Combine and modifying both brainstorming best practices and game journalmethods presented by Fullerton 7 by analyzing existing games that have ex-ploration and puzzle elements.
In order to identify what exploring and puzzlemechanics is the most entertaining to the designer to use as an inspiration. Todocument the identified mechanics the designers can use the “game journal”method. When they have identified fun mechanics then they can write them allup on a whiteboard and brainstorm with others or by themselves on how it canbe used in the design.5.2 PrototypeThe development of designing exploratory puzzles is a trial-and-error process.Physical and paper prototypes are the easiest type of prototypes that gamedesigners can construct on their own 7.
I would suggest to prototype the environment component of the gameplayfirst and then prototype the puzzles because they need to have logical connec-tion to the environment and make sense. When designing an exploratory game,sketching and scenario writing for the narrative of the environment is fast andcheap. However these prototypes have their limitations; the final game will bereleased on a digital platform so digital prototyping is required.
In addition pa-per prototyping does not give the sensory experience created by a digital game.6Instead of prototyping the “best” idea, prototype several top ideas so there willbe a lot of small prototypes to play around with.A way to modify the prototype method from the book would be to convertthe environment and puzzles prototypes to a flowchart. Write a scenario ora puzzle on a paper e.g.
post it notes and arrange them into a flowchart ofwhat happens when. Since most exploratory games have a lot going on at once,this will show conveniently what is happening at what place. Each of thosenotes are puzzle or a place in the environment or a discovery game item in thegameplay. This way the environment and the puzzles can be seen as a whole aswhen prototyping.5.2.1 PlaytestWith puzzles it is best to playtest them right away after implementing a lowfidelity prototype (e.g.
paper, physical). I think it is possibly the most impor-tant step in designing a good game. Playtest with people who have not seenor played the puzzle before. When playtesters are testing the puzzles, try tokeep as quiet as possible and encourage the playtesters to use the “think aloud”method. Gather statistics to help measure the puzzles difficulty