Mazes! Part 2.

August 6, 2009

Yeah, I already had these pictures ready so I’m going to put them up now, but I won’t do any more of these mazes until I have some means of scanning them or using a higher resolution camera, so people can actually do the mazes (although the last picture in this entry might be close enough to the camera for you to try it out without too much eye damage).

So, here’s where it gets stranger! First, the most basic gimmick: Arrows. You just draw an arrow within the square. When you pass over this one, you’re forced to go to the square in the direction it’s pointing to. If there’s a gimmick or trap or anything else on the following square, you’re immediately affected by it–so, an arrow pointing to an arrow pointing to a blank square means you follow both arrows and land on the empty square. This is a really versatile gimmick; you can use a lot of them and make checkerboard-like grids or branching paths, or just use one or two to make a normal maze a little more confusing. They’re also great when combined with other gimmicks, as you’ll see in a bit. The arrows are on the bottom row, here:


On the left side of the above picture is an example of the next gimmick: Jumps! The white circle makes you jump over one square (regardless of what is on that square) in the direction you enter the jump from. The black circle acts the same, except it jumps you over the next two squares. Like the arrow, if you land on something then you are affected by it immediately, so an arrow into a jump space into another jump space means you take both jumps in the direction that you came from, ie. the arrow’s direction. These are also really versatile: Make maze sections completely separated by walls and force the player to find a jump to get into the next section, surround the finish with jumps or walls and force the player to figure out how to jump into the finish directly, or for a lot of fun, combine arrows and jumps together to make incredibly confusing and strange wall-less mazes, like so:


I promise, that’s actually solveable. They’ll be neater when I figure out how to get them higher-res and put some more up here. I’ve actually got a 50-level “dungeon” of notecards from high school that presents new gimmicks every few levels with a tutorial level for each, ala some sort of puzzle video game… Yeahhh, I think I spent a lot of time on this in middle/high school, hahaha.

So I made these maze things on graph paper all the time in middle and high school–I think it was because I had a very methodical process that still produced something unique, a concept I liked a lot. Plus, good for getting through really boring classes while still looking somewhat at work! First, you’d start with some graph paper. These examples are done on graph paper note cards, partially because they’re easier to resolve on my crappy camera and partially because they’re awesome. First, block off the border squares, so that all the squares are, well square. (Optional, granted, but it looks nicer.)


Then I usually draw some random patterns to randomize the eventual setup of the maze (this’ll make more sense later). This is more when you plan out the overall layout–you can make mostly separate but barely connected sections of the maze that’ll have little mazes in them, or just do some random short lines and crosses here and there and make the entire thing continuous. You’ll wanna plan out where to put a start and finish here, too–I usual just mark them with an S and an F, uppercase.


Then, fill in the middle areas more or less randomly, as long as no or very few given squares have three or four of their sides used as a wall–only one or two. Using only one or two means that it’s almost impossible to block off the start and finish from each other unless you do it intentionally. Really, try it–you can go totally random at this point if you want and there’s a 99% chance that the maze will be solvable if you just only use one or two sides of each square. I should know. :D Finally, after you fill in every square with one or two lines, though I use a couple of threes here, you’ll end up with something that looks like this but is still an unique maze: (The F and S are oriented incorrectly and the F is hard to see–I really need a better camera. Or a damn scanner.)


Good times! These are fun, especially on big, full sheets of graph paper. In a later entry (probably tomorrow) I’ll go into why I kept making them–eventually I started adding one-way corridors, warp panels, jumping pads, locked doors and keys, full pages with punched-out squares that you could go into and come out on the other side of the sheet, and many more so on. Talk about creative outlets, haha.