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I recently posted a cryptic puzzle here:

Can you extract the value from this interlinked cryptic puzzle?

This is my second time posting puzzles on the site so I welcome feedback on what was good or bad about the puzzle. I'll also post my own thoughts here as an answer but I'm interested in what everyone else thinks.

What could I have done to improve this puzzle?

What strategies could I use to improve similar puzzles I write in the future?

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NO SPOILER ALERT!

For me - >

Sequence of the clues

The sequence of the clues was misleading. For example, the first clue was 3+4+5=6 which didn't help in anyway. Second 6 1 4a 7 4d 9, 3 2 5 8. which helped identifying that it was 4 across and 4 down but no clue about the rest of the part.

The Small Hint

The small hint said "The image is the best place to start, and it's not trying to trick you." and that made the sequence struggle even more.

What Helped?

"Slightly larger hint:" helped people figure it out.

I may not be a good puzzle maker but it was just a personal opinion.

Once it was solved, the puzzle looked promising.

All the best! :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I've noticed 2 or 3 times that I've tried to be too cryptic in my hints and it's actually ended up sending people in the wrong direction. That first clue was meant to say that it really is a crossword, solved like any other crossword but failed to do so. I'll keep the problem of hints in mind in future :) Thanks for the feedback! $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 30 '16 at 15:59
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First of all I would like to say that it's always quite hard from the maker's perspective to predict how difficult a puzzle will turn out to be. I've noticed that myself a couple of times already. Hints and clues you believe to be quite obvious get overlooked or misinterpreted.

For your puzzle I think you've correctly identified these tricky points (at least in my view). I at first noticed the weird use of capitals in, what turned out to be, the clues to the crossword, but I didn't know what to do with it. Numbering them would certainly have helped a great deal, but like you already said, it would have defeated the idea of mixing everything up. It would also have taken away a big part of the challenge, so perhaps finding a compromise, e.g. filling out a few letters in the crossword, or giving a cryptic hint as to where to find the crossword clues and what to do with them, or letting al clues start with a bold capital letter (instead of just a capital), to make sure that everyone gets it was done on purpose.

For the second part, I believe your own suggestion of "If cross+roads=danger then what is the value of truth" could be very helpful. It might indeed have been confusing at first, but that's part of the challenge I think.

All in all, I really enjoyed your puzzle and part of the fun for me was also that rewarding feeling when everything falls into place ;)

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the idea of bolding the capitals, just to make it clear it's not by accident. Good suggestion :) $\endgroup$ – Tim B Nov 30 '16 at 16:07
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For the most part the puzzle worked as planned, however there were two areas that were sticking points and the nature of the puzzle meant everything was stalled until they were solved.

The first was the crossword.

My expectation was that people would see something that looked like a crossword, and then look for something that looked like crossword clues. Obviously this didn't happen, so I think I either needed to make the clues more obvious (number them?), put an explicit instruction somewhere else in the puzzle, or perhaps pre-fill in 3-down in the original clue since that would link the crossword to the clues more clearly. Just putting the clues under the crossword might have helped but would have defeated the idea of mixing everything up.

The other blocking point was the nearly final step:

Once you had "where is the truth" and "3+4+5=6" people realized they were connected but the leap to go to "where+is+the=truth" and then solve that was too much to expect people to make. Again I think another hint was needed here built into the puzzle. For example if the question said "If cross+roads=danger then what is the value of truth"? Although I worry that that would be more confusing than helpful.

The main thing I've learnt so far is that there needs to be more direction built into the puzzle for each of the less obvious steps. People shouldn't have to make large deductive leaps (particularly in a multi-step puzzle like this).

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