Here are some (unfinished) thoughts about puzzles.
My feelings on creating puzzles are roughly summarised as follows:
- The way I write puzzles is how I like to solve them.
- I believe the most important thing about creating a puzzle is the solver's experience; and not using the puzzle to demonstrate relative cleverness/greatness compared to other authors.
- I like simple sets of rules which are well defined and lead to clear and intuitive solving.
- I don't like sets of rules that take more than a couple of sentences to adequately describe the constraints of the puzzle.
- I don't like mixing and matching different constraints in the same puzzle.
- I don't like sets of rules that can potentially mislead newer solvers (my pet peeve "where marking is not present, constraint X must not apply" rather than "all instances of constraint X are marked")
- I don't like the phrase "different objects cannot touch, not even diagonally". Please consider using "different objects must not be placed in cells that share either an edge or a corner."
- I like a puzzle to have a good solving flow from start to finish.
- I aim to have a reasonably narrow solving path in my puzzles, complementing a good solving flow.
- I don't like anything that looks too much like trial and error.
- I don't like "creativity", innovation and variation for the sake of it. Too often you end up with something with a clunky solving flow and/or weird solving techniques that look too much like trial and error.
- I do like innovation and variation that has something fresh and interesting to add to the general puzzle discourse beyond one-off novelties and gimmicks.