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Ideas for a comp project

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Postby NObodyNOWHERE » Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:52 pm

...Not the kind of comp project you're likely thinking of though. :)

I'm thinking of running a comp, Puzzle-Comp to be exact. There was talk several years ago on R*IF of doing something like this, but I don't think it ever happened. Each entry would be a small game with one and only one puzzle. I have worked out most of how I'd like to do this (rules, judging criteria, etc.), but I was interested in some feedback from the core Adrift community on what to do with this comp. Initally, I was going to make it for Adrift users only, but I considered a couple of other possibilities recently.

I'm an Adrift user exclusively and I'd like to set up the comp such that it will be beneficial to the community here. If I do run this competition, I'm going to put a fairly nice cash prize on the line. If I chose to, I could likely draw a good bit of interest from the wider IF community. I thought of two things I could do.

First, I could accept only entries created with Adrift. Then, at completion, I would post the results and the entries on R*IF, inviting everyone to see what kind of interesting and complex puzzles can be implemented with Adrift.

Second, and this is where I'm leaning currently, I might run the comp and include entries from all platforms. I would announce it on R*IF and so on... But, if I do this I would like to host the comp and announce the winners either here on the forum, or on the website of one of the key central figures in the Adrift community. In this way, I could still closely link the comp with the people here. This would hopefully increase interaction and involvement on both sides of the fence. And again, non-Adrift users would be able to see just what this design tool is capable of producing.

So, what does everyone think? Would people be interested in entering a competition like this? Do you have suggestions on where to run it and who to include?

Thanks!
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Postby David Whyld » Sat Mar 05, 2005 8:59 pm

I'd certainly enter it although puzzles have never been my strong point.
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Postby KFAdrift » Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:21 pm

I am not anti the idea, I have thought about it on occasion, the problem I always have is in deciding what constitutes a single puzzle. If, an example, you have to find a key among rocks in a pool, use the key to unlock a box that contains ten gold coins to pay for a map, is that one puzzle to purchase the map or a series of puzzles.
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Postby Cannibal » Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:22 pm

Me neither but it sounds very interesting. Catering for all platforms would be very interesting too but I would ring one warning bell - make your rules crystal clear when you go public because I remember the farce of debating what is or isn't a halloween game many full moons ago.

btw...when you mean 1 puzzle do you mean 1 puzzle? Get key, unlock door, game solved?

Or a series of puzzles that lead to the ultimate puzzle? Push desk, climb on desk, feed rat, get key, unlock door?
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Postby Cannibal » Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:49 pm

KFAdrift wrote:I am not anti the idea, I have thought about it on occasion, the problem I always have is in deciding what constitutes a single puzzle. If, an example, you have to find a key among rocks in a pool, use the key to unlock a box that contains ten gold coins to pay for a map, is that one puzzle to purchase the map or a series of puzzles.

Posted at the same time...yes, that was what I was curious about.
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Postby NObodyNOWHERE » Sat Mar 05, 2005 10:03 pm

Yes, I realize the philosophical debate that would likely undermine the effort, but I've been meditating on the problem a bit and I think I have it pretty much worked out.

Heres the gist of things. A puzzle is really defined by a goal. What are you trying to do (in concrete terms)? A puzzle can be one move or multi-step, but for the competition, each step must be directly related to the one central puzzle. If you ask yourself, "why am I performing this action?" the ultimate concrete answer should be to satisfy that ultimate goal that defines the puzzle.

Here's an example. Let's say there's a large clockwork mechanism in a room designed to lift you up to an opening in the ceiling. The thing that defines this puzzle is the clockwork mechanism; you have to make it work in order to leave the room. That is the puzzle. You may have 100 steps to make the puzzle work, but they all need to relate directly to the process of making the device work. Let's say you have a gear that you need to fix the device locked in a safe. That would be a second puzzle, because the point of figuring out how to open the safe is ultimately to *get the gear*, and not to *fix the mechanism*.

Still, the problem of puzzle definitions doesn't bother me much. I think the problem works itself out in the judging. I wouldn't disqualify any entries at all regardless of how questionable, because the ones that are questionable will without a doubt be marked lower anyway. In the example that you gave KF, I would hesitate to call that a genuine puzzle at all (it's an easter egg hunt), but it wouldn't matter. If the central point of a puzzle is to *find the items I've hidden*, ratings will not likely be favorable anyway. The manipulation of the elements of a puzzle is what really makes it work, not the finding of those elements. And really, I find that these definitions only seem vague when you examine things that could only be vaguely considered as puzzles.

That's why this will work... It's hard to define exactly what a puzzle is, but EVERYBODY knows one when they see it.

Edit - For clarity.




Edited By NObodyNOWHERE on 1110060660
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Postby David Whyld » Sat Mar 05, 2005 10:24 pm

To be honest I'm still not entirely sure on what qualifies as a single puzzle. In this bit:

Here's an example. Let's say there's a large clockwork mechanism in a room designed to lift you up to an opening in the ceiling. The thing that defines this puzzle is the clockwork mechanism; you have to make it work in order to leave the room. That is the puzzle. You may have 100 steps to make the puzzle work, but they all need to relate directly to the process of making the device work. Let's say you have a gear that you need to fix the device locked in a safe. That would be a second puzzle, because the point of figuring out how to open the safe is ultimately to *get the gear*, and not to *fix the mechanism*.


I don't really see why getting the gear that's locked in the safe would be counted as a second puzzle. It still works towards solving the first puzzle, right? So it's essentially just another part of the first puzzle.

Still, the problem of puzzle definitions doesn't bother me much. I think the problem works itself out in the judging. I wouldn't disqualify any entries at all regardless of how questionable, because the ones that are questionable will without a doubt be marked lower anyway.


I'm not sure about that. People tend to rate games higher if they like them and lower if they don't. I can't see many people voting a great game poorly because it might have breached the one puzzle rule - especially if they're not entirely sure about the definition of the rule. Likewise, no one's going to give a bad game a great rating because it sticks to the rule.
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Postby NObodyNOWHERE » Sat Mar 05, 2005 11:50 pm

I don't really see why getting the gear that's locked in the safe would be counted as a second puzzle. It still works towards solving the first puzzle, right? So it's essentially just another part of the first puzzle.


The way it's set up, it would have to be completed to finish the first puzzle, but that doesn't mean that it is part of the first puzzle. Why would you have to open the safe? Is it to fix the device? Hmmm... Opening the safe fixes the device? No. Concretely, opening the safe gives you access to the gear. You could remove the safe entirely and it wouldn't have any effect on the main puzzle. You aren't adding anything to the central puzzle by hiding the gear in the safe. You're just arbitrarily adding more commands to the sequence in your walkthrough.

I'm not sure about that. People tend to rate games higher if they like them and lower if they don't. I can't see many people voting a great game poorly because it might have breached the one puzzle rule - especially if they're not entirely sure about the definition of the rule. Likewise, no one's going to give a bad game a great rating because it sticks to the rule.


That's the whole point though. Judges will vote based on what they like (within the bounds set for judging criteria). No one should give a bad game a great rating just because it follows the rules closely. Likewise, if the whole game (on sum) is just one puzzle, that's all that people will really have to go on. No one will submit a full game to a comp like this (it would even be stated in the rules either way). I wouldn't sweat it if people have different ideas about the role of the safe in the above example, because the main puzzle is what people will finally be voting on. It all comes out in the wash. People will vote on what they like...That's a good thing.

The other thing is the way judging is set up. When there's money involved you have to worry about vote-spamming. I'm probably going to use a panel of judges who are all knowledgable, familiar with the rules, and generally in agreement on interpretation to do the voting.
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