Presentation elements

Presentation elements are pieces of an individual puzzle's presentation (visual or surface-level functional) that tend to change how a puzzle looks or behaves without significantly impacting the solve path itself.

Core Characteristics[edit | edit source]

The main aspects of a presentation element are that they affect things that are seen almost immediately upon opening a puzzle (or at least relate to something seen immediately, even if it's not immediately obvious), and that they could theoretically be replaced or removed without drastically affecting the solve path of the puzzle. However, not all presentation elements hold to this description strictly.

Certain presentation elements may creep into the realm of solve path elements, playing a large role in how a puzzle is solved (such as a puzzle in the form of a spreadsheet that could only be presented on a spreadsheet due to the mechanics it uses). Others may even be described as puzzle types due to how often they've been used (such as TEAMWORK TIME since its introduction in 2020). Regardless, all presentation elements will likely be noticed by solvers immediately upon opening a puzzle, or at least the aspect of the puzzle affected will be something core to puzzles in general (like the answer-checker or the flavortext).

History of Use[edit | edit source]

Presentation elements include many things that could be and have been applied to non-puzzle content over the years, things like content warnings and creative use of non-traditional media. When looking at their use in puzzles, there's a similarly deep timeline at play. Abnormal grids for things like crosswords have existed for decades, especially with the advent of the diagramless crossword allowing setters to play with what was 'acceptable' for crossword shapes. Audio and video have been used since they were capable of being shared publicly for things like pub quizzes and trivia. Even the idea of enumerations and givens as ways of providing hints to solvers have existed almost as long as certain puzzles have existed, if not existing with them from the start.

Many presentation elements are in fact core mechanics whose presence is not so much a surprise, but whose absence is often noticed, or aspects of a puzzle that are a pleasant surprise when they show up, not because they're rarely used but because some people enjoy to listen to a song while they work, and audio puzzles let them streamline that process.

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Subtypes[edit | edit source]

Presentation element subtypes are mostly differentiated by the aspect of the puzzle they affect.

Accessibility[edit | edit source]

Accessibility elements affect how easy-to-access puzzles are. That means things like alternate clues for image-based puzzles, transcripts for video and audio, and content warning for puzzles that may have inappropriate, harmful, or triggering content.

With the puzzling community growing every day, these measures are becoming more and more common as part of an effort to make the hobby of puzzle-solving that much more enjoyable to everyone.

  • Content Warning - Warnings on puzzles that include content inappropriate for young solvers, or possibly disturbing/triggering content in general
  • Supplemental Information - Methods used to present information in an additional way, if it was being done in a way inaccessible to some (such as image clues having alt text to assist solvers using screen-readers)

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Appearance elements deal with how a puzzle looks, and any twists on 'normal' presentation that puzzles may throw at a solver. These include presenting clues in odd ways, using nonstandard grids or fill gimmicks, and using a particularly notable presentation style (all images, heavy amounts of text, etc.)

  • Clues - Any way of expressing particular words or phrases in a puzzle-y manner, particularly for use in crosswords or similar puzzles.
    • Non-Text Clues - Audio, image, etc.
    • Unnumbered Clues - Specifically in puzzles that would normally involve numbered clues (like crosswords).
    • Unseparated Clues - Where clues have all line breaks removed and respaced, forcing solvers to figure out where one ends and another begins.
  • Fakeout - When a puzzle presents itself as one thing, but is revealed to be another.
  • Grids - Spaces for letters to be placed in crosswords, grid-based logic puzzles, etc.
    • Circular Grid - Circles (or semicircles) divided by lined radiating outward from their center as well as concentric lines orbiting the center.
    • Grid Bridges - When words travel between two or more grids positioned next to one another.
    • Hexagonal Grid - Uses hexagons instead of squares, allowing for an addition direction for strings to travel in.
    • Overfilled Spaces - When a grid's cells contain more than one character. A key aspect for 'all-or-nothing' and '1-2-3' crosswords.
    • Spiral Grid - Not really a grid, but a series of cells that wraps around from out to in a spiral formation.
  • Image-Heavy Presentation - High volume of images, with minimal or no text at all.
  • Minimalist Presentation - Heavy on neither text nor images, or really anything else. Often accompanied by a lack flavortext.
  • Text-Heavy Presentation - High volume of text, often in the form of stories, journal entries, scripts, and other narrative styles.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Instruction elements deal with the different ways instructions, hints, and clues can be given so solvers during a puzzle. These can include things that are already baked into the puzzle content, like enumerations and givens, or hints hidden away in other aspects, like the title or the flavortext.

  • Clue Phrases - Instructions or clues that either get solvers to a next step or can be used to get the final answer.
    • Intermediate - Found mid-puzzle, providing an instruction for continuing on in the solve path.
    • Final - Found at the end of a puzzle in order to clue the final answer for the puzzle.
  • Examples Provided - Small examples of how to solve a particular possible.
  • Explicit Instructions - A guide on how to solve or extract from a puzzle, particularly common with logic puzzles.
  • Hints - Clues of various kinds used to assist in solving a puzzle.
    • Enumeration - Numbers indicating the length of particular words/phrases.
    • Givens - Pre-solved cells in grid-based puzzles, particularly logic puzzles.
    • Hint In Flavortext - Often in the form of keywords that clue particular topics or elements, or examples of how particular elements of the puzzle work.
      • Asked and Answered - When the final answer to a puzzle answers a question posed in the flavortext.
    • Hint In Title - Often in the form of references to relevant topics or hidden examples of how particular elements of the puzzle work.
    • "Other Way" Message - Extracted messages that indicate that a particular path taken is incorrect

Media Types[edit | edit source]

Puzzles can involve various non-text/-image types of media, and they're collected under this subtype. The most common of these include audio and video, but it can also extend to other (not-really-media) ways of presenting a puzzle, such as through interaction with hunt staff, or (in rare cases) food given to teams.

  • Audio - Usually contains things like music or dialogue for identification.
  • Files and Programs - Downloadable files that either take advantage of how those file types work, or can be used in Databending.
  • Interaction - Physical or digital interactions with hunt staff
  • Interactive - Puzzles that can be 'played' or require outside applications to 'activate'
    • Augmented Reality - Puzzles that react when looked at through AR-viewing apps
    • Cluekeeper - An app used to host puzzle events and small hunts through GPS and answer checking
    • TEAMWORK TIME - Puzzles that require a team to coordinate between members to achieve a goal
    • Video Games - Either in the form of in-browser games, downloadable programs, or levels in games that have custom level-sharing available.
  • Physical Objects - Items given to teams that are either self-contained puzzles or contribute towards a virtual puzzle.
    • Edible Puzzle - Physical objects that can (and usually should) be eaten by solvers.
  • Tie-In Puzzles - Puzzles published in publications outside of the hunt, or extracting via plants in similar publications
  • Video - Usually contains clips for identification or puzzle content that requires physical viewing (but provided for remote solvers).

Submissions and Answers[edit | edit source]

Not to be confused with the hunt element subtype of the same name, individual puzzle elements relating to how a puzzle responds to submissions are found here. Since many hunts don't involve submission gimmicks on a round- or hunt-wide level, or at least don't explicitly state the presence of them, these elements will apply anywhere that a submission gimmick occurs as long as they're not present everywhere.

  • Intermediate Submission - Answer checking systems that allow for submissions other than the final answer
    • Sub-Answer Checking - If a puzzle has multiple parts (like in mini-metas) or many clues/answer components, this allows solvers to check their progress
    • Instructional Submissions - When a puzzle either requires solvers to input a phrase to get information on a task to complete or just confirms that the next step is a task
    • Interactive Checker - Solvers are expected to interact with the answer checker or submission process throughout the puzzle while solving, often with extensive use of sub-answer checking.
  • Piecemeal Answers - Answers that are broken into multiple parts, each gotten from a different source or piece of the puzzle.