In the last post I brought up a few reasons why puzzles should not be dismissed. In this I will bring up another one: making the player feel as an active force. I refer to this concept as having a causal history. My hope is that it provides a new way to view and evaluate puzzles.
I recently came a across this article from AdventureGamers about puzzles, and it got me thinking. The article covers the different ways in which puzzles have been swapped for other activities over the years, something that I am very interested in. There is so much great about adventure games that just seem to be held back by their puzzles. It always seem that they break the flow of the experience. I find that many adventure games are more engaging to play when you have a walkthrough close at hand. Of course, consulting a guide has it own share of problems, and is far from an optimal way to play. Some other solution must exist.
Once upon a time there was a wooden stick, a stick so firm, a stick so stuck it could not be seen upon without the touch of many small, busy hands.
A sort unspoken rule in game design is that players should be able to lose. Just about every game has some kind of fundamental mechanic that is possible to fail. Whenever this happens, the player needs to try again and repeat the process until successful. This is thought to add drama, tension and also make the player’s actions count. It seems to be believed that without it games would not be games and instead some kind of boring linear entertainment. I think this position is wrong, extremely hurtful and if not fixed, will become the downfall of the medium. In this post I will explain why.
In many of the posts here I have been discussing how having “unfun” gameplay can greatly enhance the experience. I have also ranted about how too much “fun” can completely destroy the intended experience. What I want to discuss now is how a game’s most common ingredients might be detracting from certain kinds of experiences and are in some cases best gotten rid of. These ingredients are Gameplay and Narrative. It is my view that these two features can seriously get in the way when trying to take the interactive medium in new directions.
Because of a past as sort-of-toys important features of games are: How “fun” they are, replay value and how long they last. Reviews often take this into account and in turn this makes developers focus a lot on making a game “fun”, “replayable” and “long lasting”. I think this kind of thinking (which I am at times guilty of myself…) can seriously hurt a game. I think designers shall focus entirely on what kind of experience they want to deliver and make that come across as effectively as possible!
Interactions in adventure games has gone from written input (aka “text adventures”) to todays mouse controlled (and often single-button-driven) games. There still exist text adventures though, although now called “Interactive Fiction”, and here the complexity of interaction has increased instead of becoming simpler. It seems like the way of interacting has on one end gotten more and more complex over the years, while on the other end it has gotten more and more simplified. What I want to explore in this post is if this great polarization has made us miss out on other ways to interact in adventure games and in what other ways interaction might be possible.
Now it is time for the final part in these series on puzzles in horror games! This post will be about some puzzles in Penumbra that I personally find especially interesting. Because of this, the post will be filled with puzzle spoilers so if you are planning on playing any Penumbra game and have not yet done so, do so before reading!
In most adventure games, the player takes the form of some type of Sherlock Holmes character and here one runs in to a problem: How does the player become Mr Holmes? How can she be given Sherlock’s wit and problem solving abilities, just like she is given Kratos’ strength? That’s what the rest of this blog entry will be about.
Figuring out a good puzzle is often a hard and tricky process. Sometimes a puzzles presents itself from story and environment naturally, but more often it is put in just to add some gameplay and/or slow the player down.