Author round-table 012

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Pencil puzzles and visual effects

Today's guests are Komieda who makes problems that have surprising appearances, and POTS who demands art in puzzles. They have made a lot of problems that paid attention to appearance. Today we will talk about the appearance of puzzles. From Nikoli we have the regulars NyanBaz and Nob.

NyanBazLet me get to the point from the start. We evaluate puzzles for how they are enjoyable to solve. We don't evaluate the beauty of the appearances. Did you know that?


POTSOf course, I understand that. I've made puzzles for many years.

NyanBazWell. Then, why do you pay attention to appearances?

POTSIt was for the sake of giving an impact at the start. I thought a lot about how to make problems with an impact so that they were pleasing to editors and readers. That way I gradually came to pay attention to appearance.

NyanBazSo you gave priority to making an impact. And then the editor didn't mind it. How do you think about it now?

POTSNow I tend to think that a glance as enough for the impact, then comes the fun to solve the puzzle. I aim at a flavor simply directed through the appearance.

KomiedaFor example, you mean like with Numberlink problems that the numbers are arranged for symmetry.

POTSThat sort of thing. Here and there pretend the numbers to have the same ways to connect but in fact, there are completely different ones. I want to direct attention to the gap between appearances and taste.

NobHow about you Komieda?

KomiedaIt used to be that I wasn't able to make a problem unless I decided on a theme. For example, I risked it all and made Masyu in a symmetric form, when there isn't any need to do a symmetric arrangement.

NyanBazYou made an attractive appearance one of the motives behind a problem from the start.

KomiedaYes. But eventually, I discovered that a surprising appearance is pleasant. I remember it best from Pencil Puzzle Book Slitherlink 6, No. 60. That was when I received my first request to make a puzzle. Then I didn't have a story. (laughs) I wrote the word "FIGHT" to place the numbers. Another puzzle author Jil said that because she was interested in how to do about the space under the F, and that was why she solved it. I heard that and realized that appearance gives the push to go on to solve a puzzle. When you choose only one puzzle to solve among a lot of puzzles, maybe you will choose one with a special appearance. That's my idea and I didn't talk about it to a lot of other people.

POTSFor the problems I make where I give priority to the appearance, I am curious about the reactions of the solvers.

KomiedaI mind about that too. There I'm happy, because can see the comments from solvers. A problem with a surprising appearance has many favorable comments. For example, about the elegant placement. I'm prepared for a bad reputation with a problem just for the appearance. But, there aren't many bad comments about that.

POTSBecause Nikoli editors check it, the level of the problems is above standard. That's why there is little criticism.

NyanBazThat's a point. Even if an appearance is interesting in a problem and the puzzle itself is dull, it doesn't get approved.

KomiedaThere is a downside to doing surprising appearances. For example, an unnecessary number enters to have to get everything arranged symmetrically.

POTSI agree. But the overall quality improves a lot when I get around it.

KomiedaYes yes. It's a highlight when you get a chance to show your mettle.

NyanBazCan you sacrifice other things for the appearance? For example, you don't like the feel of some part, but still send it in because it's beautiful.

POTSThat sort of thing may happen.

KomiedaNo never with me. I don't compromise about anything in my contributions. I drop it into the rubbish bin if there is any question at all. (laughs)

NobAnother thing, about surprising appearances, I think there are two kinds. The beauty of the appearance and the impact of the appearance. Which are you thinking of now?

KomiedaMe? I want to pursue beauty. However, I found out that I didn't have a good sense for graphics. So now I don't aim for beauty. I saw a Slitherlink from Osakana some time back and felt that here is someone good at expressing curves.

POTSSure, Jil is also good at that.

KomiedaI wanted to try to do that and I actually tried it. However, I was never able to do curves well.

NobDid you get kinks in them?

KomiedaThat was it, yes. I realized that I can't handle things like that.

NyanBazAnd therefore then you demand to have an impact.

NobPOTS often makes beautiful problems.

POTSI look for the art angle, it isn't impact or beauty really.


POTSPuzzles are a total thing, everything counts. The essence of a puzzle is how it feels, I aim at something that is superior in the widest sense. There is also the impact and beauty that spice brings. I want to make problems where the feedback simply is "that's great."

NobWho do you want to hear that from?

POTSThe solvers. Their impressions that it seems great: before solving, along the way, and after solving. I think about getting that "looks right" impression for solvers before they get down to solving it.

NyanBazHow do you think about the appearance after it is solved? There Komieda plans and schemes.

NobFor example, in Slitherlink, when the solution turns into a picture.

KomiedaLet me think.

POTSWith other authors' problems, if I finish solving and the numbers are lined up or a central block becomes a magic square. That may be accidental.

NobA magic square won't be noticed. (laughs) But akasyo likes that kind of idea.

NyanBazDo you get ideas for the appearance after you have solved a puzzle?

POTSI sometimes do. For example, a word emerges when you have 1 block wide cells in a Shikaku solution.

KomiedaNo one would notice that. (laughs)

POTSA word can also appear when the lines of some of the numbers are painted in Numberlink. (laughs) Probably that hasn't been noticed. When there are that kind of tricks, I want to show it. Humans like it when there is hidden stuff written in.

NobAre you saying that all human beings are like that?

POTSPsychology tells us that. There is the hidden mascot in the theme park, the easter egg TV game. Humans like it when there is something more.

NyanBazBut it is meaningless when it's not noticed. I think that there is a risk that nobody notices it.

KomiedaI think that I should still speak about it even if it is not noticed.

POTSThat's one of the things that go into blogs recently.

NobIs that what you want to say? That only people who notice will understand it?

POTSIt depends on the problem.

KomiedaI'm not so modest. I want everything to get out all the time. (laughs)

POTSBut you do consider it. You don't talk about it till a few days after it is published.

KomiedaSure. I try to do that at the very least.

NyanBazThen there is room for solvers who would like to notice for themselves.

POTSThat is the ideal.

NyanBazWhich of the puzzles on are easy to make with something surprising?

POTSMasyu maybe.

KomiedaBecause it is simple to arrange the numbers there, I think it is Slitherlink.

NobIn Slitherlink you can easily put a picture or a character by the placement.

POTSNurikabe number placement has many limitations, it's difficult there. It is easier with puzzles that have fewer limitations.

NyanBazHow do you think about Akari? I think that it has very little limitation for the black cells.

KomiedaIt's difficult for me to make Akari with a surprising appearance.

POTSThe Akari problems I make give priority to feel and sense. Even if I hit on a new appearance with Akari, I'm sure it has already been used. Akari problems with new appearances may not be possible anymore.

KomiedaLet's change topic a little. How about the Heyawake problems that arranged the numbers in symmetry, not the rooms?

NobKomieda makes problems like that occasionally. It has an impact.

KomiedaIt's in Puzzle Communication Nikoli Vol. 96 that I began that. I made it wondering why it hasn't been tried very much.

NyanBazIs it because it's difficult to make?

POTSIt isn't easy to make Heyawake like that.

KomiedaIt isn't easy to make them, but it isn't so difficult either. The trick is to decide the right-side and bottom rooms early.

POTSDoes it become easier, if you get used make them? I really want to cut out rooms that are beautiful like it has not been done before.

KomiedaTempo (an author) makes problems where the appearances are individual and unique.

NobHis problems are truly outstanding. HIs Yajilin has a lot of excess arrows.

POTSWhen I see them, I think "just what is this".

KomiedaMe too.

NobThey waste space. But, they are published because they are fun problems.

NyanBazIn Yajilin, can you make surprising appearances with any other methods?

KomiedaIt's difficult to arrange numbers and arrows neatly in Yajilin.

NobThere are many limitations with Yajilim. There are many times when you wonder about how to get it "exactly this way".

POTSOne particularly serious problem is for the pattern near the walls to get decided just right.

KomiedaWhen we are talking like this I itch to make a really fancy Yajilin problem. (laughs)

POTSMe too.

NyanBazIt is worth trying. Nobody has done it yet you know.

NobYajilin is a puzzle where there is still room for development.

POTSI'll get on with that from now.

NyanBazWe talked about appearance today. Are there any appearances you mind in everyday life, other than with puzzles now?

POTSI examine the tools I use very closely. My writing implements for making puzzles are Louis Vuitton. When I make a beautiful thing, I want to use a beautiful tool. Here it is. (He takes a pen out of his bag.)

KomiedaWow, that's cool! POTS is a person who pays attention to feelings.

POTSI pay attention to not just what I am doing but also to the environment where I am.

NyanBazIs there anything where you don't compromise Komeida?

KomiedaAppearance... I don't mind my own appearance very much. I can go to work without make up. (laughs) However, I make up when I have to appear in public.

NobFor Komieda, work at the company isn't in public. (laughs)

KomiedaPeople at the company are like relatives. A puzzle is a formal thing. Because it gets out to others, that calls for make up.

NobAre there puzzles you don't show to others, without make up?

KomiedaHmmm. A puzzle which doesn't need make up could be one I make on the spur of the moment like now here.

NobWell. I can understand that. When you finish it for publication, you should add make up.

POTSI use make up. Puzzles which don't have make up won't be accepted.

KomiedaEven when a young woman doesn't do make up, there is no problem. A child gets up in the morning and washes the face and goes outside. The puzzle which a young person makes doesn't need make up, I would imagine.

NobThere is that. Although it's unadorned it's still an interesting puzzle. Momotereu's old problems looked like that.

KomiedaWhen I put too much make up on, all my individual qualities are eliminated. Problems with the author's personality are problems with natural make up.

NyanBazMake up is an interesting example. Are there any other examples like that?

POTSI thought about that. Care about the appearances of puzzles is like selecting the snacks for a school picnic. School picnics are for the trip and some visit. But everyone still takes great pains in choosing the snacks. It isn't really what the school picnic is about.

NobCare about appearances like choosing an odd and unusual snack. I go for that to stores I don't usually visit.

POTSI do that to buy Godiva chocolate.

KomiedaBut it melts, when it is hot and would not last to get eaten.

POTSLike not accepted for publication. (laughs)

NobI've always been content with what there is. Puzzles or snacks.

POTSI don't compromise with the contents ever, puzzles or snacks.

NyanBazI learned about an unexpected connection between puzzles and school picnics. That's the end for today. Thank you.

Discussion on Sep 2010 Published on Sep 30, 2013

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