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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

30 Puzzle Design Lessons From The World's Greatest Puzzle Communities

Elyot Grant  (Founder & CEO, Lunarch Studios Inc.)

Date: Friday, July 23

Time: 1:20pm - 2:20pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core Pass

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: N/A: I prefer to present live on-site but I am open to delivering a virtual presentation

Puzzles are a crucial gameplay element across many genres, whether you're pushing blocks and reflecting lasers, or just trying to find the boss's weak point.

But most of the world's greatest puzzle creators don't work in the video game industry. Their brilliant construction techniques are not widely known beyond a handful of insular puzzlemaking communities (many of whom developed their own best practices long before the digital age.)

Elyot has spent years participating in these puzzle communities, learning their aesthetic sensibilities, and documenting their vocabulary. He discovered a mountain of innovative design methods, useful practices, and names of things he always wanted a name for—all with profound applicability to the creation of video game puzzles

This talk aims to spread this arcane knowledge to the broader gaming industry. Examples will be taken from video games in multiple genres, but also escape rooms, puzzlehunts, crosswords, logic puzzles, chess compositions, physical puzzles, etc..


Attendees will be exposed to the vocabulary, aesthetics, and construction methodology of various puzzle design communities, both inside and outside the gaming sector. Many useful design patterns and anti-patterns will be highlighted, alongside highly applicable best practices for the productive creation of high-quality video game puzzles of all kinds.

Intended Audience

A puzzle is anything that challenges the player to think "how do I do X?" This talk targets all disciplines who contribute to creating those challenges. Its lessons are applicable across many genres (puzzle games, action-adventures, point-and-clicks, survival horror, strategy, RPGs, roguelikes, etc.) and product categories (casual to AAA).