Types of Puzzles

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Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/6/97
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It has occured to me that my games is not very well-rounded. I have
some contraption puzzles (push button, pull knob) some lock-and-key
puzzles, and a few hide-and-seek puzzles (which are a lot like
lock-and-key if you think about it.) And that's pretty much it.

What other kinds of puzzles are there? I seem to recall reading
somewhere where someone listed 8 or so types of puzzles, but I can't for
the life of me remember where.

Kathleen
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Mary K. Kuhner

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Mar 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/6/97
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>What other kinds of puzzles are there? I seem to recall reading
>somewhere where someone listed 8 or so types of puzzles, but I can't for
>the life of me remember where.

I can't either. Here's a really disorganized list of ones I've seen:

operating a machine
solving a cryptogram
finding bits of information needed to decode a message
lock and key
figuring out which question to ask a person
disguising yourself to accomplish something
getting someone else to perform an action you can't
deduction or research--putting clues together
mazes (eek!)
noticing a significant detail
using the passage of time to do something
figuring out your game objective
finding a way to differentiate similar things
fighting something

If you think about it too much, almost all of these reduce to "lock and
key" or "operate a machine", except for the cryptograms and logic
puzzles.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@genetics.washington.edu

Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/6/97
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OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
more than one, of course).

Mechanical
- gadgets
- vehicles

Logic
- cryptograms
- word puzzles

Knowledge
- deduction or research -- putting clues together
- noticing a significant detail
- figuring out the game objective
? differentiating similar things (might go under Logic, but logic
sometimes has nothing to do with it)
? disguising yourself to accomplish something
? getting someone else to perform an action you can't

Lock and Key
- hide & seek

Geographical
- mazes
- hidden passages

Management
- inventory
- time

Luck
- fighting something
- trial & error

Syntax
- guess the verb :(


... how am I doing?

Matthew T. Russotto

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Mar 6, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/6/97
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In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>,

Kathleen Fischer <kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
}OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
}recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
}start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
}more than one, of course).
}
}Mechanical
} - gadgets
} - vehicles

}Logic
} - cryptograms
} - word puzzles

- Some forms of order. One must disable the alarm BEFORE picking the
lock, for example. Of course, finding the alarm is Knowledge.

}Knowledge
} - deduction or research -- putting clues together
} - noticing a significant detail
} - figuring out the game objective
} ? differentiating similar things (might go under Logic, but logic
} sometimes has nothing to do with it)

Put the spirit things here :-)

} ? disguising yourself to accomplish something
} ? getting someone else to perform an action you can't

These two are "lock and key", I think.

}Lock and Key
} - hide & seek

}Geographical
} - mazes
} - hidden passages

}Management
} - inventory
} - time

- game objects. Some solutions to puzzles may destroy or lose
objects needed to solve other puzzles. So the player must realize
those other puzzles must be solved first. Or puzzles may have
alternate solutions which don't destroy the game objects (evil when
unclued).

}Luck
} - fighting something
} - trial & error

}Syntax
} - guess the verb :(

- translation -- I'm thinking of the 'levant drei' puzzle in Journey,
in particular, where you have to enter your command
in the "foreign" language. Other sorts of
translations probably fall under "logic".

- getting your point across to NPCs. This is a more advanced form of
"guess the verb", and REALLY annoyed me in "Suspect". I had the whole
thing figured out, knew who did it, had the evidence, but couldn't get
the right syntax to get a particular bit of evidence across.
--
Matthew T. Russotto russ...@pond.com
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Julian Arnold

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Mar 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/7/97
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In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>, Kathleen Fischer
<URL:mailto:kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
>
> OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
> recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
> start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
> more than one, of course).
>
> Mechanical
> - gadgets
> - vehicles
>
> Logic
> - cryptograms
> - word puzzles
>
> Knowledge
> - deduction or research -- putting clues together
> - noticing a significant detail
> - figuring out the game objective
> ? differentiating similar things (might go under Logic, but logic
> sometimes has nothing to do with it)
> ? disguising yourself to accomplish something
> ? getting someone else to perform an action you can't
>
> Lock and Key
> - hide & seek
>
> Geographical
> - mazes
> - hidden passages
>
> Management
> - inventory
> - time
>
> Luck
> - fighting something
> - trial & error
>
> Syntax
> - guess the verb :(
>
>
> .... how am I doing?

Sounds good. I'd add:

Management
- need for food/water/sleep/whatever to keep you going (much hated btw)

Vicarious
- coercing an NPC into solving a puzzle

Jools
--
"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand
ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me
from ever completing anything." -- Herman Melville, "Moby Dick"


Joe and Bonnie Aultman

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Mar 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/7/97
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In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>,

Kathleen Fischer <kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
>OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
>recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
>start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
>more than one, of course).

[LIST SNIPPED]

>... how am I doing?
>Kathleen

This is neither the first nor the worst attempt to categorize the types
of puzzles. I've seen a number of lists in my short time here, and I
attempted one myself some time ago.

The thing about it is that the level of generality one views the puzzles
with is completely arbitrary. A list can have a thousand categories,
or just one, like mine, which states that all puzzles are just variations
on the Zork II bank vault.

That is all,

Joe

Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/7/97
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Joe and Bonnie Aultman wrote:
> This is neither the first nor the worst attempt to categorize the
> types of puzzles. I've seen a number of lists in my short time here,
> and I attempted one myself some time ago.

Let's play nicely. There's plunty of room in the sandbox for all of us.

> The thing about it is that the level of generality one views the
> puzzles with is completely arbitrary. A list can have a thousand
> categories, or just one

You could make the same statement about the animal kingdom, yet
scientists still manage to do it. :)

And in that same spirit, I will persist, as the nature of my game is
such that it would be... very bad... if the major KINDS of puzzles
weren't properly represented, which is why I posed the question in the
first place.

Kathleen - who spend all evening on those d*mn doors again. I hate
doors. I really do... (maybe that's why I'm in such an ornery mood
today)

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/7/97
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Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>, Kathleen Fischer
> <URL:mailto:kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
> >
> > OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
> > recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
> > start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
> > more than one, of course).

Not only can a puzzle fall into several categories: it can fall into
different categories *on different levels* (an X puzzle which is *made*
of a Y puzzle and a Z puzzle.)

At the highest level, there is only one puzzle type: the mechanical
puzzle. You have to figure out how the mechanism works. The mechanism is
the Z-machine or TADS-machine.

--Z

--

"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
borogoves..."

FReDRiK RaMSBeRG (WILdcARD)

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Mar 7, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/7/97
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How about "blocking someone else's progress, in order to secure yours". Can't
figure out where it would fit into the taxonomy, though. There was one puzzle
like this in Suspended, where some of the solutions could be mapped into
other categories, and some couldn't. This is probably due to the fact that you
are actually doing problem-un-solving, which is a rare thing otherwise in IF.

/Fredrik

--
Fredrik Ramsberg, d91f...@und.ida.liu.se, http://www-und.ida.liu.se/~d91frera
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I want to make it perfectly clear that I can't say I don't think people who
aren't avoiding using too many negations aren't putting things clearly enough.

John Wood

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Mar 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/8/97
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In article: <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>

Kathleen Fischer <kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> writes:
> OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
> recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
> start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
> more than one, of course).
[...]

> ... how am I doing?
> Kathleen

Very well, I think.

> ? getting someone else to perform an action you can't

This seems to me to be part of another category, "Psychological", which
covers all puzzles involving manipulating NPC emotions. At its simplest
("give steak to watchdog") it could be covered by the other categories,
but I think it deserves its own.

An interesting list, which I'm going to have to think about - thanks,
both of you!

John


Julian Arnold

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Mar 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/8/97
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin

<URL:mailto:erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>
> Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
> > In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>, Kathleen Fischer
> > <URL:mailto:kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
> > >
> > > OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
> > > recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
> > > start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
> > > more than one, of course).
>
> Not only can a puzzle fall into several categories: it can fall into
> different categories *on different levels* (an X puzzle which is *made*
> of a Y puzzle and a Z puzzle.)

This is true, but it all depends, as someone else just said, on what
level of generality you consider the puzzle. You say:

> At the highest level, there is only one puzzle type: the mechanical
> puzzle. You have to figure out how the mechanism works. The mechanism is
> the Z-machine or TADS-machine.

I've said before that ultimately all puzzles reduce to locked doors.
However, on some level there must be some qualitative distinction
between many of the puzzle "types" on Kathleen's list, and it may be
useful to isolate the level on which such a distinction occurs, and then
consider particular puzzles on that level[1].

That sounds like a bit of a rant, doesn't it? It's not meant to be,
honest.

Jools

[1] Or it could be very boring.

Julian Arnold

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Mar 8, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/8/97
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In article <5fqdoc$b...@eve.enteract.com>, sharvey
<URL:mailto:sha...@enteract.com> wrote:
>
> [...]
> - what about the lizard-guardian in the door which you must feed an
> unpleasant treat to? I can't see how you can simply dismiss that as a
> "locked door" puzzle.

Sure you can-- lizard=door, treat=key: GIVE TREAT TO LIZARD=UNLOCK DOOR
WITH KEY.

> - same goes for the angry-dragon-sees-his-reflection puzzle. True, a
> "locked door" in the sense that you're prevented from travelling until the
> puzzle is completed, but so much more elegant than finding a key
> somewhere.

Elegance is not a qualitative difference.

But as I just sort of said in another post, total reduction isn't big,
and it isn't clever.

> Consider this my official volunteering for participation in the IF Puzzle
> Taxonomy Project. I think that such a compendium, with generously cited
> examples and mechanical explanations, would make an excellent addition to
> my (and probably many others') Big Book of Game Design Documents.
>
> Anyone interesting in participating, speak up!

So many group projects these days!

Speaking of which, the silly game is up and runn^H^H^H^Hmoving again.
You can't join, but you can read about it at
http://www.arnod.demon.co.uk/if/sillygame/.

Jools

sharvey

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Mar 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/9/97
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Julian Arnold (jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: > - same goes for the angry-dragon-sees-his-reflection puzzle. True, a

: > "locked door" in the sense that you're prevented from travelling until the
: > puzzle is completed, but so much more elegant than finding a key
: > somewhere.
:
: Elegance is not a qualitative difference.

What makes it a good puzzle is that the solution is in more than one step.
There are numerous things the player has to "learn" in order to solve this
puzzle.

1) you can HIT DRAGON WITH SWORD (once) without getting yourself cooked
2) if you run, the dragon will follow you.
3) if you don't keep hitting him, he'll get bored and go back.
4) if you lead the dragon to the Ice Cavern, he'll melt the ice and solve
your problem.

As for dissecting the lizard door problem, the player has to learn things,
in several stages:

1) the clay brick is really a plastic explosive
2) the black cord (wire?) is really a fuse
3) you can put them together and make a big bang
4) the lizard will happily eat things, even lit bombs

Each of these is a a "door and key" puzzle, but what makes them good
puzzles is the quality of the disguises of the door and the key. In order
to keep from annoying the player, I feel that locked doors have to not
seem like locked doors.

The elegance comes in being able to design puzzles that are more creative
than "the key is up on a shelf and you can't reach it from here".

Scott

--
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Avrom Faderman

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Mar 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/9/97
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In article <ant08154...@arnod.demon.co.uk>,

Julian Arnold <jo...@arnod.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>, Andrew Plotkin
><URL:mailto:erky...@netcom.com> wrote:
>> At the highest level, there is only one puzzle type: the mechanical
>> puzzle. You have to figure out how the mechanism works. The mechanism is
>> the Z-machine or TADS-machine.

It doesn't seem right to think of this as a description of a _puzzle_
any more.

Puzzles, in IF, are aspects of stories. The Z-machine or TADS-machine
can't be the object of a puzzle because it's not an entity within the
story.

The relationship between a gate and its components (pulleys,
counterweights, the physical door itself) can be thought of as a
relationship between levels, one of implementation. So, in a
different sense, can the relationship between the gate and the code
for it.

But this is a different sense--the gate,counterweights, and pulleys
are all bits of the game; the code is not.



>I've said before that ultimately all puzzles reduce to locked doors.
>However, on some level there must be some qualitative distinction
>between many of the puzzle "types" on Kathleen's list, and it may be
>useful to isolate the level on which such a distinction occurs, and then
>consider particular puzzles on that level[1].

On the level of the story (as opposed to the level of the code, where
I don't think things should be described as "puzzles" at all), I think
one must make some distinction like this. While all puzzles may in
some deep way be programmed the way locked doors are (don't jump to
these bits of the code unless the player has managed to set these
states), they're not _written_ the way locked doors are. A locked
door doesn't talk back to you, you can't feel sympathy for it, and
while you can engage its creator in a battle of wits, you can't engage
_it_ in a battle of wits. An NPC you must manipulate in a certain way
has all these features.

A locked door is a fictional inanimate object. An NPC is fictional,
but not inanimate--although he/she is implemented in an inanimate
medium, of course.

The only time when a player's task should be thought of as
manipulating the Z-machine is when the programming stops being
transparent, when it starts intruding into the story, i.e., when the
puzzle is "guess the verb."

And I don't recommend increasing the diversity of your puzzles by
adding a few of these.

-Avrom


Kenneth Fair

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Mar 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/9/97
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In article <331F56FE.15FB@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>, Kathleen Fischer
<kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:

>OK... using Mary Kuhner's list (plus a few of my own) plus what vague
>recollections I have of what I read before, I have the following ROUGH
>start at a list of puzzle catagories (of which some puzzles may fall in
>more than one, of course).
>

>Mechanical
> - gadgets
> - vehicles
>
>Logic
> - cryptograms
> - word puzzles

Perhaps you should add "number puzzles" to the Logic section.

--
KEN FAIR - U. Chicago Law | <http://student-www.uchicago.edu/users/kjfair>
Of Counsel, U. of Ediacara | Power Mac! | CABAL(tm) | I'm w/in McQ - R U?
"Our Mother Goose who art in the henhouse, hallowed be thy name. Thy roast-
ing come. Thy meat be done in earth as it is in heaven." - Riley Sinder

Russell Glasser

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Mar 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/9/97
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[WARNING!!!! CONTINUED POSTING OF MESSAGES WITH OBVIOUS SPOILERS FOR ZORK
II!!]

sharvey wrote:
>
> As for dissecting the lizard door problem, the player has to learn things,
> in several stages:
>
> 1) the clay brick is really a plastic explosive
> 2) the black cord (wire?) is really a fuse
> 3) you can put them together and make a big bang
> 4) the lizard will happily eat things, even lit bombs
>
> Each of these is a a "door and key" puzzle, but what makes them good
> puzzles is the quality of the disguises of the door and the key. In order
> to keep from annoying the player, I feel that locked doors have to not
> seem like locked doors.
>

Scott, you may not be aware of this, but there is an alternative to
what you have just described. Feed the lizard the candy from the Alice room.
Hold on to the brick. Go to the top of the volcano in the hot air balloon.
Put the brick with string into the hole in the rusty box. Light it up, leave,
then come back. This will give you a crown, the eleventh treasure to replace
the candy that you lost.
To be honest, I never even realized that feeding the bomb to the
lizard was an option! I was about to tell you "that can't possibly be right,
because then you can't ever get ahold of the crown"... but then I remembered
for the first time that THE CANDY is a treasure.
--
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one
persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all
progress depends on the unreasonable man."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Russell can be heckled at
http://sdcc8.ucsd.edu/~rglasser

Andrew Plotkin

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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Avrom Faderman (av...@Turing.Stanford.EDU) wrote:
> >> At the highest level, there is only one puzzle type: the mechanical
> >> puzzle. You have to figure out how the mechanism works. The mechanism is
> >> the Z-machine or TADS-machine.

> It doesn't seem right to think of this as a description of a _puzzle_
> any more.

> Puzzles, in IF, are aspects of stories. The Z-machine or TADS-machine
> can't be the object of a puzzle because it's not an entity within the
> story.

I was being slightly facile. I should have said "the mechanism is the
entire world", since of course the world behaves in a mechanical fashion.

(Figuring out how the Z-machine behaves is in fact a different sort of
puzzle, and those of us on the Z-machine mailing list are currently
solving yet another part of it. A new Z-spec should be released fairly
soon. :)

> On the level of the story (as opposed to the level of the code, where
> I don't think things should be described as "puzzles" at all)

On the level of the *story*, these things are not puzzles either; they
are things which happen to the protagonist. They are only puzzles to the
*player*, on a level which the protagonist knows nothing about.

This in-between status is fairly unsatisfying to me, and to many people,
I think. That thought has spawned several variations on the theme of IF,
including "well-integrated puzzle" IF and (of course) "puzzle-free" IF.

I find that categorizing puzzle types is about the least interesting
thing a student of IF can do. :) But the original poster (Kathleen?)
said, I think, that it had some particular relevance to something she was
doing, so I anticipate something sneaky is being cooked up. Heh.

sharvey

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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Russell Glasser (rgla...@penning.lanl.gov) wrote:
: [WARNING!!!! CONTINUED POSTING OF MESSAGES WITH OBVIOUS SPOILERS FOR ZORK
: II!!]
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
: To be honest, I never even realized that feeding the bomb to the
: lizard was an option! I was about to tell you "that can't possibly be right,
: because then you can't ever get ahold of the crown"... but then I remembered
: for the first time that THE CANDY is a treasure.

Well, there's a distinct possibility that the puzzle solution I described
was in error. It's been a long time since I played Zork II, and my memory
my be faulty. I suppose I should load it up and give it a run-through,
just for old times' sake.

Scott

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Daryl McCullough

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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I don't really care about distinguishing the type of puzzle so much
as distinguishing the type of *effect* of the puzzle. Some puzzles
are such that, after they are solved, you say to yourself "In
retrospect, it all seems so perfectly *obvious*!"; all that
was necessary was a fresh way of looking at things. Other puzzles
leave you no more enlightened than you started, and seem mostly to
be a matter of trying all possible combinations of actions. The
latter type of puzzle is much easier to create, but the first type
is much more satisfying for the player (in my opinion).

Daryl McCullough
CoGenTex, Inc.
Ithaca, NY

kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,

> I find that categorizing puzzle types is about the least interesting
> thing a student of IF can do. :)

Gee, thanks. So far my effort has been called unoriginal, "not the worst"
someone had seen, and now boring. Lovely.

Be that as it may, thanks to all of your input and support :) the list
is coming along nicely. Be nice or I will post the results just to get
even!

> But the original poster (Kathleen?)
> said, I think, that it had some particular relevance to something she was
> doing, so I anticipate something sneaky is being cooked up. Heh.

Well... I don't know if SNEAKY is the right word... but yes, my reasons
for wanting the list have direct relevance to my game and should
(hopefully) be immediately obvious if I get it done in time for the
competition - which I am really really really going to try to enter this
year. Honest. I am. Uh, we are having one, right? Anyone know when?

Kathleen -- posting from deja news since her regular server seems to have
gone off to contemplate its navel (or is that naval?) Oh well, ships,
oranges, belly buttons...big diff. They are all objects to me. :)

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet

Avrom Faderman

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
Andrew Plotkin <erky...@netcom.com> wrote:

>Avrom Faderman (av...@Turing.Stanford.EDU) wrote:
>> On the level of the story (as opposed to the level of the code, where
>> I don't think things should be described as "puzzles" at all)
>
>On the level of the *story*, these things are not puzzles either; they
>are things which happen to the protagonist. They are only puzzles to the
>*player*, on a level which the protagonist knows nothing about.

Fair enough. On the level of the _game_ (as distinct from the story
_or_ the code) perhaps?

In the game, there are a bunch of objects and NPCs that the player
must figure out how to manipulate (through the hands of the
protagonist) in order to win. In the story, there are a bunch of
objects and NPCs that the protagonist in fact does manipulate in
various ways, to his or her weal or woe, depending on how smart the
player is. The former has puzzles and solutions. The latter just has
tribulations and better and worse ways of dealing with them.

And the code, of course, just has lots of conditional tests and
suchlike.

-Avrom

Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
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(I tried this earlier with Deja News and it didn't seem to go
through...)

In article <erkyrathE...@netcom.com>,
> I find that categorizing puzzle types is about the least interesting
> thing a student of IF can do. :)

Gee, thanks. So far my effort has been called unoriginal, "not the
worst" someone had seen, and now boring. Lovely.

Be that as it may, thanks to all of your input and support :) the list
is coming along nicely. Be nice or I will post the results just to get
even!

> But the original poster (Kathleen?)
> said, I think, that it had some particular relevance to something
> she was doing, so I anticipate something sneaky is being cooked up.

Well... I don't know if SNEAKY is the right word... but yes, my reasons
for wanting the list have direct relevance to my game and should
(hopefully) be immediately obvious if I get it done in time for the
competition - which I am really really really going to try to enter this
year. Honest. I am. Uh, we are having one, right? Anyone know when?

Kathleen (this space intentially left blank)

Avrom Faderman

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Mar 10, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/10/97
to

In article <5fv7p5$e...@Turing.Stanford.EDU>,


Avrom Faderman <av...@Turing.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
>Puzzles, in IF, are aspects of stories. The Z-machine or TADS-machine
>can't be the object of a puzzle because it's not an entity within the
>story.

[snip]


>The only time when a player's task should be thought of as
>manipulating the Z-machine is when the programming stops being
>transparent, when it starts intruding into the story, i.e., when the
>puzzle is "guess the verb."

Unless there is a forthcoming sequel to "Lists and Lists."
-Avrom

Dan Shiovitz

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Mar 11, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/11/97
to

In article <332499D2.41C6@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov>,
Kathleen Fischer <kfischer@x_greenhouse.llnl.gov> wrote:
[..]

>for wanting the list have direct relevance to my game and should
>(hopefully) be immediately obvious if I get it done in time for the
>competition - which I am really really really going to try to enter this
>year. Honest. I am. Uh, we are having one, right? Anyone know when?

Umm.. later, I think. Presumably in September-ish, like "usual." And
vaguely speaking of which, I was thinking it would be amusing --
assuming we're going to go ahead and enter all the games under
pseudonyms -- if the members of this group were to be the ones to
create the pseudonyms and then have them randomly assigned to the
authors. Hopefully, instead of boring anagrams, this would produce
more amusing names, probably several of which having the initials "AP".

>Kathleen (this space intentially left blank)
--

dan shiovitz scy...@u.washington.edu sh...@cs.washington.edu
slightly lost author/programmer in a world of more creative or more
sensible people ... remember to speak up for freedom because no one else
will do it for you: use it or lose it ... carpe diem -- be proactive.
my web site: http://weber.u.washington.edu/~scythe/home.html some ok stuff.


Giles Boutel

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to


sharvey <sha...@enteract.com> wrote in article
<5g1cnc$6...@eve.enteract.com>...


> Russell Glasser (rgla...@penning.lanl.gov) wrote:
> : [WARNING!!!! CONTINUED POSTING OF MESSAGES WITH OBVIOUS SPOILERS FOR
ZORK
> : II!!]
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> :
> : To be honest, I never even realized that feeding the bomb to the
> : lizard was an option! I was about to tell you "that can't possibly be
right,
> : because then you can't ever get ahold of the crown"... but then I
remembered
> : for the first time that THE CANDY is a treasure.
>
> Well, there's a distinct possibility that the puzzle solution I described
> was in error. It's been a long time since I played Zork II, and my
memory
> my be faulty. I suppose I should load it up and give it a run-through,
> just for old times' sake.
>
> Scott
>

I distinctly remember using the bomb on the balloon ride, feeding the candy
to the lizard and ending up with full points.

-Giles

Magnus Olsson

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to

kfis...@greenhouse.llnl.gov writes:
(quoting Andrew Plotkin)

>> I find that categorizing puzzle types is about the least
>> interesting thing a student of IF can do. :)
>>
>Gee, thanks. So far my effort has been called unoriginal, "not
>the worst" someone had seen, and now boring. Lovely.

Well, let me add that I find your effort interesting. Interpret that
as a compliment or a put-down, whatever you like :-).

I'm not sure whether I agree with Andrew or not (and yes, I've noted
his smiley). On one hand, I think it's fun to categorize things. On
the other, I don't think it's very relevant to my own IF writing, and
I play IF more for the stories than for the puzzles. But I also think
this varies a lot from individual to individual. It's a bit like
studying prosody may increase you enjoyment of poetry - or it may bore
you to death, it's a personal thing. (There is a difference, though,
in that I do think that a knowledge of prosody increases your ability
to _write_ poetry. Analogies shouldn't be carried to far.)

Puzzles and problem-solving are interesting fields of study. I think
that theoretical studies of IF is a worthy occupation (some things I
wrote in my past debates with Espen Aarseth may have made a different
impression, but I suppose I was carried away by my own polemics).


Another thought: one thing that strikes me when I see the incomplete
classificiations posted here is that the descriptions are on totally
different levels. It's a bit like a taxonomy of animals that grouped
all animals with four legs in one group, all black animals in another,
but put different breeds of dogs into separate groups. But I suppose
the current lists are in a tentative state.

A difficulty here is that classifying puzzles is much more difficult
than classifying animals. With animals, there is a natural,
hierarchical, exclusive classification in terms of evolutionary
descent (or, rather, the empirical fact is the classification, which
can nowadays be more or less rigourously supported by DNA comparisons;
evolutionary descent is the theoretical framework that explains it).
That is what makes my example with categories such as "black animals"
intentionally absurd.

But puzzles can't be categorized in that fashion: a puzzle may belong
to many disparate categories at once, the categories are overlapping,
and you may combine elements from categories to create new puzzles.


Finally, my two cents on the hyperbolic statement that "all puzzles
are locked doors". There is of course no logical refutation of this.
Similarly, I could make a logically unassailable argument that all
animals are birds: birds lay eggs and humans bear live children - OK,
then humans are birds where the eggs don't have shells and hatch inside
the uterus; fish are flightless, legless, aquatic birds that breathe
with gills, and so on. You can't refute that argument with logic,
since all I've done is to widen the category of birds until it
encompasses all animals. But such sophistry is of course worse than
useless, because by doing so we lose the power to distinguish between
birds and other creatures.

My definition of a "locked door puzzle" in a general sense would be a
puzzle where something (or someone) is an obstacle to your progress,
and you solve the puzzle by applying a certain object (or piece of
information) to remove the obstacle, while the obstacle remains
passive and doesn't interact with you. Admittedly, this fits a lot of
puzzles (for example, both ways of getting past the troll in Colossal
Cave), but not all. Puzzles that require you to observe the behaviour
of the obstacle and manipulate it are IMHO in a different category.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, zeb...@pobox.com)
--- Not affiliated to Lund University or LTH ---

Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to

from <m...@bartlet.df.lth.se>

> Another thought: one thing that strikes me when I see the incomplete
> classificiations posted here is that the descriptions are on totally
> different levels. It's a bit like a taxonomy of animals that grouped
> all animals with four legs in one group, all black animals in another,
> but put different breeds of dogs into separate groups.

I think Magnus is absolutely right. So let's try again. Let's start by
listing what a person can actually do in a IF game. I came up with the
following (undoubtably incomplete) list;

--
<loc> = location
<obj> = objects (includes speech (ie. words = verbal objects)
and groups of objects)
<npc> = non player characters
<dir> = directions

find <obj>
examine <obj>/<loc>/<npc>
get <obj>
drop <obj>
use <obj> <-- Remind you of graphic games?
use <obj> with <obj>/<loc>/<npc> <-- Remind you of graphic games?
go <dir>
wait
---

Grouping things sightly different we get:

Object Management (location, aquisition, and use)
NPC Interaction
Geography
Time

which I'll call LIST 1.

---

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines "puzzle" as:
"to offer or represent to (a person or his mind) a problem
difficult to solve or a situation difficult to resolve"

Ok. So what kind of problems do we usually encounter. Below is
the list from earlier. I removed Luck & Syntax since bad
writting should be the authors problem, not the players.
I also removed Lock & Key since many people seemed to feel that
all problems were lock & key problems, so therefore I figured it
must be super-set of all of them:

Mechanical
Logic
Knowledge
Geographical
Vicarious
Management (Time/Object)

which I'll call LIST 2.

---

I was surprised at how much my two lists look alike. The only
thing in LIST 2 but not in LIST 1 is the Logic/Knowledge aspect.
Considering that this is the part supplied the player, maybe it
makes sense that it isn't in the first list.

Where does this leave us? I haven't a clue. <Get real... I'm
just a beginner trying to muddle my way through.>

Kathleen -- as always, everything I say could be wrong :)

Drone

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to

Julian Arnold wrote:
>
> Elegance is not a qualitative difference.
>

Elegance certainly is a qualitative difference. But I agree that the lizard
thing is basically a locked-door puzzles.

Drone.
--
"Ah, the drone," says Whistler. "A drone is just an agent for unseen
interests. An empty vessel. I don't know how it came to be. 'It's barely
alive,' was all you told me."
--
foxg...@globalserve.net
--

Russell Glasser

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to

Sure, me too, but it's entirely possible that you can feed the
lit brick to the lizard as an alternative solution. That's one of the
great things about Infocom games... they did have a lot of alternates.
And the fact that the candy is a treasure (try "TAKE ALL TREASURE" and
you'll see) indicates that there might be a way of getting to the demon
without losing it. It makes sense to me, I will have to check it out.

Russell Glasser

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Mar 12, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/12/97
to

Excellent point. Perhaps we should come up with a new way of
categorizing puzzles, something like this:

* Puzzles which leave you smacking your head because they're so
obvious that you should have gotten it in five minutes.
* Puzzles which make you feel astoundingly clever, because they
required a whole lot of observation and contemplation before the logic
was clear to you and now it all makes sense. (My favorite examples:
Andrew's gate opening puzzle in Curses, escaping from the pit with the
magnets in Gateway II.)
* Puzzles that make you kick yourself for forgetting to take
notes. (i.e., half the puzzles in Myst)
* Puzzles that make you twiddle little objects around until
you fall asleep. (i.e., the other half of puzzles in Myst, the wizard's
test in Path To Fortune, everything in Magic Toyshop)
* Puzzles that are just as tedious to solve the second time as
the first. (Many of the ones in the previous category also fall in this
group.)
* Puzzles which assume you know things that the game hasn't told
you. (Like the old man in Hugo 1. Also, guessing stupid verbs like
"yank" and "crank" in House of the Stalker.)
* Puzzles that are included only as a ridiculous form of copy
protection.
* "The Sierra Method": puzzles that require you to use every
object in your inventory on every other object in your inventory and/or
every object/person in the game, until you get a result.
* (Graphical games only) Puzzles which require you to notice a
single oddly colored pixel and click there.
* Puzzles where you forget to go back to a place in the game
where something has inexplicably changed because of something totally
unrelated that you did elsewhere.
* Puzzles where you stumble on the answer by trial and error,
and years later somebody explains the logic behind the solution, and you
figure nobody could get the answer EXCEPT by chance. (Like figuring out
which wife is cheating in TimeQuest.)
* Puzzles requiring you to decipher bad puns.

That's about all I can think of right now... how am I doing?

Kathleen Fischer

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Mar 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/13/97
to

Russell Glasser wrote:
> * Puzzles where you forget to go back to a place in the game
> where something has inexplicably changed because of something totally
> unrelated that you did elsewhere.

I *hate* those kind because I'm then left wondering why that happened
and how to reproduce it... grrrrrrrr. Or when the earth trembles and
you know that SOMEWHERE, in the vast amount of rooms you have visited...
something has changed. So you trudge back through them all trying to
find what's new. That's not fun.

Kathleen

Julian Arnold

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Mar 13, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/13/97
to

In article <332771...@globalserve.net>, Drone

<URL:mailto:foxg...@globalserve.net> wrote:
>
> Julian Arnold wrote:
> >
> > Elegance is not a qualitative difference.
> >
>
> Elegance certainly is a qualitative difference.

I may agree with you, if you can give an example.

Drone

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Mar 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/15/97
to

Julian Arnold wrote:
>
> In article <332771...@globalserve.net>, Drone
> <URL:mailto:foxg...@globalserve.net> wrote:
> >
> > Julian Arnold wrote:
> > >
> > > Elegance is not a qualitative difference.
> > >
> >
> > Elegance certainly is a qualitative difference.
>
> I may agree with you, if you can give an example.
>

Actually I'm rather of your opinion when it comes to the debate in
question. I was just objecting, a bit facetiously, to your blanket
wording. I would say that things like elegance, intrigue, emotional
content, fascination, etc. are all qualitative differences. But that
doesn't mean that a "locked-door" puzzle with an intriguing "door" and
an elegant "key" is something other than a locked-door puzzle.

I would say a locked-door puzzle, in the more general sense, is any
puzzle in which you have to carry a portable object to the location of a
non-portable object, and perform a fairly simple task with the former to
the latter, the result being that you have access to new material.
Simple tasks: "give x to y", "feed x to y", "unlock y with x", "turn y
with x", "throw x at y", &c.

Whether or not this is boring depends totally on the presentation.

Drone

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Mar 15, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/15/97
to

Russell Glasser wrote:
>
> * Puzzles requiring you to decipher bad puns.
>
> That's about all I can think of right now... how am I doing?

Allow me to add to this list of negative puzzle types my own (very very common)
pet peeve:

Puzzles to which you never guess the simple answer because you've already tried
something which should logically have the same effect. An example I mention
simply because it's the most recent I've seen, but in an otherwise fair game:
"look under tarp" vs. "examine deck" in the boat from Jigsaw.

Drone.

P.S. Oh yeah, there are also the puzzles that require you, with little clue, to
do something which you usually assume that you have already done implicitly,
such as "look up". I came upon this once (don't remember where), but I suddenly
wondered how many directions the game was going to assume I was ignoring when I
typed "look".

Julian Arnold

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Mar 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/17/97
to

In article <332B37...@globalserve.net>, Drone
<URL:mailto:foxg...@globalserve.net> wrote:
>
> [...snipped, go read DejaNews or something...]

Oh, I see what you're saying. OK, 'sgood enough for me.

Carl Muckenhoupt

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Mar 17, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/17/97
to

Russell Glasser <rgla...@penning.lanl.gov> writes:

>Daryl McCullough wrote:
>>
>> I don't really care about distinguishing the type of puzzle so much
>> as distinguishing the type of *effect* of the puzzle. Some puzzles
>> are such that, after they are solved, you say to yourself "In
>> retrospect, it all seems so perfectly *obvious*!"; all that
>> was necessary was a fresh way of looking at things. Other puzzles
>> leave you no more enlightened than you started, and seem mostly to
>> be a matter of trying all possible combinations of actions. The
>> latter type of puzzle is much easier to create, but the first type
>> is much more satisfying for the player (in my opinion).
>>

Some time ago, I wrote up a broad classification of puzzles based on the
kind of thought processes that lead up to the solution. The original
is long lost, but I'll try to reproduce it:

Before we can classify puzzles, we must have a clear idea of what a
puzzle is. I would define a puzzle as anything in a game where it is
possible to get stuck. This applies to games in general, not just
text adventures.

What makes a puzzle satisfying? Two things, really. First, there is
the process of solving it - and some puzzles are definitely more satisfying
to solve than others. Then there is the reward, which typically involves
opening up more of the game or providing the ability to solve more puzzles.
Both of these aspects are important, but they are completely orthogonal.
I will treat the first aspect first, and possibly follow up with the second.

Now, how do people solve puzzles?

a) Not. The player ultimately gets a hint, reads the source code, or gives
up. This is the worst type of puzzle, and the only type that actually
decreases from the enjoyment of the game.

b) By accident. You're wandering around, randomly examining objects, when
you suddenly and unexpectedly notice something (say, a treasure or a secret
passage). This is a distinctly unsatisfying sort of puzzle, because it's
over before you realize it's there. Any satisfaction it brings must come
entirely from the reward.

c) By trial-and-error. Differs from type b only in that one is aware of
what one is trying to accomplish. GAGS monsters are a good example: only
one weapon will affect any particular monster, and frequently the only way
to tell which is to try them all. (If there's feedback, the puzzle becomes
type f. If the solution makes sense, it might be type g.) Graphic
adventures are notoriously full of these; frequently the UI makes it possible
to approach all puzzles as trial-and-error, even when type g is intended.

d) By following explicit instructions. This doesn't sound like a puzzle, but
it qualifies because one can encounter the puzzle before getting the
instructions. Like type b, the satisfaction is small, but at least it
involves the player. Often used as copy protection.

e) By applying a known set of rules. Puzzles of this type tend to be
mini-games, like sliding-block puzzles or board games, embedded in a larger
context but largely unaffected by it. I'd put the classical maze under this
heading, although this is arguable. This is the first type of puzzle
that rewards the solver for being clever. Can be non-interactive (for
example, a cryptogram that the player must solve offline).

f) By experiment. Here, you must figure out how things work by observing
the results of your actions. This is the most involving type of puzzle, as
it is completely integrated into the game environment. Often combined with
type e: once you've figured out the rules, you still have to apply them
cleverly.

g) By insight. Once you think about it the right way, it becomes obvious.
In its extreme form, this is the puzzle that you figure out while waiting for
the bus. Some of the most satisfying puzzles are of this type. So are some
of the worst; pretty much all riddles fall under this heading.

Notice that the content of the puzzle is left open. Consider, for example,
a puzzle where you must give an item to someone in exchange for another
item. This can be any of the above types, as follows:
a) There's no indication that he wants anything or has anything to give
in return. The item he wants is completely arbitrary.
b) Same as a, except the game mechanics encourage giving things to people
at random and you don't have much inventory.
c) You know that he's willing to trade you something useful, but there is no
indication of what he wants. (Like the salesman in LGOP.)
d) He tells you exactly what he wants when you ask him.
e) He gives you a set of criteria that only one item in a particular group
fits. You must isolate that one. (If anyone's played Toonstruck, think of the
scarecrow.)
f) You can offer him things and deduce from his reactions what kind of things
he likes. (There's a scene like this in "Indiana Jones and the Fate of
Atlantis".)
g) There's one item that's particularly appropriate to the situation. (Say,
he's sitting in a rowboat and you have an oar.)

--
Carl Muckenhoupt | Text Adventures are not dead!
b...@tiac.net | Read rec.[arts|games].int-fiction to see
http://www.tiac.net/users/baf | what you're missing!

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