Designing a Puzzle

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find information about how to design a puzzle.

That is why I hope to provide helpful hints with this article

and to encourage other designers to write something about it as well.

It has taken a long time until I have designed a puzzle myself,

although I collect puzzles for many years and have also solved a lot of puzzles.

This may be the case because I admired the puzzle designs of the others too much,

but also because I had the impression that the development of a puzzle is very time consuming

and only possible by the aid of special computer programmes.

The approaches for puzzle designs vary widely.

Nevertheless, there are some steps which occur regularly.

I will illustrate this by the aid of an IPP puzzle, which I designed myself.

Motivation phase:

Most puzzle designs, which I invent, are normally driven by a certain kind of motivation.

My first question is thereby always: What kind of puzzle do I want to invent?

I often have a certain design in mind, which I had always the desire for.

Sometimes it's important for me to add another puzzle to a certain puzzle type

or to invent a puzzle that differs from other puzzles in a particular trait.

My intention at this puzzle design was to transfer a popular puzzle design "into a new level".

Therefore, I had chosen the Snake Cube as popular puzzle,

as many people usually play with this puzzle on Christmas markets.

(A Snake Cube consists of 27 small cubes, which are connected through a string.

The purpose is to put these small cubes into the form of a 3 x 3 x 3 cube.)

Since I did not know of the existence of any two-dimensional snake cube,

my aim was to produce a two-dimensional snake puzzle.

Decision phase:

But how should the snake look like?

Should it simply be one long snake or should it be several snakes?

Should the area be completely or only partially covered?

For the realisation I decided to use only a few snakes and to cover

only some fields with the parts of the snakes.

Most of my decisions depend on what I perceive as beautiful.

A long snake which would have filled a complete area would not have looked very beautiful.

But how should the snakes be put on the board?

When was the solution found?

My rule was:

The snakes should be put in such a way on the board

that they could not move in any way.


Is such a puzzle possible?

I did not want to write a computer program, as this would have taken several days.

So I tried myself to find a possible constellation with small snakes and small m x n fields.

Therefore I drawed a small m x n field and tried to find a solution

with snakes of 5 and 6 parts length.

After many hours I gave up.

Thus, I tried to imagine a solution and then to build the snakes according to it.

To be continued.