Saturday, 6 February 2016
Help Me Design the Next Puzzle
A New Year; time for a new puzzle.
I wrote The Pacific Riddle almost two years ago. Since then it's had over 100,000 views, which is phenomenal.
Writing new riddles takes a lot of time, and lots of checking. The process I use has 4 steps.
First is to define a suitably interesting problem in either maths or (my own preference) Boolean Logic. The art of course is in how to make it 'suitably interesting'. For me this is a gut feel for the apparent complexity of the starting assumptions and the parsimony of the solution. It's got to look hard at the start, but the answer should feel right.
Once you have that initial problem and solution, the next step is to test it for completeness. How many other solutions are obvious? Too many,and the puzzle answer will feel arbitrary. If there are two or three, then that's fine. Only the first will be provided and you can hint at the other. If it's one, then great.
Of course you can never be sure if there are other solutions that you've missed until it's out in the wild.
Once you're happy with the set of solutions it's time to move it to the third step, building it into a real world scenario (or abstract it away from the real world if maths and logic to the epiphenomunal world of perceptions, if you prefer it that way round.)
This part can be quite fun. You can put in red herrings, interesting environments or odd situations. All very arty.
And then to the final step, which is to test it in the wild. Hopefully people will like it. Hopefully it won't be too easy! Hopefully you haven't made a mistake!
So that's the process I use, and I'd like your help. If you'd like to be part of group building and testing the next puzzle please leave a comment below or contact me on Google+ (link in the side bar.) Everyone who takes part will have a credit, and the whole puzzle will be under a Creative Commons "copyleft" agreement, so free to use.
Hope you'll join me. It'll be fun :-)