Author round-table 003

InterviewsAuthor round-table

About the specific skills of prolific authors

The guests of the third round-table are Casty and Guten. They're making problems with nikoli.com, and are special as very prolific authors.

NyanBazDo you think you are prolific?

CastyI think I am.

GutenI make more puzzles than other authors. I do make many problems, but I don't think of myself as a prolific author.

NobDon't you yourself think that you make a lot of puzzles?

GutenNo. Like, I don't make puzzles on days when I don't feel like it.

NobYou don't decide on a set number of puzzles you have to make every day?

GutenNo. I thought we were going to be asked about the secrets of prolific puzzle making today. There I think the answer to that is to continue doing it every day. But I don't make puzzles every day. (laughs)

NobDo you think the same, Casty?

CastySure. There are days when I don't make puzzles.

GutenDifferent people have different amounts of time for puzzles. It may be that very busy people make as many as they can get away with, and then think they are prolific. But to say that would make it seem like you have a very free and easy life with unending time on your hands. (laughs)

NobBut you do make an awful lot of problems. I'm amazed to hear that there are days when you don't make puzzles. Are you fast at making puzzles?

CastyIt may be that I am fast.

NobCan you make 10x10 size Slitherlink in 3 minutes?

CastyHmm. If the placement of the numbers can be decided right away, that could be how it turns out. I basically make puzzles that are solved smoothly. That way I can make the puzzles smoothly.

GutenI am totally different in the time it takes for a problem.

NobCasty has sent in a lot of hard Sudoku recently. It would take a lot of time to make those.

CastyExactly. Even if it goes well, it takes an hour, but it often stretches to 3 or 4 hours.

NyanBazSome authors spend a lot of time to make one problem. Do you think a problem becomes better if you spend more time on it?

GutenI don't think so.

CastyNot me, either.

GutenIn my experience, sometimes, without spending much time I may get a good problem, spending more time may make it trash. It isn't taking time that matters.

NyanBazObsessiveness and quality do not go together?

GutenI don't think they do. With too much obsessiveness, my work becomes unnatural. Puzzles I make with the right tempo will be of higher quality.

CastyI agree. Obsessing does not make a good problem, because the flow changes, if I stop making it halfway and start tinkering. So, even with larger sizes, I try to keep moving and don't let up till the end.

NobCasty's work is often solved smoothly. When you make your puzzles, is there something you make sure will be there?

CastyNo, I don't obsess about anything really.

GutenMarvellous you can say that so clearly.

CastyI'm often conscious about using one specific solution method when I make a puzzle.

GutenThere is that to keep in mind.

NobThere has to be. Casty makes so many puzzles, but they are not really very similar.

NyanBazAre you careful about not making similar problems?

CastyI keep that in mind. For example, if I adopt a method some other authors have developed. Then I may solve such a problem from another author and think up a new wrinkle when I go about using it.

GutenCasty is quick to absorb stuff. Really quick to chew it over and come up with something new. How about my problems, have they been useful to you so far?

CastyYou ask? Sure, that will have happened.

NobCasty couldn't really say no here in front of Guten, could he!

everyone(laughs)

NyanBazAre there puzzles that are good for mass production?

CastyMasyu and Akari are good, because the solution can be made to flow.

GutenI'd also recommend those two. However, with Akari it may be difficult to make many in one sitting, because there are relatively few patterns to choose from. For example, most of the later development is set if I start out with a 4. And it becomes quite similar if I make a lot of Akari with the same starter. It is still no real challenge if I am told to make one 10x10 size Akari every day. But, it gets impossible if I am told to make ten a day.

NyanBazHow about Nurikabe?

GutenIt the same as with Akari. It is so easy to make Nurikabe problems. But you also easily get in to a rut with those. I'm weak at Nurikabe.

NobRepeating your self is a danger for prolific authors. You have to protect against that.

GutenNo, It's how you repeat yourself. There are so few ways to start a Nurikabe.

NobYes. There aren't a lot of patterns to go with.

GutenIt's almost impossible to get on with problems when I get fed up with a start. I can make problems that seem different with the same method. A method may become repeated, but how the puzzle feels doesn't have to be the same. Don't you get lost in repeating patterns, Casty?

CastyI do. It can't be helped to start out the same way time and time again. But the way it progresses should vary and be different.

GutenI make Nurikabe by trial and error. I want to please people in the parts that are unrelated to methods. For example, I overuse the pattern that a blank cell could be connected to several cells, but then it isn't.

NyanBazWe get a lot of Masyu and I'm not sure if that is because it is difficult to repeat yourself there.

GutenThat's because you can put the black and white circles freely. With Masyu you don't have to arrange anything symmetrically like with other puzzles.

NobWith Slitherlink, placement is limited to symmetrical patterns, but you can still make those freely, sort of.

GutenMe, I can't get good variety there.

NobFalling into repeating a pattern can be avoided by aligning the numbers. Arranging the numbers diagonally or horizontal and vertical, they give very different appearances and impressions when solving. But really, there are no puzzles where it is that easy to avoid going stale.

CastyI really think so, too.

GutenThere are authors who are good at placing numbers diagonally, and other authors good at horizontal and vertical arrangements. There are few authors who can handle both. There are many patterns to pick from, but I think one author may stick with just a few of them.

NobI make a lot of Slitherlink at work, and I imitate the style of other authors. It's like, today I go with the mimic style, or I may become SAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki next.

GutenI may aim at a -4 (minus four, an author) flavor. There aren't many people trying to do Slitherlink like that.

NobWhat is -4's style? He is probable not putting so much personality in it.

GutenI'm a -4 devotee. (laughs) His Slitherlink often uses vertical and horizontal orientations for the numbers, there is little diagonal placement. Like where 0s and 2s have to fit the neighbor. You solve that when you realize that the line can't go through one of the two sides. He is really good in places like that. Sometimes Casty does something like that too, but -4 has something special there that only he manages to get across.

NobAn acute observation!

NyanBazThe trick seems to be to imitate others but not letting it become a rut or a crutch.

NobDon't you ever get tired of making puzzles?

CastyI don't. I just simply enjoy to make puzzles.

GutenDon't you ever feel it a little bit of a bother?

CastyThere are days when it doesn't go so well. But, on the whole, no.

NobWhat about putting up with the feeling that you just have to grit your teeth and get on with it?

CastyNot for me. It seems to run nearly by itself.

NobThat may be how prolific authors do it, let it flow naturally, hanging loose.

GutenThat's more like the secret of longevity, isn't it? (laughs) I may make puzzles as an obligation, and I may occasionally get sick of it. But I recover when I get going with making puzzles.

NobDo you never feel it's like when you are dating someone you really want to break up with?

GutenThat's different. Even if I say all sorts of things, We still like each other. It's like with a lover where you were together for many years.

NobLike in an old marriage?

GutenMaybe something like that.

NyanBazWell. Now we have heard how you two think. That's it for today. Please keep up with making lots of puzzles from now on.


Discussion on Sep 2009 Published on Jan 15, 2013

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