Building Puzzles

Wild_West

Member
I'm about ready to start building the level layouts for my, what I hope will be, finally, first real completed game, since my last 3 year development one has to be put aside.
But the problem I face now is that this game isn't a strict linear side scroller like my first attempt was.
I have 2 stages per level before a boss, the first, a big room themed around a specific puzzle, the second would then be a straight forward run to the goal and shoot whatever's in your way type.
Thing is I've never designed a puzzle before the closest I've ever really come is messing about with Mario maker :p
Does anyone have any tips or guides or what have you about good puzzle design that I can actually take note of and apply to my game?
I'll code new objects for a puzzle if I have to I finished making just about everything else save for the actual bosses. If it helps at all to know, the game theme is centered around getting around lock mechanisms, and objects that respond to the player's barrier ability. The rest is standard shooting but you can gain different barrier or shooting effects based on a certain object(s). I have a crude in game calculator, a thing for holding number values to remember, and that's about it.
 

Storyteller

Member
so, you might check out 'the 300'.
http://www.squidi.net/three/
Whilst not specific to your needs, its a great source of inspiration.

Might try playing Alundra, or Vagrant Story, both have great puzzles.

In short, designing a puzzle is about confounding the player. How can you make A->B the longest rout possible.
Can you make the player think about their actions, instead of just reacting to what is on screen?

Levers, doors, physics, floating platforms on water you have to raise, knocking things down to get past lava, carefully hitting something while not hitting something else, doing things in a certain order and avoiding traps are staples of gaming puzzles. Changing gravity, wind speed or direction, applying power to a machine, redirecting the flow of something 'say enemies' and navigating a maze or series of obstacles are all valid ideas.

Try Zelda, the Minnish Cap for a few good puzzles.
 
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Alex Lyons

Guest
Some things about puzzles that all designers should implement:
  • Ensure the player knows what the end goal of the puzzle is while they're solving it
  • The puzzle should not interrupt the flow of the rest of the game
  • Never force a time limit or punishments for not solving the puzzle fast enough onto the player, as everyone's mind processes differently
  • Once a puzzle is solved, never make the player have to do it again if they fail after solving it
  • Have the puzzle be a little different for each playthough of the game, so that way its a somewhat new experience each time
  • Mind the basic rules of pacing
    • Every step to completing the overall puzzle should be a puzzle in of itself
    • Each one of these steps should increase in complexity/difficulty the closer you get to solving the main puzzle
    • Each one of these steps should build off the last one or at least involve the same kind of thinking
 
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Wild_West

Member
Some things about puzzles that all designers should implement:
  • Ensure the player knows what the end goal of the puzzle is while they're solving it
  • The puzzle should not interrupt the flow of the rest of the game
  • Never force a time limit or punishments for not solving the puzzle fast enough onto the player, as everyone's mind processes differently
  • Once a puzzle is solved, never make the player have to do it again if they fail after solving it
  • Have the puzzle be a little different for each playthough of the game, so that way its a somewhat new experience each time
  • Mind the basic rules of pacing
    • Every step to completing the overall puzzle should be a puzzle in of itself
    • Each one of these steps should increase in complexity/difficulty the closer you get to solving the main puzzle
    • Each one of these steps should build off the last one or at least involve the same kind of thinking
Yeah I'm gonna need more stuff lol But very helpful, thank you.
 

Wild_West

Member
so, you might check out 'the 300'.
http://www.squidi.net/three/
Whilst not specific to your needs, its a great source of inspiration.

Might try playing Alundra, or Vagrant Story, both have great puzzles.

In short, designing a puzzle is about confounding the player. How can you make A->B the longest rout possible.
Can you make the player think about their actions, instead of just reacting to what is on screen?

Levers, doors, physics, floating platforms on water you have to raise, knocking things down to get past lava, carefully hitting something while not hitting something else, doing things in a certain order and avoiding traps are staples of gaming puzzles. Changing gravity, wind speed or direction, applying power to a machine, redirecting the flow of something 'say enemies' and navigating a maze or series of obstacles are all valid ideas.

Try Zelda, the Minnish Cap for a few good puzzles.
actually saw a playthrough of Minnish cap on youtube. I guess you could call my locks doors I mean they do halt the player but mostly just need a number input to be unlocked, like an exponential boost to it's starting number, or a keycode of 4 digits to be located in the level somewhere, inputting the average of 3 values, making the lock collide with another object(Not a key), a lock that needs the payer to be holding a certain item(again not a key). But I guess that's pretty much the same as the other one, just this item can be used for other things.
I don't have changing gravity but the player can halt his own gravity if he as the item he needs for as long as his barrier is up.
So essentially what I've been doing is coding objects I wanted to make and trying to puzzle build AROUND them. But what I should do is think about what puzzle to make first THEN code objects for them. Which is gonna take me a while.
But what you said about the longest route from A to B, is troubling because my view is only 500x500 in a large room, so you can't see much as a whole since wanted to encourage the idea of exploration.
 

Yal

šŸ§ *penguin noises*
GMC Elder
It can be kinda interesting to look at Mark Brown's Boss Keys series, he goes through the dungeon design in every Zelda game and simplifies the layouts into diagrams and stuff to make it as generalized as possible.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc38fcMFcV_ul4D6OChdWhsNsYY3NA5B2

In general, I'd say most puzzles are either along the way of "take object A to point B to gain access at area C" or "change state of object A to gain access at area B", with more advanced puzzles being combinations (such as having to rotate several bridges to be able to cross a lake being several linked type 2 puzzles). It's easier to design object-fetching puzzles, but state-change puzzles often FEEL more like puzzles, so I'd urge you to be aware of this and try to work in more of those.
 

Wild_West

Member
It can be kinda interesting to look at Mark Brown's Boss Keys series, he goes through the dungeon design in every Zelda game and simplifies the layouts into diagrams and stuff to make it as generalized as possible.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc38fcMFcV_ul4D6OChdWhsNsYY3NA5B2

In general, I'd say most puzzles are either along the way of "take object A to point B to gain access at area C" or "change state of object A to gain access at area B", with more advanced puzzles being combinations (such as having to rotate several bridges to be able to cross a lake being several linked type 2 puzzles). It's easier to design object-fetching puzzles, but state-change puzzles often FEEL more like puzzles, so I'd urge you to be aware of this and try to work in more of those.
Ah okay, see when I hear it describes as bare bones as that it instantly gives me ideas to try, so I'll have a look at the series, and see what doesn't come to mind. Much appreciated ;)
 
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