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30 Puzzle Design Lessons, Extended Director's Cut

Started by droqen, September 17, 2022, 10:28:03 AM

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Regarding Elyot Grant's
"30 Puzzle Design Lessons,
Extended Director's Cut

(Part 1 of 3 linked)

I have never watched this video all the way through., and I don't think I
ever watched any of parts 2 or 3. But I'm rewatching it because Corey Hardt brought up Eureka and Fiero in Paradise and while thinking about magic door games and discussing them with Sylvie I started to wonder if what I'm looking for is the overlap between eureka and fiero. Eurekafiero. It's been a while since I've thought about "designing a puzzle game" because I haven't enjoyed many. I'm trying to figure out why. I want to go design more puzzles -- but not just puzzles; great, life-changing, horizon-breaking puzzles.

Not a thousand good puzzles, or even a hundred great puzzles; I want a game to have ten, or even just one, perfect puzzle.

Teach me how to design one perfect puzzle, Elyot Grant.


Quote from: 43:34Jon Blow said [..] "The [amount of beauty] in puzzles is correlated to how much truth they reveal."

Quote from: 44:10There are many, many puzzles [where] there's not actually an interesting solution method, or an interesting trick, it's literally just play around with the thing until it's done.


When I feel as though a system does not have enough 'truths' to reveal, when it is not beautiful enough, I am often looking for a way to add more. Now that's...  that can be really difficult.

Anyway, something that bothers me a lot is that I think the aesthetics of many puzzles are not very exciting to me. I like the 'videogame eureka' for some reason. More thoughts to follow, hopefully.


Quote from: Part 2, 7:34(13) Aporia is a promise of surprise
Quote from: Part 2, 12:57perhaps even being so puzzled by [the puzzle] that you might leave the puzzle, go try something else, then come back once you've realized that, well, all the other puzzles had solutions, this one must have one, but what am I not thinking of?

I enter into puzzle games with a huge amount of assumption/privilege. I never feel like a puzzle maybe "has no solution" in the common puzzle-having videogame, because of how obvious the 'rules' are that these sorts of games follow. Puzzles have solutions. When I can't find the solution while in this state of assumption, it's frustrating and annoying. La-Mulana is one of very few games that can take me out of that assumption... because sometimes, often, the puzzles are absolutely unsolvable without outside information that I don't have yet. Sometimes, often, the puzzles are invisible.


This next section is very relevant because it explains why most puzzle games work this way!

Quote from: Part 2, 13:24(14) Cultivate the trust of the solver
Quote from: Part 2, 18:57"Square dealing" // Conventions that constructors abide by to "play fair"
- No unclued anagrams (puzzlehunts)
- No indirect anagrams (cryptic crosswords)
- One key, one lock (escape rooms)
- No outside knowledge (escape rooms)

Still, I think there's something about a lot of these conventions that I don't love. I mean, they just don't excite me.

I suppose what I'm alienated by from all the puzzleverses I've seen is their conventions, not puzzles themselves or the 'eureka' at the core of puzzles... Hmm...


"I don't like [the puzzle game genre]" != "I don't like puzzles", basically.


(do the conventions matter though or am i just frustrated i can't solve the puzzle?? the fiero... hmm...)


Quote from: Part 2, 36:00Avoid making experimentation frustrating