Friday, October 8, 2010

October 2010: Puzzles

October 2010's topic, Puzzles, was submitted by postdoctoral researcher Clara Fernández-Vara.

She writes:

Puzzles are one of the most common design challenges in games, and yet their design practices remain largely undiscussed. This is because puzzles come in many shapes and sizes. Professor Layton includes a wide range of traditional puzzles (logic puzzles, riddles, jigsaws, etc.). Metroid, Zelda and Ico are packed with environmental puzzles where the player must make sense of the space and manipulate its objects in order to traverse it; adventure games bring together story and gameplay by having each puzzle be an event in the story of the game. There is also a whole genre we refer to as puzzle games, such as Zuma, Tetris or Bust-a-Move / Puzzle Bobble.

This month, Game Design Aspect of the Month wants to encourage everyone to think about their practices to create puzzles in their games, and realize that puzzles are much more common than most designers will readily admit.
  • How do puzzles contribute to the gameplay of the game? If the game is puzzle-driven, how is it fun? If puzzles are just one type of challenge in the game, how do they relate to the rest of the activities in the game?
  • How can the story be supported by puzzle design? How do the puzzles relate to world design?
  • How does one get started devising a puzzle? How can designers evaluate if it is a good puzzle? What practices should be avoided?
Clara Fernández-Vara is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab. Her work concentrates on adventure games, as well as the integration of stories in simulated environments.


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