Dev notes – puzzles and surprise

On July 4, 2014 by christy

Just some notes for a new game I’m developing.


“[A] puzzle has a solution, while a mystery may never be solved. A puzzle must make sense, but a mystery may well not.” – Jake Elliot (will add the reference shortly)

“We value puzzles not because we like struggling, but because we like having mechanical phenomena revealed to us.” – Hamish Todd

“The point of the puzzle is to show some truth. Know what that truth is. Eliminate anything that is not about that truth. […] Have a puzzle be part of a sequence or superstructure. […] Removing arbitrary steps hopefully drastically reduces the number of puzzle steps. […] A good balance between low number of steps and low chance of a random successful attempt creates good puzzles. […] The designer is abdicating authorship over the puzzle. ‘The Universe’ is the real designer of the puzzle. It is not about reading the mind of the designer, but about reading the mind of ‘mother nature’.” Jonathan Blow and Marc Ten Bosch


“An easy way to surprise the player is in the way mechanics combine. [Also] Surprise with high-level expressions built from your low-level concepts.” Jonathan Blow