Discussion: Why I'm not fond of mechanical puzzles

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

I've never been particularly fond of mechanical puzzles. They take a long
time to solve, and I generally find them frustrating. I've been wondering
about this recently, and I think my problem with them is that they don't
seem very suited to the medium.

Is the primarily text-based interface of IF an advantage or a disadvantage?
In terms of conveying information, a purely text-based interface seems
inferior to a graphical one. The advantage lies primarily in the ability to
create puzzles with creative solutions. Whereas a graphical game is
typically constrained by clickable hotspots and a standard set of verbs, a
text based game allows the user to intuit new verbs or discover 3rd level
objects that don't appear in the room description. On the other hand,
whereas books are often praised (as opposed to movies) for stimulating the
reader's imagination, the players's own visualization of a room/object may
hinder his ability to solve certain types of puzzles if it differs too much
from the author's intent.

I guess what I dislike about mechanical puzzles is that their difficulty
derives mainly from this limitation of the medium -- an inability to
properly visualize the device/system that is being manipulated. Oftentimes,
a mechanical puzzle would be fairly trivial if it weren't for this
limitation, thus the puzzle aspect seems forced. The planetarium in The
Dreamhold was a recent example of this, but there are countless more. The
times where I have enjoyed a mechanical puzzle have been cases where the
solution involved thinking out of the box (e.g. the machine room in The
Recruit).

Comments?

Andrew
17 answers Last reply
More about discussion fond mechanical puzzles
  1. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
    > I've never been particularly fond of mechanical puzzles. They take a
    long
    > time to solve, and I generally find them frustrating. I've been
    wondering
    > about this recently, and I think my problem with them is that they
    don't
    > seem very suited to the medium.

    <snip>

    Yes. There are lots of ways in which text is more versatile than film
    or animation. As well as describing how things appear, it can also
    tell you what the characters think about them. A writer can change the
    mood of a piece by altering the register that he uses. Text can move
    from the concrete to the abstract without the need for clumsy
    symbolism, so that descriptions of tangible objects give way to
    meditations on ideas associated with them. It's also possible to
    describe different time periods within a sentence without jarring the
    reader in the way that a film flashback is jarring, or to tell in a
    page the events of many years (the whole of One Hundred Years of
    Solitude is narrated at that rate).

    But one thing language is notoriously bad at is accurately describing
    physical objects, especially where spatial relations are important.
    You don't really evoke indescribable feelings in the reader with
    passages like "The yellow plug is in the blue socket; the second,
    fourth and fifth yellow lights are shining; the large lever is down."

    This doesn't mean there can't be puzzles in interactive fiction, of
    course. It all comes down to fuzziness. The most satisfying puzzles
    involve understanding and then manipulating a complex but logical
    world, but that complexity can be more or less fuzzy. Text lends
    itself to a world's politics, history, motives of characters, poetic or
    mystical or sentimental properties of objects. Those things are all
    fuzzy. Mechanics can make for interesting interactive fiction puzzles
    when it effects the actual landscape, as in For a Change, because
    giving the feeling of a landscape is also fuzzy. But a text
    description of a brass machine with a room of its own is a hangover
    from the days before graphic adventures, when the only option for
    implementing such a thing was in words. The less fuzzy such a
    contraption is, the better. The best medium for it is a Heath Robinson
    drawing.

    Tha advantages and disadvantages of text input are a separate argument,
    I think. As you say, the main upside is the feeling of extra freedom
    for the player that comes from not having all the possibilities set out
    from the start. Puzzles like Rematch, the maze in Photopia or the end
    of Spider and Web leave the player feeling as though he has won through
    inspiration rather than menu selection. Other games suffer because
    they are obviously menus. Lock and Key would have been more effective
    if it had been controlled using a mouse and some icons rather than text.
  2. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
    > I've never been particularly fond of mechanical puzzles. They take a long
    > time to solve, and I generally find them frustrating. I've been wondering
    > about this recently, and I think my problem with them is that they don't
    > seem very suited to the medium.
    >
    > I guess what I dislike about mechanical puzzles is that their difficulty
    > derives mainly from this limitation of the medium -- an inability to
    > properly visualize the device/system that is being manipulated. Oftentimes,
    > a mechanical puzzle would be fairly trivial if it weren't for this
    > limitation, thus the puzzle aspect seems forced. The planetarium in The
    > Dreamhold was a recent example of this, but there are countless more. The
    > times where I have enjoyed a mechanical puzzle have been cases where the
    > solution involved thinking out of the box (e.g. the machine room in The
    > Recruit).
    >

    I don't mind mechanical puzzles in text games, although I agree that
    there are a lot of really bad ones. I too was frustrated by the
    planetarium, although I think my frustration stemmed mostly from the
    Tutorial Voice constantly nagging me to sit back and watch instead of
    fiddling with it. Were the Voice absent, I would still have been
    frustrated (though somewhat less so) by the overly terse descriptions
    that failed to provide a proper sense of scale and position. But that
    was the real problem, IMO: that the descriptions of the machine were too
    terse to give you any real mental picture of the position of the pieces.

    Compare the machine to the cistern puzzle in the same game. Also a
    mechanical puzzle, but a brilliantly discoverable one. The main
    difference was that the relationships between the parts of the cistern
    were described clearly, while descriptions of the relationships between
    the machine parts ranged from vague to nonexistant. I think a lot of the
    frustration associated with the planetarium would have been mitigated by
    less aggressive hinting and more aggressive exposition.

    Something I've always enjoyed about text games is the way you can
    encounter an object that would be immediately recognizable to you or I,
    but which the character in the story has no familiarity with. Those "Oh,
    *that's* what that is!" moments are a great deal of fun to me, but they
    can only occur in text games--graphics allow you to recognize the item
    immediately, and then the PC's failure to understand its purpose becomes
    merely an irritating reminder of the PC's lack of perception.

    I don't suffer the conceit that text has to be "moving" or
    "inspirational" or whatever to be worth reading. Paperback adventure
    novels are just as deserving of the name "literature" as some stuffy
    philosophical piece that shoves the author's self-important theories of
    life down the reader's throat. IMO, literature is good (in the sense of
    being well-written) if the author has good understand of language and
    accomplishes what was intended, even if that intent is simply to
    entertain the reader without pretense. I judge text games the same way:
    not by how "meaningfull" they are, but by whether the author handled the
    medium well. This criteria trancends any particular story or puzzle
    genre, and places responsibility solely on the author for all successes
    and failures. Bad authors produce bad puzzle, good authors produce good
    puzzles, and whether the puzzle is mechanical or otherwise has nothing
    to do with it.
  3. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Tommy Herbert wrote:
    > Tha advantages and disadvantages of text input are a separate argument,
    > I think. As you say, the main upside is the feeling of extra freedom
    > for the player that comes from not having all the possibilities set out
    > from the start. Puzzles like Rematch, the maze in Photopia or the end
    > of Spider and Web leave the player feeling as though he has won through
    > inspiration rather than menu selection. Other games suffer because
    > they are obviously menus. Lock and Key would have been more effective
    > if it had been controlled using a mouse and some icons rather than text.

    You've touched on something I find fundamental here. To me, the
    defining characteristic of IF is not the text that the player reads, but
    the fact that the player communicates his intention to the games in
    plain English (or Italian, or...). I've played many graphic adventures
    over the years, and thoroughly enjoyed some of them, but I can never
    escape the feeling that I am severely constrained by the interface. I'm
    not inhabiting the game's world and doing what I might logically do if I
    am really there in a graphics adventure. Rather, I am fiddeling with
    the interface, trying to determine what arbitrary pre-scripted action
    clicking in such and such a place will allow my character to perform.
    It's horribly constraining.

    I agree that trying to textually describe a complex mechanical apparatus
    is a daunting task, and I was at times also rather frustrated by the
    Dreamhold, but I wouldn't say the solution is to just throw out all
    mechanical puzzles. The solution is... just show me a picture or
    diagram. You might even allow me to rotate the viewpoint and so on with
    the mouse, if the device is extremely elaborate. I don't have a problem
    with interacting with a machine using the mouse, as long as it is
    obvious what each click will do. Just continue to allow me to
    communicate using the parser as well.

    When textual description works... use it. When graphics work better...
    use them. With Glulx and HTML TADS, all this and more is possible.
    Sound effects, sound puzzles, even voice actors are all possibilities.
    Look to Future Boy! for a taste of what I'm envisioning.

    Another thing, for this IF player, anyway, is that I have to be
    motivated to solve a complicated puzzle. While I have encountered
    puzzles on ocassion that are just so cool in and of themselves that I
    can't wait to pull out my notepad, roll up my sleeves, and dig in, they
    are the exception for me. I need to know why I am solving a particular
    puzzle, and I have to be motivated enough by the plot to want to do so.
    This was my major problem with The Dreamhold. I found the fantasy
    setting uninteresting, the old amnesia plotline is not something I was
    particulary dying to see again, and I saw the big plot twist coming from
    miles away. If I had felt more motivated by plot and character to solve
    its puzzles, I would not have given up in boredom and turned to the
    hints so quickly. (Please don't take the above as a troll or slam
    against Zarf. I have the utmost respect for his accomplishments and
    contributions, and am thoroughly in awe of Spider and Web. The
    Dreamhold just didn't do it for me, though...)

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

    On Sun, 06 Feb 2005 11:30:58 GMT, "Andrew Krywaniuk" <askrywan@hotmail.com>
    wrote:

    >I've never been particularly fond of mechanical puzzles. They take a long
    >time to solve, and I generally find them frustrating. I've been wondering
    >about this recently, and I think my problem with them is that they don't
    >seem very suited to the medium.

    Actually, mechanical puzzles themselves aren't a problem in text
    adventures. The issue is with the implementation, where there is no proper
    emphasis on what needs to be done - it is visible, but is generally a bit
    too much unnecessairy description that makes other bits of the machine look
    important.

    It's more of a problem with writing - placing the "most important" stuff in
    the middle of a paragraph can and will cause the user to skip over the
    important detail - especially if the paragraph is stuffed with description.
    The same applies the other way around - if there isn't enough description,
    the player feels as if the item is basically just scenery.

    >I guess what I dislike about mechanical puzzles is that their difficulty
    >derives mainly from this limitation of the medium -- an inability to
    >properly visualize the device/system that is being manipulated.

    I can envision things clearly - just that the text isn't always written
    properly or omits a few details or doesn't properly describe an object.
    (E.g. "Examine car" doesn't tell you about the trunk that was referenced in
    the room description.)

    In fact, there are some games where I resorted to "examine all" in order to
    detect every item within a room. In some cases, I wasn't able to find a
    clear reference path directly to the object, or to other objects it is
    related to. "Happy Hunting" as they say.
  5. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Jimmy Maher wrote:

    > The solution is... just show me a picture or
    > diagram.

    Andrew said the same, and I'm sure that would be fine. It won't always
    be the answer, because adding even one illustration gives the thing a
    different feel, in the same way that illustrating a novel does. Don't
    take that as a value judgment on my part: like everybody else, I
    thought The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was a piece
    of genius.

    > When textual description works... use it. When graphics work
    better...
    > use them. With Glulx and HTML TADS, all this and more is possible.
    > Sound effects, sound puzzles, even voice actors are all
    possibilities.
    > Look to Future Boy! for a taste of what I'm envisioning.

    But I found the Creeeaaak! that happened every time I opened the door
    quite distracting. Funny at first, but I turned the sound off pretty
    quickly.
  6. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
    > And the simple act of manipulating objects is not necessarily
    > uninteresting. Manipulating objects is at the core of Metamorpheses,
    where
    > not only is it interesting, but the descriptions of the size & shape
    of
    > objects is quite ample. That kind of puzzle could probably work
    equally well
    > in text or graphics.

    That was just the sort of game I had in mind when I said that text
    lends itself to "poetic or mystical or sentimental" properties of
    objects. Emily Short works hard to keep you thinking about the
    metaphysical implications of the transformations you're making, and I
    don't think that would work as well if presented graphically.
  7. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    "Tommy Herbert" <cavebloke@excite.com> wrote in message
    news:1107720890.748678.319960@f14g2000cwb.googlegroups.com...
    > fuzzy. Mechanics can make for interesting interactive fiction puzzles
    > when it effects the actual landscape, as in For a Change, because
    > giving the feeling of a landscape is also fuzzy. But a text
    > description of a brass machine with a room of its own is a hangover
    > from the days before graphic adventures, when the only option for
    > implementing such a thing was in words. The less fuzzy such a

    Yes. In fact some mechanical puzzles could work in text if there was an
    accompanying image. (But there's still the question of whether they'd be
    interesting.) And the simple act of manipulating objects is not necessarily
    uninteresting. Manipulating objects is at the core of Metamorpheses, where
    not only is it interesting, but the descriptions of the size & shape of
    objects is quite ample. That kind of puzzle could probably work equally well
    in text or graphics.

    > from the start. Puzzles like Rematch, the maze in Photopia or the end
    > of Spider and Web leave the player feeling as though he has won through
    > inspiration rather than menu selection. Other games suffer because

    Yes, Spider and Web in particular is a great example of a puzzle where I
    can't imagine a way to do it in a graphical medium. Of course, I should also
    point out that it was implemented using a custom Q&A style interface which
    disabled certain standard IF commands.

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

    "M. Damian Dollahite" <ryukage@aol.com> wrote in message
    news:36nun4F52uo0vU1@individual.net...
    > I don't mind mechanical puzzles in text games, although I agree that
    > there are a lot of really bad ones. I too was frustrated by the
    > planetarium, although I think my frustration stemmed mostly from the
    > Tutorial Voice constantly nagging me to sit back and watch instead of

    I played the game in expert mode, and I was still annoyed by it. The basic
    problem is that I already know generally what I want to do (jump from A to
    B). In real life, it would be a matter of intuition and hand-eye
    coordination; in a text game, it's a matter of observation and trial &
    error. In short, the choice of medium has transformed the nature of the
    puzzle, and not necessarily for the better.

    Of course, I'm not really picking on The Dreamhold specifically. It's just
    the most recent game I played with annoying mechanical puzzles. Other recent
    examples are Typo!, Max Blaster & Doris DeLightning (multiple instances),
    The Erudition Chamber, etc.

    > fiddling with it. Were the Voice absent, I would still have been
    > frustrated (though somewhat less so) by the overly terse descriptions
    > that failed to provide a proper sense of scale and position. But that
    > was the real problem, IMO: that the descriptions of the machine were too
    > terse to give you any real mental picture of the position of the pieces.

    I disagree. Actually, I had a pretty good concept of the general layout of
    the device. But the difference between solving it or failing depended on
    some very precise timing (e.g. is the red sphere at 72 degrees or 74 degrees
    at the end of a turn). I find it silly that I have to execute a complex
    maneouver with sub-second precision using a turn-based interface where a
    turn appears to be longer than a second.

    Describing the state of machine in greater depth might conceivably make it
    easier to envision the aparatus, but then it would have to be unabashedly
    revealed as a mundane mathematical problem to solve.

    Also, if it already takes 8 lines to describe the state of a complex
    machine, would it really be more helpful to see it described in 20?

    > Compare the machine to the cistern puzzle in the same game. Also a
    > mechanical puzzle, but a brilliantly discoverable one. The main
    > difference was that the relationships between the parts of the cistern
    > were described clearly, while descriptions of the relationships between
    > the machine parts ranged from vague to nonexistant. I think a lot of the

    I didn't think the cistern puzzle was brilliant, but it was definitely
    comparitively easier to envision (and solve) it. To a certain extent, it's a
    lot easier to describe a room (or series of rooms) than a complex object.

    > medium well. This criteria trancends any particular story or puzzle
    > genre, and places responsibility solely on the author for all successes
    > and failures. Bad authors produce bad puzzle, good authors produce good

    Any specific case can overrule the general case. My comment was that
    attempts at mechanical puzzles seem to fail more often than not.

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

    Here, Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    > Any specific case can overrule the general case. My comment was that
    > attempts at mechanical puzzles seem to fail more often than not.

    It's also a question of what different players like. I knew the orrery
    puzzle would be pushing the boundaries (as compared to, say, the gate
    pillars in _So Far_, which were simpler -- but still unquestionably
    "mechanical".)

    I even briefly considered adding a little orrery diagram in the status
    bar. But I decided that would add confusion, not alleviate it. (And,
    indeed, you say your problem was not with *visualizing* the device.)

    But I've seen both positive and negative comments about it. And note
    that the entire problem of climbing the device is part of the
    "optional" goal of the game. The "basic" goal only requires you to
    wait.

    As I've said, I wasn't shy about including optional puzzles in
    Dreamhold that I expected a lot of players to *not solve*. Infocom had
    some really bastardly -- but fair -- puzzles that took me weeks or
    months to figure out, and I felt really good when I did so. Any such
    puzzle will inevitably leave some players entirely behind.

    I find it impossible to work that sort of thing into an IFComp-sized
    game. Players these days (and I include myself) want the game to go by
    pretty smoothly -- and, for IFComp games, in under two hours. I took
    Dreamhold as an opportunity to exercise the bastard, as it were :),
    while still having a game which was winnable by newcomers.

    --Z

    "And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the borogoves..."
    *
    I'm still thinking about what to put in this space.
  10. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    In article <z5FNd.307165$8l.39319@pd7tw1no>,
    Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >"M. Damian Dollahite" <ryukage@aol.com> wrote in message
    >news:36nun4F52uo0vU1@individual.net...
    >> I don't mind mechanical puzzles in text games, although I agree that
    >> there are a lot of really bad ones. I too was frustrated by the
    >> planetarium, although I think my frustration stemmed mostly from the
    >> Tutorial Voice constantly nagging me to sit back and watch instead of
    >
    >I played the game in expert mode, and I was still annoyed by it. The basic
    >problem is that I already know generally what I want to do (jump from A to
    >B). In real life, it would be a matter of intuition and hand-eye
    >coordination; in a text game, it's a matter of observation and trial &
    >error. In short, the choice of medium has transformed the nature of the
    >puzzle, and not necessarily for the better.

    I didn't find the machine at all frustrating. I'm a newbie and was happy to
    sit back and watch the machine. So perhaps part of the problem is a
    difference in expectations between a novice and an expert?

    >I disagree. Actually, I had a pretty good concept of the general layout of
    >the device. But the difference between solving it or failing depended on
    >some very precise timing (e.g. is the red sphere at 72 degrees or 74 degrees
    >at the end of a turn). I find it silly that I have to execute a complex
    >maneouver with sub-second precision using a turn-based interface where a
    >turn appears to be longer than a second.

    If solving the puzzle means getting the mask (which is all I managed to do
    with the machine), then I found it fairly easy and non-frustrating.

    Just in case, some spoiler space.


    I had to try to "take mask" and the first two lack-of-success messages led me
    to wait for a certain wheel to come around again. If there's more to it than
    that, then I missed it.
    --
    "Yo' ideas need to be thinked befo' they are say'd" - Ian Lamb, age 3.5
    http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/ qucis->cs to reply (it's a long story...)
  11. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    The classic example of a puzzle that, while very good, was very
    difficult because of the limitations of text explanations was the
    mirror box puzzle in Zork 2. I think Infocom did about as well as could
    be expected with that one, but I suspect most people solved it more by
    trial-and-error than by proper visualization of it.

    I personally love text games for the *lack* of information that the
    player has; it adds to the challenge, and the freedom to visualize a
    room as the player sees fit, combined with the extra mental aerobics
    required to solve puzzles of a mechanical nature, is something that is
    lost in graphical games, as good as they may be. Though certainly some
    games, such as the Myst series, are better off as graphical games, but
    I think that's because they are well-designed games to fit the
    graphical medium; a good graphical game won't work well in text, and a
    good text game won't work well in graphics.
  12. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    In article <cu91o3$8r2$1@knot.queensu.ca>,
    David Alex Lamb <dalamb@qucis.queensu.ca> wrote:
    >If solving the puzzle means getting the mask (which is all I managed to do
    >with the machine), then I found it fairly easy and non-frustrating.

    I see from Andrew's message that there was more to that puzzle, so my comment
    is mostly irrelevant -- except to point out that the part Andrew expected
    beginners to solve was fairly easy to solve.
    --
    "Yo' ideas need to be thinked befo' they are say'd" - Ian Lamb, age 3.5
    http://www.cs.queensu.ca/~dalamb/ qucis->cs to reply (it's a long story...)
  13. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    In article <cu91sr$958$1@knot.queensu.ca>,
    David Alex Lamb <dalamb@qucis.queensu.ca> wrote:
    >In article <cu91o3$8r2$1@knot.queensu.ca>,
    >David Alex Lamb <dalamb@qucis.queensu.ca> wrote:
    >>If solving the puzzle means getting the mask (which is all I managed to do
    >>with the machine), then I found it fairly easy and non-frustrating.
    >
    >I see from Andrew's message that there was more to that puzzle, so my comment
    >is mostly irrelevant -- except to point out that the part Andrew expected
    >beginners to solve was fairly easy to solve.

    There's more to that puzzle; also, in the expert mode even the basic
    part (getting the mask) is easier.

    For myself, I solved it not through observation but through sheer
    repetition. Instead of figuring out what the disc's periods were,
    and waiting until that, I just typed "grab " -- unsuccessfully --
    and then typed "g" until it worked. I'm just as glad that I didn't
    have a Tutorial Voice looking over my shoulder telling me not to do
    that (although I did *try* it in novice mode and got a bit amused
    at the Voice's annoyance).

    --
    David Goldfarb |"Hey, mister! Are you about to drag our brother off
    goldfarb@ocf.berkeley.edu | to a bleak nether realm of despair where the
    goldfarb@csua.berkeley.edu | future is nothing but an endless sea of anguish
    | and horrible misery?"
    | "Yah."
    |"We wanna go tooooo!" -- Animaniacs
  14. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    In article <cu94au$1qkn$1@agate.berkeley.edu>,
    David Goldfarb <goldfarb@OCF.Berkeley.EDU> wrote:
    >In article <cu91sr$958$1@knot.queensu.ca>,
    >David Alex Lamb <dalamb@qucis.queensu.ca> wrote:
    >>In article <cu91o3$8r2$1@knot.queensu.ca>,
    >>David Alex Lamb <dalamb@qucis.queensu.ca> wrote:
    >>>If solving the puzzle means getting the mask (which is all I managed to do
    >>>with the machine), then I found it fairly easy and non-frustrating.
    >>
    >>I see from Andrew's message that there was more to that puzzle, so my comment
    >>is mostly irrelevant -- except to point out that the part Andrew expected
    >>beginners to solve was fairly easy to solve.
    >
    >There's more to that puzzle; also, in the expert mode even the basic
    >part (getting the mask) is easier.

    Harder. (Stupid brain.)

    --
    David Goldfarb |"English cuisine is the cuisine of fear."
    goldfarb@ocf.berkeley.edu |
    goldfarb@csua.berkeley.edu | -- Andrew Conway
  15. Archived from groups: rec.games.int-fiction (More info?)

    "Tommy Herbert" <cavebloke@excite.com> wrote in message
    news:1107779657.942789.93250@l41g2000cwc.googlegroups.com...
    > Andrew Krywaniuk wrote:
    > > And the simple act of manipulating objects is not necessarily
    > > uninteresting. Manipulating objects is at the core of Metamorpheses,
    > where
    > > not only is it interesting, but the descriptions of the size & shape
    > of
    > > objects is quite ample. That kind of puzzle could probably work
    > equally well
    > > in text or graphics.
    >
    > That was just the sort of game I had in mind when I said that text
    > lends itself to "poetic or mystical or sentimental" properties of
    > objects. Emily Short works hard to keep you thinking about the
    > metaphysical implications of the transformations you're making, and I
    > don't think that would work as well if presented graphically.

    Maybe I was wrong to say that Metamopheses could work *equally* well using
    text or graphics, but I think it could still work as a graphical game.
    Having a little bit of mystery in the size and shape of things could make
    some puzzles a little more subtle (and interesting). It occurs to me, for
    example, that converting LGoP2 from a graphical game to text might have
    improved it from dreadful to merely awful.

    Like I said before, I think that including images could clarify certain
    types of puzzles where the layout of the room/system is hard to visualize
    but important. But isn't there a reason why we avoid putting graphics in our
    games? I, for one, would be happy to include static images to accompany the
    text *if* I could make them look good. (But there are rather severe limits
    to my artistic ability.)

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

    "David Goldfarb" <goldfarb@OCF.Berkeley.EDU> wrote in message
    news:cu94au$1qkn$1@agate.berkeley.edu...
    > For myself, I solved it not through observation but through sheer
    > repetition. Instead of figuring out what the disc's periods were,
    > and waiting until that, I just typed "grab " -- unsuccessfully --
    > and then typed "g" until it worked. I'm just as glad that I didn't
    > have a Tutorial Voice looking over my shoulder telling me not to do
    > that (although I did *try* it in novice mode and got a bit amused
    > at the Voice's annoyance).

    Well, actually I tried to solve it through repetition as well, but somehow
    failed. I tried typing "d" at opportune times for more than the cycle of the
    machine (at least 20 times), and it never worked. When I finally read
    someone's solution on the newsgroup, I immediately said "I swear I tried
    that!"

    As for the suitability of such puzzles, I guess my comment would be that
    when I played these games in the 80s there were far fewer options available.
    If you solved a game in a few hours, you felt a bit ripped off. Now, it
    doesn't seem like such a bad thing. (But actually, I never liked the
    mechanical puzzles much back then either. IIRC, I used the walkthroughs
    quite a bit.)

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

    In article <6RZNd.322137$Xk.71116@pd7tw3no>,
    Andrew Krywaniuk <askrywan@hotmail.com> wrote:
    [The orrery puzzle in _The Dreamhold_]
    >Well, actually I tried to solve it through repetition as well, but somehow
    >failed. I tried typing "d" at opportune times for more than the cycle of the
    >machine (at least 20 times), and it never worked. When I finally read
    >someone's solution on the newsgroup, I immediately said "I swear I tried
    >that!"

    Hm...I typed "grab [other spoiler]", repetition of which worked.

    --
    David Goldfarb | "Typos in _Finnegans Wake_? How could you tell?"
    goldfarb@ocf.berkeley.edu |
    goldfarb@csua.berkeley.edu | -- Kim Stanley Robinson
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