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Inventory combining tricks

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at some AGs i noticed that combining objects B+A would work not, and the game design obliges a specific order of combination of A+B; such as when combining Some Bricks with an Empty Bucket (AoM3) if the order was done vice versa (Empty Bucket + Some Bricks) it would not work; the game would not accept it or let the combination happen .

there are many other (small in number) games that go with this specific inventory feature, such as Black Mirror1 or Runaway games…  i find it myself rather silly and frustrating as many times one could swear he had applied this combination and it turns out he needed to have done it the other way.. 
i don’t know but i guess (and i read it somewhere) that some people find it kinda smart, in a way of making the player more certain about what he is on about, or positive!, rather than clicking everything over everything.

what do you guys think?
could it be necessary for like adding another layer of difficulty?

     

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I think it’s just a lazy design. For example, in early IFs one could
>PUT BREAKS IN BUCKET
or
>FILL BUCKET WITH BREAKS
The order was up to the player. But with Black Mirror and similar the devs not only limit our interactions with a smart cursor - they also limit our imagination! This often results in moon logic. There are plenty of other legal ways to add a layer of difficulty, like pixel hunting mazes dead ends inventive puzzle design.

     

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It’s bad design and just annoying.

     
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I definitely find it quite annoying as well. I used to find myself getting stuck and wondering around for hours just because I didn’t combine them in the right order. Nowadays I try both ways just to make sure.

     

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It’s an interesting question, and I can find some justification when the developer decides not to include both ways to combine items. For example, if you wanna light the candle, it’s quite natural to use LIGHTER on a candle, and not vice versa. Of course, if you wanna combine blue and yellow paint to get some green color, there’s no excuse for not letting player do it both ways.

     

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diego - 14 March 2017 09:13 PM

...it’s quite natural to use LIGHTER on a candle, and not vice versa…

In my opinion it would be still be wrong to limit the player if (s)he chose to “use the candle with a lighter”. Basically you’re telling the character to do something with both items. The order - even when IRL it would make more sense - should be irrelevant.

This should also apply to combining more objects. HOWEVER… Let me present another scenario.

TASK: You need to shoot an arrow into a target.
In your inventory you have:
- A sturdy, young branch
- A smaller stick
- A knife
- A piece of string
- A feather

—-

In theory you can combine the branch and string (or vice versa) to create the bow and combine the knife with the stick and feather (in any order) to create the arrow.

Thing is, should the player be able to combine these items successfully BEFORE knowing (s)he needs a bow and arrow? Also, should the player be able to make the arrow before combining the other items to make a bow?

[edit]
For the arrow one could argue that you’d have to use the knife first to turn the stick into a pointy / prepped arrow-stick before being able to combine it with the feather…
[/edit]

     
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Advie - 14 March 2017 01:26 PM

what do you guys think?
could it be necessary for like adding another layer of difficulty?

In my opinion a better way for adding difficulty is to bring back verbs other than “use”. For example with the lighter and candle, if we have “ignite” it would not make sense to ignite the lighter with the candle.

     
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Bitano - 15 March 2017 04:04 AM

Thing is, should the player be able to combine these items successfully BEFORE knowing (s)he needs a bow and arrow? Also, should the player be able to make the arrow before combining the other items to make a bow?

YES!

Quoth Ron Gilbert (over a quarter of a century ago):

Backwards Puzzles

The backwards puzzle is probably the one thing that bugs me more than anything else about adventure games.  I have created my share of them; and as with most design flaws, it’s easier to leave them in than to redesign them.  The backwards puzzle occurs when the solution is found before the problem.  Ideally, the crevice should be found before the rope that allows the player to descend.  What this does in the player’s mind is set up a challenge.  He knows he need to get down the crevice, but there is no route.  Now the player has a task in mind as he continues to search.  When a rope is spotted, a light goes on in his head and the puzzle falls into place.  For a player, when the design works, there is nothing like that experience.


The player should never find all the materials needed to make the bow and arrow before encountering the situation that requires shooting the arrow. That’s bad design. And trying to cover up the bad design by forbidding the player from solving the puzzle before they’ve encountered it is just worse design.

The original Runaway did that a lot, sometimes not even letting you pick up items before you “knew” you needed them. It was infuriating.

     

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BitingWit - 15 March 2017 04:13 AM
Advie - 14 March 2017 01:26 PM

what do you guys think?
could it be necessary for like adding another layer of difficulty?

In my opinion a better way for adding difficulty is to bring back verbs other than “use”. For example with the lighter and candle, if we have “ignite” it would not make sense to ignite the lighter with the candle.

Rex Nebular didn’t have a Use verb (nor the ability to just click item A on item B). Instead, it had a couple of generic verbs for all items (Give, Put, Throw), as well as a short list of verbs specific to each item (for example, a scalpel had Cut, Pry, and Sharpen). That was brilliant: it made it much easier to communicate your intent to the game, offered more options, and allowed the designers to sneak in some humour (such as letting you gnaw on a pair of old bones).

It was the best thing about that otherwise-forgettable game. I really wish it had caught on.

     

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Bitano - 15 March 2017 04:04 AM

Thing is, should the player be able to combine these items successfully BEFORE knowing (s)he needs a bow and arrow? Also, should the player be able to make the arrow before combining the other items to make a bow?

Almost certainly. It’s about communication though - maybe if you tried using the knife on something prematurely the character could express reluctance to cut things up without a good reason, ideally using a different message from the default ‘use knife on X’ failure message. So maybe “I could whittle that to a point, but I’m not sure why I’d want to!”. Then the player has a hint that they might want to try that again once they’ve established a reason to do so.

I can see The Great Ron’s point and “Always find the solution after the problem” is a good rule of thumb but I wouldn’t stick too slavishly to it - apart from anything else, I don’t think all objects need to be puzzle solutions.

As to the original question: I do think using A on B should be equivalent to using B on A unless there are clear distinct meanings for the two. Like if you needed to stack things in a particular order, or maybe ‘crush the chalk with the mallet’ versus ‘write on the mallet with the chalk’. If it’s just to add another level of difficulty for the player trying to guess what to do next, that’s just annoying. If it adds expressiveness in terms of possible actions, that could be worthwhile.

     
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i found the wrost example of Inventory combining (or applying) tricks ever at (not strangely reacted when i found out its) Art of Murder, aswel…
at (its shown)  the image below; when you try to use the metal bar on the theater door/exit; the game denies the action by the hero saying one of (making fun at you) those (smirky) terrible replies ‘yeah right!’ and guess what it IS the right thing, the right and the only solution of the current puzzle/obstacle !!!!.

the next image below we see that i just needed to discover this ticket glued to the metal bar before the game let me go with (accept) using it (the metal bar) over the door/exit..

and why is/was that?... because the next scene (cutscene) is our hero at a train station, so if i didnt discover the ticket then the next scene wouldn’t make sense, but COME ON!!!, are you serious?!!, wasn’t there any other option/way to let the game take me make directly to the train station without rejecting the puzzle right solution that i applied only because i did it earlier than the game (design) expected, how in earth would i figure out that i needed to apply the metal bar again after what the game already had told me, after the game had rejected it!, HOW!!.. stupid design!

     

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fuck again, now i had it, i don’t know how i have had a good memory of AoM3 all this time, maybe its good, but having to follow the game design, is just tooo stupid, this time i know i have to handle the evidence to the Lab Eng, i have to talk to him instead of iving it to him clicking the evidence on him (the inventory items on him) but the hero says “i dont want to disturb him”, so doesnt both of the ways work?

now i can’t take these stupid small things anymore, not when i have many other new adventures on my waiting list… its always these small stupid design things that can make pass on an adventure, so long AoM

please, designers, pay attention to the game design or these mechanism,s i mean.. its these things that supposed to be the universal language to deal with one adventure and for me they come before anything else..

     

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