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What do you prefer as an Adventure Gamer - Inventory Puzzles VS Puzzles?

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Joined 2012-08-03

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I have played Adventure Games since the early 90’s. I think that I have played at least 60 + of them.
It just hit me the other day, how much I hate classical puzzles (slider puzzles, translating codes, connecting dots on maps, math puzzles, read thousands of rows in books/documents to find a solution, etc)! Don’t get me wrong, I like a puzzle here and there, but I have just realised that I prefer traditional inventory puzzles (combining something with something else, give object to a person, etc).

Recently I just finished 2 games that were heavily focused on pure puzzle solving, and not the traditional inventory puzzles. The two games were: Yoomurjak’s Ring and Dracula: The path of Dragon. Seriously, I have never ever looked in a walkthrough that often before playing these 2 games, even though I consider myself a pretty experienced Adventure Gamer! Both games rely heavy on puzzle solving that requires a A LOT of patience and reading, especially Yoomurjak’s Ring (which I really loved) . However, they also relied heavily on a lot of faith on the player, without giving any proper clues and guidelines on what should be done. For instance I have never needed to look in a walkthrough (maybe just once or twice) for game series like Runaway, Monkey Island, Black Mirror, Broken Sword, Secret Files, Gabriel Knight, which all focus more on classic inventory puzzles.

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

What do you prefer as an Adventure Gamer - Inventory Puzzles VS Puzzles?

Also, what would you consider an unfair/good puzzle?

Also if you have played Yoomurjak’s Ring and Dracula: The path of Dragon, it would be interesting to hear your thought about those games and their puzzles.

     

Anticipating:The Devil’s Men

Recently played:GK1 Remake (4), A Golden Wake (3), Child of Light (4) Memento Mori 2 (4) Face Noir (3.5) Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect (4) Blackwell Epiphany (4.5),Broken Sword 5(4.5), The Shivah Remake (4.5), Monkey Island 2 Remake (4.5)

Top 10 Adventure Games:Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive, Gabriel Knight:The Beast Within, Broken Sword:Shadow of the Templars, Gabriel Knight:Sins of the Fathers, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon, Lost Horizon, Grim Fandago, The Longest Journey, Blackwell Epiphany

Total Posts: 183

Joined 2008-03-28

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I prefer puzzles over inventory management but that’s personal taste. With inventory puzzles I always end up trying everything with everything and finding the solution that way isn’t very satisfying.

Haven’t played Yoomurjak’s Ring because as far as I know there’s no drm free version available but I loved Dracula 3.
I liked many of the puzzles including the blood testing that many seem to dislike. It has also a few that were too difficult for me but those were probably perfect for others.
Special mention goes to the end puzzle though. That would have been the best puzzle from any game in my book if only it was clued a little better. That puzzle must have taken an enourmous amount of planning by the creators so it’s a pity many players just looked it up in a walkthrough (I only heard of one person solving it without help). When I read the solution it was already spoiled for me so I didn’t bother to take all the steps to find the answer but I wished there was a way I could have found it myself.

There have been many discussions here about puzzles and when someone says a specific one is unfair someone else found it perfectly reasonable. In most cases people complain if a puzzle seems to be only solvable using trial and error but in many cases it turns out there’s some logic after all…

     
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Joined 2005-07-08

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I agree with HandsFree. Inventory-puzzles are OK, but they tend to end up with try everything with everything.

I have played Path of the Dragon, but I got stuck at the blood testing puzzle, and never finished it. I’m going to have a crack at it someday, I think.

A combination is good, though. When I play inventory-based games, I love to encounter an isolated puzzle, riddle, mathematical test, number combination etc. Then I like to get a refreshment or a snack and sit down, maybe with pen and paper, and try to figure out the puzzle. The Black Mirror games did this quite well, if I remember correctly.

I hate when these puzzles are timed, though, or when your reaction skills or speed is crucial to solve the puzzle. Also, it is unfair when you have to rely on information outside of the game to finish it (Yes, I’m looking at you, baking-puzzle in Still Life). All clues to solve a puzzle should be inside the game (although I like it when it’s hidden or difficult to find). The exception, of course, being In Memoriam, where the entire game was based on finding clues on the internet.

     

Total Posts: 56

Joined 2009-08-31

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I think the whole format of inventory based puzzle solving is utterly tired. Furthermore it never really worked for games with a ‘serious’ tone. For me, carrying a dozen large items in your pockets and combining them in wacky ways is fine for a humourous game but has never really been a satisfactory device elsewhere. Even puzzle games tend to have an inventory just tacked on, seemingly just because it’s something they feel they should have, and because it helps to pad out the gameplay. I don’t mind carrying a key to open a locked door; finding the key can be a quest in the game and drive gameplay. But once it starts to get more obtuse than that I find it tedious. It’s just a lack of creativity really.

But this is the problem in a nostalgia medium - the core audeince wants the same thing over and over again forever.

Luckilly, there are quite a lot of games that have bucked this trend but most still have an inventory in some capacity. I say get rid.

     
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Total Posts: 320

Joined 2003-09-16

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I hate inventory puzzles, especially when you have characters in the game. It always devolves into ‘try every item on every hot spot and every character’ - annoying and boring. That’s why I don’t play these types of games anymore.
Give me some classic puzzles with clues where the solution is logical. I just recently finished Yoorjurmak’s Ring and thought it was quite fun. The Rhem games are a great example of what I like for puzzles.

     
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Total Posts: 435

Joined 2012-03-30

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i don’t mind inventory puzzles at all. i don’t agree that they are only good and tough for comedy games. I’ve played gabriel knigt 1 quite recently (where the hell was I all these years, I know) and I’m astonished by the logical way the puzzles are created. Except for a few ones (like the clock, the rada drums, the voodoo code) everything was very inventory based. And was neither easy nor illogical. And I enjoyed them much more than a mathematical puzzle which stands for itself and is not so integrated to the story and the game itself. I think it is way more difficult to create a clever puzzle using only the things you interact with, to make it hard enough so it’ll be a challenge, and reasonable at the same time (with subtle and balanced hints) so you won’t get to the try-everything-on-everything phase. Most of the recent games fail to do adequate inventory puzzles but you should blame the designers, not the puzzle system Smile

     
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Joined 2007-02-23

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I prefer a good mix of both, but if I should pick one it would probably be inventory based puzzles. But the perfect mix in a game (for me) is perhaps 60/40 in favor of inventory based puzzles.

     
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Joined 2008-04-03

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What about puzzles like most in Riven, where you need to understand the environment and the culture of the world you’re trespassing to figure out how to progress?

While it usually ended up in pulling some kind of a switch or operating a strange device, it rarely was just a self-containted logic-based puzzle.

I’d love to see that approach developed farther.

     

www.hardydev.com - blogging about indie and underground adventures

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Total Posts: 198

Joined 2012-08-03

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Thanks for all your input and thoughts about inventory puzzles Vs stand alone puzzles. It definelty seems like there are different tastes among Adventure Gamers out there. Smile

I really have to agree with badlemon regarding the inventory puzzles in Gabriel Knight 1. They were so well integrated in the story, and also they were made very logical, still challenging,  and made you think as a player without using the approach to try everything on everything. Broken Sword 1 also really nailed this as well. What I also think I remember is that Black Mirror 2 and 3 really got this right as well, with pretty satisfying inventory puzzles. I like when developers restrict players from picking up/manipulating objects in the game, if the action does not make sense at that specific time in the game. That really forces the player to think, and not try the classic use everything on everything.

I do like when there is a mix between the two puzzle types, 70/30, with favour of good inventory puzzles. But that is just my own opinion.

By the way, while we are on it, what are your favourite games that really nail the inventory puzzles in a good way, just like for instance Gabriel Knight and Broken Sword? Would be interesting to hear your thoughts.

     

Anticipating:The Devil’s Men

Recently played:GK1 Remake (4), A Golden Wake (3), Child of Light (4) Memento Mori 2 (4) Face Noir (3.5) Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect (4) Blackwell Epiphany (4.5),Broken Sword 5(4.5), The Shivah Remake (4.5), Monkey Island 2 Remake (4.5)

Top 10 Adventure Games:Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive, Gabriel Knight:The Beast Within, Broken Sword:Shadow of the Templars, Gabriel Knight:Sins of the Fathers, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon, Lost Horizon, Grim Fandago, The Longest Journey, Blackwell Epiphany

Total Posts: 864

Joined 2004-01-06

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Niclas - 25 August 2012 03:20 AM

What do you prefer as an Adventure Gamer - Inventory Puzzles VS Puzzles?

I’m not sure what type of puzzles you mean by just “puzzles,” but I like having a mix of puzzle types. Too many adventure games I’ve played have upwards of 90% inventory puzzles and those get boring (for me).

Also, what would you consider an unfair/good puzzle?

I don’t like inventory “puzzles” where I have to try everything. I also don’t like having to scrub every inch of the screen with the mouse looking for inventory. Of course not all inventory puzzles are like that.

A good puzzle is one where I feel like I solved something when I’m finished with it—and that never gets so frustrating that the only thing I feel after finishing it is relief that it’s over with.

Also if you have played Yoomurjak’s Ring and Dracula: The path of Dragon, it would be interesting to hear your thought about those games and their puzzles.

I liked Yoomurjak’s Ring for reasons other than the puzzles. I did get stuck a lot and used a walkthrough.

I didn’t care so much for Path of the Dragon, though much of that was due to the plot, which seemed so unrelentingly bleak. Puzzlewise it ranged from OK to not OK. I didn’t like the blood testing, which I thought was too repetitious and more a matter of following instructions than anything else. I remember being annoyed by some hotspots and inventory that I couldn’t interact with until I’d done something seemingly unrelated.

     
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colpet - 25 August 2012 11:15 AM

I hate inventory puzzles, especially when you have characters in the game. It always devolves into ‘try every item on every hot spot and every character’ - annoying and boring. That’s why I don’t play these types of games anymore.
Give me some classic puzzles with clues where the solution is logical. I just recently finished Yoorjurmak’s Ring and thought it was quite fun. The Rhem games are a great example of what I like for puzzles.

I’m the same but thinking about it, are the two types all that different? In Rhem when you get an item like a key you always know where it will go. When you come across a drawing on the wall, you usually don’t - you have to try and fit it logically into the various machines and puzzles you come across. If I try unsuccessfully to use a series of symbols on a machine where it would, in theory, fit in some form of application, is that terribly different from unsuccessfully using an inventory item on a gameworld object in a situation where the two should logically combine (eg. a pair of scissors on a rope)? In both cases there’s an element of reading the developer’s mind, and lots of trial and error. Probably in inventory puzzles it’s easier to say an object would fit just as well with an ‘incorrect’ object as it does with a ‘correct’ object, whereas in a logic puzzle the clue has a place where it (if the puzzles is done well) clearly fits best.

I think inventory puzzles can be done well, it’s just they usually aren’t. Just like you should be able to tell where a clue in a logic puzzle fits, you should be able to tell what function an inventory object has (either by examining it or otherwise). RHEM just happens to do logic puzzles well, but I can think of many Mystlike games which don’t *cough Aura cough*.

 

     

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Joined 2008-03-28

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Oscar - 26 August 2012 12:35 AM

RHEM just happens to do logic puzzles well, but I can think of many Mystlike games which don’t *cough Aura cough*.

That’s exactly why there’s no right or wrong in puzzle creating. For me the Aura puzzles where enjoyable and of perfect difficulty. I found the puzzles in RHEM 2 (the only one I tried), especially the 2nd half, tedious and way too hard.
So fortunately there’s still something for everyone.  Cool

     
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Total Posts: 198

Joined 2012-08-03

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crabapple - 25 August 2012 11:06 PM

I didn’t care so much for Path of the Dragon, though much of that was due to the plot, which seemed so unrelentingly bleak. Puzzlewise it ranged from OK to not OK. I didn’t like the blood testing, which I thought was too repetitious and more a matter of following instructions than anything else. I remember being annoyed by some hotspots and inventory that I couldn’t interact with until I’d done something seemingly unrelated.

Yes, I totally agree with you on the blood sample puzzle in Dracula, but also the majority of the other puzzles in that game, so annoying. Also hated that some hot spots were not activated until you had done something, I still think it it OK that you can not pick up/activate certain objects in a game before you have done a specific task/or when it makes sense (this is actually good), however I still think it is very important that the hot spot is acknowledged by the player when interacted with/scrolled over with the mouse, so that you know that you need to do something with that specific object in the future.

Also I actually loved Yoomurjak’s Ring, but the puzzles were a little bit too demanding, and I was forced to look in a walkthrough too many times, which killed a lot of satisfaction when playing the game. Too bad, such a good game otherwise.

     

Anticipating:The Devil’s Men

Recently played:GK1 Remake (4), A Golden Wake (3), Child of Light (4) Memento Mori 2 (4) Face Noir (3.5) Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect (4) Blackwell Epiphany (4.5),Broken Sword 5(4.5), The Shivah Remake (4.5), Monkey Island 2 Remake (4.5)

Top 10 Adventure Games:Tex Murphy: Pandora Directive, Gabriel Knight:The Beast Within, Broken Sword:Shadow of the Templars, Gabriel Knight:Sins of the Fathers, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Tex Murphy: Under a Killing Moon, Lost Horizon, Grim Fandago, The Longest Journey, Blackwell Epiphany

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Joined 2004-01-18

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Puzzles are the reason I play these games and I prefer good puzzles over bad, but I don’t mind which type they are.

Logic Puzzles, inventory puzzles, dialogue puzzles etc etc etc I don’t mind. Some of the best games have a mixture of all of them. My least favourite may be sound puzzles because i’m not very good at them (tone deaf), but I wouldn’t begrudge a game from trying one.

What I am bored of is the “try everything with everything else” argument that people level solely against inventory puzzles though. That is a symptom of bad puzzle design and not of the puzzle type itself.

If you come across a locked door with a key on the other side and you had a pencil, paper , rubber ducky and a bottle, it wouldn’t be logical to use the bottle on the door.

Puzzles need to be consistant and logical within the rules and setting of the gameworld. The need to be integrated into the storyline and the logic of the game. They need to have sufficient clues to aid the player in solving them without resorting to the try everything approach. (and for the record the try everything approach works just as well with logic puzzles as they do for inventory puzzles - i’ve lost count of the number of times that I have randomly clicked on levers and buttons and stumbled on a solution)

This means that a realistic game setting would not have the same internal logic as a cartoony game or a pure puzzle game. What would work for one won’t work on another.

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Joined 2007-01-04

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I prefer inventory puzzles myself. Some of them are rather fun.

  Thumbs Up

     

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

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Joined 2012-08-18

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I dont really mind.I like all kind of puzzles except sound puzzles.I hate them.Also its quite annoying when some inventory puzzles require item combinations that are out of this world and the only way to progress is to try all possible combinations.

     

Now Playing:Zork Nemesis,Dragon Age GOTY,DOTA 2,Alter Ego
Next In Line:Tex Murphy:Under a Killing Moon,Tex Murphy:The Pandora Directive,Tex Murphy:Overseer,Fallout 1,2&Tactics;
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