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Players and Mechanics - Qualified Perceptions
Players and Mechanics
The Dragon run last Saturday had an interesting failure mode. The party was journeying through the World Below (the land of demons), which usually means they have to interact with various set pieces and puzzles. The first puzzle they encountered - a visual thing putting together an overlapping pointillized set of circles, to determine what the picture(s) were of - I badly misjudged the difficulty. They got the first picture in about 40 minutes, which was fine, but the second picture proved to be much harder, both to put together and to recognize. After about an hour and a half, mjperson, as the demon, started trying to sell them other exits, but nobody wanted to make a deal. Because of the nature of the puzzle, I think there was very slow incremental progress being made, so people didn't want to give up, plus there was the issue of sunk costs that they didn't want to waste. In the end it took them close to three hours, with several people getting sore necks from trying to look at things sideways.

The other thing that I tend to overlook is that we actually have different visual processing abilities. I read that different people have different mixes of rods and cones in their retina, so they either have good dark vision or good color vision, but not both. I have terrible night sight, and I think it is easy to see the picture. Mike has very very good night sight, and thinks the pictures are impossible.

9 comments or Leave a comment
chengesu From: chengesu Date: December 23rd, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
That squirrel does seem really hard, particularly looking at the version with the circular edges. It has very few identifying features whih make it obviously a squirrel, and they're mostly at the edges, which I think are harder to get by the nature of the puzzle. I find I really need to identify the squirrel from the overall shape, which requires getting most of the puzzle first, from a sea of green and brown. The bird has some colored patches which stick out easily enough to get first, and which give a decent idea as to what the picture is.
mathhobbit From: mathhobbit Date: December 23rd, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
The squirrel seems much easier to see with a black border, as well. (And with more than the top half of the puzzle complete.)

As another data point, I had good night sight for a long time and was able to see the toucan. (Though I don't remember its chest being so bright.)

I really enjoyed being able to contribute substantially to successful completion of that puzzle.
merastra From: merastra Date: December 23rd, 2013 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, that's a neat mechanic but I can see that second one being MUCH harder to put together if it's a bunch of overlapping circles. I did see the squirrel right away here, but that's probably because I get to see a small icon of the whole thing at what's probably the ideal contrast.

Where did you get the overlapping circles puzzle pieces idea from? That's pretty cool.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: December 23rd, 2013 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always wanted to turn Photoshop filters into puzzles, but it's hard to come up with good ways of doing so. This is the thing I've come up with that seems most puzzle-ish?
From: csbermack Date: December 23rd, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I easily see the squirrel. It's less clear in the big picture, and I can imagine myself not seeing it after being focused on the detail of assembling the circles, and maybe having the circles put together wrong for a while contaminating my brain. And of course I had seen the small picture first where I was like, yes, that is obviously a squirrel.

But it is definitely harder than the first, and is much, much more difficult close up. Did someone figure it out by jumping on the table and walking around it? I bet five, six feet of perspective would have made a lot of difference, for people who can see it at all.</p>

Your initial point about different color vision, though, that is totally true, although I don't know if it correlates with night vision. Browns are near reds, and red/green sensitivity is a common one for people (especially men) to be weak on. Also probably you have had a discussion with someone about whether something teal or turquoise is actually blue or green. There's a site I found a while back that tests your color acuity, by having you put shades in order. I hit almost 100%, I flipped a pair in the magenta zone that I had dithered about for a long time. It was very hard, because I don't have shade memory, but I did pair wise comparison to sort sets of colors, with endpoints that didn't make sense to me. But not everyone can do it.


From: tirinian Date: December 23rd, 2013 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I'm terrible at that mechanic. I can see the squirrel in the put-together one, but I wouldn't ever have seen how to put the circles together to make it, I expect.
dcltdw From: dcltdw Date: December 23rd, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Urr, that's a squirrel on the right, right? :)

I don't know what "good color vision" is. I know that I don't have good night sight.
fxz From: fxz Date: December 23rd, 2013 10:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perception is a tricky issue. This came up for me a lot lately because the UX/UI guy on several of the projects I worked on was moderately colorblind, which caused him to veto webpage designs on the grounds that he couldn't tell what was in them. ;-)

kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: December 24th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)
From the icon-size images, the toucan is pretty obvious, and the squirrel is identifiable. The toucan is still identifiable in the bigger picture; the squirrel I'm not sure if I'd've gotten from the bigger image, but if I'd known I was trying to identify some sort of animal I might have.

Must try the aforementioned color-sorting test ...
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