Wrap-up: The Making Of A Page of Puzzling
This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.
Caution: This post may contain spoilers.
I've had the idea for a while to do a newspaper-esque page of puzzles that actually link together, but it always seemed like a fairly daunting task to make a large set of 'common' type puzzles that had to be solved in conjunction, so I put off the design until I had the idea of a sudoku with sets of numbers that could be deduced from other puzzles.
No newspaper puzzle page is complete without a sudoku, so once I had the idea of having some numbers that had to be taken from other puzzles, I decided to design the rest of the puzzles around the sudoku.
Most newspaper puzzle pages have cryptic crosswords, too - but before this puzzle, I had absolutely ZERO experience with writing cryptic clues, so I was a little hesitant to include anything cryptic. Eventually, I decided to make a very mini crossword, but knowing the cryptic abilities of PSE, I had to make the mini cryptic harder somehow - why not put the clues out of order? And maybe the order of those clues could be some numbers for the sudoku... hmm...
I then had the idea of a 9x9 maze that would somehow link with the sudoku, most likely to spell out the final message. But how to turn the digits 1-9 into letters without putting obvious encryptions anywhere on the page? An alphametic, of course. Once I decided to include a maze and an alphametic, both 'miscellaneous' puzzles, I decided to include a 'Brain Trainers' section that would need another puzzle or two to bulk up. At this point, I decided this was probably enough!
I started with writing the cryptic clues, given that I had the least experience with these. I started off by making the crossword, and then created clues to fit the words I had put into the 4x4 shape. I've apparently broken some sacred cryptic rules (indirect anagrams...), but I think my clues were easy enough that these sins seem to be mostly forgiven :)
I picked a random order for the clues, and decided they would go along a diagonal of the sudoku - the sudoku was probably the hardest section to design. I wanted to signpost somehow that the sudoku was NOT the place to start - so I made the given clues very, well, arbitrary. A cell with '123456789' and then hints that went '876' and '765687'. I decided I would need more outsourced for the sudoku, and thought that the easiest way to get numbers from another puzzle, is to have a puzzle where you need to deduce numbers!
The logic puzzle was me trying to condense finding very specific numbers into a small space. Mersenne, Perfect, and Fermat numbers are fairly rare, which meant that the puzzle would become expressible within a few lines. Being a little bit evil, like I am, I wanted to mess up the puzzles a little more by making the logic puzzle incomplete... so I left out 'FERMAT', thinking that I could clue to it in an anagram puzzle with the M upside down as a W!
At this point I realised I was kind of going all out with the messed up common puzzles. So, why not mess up the anagram puzzle as well? I knew FERWAT did have an actual solution of 'WAFTER', but I thought adding in some extra letters that should later be removed would be fun (why not?), so I extended it to 'WATERFALL'. What letters are extra? 'ALL'. That's kind of nice. So I need to hide 'REMOVE ALL' somewhere in the page. Hmm.
Having not decided what the final message would be, yet, I decided to put these letters, R E M O V A L, into the alphametic. Aghhhh! Now I need to make sure the alphametic clues at both 'REMOVE ALL', and makes some sense with the sudoku and the maze.
Since the sudoku finally defined, now that I added in the special numbers along another diagonal, I thought, 'It's going to be way too hard to hide a nice message in a sudoku that I kind of arbitrarily defined'. So the maze had to be done in a way such that I could specifically choose numbers from the sudoku at will - and the hypermaze idea came not too long after that. A quick thought about available letters led to the message 'WELL DONE'. Deciding this would make the maze route too short, I extended it to 'WELL DONE LOVE'!
At this point the rest of it was sorting out details. Making the maze and making the alphametic were fairly tedious jobs that just needed to be done, and adding in the page number, the puzzle was essentially complete.
Signposting is a term I use to describe 'unusual or unnecessary details that, once noticed, will put the solver on the right path'. Given that there were quite a lot of steps in this puzzle, I decided that I should put in a LOT of signposts.
Some signposts were just necessary for the puzzle to work - for example, the question marks in the sudoku+crossword, and the dashed line in the sudoku+logicpuzzle, as these were links that had to be very specific.
I put in the italics link because initially the clues involved the word 'ROMAN', which was a bit clunky, but Roman numerals I thought were a bit of an unfair leap in solving without any clues.
There are a lot of numbers and letters - so I needed to clearly show where and how the alphametic would be used. Bold is too obvious, and was already being used in the cryptic. So, underlining was the easy option.
I had to signpost the rotation of the W in the anagram, and I thought the easiest way to do this was to construct a situation where the letters could be rotated without much effort. Hence the 'plates' story, as well as the dreaded comic sans font :P
I thought the link between the anagram and the logic puzzle had to be fairly clearly done, otherwise it could be a bit of a dodgy step. So, I signposted it twice! Once with ellipses, and once with an anagram/mispelling.
Signposting is actually one of the more fun parts of puzzle design (for me) so it was a great way to finish off making the puzzle. I hope you all enjoyed this page of puzzling as much as I enjoyed making it!