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I love puzzle games. But it s not beating them that s the exciting part: it s understanding them.
Whether mulling over a cryptic crossword or somersaulting through Portal s portals, there s a moment of epiphany which, for me, pretty much transcends all other moments in gaming. But how do you design a puzzle to best provoke that eureka moment? What gives a puzzle its aesthetic, its pace and texture? Why does one puzzle feel thrilling while another feels like a flat mental grind?
I ve asked three of my favourite puzzle game designers to demystify their dark magicks: Jonathan Blow, best known for the puzzle-platformer Braid and currently hard at work on firstperson perplexathon, The Witness; Alan “Draknek” Hazelden, creator of Sokoban-inspired sequential-logic games, including Sokobond, Mirror Isles and the forthcoming A Good Snowman Is Hard To Build; and Jonathan Whiting, a programmer on Sportsfriends and collaborator with Hazelden on Traal, whose own games are a regular Ludum Dare highlight.
Another Humble Indie Bundle? What a strange turn of events. I thought for sure that Humble was going to suddenly and inexplicably shut down their massively successful enterprise this time around. I mean, they’re on Humble Indie Bundle 11 now. What a gross number. Ten – nay, X – was so svelte, so confident. It plucked the olive from life’s martini glass just so>, and we all just wanted its gaze to fall on us for a single precious second. So seriously, what’s even the point of having more Humble Bundles? Oh, right: amazing games and charity and stuff. This time around, the star-studded lineup includes Guacamelee, Monaco, Antichamber, and my personal favorite puzzler of 2013, The Swapper.