Author Topic: About puzzles and realism  (Read 1304 times)

Offline darthkiwi

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About puzzles and realism
« on: February 15, 2013, 04:29:13 PM »
So I've been thinking.

There are some puzzles in Cognition that aren't really puzzles. Things like shooting the lock off the gate, getting the printout from the printer, kicking the soda machine to get your food, that sort of thing. They're actions, and they allow you to progress, but they're not exactly puzzling.

I wonder, what does everyone else think of these little moments? I personally think they add depth to the experience and make it feel less artificial. If you print something out and then have to get it from the printer, it feels like you're interacting with a world similar to ours, right? And it can also help role-playing and empathy: if you're an FBI agent you should be able to just blow your way through a gate, right? Well... you can!

I'd personally like to see more of this stuff. Maybe I'm just weird, but I'd like a game where you get an address from a suspect but then before it's added to your overworld map, you have to actually look it up in an A-Z or on google maps or something, like you would in real life.

Thoughts?
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Offline KatieHal

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Re: About puzzles and realism
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2013, 04:54:26 PM »
No surprise, I also really like these things--they make you feel like a part of the character's life, you're involved. you're putting the effort in, even for little things. It's definitely possible to go overboard with this kind of thing, but there's a great balance that can be struck there.

Heavy Rain, for example, does this AMAZINGLY well, IMO. You spend the first few scenes as Ethan just starting your day and playing with your kids. It seems kind of weird and maybe even boring, but it serves a few purposes. One, you can get used to the controls in an atmosphere that's fairly casual (no one's threatening your life, your actions at this point don't really affect the rest of the game, etc). Two, you get to know the character--here's his life, his home, his family, the kind of work he does, etc. And three, you make emotional connections. YOU are doing your work for the day, YOU are playing with your kids, YOU are getting a birthday party ready. You connect to all of these thing in a personal way, and the bright colors and sunlight of this portion of the game coupled with those simple actions really enforces how much things have changed later on in the game, and they give even more weight to what you're later trying to accomplish.

Walking Dead, too, does all these things with simple actions, to the same effect. They could be put off to an automatic action, or a cutscene, but by having the player actively go through these simple actions, they feel like they're a part of the game and have invested something in the character's life and decisions.


Hmm...interestingly enough, now that I've written that out, I understand why some people didn't like Cognition's beginning. While it had those simple, small actions, you were thrown into the high emotion scenario before getting to know Erica and getting invested. That said, I personally really enjoy in media res openings like that, for that reason--you're immediately pulled in by the intense situation. So it has its pros and cons, but hey, thanks for this thread, darthkiwi, if for nothing else than giving me new insight on that particular criticism!

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Offline Oldbushie

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Re: About puzzles and realism
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2013, 06:42:13 PM »
I kinda like those "puzzles" too. One thing I enjoyed about Duke Nukem Forever is that you could interact with just about anything.
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Offline darthkiwi

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Re: About puzzles and realism
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2013, 07:02:47 AM »
No problem Katie! FWIW I really liked Cognition's opening, but I do tend to give characters I don't know the benefit of the doubt.

And yeah, Heavy Rain is the epitome of this. I think that's what I like most about it: all actions are equally important, from pulling a trigger to carefully closing the door so you don't wake someone.

I guess I like this style of design because it can immerse you in the world and give you a greater emphathic connection to the character. With a lot of arbitrary adventure-game puzzles, you can find yourself thinking "What did the designer want me to do here?" rather than "What would I do if I were in the character's place?" You kind of think about the puzzle from a design perspective, rather than your character's perspective. Whereas with these little things, you only need to think "What would I do in this situation? Oh! Go to the printer" or whatever.

And for me personally, I'd rather have an emotional connection to a game than a really neat set of puzzles. Clever puzzles are of course very intricate and fun and satisfying, but I think games are currently lacking a bit when it comes to involving the player emotionally. And frankly, when I watch any film or read any book, what I'm looking for most is an emotional connection.
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