Saturday, October 22, 2011

Approaches to difficulty in puzzle games (Panda free zone)

Despite the name of this blog I am not really a puzzle aficionado but I do enjoy the occasional intellectual challenge. I have been playing SpaceChem on my PC for a couple of weeks now and I would certainly classify it as a challenging puzzle. On my phone I have a tile shifting game called Red Stone which looks simple but is also in fact extremely challenging.

Although both these games have a high level of difficulty the consequence of that difficulty is very different. On the more challenging levels of Red Stone I quickly run out of moves and I have spent literally hours shuffling tiles around in circles without making any progress towards a solution. SpaceChem however is a building game at heart and regardless of how unreachable a solution appears at first it is always possible to make incremental progress towards the final goal. Every failed attempt teaches you something that brings you closer to a solution.

In Red Stone I am well and truly stuck on the ninth level and I have actually become weary of starting the game knowing that it will just result in more frustration. In SpaceChem however it isn't really possible to get stuck so I can make some incremental progress every time I play. Red Stone makes me feel bad about myself while SpaceChem makes me feel good about myself.

Needless to say I much prefer SpaceChem to Red Stone.

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