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- Dotty's photo gallery. Free daily jigsaw and eCards. Members can play jigsaws with over 3000 pictures.

Ideal Puzzle Traits

Use this page to help you determine what characteristics you want in a virtual jigsaw puzzle. A virtual jigsaw is one played on your computer. The list is designed for both players and creators of jigsaws. I hope it will help you choose a jigsaw to play or help you design even better jigsaws. The list applies to both puzzles played online (on the internet) and offline (not connected to the internet).

Players: Please realize that no jigsaw puzzle will have all these characteristics. See my Jigsaw Reviews and Jigsaw Comparison Chart to help you select a specific jigsaw puzzle.

  1. High quality pictures - The quality of the pictures is so important.

  2. Playing space - The puzzle shoud be large enough to see easily and should fit completely on the visible screen with room to comfortably rearrange the pieces. (Most players have at least an 800x600 screen.) Another place to sort pieces, such as drawers or an alternate playing space, are great assets for larger puzzles.

  3. Number of pieces - Be able to control the number of pieces.

  4. Background - Be able to change the background color and perhaps texture to be able to see the pieces better.

  5. Rotation - Be able to turn rotation on or off. Rotation makes puzzles more difficult.

  6. Piece shape and arrangement - The shape of the pieces and their arrangement in the finished puzzle is not always the same, unless it's a mosaic style puzzle. (See my definition of jigsaw styles at Jigsaw Reviews: Introduction.)

  7. Recognition when puzzle is complete - There should be a visible or audio recognition that the puzzle has been completed correctly. The puzzle picture should continue to be displayed when the puzzle is competed.

  8. Identify the picture - List the title or description of the picture and it's source.

  9. Selection - A gallery of thumbnail pictures is the best way to select pictures for the puzzle. If the selection is large, it should be organized by subject. Search capability is a great asset.

  10. Use own pictures - The ability to use your own picture is an asset, but not mandatory.

  11. Help - Directions should be easily accessible, clear and concise.

  12. Method - The methods used to operate the puzzle should be simple and intuitive, but directions should always be provided.

  13. Display the picture - Ideally, there is a control for turning the picture display on and off and the picture can be enlarged or made smaller.

  14. Load quickly - The faster the puzzle loads, the better. For longer loading times, there should be an indicator showing load progress.

  15. No flashing - Flashing graphics or text is distracting (especially flashing ads).

  16. Work on your computer - Some puzzles are targeted for specific computers (PC or MAC) or specific browsers (IE, Netscape). Developers: this means offering your product for a variety of computers and, for online jigsaws, making the puzzle compatible with different versions of both IE and Netscape browsers.

  17. Display only edge pieces - In a classic style jigsaw, it's an advantage to be able to display only the edge pieces.

  18. Move groups of pieces - Being able to move groups of pieces is an advantage in classic style jigsaws. It's best if only unjoined pieces are moved.

  19. Pieces float to the top - To avoid losing pieces, it's best if, in a classic syle puzzle, unjoined pieces are displayed above joined pieces and, in a frame style puzzle, stray pieces are displayed above pieces in their correct position.

  20. Click for joining - It's nice to have an audible click when pieces are joined (for classic style puzzles) or placed in the correct position (for frame and mosaic style puzzles). More complex sounds can be amusing at first, but then can be irritating.


Not for Everyone

Some players will like the following traits and others will not. It's a matter of personal choice. Usually players love them or hate them, so game creators may want to make them optional.

  1. Competitive - Display time of how long it takes to do the puzzle or count of how many moves to complete it. Also display times or count of other players.

  2. Music - Music can be relaxing but can slow puzzle reaction speed. Allow the player to turn the music on/off, to select music from a list and to control the volume.

  3. Animated pieces - A few puzzles have an animated picture. The image on the piece changes. This makes matching pieces more difficult.

  4. Pieces turned over - In real life, when a puzzle is dumped out of the box, some pieces are turned over. This can be simulated in a virtual jigsaw. A few puzzles are 2-sided (a picture on both sides of the piece), which makes them even harder.

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