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How important are puzzles?

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How important are puzzles?

Postby Lumin » Mon Mar 13, 2017 4:53 pm

I know puzzleless IF has been a thing for awhile, but I'm not talking about anything artsy here. I still can't help but view good puzzles as like, the foundation of a quality text adventure, but as both a writer and a reader, I've always been just bad at them. They have this tendency to be unwelcome stumbling blocks that either have to be set up or gotten around before I can proceed to the meat of a game. Atmosphere, interactivity and story is what it's all about for me. The problem is I worry it might just be me.

With IF on the brain again I've been trying to think of something simple and fun I could do to re-familiarize myself with the developer, and I realize after all this time I STILL just want to make Walk Around My Incredibly Detailed Fantasy World and Look At Things and Talk to People: The Game. :roll:

If the gameplay itself was say, just a matter of finding collections of objects via talking to NPCs and paying attention while exploring, or selling goods to make X amount of cash, would that be enough to hold anyone's interest? (Kind of laid back experience of the Shire meeting Animal Crossing, is the best way I can explain it...)

Or does anyone have any examples they can think of that remove the usual puzzle focus and still leave a satisfying or at least moderately entertaining game behind?

Another possibility I've considered would be a sort of CYOA-IF hybrid with locations to explore interspersed with choice-based segments to move the actual plot along.
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby Po. Prune » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:40 am

I think this topic has been popping up from time to time. not that that makes it less relevant, though.
Isn't puzzles what IF is all about? I, for one, can't imagine a game where you just walk around and "Look at things and talk to people" I'm not saying that it's not interesting. I too enjoy exploring a well detailed adventure but I'm afraid I would end up finding it boring if there wasn't a challenge here and there in the shape of a puzzle.

I would probably play a game where the gameplay was "just" a matter of finding collections of objects but there would have to be an element of challenge. Like, you have to get this special artifact but the only way you can get it is by buying and selling goods.
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby Lazzah » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:39 pm

I agree with Finn. It sounds to me as if "puzzleless" IF is written by people who have simply run out of ideas for puzzles!
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby David Whyld » Tue Mar 14, 2017 2:41 pm

When I was younger, I had a lot of patience for puzzles. I didn't care that they were unfairly hard or poorly clued and I'd sit there typing out one command after another until something finally worked, or until I got fed up of the game and quit in disgust (though 90% of the time, I'd still keep coming back to the game in future and trying it again at some point). But these days, I tend to find I have a lot less patience with them. There are quite a few times when I come across a puzzle and if I can't solve it within a couple of minutes, I get bored and start Googling a solution.

I think a lot of the problem stems from the games I played in my youth being commercial and the ones I play now being free. When something has cost you money, you're far more likely to keep going at it, no matter how frustrating or annoying it can be, whereas if it's free cheating and Googling the answer every time you're stuck costs you nothing. If you cheat with a game you've paid for, it's just a waste of your own money.

So nowadays I tend to find myself gravitating more towards puzzle-less games. I've never been good at puzzles anyway and I don't have the patience for them, so games without puzzles seems like a pretty cool thing to me.
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby Lumin » Tue Mar 14, 2017 5:37 pm

There are IF games that are purely puzzlefests and when in a certain mood I do enjoy those (assuming I have a walkthrough handy as well). But once you add in enough plot the puzzles are no longer the main point. They're there to act as gates keeping sections of the story apart and otherwise control the pacing. The problem is that just as often they can completely derail the flow of the game. As a player, if I'm really getting into a game, I want to see what happens next, not spend hours beating my head against a brick wall until I decide I don't really care that much after all.

I was outlining what was a pretty simple story and I keep running into the issue of why did I need to keep sticking in puzzles. 'Because it's traditional' is the best answer I could come up with. Not because they're fun or because they do the plot or pacing any favors, they're just the obligatory busywork to keep the player from running through the plot too fast.

IDK, I'm going to keep working at this until I get the feel I want. But I'm basically starting from scratch with ADRIFT again, it's been so long I've forgotten what little I understood about the more advanced stuff to begin with. :?

e: To put the newest version of ADRIFT on my main computer I had to look up a way to enable Net 2.0 since it didn't want anything to do with the newer version Windows 10 uses. That'd be an obstacle for newbies. :/
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby David Whyld » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:25 pm

Lumin wrote:I was outlining what was a pretty simple story and I keep running into the issue of why did I need to keep sticking in puzzles. 'Because it's traditional' is the best answer I could come up with. Not because they're fun or because they do the plot or pacing any favors, they're just the obligatory busywork to keep the player from running through the plot too fast.


I guess the obvious problem with this, though, is that if you don't have puzzles to slow people down, what's to stop them tearing through the plot too fast? I'm not fond of puzzles myself, but they serve their purpose.
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby Lumin » Sat Mar 18, 2017 11:50 pm

I'm not saying there won't be interaction with objects at all, but I definitely don't have it in me anymore to make the player jump through hoops like 'OK you want to draw water from the well, but lol there's no bucket so take the rusty crowbar to the graveyard and break into the catacombs then pacify the ghostly soldier and take his helmet because that's literally the only object in the world that can hold water'. If I go fully plot based rather than doing the collect-a-thon thing I brought up before then the focus would be on WHY you need the water, if that makes any sense.

If people aren't engaged with the plot and want to burn through it without reading or paying attention much I can't do anything about that (except wonder why they didn't just quit when they lost interest...) but if they're willing to get involved at least on the level of exploring the map and talking to NPCs and triggering events then they must be enjoying the writing itself and really, I'd be happy with that. It can be difficult enough getting people to sit down and read a 2000 word short story that requires nothing from them, I'm not going to complain at all at how fast they play through a game, as long as they're playing.

I feel like I'm doing a bad job explaining this so maybe I should just write a game and see how it goes over. :P
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Re: How important are puzzles?

Postby Po. Prune » Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:06 pm

Go ahead, Lumin. I would love to see what you come up with...
What kind of non-puzzles are you considering, something in the lines of "Rendevouz with Rama" ?
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