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Ludacrist
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icon Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+4)  
I'm really wanting to get into building my own holds, but most of my levels lack the "aha!" element that the best drod rooms have. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Do people typically start with a concept? Or just start building and iterate to tweak the difficulty?
06-16-2020 at 09:25 AM
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averagemoe
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (0)  
I remember something from the creator of Baba Is You. Think of some interesting interaction between elements, and then build a puzzle that forces the player to make use of it.

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06-16-2020 at 05:26 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (0)  
I would say that each person probably builds DROD levels in a different way. My strategy is usually to sort of prompt myself with an idea of what elements I want to use/make the room or level about, then sort of plop them around a room and mess with them. Occasionally I'll have an idea to make a room about a particular interaction or have a concept in my head for how a room should "go", but not always.

The important step in my own personal process, though, is testing. Once I think I have a room, or sometimes while brainstorming for a room, I'll push F5 and go in and test it. Sometimes I get ideas from testing out a partial room as to how more of it should go; sometimes I realize that what I intended doesn't work and decide either to fix it, or to make a room about something else I notice that does work. Or perhaps I don't find a room interesting enough, so I start taking a way elements or "resources" for the player to a minimum.

Or I'll start with an easy room, take out one part that appears necessary, and try while testing it to think about some unexpected way to fill that "gap" I just made for myself. It's especially surprising when I think I made a room impossible but discover that I still have all I need to finish it; that can be especially satisfying at times.

For inspiration, it almost always helps to play other people's rooms. Sometimes you'll see an interaction used in a certain way, and think of your own original tweak to it. Sometimes you'll be trying to find a solution and come up with a wrong one that would've been interesting, which you can then build your own room with that as its solution. Sometimes playing other people's rooms will teach you interactions and strategies that you didn't know existed before, and the more you understand the elements for play, the more you have to play with as an architect.

One other thing I'd say helped me out in making better rooms, was to restrict the physical space I use up. Basically: Instead of starting with an entire room of empty floor as your "blank canvas", fill in all but a little rectangle with walls and start out with the mindset that your entire puzzle will only take up that much space. You're allowed to break that rule, but I found (at least early on) that going in with that sort of mindset can help produce rooms that are more focused instead of just being a big sprawling mess.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 06-16-2020 07:16 PM]
06-16-2020 at 07:09 PM
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Pinnacle
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+1)  
The idea is the easy part. Just think of an interesting thing (or multiple interesting things) that can be done with one or more elements, and the core idea for the room is that the player has to do that thing. The hard parts are enforcing actually doing the linchpin instead of doing something less interesting, preventing the linchpin from being too obvious by reading the room's machinery, and preventing the setup required to execute the linchpin (or the cleanup after doing it) from being too tedious.

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[Last edited by Pinnacle at 06-16-2020 09:38 PM]
06-16-2020 at 09:36 PM
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Dragon Fogel
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+1)  
I tend to think of my room solutions in terms of steps. What I often do is start with one step I want to use, and then start building a structure for that step, then thinking about what else I can do with it.

For instance, say I start with the step "a construct drops a trapdoor instead of Beethro". Then I start playing around in the editor, and make a room where there's a trapdoor and a construct. I set things up so that the trapdoor needs to be dropped (easy enough by just including a red door to something important), and then I think of a way to make something bad happen if Beethro steps on the trapdoor.

Some options for that include:
-a token that's bad to activate
-an evil eye looking at the trapdoor, which will get trapped if it moves
-a force arrow on the trapdoor, leading to a hot tile (so there's a way to kill the construct after it drops the trapdoor)

Once I have the basic setup actually made, I can start looking for additional steps to work in, either before or after the one I just made.

For instance, I might place an orb so that the player releases the construct in a situation where it's chasing them and Beethro is facing away from it, so you have to deal with that before you can lead it to the trapdoor. Or the red gate could lead to a weapon token that's needed to accomplish something else in the room.

Often, I'll think of additional steps by looking at elements I already put in and thinking of additional ways they can be used - either as tools for the player, or as obstacles. If they're already serving one role, I like to find ways for them to serve the other, too - but two different ways for the same element to serve as a tool or obstacle is also fine.

Taking the evil eye example above, the evil eye is already an obstacle because it prevents Beethro from dropping the trapdoor. I could use it as a tool by requiring you to wake it up and lead it out after the red door is open. Or, I could make it tricky to kill the eye, so it would serve as an obstacle in a different way.

And sometimes I don't end up doing anything else with the specific elements I placed, but their presence inspires an idea by using that element elsewhere in the room.

Taking the evil eye as an example again, I could place more eyes limiting access elsewhere in the room even if the one looking at the trapdoor doesn't do anything else. I'm not reusing that particular eye, but I am reusing the theme.

It's important to note that not every step has to be complicated. Even trivial steps are fine, because the player has to figure out if they're needed in the first place and that's usually going to take some work.

If you're having trouble even thinking of a starting step, what I often do for NaDRODArchMo is just plop some stuff down in a small area and then try to think of something I can do with it.
06-16-2020 at 11:19 PM
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davidatk100
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+2)  
Hi Pinnacle, DROD/Caravel has many hidden gems including an Architecture Ideas Generator. I haven't used it myself but it looks awesome. If you use it, can you please share your thoughts? I'm curious to know what you think.

Does anyone know who built it?

http://forum.caravelgames.com/ideasGenerator/view
06-16-2020 at 11:31 PM
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Dragon Fogel
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+2)  
That was made by skell. We had a contest making rooms with it a few years back. It was a little hit-or-miss - some rooms were very cool, others were boring or downright unpleasant.

I think part of the issue is that by default it gives a few too many prompts. And the ones that involve excluding elements usually aren't that interesting. Though I guess you could take that as a challenge to do something like "make a room that feels like it should have an aumtlich in it but it doesn't".

More recently, I've occasionally tried rolling it to just toss out one or two ideas, sometimes as an aid when I've started a room but feel stuck on what else to do with it. Seems more useful for that.

Also, setting it to produce Arky-quality suggestions always gets a laugh.
06-17-2020 at 12:18 AM
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kieranmillar
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icon Re: Any tips for building interesting puzzles? (+5)  
I thought I'd showcase a practical example of how I built one of my favourite rooms in my hold King Nareik's Dungeon. This hold comes from a later level and it's a really spoileriffic explanantion, so to prevent any accidental spoilers I've put the post in secret tags.

The room is Level 16: 1 South 1 West if you'd like to try it first before reading this. The hold has a warp room if you go South from the start, so you can go straight to this room (the Entrance room of L16 is a mini goblin tutorial so you'll have to pass that but it should be easy enough).

Click here to view the secret text


[Last edited by kieranmillar at 06-17-2020 02:18 PM]
06-17-2020 at 02:00 PM
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