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Instructional extraction is a way for a puzzle to explain its own extraction method to its solvers explicitly. This is often done in cases where a particular extraction method is necessary for the puzzle to function, but not something that can be reasonably expected to be tried by solvers.
Instructional extraction is not a specific type of extraction on its own, as puzzles tend to use it in combination with other extraction methods and styles (particularly letter-and-string extractions) that aren't intuitive for that particular puzzle on their own.
Background[edit | edit source]
Instructional extractions are particularly common in logic puzzles, especially in competitive environments where checking solutions needs to be done quickly, easily, and without checking over the entire puzzle. With some puzzle competitions, puzzles will be marked with arrows to indicate what rows will be checked for correctness. Solvers input their 'answer' by writing down the string of numbers, letters, or 0s/1s that indicate the state of that row in their solution.
Puzzle Application[edit | edit source]
Instructional extraction is not overly common in hunt puzzles, as a big part of extraction in them is intended to be mysterious and the source of an 'aha' moment. However, sometimes puzzles are constructed in a very specific way that functions very well, but requires a unique or unintuitive extraction method. In some cases, this can be fixed by clever signposting, or twisting another extraction type to fit what's needed. In other cases, writers choose to bite the bullet and sacrifice the extraction revelations for the sake of the rest of the puzzle.
Explicit instructions are not always a crutch, however, and can serve a very important role for introducing puzzle hunt concepts to people for the first time. By incorporating instructional extractions in puzzles even when the extraction method is intuitive to seasoned solvers, one can make a puzzle more approachable and solidify a concept in a new solver's repertoire quite easily. This is especially true and helpful when a series of puzzles introduces concepts through instructional extractions, but then removes the instructions as a way for solvers to try out the techniques they've learned.
Notable Examples[edit | edit source]
- Unusual and Strange Puzzle Collection (GPH 2018) (web) - This puzzle uses the Instructional Extractions found in logic puzzle competitions and uses the answer keys in several ways.
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