slider puzzle

What if

What if they made like Nancy Drew Camps where each summer there was a week based on a different game and instead of playing it on the computer, the campers were split into teams and the puzzles were like in real-life - like for Secrets Can Kill, the slider puzzle was like life-size and the teams worked together to solve it and they had real people play the suspects?

OKAY BUT CURSE OF BLACKMOOR MANOR here’s why

  • you’re in London
  • real English accents
  • we’re going out of order but the game has a hidden slide
  • alchemy is literally the coolest learning aspect of any game
  • there’s so many fun references to other games like SHA and FIN
  • BRIGITTE WITH HER EYES SO BRIGHT
  • there are actual fucking moving rooms that actually fucking move
  • have you seen how beautiful the manor is
  • like have you
  • and the soundtrack is so breathtakingly pleasant to listen to and the best the series has ever done
  • the Penvellyns’ history and ancestry and treasure could be made into a movie it’s so good 
  • and the concept of each new generation, or “initiate,” having to add another step to preserve the treasure is literal gold
  • that reminds me, there’s alchemy
  • and getting the elements to start the forge is so fun don’t fight me on this
  • “you’re gonna need a bigger boat”
  • one of the coolest slider puzzles in series history
  • cockney rhyming slang aka UNCLE FRED AND JOHNNY RUTTER
  • Jane is literally the cutest child in the games
  • Nancy has a nightmare about frogs

the end

February 2016: Project update; week 4

I’m rather glad that I don’t work for a large corporation, when it comes to making props. I find this statement in self amusement given my long term future ambitions, but the ability to make a schedule, than break it, lends a satisfying sense of control over my life. Especially when I choose to break that schedule by gaming ridiculously long hours into the night. If you have been following (and reading) my blog, you might be onto to what I’m about to say next.

In short, I made progress. Not as much as I could have had I not spent as many hours as I did playing Ark: Survival Evolved (think “The Long Dark”, but with dinosaurs), but progress nevertheless. (It’s the new “thing” for me; Skyrim is taking a break atm.) In fact, as soon as I get done with this post, I’m heading right back to playing Ark. I’ve got a dinosaur I’m actively taming.


I know a lot of folks look at the things I do and are impressed. It seems difficult, and yet is executed. It looks impossibly challenging, but to me it isn’t because, and especially in the case of this project and it’s heavy woodworking element, I’ve been doing these things (if not specifically related to Runescape) for about half of my life so far. But when it came to adding the final art work onto the slider puzzle, I came to a road block. Lemme esplain.

First, after trial and error, I cut out and stitched together the black dragon image, as pulled from the Runescape wikia (credits to this source are found in this month’s project’s introductory post). Then, with additional trial and error, I printed and reprinted the full color design to 1:1 scale. I knew I was going to scribe the silhouette and other prominent line-work from the print out directly onto the wood (an instance where using soft pine worked to my advantage, though it wasn’t planned), so I covered the print-out, front and back, with good ol’ contact paper.

^ The contact paper gave the print-out a solidity that allowed me to press firmly with a scribe, thereby transferring the image onto the wood, without damaging the paper.

Like most folks, I print on standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. Because of this, I had to print the image out on several sheets; 4 to be precise.With a bit of tinkering, Microsoft Paint serves this multipage print out quite well.

^ After a fair amount of time and effort that will no doubt lead to a brutal case of carpel tunnel syndrome later on in life, I then followed the shallow grooves left by the scribe with a pencil. This was done to make the marks stand out prominently and make the painting step more accurate, and considerably easier.


It was at this point that my procrastination finally came to a head, and I realized why I was reluctant to proceed. As I looked down at the outlined-in-pencil image, it occurred to me: I don’t know how to paint.

You’d think a major issue like this would have come to my attention far sooner than now. Apparently not. Hence my procrastination. To quote a fella I follow on Youtube by the name of Chandler Dickinson: “It’s hard to make a commitment when you don’t know what you are doing.” But giving up isn’t an option. Or, more accurately, it is an option, but one I’ve decided I won’t choose. So I set to painting. Thankfully I wasn’t completely helpless. I may not have practical experience painting, but I’ve been watching Josiah Brooks, of the Youtube channel Draw with Jazza, carry about all things technical and shiny when it comes to drawing and colouring… erm, I mean “shading”. From hand drawn traditional sketches, to Photoshop tutorials and even a fair amount of animating, this dude’s done a heck of a lot for the drawing community. If you have any interest in drawing, go check him out. He’s a great source.

Any way, I’ve been watching him for over a year now, and apparently absorbing a lot more of his shared tips, tricks and techniques than I was aware. Things like rim lighting, and shadowing, color layment priority, and direction of the light source, to name a few. So as I began painting, these things were on my mind. And despite what I predicted to be a direct copy-over, color for color, line for line, of the 16-bit style of the original black dragon slider puzzle art, it seems I’m intent on producing smoother version of a slightly more realistic element. It isn’t done yet, but I gotta say, I surprised myself with what I have produced so far.

*The following image is a false appearance. I used a standard brown acrylic paint, and yet somehow it shows up as a redish hue in this shot. Just pretend it’s brown. There’s a good lad.

^ I should have primed the faces of the wooden tiles before applying any final paint. It would have helped ensure even paint absorption into the wood, as well as served to hide some of the grain. As it is, though, I must rely on a thicker coat of paint, which really only hurts me, and not the project, as I must use more resource to achieve the same quality as if I had primed the wood instead.

(Though, in hindsight, I’m not sure if I should have gone with a  dark colored primer, or a light. White primer tends to make darker colors light, and the opposite true of dark color primers. Each would have had merit in this piece, so it could go either way. It matters none now, but if you feel like you have valid input here, feel free to share your thoughts. I don’t consider this a a “screw up” per se, but Id’ rather avoid such a copious use of paint in the future.)

NOTE: This is a partially completed pic. As you can clearly see, the brown in the lower 2/3 of the image is splotchy and inconsistent, and the lines between the rock walls and the lava are uneven. Given that I did not prime the wood, a wash coat of the color I intend to use was laid down first. Here, consistency wasn’t mandatory. The upper 1/3 of the image appears more refined as I spent a great deal more time on it than any where else. And this is to say nothing of the fact that I haven’t even begun painting in the blacks, greys and darker  greys of the dragon itself.


That’s where I sit, with only a few days left to the month. Assuming I focus on it wholly, (like I haven’t done this last week) it is quite reasonable that I’ll be finished with this project by the end of the month. Painting should only take 2-3 hours to complete, but I could be completely wrong. And any final sanding and tweaking of the tile interactions between themselves should take no more than an hour or so (emphasis on the “or so” bit). Final assembly of the fourth wall of the puzzle waits mostly on glue drying. So in the end, it is quite realistic, as far as total work hours are concerned, that it will be down by the end of the…

*just realizes that this is February, a.k.a: that screwy month that doesn’t have 30 or 31 days in it. Thankfully, it is a leap year, so I get an extra day! Yea… meh. -_-*

Imma go play more video games to deal with this crushing realization of a much closer deadline that I anticipated.

February 2016: Project Update; week 3

Funny how significant progress can be made when one actually takes the time to sit down and put some effort into it.

Contrary to last week’s post, I have made good progress this week. Admittedly, because of my procrastination earlier this month I have had to amend my goals of making several puzzles to making only one. But at least I’ll have made one, and have experience for repeating the endeavor, should I ever choose to do so.

You should note on a significant improvement in image quality. I received a Pentax K-50 camera for this Christmas last, and have been recently taking photos with it, including photos of my WIP, as well as the Virtus book completion pics. With a good camera, and a manual focus, I have been trying my hand at certain artistic shots, such as depth of field, which is a favorite of mine. Be advised, however, that i am a complete newb at using a manual focus camera. As such, some pics may suck. These are WIP photos, so I don’t much care, but I do try for proper focus nonetheless. It is good practice for the final photo shoot.

Last you heard from me I was using 1/4″ plywood, and trying to build some sort of jig to keep everything in alignment.  I guess a few [s]days[/s] weeks break did me good, because in consideration of the project in that time, I decided to abandon that idea and go with something I was more comfortable with; that being my router. I laugh inwardly at this sentence as most folks don’t own a router, nevermind find themselves more comfortable around it over cutting out 1/4″ plywood and gluing them together. Nevertheless, I have uncounted hours spent on the router (and even a minor injury sustained from it to boot), so when the plywood idea, as copied from my original guide from Instructables failed, I turned to my trusty router. This killed two birds with one stone: it gave me my tiles and allowed them to all be perfectly square to each other. (A picture below shows this better.) Rather than stack plywood together, I took a 1″x6″ board and ripped it into 2 1/4″ squares on the table saw. Given the inherent square nature when using the router table and table saw in conjunction with a fence (not the kind you sell stolen goods to) it took about 30 minutes (a conservative, recollective estimate) to cut out all 24 tiles needed, plus 3 extra, and cut the tongue and groove slots into them, each perfectly square. Not only was this faster than the plywood and glue method, where significant time would be spent waiting for glue to dry, but it was more consistent and repeatably accurate.

Each tile face measures 2″ squared. The extra 1/4″ mentioned accommodates for the 1/4″ tongue on two sides of the tile. The 1/4″ receiving groove undercuts the tile face on the other two sides.

The rails followed the same tongue-and-groove concept, but required a bit more effort. The short answer to this was that it took several passes on the router to get the stair-step like cuts needed to accept the bottom board and the tiles, during which my fingers were perilously close to a partially dulled router bit spinning at unsafe speeds. Thank Guthix for the invention of the push stick. Pics detailing this can be found below.

^ Behold all the things! An error on my part lead to the square board in the background being cut smaller in size, but effectively, these are all the parts for the slider puzzle, pre-sanding and other prep work aside. Finished puzzle size will be just over 12″ squared.

^ Rough Assembly. I apologize if your case of OCD demands that the grain of each tile all be aligned in the same direction. I know mine did.

^ Rough assembly indeed. A fair amount of chip out occurred when using the Router. Thankfully, on tiles where corners were chipped the other side is still good. It’s only a matter of flipping them over rather than cutting new ones, or applying wood putty.

^ Despite appearances, this gap is intentional. I needed the tiles to have a bit of slop between themselves in order to allow for smooth operation. I didn’t want to mar he face of the tiles, thereby damaging the puzzle art, by cutting a divet for one’s finger to grip and slide the tiles by. Having a puzzle with no slop between the tiles would mean I’d have to have said divet. An eighth inch gap, and meticulous sanding and test fitting each tile in relation to the rails and every other tile, to ensure smooth and completely unimpeded sliding action, allows me to leave the face of the puzzle free of any modification.

^ An end-grain view of the rails that contain all the tiles. There are two rails with a tongue (the bottom rail) and two with a groove (the top one) that accept the tongue and grooves of the tiles. These were a bit tricky to cut on the router table, owing to my fingers being in close proximity to the router bit.

^ Despite cutting every tile on the router table and table saw, without moving the fence between cuts, some minor variation of approximately a 1/16″ was nonetheless present (and unavoidable). This 1/16″ variation leads to tiles snagging on corners of other tiles when sliding past each other, and being slightly too snug in the tongue or groove of neighboring rails and tiles. Additionally, not every tile sat perfectly in line with the tongue and groove of its neighbor or the rails, either being slightly higher or lower. To accommodate this imperfection, the grooves were initially cut about 1/32″ too big and the tongues an equal amount too small. The tongues were then sanded, and their corners slightly rounded, all in the attempt to better facilitate a smooth sliding action. Nothing short of meticulous repeated testing of the sliding action between the tiles and rails, with sanding to be done when snug parts are found, is to be had to ensure a perfect action all the way around.

The shoulders of the tiles were left unrounded, as can be seen in the picture above. This was done to give the puzzle an unbroken, and seamless look when assembled. It won’t be perfectly seamless, mind you; a gap between 1/32″ and a 1/16″ will preside between most tiles. In short though, the shoulders didn’t need to be rounded as they neither impeded or improved the sliding action of the puzzle, and so were left square-edged.


Next week sees me painting the art on the tiles, additional tweaking of the sliding action of the puzzle, and final assembly. I’ll be using acrylic paints, as I’ve found them to be an excellent choice when applied to wood. I also wish to clarify that the image I posted on Week 1′s update, showing the Bandos slider puzzle, was for demonstration purposes only; for those unfamiliar with a slider puzzle. I will instead be painting on the King Black dragon slide puzzle art, which I feel is more representative of Runescape, as well as being the first slider puzzle I received when playing Runescape. I have intentions of posting a video or two demonstrating the puzzle in action, as well as better explaining the anatomy of the puzzle. Whether or not this comes to fruition is to be seen, but, as I said, I do intend to.