Puzzles in Games – Jan Cheetham

“Puzzles are fun and have a right answer” Kim

“Puzzles are games that are not fun to replay” – Shell

Like Games:

  • Systems in which players engage in conflict
  • Defined by rules
  • Quantifiable outcome
  • Have a goal of finding the dominant strategy

Unlike Games:

  • Don’t respond?
  • Stop being fun once you know the dominant stratigy

Puzzle games contain puzzles embedded into the environment of the game

Good Examples: Tetris, Zelda, etc.

Bad Example: 7th Guest. No real connection between the puzzle and the environment

Whats good about puzzles in games?

  • They force the player to stop and think
  • They force the player to make conceptual shifts
  • They serve as accessible tools for figuring out strategies

Principles of Designing good Puzzles

  1. Make the goal easily understandible
  2. Make it easy to get started (Kim: Build a new Toy that is fun to play with)
    1. Does it act like something they have seen before?
  3. Give a sense of progress (not like solving a riddle)
    1. What does it mean to make progress?
    2. Is there enough progress? Could you add more progression?
    3. Is all progress visible?
    4. Give a sense of solvability (rubrik’s cube comes solved)
    5. Increase difficulty gradually
  4. Parallelism lets the player rest (Give many challenges in parallel so they can work on something else if they get stuck)
    1. Are there bottlenecks in the design where players could get stuck?
    2. Are the parallel challenges different enough?
    3. Are parallel challenges interrelated?
  5. Pyramid structure extends interest (low level puzzles provide clues to higher level puzzles)
    1. Can all pieces of the puzzle fit together into a single challenge at the end
    2. Do the challenges increase in difficulty
    3. IS the challenge at the top interesting?
  6. Hints extend interest (renew hope and curiosity)
  7. Give the Answer
  8. Perceptual shifts are a double-edged sword


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