The Principles of Puzzle Design are as follows:
Some people believe that puzzles in video games are extinct as a result of the availability of walkthroughs, which can be found virtually anywhere on the internet. Jessie Schell, an author and game designer, does not believe this is the case. He believes that there are ten fundamental principles to creating a good puzzle (Schell 2008: 211).
The first principle is as follows:
For starters, the goal of the puzzle should be easily understood in order to pique the interest of those who are unfamiliar with it at first glance. It is possible that players will lose interest entirely if they are unsure of what they are supposed to do (Schell 2008: 211).
The second principle is as follows:
The second principle is to make it simple for people to get started. Once the goal of the puzzle is clearly defined, it should be relatively simple to begin working on it. Those who find a puzzle too difficult will either resort to trial-and-error methods or abandon the puzzle altogether (Schell 2008: 212; see also p.
The third principle is to instil a sense of progress in the player’s mind. This is what distinguishes puzzles from riddles in terms of difficulty. Riddles are simple questions that are presented to the player and are expected to be answered, whereas puzzles frequently require the player to manipulate something. Having a sense of progress toward a solution, even if it is incremental, provides the player with hope that they will be able to figure out the puzzle in some way or another. It was common for players to encounter riddles in early adventure games, and the player would be required to use critical thinking skills to solve the riddle or begin making educated guesses (Schell 2008:213-214).
The fourth principle is as follows:
Giving the puzzle a sense of solvability is the fourth of the seven principles. A connection can be made between this and the previous principle of progress. If a player begins to believe that the puzzle is unsolvable, he or she will conclude that they are wasting their time and will move on from the puzzle altogether. What you must do is persuade the player that the puzzle is solvable in order to win. Using visible feedback to show the player how far they have progressed, as well as outright declaring that the puzzle is solvable, are both effective methods of accomplishing this. They will never be in doubt that there is a solution, no matter how frustrated they may become (Schell 2008:214).
The fifth principle is to gradually increase the level of difficulty. Creating a puzzle that only slightly increases in difficulty from a previous one is a difficult task. Although it is more difficult to achieve increased difficulty when viewing a puzzle as a series of actions, or small steps, taken towards the ultimate solution, it is possible. The actions contained within the puzzle should gradually become more difficult as the game progresses. One method of gradually increasing the level of difficulty is to give the player control over the order in which the actions take place throughout the puzzle. This is the method by which crossword puzzles are constructed. After being presented with several questions, which can be answered in any order, the player is then presented with hints for solving the other questions that are based on the answer to the first question (Schell 2008:215-216).
The sixth principle is to use parallelism to allow the player to take a break. In the event that a player encounters a puzzle that they are unable to solve and as a result finds themselves unable to make any further progress in the game, there is a possibility that they will abandon the game entirely. It is possible to prevent this from happening by presenting the player with several different puzzles at the same time, as well as the option to abandon a puzzle that they are unable to complete. Players can then move on to another puzzle for a while, and in some cases, taking a break from a puzzle can be exactly what the player needs in order to try again and be successful (Schell 2008:216).