are (probably) by far too long. If we calculate 4 possibilities and 120 nodes, we're reaching 1.7E72 possibilities, which is not possible to calculate through. This is called Depth-first search (DFS) as I found out in the meantime. Maybe I should try Breadth-first search by adding some queue?
The connections between the points are actually moves you can make in the game and the points are how the game looks like after you made the move.
What would be the algorithm to use for this problem? I'm using C#.NET, but the language shouldn't matter.