+1 (614) 348-7474


Free in USA


From 10:00 to 21:00


From 10:00 to 21:00

Fill out the brief

Online request


Making a puzzle game: logic and story

Crocoapps editorial

Crocoapps editorial

Reading time: 8 minutes

Welcome to the Crocoapps blog. Today we will talk about creating puzzle games. We will not delve into the technical part of the projects, but will figure out how to make them exciting and interesting, let's talk about the mechanics and motivation of the players.


Puzzles are thrilling adventures from start to finish, with obstacles that require tactics and out-of-the-box mechanics to solve. But how to make an intriguing puzzle? How to create a problem that can not be solved immediately, but also not to sit on it for hours on end?

What does a good puzzle look like?

We know how to tell a good puzzle from a bad one. When a person plays it, he feels smart, and it seems to him that he can solve any problem that gets in his way. But how is it created? And what exactly makes a video game a puzzle in the first place? In the famous Tetris, blocks move down the screen and you can move them left/right/rotate to make rows that give you points. But what makes the process interesting? Why do people want to play this?

In a good logic game, the goal is always clear. There is a clear starting point from which you start and your task is to get to the finish line. The rules are clear too. You are introduced to the mechanics, and then you begin to understand it yourself. In a game like Unblock Me, you move wooden tiles around the game screen until you open a blocked exit. The game progresses in difficulty as each level introduces a new strategy. More modern games introduce new mechanics that either help or hinder the player from reaching their goal.

Unblock Me is a simple and interesting logic puzzle

Sometimes a puzzle has multiple solutions. They arise from the use of simple mechanics that react in different ways to the actions of the player. The results are often unexpected and can lead to confusion if the learning curve is not modeled correctly.

How to make an interesting puzzle?

During our daily activities, we often encounter logical tasks: looking for lost keys, remembering where they were put, cleaning and sorting things, etc. It is at this moment that ideas come that can be implemented in the future.

Start coming up with simple puzzle ideas (puzzles, hidden objects). Once you have several options, develop the most successful ones. After choosing the best candidate, start developing.

KAMI - puzzle with interesting design

Always think of a game plan, because no logical task can do without a sequence of actions. Create a plan on paper, as a spreadsheet in Excel, or rendered in Photoshop. The depth of the game itself will depend on the careful study of the plan.

The first thing you'll want to do is create a start and end point. Don't be overly ambitious: they don't need to be too far apart. Now, after you have made the start and finish, design the obstacles. Do not overdo it with them, creating a very difficult puzzle. You just need to tease and motivate the player to follow along.

After these manipulations, you can open your engine and create a level prototype. The task is not easy, as you will have to constantly correct and debug all the details until your inner voice says: “Yes. This is what you need!”. There are still several dozen hours of testing ahead, which we will discuss below, but for now you can be proud of yourself.

Remember that your goal as a puzzle designer is not to overwhelm the player with difficult tasks, but to gradually increase the difficulty. The gameplay is dictated by the mechanics of the game. At the beginning one is introduced, then it is supplemented with another. The combination of simple mechanics can make for a really challenging and addictive puzzle, and is the basis for most puzzles these days.

How to introduce new mechanics to make the game interesting?

When introducing new mechanics, do not reveal all the cards to the player. Let him try to deal with it, to feel its capabilities. As the player progresses, he understands the rules of the game better, which allows him to solve more difficult puzzles.

Minecraft is full of mechanics

With the addition of new mechanics, the number of puzzles will grow by exponent. When you put together a few core mechanics, they can create what game developers call "sudden gameplay" where the player is allowed to interact with the world in a non-standard way. A good example is Minecraft. There, the player is free to do what they want, when they want, experimenting with different mechanics as they please.

What is a learning curve?

In simple terms, the learning curve is a graph that shows how long it will take a person to solve a new problem. And if you go too far, creating an overly complex game, then the results will be unsatisfactory.

Gaming learning curve

Players simply won't keep wasting time on what they think is pointless activities. Therefore, it is very important to analyze the learning curve. But how to do it?

Play, play, play. This is one of the most underrated aspects of game development in general. If the player is stuck on a puzzle, they will most likely be frustrated and angry. Sometimes players don't realize what you thought was so obvious that you want to scream, “It's there! The switch is over there, and it opens this.” During the testing phase, note the points that you do not like and fix them.

You can also analyze data received from testers, for example:

  • time required to complete each puzzle;
  • the most difficult and easiest tasks;
  • the presence of bugs in the game.

Testing with people who have never touched the game before is key. The game developer is the most familiar with his product, and therefore the solution is almost always obvious to him. Third parties will do the same thing over and over again expecting different results, and you may not like it, but you will be able to pinpoint the problem areas of the project.

How not to confuse the player?

Try to make the level itself unloaded and understandable so that the player notices the puzzle elements faster. Visual cues are important. No one wants to look for a hidden object for 20 minutes, and then realize that they had to move the closet and find the key under the carpet. Don't hide puzzle pieces.

Good level design like The Witness

Use less text. People don't want to read instructions for operating a spaceship, they need to clearly understand what the developer wanted from them. And this is described in a few sentences or a training video.

Introduce the player to the mechanics gradually. Enter them with the help of quests, where a person will simply need to apply them. This approach will increase the motivation of the player.

Summing up

Puzzles are the genre of games in which the developer can use his imagination to the maximum. Coming up with non-standard and interesting levels is really great, but do not overdo it with their complexity. People still need to play your games.


Crocoapps editorial

Crocoapps editorial