Author round-table 018

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Puzzles and self-expression

The guests this time are YukiHiro and nyoroppyi. The theme is a little difficult. What is it that leads to self-expression in how puzzle authors make their puzzles? From Nikoli we have NyanBaz and Nob.

NobThere was an interview where YukiHiro said that making puzzles are self-expression. In another interview nyoroppyi has said that puzzles was a means to communicate. Let's begin the discussion today by talking about your different opinions.

YukiHiroI read nyoroppyi's interview and felt that there is a difference between simple self-expression and communicating. You don't have communication unless you know the other side.

nyoroppyiSure. I really think puzzles are a means to communicate as well as it is self-expression. Of course communication does not take place with just me (100%) and nothing on the other side (0%), or me with nothing and the other side everything. It will be somewhere in between for both parties.

YukiHiroI really never think about communication. My puzzle production is strictly self-expression.

NobDoes Yukihiro's self-expression function to make you stand out and look wonderful or is it expressing your real self?

YukiHiroI think that it's self-expression to reveal oneself as one really is. I include stuff that seems useless or unnecessary. In the interview I talked about both how it appears and what others cannot know. But now today I have lost any feeling of distinction between the two, what there is to look at and the hidden private.

NobHow is that with you nyoroppyi?

nyoroppyiI'm also aware that it gets into self-expression. I put on 2 faces, the part that appears to be what I like and the part I make up to make it look neat. How it works depends on the kind of puzzle.

YukiHiroSometimes you go after self-expression, and sometimes not, is that what you are saying?

nyoroppyiYes something like that. For example, with Numberlink it is easy to incorporate self-expression. But I think that I'd be hard put to get self-expression into Hitori.

YukiHiroPerfectly marvelous how you do it with Numberlink. I couldn't do that.

NobAll together, how do you think, are puzzles a medium where it's easy to have self-expression?

YukiHiroI have thought about it. What is it that I can express only with puzzles? My conclusion is that it is something that is sent to somewhere beyond the five senses. It's something with intuition or a sudden flash or surprise. I think that puzzles can express a fun that is not possible with words. There you have one impact that can be conveyed only with puzzles.

nyoroppyiI think a puzzle is a medium where it is sort of hard to get into self-expression. I can easily make an odd work with some idea. But I make some effort to understand the puzzle fully and well, then after that, I can make puzzles where I may be said to show self-expression. Getting the puzzle to express that takes time getting it right.

YukiHiroI can go with that, too. But I think that it's all expression. The person is expressed in what you put in a blank 10 x 10 grid.

nyoroppyiSure. But I don't think all is self-expression. I want to express whatever I have thought it should be to be right. Just because I think something is good subjectively, I still have to ask if it is good objectively?

YukiHiroGood point. When I make a puzzle, it is me who has to judge whether it is good or bad.

nyoroppyiOf course. Ability and experience are necessary to establish one's style. I think that I must understand many things with a puzzle if I want to express anything with it. It takes time before puzzles turn out the way I hope.

YukiHiroNyoroppyi you think deeply. I make puzzles without thinking deeply. You are very different from me in your ways of thinking.

nyoroppyiI didn't think deeply about it before, either. It changed when I looked at the evaluations from solvers. Communication isn't established only by making puzzles which I myself want to make.

NyanBazHere I have been thinking of you as making puzzles with free abandon.

nyoroppyiI'm aiming at puzzles that seem to be made by selfishness and lack of plans, but where the things I want to express are carefully integrated. It's very difficult.

YukiHiroA puzzle must be solved in conformity with the rules. That becomes a restriction. I want to do it one way, but must do it another way in order to avoid failure. That situation often happens. This is the point that makes it hard to self-express.

nyoroppyiWell, because of the limitations of the rules, we cannot always do what we want to. That's the case with Sudoku in particular. It may come to be solved from a point we didn't aim at. I don't contribute such problems. Maybe the evaluation of the work is different from my intention.

YukiHiroIt's difficult to express myself with Sudoku.

nyoroppyiSlitherlink is difficult for me. I don't really understand what is interesting in Slitherlink. So I don't make Slitherlink. It's the same with Masyu, too.

YukiHiroIs that right? I think that with Masyu it is easy to introduce self-expression.

nyoroppyiI sent an odd Slitherlink the first time. It was chosen as The Pick of the Puzzles. I haven't exceeded that problem yet. I gave up on Slitherlink.

NobOh, that one! It has no numbers in the two top and bottom lines.

YukiHiroI like letting a funny direction draw the lines with Masyu. When I make Slitherlink, it's often possible to barge recklessly ahead. I like it when I can push on recklessly. Either is easy to do with both Slitherlink and Masyu.

nyoroppyiI can make normal problems with Slitherlink and Masyu. But I don't understand how it becomes interesting if I put one method together with another. So I don't make any of them now.

YukiHiroWhen you cannot properly evaluate what is going on, it does not become self-expression.


YukiHiroI think that I became able to make more interesting problems after noticing that. It happened after I made problems for

NobDoes a wish to express yourself become a driving force when making puzzles.

YukiHiroIt does so now. But it wasn't like that at first.

nyoroppyiNyanBaz, you made puzzles since the days when you were a reader. You make puzzle as work now. Did making puzzles become self-expression for you?

NyanBazI first began to make puzzles because there was a solver nearby. That was self-expression.

nyoroppyiIf there is no one solving the puzzles, there will be no one making puzzles.

NyanBazNow because there are solvers, is that why you make puzzles, nyoroppyi?

nyoroppyiYes. But perhaps it isn't only that. I want to express something that is in me. I wouldn't have to make puzzles if there was no self-expression at all.

YukiHiroIf I asked myself why I make puzzles, perhaps I will answer that I want to make them. And I may make puzzles to show that I exist.

nyoroppyiThat's really the same for me. It's the interaction. The interaction between communication and self-expression. And there I think that I would give priority to communication. The personality oozes in and colors it naturally. It's self-expression to accept that.

NyanBazThen you wouldn't make puzzles where the author name doesn't appear?

nyoroppyiI think that it would become a bipolar situation. I will make puzzles and work to delete personality if the name doesn't appear. But depending on the kind of the puzzle, it may get out who made it even without an author name. If I think that my will and intent will still come out, I'll keep making them as always.

YukiHiroIf I received such a request, I'd make puzzles even if my name does not come out. There is a part of me that ignores the solvers. (laughs)

nyoroppyiI've made problems for game consoles where the author name is not shown. Because I thought it seemed to be interesting. I sent in a lot of easy problems. But I made some problems where I overdid it, depending on the kind of problem.

YukiHiroEven when the name does not appear, I made only problems where I devoted myself fully. Self-expression may be over only if I finish making puzzles.

NobIt may happen that the act to make the puzzles in itself becomes pleasant.

YukiHiroI think that when I make a puzzle in response to a request it would tend to become work rather than self-expression.

nyoroppyiI feel like it is professional work if I get a request with the condition that my name isn't made known.

NyanBazDon't professionals concern themselves about self-expression?

YukiHiroI think that a professional can get away with selfishly conceived but solvable problems.

NyanBazIs it a professional who can make puzzles for a customer, puzzles that are still selfishly made and elegant, in both dimensions?

YukiHiroI think it's almost like that. That's why I'm not a professional. I may send problems where I think later that I should not have sent them.

YukiHiroNyoroppyi, you play the cello. Is it self-expression to play the cello?

nyoroppyiIt can become self-expression. But I didn't reach that level. (laughs) In an orchestra among others a string instrument mustn't express a player's individuality. The whole orchestra is expressing itself to the audience listening to it. A representative for who represents the whole is the leader. The player does not have room for self-expression.

YukiHiroThe leader self-expresses just by waving a baton. It's great.

nyoroppyiSure. Depending on the ensemble, there are many parts where a player can practice self-expression. However, I am developing on the cello. How about with magic, YukiHiro?

YukiHiroThere I realize that I'm clumsy. But it's self-expression even if I'm clumsy. There are many excellent magicians who are younger than me.

nyoroppyiAre puzzles a self-expressed thing for the editor?

NobThe editors think that all puzzles are original work, not commercialized products. Therefore all puzzles are the self-expression of the authors.

nyoroppyiThat's right of course. I feel relieved.

NyanBazAs an editor I also solve problems that end up in the waste paper bin, there I can feel the hot thoughts an author has invested in the problem.

YukiHiroI understand that problems that are made selfishly are hot and hard to handle. I don't want to ignore those hot thoughts.

NobThere are people who show their own problems on the Internet. How do you think about that?

nyoroppyiI don't do that myself. Even if I do show puzzles on the Internet, then only a few enthusiasts will take the trouble to solve them. That's the reason. If I did it, I'd put up easy Sudoku. I'm not really interested in what is being evaluated by an overeager enthusiast.

YukiHiroI sometimes put odd and strange problems on my site. I show problems that are not the regular sizes. Puzzles I don't want to contribute by mistake. And I may want to check how it becomes when the size changes.

NobYou guys have blogs. Do you write about puzzles?

nyoroppyiI don't write articles about puzzles in the blog.

YukiHiroI use that only when I want others to know something, or it can be different things I put there, even if it will not get known to anyone, but I want to express it. That is like what twitter is for I guess. Now I just remembered something, when I was a kid I did something unusual. I put strange things and objects out in the street and you went past them to arrive at my house. I left things others were sure to find strange out there in the street. I could have been thinking it was something like road art. That was also expressing that I wanted to make something. I thought I was lucky if somebody noticed it and felt it was strange. If somebody caught on to it, I was happy. That's the basics of my style.

NyanBazYou didn't want to force it on others.


nyoroppyiThat is clearly different from my attitude. I think that I want all the people solving a puzzle to understand what I am up to. I don't like raging along with only people I know following. If I make a radical problem, I want all solvers to be able to understand how it is radical.

YukiHiroI understand exactly what it is you are saying. But I'm not so stoic and patient. I'm happy that just somebody would think my problem to be interesting for some reason.

NobThis kind of story doesn't ever end. There isn't any real conclusion to the theme we have today. Let's make it end here today. Thank you very much.

Discussion on Jun 2011 Published on May 27, 2014

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