Browsing CategoryPuzzle and Hunt Design

I Helped Run a Game

…and that’s why I haven’t posted anything for the past two months!  (Warning, this post will probably contain some spoilers for The Famine Game.  All photos are either by Sana Malik or me unless otherwise noted.) Last week, my husband and I flew to Washington, D.C. to help run The Famine Game, a Hunger Games-themed Game organized by Todd Etter and Philip Dasler, and the first ever Game run in Washington, D.C.  In this post, I’m just going to re-cap my personal experience with the Game.  It won’t be a comprehensive report of the Famine Game itself by any means…

GC Summit 2013

We landed in Seattle on Saturday morning, and there was already a puzzle-related event to attend by Sunday afternoon!  I was worried we’d be a little too exhausted or overwhelmed to make it to the Seattle meet-up for Game Control Summit, but we had a lot of time on Saturday to get settled and Nick knew I would regret it later if we didn’t try to go.  So we made the quick drive down to the Microsoft campus where new friends, pizza, and cookies were waiting for us! =) I think our side had around 13 people for most of…

Elegance

Today I’d like to talk a bit about elegance in puzzle design.  I touched briefly on the subject in my red herrings post, but I think there is a difference between an elegant puzzle and one that just doesn’t have any extraneous parts. Alex Pearson provided a perfect definition for elegance in the comments of that red herring post: Elegant (adj): Everything cluing and everything clued. That means no extraneous parts, but also that all of the parts coordinate in a sensible and meaningful way. I’m learning a lot about elegance as I design more puzzles.  I’m learning certain expectations that solvers…

Content-Heavy Puzzles

So I’ve been working a little bit on a puzzle Todd gave me from an old NPL convention.  I haven’t gotten very far yet (still been spending most of my free time cleaning up from the aftermath of a crazy October), but I’ve really enjoyed it so far.  The puzzle is all contained within a small newspaper, full of articles and photos with a comics section, horoscopes, personal ads, and ads for several local businesses.  This type of puzzle can definitely feel overwhelming at first since there is so much data to sift through, but that feeling starts to go away when…

Weather

It finally feels like October!  I ran an event last week and my players were sweating by the end because it was a ridiculous 80 degrees outside.  Now it’s 50 and drizzling.  October is pretty much my favorite month, but it was hard to get excited when it still felt like August.  So I’m a happy camper now, even though it means running errands in the rain. The weather has me thinking about weather and puzzle hunts/other events.  How do you plan for and deal with it as a designer and player, and what are ideal hunt conditions? My first…

Mazes

Let’s talk about mazes!  Josh linked me to this article the other day about a man who is trying to create the first Guinness World Record for longest hand-drawn maze.  The hook of the article is that, since the maze is so long and arduous, the creator is having trouble finding people who want to bother to sit down and solve it.  I can relate (to those wary solvers). Pencil-and-paper mazes baffle me.  How do you even make them?  Are there some patterns and tricks that you learn?  Does your mind become good at keeping track of the path and…

Trust

Dan Egnor left a comment last week mentioning “GC trust,” which is a great topic that deserves a post of its own.  It’s definitely a thought that has come up a lot since I’ve gotten into puzzle hunts and game design. Trust is a two-way street when it comes to puzzles and games.  One side is the trust that players give to the designer or game control, and the other side is the trust that the designers give to their potential players.   GC/Designer Trust What Dan brought up is the first type, GC/designer trust from the player’s perspective.  This…

The Narrative Trap

More things to say about narrative!  Hope I don’t repeat myself too much.  Today I’m thinking about how narrative and theme are kind of tricky in puzzle-based events.  With regular games, you might imagine “I want to make a game about the zombie apocalypse,” and then the constraints of that theme inspire the mechanics of the game (the zombies, the survivors, the chase, and victory).  With puzzle events, I feel like it often starts from the other end, with “I want to make a puzzle event,” but the act of designing to fit within a certain narrative or theme comes…

Transmedia Puzzles

Transmedia is a word I only recently discovered after joining Twitter.  From what I understand, the word describes any single experience (usually a story) that spans across multiple media platforms.  Alternate Reality Games are usually good examples of transmedia experiences.  Today I’d like to think and talk about transmedia puzzles, or puzzle experiences that span across multiple platforms and formats rather than being self-contained. A lot of puzzles stay within the confines of a sheet of paper, a set of instructions, or a webpage, no outside research or other technologies required.  But other puzzles, or series of puzzles that make…

What I Learned About Narrative

First of all, to anyone who is curious after all the build-up, Jefferson’s Lost Invention went great!  The teams were super nice and enthusiastic (and really excited to have a Charlottesville race), none of the clues were broken (though some could use improvement), everybody seemed to have a good time, and I didn’t have any meltdowns!  Thanks to Team C’ville, Team Kaiya, Team A-Squared, and reader Tabstop for making it out on Saturday, I had a great time and loved meeting all of you!  And a special thanks to my husband for driving me around all day, carrying stuff, and…