The aesthetics of puzzle game design
I love puzzle games. But it’s not beating them that’s the exciting part: it’s understanding them.
Whether mulling over a cryptic crossword or somersaulting through Portal’s portals, there’s a moment of epiphany which, for me, pretty much transcends all other moments in gaming. But how do you design a puzzle to best provoke that eureka moment? What gives a puzzle its aesthetic, its pace and texture? Why does one puzzle feel thrilling while another feels like a flat mental grind?
I’ve asked three of my favourite puzzle game designers to demystify their dark magicks: Jonathan Blow, best known for the puzzle-platformer Braid and currently hard at work on firstperson perplexathon, The Witness; Alan “Draknek” Hazelden, creator of Sokoban-inspired sequential-logic games, including Sokobond, Mirror Isles and the forthcoming A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build; and Jonathan Whiting, a programmer on Sportsfriends and collaborator with Hazelden on Traal, whose own games are a regular Ludum Dare highlight.
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Games backed by the collective of successful, experienced, indie developers funding game projects that they believe in, Indie Fund, have started to release to great success. What better time to catch up with one of the fund’s partners, Braid designer Jonathan Blow, to find out more about where they’re at, and get an insight into their process for funding games. Here he is sharing about some of what goes on behind the scenes, what it takes to get their money, and what direction the fund might be heading in the future. Read the rest of this entry »