If Puzzle Compendium

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P. Sanders

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Jul 7, 2003, 12:07:29 PM7/7/03
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Wanted: A reference list of all puzzles that have appeared over the
decades in any/all text adventures. This is something I've often
wished were handy - it would not only help me to know what's already
been done (so that I can either avoid repeating a puzzle or
modify/combine old puzzles into devilishly new mutations), but might
also help spark ideas for completely new puzzles.

Now, I could do it the easy way and simply record each puzzle as I
play every piece of IF I can lay my hands on for the next year or
three... or I could be lazy and simply ask for submissions.


So, how about it? Submit any/all puzzles you can think of to this
thread. I'll eventually edit and compile them into a PDF document and
make it available to anyone interested.

Some things that might be helpful to include in each submission would
be (and feel free to add your own catagories):

Favorite puzzle
Worst puzzle
Hardest puzzle
Silliest puzzle
Most logical puzzle
Least logical puzzle
Most irritating puzzle
Steps/items needed for solving the puzzle
Game the puzzle appeared in (if you can recall)
Overall impression of the puzzle (did it detract from the adventure or
enhance it, etc.)

Thanks

Timmon

Jessica Knoch

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Jul 7, 2003, 3:00:19 PM7/7/03
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P. Sanders wrote:
> Wanted: A reference list of all puzzles that have appeared over
> the decades in any/all text adventures.
>
> Now, I could do it the easy way and simply record each puzzle as I
> play every piece of IF I can lay my hands on for the next year or
> three... or I could be lazy and simply ask for submissions.

You might start with the winners of "Best Individual Puzzle" and
"Best Puzzles" from the XYZZY Awards. You can browse this list
from Baf's Guide:


Jessica Knoch

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Jul 7, 2003, 3:01:10 PM7/7/03
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http://wurb.com/if/award/3

(Sorry. I grew an extra finger, apparently.)

--
Jess K.


Quintin Stone

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Jul 7, 2003, 3:53:02 PM7/7/03
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On Mon, 7 Jul 2003, Jessica Knoch wrote:

> Jessica Knoch wrote:
> >
> > You might start with the winners of "Best Individual Puzzle" and
> > "Best Puzzles" from the XYZZY Awards. You can browse this list
> > from Baf's Guide:
>
> http://wurb.com/if/award/3
>
> (Sorry. I grew an extra finger, apparently.)

Doncha hate it when that happens?

/====================================================================\
|| Quintin Stone O- > "You speak of necessary evil? One ||
|| Code Monkey < of those necessities is that if ||
|| Rebel Programmers Society > innocents must suffer, the guilty must ||
|| st...@rps.net < suffer more." -- Mackenzie Calhoun ||
|| http://www.rps.net/ > "Once Burned" by Peter David ||
\====================================================================/

David Welbourn

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Jul 8, 2003, 6:59:35 AM7/8/03
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"P. Sanders" wrote:
> Wanted: A reference list of all puzzles that have appeared over the
> decades in any/all text adventures. [snip]

> Now, I could do it the easy way and simply record each puzzle as I
> play every piece of IF I can lay my hands on for the next year or
> three... or I could be lazy and simply ask for submissions.

If it were as easy as that, I might have done it already. Trouble is, it's
not as easy as all that. There's a lot of games out there, and recording
info from each takes time. Lots of time. There's also some disagreement on
what counts as a "puzzle". Also, it's not obvious how to manage info like
that. Would you try to order the puzzles by puzzle type? Or by tools used?
Whichever way you did it, there's a lot of cross-referencing involved ...
and that takes up even more time.

For example, take a peek at my SPOILER notes for Zork Zero at
http://webhome.idirect.com/~dswxyz/sol/zork0_objs.html . It's not exactly
what you're asking for (it's only one game, after all), but as a practical
example of a "first draft", it might give you a heads-up on what you're up
against. Good luck.

-- David Welbourn

Roger Firth

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Jul 8, 2003, 7:30:31 AM7/8/03
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"P. Sanders" <jp...@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:bm6jgvgsemj6umlua...@4ax.com...

> Wanted: A reference list of all puzzles that have appeared over the
> decades in any/all text adventures. This is something I've often
> wished were handy - it would not only help me to know what's already
> been done (so that I can either avoid repeating a puzzle or
> modify/combine old puzzles into devilishly new mutations), but might
> also help spark ideas for completely new puzzles.
>
> Now, I could do it the easy way and simply record each puzzle as I
> play every piece of IF I can lay my hands on for the next year or
> three... or I could be lazy and simply ask for submissions.

What David said.

Plus, your approach is all wrong. You want a reference list, /you/
produce it... or at least make a determined start to demonstrate
that the idea is feasible and useful. Folks may join in to help once
you've shown the way, but the onus is on you to do at least 50%
of the work. Sorry, "being lazy" doesn't count for much round here.

Cheers, Roger
--
/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
You'll find my Cloak of Darkness, Parsifal, Informary
and more at http://www.firthworks.com/roger/

Harry

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Jul 8, 2003, 10:54:32 AM7/8/03
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On Mon, 07 Jul 2003 16:07:29 GMT, P. Sanders <jp...@earthlink.net>
made the world a better place by saying:

>Wanted: A reference list of all puzzles that have appeared over the
>decades in any/all text adventures. This is something I've often
>wished were handy - it would not only help me to know what's already
>been done (so that I can either avoid repeating a puzzle or
>modify/combine old puzzles into devilishly new mutations), but might
>also help spark ideas for completely new puzzles.
>
>Now, I could do it the easy way and simply record each puzzle as I
>play every piece of IF I can lay my hands on for the next year or
>three... or I could be lazy and simply ask for submissions.
>
>
>So, how about it? Submit any/all puzzles you can think of to this
>thread. I'll eventually edit and compile them into a PDF document and
>make it available to anyone interested.
>

A list of puzzles isn't like a list of monsters or objects. Puzzles
are often woven into a narrative so it would be rather difficult to
separate puzzles from the game. Also, puzzles are often steps in the
solution of one big puzzle and when you've described that, what you
have is a very specific walkthrough of a particular game.

The other approach would be to distill all possible puzzles to some
sort of general abstraction:

1) use X on Y to open Z
2) use X to kill Y to get to Z
3) put X in Y to get Z
etc.

But I don't know if anyone is interested in that. It kinda sucks the
blood from the creative part of puzzle making. It's the description
and implementation of the Xs, Ys and Zs that make IF interesting.

Then again, if you thought of a good format to catalog puzzles in an
informative way, I'd sure like to see it.
-------------------------
"Hey, aren't you Gadget?"
"I was."

http://www.haha.demon.nl
(To send e-mail, remove SPAMBLOCK from address)

David Welbourn

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Jul 8, 2003, 6:40:27 PM7/8/03
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"Harry" wrote:
> The other approach would be to distill all possible puzzles to some
> sort of general abstraction:
>
> 1) use X on Y to open Z
> 2) use X to kill Y to get to Z
> 3) put X in Y to get Z
> etc.
>
> But I don't know if anyone is interested in that. It kinda sucks the
> blood from the creative part of puzzle making. It's the description
> and implementation of the Xs, Ys and Zs that make IF interesting.
>
> Then again, if you thought of a good format to catalog puzzles in an
> informative way, I'd sure like to see it.

In all fairness, I should admit I've wanted to write something along these
lines for some time, and yes, "sucking the blood from the creative part" is
a definite problem to be aware of. However, I think the approach I'd use
would not be from the author's perspective or by puzzles, but from the
player's persective with respect to the things in a game. For example, the
player finds a diamond. How many ways might a diamond be used?


David Welbourn

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Jul 8, 2003, 10:07:29 PM7/8/03
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eek! I didn't mean to send that last one. My post was incomplete and not
thought out very far.

-- David Welbourn

Seebs

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Jul 9, 2003, 12:45:05 AM7/9/03
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I believe Janitor has a good shot at "easiest puzzle".

-s
--
Copyright 2003, all wrongs reversed. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
http://www.seebs.net/log/ - YA blog. http://www.seebs.net/ - homepage.
C/Unix wizard, pro-commerce radical, spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Consulting, computers, web hosting, and shell access: http://www.plethora.net/

Papillon

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Jul 9, 2003, 12:31:33 PM7/9/03
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se...@plethora.net (Seebs) wrote:

>I believe Janitor has a good shot at "easiest puzzle".

I'd love to see even a partial list of puzzles, for
example/inspiration/memory refresh if nothing else.

When people talk about puzzles here and in articles elsewhere, they often
refer to them vaguely, trying to block spoilers or save words... like, say,
"the babelfish puzzle". I haven't *played* Hitchhiker's, and have no idea
what the babelfish puzzle is or why it was interesting. :)

Sure, you can play a whole bunch of games and try to put them all back into
your head, but sometimes it would be nice if there were even a small list of
puzzles that actually talked about the elements of the puzzle and how the
player goes about solving it. Not just what needs to be done to solve it,
but why and how the player is meant to come up with this solution.

Quintin Stone

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Jul 9, 2003, 1:20:20 PM7/9/03
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On Mon, 7 Jul 2003, P. Sanders wrote:

> So, how about it? Submit any/all puzzles you can think of to this
> thread. I'll eventually edit and compile them into a PDF document and
> make it available to anyone interested.
>
> Some things that might be helpful to include in each submission would be
> (and feel free to add your own catagories):

Actually, it seems to me that the best way to build this would be to play
through a game at a time, keeping track of each puzzle you encounter and
its solution, relying on walkthroughs as necessary. This would seem to be
a better method than "post puzzles you can think of". It's also not that
hard as a starting point for your list, even though, as you say, you
wanted to pick the lazy route. Simply play through Zork, Enchanter, etc.
following a walkthrough.

Seebs

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Jul 9, 2003, 2:16:06 PM7/9/03
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In article <dhgogvk2hvq9mmuo7...@4ax.com>,

Papillon <papillon_he...@bigfoot.com> wrote:
>Sure, you can play a whole bunch of games and try to put them all back into
>your head, but sometimes it would be nice if there were even a small list of
>puzzles that actually talked about the elements of the puzzle and how the
>player goes about solving it. Not just what needs to be done to solve it,
>but why and how the player is meant to come up with this solution.

uber-spoilers, huh?

Well, I'd be happy to write such a list for Janitor (the structure of the game
makes it fairly easy to find all the puzzles), but it would take a lot of
time. I'll do it for $$$, or for widespread interest in seeing such a list.

Papillon

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Jul 9, 2003, 3:24:42 PM7/9/03
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Quintin Stone <st...@rps.net> wrote:


>Actually, it seems to me that the best way to build this would be to play
>through a game at a time, keeping track of each puzzle you encounter and
>its solution, relying on walkthroughs as necessary. This would seem to be
>a better method than "post puzzles you can think of". It's also not that
>hard as a starting point for your list, even though, as you say, you
>wanted to pick the lazy route. Simply play through Zork, Enchanter, etc.
>following a walkthrough.

As I was saying in my other post, though, sometimes a walkthrough is the
*worst* for understanding puzzle design... because they often don't lead you
through the steps necessary to understanding WHY it works. if the
walkthrough has the 'wear sunglasses' command sometime before entering the
bright room (to make up an example) it's possible that playing from the
walkthrough you won't even realise there was a puzzle!

Unfortunately, I think a Giant List Of Puzzles is a bit out of reach.

Quintin Stone

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Jul 9, 2003, 4:21:47 PM7/9/03
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On Wed, 9 Jul 2003, Papillon wrote:

> As I was saying in my other post, though, sometimes a walkthrough is the
> *worst* for understanding puzzle design... because they often don't lead
> you through the steps necessary to understanding WHY it works. if the
> walkthrough has the 'wear sunglasses' command sometime before entering
> the bright room (to make up an example) it's possible that playing from
> the walkthrough you won't even realise there was a puzzle!

Well, that's certainly true, though hopefully you could read the
transcript and see the visual cues. However, the old Infocom games were
sometimes pretty bad about giving NO in-game clues at all for their puzzle
solutions.

David Welbourn

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Jul 9, 2003, 9:23:53 AM7/9/03
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"Papillon" said:
> As I was saying in my other post, though, sometimes a walkthrough is the
> *worst* for understanding puzzle design... because they often don't lead
you
> through the steps necessary to understanding WHY it works

True, but it depends on the walkthrough writer and his/her aims. I prefer to
write a verbose style of walkthrough to help remind me what a game was all
about. I put in comments and unnecessary (but interesting) commands. I like
to reminesce, and my walkthroughs help me remember what the game was like
without replaying a game in its entirety. Other walkthroughs are written
with the goal of getting the player through a game as quickly as possible,
and I agree, those walkthroughs won't be of much use for understanding a
puzzle's design.

Even better than walkthroughs are hints. Hints are quite useful for
explaining how one in meant to solve a puzzle, pointing out the clues meant
to guide the player to the solution. Writing hints isn't a skill that I've
learned yet, but I intend to learn someday.

> Unfortunately, I think a Giant List Of Puzzles is a bit out of reach.

You're probably right, but there might be some happy medium, some way of
approaching the problem to make it feasible. Some Not-So-Giant List of
Puzzle-Types With Selected Examples, maybe.

Even so, I'm not sure what sort of taxonomy might be imposed on such a list.
One breakdown might be by reward-type; eg: Puzzles That Reward the Player
With (a) Objects, (b) Information, (c) Locations, and (d) Abilities. Or
should we order puzzles by the, um, barrier? That is, is the player blocked
from his/her reward by. say, (a) NPCs, (b) Devices, (c) Terrain, or (d) Laws
of Physics? Thirdly, we could focus on the tools used to manipulate or
finesse the blockade, and Fourthly, the manner of the manipulation. But even
deciding on all that, do actual IF puzzles nicely fit into such categories?
It's hard enough to identify a puzzle, let alone pigeonhole it.

(One begins to notice why this sort of list, even an abbreviated one, hasn't
been done before.)

-- David Welbourn

Adam Thornton

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Jul 9, 2003, 6:48:42 PM7/9/03
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In article <3f0c5be6$0$1094$3c09...@news.plethora.net>,

Seebs <se...@plethora.net> wrote:
>Well, I'd be happy to write such a list for Janitor (the structure of the game
>makes it fairly easy to find all the puzzles), but it would take a lot of
>time. I'll do it for $$$, or for widespread interest in seeing such a list.

I'm interested, and I'm pretty widespread.

Adam

Walter Sandsquish

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Jul 16, 2003, 11:57:20 PM7/16/03
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"David Welbourn" <dsw...@look.ca> wrote in message
news:<vgovehf...@corp.supernews.com>...
<< You're probably right, but there might be some happy medium,
some way of approaching the problem to make it feasible. Some
Not-So-Giant List of Puzzle-Types With Selected Examples, maybe.
[...] (One begins to notice why this sort of list, even an abbreviated

one, hasn't been done before.) >>

Gareth Rees came up with "puzzle-types" list once upon a time ...

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm=1993May7.172931.23328%40infodev.cam.ac.uk&rnum=3&prev=/groups%3Fq%3DGareth%2Brees%2Bpuzzles%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26selm%3D1993May7.172931.23328%2540infodev.cam.ac.uk%26rnum%3D3

(That's some URL, isn't it?)

And Bob Bates has a chapter in his book on the subject and a slightly
different version of that chapter is currently online ...

http://www.scottkim.com/thinkinggames/GDC00/bates.html

Ross Presser

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Jul 17, 2003, 10:22:07 AM7/17/03
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Sands...@aol.com (Walter Sandsquish) wrote in
news:6646733c.03071...@posting.google.com:

> http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm=1993May7.172
> 931.23328%40infodev.cam.ac.uk&rnum=3&prev=/groups%3Fq%3DGareth%2Brees%2
> Bpuzzles%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26selm%3D1993May7.172931.23328%
> 2540infodev.cam.ac.uk%26rnum%3D3

>
> (That's some URL, isn't it?)

It can be reduced to

http://groups.google.com/groups?threadm=1993May7.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk

for the whole thread or to

http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=1993May7.1...@infodev.cam.ac.uk

for the message by itself
--
Ross Presser -- rpresser AT imtek DOT com
"... VB is essentially the modern equivalent of vulgar Latin in 13th Centurary Europe. Understand it, and you can travel to places you never heard of and still understand some people." -- Alex K. Angelopoulos

Rexx Magnus

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Jul 17, 2003, 11:36:45 AM7/17/03
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On Thu, 17 Jul 2003 14:22:07 GMT, Ross Presser scrawled:

> http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=1993May7.172931.23328
@infodev.cam.ac
> .uk

>
> for the message by itself

Or: http://tinyurl.com/h8c5

Heheh. :)

--
UO & AC Herbal - http://www.rexx.co.uk/herbal

To email me, visit the site.

28 IF

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Jul 24, 2003, 3:29:30 PM7/24/03
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Seebs come on down:

>I believe Janitor has a good shot at "easiest puzzle".

I'd love to hear from anyone who _couldn't_ solve the chair puzzle.

28 IF

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Jul 24, 2003, 3:30:01 PM7/24/03
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Adam Thornton come on down:

I'm interested, but I'm not sure how widespread I am.

Seebs

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Jul 24, 2003, 7:57:51 PM7/24/03
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In article <7sc0ivkam78qvvoe6...@4ax.com>,

Oh, that's not what I had in mind!

...

Just kidding!

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