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Designer Diary 8 - Puzzle Inspirations

How do you find your puzzle inspiration? (Yes, I’m asking. Tell me in the comments!)


I find that a lot of my inspiration for puzzles is visual. I like to use shapes, layouts, and colors, and get a lot of my ideas from things I see while traveling and from looking at historical source material. Some of the things that excite me about The Emerald Flame Kickstarter are the additional puzzle rewards, as well as the online puzzles I've been posting throughout the campaign. These are in-world puzzles and can be thought of as a prequel of sorts, although they don't follow the same main characters. Why? The game itself is about solving the secrets of the alchemist, and the pre-game is about finding those objects in the first place.

Some of them are seeds of puzzles that had potential but didn’t develop their way into the game, or did go into the game but behave differently. For example, one puzzle in the game shows shields on houses, and these really exist, so I wanted to connect them to the real world not just in my eyes but for others. However, The Emerald Flame developed in such a way that players don’t need to use internet research outside of given links, so using this idea in a different setting and format seemed like an okay opportunity for a totally different puzzle, inspired by the same motif. These shields ended up in one game puzzle but are woven into 3 out of the 5 online campaign puzzles.

Before I travel I spend a lot of time looking at maps. I plan itineraries, transportation routes, try to find hidden gems, etc. and I do the same thing when I’m planning out a game in a certain setting. The Emerald Flame features 3 maps, one of which is a map of Prague Castle. As I was looking around the castle area in Google maps I found a bunch of geometric fountains and gardens, and that visual grew into a puzzle in the game that takes place on the castle map.

A tale of 3 blurry pictures and 4 weekly puzzles:

If you’ve been following my weekly puzzles, some of the images below will look familiar, and I thought the tale of their origin was kind of neat. I found an image from a (medieval?) manuscript which excited me as a source of inspiration, but what I didn't see at first, is that this image also had three very blurry items on the bottom. The poor resolution made it impossible to understand what information they were trying to convey, but I set out to use these abstracted images as a jumping off point.

In the first one I noticed what looked like letters to the left and right of the tower. It also seemed kind of like the tower could be divided into layers. With that, the puzzle on the bottom left was born.

The image in the center made me want to take two triangles and combine their contents to make something new in another triangle in between. At first, I came up with the pentagonal word puzzle on the top, dropping the octagon shape and using the triangles to make compound words. Still, I really liked the layout of the octagon’s inner shapes, and ended up creating a shape/color overlap puzzle as seen on the bottom.

In the column on the right I once again noticed what looks like letters or symbols (though they could just as well be leaves) and the criss-crossing vines going around the column. The criss-crossing pattern led me to make the puzzle on the bottom right (and I guess it got a little bit trippy there!)

If you want to try solving any of the puzzles above, head over to the PostCurious archive for full size pictures and hints.

Since we hit 1000 Kickstarter followers before launch, I’ll leave you off here with another puzzle, as promised:

-Find a URL hidden in this post, slash a very relevant color, dot html. -Seek mysteries. -Read numbers:

3-1-1, 3-3-5

4-4-2, 4-4-4, 4-5-2, 4-7-7

5-1-2, 5-1-3, 5-3-4, 5-3-5, 5-5-1, 5-5-2 -The keys hold the final word, teeth show the way for the bow.

One last hint: The answer is a present tense verb with 5 letters.


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