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Author Topic: Types of puzzles you love  (Read 2862 times)

Diegan

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Types of puzzles you love
« on: 13 May 2011, 07:42 »
Hi!

I am new to AGS, and pretty excited to start making my first game! I wish I had known ages ago there was a place like this, and a piece of free software like AGS! :)

Anyway, I love playing videogames and adventure graphics a lot, although in the later years, like most people, I haven't been playing them much, but now I have a renewed interest in them, both commercial classic ones (I haven't played many Sierra games, I played mostly Lucas Arts games) and of course, games created with AGS.

I'd love if you guys could share tpes of puzzles in graphic adventures that are classic, or you like, that come to your mind.

I mean, when I think about the game I want to create, I want to put some puzzles in it, but apart from the obvious Door that's closed and you need a code or a key and you gotta find it in another room hidden inside something that also needs to be open, I dunno which other types (when I say type I mean a common theme or mechanic r fun little quest within the game to keep player guessing and interested) I could add.

So please, feel free to comment a mechanic, type of puzzle or a particular puzzle that you have enjoyed, it will really help me a lot! :)

Cheers!

Babar

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #1 on: 13 May 2011, 08:29 »
Thinking up a type of puzzle, and then arbitrarily inserting it into your game won't really work successfully. Instead, once you come up with a basic game concept, along with the rest of the story, you should develop how your puzzles will work in that game.

For example, Day of the Tentacle (if you have played that) had time-travel based puzzles that worked really well, that fit in properly with the surrounding concept and plot.

Monkey Island also had puzzles that fit in with the concept of a fantasyish pirate world- you had your insult-swordfighting, the voodoo stuff, the alternate voodoo stuff, etc.

Personally, as far as I'm concerned, I intensely dislike "Puzzle" type of puzzles in adventure games I play, even when they fit the story- figuring out the correct sequence of levers to pull depending on a cryptic poem etched on the side of a barrel in the other room feels intensely silly to me. An example of this for me is Myst.

My advice is that first off, develop your story not just as a story "This happens, this happens this happens, and they all live happily ever after" (where then you'd arbitrarily have to insert puzzles at random places), but as a series of obstacles: "The player is faced with this main problem, and that is the crux of the game. To solve this main problem, the player must solve this minor problem. After the minor problem is solved, this happens, and a new minor problem arises", and so on.

And whatever happens, PLEASE don't insert puzzles into your game where they don't make sense, or they don't fit in the story, EVEN if you think it is a good puzzle. Depending on what sort of game you are making, some sort of puzzle "theme" could be forthcoming, like what Day of the Tentacle had with time travel puzzles, or you could have something like a weaker protagonist trying to infiltrate a base full of stronger enemies using those alternate-to-fighting Indiana Jones techniques from the games.

Here is a helpful link on designing puzzles
« Last Edit: 13 May 2011, 08:33 by Babar »
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Snarky

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #2 on: 13 May 2011, 09:18 »
Welcome!

Sure, like Babar says, puzzles should flow organically from blah blah blah, but I think it's still always helpful to have (a) some cool original puzzle ideas instead of just sticking with the most familiar and over-used types, and (b) a sense of what players like and don't like. Who's to say that you can't start with the puzzle and use that to get inspiration for a situation where it makes sense? I bet that for example in Day of the Tentacle, a number of puzzles came from brainstorming about ways in which passing items between characters and changing the past to affect the future could be used in interesting ways, before they worked out how those puzzles fit into the overall plot.

So, preferences...

Well, first of all, anything that's a bit unique or unusual, a puzzle that isn't just plain "use X on Y" or "choose response C." I'm thinking of stuff like in Monkey Island, with the melting cups of grog and having to follow the shopkeeper through the woods: they are clearly puzzles, but use a different type of gameplay (without turning into standalone minigames). If it breaks out of the point-and-click mold, that's a bonus (e.g. the mouse gesture-based spell systems seen in some games). Too many adventure games rely on the same monotonous repetition of the same monotonous actions and the same type of thinking throughout.

Second, puzzles where you have to build up an arsenal of capabilities. Again, take Monkey Island with the insult swordfighting. Part of the genius of that puzzle is that you have to go around collecting insults and responses before you can face the Sword Master. Or Loom, where you collect chords for your distaff to be used in various situations. Or Gabriel Knight (as I vaguely recall it, at least), where you find various encrypted messages that help you gradually decode the encryption scheme. (There's almost a bit of RPG leveling up mechanic to this structure, so it's good for conveying a character growing in experience.)

Third, repeating a puzzle with a difference. This is where you have to try to do the same thing you did earlier, but don't have access to the same items, or for some other reason need to improvise. An obvious example is the Largo/LeChuck voodoo doll puzzle in Monkey Island 2. Since this structure has maybe been overused, I think it's best to stay away from the "wacky items as substitutes for what the recipe specifies" and come up with another twist on the pattern. Maybe the player has to combine the solutions to two previous puzzles? Or solve a more difficult version of the puzzle? What if you have to do the opposite of what you had to do the first time around, or do the puzzle in reverse? In any case, this can be a nice way to tie the ending of the game back to the beginning, giving it a sense of closure.

Other nice things: Puzzles where you collaborate with NPCs; teamwork can be really satisfying (The Vacuum is a good example of this). Giving your character a distinctive way of relating to the world; it doesn't need to be a special power (e.g. Two of a Kind) or a dedicated verb (e.g. the "foot" verb in Gemini Rue), just a sense that the puzzles would only be solved in this particular way by this character. More of a storytelling point than a puzzle (though detective games often make it part of the investigation), but foreshadowing and having to integrate (possibly conflicting) information from different parts of the game is usually fun.
« Last Edit: 13 May 2011, 18:47 by Snarky »

Mr Flibble

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #3 on: 13 May 2011, 10:07 »
I can tell you what I DON'T like is rehashes of things I've seen before, and games where your inventory items look awwwwfully familiar. I think a good example of this (and I loved the game otherwise) is the pipe-centric puzzles in Gemini Rue. You have to do a lot of stuff with pipes. Then later on... oh, another pipe. So in terms of advice for the future, puzzles that are fresh within the game itself.

That said, I love puzzles which recall a previous puzzle in an interesting way, like the Year 4 packing foam stuff in Grim Fandango, or building the makeshift voodoo doll at the end of Monkey Island II.
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Wonkyth

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #4 on: 13 May 2011, 14:57 »
Thinking up a type of puzzle, and then arbitrarily inserting it into your game won't really work successfully.

Not really adding anything to the discussion here, but I believe the OROW you and me were making, Babs, worked like that.
Although I was making most of the puzzles, so maybe you dind't notice.  :P
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Babar

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #5 on: 13 May 2011, 18:37 »
Hahahahhaha...well, see what happened to it! :P
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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #6 on: 13 May 2011, 22:41 »
What I really like are multi-character puzzles as well as playing tricks with time.

The best examples of the former are probably Maniac Mansion and Gobliins 2; of the latter, text adventures Sorcerer and Spellbreaker have some really ingenious time travel puzzles; this has been a design influence on Warthogs in particular.

Ali

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #7 on: 13 May 2011, 23:15 »
One of my favourites is when overcoming obstacle A creates obstacle B later in the game. That kind of setup really binds the puzzles into the narrative, especially where characters are involved.

I'm afraid I can't think of any good examples though...

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #8 on: 14 May 2011, 02:34 »
One of my favourites is when overcoming obstacle A creates obstacle B later in the game. That kind of setup really binds the puzzles into the narrative, especially where characters are involved.

I'm afraid I can't think of any good examples though...

I wish I could think of a puzzle like that!
*

Ascovel

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #9 on: 14 May 2011, 03:10 »
One of my favourites is when overcoming obstacle A creates obstacle B later in the game. That kind of setup really binds the puzzles into the narrative, especially where characters are involved.

I'm afraid I can't think of any good examples though...

Guybrush stealing Wally's monocle to give to Dread leading to him having to find some kind of replacement for the monocle in a later chapter.

Guybrush beating Largo LaGrande in Part I leading to him losing his trophy LeChuck's ghaostly beard and LaGrande reviving LeChuck with it.

Also, everything that Simon did in Simon the Sorcerer 2 leading to SPOILER SPOILER the evil wizard Sordid being fully brought back to life by his henchman and stealing Simon's body too. Leading to Simon the Sorcerer 3D (YIKES!).

Que Tran

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #10 on: 14 May 2011, 04:55 »
Hi!

I am new to AGS, and pretty excited to start making my first game! I wish I had known ages ago there was a place like this, and a piece of free software like AGS! :)

Anyway, I love playing videogames and adventure graphics a lot, although in the later years, like most people, I haven't been playing them much, but now I have a renewed interest in them, both commercial classic ones (I haven't played many Sierra games, I played mostly Lucas Arts games) and of course, games created with AGS.

I'd love if you guys could share tpes of puzzles in graphic adventures that are classic, or you like, that come to your mind.

I mean, when I think about the game I want to create, I want to put some puzzles in it, but apart from the obvious Door that's closed and you need a code or a key and you gotta find it in another room hidden inside something that also needs to be open, I dunno which other types (when I say type I mean a common theme or mechanicare fun little quest within the game to keep player guessing and interested) I could add.

So please, feel free to comment a mechanic, type of puzzle or a particular puzzle that you have enjoyed, it will really help me a lot! :)

Cheers!

I like "distract the guard" type of puzzles, like dropping laxatives/antidiruetics into their food/drink and making them go to the toilet so you can rifle through stuff or enter rooms. They never get old.

Diegan

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #11 on: 14 May 2011, 09:07 »
Thank you guys, and keep 'em coming, I guess lots of people can benefit of you just reminescing about great puzzles you have played.

I agree that puzzles do not have to be random and arbitrary, they must flow with the story.

Snarky

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #12 on: 14 May 2011, 09:46 »
More of a storytelling issue than about the puzzle design, but Ali and Saren's points reminded me: I generally don't like when an NPC is just there to provide an obstacle or offer a quest, and then plays no further part in the story. That usually feels contrived to me. Mostly I think it's better to let the game acknowledge that actions have consequences and to emphasize the relationships your character is building with the other NPCs (and that they're building with each other).

Instead of having a character whose role is just "I will give you a sandwich if you give me a new pair of headphones. - OK, here's your sandwich, now we're done," integrate that character into the rest of the game. Maybe she helps you again later? Maybe that guard you tricked early in the game becomes your biggest enemy? Adventure game puzzles always risk becoming arbitrary obstacles, and one of the best ways to avoid that is to build human drama and relationships around them.

Monkey Island, again, provides an excellent example of this. (I think you could teach a full course on adventure game design using The Secret of Monkey Island to illustrate pretty much every point. The design of that game is goddamn genius.) You meet up with Otis and Carla during the Three Trials, but instead of that being the end of your interaction with them, they're used again for the "recruit a crew" puzzle, then hang around during the second act, and appear again to get you back to Melee Island at the end of the game (if you didn't sink the ship). So you get a fun little character- and relationship arc instead of just some excuse for a puzzle. (In fact, very few characters in Monkey Island are complete one-offs.)

This reminds me that I'm a sucker for games where you make friends with some group of people that initially doesn't like you. The best example of this, obviously, is Quest for Glory 4.

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #13 on: 14 May 2011, 10:33 »
and appear again to get you back to Melee Island at the end of the game (if you didn't sink the ship).

Cool, I didn't know that - I sunk the ship every time I played the game. And Escape of Monkey Island went with the sunk ship version of events too.

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #14 on: 15 May 2011, 09:40 »
Interesting topic!

I personally really, really like puzzles with good, nicely disguised hints to them. Preferably these hints should have been delivered a long time ago, but still not long enough to be forgotten. When they're at the back of your head when you need them is when you, as a player, feel the reward mechanism go flashing jackpot crazy. That's good game design.  ;D

I DON'T like any puzzle ever that makes me have to resort to "use everything on everything" brute force puzzle solving. If it has come to that, the puzzle is by definition poorly designed and is likely not tested properly on enough players by whoever produced the game. Obviously this is difficult to avoid and happens in all adventure games at some times. The trick is to keep these moments at an all low.

Ali

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #15 on: 15 May 2011, 10:14 »
I thought of another favourite: Riven-style puzzles, in which gaining cultural knowledge (learning the numerical system or the way the community functions) is what enables you to overcome obstacles.

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #16 on: 16 May 2011, 01:38 »
Great stuff guy's,

IMO I enjoy switching between character's to solve a puzzle that will help either character progress further, open's up a ton of possibilities. The whispered world was very cool when you switch to the little green blob to go to places a human could not, ( I forgot the little guy's name ). Also using inventory item's multiple times is fun because you never know where or when you will use it again.

Just an Idea that's been done already but not in this way I don't think ?, but is nice for opening up the thing's you can do would be ...let's say...you have a detachable hand that you can detach and use to walk around with, on it's finger's like evil dead the movie. Just like the whispered world, you can use this hand to go to places a human could not reach or fit through. ( far out there, Yes, but just an idea of doing puzzles with something other than your character all the time ).

 

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #17 on: 16 May 2011, 09:39 »
Just an Idea that's been done already but not in this way I don't think ?, but is nice for opening up the thing's you can do would be ...let's say...you have a detachable hand that you can detach and use to walk around with, on it's finger's like evil dead the movie. Just like the whispered world, you can use this hand to go to places a human could not reach or fit through. ( far out there, Yes, but just an idea of doing puzzles with something other than your character all the time ).

That's a terrible idea! (I haven't followed the thread that closely, but I think they ended up not using it.)

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #18 on: 16 May 2011, 12:51 »
LOL....I swear i never read that...sounds like some cool ideas. When it comes to puzzles I love being able to do thing's from a different perspective, to go places one would normally not be able to go. I didn't read the whole thread but see you were thinking along them lines. I like the idea, good stuff.
« Last Edit: 16 May 2011, 13:02 by NickyNyce »

TomatoesInTheHead

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Re: Types of puzzles you love
« Reply #19 on: 16 May 2011, 13:12 »
Just an Idea that's been done already but not in this way I don't think ?, but is nice for opening up the thing's you can do would be ...let's say...you have a detachable hand that you can detach and use to walk around with, on it's finger's like evil dead the movie. Just like the whispered world, you can use this hand to go to places a human could not reach or fit through. ( far out there, Yes, but just an idea of doing puzzles with something other than your character all the time ).

That's a terrible idea! (I haven't followed the thread that closely, but I think they ended up not using it.)

For the sake of completeness, this guy is also working on such a game mechanic. :)