January 28th, 2011


the rules of the game

I didn't invent the "what's this game" and don't claim authority, but my intent with my particular puzzles is that the contestants will, for the most part, use any tools available to them to help them solve the puzzle. A few of my readers are very good at this game and like to solve the puzzles without using tools, and if that makes it more fun for them I encourage it. There exist one or two obscure1 tools which tend to make all my puzzles a lot easier if you know about them and I know of at least one reader who tries to solve the puzzles without using those tools first and only resorts to them if they can't get it without them -- again, all's fair, and you should do whatever makes it fun for you.

As a puzzle constructor my aim is to make puzzles that, on average, about 50% of the people who attempt them can solve. That 50% is a mix of spatial reasoning, knowledge of or skill at finding relevant information resources, time available for the puzzle, and dumb luck. Secondarily, I like it if each of my readers is at least occasionally stumped by something that someone else can get, and also if each of them can at least occasionally answer a puzzle without having the satisfaction of it taken away by feeling that it was made deliberately trivial.

1 By obscure I mean that a distinct minority of my readers know they exist. I do not generally check my puzzles against these tools when determining whether a puzzle has an appropriate difficulty level.