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Thread: [disc]Puzzlegames: pre-defined or randomly generated?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member walnoot's Avatar
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    [disc]Puzzlegames: pre-defined or randomly generated?

    inspiration for this topic:
    playing the pre-defined games of Lightforce: (My favs: )fullboard ,skid ,chainreaction ,warehouse

    as well as the randomly generated trilinks by tonypa.

    While having some ideas for a puzzlegame at the moment I doubt which way to go. I wonder what you think as a developer as well as player.

    Some global thoughts:

    *A random one will (almost) always be different,
    which makes it more fun to come back to a game.
    *A pre-defined puzzle is often a beauty in it's creation,
    you never know what a randomly generated puzzle will bring.
    *A random puzzle could, for the same reason, be fun for the developer to play,
    (gives the developer something to hold on to while coding it)
    *A predefined puzzle will be no fun for the developer to play,
    (why I would never make an rpg)
    *A pre-defined puzzle is easier to code,
    cause it lacks the AI creating it.
    *A randomly generated puzzle is more fun to code,
    cause you need to think of a solution how to let the computer create it.
    *In a predefined puzzle you can make a very accurate difficulty increasing.
    *In a randomly generated puzzle that's more difficult (If you shuffle the pieces in a simple sliding puzzle randomly 15 times, there's a little chance the player only needs an easy one push to solve it.)

    Someone else?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Ray Beez's Avatar
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    In some kinds of games, a designed puzzle is HARDER to code because you have to come up with a way to design the puzzle, and save the data in a format your game can use.

    (Not exactly that much harder, but it's a little extra work than just randomizing)

  3. #3
    Lurker at Heart EgoAnt's Avatar
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    I was toying with the idea (and still am for some other projects) of always having all my levels except for an initial batch created by the users. Here's the way I envisioned it working...

    Step 1: Player plays through several levels and "unlocks" the level editor. Once the editor is unlocked they can create their own levels.

    Step 2: Player creates their own level.

    Step 3: Before that level is allowed to be submitted, the player has to play it through to ensure it is actually solvable. (Or, if you like, you could just run a validation tool on it, but that requires additional coding =) .) This makes sure that all the levels submitted by users are fair.

    Step 4: Player can challenge other people's levels for points. If they can't beat the level, the creator gets points, if they can then they get points based on the difficulty of the level. (The more people a level beats, the more points it is worth, all levels start out the same.)

    It's sort of a different twist, but seems like a great way to keep players involved. I started developing a system for doing exactly this, but only got as far as building the game and the editor, I never finished off the testing / ranking / points system. Here is the game and the editor-

    The game is called Tilt!
    Last edited by EgoAnt; 03-15-2006 at 05:58 PM.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Ray Beez's Avatar
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    Wow I really like that.

  5. #5
    Senior Member fil_razorback's Avatar
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    Wow, you should finish it : it is EXCELLENT !

  6. #6
    Lurker at Heart EgoAnt's Avatar
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    Hahaha, well, the problem is the game itself was sold to a client, so now to continue work on it I want to create a different game that uses the same principles. I had a great idea for it this morning, but my problem is that I am full of great ideas, and have no time to implement them.
    Speed up your development time with well documented and easy to implement Flash components.
    That's what I do, I save people.... Save them from work. I'm like a slacker superhero, standing for truth, justice, and the consumption of sugary pastries.

  7. #7
    Patron Saint of Beatings WilloughbyJackson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EgoAnt
    I had a great idea for it this morning, but my problem is that I am full of great ideas, and have no time to implement them.
    A familiar situation.

  8. #8
    Senior Member tonypa's Avatar
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    The problem with pre-defined levels for any puzzle is time. The game engine can be done very quickly, but then you need to create all those 100 levels for the game. And its not easy task, the puzzle should be challenging while being solvable, also if the levels get more difficult you should somehow figure out how to arrange the levels so player will be interested but not frustrated.

    Good example is Sudoku. It has been created some time ago, but for many years every Sudoku puzzle was created manually, it was slow and number of puzzles was limited and they were only published in some special Japanese puzzle magazine. Only when computer program was made to generate the puzzles did Sudoku start to appear everywhere. But even today best puzzles are made manually and people who make them get paid good money because best Sudoku puzzles have exactly 1 way to be solved while computer generated puzzles tend to to have many ways.

    Of course the programming of puzzle generator can also take much time. Is it even possible to solve generated puzzle? How difficult it is? How much time does it take to generate the puzzle? For example in first version of Trilinks time spent on generating the puzzle was getting quite long and players usually dont want to wait over 30 seconds before contuining the game. So I had to rewrite the generator several times. But if I would of decided to create every level myself, I would of probably give up after 10 levels which would of made the game way too short. Plus of course it would be too similar to HyperFrame and not worth releasing.

    You can also use mix of both. For example you can create generator for puzzles, but let it generate all levels in advance so in the actual game time is not wasted. If you use external file for all puzzles you could then change it after week or two so the game stays fresh. Another way is to modify puzzles at every play slightly so players do not get too familiar with them. Even randomising the order of puzzles helps (level 1 is not always same layout, but can be chosen randomly from 5 layouts). Most puzzles can be rotated and flipped without changing the actual content, but making them new experience for the players. Players rarely look at the stage from every 90 degree angle to find out its same puzzle as last time, but being rotated 180 degrees.
    Last edited by tonypa; 03-16-2006 at 04:49 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member TeroLebe's Avatar
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    I think "random" generated puzzles are good enough. but I rather use some kind of random seed. You can create 100 levels easily only typing 100 level seeds. (of course you have to test that each puzzle level can be solved).

    And with same technique players can type their own "seed" for extra puzzles/levels.


    I have used md5 and sha1-hash to make "random" numbers, and it worked random enough.
    Last edited by TeroLebe; 03-16-2006 at 04:56 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member walnoot's Avatar
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    A couple of days after starting this thread:
    In the end it's ofcourse all about the the game itself: pre-defining a poux or bejeweled-puzzle is ridiculous, as well as a randomly generated point and click adventure.

    EgoAnt:Yeah, really cool. Like Dick Dynamite on gotoAndPlay.com, but with a much better game instead.

    Tonypa, you should really write a book, that's a really nice and educative introduction to your puzzle-chapter . Nevertheless I think that I could/would get joy out of creating 100 puzzles on paper and not out of creating a highly-advanced generator that will be invisible for all players with no development-background. But that's just in the moment I guess.
    Like 'your' idea of generating puzzles in advance, checking them out and keeping the beauties.

    TeroLebe: Totally don't have a clue what you say, sorry.

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