Thanks for the detailed thoughts!
So challenges appear to be the primary change or new feature that is being included with this update, and will be the focus of this comment.
Before we get too far into this, I want to clarify that it is entirely possible that this might not even be in scope for the website rewrite, at least initially. The reason being is that it would require backend changes, which may be more complex than we want to go after right now. TBD.
The use of the term “challenges” suggests that these are meant to challenge the player. It’s an obstacle or goal for the player to get over. You can look at it as “Oh, this is difficult, and requires more effort or skill on the part of the player to complete the task.” If Eterna deployed several puzzles with scientific relevance where it was unknown if it was even possible to solve them in silico, that would be better described as a challenge. One could postulate that’s what the original ‘challenge’ puzzles used to be.
Yes and no. You could argue that something like a set of tutorials isn’t necessarily “challenging”. However I think you’re missing the point. The term challenge in this case is being used to describe some concrete task that players can set for themselves as a goal (solving all the puzzles in the set) that has some reward for completion at the end (badge, 100% progress bar, personal satisfaction, etc. Completing the “Fun with Brourd” series definitely seems like a fun way to challenge yourself. Similarly, finishing a tutorial series, while more focused on learning than difficulty, may still take some amount of time, is a concrete goal, and could be rewardable. Now whether it’s a good thing to frame all sets of puzzles as challenges? That’s more of an open question, but I think that a set of puzzles put together with any purpose is most definitely a challenge.
Per your specific points: “The use of the term “challenges” suggests that these are meant to challenge the player. It’s an obstacle or goal for the player to get over” Yes. Even if you might not find it difficult, completing a set of puzzles is a valid goal, regardless of the intent of the set. That said I’m not sure that I’m completely understanding your argument. If that’s the case, please reword your argument something like “Challenges are XXXX, whereas playlists are not because they YYYY” or whatever so I can get it through my thick skull.
Challenges doesn’t need to be based around a list of player created puzzle lists. Challenges should be a recommendation of puzzles around the theoretical height of your skill level. And then there will be the “_ Challenges _” that exist to push the boundaries of in silico design and research in Eterna. In essence, Challenges should exist as a dynamic puzzle playlist based on that player’s current skill level.
This is a fundamentally different feature, and has very little to do with the mechanism proposed. I think it’s interesting, but is completely unrelated (not an alternative to the proposed mechanism - just using the same term because you argue it would fit better).
However, this leads to problems like badge inflation and the use of optional achievements to pad out things to do.
MasterStormer has convinced me that badge inflation is not really as big of an issue as I thought. A lot of games have very high numbers of badges and are able to pull it off quite well. The issue is moreso that they need to be better presented.
This also does not do much for the more prolific members of the community either, considering that most of them probably already solved all the puzzles in your typical playlists.
I don’t really see this as a detractor so much as a natural result of longtime players having already done a lot. This is no different than if we overhauled our badges and experienced players got a bunch of badges from the outset. Makes sense to me.
It’s unnecessary to have a reward for experiencing Eterna (so-called mandatory achievements), given we already have so many of those already.
The benefit of having achievements tied to sets is a) recognition of completing a specific set of puzzles (e.g., finishing Fun with Brourd seems like something worthy of recognition!) and b) another set of “collectables” (that is, a “gotta catch em all” mechanic that’s stronger than just for individual puzzles)
I will add on though that there’s a couple additional issues with tying playlists to achievements:
- Achievements that are essentially impossible
- Adding additional puzzles to the list winds up being really weird. You could make an argument that it should either be disabled or highly pressured against, which I don’t think is a good thing if you’re just trying to collect things or it’s an expanding series. You have to lose the badge, but that’d suck and probably wind up being really annoying. You could just keep the badge, but that seems disingenuous.
These alone make me feel like tying them with achievements is a bad idea, or else we’d need to be really careful with how we present them so that achievements coming and going wouldn’t feel weird.
Puzzle playlists should only be created from puzzles the player published, and there should probably be a minimum and maximum cutoff for playlist size, and each puzzle should probably have a maximum number of uses in a playlist. Sure, maybe I want to include a puzzle made by another player in a playlist I’m generating, but is it necessary?
I completely disagree. If you don’t feel like creating a Fun with Brourd playlist, I should be able to do it myself. What if I want to collect tutorials on a specific subject, or puzzles with a specific theme or characteristic? Maybe housing all the Eterna100 redesign puzzles (or the Eterna100 itself)? These should definitely be supported, and almost certainly won’t be tied to one specific author.
If I’m making a playlist, and I call it “Here are some fun puzzles” is that even a useful way to describe puzzles? What happens with attribution? Are players just allowed to randomly select puzzles (that they may have not even solved) and publish that in a playlist on the site? Eterna has a library of over 20,000 puzzles, and in some ways it makes sense to collate the puzzles into digestible chunks. However, based on the current proposal, there would be no way to regulate the digestible chunks.
Per my comments, I don’t think regulation is necessary. The intent of playlists isn’t to have a structured organization of puzzles with well-defined high level categories so that you know where everything is. Sure, that’d be cool! But that’d also be unmanageable - who would be trusted to make the sets, and have the time to maintain it (never mind organize all the thousands of puzzles that already exist)? I doubt we could even come up with all-inclusive categories that are anywhere near sufficient. This tool was never intended to do that.
Instead, the point is for players to be able to create groups of puzzles that they find meaningful for themselves. It might be a puzzle series, or based around a theme, or a specific type of tutorials, just something fun, or potentially even a personal list of puzzles they want to look at later (I’d probably want to have “private” collections to better support that use case). Allowing players to make a set on whatever is interesting to them is somewhat the entire point. As I mentioned before, to maintain the “discoverability” of interesting sets (e.g., preventing the front page from being flooded with arguably “useless” sets like “my test set” with two puzzles in it, etc) is a matter of having proper filters and sorting, including “featured”, “recommended”, “highest rated”, etc etc etc. If you think it’s possible to create a coallated/regulated experience, then I see no reason that we can’t ALSO support that by some sort of filtering. But I see no reason why it should preclude this usage (and certainly if that’s not viable, I don’t see that as an argument against implementing the system just because it doesn’t fill that use case - this is still very much a viable use case).
As a reply to LFP6’s notes, I also would not understand the idea of making a “for me” list of puzzles. Like, what would that accomplish that something like a “20 Most recently played puzzles” category wouldn’t feature
This is a “recommended for you” feature like you’d see on Netflix. As you mentioned before - “an algorithm that can make smart recommendations based on what the user has viewed recently”. The idea is that we’d have some sort of algorithm that would be able to take into account your skill level, types of puzzles you’ve played, etc. and recommend ones that would be good to try next. The entire point is so that you can load up Eterna and just pick a puzzle to start playing without having to think about it, and have it be one that you’re more likely to enjoy (allowing it to be skippable so that you can hone your suggestions and such of course - maybe re-suggesting it after some arbitrary time gap has passed or you’ve solved a bunch of other puzzles).