New puzzle progression

UPDATE: Now that the site is now live, please continue discussion at the new feedback topic so we can make sure to keep things clean and tidy.

Hi all,

To ramp up to Eterna-medicine, we’re building a puzzle progression to take players from zero to switches.  So when players finish a puzzle, the next puzzle will be a new challenge that builds on what they already know and teaches them something new.  Think Portal, if you have experience with that.   I’ll be drawing from the Nova tutorials and the many wonderful player guides and tutorials.  I could really use player help and feedback.

First:  I’ve tried to collect the things that players should know to tackle the Eterna-medicine switches here.  If you have things to add, please comment in the document or reply here in the forums and I will add them.  The idea here is to give players the foundational tools they need to be successful switch puzzle solvers.

Second: I’ve been working from Eli’s tutorial puzzle guide to find tutorial puzzles that players have designed.  If you have puzzles that demonstrated a particular strategy or concept well, please send them my way.  You can either reply in this thread or PM me here.

Once we put a progression together, we will need to beta-test, both with veteran and with novice players.  I’ll update this thread as the project proceeds.

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, please get in touch.  So many of you have already been a huge help by making tutorial puzzles and strategy guides.




While on the topic of a ‘progression’, I’d like to bring something up (which I’ll probably bring up at the dev chat Friday too): We need to do something about the challenge puzzles. There’s a few reasons I say this.

1) Most of the points will come from challenge puzzles when starting out as a new player (it’s the most efficient), and the game encourages you to play those before anything else, so this is where new players will spend the majority of the time up front (and it takes quite a while to get through the challenges, even to the point where a player may very well get bored/frustrated and leave without ever doing anything else).
2) The point was to help learn, but not only will we have the progression now, but after you play enough (or read a generic puzzle solving guide) all of them can be solved ALMOST THE EXACT SAME WAY. This is an issue because…
3) The solution data from challenge puzzles are not used.

Soooo, players will spend most of their time on puzzles that are meaningless (in both result and helpfulness for the player). This is, personally, an extremely broken model that encourages players to never get to the ‘real stuff’.

Also, I am open to helping with building the tutorials in the tutorial creator once I finish up with the stuff I’m currently working on in the forums (I actually started to make one tutorial for the various parts of an RNA, but that got put off to the side).


Good points. We should definitely chat about what to do with the challenge puzzles and how to reorganize puzzle activity.

Re: puzzle progression.  It’s going to take me a while to get things sorted, but I would welcome your help.  Feel free to drop me a line when you’re running out of stuff to do in the forums. : )

I really like the direction that you guys are heading with this but I would like to add that as a 16 year old high school student some more explanation than (paraphrasing of course) ‘This color likes this color’ would be helpful.

To clarify by ‘more explanation’ I don’t mean any less or more simply termed , what I do mean is while with that method of explanation I now understand blue is attracted to red but prefers yellow but I still don’t understand  why.

I believe that if the why and the how puzzles are solved (how you use steps/strategy to solve it and why you decided to use them then) were explained so that the player had a base set of principles to build off.

This is a huge undertaking and I would love to help with it if I could! I can’t help with switches in anyway because I have never been able to solve those sadly but if you guys need testers or anything just time consuming I’m totally up to help, I have tons of time even during the school session so if its ever needed I’m up for it.


I am in high school as well, and I do have to agree. It’s really been the guides that have provided all that, and it seems that this initiative will try to take some of that and use it.

hi I think that Eli and Mat747 submitted a list of tutorials and puzzles that would be good for progression, when this was brought up before. Hope this helps & good luck!


Thanks for mentioning this.  I think all new players are in the same boat, not just high schoolers.

One of the difficulties of putting in more in-depth explanations of the whys and hows is that it interrupts game flow (imagine if Hay Day had little lessons about the digestive tracts of cows and horses or about the economics of running a farm… okay, maybe that would be pretty cool, actually).  That being said, I think that understanding the whys and hows is absolutely vital for making (collective) progress on RNA problems.

For example, an early discussion about why certain techniques were effective in the puzzles but not in the lab centered around how SHAPE scores (the lab results) were generated.  If you did’t understand how SHAPE worked, you would’ve been stuck.

So I think building in some of the whys and hows is a great idea.  The trick is going to be doing it elegantly: showing rather than telling; avoiding long blocks of text.  It also might mean pointing players to resources where they can learn more.  I don’t think we’re going to cover everything that can be covered in the puzzle progression, but hopefully it will be a solid foundation.

Thanks!  Yeah, Eli’s tutorial/teaching puzzle collection has been invaluable and I’ve been chatting a bit to Mat747 about the project.  I’ll post an update this week!

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Yea you’re absolutely correct the guides have been a great help to me too but there are so many in so many places it would be great if we put their concepts(and some quotes from the EteRNA dictionary of terms) into the progression course using very small simple puzzles only to teach that principle and then some later ones were you learn how to use it with the previous ones.

But like +bekeep said sadly its nearly impossible to cover everything everyone wants to know so a lot of experimentation by the player on top of the foundation should be encouraged above all. (A submit button would be a nice future feature so it doesn’t auto bubble though)

@bekeep Sorry to make it sound like I was singling out the high school demographic there I didn’t mean to do that, I just wanted to compare the lower level education *more easily*(cause to be honest learning from online textbooks compared to having an instructor is hard) available to somewhat older players with possibly more in depth education from college curriculum.

Also if I might ask since this is looking like it could get big and help a ton of people if we reach critical mass, how are you guys making the tutorials? Are you programming them in flash? Or is it a google doc with puzzle walkthrough-ish? I might consider learning flash if it would help get momentum behind this.

Used to be, but there’s now a tutorial creator with super simple scripting which was published a while back, though with lite response from players:

I was planning to help with this myself, would love to see others jump on too.

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Nice thanks! Oh sweet it has a documentation button I love you wonderful people XD.

I don’t know if this was already the plan but we could get two groups and have some people working on developing ‘lessons’ without worrying about putting them into the game, and another team that scripts the completed lessons and tests them.

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YES. Definitely. I would fall into the second group myself, and would love to just take instruction from other people and turn them into tutorials

Yea same given I want to help this project because I would have loved to have it when I started so my lesson writing knowledge is limited.

While on the subject what does “NCEG” stand for I see it all over the scripting documentation, and are the nucleotide bases considered elements that can be hidden/WaitForClickUI, or do you have to use the commands specifically for the bases to do that kind of stuff?

@bekeep Has anyone contacted Eli about possibly geting him and some of the people he collaborates with in his write-ups and tutorials involved with this project and I know he must be busy so maybe ask him if we can start turning the list +machinelves mentioned into tutorials?

@machinelves could you edit your post to include a link to that list please?

@bekeep Has anyone contacted Eli about possibly geting him and some of the people he collaborates with in his write-ups and tutorials involved with this project and I know he must be busy so maybe ask him if we can start turning the list +machinelves mentioned into tutorials?

@machinelves could you edit your post to include a link to that list please?

Not positive what NCEG stands for, but it has to do with the NOVA Labs port.

What are you trying to do with the nucleotides?

I believe they have been contacted, and I’d assume much of it would be transferred to tutorials

Happy to have all of your help.  I will post an update this week where I will lay out the next steps.  Just give me a couple days - I’ve been on vacation this past week or so.

I agree with everyone so far about the need for better game flow and all the suggested tutorials and tips.  Before doing lab switches though, players should probably learn how a switch works and folds to understand aptamers and other switch components.  

For switch tutorials, jnicol’s switch tutorials could be implemented at some point in the game flow.  Although they get difficult as you advance in the lessons, the knowledge learned through completing the puzzle can be invaluable in solving harder switches.  Thanks for all your work in the new puzzle progression!  I hope this helps!  :)

@LFP6 I was thinking  that if we could hide nucleotides we might be able to help the player focus on smaller chunks at a time instead of just not letting them change them like some tutorials do currently, I’m sure there would be other uses to but that’s just what I first though of.

@bekeep Oh yea absolutely enjoy your vacation while you can! I think I speak for all of us when I say that it’s no problem at all to help, glad to be here. In the meantime I think I will start taking some of the dictionary terms and put them into tutorials.