More Than a Maze

Consider the maze to be a type of exploration puzzle. A basic maze with arbitrary paths is not particularly compelling to a player who has seen many mazes before. Many older RPGs required players to make a map of a series of mazes as they played. Today, most gamers would consider this “busywork” and prefer that the game provided an automatic mapping function. For this challenge, though, let’s give the player a reason to make his own map.

Brainstorm as many mechanics as you can think of that can be added to a simple maze, which makes the process of mapping a puzzle in and of itself. Come up with at least three ideas.

One example (which you’re not allowed to use as one of your own ideas for this challenge) is the maze from the classic Atari 2600 game Adventure. In this game, the maze “wraps around” so that moving to the left may cause you to reappear on the right side of the maze. You may pass near the same point several times when you’re actually in a completely different section of the maze. In this way, mapping and navigating are made more difficult, and become quite a puzzle, even though the maze itself is not very large.


Components Required

  • Graph paper


  • A short sentence up to a paragraph describing each mechanic that you can think of

  • A sample hand-drawn maze illustrating the mechanics described

Suggested Process

  1. Brainstorm.

    It’s tempting to start by thinking of any games you played that had nonstandard mapping or navigation mechanics. However, this runs the risk of constraining your creativity, because you may have trouble coming up with your own ideas if you’re constantly thinking of other people’s. Try to be original first, and then think of existing games only when your own ideas are spent.

  2. Create deliverable.




A Shocking Puzzle

Electricity makes for great puzzles in video games, since passing its current from one side to another can logically result in some action being performed, provided it is, in fact, passed correctly. For this challenge, your goal is to create a paper prototype of a puzzle in which electrical current is passed from one side of the screen to the other. You may use any interface you like, provided that it requires spatial reasoning on the part of the player.

Components Required

  • Materials to create prototype


  • Prototype, along with a written set of rules indicating the beginning state, objective, and actions that the player may take

Suggested Process

  1. Brainstorm.

    How do you get electrical current from one side of the screen to the other? What does a “success” look like? Are there any ways to “fail” or does the player simply keep trying until he succeeds?

  2. Create the mechanics.

    Define the actions that a player can take. What effects do these actions have on the state of the puzzle?

  3. Create a sample puzzle.

    Using your rules, make a puzzle. Be sure to write down the solution for yourself. If you have time, make two puzzles: one very simple puzzle meant to teach the basic mechanics to a new player, and a more advanced puzzle that shows the depth of your mechanics.

  4. Playtest and iterate.

    Try your puzzle on some friends, and adjust the rules and difficulty level as needed.

  5. Create deliverable.