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Text Adventure Puzzle Types

This page outlines some basic types of puzzle encountered in games as well as some examples and ideas for how to expand upon them. The categories are based on those in this article by Emily Short.

Mystery / Research

The focus of these puzzles is locating and combining information. General themes which can occur:

  • Filtering salient details out of large amounts of information.
  • Discovering which topics to look up in libraries.
  • Combining disparate pieces of information to draw conclusions.
  • Discovering which of a set of facts are correct / self-consistent.


These puzzles involve collecting information about a subject until it can be identified or some other conclusion drawn. Examples include:

  • Diagnosing illnesses based on symptoms.
  • Discovering why a broken machine isn't working.
  • Learning a behaviour through experimentation and putting this to use in solving another puzzle.

Resource Management

The player must decide how to expend a limited resource (time, money, space, etc.) to achieve a set of conflicting goals in a satisfactory manner. Examples of the resources used are:

  • Time: typically a limited number of turns in which to carry out actions.
  • Money: often a quantity of notes or coins with which items, services, property or information may be purchased.
  • Space: a limited inventory is a classic example, also containers of limited capacity.
  • Weight: similar to size and potentially combined with it.
  • Health: a classic RPG challenge, also applies to other quantities such as “magic points”.
  • Uses: items may have a limited number of uses, such as a gun with limited ammunition.
text/puzzle_types.1350027130.txt.gz · Last modified: 2012/11/12 13:48 (external edit)