Sage Sanctum Scramble - author's note

Thanks to everyone who played, reviewed, and commented on the game.

The original design goal was to make a game where all inputs are one word. At first, the game was going to be something quite different, but I eventually settled on a series of puzzles, each of which has a one-word “keyword” solution. (Side challenge: I think there’s only one two-word command the game will accept. Can you figure out what it is?)

The puzzles didn’t really have to be word puzzles, but I decided to give that a shot. I’ve been a word puzzle fan for decades, especially crosswords and “cryptic” crosswords, but I never really tried to compose them before. On the whole I think it was a pretty decent first try.

As usual, the greatest challenge was managing difficulty. These puzzles range from very easy to very hard, and inevitably, the hard ones will feel “unfair” to some players. My thinking is, you need 30 to win, and the rest of the puzzles are gravy. I tried to calibrate them to a difficulty where most players could get 30 without outside help, but it’s hard to know whether that ended up being the case.

All of the puzzles were solved by at least one tester, but no tester solved all 60 without help. I used a spreadsheet with each tester’s difficulty assessment for each puzzle.

In retrospect, I probably should have put a note in the blurb: “feel free to email the author for hints”. I like hearing from players, but they almost never email. (I did get one hint request by email.) I was glad to see the discussion and hint-swapping on this forum.