Your theme suggestions

Puzzled Pint is always looking for authors — both seasoned veterans and people who want to get their first taste at puzzle design. Because we do one set of puzzles per month, our waitlist is about a year out, but that’s a good thing for all. It means we have to time to work with draft puzzles, provide direct feedback, bounce the puzzles off of playtesters in the US and abroad, and route that feedback to the author as suggested revisions.

Some authors like to come up with a theme first, then see what sorts of puzzle mechanisms that theme inspires. Others like to come up with mechanisms first and then wrap them in story and theme. Both ways are equally valid. For what it’s worth, bonus puzzles are often — but not always — in the latter camp.

This month we asked a Question of the Month to our Puzzled Pint attendees. We asked you to suggest themes for upcoming months. Our hope was that this could provide a source of inspiration to future authors. We would like to share the results here. There were 374 total suggestions from 23 cities. The top suggestions (with 3 or more votes) are:

  • Star Wars (14)
  • Harry Potter (13)
  • Disney (10)
  • board games (9)
  • geography (6)
  • video games (6)
  • Pokemon (6)
  • Alice in Wonderland (5)
  • Game of Thrones (4)
  • Doctor Who (4)
  • Star Trek (4)
  • Dr. Seuss (4)
  • Lord of the Rings (3)
  • superheroes (3)
  • space (3)
  • Carmen Sandiego (3)
  • pirates (3)
  • alcohol (3)
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (3)
  • Olympics (3)
  • food (3)
  • X-Files (3)
  • pizza (3)
  • Breaking Bad (3)
  • James Bond (3)
  • Shakespeare (3)

We happened to do Disney Star Wars back in 2012 when the Lucas/Disney sale was first announced, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t do Disney, Star Wars, or another Disney Star Wars. We also did board games back in May of 2011, Doctor Who a little more recently in September, and James Bond in 2013. But these are all good themes, and as long as the puzzles are unique, fun, and challenging, we’re open to revisiting past motifs.

The remaining suggestions are as follows (highlights added strictly for humor value I’ve highlighted a few unique entries to better stand out):

30 Rock, 7 Wonders, 80s, 80s action movies, 90s, a salute to gingers, AA Milne, Adventure Time, ALF, anagrams, Ancient Rome, Angry Birds, astrology, Austin, automobiles, Back to the Future, backpacking, bad Scifi movies, Barbie, Beatles songs, beer, Best of the MIT Mystery Hunt, birdwatching, Blade Runner, Bones, boy bands, branches of the Armed Forces, Britney Spears, Broadway shows, butts, Calvin and Hobbes, cats, cheese (A Brie Encounter, Cheddar Off Dead, etc.), childhood, childhood games, chocolate, circus, classic cinema, classic literature, Clue, Clue (the game), Coca-Cola, college football conferences, colors, comic books, Comics, composers of classical music, conspiracy theories, crosswords, cryptology, cuisines, cultures around the world, David Bowie + The Muppets = Labyrinth, David Bowie/labyrinth, DC, dessert, dinosaurs, Disney Princesses, dogs, donuts, Downton Abbey, Edgar Allan Poe, Egypt, emoji, escape rooms, Ex Machina, exploring, fairy tale, fairy tales, famous cathedrals, famous Chicagoans/landmarks/history, famous crossroads, Fargo, Firefly, Firefly/fireflies/“Firefly”, fish, flowers, Follow that Bird, football (soccer), Futurama, G. I. Joe, Ghostbusters, Gilmore Girls, grade school, Gravity’s Rainbow, hair metal, hair metal bands, Hamilton, He-Man, Hello Kitty/Sanrio, history, holidays, Hollywood/directing a film, hot cheese, House MD, HP Lovecraft, Hunger Games, Jeopardy, Jim Henson, John Hughes movies, Keep Austin Weird, Labyrinth (the film), Lady Gaga outfits, Larry Bird vs. Dr. J, Law & Order SVU, League of Legends, Lego, libraries, Limburger, literature, logic puzzles, Looney Toons, Mad Magazine, magic, March Madness, Mardi Gras, Marvel, Mass Effect, math, mazes, MegaMan, Mel Brooks, Michael J. Fox, Miyazaki (Totoro), moar robots, Monty Python, movies, Muppets, museums, music, music, sheet music, musicals, mythical creatures, Nickelodeon, Nintendo, Orphan Black, outer space, Parks & Rec, Party Down!, pinball, Pixar, Portal, Portlandia, Post Apocalyptia, presidents, pro wrestling, psychology, Pulp Fiction, pumpkin everything, QI, raccoons, Rambo, Red Dwarf, Rocky Horror, Roman, Roman numerals, RPGs, running, running a newspaper, science, scifi, scifi movies, Scooby Doo, seas on Earth, seas on the moon, secret agent, Seinfeld, Sesame Street, sharks, Sharktopus, Sherlock Holmes, Simpsons, Smurfs, solar system, songs by a famous band, space/planets/astronomy, spies, spies/spying, sports, Steven King, Story Lords (on YouTube, created in 1984, children’s reading educational program produced in Wisconsin), stupid laws (e.g. emergency Sasquatch ordinance), summer camp, Super Mario, Terry Pratchett works, the (fictional) Martians, The Big Bang Theory, The Birdman of Alcatraz, the elements, The Hateful Eight, the impressionists, The Legend of Zelda, The Martian, The Matrix, the movies of Gene Kelly, The Office, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, the presidents, The Smashing Pumpkins, the victorian era, The World Series, time travel, Tom Cruise, Tour de France, transportation, trash pandas, travel/flights, traveling, TV game shows, TV shows with initialisms, Twin Peaks, twitter, US presidents, varieties of tomatoes, Walking Dead, War of 1812, We care more about good content. Anything can make a good theme if handled well., weather systems, Weird Al, Whedonverse, who-dunnits (Like Jan 2016), wilderness survival, Winnie the Pooh, women scientists or musicians, World of Warcraft, xkcd, Yo-yos, “don’t be such butts”, “less poetry, more math”, and “one that does not require scissors

A few of the suggestions are funny in context (such as the one team that suggested Angry Birds, birdwatching, Follow that Bird, The Birdman of Alcatraz, and Larry Bird vs. Dr. J, or the team that suggested The Martian as well as sci-fi martians in general). A few of the suggestions might not resonate in all countries globally, such as US presidents. Several suggestions all orbited around David Bowie, Labyrinth, the Muppets, and Jim Henson. It was tough to normalize them down to one specific word or phrase, but any of those ideas could be fun.

If you’re interested in writing a whole month or simply contributing a bonus puzzle or two, please contact us and we’ll point you to the author guidelines. And if you’d like to perform your own analysis, you can download the raw data.

This post was written by:

Brian Enigma

Brian likes to build with bits and atoms when he's not reverse-engineering. Read about his latest cool projects at netninja.com.

This post was written by:

Brian Enigma

Brian likes to build with bits and atoms when he's not reverse-engineering. Read about his latest cool projects at netninja.com.

One thought on “Your theme suggestions

  1. The Pittsburgh GCs (so me and Matt) came up with a few themes ourselves! But we forgot to record them anywhere. Some of them were repeats of others’ suggestions above (our favorite being Calvin & Hobbes), but here are the ones we came up with that we don’t see on the blog post:

    Welcome to Night Vale (podcast)
    Digimon (TV show and probably other stuff)
    Myst (old 90s puzzle PC game)
    The Witness (more recent puzzle PC game)
    Toy Story (although we see Pixar)
    Neko Atsume (mobile game about cat collecting)

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