What is appropriate as far as puzzles?

Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

If this is an inappropriate place for this, I apologize in advance, and
please disregard this post and/or tell me where an appropriate place
is. I've been playing/writing IF for a while now, but I'm new to the
community aspects of IF.

I'd be grateful to anyone who wants to weight in on this; first, a
little backstory -- I've been making zcode games for a while and
distributing them among some friends of mine. They seem to enjoy them,
and I was thinking of polishing one up and entering it in an IFComp,
but after reflecting on this for a minute, I realized that I have good
reason to believe that my friends are not a typical audience.
Specifically, there are certain types of puzzles that they enjoy which
other people might not, so I wondered what people thought of the
following types of puzzles in games.

(*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?

(*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic. If you object to this,
would you change your mind if there was a "pocket calculator" or
"sliderule" object in the game which you could type your calculations
into?

(*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or saltwater.

(*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.) Here is
an example (which, of course, I will not be using in any game I
release):

Each time myself I find divided
In those smaller thirteen parts
Which, while not me, go inside me,
I simply add them back together
(Never having learned the fancier arts),
And then -- behold -- my whole
Is shown to be the sum of these parts.

My end, in your hands, is like as my beginning
As two brother peas in a pod of four;
Id est, once I've seen my first fifty centuries
I shall not hope for fifty more.

My gut feeling is to replace all of these types of puzzles with the
more "conventional," but I wondered what you guys thought. Also, if
there's a type of puzzle you really like or would like to see more of,
please tell me about that.
10 answers Last reply
More about what puzzles
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    daniel_mcl@hotmail.com <daniel_mcl@hotmail.com> wrote:
    > [snip] I wondered what people thought
    > of the following types of puzzles in games.
    >
    > (*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
    > fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
    > classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
    > How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?

    Mazes are, more or less, 100% out especially in the Comp (IF you want a
    popular game or a good score). Some would say they're out altogether. That
    said, I have enjoyed a comp game or two with a maze in it. It was too long,
    and I ended up unable to finish the game, so the game didn't score well, but
    the maze was kinda fun. If you can solve it without a map it is a bonus, but
    still risky. If you don't want a good score and don't mind annoying some
    folk, do what you like.

    > (*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
    > pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
    > solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic.

    Sounds like fun to me! I think I included a puzzle like that in my comp game
    in 2002, along with the "magic item that solves it" and no one complained
    too loudly. To my face, anyway.

    > (*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
    > something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
    > you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or
    > saltwater.

    This one is a bit more risky than the last, but I seem to recall a
    discussion from last year that I can't find. Hm. Maybe someone else will
    chime in too, but for me I think I would rather everything be self-contained
    within the game. Unless it's a subject area I actually am familiar with,
    which I would be (inconsistently) pleased to see. The solution is to have
    the information somewhere in the game: an NPC or encyclopedia, maybe.

    > (*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
    > and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.)

    Um, heh, I did that one in my 2002 game also. People didn't mind the riddle
    so much (although they did call it "old school"), as they minded the strict
    way they had to enter the answer. So I think it's okay to have riddles like
    that, especially if there's some kind of reason behind besides arbitrary
    puzzle-implanting. Crazy Uncle who liked riddles, or some other explanation.
    And some of us don't get puzzles, *especially* in a time limit like the
    Comp, so be sure to include either an alternate solution, or the riddle
    answer hidden somewhere, or a good hint system, or at the very least, a
    walkthrough with the answer.

    > My gut feeling is to replace all of these types of puzzles with the
    > more "conventional," but I wondered what you guys thought.

    I think all of them can be safely worked into a game, except the maze. Your
    game will be called "puzzley" and a "puzzle-fest" but that is no insult.
    Some of us find puzzles very entertaining. You might look at 2002's Color
    and Number and the associated reviews to see what people liked and didn't
    like about that very puzzley game.

    --Jess


    p.s. What's the answer to the riddle? I hate being stuck :-)
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    <daniel_mcl@hotmail.com> wrote in message
    news:cfnkb3$bsr@odah37.prod.google.com...

    my two cents:

    > (*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
    > fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
    > classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
    > How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?

    This is tricky. I can't say no, but I can say it had better be different
    than what's already out there, or I will just sigh and roll my eyes and, if
    the game has other appealing aspects, slog through the maze to get to more
    fun stuff. On the other hand, if you have some really new variation, then
    it could be fun.

    Mazes where it's just "drop stuff and make a map" don't appeal to me. A
    nifty maze was the one in _Augmented 4th_.

    > (*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
    > pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
    > solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic. If you object to this,
    > would you change your mind if there was a "pocket calculator" or
    > "sliderule" object in the game which you could type your calculations
    > into?

    I like this, period. Having an object in the game can be helpful, but not
    necessary, imho.

    > (*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
    > something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
    > you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or saltwater.

    I'm with others on this: it's best if the game contains the encyclopedia,
    etc. For example, see the _Worlds Apart_ documentation about ferals, or all
    the documents in _Christminster_.

    > (*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
    > and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.) Here is
    > an example (which, of course, I will not be using in any game I
    > release):

    Can I second Jess Knoch's request to post the answer? :)

    Also, I like riddles, but it would be nice again if there was an in-game way
    to solve them as well, maybe some alternate puzzle to solve or something.
    I'm thinking of, for instance, the "all the king's men couldn't fill it up"
    (or whatever it was) puzzle from Zork 2. I never ever would've got that
    without the walkthrough.

    > My gut feeling is to replace all of these types of puzzles with the
    > more "conventional," but I wondered what you guys thought. Also, if
    > there's a type of puzzle you really like or would like to see more of,
    > please tell me about that.

    I can't get enough Myst-style physical puzzles, like the towers in _So Far_
    or some of the puzzles in _Inevitable_.

    --
    Daphne
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    >(*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
    >fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
    >classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
    >How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?

    I like mazes, but you need to make it a little more interesting then
    dropping a lot a stuff to get your bearings.

    >
    >(*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
    >pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
    >solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic. If you object to this,
    >would you change your mind if there was a "pocket calculator" or
    >"sliderule" object in the game which you could type your calculations
    >into?
    >

    I like calculations and pencil and paper stuff. It's a lot more
    interesting than the 'peg in hole' finding junk and trying it games.


    >(*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
    >something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
    >you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or saltwater.
    >
    I'd say yes but you never know whether other sources have the same
    information. Latin name for a butterfly, atomic weight of aluminum,
    speed of light, etc. The US often has different spellings than the
    English. There could be variations in the answers to a simple
    question. You almost need to make it multiple choice. It's better if
    the game supplies information and you can use the information to solve
    puzzles along the way.

    >(*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
    >and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.) Here is
    >an example (which, of course, I will not be using in any game I
    >release):
    >
    >Each time myself I find divided
    >In those smaller thirteen parts
    >Which, while not me, go inside me,
    >I simply add them back together
    >(Never having learned the fancier arts),
    >And then -- behold -- my whole
    >Is shown to be the sum of these parts.
    >
    >My end, in your hands, is like as my beginning
    >As two brother peas in a pod of four;
    >Id est, once I've seen my first fifty centuries
    >I shall not hope for fifty more.
    >
    I like those too.


    >My gut feeling is to replace all of these types of puzzles with the
    >more "conventional," but I wondered what you guys thought. Also, if
    >there's a type of puzzle you really like or would like to see more of,
    >please tell me about that.

    What is more conventional?

    Paul C
  4. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    <daniel_mcl@hotmail.com> wrote:
    > I wondered what people thought of the following
    > types of puzzles in games.

    Are you entering the comp to spread your games to a wider audience, or
    specifically to try and win? If you just want to share your game and have
    fun, then make a game you would enjoy playing. If you are entering to win,
    then forget what you enjoy, take a statistical survey of what everyone
    likes, and create a game optimised to appeal to the greatest number of
    people.
    You can also aim for something in-between these two extremes.

    Regarding the specific puzzles you mentioned:


    > (*) Variations on the random maze

    Some people will barf the instant they see, hear, or smell a maze. I
    think they're kind of fun. One thing I would recommend is to make sure your
    maze has a unique gimmick, rather than being the "twisty passages" maze with
    different text. The point of the maze is that it's a geographical puzzle,
    so it shouldn't be a repeat of a puzzle we've all solved before (i.e. Zork).


    > (*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount
    > of pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to
    > work out the solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic.

    Sounds good to me. I would probably enjoy a non-mathematical (but still
    "visual") puzzle more than an intense mathematical one. I'm good with math,
    but I don't exactly do it for fun. :^)


    > (*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information
    > about something on the internet / in an encyclopedia

    Yes, in fact these can be really interesting. BUT... you had better
    make sure the answer is correct, accurate, and not culturally biased.


    > (*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the
    > riddle and type in the answer (or base your actions on the
    > answer.)

    Answering through actions is probably safer interface-wise. As above,
    you should make absolutely sure the riddle has a logical answer, not based
    on cultural knowledge or idioms. (See Zork's "diamond maze" for a bad, bad
    example of breaking this rule). Riddles are a bit risky -- they can become
    a show-stopper even if they were intended to be easy.


    S.
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    I'll throw in my $.02

    daniel_mcl@hotmail.com wrote:
    > (*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
    > fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
    > classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
    > How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?
    I don't like mazes. I like physical and geological puzzles, to an
    extent. E.g. I loved A Change in the Weather but got bored with the
    timing puzzles about halfway through.

    > (*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
    > pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
    > solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic. If you object to this,
    > would you change your mind if there was a "pocket calculator" or
    > "sliderule" object in the game which you could type your calculations
    > into?

    A small amount, great. Beware, your idea of small amount is probably way
    too much, if my assessment of your expertise is correct. :)

    > (*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
    > something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
    > you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or saltwater

    I personally LOVE this sort of thing. It's part of why I love IF - to
    explore new cultures and subject areas. But you ought to somehow imply
    that they need to know the specifics about that certain fish. If you
    just mention that it's a so-and-so fish in the description it's hardly
    fair to expect people to know all about so-and-so fish. But if the PC is
    a fish-ologist or the game somehow makes a big deal out of what species
    the fish is, it would be the impetus to go look it up in an encyclopedia
    or on-line.

    I think this is an excellent opportunity for non-giveaway hints too.
    Maybe in the way of virtual feelies or something. I agree that it's nice
    to have the answer somewhere in the game, but when you pick up an
    encyclopedia and it tells you about so-and-so fish when you read it,
    that's a little obvious and boring. I liked the encyclopedia-like thing
    in augmented fourth, but I bet it was a lot of work.

    My first IF game was Trinity. It took me years to solve because when I
    started I was just too young and didn't get some things and didn't have
    the history background. But I kept coming back to it (roughly every six
    months or so) and it was a thrill when I found I could make a little
    more progress now. When I was finally old enough I figured out I needed
    to look up the history (most of my troubles were in New Mexico) and only
    when I had done some outside research was I able to complete the game.
    It was very satisfying. You need to ask yourself if it fits in the
    IFComp genre though...

    > (*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
    > and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.) Here is
    > an example (which, of course, I will not be using in any game I
    > release):

    I'd probably stop right here, no matter how interesting it was.
    Especially for a math riddle. I'm not bad at math, and almost enjoy the
    application of it, but I don't think it's fun in and of itself. My
    brother, otoh would probably love it.

    This reminds me of a game I tried recently, from last year's competition
    IIRC. Risorgimento Represso was fun and interesting, but in the end I
    tired of it because it involved too much chemistry, and I've never liked
    chemistry. :) So maybe I just contradicted myself on that external
    knowledge point...
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    On 15 Aug 2004 05:18:43 -0700, in rec.games.int-fiction you wrote:

    >(*) Variations on the random maze -- I hear that this is going out of
    >fashion, but on the other hand the maze of twisty little passages is a
    >classic. How do you feel about mazes which require you to make a map?
    >How about mazes which you can solve without making a map?

    The maze as a puzzle is annoying. Dropping items and trying to map locations
    is annoying. The gameworld itself is already mazish enough - I *do* play IF
    by walking around and drawing a map by hand. I don't mind mapping, but I
    expect to be seeing interesting things while doing it. Wandering empty halls
    in a giant mansion looking for the one room with an object in it is fine as
    long as I can get out of it again once I find it.

    >(*) Puzzles which require you to do some small amount of
    >pencil-and-paper calculation, or draw a diagram, to work out the
    >solution; including maybe a bit of arithmetic. If you object to this,
    >would you change your mind if there was a "pocket calculator" or
    >"sliderule" object in the game which you could type your calculations
    >into?

    Small amount of calculation and scribbling is fine. Substitution ciphers are
    fine, although the amount of text you have to decode should be strictly
    limited. (This is fun for a sentence but not for a page.) Basically, the
    concept of a *little bit* of work to achieve an effort is a good thing.

    >(*) Puzzles which might require you to look up information about
    >something on the internet / in an encyclopedia, i.e. a puzzle in which
    >you had to know whether certain fish lived in fresh water or saltwater.

    I like this sort of thing, honestly, although for politeness you might wish
    to hint that the information has to be found outside of the game and be sure
    it's not ambiguous. (All the herb/gemstone information in Passing
    Familiarity was found on the web, but since there are so many *different*
    versions of what gems and herbs mean, I wouldn't have expected people to
    guess from the web alone, I put my versions into the game.)

    >(*) A piece of paper has a riddle on it; you are to solve the riddle
    >and type in the answer (or base your actions on the answer.) Here is
    >an example (which, of course, I will not be using in any game I
    >release):

    I somewhat dislike riddles because if you just don't get it, you can't
    progress. You can't get partway to the answer and get a helpful nudge.

    ---
    Hanako Games
    Anime Games and Screensavers To Download
    http://www.hanakogames.com/
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Papillon wrote:

    > The maze as a puzzle is annoying. Dropping items and trying to map locations
    > is annoying. The gameworld itself is already mazish enough - I *do* play IF
    > by walking around and drawing a map by hand. I don't mind mapping, but I
    > expect to be seeing interesting things while doing it. Wandering empty halls
    > in a giant mansion looking for the one room with an object in it is fine as
    > long as I can get out of it again once I find it.
    >
    >

    In a game I'm working on I have, what I believe, is a rather unique maze-like puzzle. It might be better described as an anti-maze. It's a bit hard to describe without giving too much away, but the player won't immediately even know he's in the maze (or anti-maze.) The trick of it is to remain in maze because it's all too easy to wander out. I don't know if this has been done before, but I'm kind of excited about seeing how it will be recieved.
  8. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    For what it's worth, I tried hard to make any maze in my Doom games
    (CtDoom.z5, etc.) unique. In Last Days of Doom, for example, there were
    two mazes where the player was given the ability to redesign the maze
    rather drastically (one of the two wasn't even a maze; you could walk
    anywhere). Curses, too, had a (much more limited) redesign of a maze,
    and very nice it was too.
    Peter K.
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    and Climate, Southampton Oceanography Centre, Empress Dock, Southampton
    SO14 3ZH, England.
    Tel: +44 (0)23-80596202 Fax: +44 (0)23-80596204
    Email: P.Killworth@soc.soton.ac.uk
    Web: http://www.soc.soton.ac.uk/JRD/PROC/people/pki/
    Editor, Ocean Modelling: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ocemod/
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  9. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    "daniel_mcl@hotmail.com" <daniel_mcl@hotmail.com> wrote in
    news:cfnkb3$bsr@odah37.prod.google.com:


    > Each time myself I find divided
    > In those smaller thirteen parts
    > Which, while not me, go inside me,
    > I simply add them back together
    > (Never having learned the fancier arts),
    > And then -- behold -- my whole
    > Is shown to be the sum of these parts.
    >
    I would have picked something like flag, colonies, or something like that.
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Weird Beard <weird_beard@worldnet.att.net> wrote:

    >"daniel_mcl@hotmail.com" <daniel_mcl@hotmail.com> wrote in
    >news:cfnkb3$bsr@odah37.prod.google.com:

    >> Each time myself I find divided
    >> In those smaller thirteen parts
    >> Which, while not me, go inside me,
    >> I simply add them back together
    >> (Never having learned the fancier arts),
    >> And then -- behold -- my whole
    >> Is shown to be the sum of these parts.
    >>
    >I would have picked something like flag, colonies, or something like that.

    I was thinking of a deck of cards as it has thirteen values.

    Sincerely,

    Gene Wirchenko

    Computerese Irregular Verb Conjugation:
    I have preferences.
    You have biases.
    He/She has prejudices.
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