List of Puzzle Elements

A puzzle element is an essential building block or characteristic of a puzzle. This list is intended to be an early first draft of an ongoing community project to catalogue and organize puzzle elements into a hierarchical and useful taxonomy, and should eventually catalog every page that is a member of Category:Puzzle Elements.

Contributors are strongly encouraged to make edits to this page and to start discussion topics in the accompanying Talk page. The following is a list of suggested editing conventions:

  • <code>[[Name]]</code> for each proposed Puzzle Elements (these can link to blank pages while this taxonomy is evolving)
  • italics for new additions
  • strikethough for deletions
  • Supported, Neutral, and Opposed suggestions - Used as discussion prompts for things like name suggestions or Talk section discussions).

Presentation Elements[edit | edit source]

Presentation Elements refers to the surface form of a puzzle (how it is presented to the solver). These elements should all be characteristics that a lay-person or non-puzzler can identify and describe, without hunt experience or puzzling knowledge. Because they are surface level characteristics, structure elements should never require any spoiler warnings.

  • Accessibility - Accessibility Friendly & Content Warning tags
  • Media type - Elements that deviate from a "pen-and-paper" medium, or printable / static web page:
    • Audio - Audio file or collection of such files
    • Video - Video clip or collection of such clips
    • Physical Puzzle - Physical object that requires manipulation or examination
    • Interaction - Interaction event that requires physical and live presence. Could be subdivided further into Event, Runaround, Scavenger Hunt, etc
    • Interactive - Game applet, interactive fiction, mods or levels for external video games, ClueKeeper app, augmented reality, etc. Could be subdivided further particularly for Interactive Fiction
    • Tie-In Puzzle - Puzzle appears somewhere in the real world, likely deliberately synchronised so as to be released concurrent with the puzzle (i.e. published newspaper crossword, live podcast, art installation, etc)
    • Code - Executable code that requires compilation or interpretation [Better name?]
    • File Archives - Downloadable archives (.ZIP, etc) [Better name?]
    • Others - Spreadsheet?
  • Presentation - Top level, and most immediately apparent appearance of the puzzle
  • Instructions - Nature of instruction provided with the puzzle
    • Explicit Instructions - Instructions are provided explicitly as part of the puzzle
    • Example Instructions - Examples are provided as part of the puzzle, but deduction of rules is intended to be a part of the puzzle
    • Flavortext - Flavortext is provided, which may provide some cryptic allusions to the nature of the puzzle
    • Asked And Answered - Special category of puzzle where a narrative element is posed within the puzzle and answer provides a resolution to that question
  • Completion - Submission mechanism that deviates from a regular answer checker
    • Sub-answer Checking - Mechanism for submitting answers to sub-puzzles for intermediate confirmation
    • Task Completion - Completion of puzzle is contingent on finalizing a particular task

Content Elements[edit | edit source]

Content Elements refers to techniques that are encountered during the solving of a puzzle. Due to their size, these have been separated into three Subgroups:

Puzzle Type[edit | edit source]

Puzzle Type is the main categorization of a puzzle and the categorization that is most likely to help solvers find other similar puzzles

Solve Path Elements[edit | edit source]

Solve Path Elements attempt to categorise the process and intermediate stages through which the puzzle's solve path proceeds. These have been separated into two types:

"Atomic" Solve Path Elements - individual elements whose scope is that of an individual step

"Holistic" Solve Path Elements - Higher-level elements whose scope is more about overall nature of the solve path itself (Better name? "Sequence"?)

  • The Waterfall Effect - Solve path involves one sub puzzle provides information required to solve the next,...
  • Red Herring - Solve path includes deliberate (either clued as such, or unclued) red herrings
  • Recursion - Solve path involves multiple repetitions of itself until a final answer is obtainable
  • Retrograde - Solve path involves reversal of a particular process, with the answer being related to its original state
  • Missing Information - Puzzle for which (part of) the solve path is not feasible without first combining some additional piece of information

Extraction Elements[edit | edit source]

Extraction Elements refers to the techniques that are common to hunt puzzles which allow the "extraction" of a final answer from a puzzles that are not necessarily designed to result in a word or phrase

Flavor Elements[edit | edit source]

Flavor Elements elements refer to either the topic (the subject matter of a puzzle) or the theme (the presentation of a puzzle) but either way provides identification of elements that may attract solvers with special interests, knowledge, or areas of expertise.

This listing is a deliberately selective list, extracted from the much more exhaustive listing in the original Google Doc link here. The intention is for a more "bottom-up" approach that can be expanded up to the desired level of detail.