Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #10: Puzzle creation
By Martial (marso)

#1: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007

From time to time, noble guests create new puzzles. A thread like this could provide useful tips and tricks for creating puzzles. For example:

As long as the puzzle is unpublished, it is possible to edit it directly by clicking on the "unpublished" word. If you click on the name, you go to the solving game.

After you've created a puzzle and before publishing it, try to solve it. Use logic only.

OK. Now we need tips about how to fix multiple solutions!
#2: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jul 31, 2005
I should mention that you can also edit a puzzle *after* you have published it, even if some people have already solved it. They'll get a message saying that the solution has changed. They can resolve it if they like.

When I first draw a puzzle, I'm mostly just trying to make an image that looks good. Always an uphill battle for me, since I'm a programmer, Jim, not an artist. Then I try solving it. On lucky days it works first try. Usually not. I find the parts that didn't solve and go back and change them around. I often try solving many dozens of different versions before I find one that looks good enough and solves well enough.

During this process, the little "helper" button that you'll see whenever you are playing one of your own puzzles is essential. It's a simple-minded auto solver. If you are goning to solve variations of the puzzles 20 times, then having a program to help you makes it much, much easier. I think if I didn't have the helper it would take me 10 times longer to make each puzzle.

If the helper solves your puzzle completely, then you can be assured that you puzzle is solvable and has only one solution. If it solves only part of the board, it may still be solvable. It's not very smart. Look around and see if there are a few more squares you can fill in. If there are, fill them in, and click the "helper" button again. It may be able to fill in more of the puzzle. The helper is more likely to need your help on multi-color puzzles - it's not so smart at those.

If you can't get to a solution, then the parts of the puzzle that remained blank are, of course, the ones where you most likely need to make some changes. Filling in more cells is usually the direction you need to go in, but sometimes quite small changes can have big effects.

One I have a puzzle the that I can solve with the help of the helper, I usually solve it completely manually once before publishing it.
#3: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
Well, that's a good start: I never noticed that the buttons were labeled differently, and I never used the helper (until now)!!
#4: Jan Wolter (jan) on Aug 1, 2005
Actually, a lot of this info is in the FAQ too.
#5: Janet Kennedy (goose) on Feb 18, 2006
I have tried to create a puzzle, but am unable to fill in the grid. When I am prompted, for example, to fill the grid entirely with black and I click 'OK' nothing happens. If I select a paintbrush color and click a square, nothing happens. Can you help me?
#6: Jan Wolter (jan) on Feb 19, 2006
That's weird. I've been told that the latest version of the puzzle creation tool isn't working right with Windows IE. Maybe this is that bug. I need to check that out ... next time the kids aren't using their computer, which is the only Windows machine I have access too.
#7: lisa hamm (lisylocket) on Feb 22, 2006
I'm having the same problem, I can't fill in the grid
#8: Jan Wolter (jan) on Feb 22, 2006
I hope to have time to work on this later this week. Sorry. I thought I'd checked this out on IE, but I guess I didn't test the last version.
#9: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
I must say that I am very satisfied by Firefox. With the help of a few extensions I have all the features I had before (with freeware "AM Browser") plus a few extras. And webpbn works as it should!
Pity that my new job (bank = restricted internet access) leaves me so little time.
#10: Jan Wolter (jan) on Feb 23, 2006
Firefox is very nice, and continues to improve with each major release. IE hasn't had a major update in many years, and is distinctly stodgy. However, it's important to me that this site work with IE. But I mostly use Unix and Mac systems, and IE doesn't run on them. I need the kids computer to debug IE problems, and right now that's tied up in an important game of "Putt-Putt's Balloonarama". I need to do some tax stuff anyway. Maybe this afternoon.
#11: Jan Wolter (jan) on Feb 23, 2006
OK, puzzle creation should now work for IE again.
#12: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jul 9, 2007
One of the questions that I always run into when I'm creating puzzles, is when to stop. You can spend a lot of time refining a puzzle to get a better image or to make it more challenging to solve. I really don't. I draw the image, fiddle with it enough to get it solvable, and usually post it as is. So the quality actually ends up rather uneven. Now and then one comes out really well, but many are pretty ho-hum.

Partly I'm just trying to maintain a steady stream of new puzzles for people to solve on this site, and if I spend weeks on each one, that won't happen. So just the fact that this is my site and I want it to succeed means I have to balance quality with quantity.

Partly, once I get a puzzle that looks OK and solves OK, I'm reluctant to fiddle with it more because I'm afraid I won't be able to get back to this version again. I really need better ways to save multiple versions of puzzles, so I'd feel freer to experiment with improving a puzzle that is already pretty good.
#13: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
All my first puzzles had all kind of sizes (27x41, 28x32, 34x28 and so on).
Somehow I switched to strictly multiples of 5.
Now I won't even consider doing something else.
It gives a "cleaner" look to the puzzle, maybe.
#14: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Dec 21, 2007
question..I just created a puzzle, computer says "Check Timed Out", but I was able to solve it..should I post it anyways?
#15: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 21, 2007
Sure, go ahead.
#16: Debra Greene (dlegreen) on Dec 26, 2007
I just created a new puzzle and realized after I was done that I wasn't happy with the size I had chosen - too many blank rows at the bottom. Is there a way to choose a different size without having to redraw everything? I've looked around (timidly because I was afraid I would screw something up) but wasn't seeing anything that would help. Thanks!
#17: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Dec 26, 2007
if the blank rows are at the bottom you can resize it by shortening the height..save the puzzle then resize before you open it for editing
#18: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Dec 26, 2007
ok I see you already saved it, so put your mouse over the title scroll down to edit puzzle..then you can shorten it :)
#19: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 26, 2007
You'll want to use the arrow buttons in the edit mode to move the image to the upper right before doing this.

Someday I should put a more obvious resize function into the editor.
#20: Rea Aksglæde Karlsen (Rea) on Jun 12, 2008
Am I the only one how thinks it is preatty hardt to solve your on puzzle only using logic?
It sow hardt not just filling in something when you know its right.
#21: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Jun 12, 2008
who are you talking to or about Rea?
#22: Rea Aksglæde Karlsen (Rea) on Jun 12, 2008
sorry nancy Im talking to everybody/anybody. it was surpose to be ...hardt to solve your own puzzle only... little type-O
#23: Gypso (Gypso) on Jun 12, 2008
Yes I think it's hard to solve your own puzzles sometimes too Rea. I have to block the image out and resist reconstructing it from memory. I like to solve my own puzzles without the "helper" before I post them.
#24: Gypso (Gypso) on Jun 12, 2008
Oh! And good morning Rea! I'm off to bed. :)
#25: Rea Aksglæde Karlsen (Rea) on Jun 12, 2008
and im late for work. sweet dreams
#26: Gypso (Gypso) on Jun 12, 2008
Thank you Rea. :)
#27: Jan Wolter (jan) on Jun 14, 2008
Since I sort of ended up with the job of making the final ruling about which puzzles are really logically solvable, I've gotten into the habit of always trying to be pretty careful only to solve puzzles logically. Even when doing other people's puzzles, it is often pretty obvious what color a particular square ought to be, and it still requires some self-discipline not to just fill it in. However, I do use such guesses to guide my thinking. "I know that square has to be white, so how can I prove it?"

I think this is a problem for anyone doing any kind of art. As the creator of the thing, it will never look the same to you as it does to other people, so it becomes difficult to assess whether it is any good or not, or whether it will work for people coming to it fresh. Often the creator of a work is the person least able to properly appreciate it.
#28: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 8, 2009
hey guys, i downloaded heaps of the puzzles on here and printed them off. But when i went to solve them....most of them dont add up and are impossible to solve. Could someone tell me why theyre still on the site of they cant be done?
#29: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 9, 2009
There are no puzzles on the site that can't be done. Perhaps you're misreading the clues or could use some help interpreting them. Please post a sample puzzle number and I'm sure there will be several of us willing to print out the puzzle and take a look at it.

- Note: there are some puzzles that require guessing and are noted as such in their descriptions. Those may prove to be more difficult to solve and may appear to be impossible ...
#30: Gator (Gator) on Nov 9, 2009
Also, it is best to just avoid the ones marked as having multiple solutions if you only want to solve puzzles based on logic.
#31: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
ive got heaps of them here. puzzle number 74 for example. Golden Triangle. its a 45 squares across and 25 squares down puzzle, however some of the clues in it read 28 squares down. you can not solve that.
#32: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
Another one is puzzle 130. Armstrongs patch. its a 35 by 30 puzzle, but clues in read 33 on the 30 line....how do you colve that? it doesnt add up.
#33: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
another one. puzzle 36. 14 across X 35 down. clues read 16 across.....cant possibly do it.
#34: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
puzzle number 199 - HI! HO! 30across, 40 down. clues read 36 across. ???
#35: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
another one puzzle 120 - facing west. its 30 across, 30 down. clues read 32 across. ???
#36: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
another one. puzzle 75 - 20 across, 55 down. clues read 24 across. ???
#37: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
puzzle number 81. 30 across, 25 down. clues read 26 down. ????
#38: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
need i go on? lol.
#39: Gator (Gator) on Nov 9, 2009
Ah, now I see. You are adding a space between each number. For example on puzzle 36 on the 7(black) 3(red) 4(black) row, you are calculating this to be 16 across; however, there is not always a space between different colors. So when you add up the numbers, only add the space if two of the numbers adjacent to each other are the same color. So there are 4 different ways to fill in that row. You add 7+3+4 to get 14. This means there is also 1 space in that row. The space would have to be in column 1, 8, 11, or 16.
#40: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
im completely confused now. lol. When you said that you add all three numbers and then still add a space...that still equals 15...which still doesnt fit. so youre saying i just colour in the whole line? i dont get it. have you done the puzzle? could i maybe see how youve done it?
#41: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
thanks for replying :)
#42: Gator (Gator) on Nov 9, 2009
Oops my fault. I'm used to "multiples of 5" puzzles. There would be no spaces on that row.
#43: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
so if the numbers go black, red, black, red...there arent spaces. If the numbers are the same colour next to each other...theres a space?
#44: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 9, 2009
why wouldnt you just type 14 instead of dividing it up into three numbers? lol
#45: Gator (Gator) on Nov 9, 2009
There are 0 or more spaces between different colored numbers.
There are 1 or more spaces between same colored numbers.
#46: Teresa K (fasstar) on Nov 9, 2009
Kirsten, if you read the FAQ (link on the left) you will find the information you need to solve puzzles here. The very first direction tells you about the spacing and numbering for color puzzles.
#47: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 9, 2009
Hi Kristen.

To simplify the answer and to answer your question in #44 - different color clues represent different colored pixels in the puzzle - red for red pixels, blue for blue, etc. (the fifth color is white or blank). When two clues are the same color, there MUST be a white space between them. When clues are different color, there may or may not be a space between them. The reason you wouldn't just type 14 is because of the different colors.

Hope this helps. Good luck.

PS: may be you could collect your thoughts (as in the multiple number of puzzles) and put them all in one post rather than so many short ones.
#48: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 10, 2009
Everyone sounds so sarcastic in their messages on here. lol. Thanks martin for all your help. i printed the puzzles off and i thought they were just like the regular pixel puzzles. It confused me when you said about the spaces and colours before, because i didnt know that to solve them you use different colours. lol. thats why i replied with why not just use a certain number and not divide them.
#49: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 10, 2009
Thanks for your reply Kirsten. I don't think the sarcasm is intended. As with most extremely intelligent people (there's one or two here) their senses of humor can sometimes be a bit dry. I speak from experience because I qualify for a least one of those.

Keep coming back and participating in the forums. I'm sure as you get to know us (and we you) you'll find us even less humorless.

Look forward to hearing (seeing) more from you.
#50: Teresa K (fasstar) on Nov 10, 2009
Kirsten, I don't think anyone was being sarcastic. Just making suggestions that might help you figure it all out. :-)
#51: kirsten w (kirsten) on Nov 11, 2009
glad we got that cleared up. Thanks for your help guys. :D have a good one. ill be back :)
#52: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Jan 10, 2010
Kirsten W ...sometimes when I print the puzzle the number in the rows and columns don't print with the same numbers as what is on the on-line version, is this what you were talking about? if so I had to change my printer (I changed to print to pdf instead) for some reason this site & my printer didn't like each other.

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