Puzzle and/or Choices?

Julius Olofsson 9 years ago updated 9 years ago 7

Hi all.

How much do use puzzles in what you're writing?

Or do you focus more on the story part?

Also it would be fun to hear how much you implement choices (either choices that matter or just different dialogue options).

I haven't really used any puzzles yet, but I do work a lot with choices that branch together in the end, but provide unique information on the way. So two options may end up in the same place, but the player will learn different stuff in each option. This makes each play-through a bit more unique (I hope!)

I haven't implemented any puzzles. I'd be curious to know how you would go about that with the tool. Do you have an example?

I tried it a couple times in my first episode, and I'm not quite sure how well it reads. The puzzles end up "solving themselves" (the wrong answer usually leads to a long pause as punishment, then pipes back to the correct answer.)


I think one way to implement puzzles could be something similar to the NDS game Hotel Dusk where you were a private investigator who had to interrogate people and ask the right questions. The wrong questions made people unwilling to answer truthfully.

But you could also get asked questions and you have to answer and if you answer wrong something bad happens, you have to start over etc.

I believe there are plenty of ways one can make use of puzzles, but I wonder if one should focus more on the story part of Sequel.

For the most part I've avoided puzzles. For the rare places where there might traditionally be puzzles, I've added choices where both paths gain the same thing, but with some drawback that makes it feel like victory was just barely achieved.

I do have one actual puzzle so far in my game (a memory puzzle: were we supposed to do X, or do Y?), but it's tied to a test that players might want to fail on purpose anyway. Even with this "puzzle" though, I actually use a mechanic where the game asks you to confirm your choice with a hint towards the correct answer ("Are you sure it was X? I could have sworn it was Y...")

Why do you avoid puzzles Lynnea? I'm just asking, cause I'm not using them that much either.

Not using puzzles because ultimately given the limited interface, the puzzle would have to either be too easy or almost unfairly hard. A single-choice puzzle isn't really fair: one wrong choice and you fail? A multiple-choice puzzle might be the most player-satisfying format (LRL, or LLR are solutions, but the rest fail) but that's too much work to write and code for one small aspect.

On top of all of this, any puzzle always has the danger of being a read-the-author's-mind puzzle, which is even more unfair to player.

The biggest reason though not to use puzzles, is what to do with the player when they fail? The failure can't be too punishing: if you end then game then and there, most players will tap out, not willing to put in the extra time to replay everything just to try a second time. You can make the failure state take extra time or something like that, but ultimately it will still just pipe back into the plot, usually with a sort of deus ex situation or character getting you back on track. At this point, why even have a puzzle when failing has no bigger consequences?

It's possible to get all that right: an intuitive but challenging puzzle that feels fair with an appropriate punishment of a delay that makes in-universe sense, but that's a tall order. And, even if all those difficult and disparate boxes were ticked off, would the puzzle have made the scene more enjoyable to the player? Probably not.

So it's better, easier, simpler not to use puzzles, and instead focus on the "how" and "why" instead of the "what" with regards to the action.

I agree Lynnea...thanks for your thoughts.