Jump to content

Puzzle Making


besty45
Followers 4

Recommended Posts

Draw off of your experiences and knowledge. If you're a programmer, come up with some programming related puzzles. Like knitting? I'm sure you could work that into a puzzle somehow, with thread counts of something. Stick with what you know at first. I think personalized puzzles and caches are the best.

 

Here's a site with all kinds of ideas for puzzles: http://purplehell.com/

A thread with lots of links to puzzle resources: http://forums.Groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=158359

Link to comment

A lot of times I'll get an idea for a puzzle while trying to solve someone else's. I'll try something I think might work, and when it doesn't I'll realize that the thing I tried would have been really neat if that had been the right answer.

 

My most recent hide, a couple of weeks ago, is the result of that happening on a puzzle I solved a couple of weeks before.

Link to comment

For starters, you might want to check out my Puzzle Solving 101 series of caches. It's designed more as a tutorial on how to solve than how to create, but you can't really create a good puzzle until you know how to solve 'em. (Just like you probably shouldn't place a traditional cache until you have found some and understand what makes them good or bad.)

 

A good puzzle is one that compels the potential solver to actually solve it. If it's too hard or too complex (or even if it just appears that way), most people won't try or will give up quickly. If it's too easy, experienced solvers won't attempt it (or will blast right through it just to snag FTF honors :laughing: ). Obviously, the definitions of "too hard" and "too easy" will vary between cachers - in writing a puzzle, you should consider what experience level you want to target.

 

Here's my own personal gut feel of what makes for a good puzzle:

 

- Simplicity. A good puzzle doesn't rely upon a complex solving mechanism. The harder it is to understand or ascertain the solving mechanism, the less compelling it is.

 

Note that simplicity is unrelated to effort - all sudoku puzzles have a very simple set of rules that constrain the puzzle solution, yet some can be quite effort-intensive to solve.

 

- Originality. A good puzzle is one that helps me to see the world in a new way. I already know how to do sudoku puzzles and have seen them used in caches quite a lot, so seeing a new sudoku puzzle pop up wouldn't interest me. However, a variation on sudoku (such as GCQXGW) might be really interesting (I still haven't solved that one, btw).

 

- Correctness. It's very disappointing to spend a lot of time solving something only to find out that mistakes by the puzzle constructor have led you astray. (Imagine how you'd feel if a traditional cache owner gave you slightly incorrect coordinates and had you searching 100' away from the actual location.)

 

- Hints. I don't care for puzzles that just give you some random sequence of letters and hope you guess the magic formula for untangling their meaning. The best ones have hints in the text, title, and other places that may directly or (better yet) not-so-directly nudge your thinking in the right direction. The worst ones require blind guesses about ciphers or keywords or magic numbers or secret incantations. I mean how much fun is this game?

 

Me: I'm thinking of a number. Guess.

You: Uh ... 7?

Me: No.

You: 11?

Me: No.

You: A million?

Me: No.

You: I quit.

 

- Integration with location. The best puzzle caches are ones that incorporate the intermediate or final locations into the puzzle somehow. Perhaps the final location is a punch line to a joke posed by the puzzle text (I love those) or has some special relationship to the final ... make the location meaningful.

 

Be sure that you have a good answer to the cacher's question: "Why did you bother to bring me here? What's in it for me at this place?" (It's no different in that regard than traditional caches.)

 

- Persistence. Puzzle caches aren't found anywhere near as often as traditional ones, so if they are muggled it will take longer for someone to notice. Plus, if the final container disappears, would-be solvers might have the right solution but mistakenly think they've got it wrong. Make sure you pick a place and a container that will stand the test of time.

 

I have a corollary to the persistence rule for bonus caches that require collecting information from a series of other caches - treat the series caches the same as the bonus. If one of the series caches disappears and isn't replaced for an extended period of time, then the bonus cache will become unfindable. Keep your series up to date as well as the status of the bonus.

 

- Online solution verification. If the puzzle can be solved at your desk, it's a good idea to include a link to a verification tool such as Geochecker. Your solvers will appreciate not having to drive around testing out their solution theories.

 

- Testing. There's no better way to improve your puzzle than to have someone else test it prior to submitting it for publication. Not only will you find any errors you may have made, but you'll also get an idea if people are solving it the way you intended and are getting the experience out of it that you wanted your finders to have.

 

The best way to find people to test your puzzle is to check with puzzle cache owners and puzzle cache finders in your area. Just search for all your nearby puzzle caches and send messages to folks you see in the listing ... most everyone I've asked has been more the happy to help me out. (I will gladly help test anyone's puzzle, if I've got the bandwidth - just send me a message through this site.)

 

There are certain types of puzzles I find uninteresting as an experienced puzzle solver, mostly because they've been used over and over again. That doesn't mean you shouldn't create one of these yourself, but you should be mindful of other caches in your area that might be similar (see the Originality guideline above). Here are some methods of hiding coordinates that don't interest me ...

 

- Sudoku

- Simple substitution ciphers

- Bar codes

- Basic arithmetic

- Obvious mappings of the letter A into 1, B into 2, etc.

- Obvious mappings of objects into numbers (elements, US presidents, US states, etc)

 

Having said that, an original combination of these elements plus integration with location might be really fun. For instance, a puzzle that uses elements and leads to a monument at the site of some famous discovery in chemistry or physics might be really cool, or perhaps a puzzle with stellar magnitudes might lead to some other location involving stars (such as an observatory, or something like the Hollywood Walk of Fame). The more elements you can tie together (especially those that can be discovered by surprise along the way), the more people will like your puzzle.

 

If you're looking to construct a fairly standard type of puzzle (such as a crossword, cryptogram, maze, logic problem, etc), the Internet and your local library have many, many resources available. Just search for the word "construction" along with the particular type of puzzle you want to create, and you're certain to find something meaningful.

 

The best way to build a good puzzle cache is to start from the end and work your way backwards. As with a traditional cache, pick an interesting location, then frame your puzzle around it.

 

For instance, I noticed a building in my city that had three windows in the shape of the numbers "007" and that there was a caboose parked on a nearby railway siding that also had the number "007" painted on it. I created a James Bond trivia puzzle that when solved with information at the building would take you to the caboose. (Unfortunately, the building was knocked down shortly after the cache was published.)

 

Good luck!

 

-eP

Edited by ePeterso2
Link to comment

Here are a few basic steps that I follow:

 

1. Get a theme

Like other posters have mentioned pick something you enjoy and know about. I have caches with the following themes:

Word Search, Stereograms, Number sequences, Scrambled letters, Logic Puzzle, physical puzzles, etc...

 

One of the harder parts is getting the theme to turn into numbers. I have a puzzle that requires a bit of spatial skills. Most cachers, including myself, made a paper or wood model. The puzzle has numbers written right on it. Another is a word search. The direction of the word can be translated into a number (up=1, down=2, east=3, etc...) You can turn the numbers into letters by substitutions, or by spelling it out and using it. (9=Nine, 40=Forty, etc...)

 

2. Get a location

If you can find a location or make a container that fits the theme, all the better. You will need to work this location into the solution theme.

 

3. Double check and triple check the solution.

 

4. Put it out there and see how it goes then learn from it.

 

I hope this short reply is helpful. Take a look at my caches, and if you have questions, let me know.

 

The Cooker

Link to comment

Naw. OP is looking for

I've noticed that there are a number of great puzzle caches out there with extremely hard an awesome puzzles.
Not Sudokus, or simple cyphers. Awesome ones!

Those require a slightly misfunctioning brain. If you have to ask, then you'll probably never come up with one. I worked on one for ten months, before someone hit me over the head witha monkey wrench, and I said "Dun". Check out: Puzzle Master Challenge.

Link to comment

 

- Correctness. It's very disappointing to spend a lot of time solving something only to find out that mistakes by the puzzle constructor have led you astray. (Imagine how you'd feel if a traditional cache owner gave you slightly incorrect coordinates and had you searching 100' away from the actual location.)

 

- Testing. There's no better way to improve your puzzle than to have someone else test it prior to submitting it for publication. Not only will you find any errors you may have made, but you'll also get an idea if people are solving it the way you intended and are getting the experience out of it that you wanted your finders to have.

 

The best way to build a good puzzle cache is to start from the end and work your way backwards. As with a traditional cache, pick an interesting location, then frame your puzzle around it.

 

Good luck!

 

-eP

 

These are the 3 most important things to do while doing a very good puzzle cache.

 

I have had problems with my last 3 puzzles I have done.

The first one was because I lost some of the info and I asked a fellow cacher that lived near it if they could do a cache run on it and get some more info for me. The info I got was not the right info and when it got published, the final cords were off.

The second one was because of a bad GPS reading (ended up doing a master reset on it). Luckily I went with a bunch of cachers on its debut and I found out what I the location should have been and fixed the listing within 24 hrs and then published the listing.

The third one was because I messed up part of the listing and added the wrong location info ie.. N42 26 wxy W033 44.abc

 

But the best thing is to find a great location of interest (monument, historical location, something very interesting) and then find a location near by that will accommodate a cache, mark the location and then get information about everything on and near the thing you want to have cachers look at. Go home and then take the time and make the numbers work. This will be the hard part and can take lots of time if you want to have a good puzzle. Look at all the math that is involved in these 2 caches of mine GC1D0XF and GC15BYT

Link to comment

I've noticed that there are a number of great puzzle caches out there with extremely hard an awesome puzzles. How do you guys do it? I've been wanting to create an awesome puzzle cache, but I don't even know where to start. Where do you guys learn to make things like those? :laughing:

 

Here is what I used for one of my puzzles. http://www.scholastic.com/spyx/pdfs/Cipher_Wheel.pdf

And to make it even more difficult I translated the letters into spanish. Check it out! Feel free to use it if you wish. I will tell you anything you want to know about it. GC1KJ7Z Ranchland Romp.

Link to comment

As others have ably written already in this thread, making a good puzzle is a lot more difficult than it looks. Making an impossible puzzle is easy; making a "fair" puzzle that is also difficult is extremely challenging.

 

I have a few suggestions. Take them for whatever you think they are worth:

 

First, I recommend that you have a few friends (preferably non-geocachers) solve the puzzle before you post it. Have them take you through their thought process as they solve it. See the places where you thought the next step would be obvious but they don't, because they can't read your mind. Fine-tune the puzzle to incorporate the feedback.

 

Don't include a bunch of false leads or "red herrings" unless you really know what you are doing. Avoid tedium and unnecessary steps that are error-prone: for example, don't make ciphertext into an image so that finders have to transcribe it back to text unless you have a really good reason for doing so. Don't put in needless basic arithmetic unless there is a good reason for it.

 

See how many ways you can include subtle clues about the method for solving the puzzle into the presentation of the puzzle. And keep the presentation of the puzzle short and clear; long, convoluted puzzle expositions tend to not be a lot of fun.

Link to comment
First, I recommend that you have a few friends (preferably non-geocachers) solve the puzzle before you post it. Have them take you through their thought process as they solve it. See the places where you thought the next step would be obvious but they don't, because they can't read your mind. Fine-tune the puzzle to incorporate the feedback.

I totally agree with this - definitely test before you submit and get feedback on how the solving went. For some of my tougher published puzzles, I often ask the finders after the fact how they went about solving it. Not only can you see if your puzzle is working well, but sometimes you get good ideas for puzzle hiding techniques you might want to use in the future.

 

Don't include a bunch of false leads or "red herrings" unless you really know what you are doing. Avoid tedium and unnecessary steps that are error-prone: for example, don't make ciphertext into an image so that finders have to transcribe it back to text unless you have a really good reason for doing so. Don't put in needless basic arithmetic unless there is a good reason for it.

Just to both agree with and to generalize that sentiment - don't make the puzzle solver do anything unless there is a good reason for it.

 

(Having said that, I've attempted to solve some complex puzzles that explicitly violate just those sorts of rules ... the non-geocache puzzle Savoir-Faire comes to mind. But there's a fine line between tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top-irritating ... beware if you decide to tread that line!)

 

See how many ways you can include subtle clues about the method for solving the puzzle into the presentation of the puzzle.

GCP5QD is one of my favorite puzzles that has a ton of subtle clues. Until you solve it, you have absolutely no idea how many blatant clues are staring you right in the face.

 

And keep the presentation of the puzzle short and clear; long, convoluted puzzle expositions tend to not be a lot of fun.

As an example, Cerebral Codex has 11 puzzles conveniently packaged into a 200-page novel. Finding them is as much of an endurance test as solving them! Yikes!

 

-eP

Edited by ePeterso2
Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Followers 4
×
×
  • Create New...