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GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

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Open-Ended Puzzle Design at Zachtronics

Zach Barth  (Creative Director, Zachtronics)

Drew Messinger-Michaels  (Podcaster, Everybody's Talking At Once)

Location: Room 202, South Hall

Date: Wednesday, March 20

Time: 9:00 am - 10:00 am

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Conference - Get your pass now!

Topic: Design

Format: Session

Tutorials: N/A

Vault Recording: Video

Audience Level: All

Imagine shipping puzzles in a game that you haven't solved yourself, confident that players will find interesting and creative solutions on their own. That's not unusual at Zachtronics, the studio behind open-ended puzzle games such as 'SpaceChem', 'SHENZHEN I/O', 'Opus Magnum', and 'EXAPUNKS'. In this session, podcaster Drew Messinger-Michaels talks to Zachtronics founder and creative director Zach Barth about the studio's puzzle design process, from the initial foundation to the basic mechanics, to the way story is integrated.


Attendees will understand how the Zachtronics team approaches puzzle design from the big-picture view of worlds and mechanisms down to the minute details of specific levels.

Intended Audience

This session provides an opportunity to look behind the scenes at a successful puzzle design strategy that doesn't require players to find a specific predetermined solution. And if you've played a Zachtronics game and wondered how (or why) these games get made, Zach will share some of his inspirations and motivations.