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-   -   I hate puzzles. (https://adventuregamers.com/archive/forums/adventure/24619-i-hate-puzzles.html)

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 12:27 PM

I hate puzzles.
 
I have been playing video games for a long time, since that snowy, wonderful Christmas in Wisconsin when I unwrapped an Atari 2600 and played Space Invaders until 4 a.m.

I am an ardent fan of games, and in particular, as I've gotten older on their ability to tell, and draw people into, narratives. My favorite games have always been the ones which try to tell a unique, and engaging story - even if, especially in the days of the classics, we had to fill in a lot of that story ourselves.

From the room descriptions in The Temple of Apshai to the moral decisions in Ultima IV, to the mundance police procedures of Police Quest 1 to the deep mysteries of Infocom's Suspect, i have always been enthralled with the computer as a story-telling medium. It's why I count myself as a fan of the adventure genre, a genre specifically dedicated to telling stories.

I think when a game does succeed at this task, even if the overall goal is simply entertainment, that games can achieve the level of "art." I believe Riven is the best computer game in any genre, and one of a few games I classify as art, and recommend to every/anyone whether they view gaming as an essential part of life, or a hobby for adolescents.

That being said - the one thing I find absurd about Adventure games is the reliance on puzzles, and the continuing need to include them so as to identify what "genre" they belong in. I am being half-facetious in the title, there have often been times where the puzzle, often well-integrated, resulted in a very gratifying moment where I solved part of the story.

The thing is, i am more fascinated by developers creating unique worlds to explore - if the puzzles are integrated into that framework and make sense (a la Riven and Myst 3), then I'm fine with it - but using puzzles as a manufactured tool just to prolong game time, get us to get invested in the game (I have to find out what happens, i spent so much time on this!), or to simply put in an exercise to keep it a "game"...well, i hate that.

I do like TLJ, and more of that game is right than wrong, but in the end, it remains the most egregious game in this instance. I am not ever going to forgive it for the nonsensical way I retrieve a key from a railway power line.

I just hate how puzzles MUST be in an adventure game. I don't find them necessary but often distracting, and quite frankly often the first thing to break my suspension of disbelief. The world, and the story, must be the most important thing - immersion is key as well, but don't think you must create half-assed logic puzzles as a lazy measure to artificially create immersion.

/longwindedrantthathasbeeninmyheadforabout5yearsnow .

Puzzler 05-07-2009 02:13 PM

Mostly likely the reason Adventure games feature so many puzzles is because there is a demand for them in the game, so that makes you an odd man out. Personally, I like a happy medium between the two, both puzzles and story, otherwise I would just stick to reading novels and watching movies.

loobylou26 05-07-2009 02:14 PM

hmmm maybe you should be playing interactive movies then as i cant think of anything worse than an adventure game with no puzzles!!!lol

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 02:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puzzler (Post 507281)
Mostly likely the reason Adventure games feature so many puzzles is because there is a demand for them in the game, so that makes you an odd man out. Personally, I like a happy medium between the two, both puzzles and story, otherwise I would just stick to reading novels and watching movies.

I agree that it's often a way to increase involvement in the storyline, my gripe is that it's often a lazy way that comes at the expense of the story or the suspension of disbelief. TLJ is a great example of this (to be honest, so is the lame humor but that's another story.)

As to odd man out, I disagree. I know some people like puzzles, and in some cases I do, too - but I think it's horrible to fit ways to tell stories into cute little genres. Because this is an adventure, it needs puzzles! That's absurd, are the puzzles integral into the game design? Then, yes, they should be included - but so often, it's the adventure game equivalent of adding faceless monsters in a FPS to add (word I can't remember) violence just to sate that.

We should ask more of our games.

Which brings me to your final point - I'd just read novels or watch movies. Without completely writing 10,000,000 words, is it JUST THE PUZZLES that makes the medium of video/computer games different than those? No, it's the immersion, the ability to think non-linearly, and the ability to offer players choices they don't have in a novel or movie.

Novels or movies are suited best to particular storytelling - and they often use shortcuts, just like stupid puzzles in an adventure game, to involve you emotionally or intellectually. Tear jerkers, trite romance films use shortcuts to your emotions, instead of developing an involving storyline or believable, relatable plot points, they use candy ("If blood and lust are the candy...") to cheaply manufacture emotional involvement.

It's the same with adventure games. I love adventure games because they often challenge the status quo of gaming by offering unusual landscapes, pushing the boundaries of story and characterization

You mentioned odd man out. You might be right, but I'd rather have the medium push itself and risk making great works of art, which the medium CAN BE, than exist only as a commercial medium. I'm really not interested that.

there's a time and place to be entertained, but considering the length and often intellectual involvement required for games, I'd like some of my video game experience to be truly worthwhile, like a great novel or movie.

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loobylou26 (Post 507282)
hmmm maybe you should be playing interactive movies then as i cant think of anything worse than an adventure game with no puzzles!!!lol

You've lost me with this post, to be honest.

Do you play RPGs? Would you call Morrowind, Fallout 3, Baldur's Gate "interactive movies?" They don't feature "puzzles." Unfortunately, just like adventure games, they get pigeonholed in the RPG area of gaming and end up with their own genre-based limitations (combat must be real-time, we need attributes, equipment conditions, because that's what people expect (but not necessarily want) in an RPG) ergo we're making an adventure game, it has to have puzzles, regardless of whether they make sense, advance the plot, or even integrate into the storyline).
.

I have to ask what is an interactive movie? Can you name one? Because if there was a format where you could actually determine actions,events, or motivations of main characters that affect the story, I would think that would be awesome. I'm much, much more interested in that than I am exotic locations built around a series of manufactured logic games.

You can't think of anything worse than an adventure game with no puzzles? Have you ever played 7th Guest? Bad games exist, with out without puzzles.

loobylou26 05-07-2009 02:34 PM

no they r role playing games where you play a role similar to action games where there is action or adventure with adventure. i think you get my point by now puzzles are kind of the point to these games or should i go around saying i like action games but without the action????

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 02:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loobylou26 (Post 507286)
no they r role playing games where you play a role similar to action games where there is action or adventure with adventure. i think you get my point by now puzzles are kind of the point to these games or should i go around saying i like action games but without the action????

You've missed two points.

1. Puzzles are not necessarily required to make something not be an "interactive movie," of which I still don't what that is. That many successful, and fun, games exist without puzzles.

2. Games shouldn't be pigeonholed in narrative/character/theme-limiting genres. You're saying that these are RPGs, which again is just a way to partition games into particular genres. Games shouldn't be RPGs, adventure games, FPS, sports simulations, just so we can identify them ("Oh, I like real-time strategy tower defense games, so I'll like this) - there should be a class of games, which could use elements to fit the STORY/CHARACTERS/THESIS not the other way around (ie, we have to make the story fit the puzzle.)



My title is slightly tongue in cheek, I don't hate all puzzles, what I really hate is when puzzles are not congruent with the story of the game and/or are simply a tool to cheaply manufacture engagement and involvement in the story. Unfortunately, I find most games end up doing the latter, as a resignation to the commercial side of the medium (ie, people won't buy this unless there's a puzzle.)

Some games, Riven and Myst 3, succeed in making it make sense. Some (TLJ) do not. I would just love for puzzles to not be the most important thing in making a game - I want the effort to be on the story/characters/thesis, all expressed in the extremely singular medium that is a computer game, a singular medium in that it offers the player/user an ability to affect the world of the game (and for me, the more i can affect it, the better!)

I'm getting verbose today.

I also think it's funny (speaking of verbose) that Infocom labeled their games, "Interactive Fiction." I love that, despite those early technical limitations, that's what they were trying to do. Of course, there games are filled with puzzles...but for the most part, I think they make sense.

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 02:51 PM

Although my title was probably a bit provoking, I was hoping we could chat about games where puzzles were unnecessary and did detract and/or games where they were seamlessly integrated into the narrative.

I've already mentioned a couple that don't work for me:

TLJ
Broken Sword 1

...and a few that do:

Riven
Myst 3
Loom
Police Quest

loobylou26 05-07-2009 03:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gonzosports (Post 507290)
You've missed two points.

1. Puzzles are not necessarily required to make something not be an "interactive movie," of which I still don't what that is. That many successful, and fun, games exist without puzzles.

not in my eyes, whilst i may enjoy a games storyline, graphics, sound effect or atmosphere i am sitting down to play a GAME, whether the puzzle in question requires button bashing or snipering or solving an inventory based enigma i am completing a puzzle in one way or another. if i wanted to just watch the storyline or listen to the sounds etc i would buy a movie. i just dont get the point of a game without puzzles

Quote:

2. Games shouldn't be pigeonholed in narrative/character/theme-limiting genres. You're saying that these are RPGs, which again is just a way to partition games into particular genres. Games shouldn't be RPGs, adventure games, FPS, sports simulations, just so we can identify them ("Oh, I like real-time strategy tower defense games, so I'll like this) - there should be a class of games, which could use elements to fit the STORY/CHARACTERS/THESIS not the other way around (ie, we have to make the story fit the puzzle.)

of course we all prefer the puzzle to fit into the story but you are again missing the point that i am there for the puzzle not the story, the story is a bonus.
the pigeon holing issue is daft as games need to be put into certain categories for marketing purposes and i for one am glad that i can click to amazon and then straight to adventure to look at the type of games that will interest me. and also i dont want to play a mix of all different games just to benefit a story

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 03:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by loobylou26 (Post 507292)

not in my eyes, whilst i may enjoy a games storyline, graphics, sound effect or atmosphere i am sitting down to play a GAME, whether the puzzle in question requires button bashing or snipering or solving an inventory based enigma i am completing a puzzle in one way or another. if i wanted to just watch the storyline or listen to the sounds etc i would buy a movie. i just dont get the point of a game without puzzles

Then why play an adventure game, or why play a computer game at all? Sudoku, crossword puzzles, 3D maps are much cheaper. Or if it has to be on computer, why not play Shanghai? Or a pixel hunting game?

Are you seriously suggesting that the adventure game genre is not based around a story as its focal point? Even the bad games (urp, except for 7th Guest) are based around a story.

Quote:

Originally Posted by loobylou26 (Post 507292)
of course we all prefer the puzzle to fit into the story but you are again missing the point that i am there for the puzzle not the story, the story is a bonus.
the pigeon holing issue is daft as games need to be put into certain categories for marketing purposes and i for one am glad that i can click to amazon and then straight to adventure to look at the type of games that will interest me. and also i dont want to play a mix of all different games just to benefit a story

At this point, I begin to wonder if you're just disagreeing to disagree.

I understand now that all you are looking for is entertainment. As I have an extremely limited budget and time for games (I usually only play 6-10 TOTAL games in a year, with half being adventure, the other usually being games I hear about that interest me), I make sure those games are ones that will intrigue me, and that I find fascinating because they either push the medium, tell a great story with an overlying interesting theme, create comprehensively a new and interesting world, or involve me in some new way.

Of course, I'm just like everyone else. I picked up Little Big Planet as a nice diversion - but then ended up telling everyone about it, because i think the art direction, as in many games these days - is bordering on the brilliant. Often, the visual delights of games is bypassing the narrative talents of the writers. I'm playing Fallout 3 right now, and again, I'm amazed, completely amazed by the level of visual design.

I do think, without sounding entirely condescending, you should try to challenge yourself outside of your genre pigeonhole. It reminded me, and perhaps not fairly, of people who travel across the country and only eat at crap fast food places because it's safe.

Puzzler 05-07-2009 03:44 PM

Quote:

Which brings me to your final point - I'd just read novels or watch movies. Without completely writing 10,000,000 words, is it JUST THE PUZZLES that makes the medium of video/computer games different than those? No, it's the immersion, the ability to think non-linearly, and the ability to offer players choices they don't have in a novel or movie.
I get pretty immersed in the novels I read, but maybe you mean something different, I'm not sure. While novels and movies have limitations videogames don't, I think a big difference is that videogames offer challenge. Anyone (with good reading skills) can read a novel or watch a movie, piece of cake. However, if you have to write an essay that can be challenging. Okay, so it's more than challenge, I can agree. Perhaps there should be more appreciation and use for video games as an art form, and not merely as a means for gameplay and challenge.

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 04:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Puzzler (Post 507297)
I get pretty immersed in the novels I read, but maybe you mean something different, I'm not sure. While novels and movies have limitations videogames don't, I think a big difference is that videogames offer challenge. Anyone (with good reading skills) can read a novel or watch a movie, piece of cake. However, if you have to write an essay that can be challenging. Okay, so it's more than challenge, I can agree. Perhaps there should be more appreciation and use for video games as an art form, and not merely as a means for gameplay and challenge.

We're on the same page. My degree is in filmmaking, so I'm very well aware, and fascinated by the different modalities* each art form has at its disposal. I'm particularly intrigued by video games because they offer a level of immerson and choice that other forms don't - video games are interactive**.

Many games I think - including some of the early KQ games - were playing with the notion of being art. It wasn't until Riven opened my eyes to the possibilities, the thematic possibilities, of what video gaming could do.

And...for the most part, it's been adventure games that have pushed the envelope. My original contention was that too often game developers are using logic/inventory/yawn puzzles as a way to manufacture interactivity and immersion at the cost of the story or world they're presenting - because it's what people expect.

So...anyway, we've reached some consensus here. I've written waaaay too much in this thread, mostly because it's something I'm incredibly interested in and passionate about.

I would like to move the discussion onto when puzzles are good, when they're bad, and also, how ultimately necessary they were to a specific game.

darthmaul 05-07-2009 04:35 PM

I play adventure games solely for the puzzles. if I want stories I read books or watch sci fi.

As for TLJ. The puzzle made sense to me. Besides, 1 bad puzzle in an entire game isn't so bad.

"Then why play an adventure game, or why play a computer game at all? Sudoku, crossword puzzles, 3D maps are much cheaper."

Look on ebay. You could pick up tons of great adventure games for less than 5 bucks each. I just got moment of silence and nikopol for 5 bucks each after shipping this past week.

Crosswords don't challenge you to look outside the box like adventure game puzzles imo.

noknowncure 05-07-2009 06:07 PM

I agree with a lot of what Gonzosports says. While I admit that I enjoy a ridiculous, contrived Adventure Game puzzle as much as the next fan, I wish the genre would explore different possibilities.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gonzosports (Post 507294)
you should try to challenge yourself outside of your genre pigeonhole.

I think this is a really excellent point. Some Adventure Game fans seem to have a very specific view of other game genres and by avoiding them, they're missing out on opportunities to appreciate other avenues of storytelling.

I've played many games that contain elements that I wish could influence AGs.

Ever since playing games like Majora's Mask and the Hitman series, I've wanted AGs to take advantage of their mechanics. A world where the characters go about their business regardless of whether you're there to watch. Their routines becoming an integral part of the gameplay.

Games like - as you mention - Fallout 3, where your exploration and gradual understanding of the vast environment itself is the key to uncovering the stories within. Hell, the parts of the game in towns and villages tend to feel like mini Adventure Games in themselves - Little to no combat. Conversations with diverse characters. Quests.

The karma system from RPGs would be a great addition to AGs. Different ways to complete quests, depending on what type of character you choose to play. Your choices influencing how different people treat you.

My favourite AG puzzles are the kind that don't feel like puzzles at all. I've always thought that the notepad in Discworld Noir - also seen in The Shivah and Blackwell series - is an intuitive and entirely logical way of implementing gameplay that feels natural. I'm not entirely sure why it's not been used more often.

tsa 05-07-2009 07:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gonzosports (Post 507277)
The one thing I find absurd about Adventure games is the reliance on puzzles, and the continuing need to include them so as to identify what "genre" they belong in. ... Using puzzles as a manufactured tool just to prolong game time, get us to get invested in the game (I have to find out what happens, i spent so much time on this!), or to simply put in an exercise to keep it a "game"...well, i hate that.

You're not the only one. I too can be very annoyed by unnecessary puzzles that rip you away from the storyline just to increase gameplay.

If you liked TLJ you must love Dreamfall. Hardly any puzzles there, and none that distract you from the story.

tsa 05-07-2009 07:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by noknowncure (Post 507315)
I agree with a lot of what Gonzosports says. While I admit that I enjoy a ridiculous, contrived Adventure Game puzzle as much as the next fan, I wish the genre would explore different possibilities.

...

I think this is a really excellent point. Some Adventure Game fans seem to have a very specific view of other game genres and by avoiding them, they're missing out on opportunities to appreciate other avenues of storytelling.

...

Ever since playing games like Majora's Mask and the Hitman series, I've wanted AGs to take advantage of their mechanics. A world where the characters go about their business regardless of whether you're there to watch. Their routines becoming an integral part of the gameplay.

The only AG where I have seen that is GK III.

Quote:

Games like - as you mention - Fallout 3, where your exploration and gradual understanding of the vast environment itself is the key to uncovering the stories within. Hell, the parts of the game in towns and villages tend to feel like mini Adventure Games in themselves - Little to no combat. Conversations with diverse characters. Quests.
That is very interesting. I avoid other games because of the combat (most adventure gamers hate action with a passion), but maybe I have to try this game.

Quote:

The karma system from RPGs would be a great addition to AGs. Different ways to complete quests, depending on what type of character you choose to play. Your choices influencing how different people treat you.
But that will be extremely hard to implement if there is a story to unfold as well.

Gonzosports 05-07-2009 07:56 PM

(adventure gamers looking to expand into the RPG world - I must heartily recommend Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. It's amazing. Oblivion, the graphic powerhouse sequel, is a dumbed down version of it.

I've only started Fallout, but so far, it's superior to Oblivion, but nowhere close to Morrowind.

I recommend Morrowind because it's assimilation of fun, open-endedness, and a complex, deep, mythological history is something to rival Middle Earth.)

loobylou26 05-07-2009 11:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gonzosports (Post 507294)

I do think, without sounding entirely condescending, you should try to challenge yourself outside of your genre pigeonhole. It reminded me, and perhaps not fairly, of people who travel across the country and only eat at crap fast food places because it's safe.

wow and yet you manage to sound completely condescending. especially as i mentioned before that i play many different genres of games. all i said is that i play an adventure when i want an adventure game many games cross the boundaries and i am open to these, i enjoy silent hill's, resident evil's, fable etc etc etc. you are not talking about expanding on an adventure game but removing the vital (imho) component. if i wanted to just watch a story unfold i would play an interactive movie. oh and no i cant name a single one, maybe because i find the whole concept deathly dull. mayb as a filmaker you should spend your time making your own? and then show adventurers a new way to play a game tho in my case you would need to give me the game for free boot it for me, tie me to my chair and drug me full of anti-sleeping pills lol x

stepurhan 05-08-2009 12:04 AM

Dragon's Lair and Space Ace were early interactive movies. The former largely consisted of "make the correct move or see death scene" whereas the latter allowed multiple correct moves.

Voyeur involved you spying on the house of a man seeking high office, hoping to prove his corruption. You saw different clips of action depending on which rooms you chose to look at during the day.

Tender Loving Care is also often described as an interactive movie though I haven't played it so I can't comment personally.

I think we get that you think puzzles are important loobylou. No need to go OTT. :)

loobylou26 05-08-2009 12:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by stepurhan (Post 507341)

I think we get that you think puzzles are important loobylou. No need to go OTT. :)

he he he soz going back 2 bed now my 2 cents are in the ring x


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