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Adventure game puzzles. Which types you like most & least? Feedback appreciated for game dev

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Slide puzzles come to mind when I think of some I enjoy the least.

     
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GateKeeper - 23 July 2020 01:53 AM

First of all, like already mentioned, announcements about achievements are really annoying and immersion-breaking and usually you can’t turn them off no matter what you do.

The achievement pop-up for Steam games is a very small little box in the lower right corner. It’s hardly immersion breaking. Sometimes I don’t even notice it.

Achievements also work against those who appreciate DRM-free gaming, because very often achievements are integrated so tightly into whatever client they are using (mostly Steam) that the game won’t run without it.

This is simply not true. I have achievements in my games, and they run perfectly fine without Steam running. In fact, I also put my games on Itch.io as well as Steam, and I don’t build a different version to put there. It’s the same version with the achievement code still in it. The Steam api just ignores the request to give an achievement if Steam isn’t running. It doesn’t throw an error or anything. It is possible, using the Steam api, to check if Steam is running and refuse to start the game if it’s not, but this has nothing to do with achievements. If the game does that, developer has done that on purpose.

As for dumbing down games, I don’t see how this is true. When I design and build my games, I give no thought whatsoever to achievements. After the game is completely done, only then to I go through and decide what I might give achievements for and add achievements to the game. If the game is dumbed down for any reason, that’s because the developer dumbed it down. It’s not the fault of achievements.

I am also an oldschool adventure game player, and I just don’t see how having achievements can turn someone off that much.

     
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Yep, slider and sound puzzles are the worst, best leave them out.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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starseeker - 23 July 2020 10:21 AM

I have a list of Good puzzle designs on my pasteboard, & one of them is Puzzles shouldn’t required players to know beyond common knowledge, & every clue to solve the puzzle must be either general knowledge or found in the game.

That’s good, although general knowledge is very hard to define. There are people who are clueless about something as common as the metric system or the (principles of) periodic table. But of course the very best adventure games encourage players to actually seek out information to see what is real and what is not, like the existence templars or something.

hightreason - 24 July 2020 07:15 AM
GateKeeper - 23 July 2020 01:53 AM

First of all, like already mentioned, announcements about achievements are really annoying and immersion-breaking and usually you can’t turn them off no matter what you do.

The achievement pop-up for Steam games is a very small little box in the lower right corner. It’s hardly immersion breaking. Sometimes I don’t even notice it.

Well that’s one opinion, but I keep seeing those pop-ups and I don’t even use Steam client!!! So clearly it’s a much bigger issue than just Steam client flashing something.

And as a person who has always gone to great lengths to disable all kinds of splash screens and all from software, I still find it annoying, no matter how small.

hightreason - 24 July 2020 07:15 AM
GateKeeper - 23 July 2020 01:53 AM

Achievements also work against those who appreciate DRM-free gaming, because very often achievements are integrated so tightly into whatever client they are using (mostly Steam) that the game won’t run without it.

This is simply not true. I have achievements in my games, and they run perfectly fine without Steam running. In fact, I also put my games on Itch.io as well as Steam, and I don’t build a different version to put there. It’s the same version with the achievement code still in it. The Steam api just ignores the request to give an achievement if Steam isn’t running.

That’s good, but you are just one developer, and what you do, doesn’t reflect the whole business. You probably don’t put Denuvo into your games either, but that doesn’t mean that someone else doesn’t.

There are some very clear examples of certain games being broken without the Steam client, and those problems being tied to exactly Steam achievements. I can with 100% certainty say that there are such games. Tardy is one of them. I don’t remember the other one for sure, so I don’t say what I’m thinking of in case it is wrong. With thousands of games on Steam, there are sure to be a good number of such cases, although many of them are not in the adventure genre, obviously.

     
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GateKeeper - 24 July 2020 08:08 AM
starseeker - 23 July 2020 10:21 AM

I have a list of Good puzzle designs on my pasteboard, & one of them is Puzzles shouldn’t required players to know beyond common knowledge, & every clue to solve the puzzle must be either general knowledge or found in the game.

That’s good, although general knowledge is very hard to define. There are people who are clueless about something as common as the metric system or the (principles of) periodic table. But of course the very best adventure games encourage players to actually seek out information to see what is real and what is not, like the existence templars or something.

It’s difficult to cater to everyone. For example I’m a natural with music and can solve virtually anything with few clues, but mathematics I’m terrible with. I remember a game which required the player to convert some numbers to base 4, or something like that. Now, I don’t think the game even gave information about base 4 or gave an indication that this was required, but even if it did, players like me would find it hard to do the puzzle.

So the question is, do you remove such puzzles at the risk of ‘dumbing down’ or keep them to please puzzle enthusiasts? I happen to enjoy immensely music puzzles, but at the same time I know there are people who cannot do even basic music puzzles.

     
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cyfoyjvx - 24 July 2020 08:39 AM

So the question is, do you remove such puzzles at the risk of ‘dumbing down’ or keep them to please puzzle enthusiasts? I happen to enjoy immensely music puzzles, but at the same time I know there are people who cannot do even basic music puzzles.

Why have rules at all?

One of the best games in recent history was Ahnayro: The Dream World. All of the puzzles required online research, both wikipedia and fake sites made by the game. I think all the information was real. It was the most interesting game for years. I was hoping it would open up a whole new subgenre, but I guess not many liked it.

     
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Luhr28 - 24 July 2020 08:46 AM

One of the best games in recent history was Ahnayro: The Dream World. All of the puzzles required online research, both wikipedia and fake sites made by the game. I think all the information was real. It was the most interesting game for years. I was hoping it would open up a whole new subgenre, but I guess not many liked it.

Alternate Reality Games have been a seperate genre for some time. I’ve played a few. Ahnayro happens to be a recent one and I’m guessing your first one.

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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starseeker - 23 July 2020 04:57 AM

Thanks for the discussion.

About achievement
I think it is a requirement for the platform (Except Epic store since they have no achievement system) to have them.

What I could do is have achievement pop out only after the end of every chapter summary.

The game heavily story-focus, & I wanted players who not necessary into the puzzles to be able to enjoy it as well, while not dumbing down puzzles for old school adventure gamers like many modern games now.

I thought to have a hint system & linking how often you use hint as an achievement as a good balance. I am open to ideas still.

Most achievements I have seen can be categorized as follows: 1) for making necessary progress in the game, like completing a chapter, starting an engine, finding a body, whatever; 2) for collecting stuff or clicking on things, like finding all the cobwebs in the game; 3) for dexterity or speed, like finishing the game in less than 500 moves/30 minutes; 4) for discovering alternate solutions, extras and easter eggs.

I’m not very interested in achievements (umless it’s a game I love to death), but my impression is that most devs don’t come up with good ones. It’s usually mostly 1) and a little 2). It goes without saying that 4) is the best category. Gorogoa had a nice easter egg. My trophy goes to the Stanley Parable, which has some great achievements, like Go Outside for not playing the game for 5 years. I should collect that one.  Cool

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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I can’t stand Achievements. They are so stupid. “Congratulations, you clicked the mouse 3 times.” “Congratulations you’ve been playing the game for 5 minutes.” Some games claim to have the option to suppress these unwanted announcements, but I’ve encountered only one game where that option actually worked. (It was a casual game and I don’t remember the title).

Achievement announcements are like having gnats fly in your eyes and up your nose when you’re trying to read. Strictly speaking gnats don’t interfere with your reading ability, but they sure make it an unpleasant experience and something to be avoided. I’ve started avoiding games that advertise “Achievements.” Instead I look for older games from 20 or 30 years ago that I haven’t played yet—games uninfected by the “Achievement” virus.

     
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Karlok - 24 July 2020 11:53 AM
Luhr28 - 24 July 2020 08:46 AM

One of the best games in recent history was Ahnayro: The Dream World. All of the puzzles required online research, both wikipedia and fake sites made by the game. I think all the information was real. It was the most interesting game for years. I was hoping it would open up a whole new subgenre, but I guess not many liked it.

Alternate Reality Games have been a seperate genre for some time. I’ve played a few. Ahnayro happens to be a recent one and I’m guessing your first one.

Ok, I looked up the ARG category on Wikipedia and it states:

ARGs are sometimes described as the first narrative art form native to the internet because their storytelling relies on the two main activities conducted there: searching for information, and sharing information.

So far, so good… but then later:

“ARGs themselves do not acknowledge that they are games. They do not have an acknowledged ruleset for players; as in real life, they determine the “rules” either through trial and error or by setting their own boundaries. Narratives present a fully realized world: any phone number or the email address mentioned works, and any website acknowledged exists. Games take place in real time and are not replayable.”

Confused

     
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Luhr28 - 24 July 2020 03:50 PM

Ok, I looked up the ARG category on Wikipedia and it states:

ARGs are sometimes described as the first narrative art form native to the internet because their storytelling relies on the two main activities conducted there: searching for information, and sharing information.

So far, so good… but then later:

“ARGs themselves do not acknowledge that they are games. They do not have an acknowledged ruleset for players; as in real life, they determine the “rules” either through trial and error or by setting their own boundaries. Narratives present a fully realized world: any phone number or the email address mentioned works, and any website acknowledged exists. Games take place in real time and are not replayable.”

Confused

LOL! My bad. I should have checked out Ahnayro. Apparently, it’s like Missing and Evidence: The Last Ritual, which used fake websites, emails from game characters, etc. ARGs such as Alt-Minds and Perplex run for a limited time and solving stuff entirely on your own is usually impossible, you need the hive mind. Rusty Lake added a very nice but tiny ARG to The White Door.

Still, Missing and Evidence are quite old and the ARG-elements are unmistakable, so Ahnayro is nothing new.

EDIT: Quoting Steam’s description of Ahnayro (see About): Deep Alternate Reality Game. I guess the definition of Alternate Reality Games is open to interpretation.

     

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.- Philip K. Dick

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Karlok - 24 July 2020 06:13 PM
Luhr28 - 24 July 2020 03:50 PM

Ok, I looked up the ARG category on Wikipedia and it states:

ARGs are sometimes described as the first narrative art form native to the internet because their storytelling relies on the two main activities conducted there: searching for information, and sharing information.

So far, so good… but then later:

“ARGs themselves do not acknowledge that they are games. They do not have an acknowledged ruleset for players; as in real life, they determine the “rules” either through trial and error or by setting their own boundaries. Narratives present a fully realized world: any phone number or the email address mentioned works, and any website acknowledged exists. Games take place in real time and are not replayable.”

Confused

LOL! My bad. I should have checked out Ahnayro. Apparently, it’s like Missing and Evidence: The Last Ritual, which used fake websites, emails from game characters, etc. ARGs such as Alt-Minds and Perplex run for a limited time and solving stuff entirely on your own is usually impossible, you need the hive mind. Rusty Lake added a very nice but tiny ARG to The White Door.

Still, Missing and Evidence are quite old and the ARG-elements are unmistakable, so Ahnayro is nothing new.

EDIT: Quoting Steam’s description of Ahnayro (see About): Deep Alternate Reality Game. I guess the definition of Alternate Reality Games is open to interpretation.

I’ll have to check out Evidence and Missing, thanks. I’m a little bit puzzled why they couldn’t just put those fake websites and emails inside the game (like Orwell, Hypnospace Outlaw etc.), and from what I remember every website Ahnayro used was real, but generally I like these kinds of games where you do some form of snooping around online. The ‘hive mind’ elements I could take or leave, I’m generally not big on multiplayer or anything involving other players.

     
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Watchmen is a great AR game. First season is pretty cheap on steam.

     
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Thanks for the overwhelming feedback & good discussion. I will read every one of them. I take every feedback seriously & will make improvements to my game base on them (when applicable).

Early I had an email exchange with the Adventure gamers team, & mentioned that I wanted a discussion thread to get feedback from Adventure game gurus. To engage with people who are passionate about adventure games, know their stuff. It’s a win/win case. I get feedback/ideas from passionate adventure gamers, while its should be nice to know your feedback/ideas count towards the final game. 

Anyway, after some thought, I decide on a new “Mindmap system” for the tougher multi clues puzzles.

The idea is once our protagonist gathered sufficient clues, she will be transported to a virtual world (name still open, feel free to suggest) where she can looks each clue in details & attempts to piece them together using a deduction sheet (similar to recent Sherlock Holmes games)
Here is a sneak preview of the virtual world & deduction sheet concept.
Each blue orb is a clue you can examine. Yellow orb open deduction sheet. Upon solving, transport you back to reality.

Feedback & suggestion welcome as always.

 

 

     
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Origami - 24 July 2020 05:52 AM

Slide puzzles come to mind when I think of some I enjoy the least.

What is slide puzzles? Sorry for my ignorance

     

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