The Art behind the logic

Thursday, October 31, 2002 Amit Shrira

As the one standing behind Conceptis' production wheels, reading numerous reviews from enthusiastic puzzle solvers has always been a rewarding experience for me. Nevertheless, I always felt that something was missing. Something added to portray the whole picture and to complete the puzzle if you will.

And then one evening it struck me! That missing "something" was the closest thing to me - my own personal experience - the story behind the puzzles, the art behind the logic.

Managing Conceptis' puzzle production is as interesting, challenging and rewarding as solving the puzzles themselves. It requires both artistic talent as well as good management skills. My intention in this short article is to present some of the challenges a Conceptis puzzle maker is faced with, and the special skills he or she should posses in order to overcome them.

Fulfill the dream

Coming from an artistic background, the thought of working in the high tech world surrounded by computers, software and algorithms was the last thought which came in to my mind. This is why I was quite surprised when I was first offered the opportunity to manage Conceptis' puzzle production, with the dual challenge of achieving high artistic levels together with interesting logic content.

While doing so I felt how the two unique and seemingly different worlds of art and logic integrate. I could vision fulfilling the dream of producing picture-forming logic puzzles and spreading them all around the world.

The task of creating visually intriguing pictures was not at all easy to accomplish as one would think. We had to work our imagination over and over again figuring out how to compress our art into the demanding world of small pixels. But those demands posed on us only strengthened our will, our imagination and our talent to rule this new world. Scenes, characters, expressions, gestures and stories previously brought to life in large scale now had to be miniaturized into tiny, almost invisible, black dots on the computer screen. We found that life can be created and depicted with equal credibility even in this resolution-limited space.

Three pixels became a bee flying around its hive, four pixels showed a human head in the cheering crowd at a boxing arena and five pixels turned into a bird soaring through a blue puzzle sky. Suddenly low-resolution images created using our puzzle algorithms brought a new art into life!

Another cat

As puzzle production continued and with production quantities growing by the month, the task of keeping our readers both challenged and satisfied was getting harder. New ideas, concepts and content had to be introduced to maintain the high artistic expectations and the increasing intellectual challenges. How many times can one create a "Cat and Dog" puzzle? Even more disturbing was the question we frequently asked ourselves from the opposite side: How many times can one solve a puzzle just to find out at the end its yet another dog or another cat looking at him?

At one point, I remember, I felt certain we'll soon run out of ideas. Yet we didn't give up. We experimented using many methods, including different art techniques, content themes, image sources and object densities to see how we can deliver fresh, interesting and exciting puzzles. Many new ideas also came from our ten-strong puzzle artist team, who are being continuously trained by us in this area.

Some results of these experiments are volumes on special themes such as The Wild West (Volume 00081), Famous Singers (Volume 00079), James Bond (Volume 00098), Famous Painters (Volume 00054) and many others.

Mass of new ideas

To my delight, the pessimistic predictions of running out of ideas proved itself wrong. I was amazed to see how resourceful the human mind can be. Truly, it is a never-ending resource! Sometimes from reviewing a single puzzle we get ideas enough to make 20 more! Even now I find myself surprised over and over again by the mass of new ideas I face with each day that passes.

After producing more than 4000 puzzles of all kinds, I feel we did the best we could and handled this mission honorably. Not only did we maintain a high artistic level, but, hopefully, we also managed to continuously improve upon the artistic and logic levels of our puzzles.

New artists brought with them new styles and new ideas. Our experiments and reader feedback provided us with valuable information. More content was delivered inside smaller puzzles. The puzzle-making expertise went higher as our artists gained more control over their craft. And so, our puzzles became better from all points of view.

The puzzle is now complete

Reflecting at our puzzle production department as it is today, I'm looking with pride, as I know this team of talents is able to perform any task, be it as complicated, demanding or stressing as it may be, on the best side. As for myself, it brings me much joy knowing that people all around the world are enjoying our work. And it is this feedback that I need - that we all need - to continue creating and improving our puzzles.

And now that my world was presented I truly feel that both sides of the story were told, both voices were heard, and the puzzle is now complete.

About the author

Amit Shrira is Conceptis Operations Manager