Blog

How to make a good puzzle — Solutions

August 28, 2018

I’ve had a cou­ple of peo­ple request hints or a solu­tion sheet for How to make a good puz­zle, so here it is. If you’re hav­ing trou­ble beat­ing the puz­zles, you can check the videos here for hints or the entire solu­tion. Please use it only as a last resort.

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How to make a good puzzle — Explorables Jam 2018 entry

August 19, 2018

The Rubik’s Cube. Sudoku’s. Video games. Puz­zles are every­where, but just how do you make a good puzzle—one that’s fun, and sat­is­fy­ing to solve?

I’ll explain this with lev­els from Sokoban, a puz­zle game where you push box­es to the cor­rect spaces on the grid. I’m demon­strat­ing my points using this game, but they can be applied to most types of puz­zles. Since puz­zle design is sub­jec­tive, your mileage may vary, but this is a good start­ing point that I’m also using for my own puz­zle games.

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The UI and UX of Arboreal

June 13, 2018

The game I’ve been work­ing on as part as an uni­ver­si­ty project was announced recent­ly, and I’ve been respon­si­ble for the UI and UX for it. It falls into mul­ti­ple genre box­es, includ­ing “adven­ture”, “open world”, “zel­da-like”, “farm­ing”, and more. From the get-go, it was clear this project need­ed a lot of UI, and user friend­ly one as well. That’s where I come in, and use this post to explain what that process was.

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Mobility! Thoughts after launching an accessible precision platformer

April 21, 2018

Two years ago, I had an idea for a plat­form­ing game. I love the genre, and it wasn’t the first plat­former I had made. I had already made a dozen games, from jam games to mul­ti-month projects, but none of them real­ly man­aged to get a lot of atten­tion. Would my design skills final­ly be good enough to make a game that would reach an audi­ence, unlike my pre­vi­ous twelve games? Lit­tle did I know that it would take more than two years to get the game to release, and even less that the game’s recep­tion would go well over any expec­ta­tions I had.

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How I do playtests

February 5, 2018

A quickly drawn picture of a notepad and someone playing a game in front of a laptop.

I play a lot of indie games, as well as a lot of itch.io stuff– small­er, short­er and sim­pler games. What I often notice, though, is that some of these games have real­ly tiny but frus­trat­ing issues that could’ve been pre­vent­ed, or moments where I just get stuck think­ing the game glitched out.

One tool you could use to help to avoid these frus­trat­ing moments is playtest­ing, which will help you to spot the most obvi­ous issues in your game that could pre­vent enjoy­ment. How­ev­er, playtest­ing will face you with the ugly faces of your game– espe­cial­ly the first few tests, where you can see all of your game’s short­com­ings. It can be depress­ing, and might make you reluc­tant to do tests at all. This post urges you to press on, because playtests intro­duce the ele­ment that com­pletes your game: the play­ers.

You will need to move the game out of the bub­ble it’s being devel­oped in. When you give it to some­one else, you will learn new things about your own game. These can be either good or bad, infor­ma­tive or not real­ly help­ful. You’ll need to learn to deal with that. Don’t make it the player’s fault (‘You’re play­ing it wrong!’), instead, look at where it is going wrong on the design lev­el, as objec­tive­ly as pos­si­ble. It is human ten­den­cy to do this— I find watch­ing playtests embar­rass­ing, per­son­al­ly. It can be scary, but in the end, it’s for the good of the game.

In this post I explain which playtest­ing progress works for me. I playtest my games from time to time, so hav­ing a struc­ture for orga­niz­ing it is pret­ty help­ful. It was designed to be effi­cient: get as much use­ful info from tests while orga­niz­ing as few of them as pos­si­ble. I’m intend­ing this post for peo­ple who want to get start­ed with playtest­ing, so if you already have a pro­ce­dure that works for you, please stick to it!

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