Web Paint-by-Number Forum
Topic #6: What do you like in a puzzle?
By Jan Wolter (jan)

#1: Jan Wolter (jan) on Oct 28, 2004

So what kinds of puzzles are your favorites?
#2: Mark Conger (aruba) on Nov 17, 2004
I think the rose and the apple tree and of course the Van Gogh are my favorites in the database at the moment. I guess I like a difficult puzzle with a cool picture at the end.
#3: Jan Wolter (jan) on Nov 18, 2004
When I solve puzzles, I try never to guess. I want to have a good reason for each mark I make. This is partly because I enjoy constructing chains of logical reasoning, and partly because about 80% of all the puzzles I've ever solved are ones I made myself, so I can't really guess - I usually know the answer.
#4: Jan Wolter (jan) on Nov 18, 2004
Anyway, I suspect that different people play the game by different rules. It's certainly possible to enjoy these puzzles as a combination of reasoning and guessing. They become a puzzle for a slightly different part of the brain that way, and some people may prefer to exercise those mental muscles.

This matters to me because I am trying to figure out an editorial policy for puzzles that cannot be solved by logic alone, and puzzles that lack a unique solution. I've seen some web sites that ban any puzzles that don't have a unique solution and can't be solved by strict, one-line-at-a-time reasoning. My feeling is that that is a mistake. Puzzles that require guessing do have value.

But I think it might be nice to be able to flag them in the database. For now, those flags would have to be set manually, probably by me. It'd be nice to have a program that would check if a puzzle has a unique solution. I could even use one of the ones other people have written, though I wasn't too impressed with the ones I've seen.
#5: Jan Wolter (jan) on Dec 23, 2004
I've noticed on user commenting on many puzzles that they are "too easy". I certainly think it makes sense to have a mixture of both easy and hard puzzles on the site.

However, even the hardest puzzles aren't usually all that hard. I don't think it takes most people long to get good enough to solve any puzzle on this site. That being the case there probably aren't a lot of "beginners" on this site, and the ones that there are probably won't remain beginners long. So maybe it would make sense if I generally focus on more difficult puzzles, simply because people are "experts" at this for far longer than they are "beginners".

Except I'm not really good enough at this to have that much control over how hard the puzzle is going to be. Some designs that I think are going to be too easy turn out pretty tricky, and some I think might be easy turn out hard.
#6: Mark Conger (aruba) on Mar 3, 2005
I like it when the author enters some text about the puzzle, which appears when the puzzle is solved. It's a little reward for finishing.
#7: michael31415 (ml.qwerty) on Apr 5, 2007
I like small, fairly hard puzzles. I don't care too much about the pictures.
#8: nancy king (naneki) on Sep 3, 2007
the more detail & the harder the better for me, also black & white puzzles - I print them out and work on them with my morning cup of coffee. It really gets my mind up & working for the day.
#9: Babarann (babarann) on Sep 3, 2007
I like a challenger with a nice image as a reward for a job well done. Lots of 1's drive me crazy, but I'll do them if they pop up. When I'm doing a black and white puzzle, they're my favorites, but when I'm doing a multi-color puzzle, they're my favorites!! I skip the larger ones that don't fit on my screen, and the ones that require any degree of guessing. I appreciate all the efforts of the great creators out there (even though you're enabling my addiction!).
#10: Arduinna (arduinna) on Sep 3, 2007
I agree about the large ones. When I'm working on my tiny laptop, which is usually the case, I won't do huge ones that require a lot of scrolling. Sometimes I save high rated ones to work on in my office though.
#11: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 3, 2007
Gypso: I refer you to Babarann's comment above re: prior comments on what to namethe puzzles (forget the topic number, kids sorry. But to steal naneki's alibi "Im OLD"
#12: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 4, 2007
Oh! Dear JC, I haven't a clue as to what you want me to read or why. I'm in a fibro fog right now. So sorry. Could you lend me a hand? ^>^
#13: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 4, 2007
About enabling her addiction and herouzzles. What is a fibro fog? I assume it is not a weather phenomenon.
#14: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 4, 2007
This is an odd topic to answer your question in. I collect several auto immune disorders. One of them is Fibromyalgia. FM has a gaggle of syndromes and symptoms one of which is affectionately called Fibro fog. My brain suddenly gets fuzzy and can no longer function properly. Words stand just outside my grasp, timeline connections to memories stop abruptly, numbers get transposed, and how to do the simplest of tasks becomes an instant mystery to me. It's not like forgetfulness because it comes on quickly then eventually dissipates. And there are predictable triggers. Anything else you'd like to know about auto immune and immune deficiencies?
Though I collect, they're not that fun and I haven't been able to turn a profit. Any ideas?
#15: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 5, 2007
Is this any relation to sun avoidance? I knew a woman who had Lupis, which is a very odd and misunderstood affliction. Fun and profit? I'd have to think on that one. Ever see "Memento"?
#16: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 5, 2007
Lupus is another piece in my collection along with RA, degenerative disc disease, collagen connective tissue disease and I'm allergic to my own DNA. Yes, this is the reason why I stay put of the sun.
I vaguely remember ads for "Memento" but never saw it. What was it about?
#17: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 5, 2007
A very intense flim about a fellow chasing down his wife's killer. But the incident that killed her left him with no ability for short term memory, so he has to figure how to get around it. One of those you have to have no distractions or you will miss a major clue. Thumb's up (hope there aren't any Disney copyright police reading this)
#18: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 5, 2007
It's a Disney movie?
#19: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 5, 2007
No, the Thumbs up is copyrighted by Roger Ebert, who's show is owned by Disney, and now Disney won't let the show use the thumbs up/down until Ebert's contract negotiations are settled. Disney is evil. A puppeteer friend had a show snuffed by disney, they are doing horrible things to the heirs of jim Henson. They are a corporate steamroller with a mickey mouse grin.

Sorry, sore subject.
#20: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 5, 2007
Yowzer JC! That's horrible. I knew there was trouble with the Henson heirs over many issues but the thumbs up restriction is plain silly! Seems to me that Disney Corp. spiraled out of most reason after Walt's death although there are plenty of rumors regarding how strange he could be to work for. Disneyland is still my favorite vacation. ^>^
#21: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 5, 2007
We went to disney world when i was A kid. Something was just weird, too happy? Just an out of sync thing, the way the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka was evil, but in a way you could never put a finger on exactly.
#22: Z Trn (naihatsu.1) on Sep 5, 2007
I had a professor who used to work for Disney. Eight years that aged him a few decades. People who knew him before are shocked at the change. Yeah, Disney is evil. He claims they weren't always that way, though.

I think it was the scary tunnel that did it for me in Willy Wonka, and I only realized that when I saw the "How it should have ended" version of it.
#23: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 5, 2007
I've never been to Disney World. I'm talking Disneyland!

I loved Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka! As my youngest son says, "You have to let go. Suspend reality, stop being an adult in order to enjoy either Disneyland or Willy Wonka."
#24: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 5, 2007
These trepidations came while still a little boy. I think for willy Wonka it was an undercurrent of darkness that was supressed, a darkness that is the hallmark of Roald Dahl, that was celebrated and brought into the open and therefore made unscary in the Burton pic. It was a thing that adults were trying to hide instead of giving us kids credit for being able to deal with the macabre, and that was scary in itself. These are the people today who change things like the old lady who swallowed a fly. The PC version today has her crying, not dying because "that's too traumatic for children" (actual quote from former girlfriend with a child). But what do you tell those kids when they actually have to learn about death when they are older and have been sheltered from it? It wasn't so much the character that was scary but the palpable coverup that even kids I talk to today can sense. And this isn't uncommon for people who saw it as kids that are my age.

AS to Disney, Walt was kind of weird, he had an unusual preoccupation with characters getting repeatedly hit in the butt (look at the old black and white shorts, esp. with Donald or Peg Leg Pete as the antagonists), but he wasn't evil. I.Freeling, Tex Avery, and some of the other guys who eventually infested Termite Terrace might disagree, but Walt wasn't Eisner cutthroat evil.
#25: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
I remember seeing Walt on the black and white TV my parents had when I was a kid. He was presenting documentaries from the States (dubbed in French of course) and he may have influenced me into becoming a "muchilero" back in '76-'77
(Today, Tex Avery is still my favorite).
#26: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 6, 2007
Marso, what is a "muchilero"? And where did you do your "muchilero"ing?
Which are your favorite Avery creations? *.*
#27: J.C. Anderson (jc.noserdna) on Sep 6, 2007
Little hot red riding hood and the various wolves. The town and country wolves are my faves, but no tex is bad. It's funny with the French because he had such strong south american connedtions
#28: Martial (marso) on Nov 3, 2007
"muchilero" is Spanish for backpacker. It's also a hint about the places I went: Mexico, all the way down to Peru, then back up to Mexico.
#29: Gypso (Gypso) on Sep 13, 2007
That must of been quite an adventure Marso! Did you backpack with someone or set off on your own?
#30: Timo Frenay (timo) on Jan 3, 2008
This discussion seems to have gotten off topic so I think it's a good thing that I'm adding an on topic comment. ;)

I don't really like the very large puzzles, they take me too long to solve, and I hate having to count a lot of cells to figure out which ones I can fill in. I do like relatively small puzzles (including well done 5x5's) with a strong preference for grid sizes multiples of 5.

I particularly enjoy the kind of puzzles where you can't identify the image until you've almost completely solved it. Of course I do like it if the solved image is identifiable. ;)

For larger puzzles I prefer line-by-line solvability, but for smaller puzzles it's sometimes a nice challenge to have to combine the logic of several lines and columns.
#31: Johanna smith (micki) on Jan 24, 2008
I agree - I like to try and guess as I go by using the title but so often it is only at the very end that it all becomes clear-I don't like anything too predictable. Definitely grids in 5's
#32: Kuuipo (monkeylover) on Jun 14, 2008
I like the large B&W puzzles w/ good detail. not partial to colored ones
#33: Byrdie (byrdie) on Nov 21, 2008
I'm a relative newbie so right now I'm focusing on smaller puzzles to get my feet wet and working my way up. On the other hand, I like puzzles that actually look like something so the first (so far only) one I've created was generated by tracing an image onto a grid and then "pixelizing" it. If I find the appropriate forum and someone is interested I could go into more detail about how I did it.
Anyway, I tend to like the ones that are true puzzles (at least some blanks!) than the ones that are completely filled in even though I do them all. The ones that aren't so much puzzles as paint by number are at the least good practice for mouse management and color choosing.
I'm guessing what makes a good puzzle might change as I do more of them and more complex ones but I'm sure a rewarding image will always be a factor.
Thanks for reading as I ramble.
#34: Nancy Snyder (naneki) on Nov 22, 2008
ramble away..we all do :)
#35: Kris (Aphrodite0385) on Feb 8, 2009
I love the pictures that are of characters of well known movies. I also like when people do a series of something. I do enjoy the easy puzzle now and then just to relax, but I loved the cartoon character series and wished there were more.
#36: Wendy (wen9988) on Apr 17, 2009
Hmm..let me think.
Not too large, not guessable but only to fill with logic and..grids in 5's so it's easier to count ;)
#37: Robyn Broyles (ginkgo100) on Jul 16, 2009
I'm pretty particular about what I consider ideal in a puzzle:

*Grid not too large (usually I don't like it over 50x50, even better if it's under 40x40)
*Grid in multiples of five. I've been doing these puzzles for years, and both Conceptis (creator of GAMES Magazine's PBNs) and the former PBN site I used to visit only use grids in fives. My brain balks when I try to do puzzles with non-five dimensions.
*No all-white lines, especially at the edges. I like every line to have at least one black or colored pixel. Combined with the previous item, that sometimes requires ingenuity on the part of the creator. I'm more tolerant of all-white lines inside the puzzle if the design requires it (and I couldn't create a solvable version of my #6270 without it), but I consider it almost a flaw.
*Not symmetrical. Symmetry is boring. Near-symmetry is hardly any better.
*Solvable by logic alone. I guess I'm a purist.
*An interesting and even artistic image. For the best puzzles, you are not sure what it is until close to the end, when it jumps out at you. As a creator, I've found that my best puzzles suggest a bit of a story (see my #6278 and #6306 for examples)
*Someone else said they like cartoon characters, but I don't. Not one bit. I like original images.
*I like the images that make great use of light and dark to create a photo-like image, but not when they're obviously unaltered products of a graphics program. Software could probably be a good tool as *part* of the creation process, although I personally prefer to hand draw all my puzzles, mainly just because that's the way I've always done it.

Other things:
*I have a special fondness for high quality small puzzles. I think it's very challenging for a creator to design a small puzzle with a great image, not super easy but still solvable by logic alone. I always rate these a 5 for quality.
*I don't like puzzles with a lot of blue and green, just because they give me eyestrain. I have normal color vision, but I still sometimes have to squint and lean close to tell the difference between blue and green numbers. (I wonder if Jan could adjust the shades of blue and green to create a little more contrast?)
*I never did color puzzles before I found this site, and they are intriguing because they have unique logical techniques. All in all, I think I still slightly prefer B&W, but I definitely like the color puzzles too.
*I mentioned I don't like really big puzzles. If a puzzle has only one long side, I'd rather it be wide rather than tall, because I hate scrolling.
#38: Cro-Magnon (Hermit) on Nov 12, 2009
- small to medium puzzles (30x30 and smaller are my favourites, and challenging tiny puzzles are great!)
- prefer B&W, although I am trying the color ones
- grids in 5's (easier counting)
- puzzles that don't reveal what they are until the end. How some of you manage to create them that way is beyond my limited brain power, but it makes for a great puzzle.
- comments feature: sometimes the comments for the puzzle are the best part, there are some real characters on this site :-)

- puzzles with little or no white space that are merely an exercise in mouse clicking (brings out the grumpy caveman in me)
- huge puzzles that require lots of scrolling
- puzzles that require guessing, although I will try one on occassion
- pizzas with too much cheese, cars with vibrating stereos, warm soda, 'chick flicks', but I digress .....
#39: Linda Martin (ilovethispuzzle123) on May 3, 2010
I like them all.
#40: Tom O'Connell (sensei69) on Jun 26, 2010
i mostly like smaller puzzles, 20x20 or smaller
usually i like 2 color, but if the puzzle needs color for definition that'll work
#41: Skippy Miller (gmillvmill) on Nov 3, 2010
I agree with sensei69.
#42: Edith Clark (eclark) on Nov 24, 2011
I think it is good that there is a wide variety of puzzle sizes and puzzle types so lots of people can be pleased. I'm not smart enough (or maybe it is patient enough) to like really large puzzles but this is an awesome site as you can pick the size. I love the random feature.
#43: Dave Oas (khpdave) on Oct 21, 2012
I also tend to prefer small, monochrome puzzles and that's mostly the type I like creating as well.
#44: patricia dawn merling (pmerling) on Jan 21, 2014
I like them all
#45: patricia dawn merling (pmerling) on Jan 21, 2014
I like them all

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