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 Post subject: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minded?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:32 am 
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Ok, there have been many talks and descriptions of various puzzles in the past. I would like to
sum up my own conclusions based on some experience, some maths, and some puzzle madness. :)

The two most exposed types in the world at this moment, are the twisty puzzles and
the interlocking puzzles. The question is, are we over-focusing on those two types?
I believe the answer is yes.

But interlocking are really "Take Apart" puzzles. Note that, I also "see" (in the Avatar sense)
Japanese Boxes, and many metal puzzles, as "Take Apart" puzzles. It is not coincidence that
they are made of wood, and also no coincidence that a staggering 95%(!!!) of puzzles winning
an award at the design competition, are made of wood! (the rest are mainly metal and plastic).
This is also a good hint LOL

I have discussed this with designers, known puzzlers and even managers of some big puzzle companies.
They all agree that most of their "new" puzzles are just a decorated version of washed up puzzles.
Art, my friends, can deceive someone a lot more than the enigmatic nature of the puzzle itself.
And that is *not* a bad thing. But it does reveal whether someone is interested more in art
or puzzles. And this certainly makes sense. An average person will always be impressed by the
stunning looks of puzzle, and not its hidden magic. It is very unfortunate that I have seen some
designs which are excellent ideas, but no one spent any time on them to really appreciate them,
just because they did not "optically look" interesting.

Please note that I am not trashing variants. People *do* like puzzles that look artistic
even if the puzzling experience is not that novel. And when those puzzles are made by
famous and/or talented designers, the result can be extremely impressive. I just cannot
and will not buy any claim that someone makes something new, when it really is not.
And of course, I am also guilty as a collector for having some puzzles which the only thing
they do, is to decorate a dusty corner. Sadly, that is *not* the purpose of a real puzzle.

On the other hand, we need some new variant-designs, because certain families of puzzles
are begging to be completed, and they must be completed. It is when this procedure becomes
an overkill that worries me (and I rather not mention examples).

Moreover, the term "sequential puzzle" is very deceiving. By definition, all puzzles are
sequential, except those which require a couple of moves to solve (and even those,
often need a sequence of thoughts). So instead of using the "sequential" term, we should
really focus on the real differences, i.e. balancing, dexterity, twisty, interlocking etc.

What I surely like in the *twisty* puzzle world, is when there are some new ingenious sudden
"turns" allowing new paths and which reveal a new dynamic. Something like the unbelievable
movement of the Super Floppy Cube, or the jumbling and fudging concepts.

As a last point, I will repeat once more that in our world, there are infinite concepts waiting
to be found, and each concept has an infinite number of interesting novel expansions, and
each expansion has an infinite number of variations. So there are at least (infinite)^3
possibilities, out of which the first two (infinite)^2 can easily be regarded as novel.

I actually made a list of different type of mechanisms some time ago (some are novel):
viewtopic.php?f=15&t=11666&start=0

Rubik's cube has managed to achieve something which no-one else (at least yet) seems to
be able to match. Not a sign of that in the horizon. That is, unless we see something which is
really breathtaking, something that when someone sees it, will not say the over-repeated sentence
"this is like Rubik's cube", but will say "wow, this is something *really* new and amazing".

If you think I sound too soft or too harsh, please let me know, I only hope you to see more new stuff.

:D


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:56 am 
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I agree with you to some extent (the need to create "new" ideas), but I also think there are certain "magic ingredients" in those puzzles which have been successful that should be replicated in any "new" concept. For example, here are 5 "key success factors" that I have seen in all successful puzzles to date (Rubik's Cube, Sudoku, 15-puzzle, Rush Hour, etc.):

1. Symmetry and beauty (not just in the physical shape/design, but especially also the underlying logic): people don't like "asymmetric logic" because it adds to the perception of complexity (see point 2 below).

2. Deceptively simple concept and intuitive challenge: no complex rules to read and learn, reduces the mental barrier to give it a try.

3. Surprisingly difficult challenge (extreme underlying logic complexity): helps to stimulate word of mouth by exceeding initial expectations once people do give the puzzle a try. Conversely, there's nothing more disappointing than a puzzle that looks difficult, but turns out to be very easy ("what a waste of time").

4. Flexible format: can be released with new challenges, or adapted to follow changing trends, support competitions & communities, etc. (i.e., has potential beyond just the basic physical puzzle).

5. Novelty and originality: yes, at the end of the day, it needs to be completely new and "out of the box", to stimulate interest and curiosity.

But regardless of my opinions, nobody is stopping you from creating your own blockbuster puzzle idea... :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 10:57 am 
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Location: Greece, Australia, Thailand, India, Singapore.
LOL Kelvin I was reading your message and for a moment I went
"who wrote my thoughts for me?"
(maybe it is because of my fuzziness as I just marked 250 assignments LOL)

Yeap, we certainly agree 100% on those points.
They are indeed some major ingredients for success.

:D


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:44 pm 
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BTW, I haven't seen any puzzles on this forum which meet all 5 of these criteria 100% - including my own! Many come quite close but still miss one or two of these (usually no. 2 and no. 5). When I see one that meets all 5 criteria then I'll be sure it is a potential blockbuster! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:24 pm 
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Blue Eyes from the maker of xkcd is a really tricky logic puzzle.

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:07 pm 
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My guess? All people with blue eyes leave. All people will logically deduce that if they guess blue, they have a chance at leaving the island, which is something they would otherwise have to guess. Therefore, all statisticians on the island will guess blue, all statisticians being everybody. There are, therefore, 100 people that leave the island. All with blue eyes.

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 Post subject: Re: Focusing on puzzle types... should we be more open minde
PostPosted: Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:34 pm 
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NType3 wrote:
My guess? All people with blue eyes leave. All people will logically deduce that if they guess blue, they have a chance at leaving the island, which is something they would otherwise have to guess. Therefore, all statisticians on the island will guess blue, all statisticians being everybody. There are, therefore, 100 people that leave the island. All with blue eyes.

Yeah, the people with blue eyes will leave, BUT WHEN?

And there's no guesswork, logicians don't guess, they deduce.

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