Elearning Design: Puzzle Dependency Charts

Designing Digitally



Most people enjoy getting wrapped up in the world of a game. They like to immerse themselves in the story. This is what makes narrative-based learning games so successful. The door is opened to deeper learning when the brain is actively involved in the process.

Elearning development companies are in a position to capitalize on this new world of learning games. There are various processes that different companies take to develop their games. One of the ways that this can be done is through the use of a “puzzle dependency chart.”

Puzzle Dependency Chart

Described as, “a list of all the puzzles and steps for solving a puzzle in an adventure game, presented in the form of a graph,” a chart like this is helpful for determining the flow of the game. The chart shows the progression of the game, from the start through the finish. First used by game developer Ron Gilbert in 1987, this method helps to break down the narrative of the game into goals and solutions.


Guidelines for elearning development companies

For a chart such as this one to be most effective, it is necessary to adhere to a few basic recommendations.

  • Allow for multitasking. It is easiest for an elearning developer to think of a game in terms of beginning, middle, and end with no deviations from the objective. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. The game needs to allow players to work on multiple tasks at the same time. If they get hung up on one situation in the game, they must be options. 

  • Don’t start at the beginning. Though it sounds contradictory, it actually makes sense and will make the design process smoother. Determine the climax of the adventure in the game and work backward from there. Filling in the details from the highest point of action back to the beginning and then forward to the ending, will be easier than working from the start to the finish. 

  • Amp up the difficulty where it’s necessary. If a certain part of the game seems too simple, add some additional aspects that make it more of a challenge. The players won’t get bored with a game that is beneath their skill level and the added difficulty will enhance the knowledge gained from the game play.

Mix it up. If the narrative portion of the game hits a lull or starts to drag, switch to an active game play section. In the same way, if the action becomes too much in a given area, switch to the story. Elearning design companies know that keeping the players “on their toes” will result in users who are more engaged. It’s no secret that invested players are invested learners!


Effective narrative-based games

There are many design process options that will result in a game that successfully trains the user in the focus area. Puzzle dependency charts are a valid option for constructing a game narrative that draws the learner in and captivates them with an interesting story, all while imparting important concepts.

Designing Digitally, Inc. is well versed on incorporating puzzle dependency charts to develop gamification training for your organization to enhance productivity and improve profitability.