Your game's Puzzles?

Discussion in 'Game Mechanics Design' started by Isabella Ava, Jan 17, 2018.

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  1. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Interesting though these worked examples might be, they are not strictly on topic, which is asking for puzzle types, not puzzle solutions.
     
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  2. Wavelength

    Wavelength Pre-Merge Boot Moderator

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    I'm of a very passionate (and apparently uncommon) belief that a player's progress through a game should never be restricted by something as arbitrary as a puzzle. Few things in gaming frustrate me as much as getting good at an RPG's combat and skill systems, enjoying the story and exploration, and then... coming across a puzzle that's there for some reason and getting stuck because I didn't think of the same thing that the designer did and giving up after two hours and looking for a solution online.

    That frustration was part of the inspiration for timeblazer, and its emphasis on forward motion and speed. All of the game's puzzles take place over 60 seconds or less - if you don't solve them in 60 seconds, no problem - you still move on; if you do solve them, though, you earn a bonus in the next boss battle. So with that emphasis on speed in mind, here are the types of puzzles and other concentration challenges I designed for timeblazer:
    • Find a route across a river by jumping across crates of different colors - without jumping between two crates of the same color
    • Keep track of a shapeshifting 'Impostor' as he blends in to a scene with lookalike townspeople and moves around
    • Deactivate an electric barrier by turning all switches in a grid On - but toggling a switch will also toggle all adjacent switches
    • Count the number of reindeer running around in a frenzy around Santa's workshop
    • Memorize which mirrors in a small haunted house are 'possessed' as spirits enter and leave them, then figure out a path through the house which won't lead you in front of any possessed mirrors
    I'm fond of these kinds of puzzles that offer a bit of creative mindbending without roadblocking the player from enjoying the rest of the game if she cannot solve it.
     
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  3. HumanNinjaToo

    HumanNinjaToo The Cheerful Pessimist Veteran

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    I’m of the same mind as @Wavelength , I implement puzzles in my own game as a challenge to get rare loot, and not a necessity to progress the game.
     
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  4. Hercanic

    Hercanic Villager Member

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    I would argue the solution is just as relevant as the problem in understanding a puzzle. It's especially important to help any readers who didn't get the puzzle.

    It's also valuable as a beta test for how the problem is described to readers and by extension players. In this particular instance, Countyoungblood realized he left out part of the puzzle's description.


    My solution already accounted for this. If you check, all rows and columns add up to 15. You said as much originally:

    Obviously I can't solve something you never mentioned! In that case, if I swap the 9 and 5 columns, I get one diagnal to equal 15.

    5 + 9 + 1
    3 + 4 + 8
    7 + 2 + 6

    The other equals 12, so not good enough. Diagnals do not happen naturally, it is another layer of challenge entirely.

    The diagnal condition is a good way to up the difficulty of this puzzle, but you can also leave it out for an easier puzzle. You can do both as well, using the easier one first and building on it later with the new diagnal challenge.

    The key to solving the non-diagnal puzzle is realizing 9 is what you want to start with, because there are only two ways to get the remaining 6 with two 1-9 numbers without repeating: 5+1 and 4+2. 3+3 won't work because it repeats. After starting with 9, the puzzle almost solves itself. With that in mind, a good hint for players is to emphasize the number 9 in some way, such as NPC dialogue. You could also show them the solution indirectly with objects in place of numbers on your map, like plants or stones.

    Back to the Diagnal Challenge, because of 9 there isn't leeway in re-ordering the numbers. However, I can swap rows and columns without affecting how they add up horizontally and vertically. This actually helps make the puzzle easier.

    I can swap the middle row/column left or right / up or down. That's four movement possibilities. I can also swap the outer rows/columns with each other, but that won't affect how the diagnals add up. The key is the center number. It can't be too big. 9 only has two options to get to 15, whereas the center number needs at least four ways to get to 15.

    9 needs 6 to equal 15.
    6 = 5+1= 4+2.
    Two options. Cannot be center number.

    8 needs 7 to equal 15.
    7 = 6+1 = 5+2 = 4+3.
    Three options. Cannot be center number.

    7 needs 8 to equal 15.
    8 = 7+1 = 6+2 = 5+3.
    Two options. Why? Because 7+1 repeats the original 7. Cannot be center number.

    6 needs 9 to equal 15.
    9 = 8+1 = 7+2 = 6+3 = 5+4.
    Three options. Cannot be center number.

    5 need 10 to equal 15.
    10 = 9+1 = 8+2 = 7+3 = 6+4.
    Four options! This can be the center number.

    4 needs 11 to equal 15.
    11 = 9+2 = 8+3 = 7+4 = 6+5.
    Four options? No! 7+4 is invalid because it repeats the original 4. So only three options, which means it cannot be the center number.

    3 needs 12 to equal 15.
    12 = 9+3 = 8+4 = 7+5.
    Two options.

    2 needs 13 to equal 15.
    13 = 9+4 = 8+5 = 7+6.
    Three options.

    1 needs 14 to equal 15.
    14 = 9+5 = 8+6.
    Two options.

    This means there is literally only one candidate for the center number: 5.

    4 + 3 + 8
    9 + 5 + 1
    2 + 7 + 6

    All I had to do was swap the first row and middle row of my original solution, and everything fell into place.

    The key hints are 5 in the center and starting with 9. It solves itself after that. Although 9 isn't the only two-option number, much to my surprise after working out all options. 7, 3, and 1 are all like 9 with only two options. In fact, all odd numbers except 5 have only two options. So technically any of those could work as a hint, but 9 might make it more obvious since it's the largest number.

    Another interesting thing I realized is the amount of options a number has corresponds to where it is on the grid. All corner numbers are even, because they have three options. The odd numbers, who only have two options, can never be corner numbers, because the corners need three options for a horizontal, vertical, and one diagnal solution.

    One last hint is that because the solution must always be 15, an odd number, all equations must contain exactly one or three odd numbers. Even numbers can never add up to an odd number, and two odd numbers will always equal an even number.

    By identifying patterns in the solution, we can point to them in our hints to the player. For example:

    "My corners are even
    my heart is odd
    in every direction
    Fifteen you must seek."


    Yeah, doesn't rhyme, I leave that up to you.

    What I like about this puzzle is that although it seems daunting at first, when you think through all your options using the rules as I just did, the answer becomes obvious. It's a great puzzle, but players may need a pencil and paper to visualize it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
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  5. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    Very good. You got it and im sorry i almost cheated you of the full game by omitting the diagonals. The beauty of this puzzle in its complete form is that its perfectly counter balanced.

    If you were to use weights from 1 pound to 9 pounds the puzzle could balance on a square only as big as the center box.


    Understanding how a puzzle works is a great way to learn how to make puzzles
     
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  6. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    @Hercanic This is Mechanics Design, not a "How do I...?" part of the forum and the above is a hi-jacking of a thread from the question posed by the OP. As I said, interesting, useful even, but off topic.
     
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  7. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    Fair enough, lets get back to the op's question then.

    After a puzzle is explained how much can we discuss the puzzle before it becomes too much?

    I dont mind sharing more ideas though developing any one idea might be hard if the discussion is held too tightly.

    Would you prefer a new thread be made for the discussion of each puzzle?
     
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  8. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    The point is not to get into implementation aspects as Game Mechanics Design is meant to look at aspects of game play at a more conceptual level.

    No, I am not suggesting a new thread be made for the discussion of each puzzle. That idea is well OTT.
     
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  9. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    There is an expression..

    "Begin with the end in mind"

    Some might say the point is to begin at implimentation and work backwards.

    Specifically here someone elses successfully constructed puzzle

    What is better for learning good puzzle making than solving good puzzles?

    If i cant talk about different puzzles how to solve them and thus how to create similar puzzles inspired and i cant make threads about each puzzle im lost.

    The topic for me has died.
     
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  10. Kes

    Kes Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Your choice. 'Game Mechanics Design' has never been about implementation and that is not going to change now.
     
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  11. mlogan

    mlogan Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Perhaps it could be a discussion in General Discussion? Something along the lines of "how to look at a puzzle's solution to design the puzzle" or something?
     
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  12. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    It makes no difference to me where the thread is as long as a full discussion can be made.

    Where should I put a thread called
    "Puzzle development: emulation, dissection, and implementation"

    I would like to discuss different puzzles and how they work then discuss how to translate said puzzles into rpg maker.
     
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  13. HumanNinjaToo

    HumanNinjaToo The Cheerful Pessimist Veteran

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    I think puzzles should have some place within the context they are used. For example, the slippery ice puzzle makes sense in an ice cave.

    I suggest looking at the area you are wanting to add the puzzle into. If area is a fire cave, you might have some type of lava flow puzzle where player has to control sluice gates to direct the flow and alter paths.

    An ancient ruin could have a puzzle that has multiple levers needing to be positioned in a particular order, in order to open doors or turn off traps.

    I’m fond of word puzzles. You could have the clues hidden in various books, then have some old codger offering reward for correct answer.

    I’d say that almost any kind of puzzle can be created, it just depends how you can fit it in the game seamlessly, to make contextual sense.
     
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  14. mlogan

    mlogan Global Moderators Global Mod

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    Sometimes it’s hard to find a “perfect” spot here for certain topics. However I do still think General Discussion is the best place for it, seeing as there’s not that perfect place.
     
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  15. Countyoungblood

    Countyoungblood Sleeping Dragon Veteran

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    Very good thank you logan
     
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