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Title: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 02:00:50 PM
Over the years there have been many aspects originating out of early or modern adventure game design, that many people criticize for various reasons. Note: While some of these puzzle designs appear in other genres, most had start as puzzles in early Adventure Games.

What do you think is the worst in your opinion?

I've given a few I remember people complaining about over the years in various magazines, websites, or in forums.

The first three are three types of puzzles that appear in many of the earliest adventure games (including text adventures) that many people claim are worst and most tedius aspects of adventure gaming. They often get in the way of doing the 'trading/item use' style puzzles.

The first is the maze, a place where you can get lost, and not always know what you need to find. Adventure/Collossal Cave is probably the first to have these. Wizard and the Princess, KQ5, QFG2, KQ6, SQ5, LSL2 (or was it three?), Monkey Island, and any number assorted games have this type of 'puzzle'.  KQ8 offers two or three of these in the form of the Dimension of Death, Underground Realm of the Gnomes, and the three levels of the Temple of the Sun. Zork series is generally remembered for the number of mazes thrown at the player. There are different types of mazes, including one screen mazes like the mountain caves/cliffs in KQ3, and the tentacle plant in SQ3.

The second is the tile puzzle (ala KQ6, Torin's Passage, Return to Zork, Gabriel Knight 3, Fate of Atlantis, Last Crusade, and KQ8): These often include jumping puzzles over platforms or move around tiles to find an exit, or some cases a variation on chess or checkers (where you have to defeat an enemy, i.e. the last puzzle of Return to Zork), others involve change all tile colors to another pattern or color. While generally a game had no more than one or two of these puzzles some games like Seventh Guest or KQ8 tried to toss in more than that (at least one of these is almost the same kind of puzzle as a tile jumping puzzle in the lava world of Torin's Passage)! Other variations of this is the sliding picture tile puzzle (EcoQuest 1, Return to Zork), where tiles must be moved around to discover the hidden picture they make up.

(http://www.mobygames.com/images/i/01/47/333397.png)

The third is the box puzzle, this involves pushing some box, walls, or other objects around a room to find an exit or reach another item. One of the most diabolical versions of this puzzle is in Zork 3 in which the player had to move around not only a maze, but also move walls around, in order to find an exit. All the while there was very few descripive clues to point out if you were doing it correctly (if you failed you had to reset maze). Some may argue that Broken Sword 3 went as far to focus on box and maze puzzles at the expense of other types of classic adventure game puzzle design (item/trading puzzles). KQ8 is also known for tossing 2-3 of these puzzles in a couple of areas of the game (one for example is the picture of the Mask in the Temple of the Sun).

Just for the sake of pointing out how some of these puzzle designs may overlap, I point out a puzzle in the Forest Temple in OOT, that is sort of a combination of box puzzle, and slider/title puzzles, with a ghost image, that resets after several seconds. The basic aspect of this puzzle is very similar to the Mask box/picture puzzle in KQ8.

The Cliches of Adventure Game Design. I use the example of the Door, Key, and Newspaper. For anyone who has played adventure games, this is probably THE most cliched puzzle in any adventure game... You might remember it such games as Hugo's House of Horrors, and a variation of it appears in Back to the Future! In worst situations this might even lead to a dead end, if you push the key before using the newspaper! Can you think of any other over-used puzzle sequences found through many adventure games?

Conversation-style puzzles. This is largely a more well known aspect of non-sierra games, such as Lucasarts. The more advanced forms of this kind of puzzle involves conversation menus, and choosing correct choices during a conversation while attempting to avoid doing anything that would make them angry, try to stop you, etc. They do appear in a few Sierra games such as the Gabriel Knight series, and some of the early Police Quest games, and Quest for Glory (but are generally pretty rare). These are very common in detective adventure games, where some kind of interrogation method is needed in the gameplay. They can sometimes include a visual aspect, like the classic hand puzzle in Monkey Island 2. Note that parser system games sometimes offered more elaborate conversation-style puzzles (without the menu) requring the player to think extra hard about what to ask characters. In the most primitive form of this puzzle (usually in games with cursors and icons) the player may receive points for simply talking to a character and learning about something they need to get (or need to do), or someone else they need to talk to (I.e. in KQ6 there is a chain to speak to  Ali to Hassan to hakim to get the magic map). The latter example can fit not only into a conversation-puzzle chain, but also ties into into a type of fetch quest. For another example of conversation style puzzles, see the many examples in GK3 which involve specific missible cutscenes that are required to get full points in the game, and truly solve the mystery. Many of these cutscenes and events are combined with the complicated menu-based conversation puzzles (so if the wrong choice is made the player might not get all the points, or solve the problem completely). Perhaps puzzles that require you to read a letter (but which turn into a more or less useless item afterwards) may be considered a type of 'communication' quest.

'Fetch quest' puzzles are generally one of the most common puzzle types in adventure games. They are usually the b****** offspring of the primitive form of the conversation puzzle and the more advanced versions of the item use/trading puzzles. These puzzles usually being told or reading about something you need to get. In worst case scenario told specifically were to go to get it. Most of KQ3 for example is made up of finding spell ingredients mentioned in the manual, and then using the spells in ways and locations described in the manual. On the other hand some of the most elaborate item trading sequences involve a sequence of fetch quests between various characters. In Sierra a good example of an adventure games based largely on fetch quests are Roberta William's own Mixed-Up Mother Goose, and the sequel, Mixed-Up Fairy Tales. The puzzles in these two games were simplified into very simple fetch quests for sake of children. The main quests in KQ1, 2 and KQ4, are riddled with elaborate fetch quests to find three treasures or keys (see also 'treasure hunt' puzzles below)! Another fetch quest in KQ2 involves Antique Shop owner asking you to fetch her pet nightingale from Hagatha! In some cases, you may just know the gist of what you need, but not told specifically what you need (so there is still a bit more challenge going on). In other cases you might be told what you need, but not be told where to find it (these can also prove to be more challenging style of fetch quest).

Next I use Rube Goldberg (aka Macgyver) as a reference to unusual or illogical use of mundane items (or any items really) to solve puzzles. These are generally unrealistic puzzle solutions, that require thinking completely outside or even under the box. Perhaps its even logical, but requires knowledge outside of the game to solve (pop culture, mythology, fantasy, science fiction, etc). These may overlap into the 'Cliches' category. These should not be confused with 'physics' or 'environmental' based puzzles, although there may sometimes be overlap.

Dead ends and deaths, this is largely self explanatory, and is boiled down to one of the key style differences between Sierra and Lucasarts. But also many other companies.

Action/Combat/Arcade/Mini-games, these are generally limited to sequences in adventure games. But in the case of some games like Mean Streets (the first Tex Murphy game), Conquests series, many of the Indiana Jones adventure games, QFG, Inca, Heart of China, Rise of the Dragon, or KQ8 are made constantly encountered or important aspects of the gameplay. They may also include board games, card games, or other types of 'mini-games'. Space quest 1 (original) and Leisure Suit Larry had its slot machines, and Space Quest has its assorted space combat, battleship, dukem robots, hovercraft and other mini-game and arcade sequences. Codename: Iceman has a difficult card game (that knows and will penalize if you 'cheat') and some rather difficult submarine arcade battle sequences. Infact, it seems that arcade/combat/mini-games tend to go hand in hand with games with deadends or even deaths! Since failture at the mini-game/combat might lead to death later on, if the doesn't kill you outright to begin with!

The last few poll choices are more to do with interfaces, graphics that sort of thing, and hint systems. These aren't necessarily directly related to puzzle design, but are often things people have complained about over the years for whatever reasons!

The final poll choice, gives you an option to mention something I may have missed!

Anyways what are your thoughts? Although you can't vote more than once, if there are several concepts that you find annoying, list them (and list them in order if you can)!

(Posted on: July 31, 2011, 01:14:12 PM)


I've had to reset the poll, as I've expanded it to add a few more puzzle types that get complaints (and it didn't move the selections correctly).

I've added illogical 'rube goldberg' style puzzles, as opposed to realistic everyday mundane puzzle design. I modified one category into 'cliches" (as in puzzles that are reused way too many times in countless games). i've added in the missing 'fetch quests' category.

Keep in mind that each of these categories probably have many sub categories and may blend into other categories as well. Fetch for example is usually combination of simple conversation-puzzle and item-based puzzles.

Each of these categories may have complicated or simple versions of that type of puzzle.

One final thing, I forgot to put on the list, but could fit into the arcade or other, is the mini-game style puzzle! These often involve some kind of arcade or traditional-style puzzle sequence. Like putting a puzzle together, or the Magic Mage or Antwerp mazes in QFG, maybe even a board game (mancala, nine-men's morris, battleship analog), or gambling games (poker, slot machines, etc). These are widely varried, are often required to play to move on in the game, and often hold secrets to a needed item, winning the game, or getting full points. Since these types are so widely varied, it is difficult to classify them all on a single marrit, they are worth mentioning.

I also didn't list up the "treasure hunt" style puzzles. These are puzzles that require you to find some treasure just to get maximum points. See the Sapphire Jewels in KQ2. These were common in early adventure games, but more rare in later ones. Generally they are only found in Infocom and early Sierra adventure games. These items may or may not be used as alternate solutions to other puzzles. But generally their purpose is to get full points. These are probably the most simplistic type of puzzle in adventure games. This concept survived in later games through the  existence of 'red herring' items, and non-useable items. The latter might add to the full points in the game, but serve no purpose towards solutions of other puzzles. An example of a red herring or useless item in KQ2 for example is the 'clamshell' or the 'silk pillow'. There only purpose is to be picked up, and find the the treasure underneath, but serves no other purpose after that. In some situations, they may not even be related to any other puzzle, for example the completely useless native Keronian plant in SQ1AGI (hence 'red herring'). The treasure chest in KQ3. In some cases treasure hunts could be the main point to winning the game (find tree treasures, the three keys, etc), but may be just part of an elaborate fetch quest chain!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MusicallyInspired on July 31, 2011, 02:45:15 PM
Everything BTTF did (or didn't do).

:P
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 02:53:43 PM
BTTF is made up of;

1. 'cliche' puzzle category. nearly every puzzle in the game has been seen before in other Adventure games (see for example the variation on the newspaper, door, key puzzles).


2. conversation-puzzle category both advanced and primitive forms (it has two variations on the Monkey Island Hand signal puzzle in two episodes). This could overlap with the cliche category.

3. Hint system.

4. highlighted items and cursor (the game usually tells you what you can pick up, by visually focusing on the item).

5. Fetch quests (tied in with the hintsystem and highlighted items).

6. It's linear and chapter based.

7. No deaths.

8. One game breaking dead-end (in a generally dead-end free environment).

9. Has one or two box puzzles, and or mazes (including that slider maze in the final act).

10. It's 3-d (for those that dispise 3-d).

You are told what to pick up (highlights), and you pretty much are told where to use them (if hints are turned on, 'fetch quests"). Besides if you are old timer with adventure games, most of the puzzles are 'been there done that" (cliche), so there is no challenge!

I don't think anything in it reaches into the Goldberg category, and there maybe is only one mini-game?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on July 31, 2011, 02:56:03 PM
I have to go with the Rube Goldberg aspect. It's an interesting title for an otherwise underwhelming aspect, but it really annoys me when I am driven to a walkthrough to find out that I needed to use an umbrella to unlock the door.  ::)

I found many puzzles like this in KQ5 and the first two seasons of Sam and Max. I am at least aware of the nonsensical "logic", but having to use a walkthrough for an adventure game kind of ruins the adventure aspect. Still, the countless hours spent on these puzzles do extend the longevity of the game, but I can't tell if it makes it any better. It's still corny to me.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 02:59:56 PM
While there are many annoying aspects of adventure games, especially depending on what an individual wants to see in an adventure game; I personally chose the hightlighted items/context senstive cursors, as the single most dumbing down aspect in adventure games. When they added that into adventures, the games started going downhill fast.

Another thing I left off the list is 'physics' and 'environmental' based puzzles. These types of puzzles are fairly rare, IMO in Adventure games. Only were being put in after rise of true 3-d engines. Where a player's actions in one part of the map, could effect things in another part of the map. These largely appear in action-adventure subgenre of Adventure games. I actually think these puzzle types are nice. But some might not like them, so use the 'other' if need be.


Same goes for 'treasure hunt' puzzles if you feel that's a weakness.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on July 31, 2011, 03:22:31 PM
While there are many annoying aspects of adventure games, especially depending on what an individual wants to see in an adventure game; I personally chose the hightlighted items/context senstive cursors, as the single most dumbing down aspect in adventure games. When they added that into adventures, the games started going downhill fast.

I am impartial to that aspect, because I feel like it isn't directed to me. It's for the newbies. If they didn't have that aspect, they'll be too many people complaining about how it's too difficult because it requires them to think (God forbid). Regardless, I can understand why a veteran of the adventure genre would be repulsed by the aspect. However, the genre has gotten progressively more simple for the casual audience, and it's a rolling stone. There's no way to hinder the ongoing process of requiring the gamer to use less and less of their brain power. Before long, the adventure genre will be filled with games that lack any real puzzle solving (a la Telltale's Jurassic Park, lest I remind all of you).

Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 03:26:06 PM
Any option that dumbs down the system, should be optional, and easily turned off or on, depending on a player's skill level.

It was the dumbing down of the interfaces that sent me towards more challenging game genres (more challenging in other ways), like traditional RPG's and action-adventures and the like...! Genres that evolved out of the Adventure game genre, but took a very different approach.

Adventure games are making a full circle back towards the CYOA (choose your own adventure) books and Pen-and-Paper RPGs that spawned the genre in the first place! More choice making, less direct thinking! It's like those older forms of entertainment but now with flashy shiny animated technology! But maybe  without the dead ends/alternate endings...

Thank you for Chrono Trigger and Radiant Historia (lots of dead ends, alternate endings)!

Also one of my favorite Adventure Games of all time Shadow of Destiny, because of the multiple ending approach. Although it is more of an interactive movie/interactive novella style of adventure, which is also a derivation out of the old CYOA books. See also Radical Dreamers for this style, or that largely popular Ace Attorney series (interactive novella style adventure without the multiple endings)! That being said these types of games can still be quite challenging! Even if the puzzles are made up more of 'choices' rather than say 'inventory' based puzzles (granted Ace Attorney has an inventory somewhat). Ace Attorney also has an extremely elaborate conversation based puzzle design, involving interogations, and catching flaws in your opponent's words (which I think is one of the other things that makes that series so good).


Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on July 31, 2011, 03:52:23 PM
I'm a fan of the Professor Layton series. While it is literally filled to the brim with puzzles, and you'll rarely find a moment in the game where you aren't solving a puzzle, it still has an engaging story that brings the world to life. In the end, the puzzles are irrelevant to the story, but they are fun nonetheless.

I would rather see the adventure genre evolve into these sub-genres than see it become these simplified point-and-click titles that do all the work for you.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 03:58:30 PM
I love puzzle-adventure genre. The early Dr. Brains, Seventh Guest, Dr. Layton, etc. Sure they may or may not have an inventory, but the story is as you said 'still engaging'! Even Myst/Riven fits into this genre (although I never saw much in that series).

Some people hate the mini-game style format, that ridicule those type of games, though.

Ok I added in Red Herrings/Useless items, Physics puzzles, and 'Treasure Hunts" (an early adventure game aspect seen in Zork series, KQ1, 2 & 4) to the list! These are sometimes pointed out as weaknesses.

Physics and environmental puzzles are more rare, you do notice a couple every now and then such as one or two puzzles in one of the two Dr. Brain adventures. They main ones I can think of show up in KQ8, with button pressing puzzles, weight sensitive traps, cutting down a tree to block flow of water in a windmill, freezing water to make a lever, using a bow to cut a rope to open a gate, using throwing hammer to push a lever, etc. There really wasn't alot of actual functional physics going on in earlier 2-d adventure games. The closest might be the carrot/goat/troll quest in KQ1, in which you don't physically hold the goat (its not an inventory item per se), but physically eliminates the troll as an obstacle for you.

I also added in CYOA (choose your own adventure) as a proper category, as this is the direction of some of the adventure games in the interactive novela/movie format, but also the direction of some of the future adventure games, like Jurassic Park.

See here, for an example of a CYOA book based on an Adventure Game;
http://www.boraski.com/zork/

Dead-ends for example are pretty much a sub-aspect of CYOA! Especially when those dead ends lead to alternate endings or special deaths. Most of the dead ends of KQ5 for example lead to many unique death sequences (which are missible otherwise). Thus in this situation the dead ends are intentional, and not a product of bugs and poor game design.

I removed 'Other' category. It will make it easier to add 'others' as people bring them up.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: darthkiwi on July 31, 2011, 04:24:33 PM
While there are many annoying aspects of adventure games, especially depending on what an individual wants to see in an adventure game; I personally chose the hightlighted items/context senstive cursors, as the single most dumbing down aspect in adventure games. When they added that into adventures, the games started going downhill fast.

But Monkey Island 1 and 2 had that: there's a bar at the bottom which tells you what your cursor is hovering over. I think it's a great idea, since it means you don't have to exhaustively click the eye icon on everything before you know what's important and what's not, and prevents pixel hunts.

When I first played Gabriel Knight 1, I spent ten minutes slowly and patiently clicking around the whole first screen making sure I wasn't missing anything, and that anything I could pick up had been picked up. Pleased with myself, but rather exhausted, I went into the back room. ARGH! Another room full of lots of stuff! I simply gave up, overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I'd have to click the eye icon on. Maybe I would have gone back to it sooner than I did (it took about two years and this forum to make me go back), but the thought of all that stuff just sitting there and waiting for me to click on it over and over made me feel slightly ill.

I'm probably rather lazy for not persevering, but I think one of the hardest moments in an adventure is the exploration period, where you have to comb through everything and make sure you haven't missed anything. I sometimes miss things (in Gabriel Knight, for example, missing easily overlooked pixel irregularities like the snake scale) which makes me assume that I have everything I need to solve the next puzzle when actually I don't.

Then we get into a situation where I'm just stuck, wandering aimlessly around various locations hoping to God that something will occur to me or I'll see something I missed which will let me progress. Some people (mostly old-school adventure game fans) seem to say that there's something special about this state, that players who get stuck and give up are weak or stupid and that true adventurers carry on and think their way through, but I don't see the appeal at all. It's seldom about being intelligent: it's more often about happening to think in the same way as the person who came up with the puzzle. And when you get stuck, you wander round feeling stupid and are taken completely out of the experience.

When I'm solving puzzles and moving the plot along, I feel like I'm the character I'm meant to be playing; when I'm stuck I feel like a hopeless player bashing their head against the wall. And needless pixel-hunting and unnecessary obfuscation of the game's basic puzzle elements aren't going to help with that. I say, the more context sensitive cursors, the better. People don't want to play a game to be stuck (and go find a walkthrough). I'm not saying they will always play to have "fun" either: I think that's a pervasive and ridiculous idea which relegates gaming to nothing more than toys. But they are playing to be engaged, and probably to feel like they're a part of the story, even if it's not necessarily a happy one. I for one would love to play a point-and-click tragedy, for example. But I would not like to play a point-and-click comedy featuring dead ends, unforeseeable deaths and easily missable items, because, while it might be more "fun", it would be a hell of a lot more frustrating.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 04:29:18 PM
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"But Monkey Island 1 and 2 had that: there's a bar at the bottom which tells you what your cursor is hovering over. I think it's a great idea, since it means you don't have to exhaustively click the eye icon on everything before you know what's important and what's not, and prevents pixel hunts."

MI 1 and 2 actually give you a suggested 'default' action. It wasn't always the correct action, but one that would give you a general baring on the situation. Otherwise it was a rather advanced interface somewhere between parser and cursor format interfaces. There was generally alot of things you could do with it, push, pull, look, etc. Even if some of the outcomes were for the humorous messages only.

Actually KQ1 for the Sega Master System used a similar system!

It's far different than say KQ7's glowing wand when hovering over an interactable object. Granted in that game there was hardly anything to interact with, so it saved time from having to click on everything... But i'd rather have mundane descriptions for everything if possible! It adds flavor. There are some things artists may put in background art, that I would love to know more about, but can't because there is no way to interact with it.

KQ7 felt more like a pixel hunt, since I still had to scan the entire screen looking for one tiny interactive element. Whereas in KQ6 part of the fun, was figuring out what you couldn't pick up, while at the same time I was learning about the world!

That is one reason why I consider GK1 the best of the Gabriel Knight games, because so much background lore is hidden in the narrative messages, and the later games lose that without the narrator and the simplified interfaces. I don't think every game needs a narrator, that's largely a style choice (not puzzle choice), but if a series starts with it, they should have carried it through the rest of the series (as its part of what made that series what was). It also works as a kind of clue system. Since looking and manipulating might teach you something extra.

Another game with lots of flavorful extra narrative text is Freddy Pharkas! Probably the most packed into a single Sierra game! Even if much of it is there for laughs!

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I for one would love to play a point-and-click tragedy, for example. But I would not like to play a point-and-click comedy featuring dead ends, unforeseeable deaths and easily missable items, because, while it might be more "fun", it would be a hell of a lot more frustrating.

I take it you didn't like Space Quest, Leisure Suity Larry or Freddy Pharkas? I don't really like LSL but, the other two are great!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on July 31, 2011, 08:13:28 PM
I voted for mazes.

Mazes in graphical adventure games are not quite as bad.  In KQ5, I just walked around aimlessly listening to the music and not thinking very hard until I found all the stuff I needed, and the exit.  And the manual for KQ6 has a map for the maze.

But I loathe mazes in text-adventure games.  I find almost no pleasure in them whatsoever.  I eventually learned that if I run into a text-maze, I should promptly get a map for said maze - otherwise, the maze will kill whatever pleasure I am getting from the game.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on July 31, 2011, 08:52:38 PM
Mazes in text games are diabolical. However, I didn't so much like the one in Hugo II: Whodunnit either, and that was a graphical adventure. That game makes me hate hedge mazes (ok not real world ones)!

The ones in Return to Zork were pretty annoying as well, they were extremely large, and had alot of death causing screens..

The one in Wizard and the Princess is pretty confusing too, but luckily you are continually warped around the castle by the wizard if you go certain ways, which makes it somewhat easier, since you often get warped into the main rooms. The desert maze is far worse!

I don't really like the one in KQ5 either, but like you I kinda wander aimlessly until I find Dink, and then the exit door. The one in KQ6 I have completely memorized, its not that big of a maze.

I'm also not that big of a fan of the mazes in QFG2, the city streets. I don't always have my copy of the map on hand, and that game has the complicated perspective changes like in KQ5, but a much larger map.

There is actually a trick to mazes, always follow the right or left edges of a maze (stick to one or the other, not both), and you'll eventually find an exit, or center of the maze (if its that kinda maze). But this trick is largely thrown out when it comes to mazes where the perspectives change whenever you change directions!

(Posted on: July 31, 2011, 10:22:44 PM)


So here is a question? Should I add first person perspectives to the list? As that is a perspective that often affected puzzle design decisions in certain games like Myst and its clones (the First Person-adventure Metroid Prime series and Azriel's Tear also comes to mind)! ...or at least the perspective changes the feel of the game.

People often hate the optional first person perspective in KQ8 for example, although in that game it really didn't effect the puzzles at all.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: darthkiwi on August 01, 2011, 07:22:34 AM
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MI 1 and 2 actually give you a suggested 'default' action. It wasn't always the correct action, but one that would give you a general baring on the situation. Otherwise it was a rather advanced interface somewhere between parser and cursor format interfaces. There was generally alot of things you could do with it, push, pull, look, etc. Even if some of the outcomes were for the humorous messages only.

Actually KQ1 for the Sega Master System used a similar system!

It's far different than say KQ7's glowing wand when hovering over an interactable object.

Ah, okay. I thought you were complaining of the cursor being at all context sensitive. In MI1 and 2 I think the fact hotspots are flagged up is useful, but I think the rich verb system means that the game still has a deep enough interface. In KQ7 I agree it was rather simple, although I don't think we should throw out the idea of simple context-sensitive cursors entirely: for some games they might make sense. If a game is more geared towards telling a story than making you solve puzzles then it might make sense.

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I take it you didn't like Space Quest, Leisure Suity Larry or Freddy Pharkas? I don't really like LSL but, the other two are great!

Actually, I never got around to playing those. :-[ But I'm not saying that funny adventure games are somehow less noble than serious ones: I loved Grim Fandango and Monkey Island. My complaint is more against adventure games which are needlessly frustrating when they could easily have been designed in a more player-friendly fashion. For example, I just finished playing QFG4, and I think it's one of the most amazing and brilliant games I've ever played. But, it relies on you leaving your room at midnight on a certain day to meet a certain character, giving you no indication or hint that you need to do this. And if you miss this character, the game cannot be completed - and it has to be on the third night of the game, and if you miss him on this one night then you will never have another chance to meet him. Why not have thrown in a hint somewhere, at least? I'm just rather frustrated with the idea that bad design decisions like this make an adventure game more hardcore or worthy, when in fact they only frustrate the player.

Or take Laura Bow 2, for instance. That game has a number of really interesting design decisions which I think are really great and should have been used by other games: a journal of names, places, things and ideas to ask people about, as well as an intriguing murder mystery plot which you have to work out yourself, and lots of little pieces of evidence to uncover. Unfortunately, it's incredibly easy to miss things, and some events occur with no warning. Chapter 5 features you being chased by the murderer, but it begins with absolutely no warning that a chase is about to occur, so the player has to wander around thinking everything is normal, and then be killed by the murderer, before they know what's going on. And even then, they will have to reload to a save just before chapter 5, because you're not allowed to save (for some arbitrary reason) on the screen that chapter 5 begins on. I just wish that designers of games like these had considered the player more when they were designing, because it's almost as if the games were made for the people who were designing them, rather than the actual players.

As for mazes, the KQ5 one confused me but only because it kept changing perspective. I actually quite enjoyed the KQ6 maze, since I could map it as I went along and I got a feeling of accomplishment from having explored all of it. But I agree that other mazes, like the streets of QFG2, are pretty needless and just lead to frustration. And I really don't want to find out what a text-adventure maze is like. :o
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 01, 2011, 07:39:59 AM
Quote
layer-friendly fashion. For example, I just finished playing QFG4, and I think it's one of the most amazing and brilliant games I've ever played. But, it relies on you leaving your room at midnight on a certain day to meet a certain character, giving you no indication or hint that you need to do this. And if you miss this character, the game cannot be completed - and it has to be on the third night of the game, and if you miss him on this one night then you will never have another chance to meet him.
Are you referring to the domovoi? I'm pretty sure I've encountered it randomly at other times, there may be other events that trigger his appearance. As I don't spend most of my time staying in the inn and split some of that time with the the staff or the garden. I don't recall ever being blocked from beating the game. I recall the game even had a warning waking you up in the middle of the night to sounds coming from downstairs. This is at least how the game used to work, I don't know if it's become buggier with time. The game has always had timing issues that lead to random bugs.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on August 01, 2011, 04:21:53 PM
You know, I actually liked the puzzle/box combo puzzle in Zork 3.  I also like Yorick's maze in QfG1, and the mountain cave screen maze in KQ3.  I don't even mind the QfG2 streets that much (though I could have also lived without them).  In my offline life, I have to walk in areas that are as labyrinthine as Shapeir/Raseir (not so much the neighbourhood I live in, but other neighbourhoods I visit frequently).  There's a reason many local addresses look like "Something Street, Lane #X, Alley #Y".  Of course, unlike in QfG2, there are semi-distinct landmarks, such as a tea shop here, a 7-Eleven there, a temple over there etc. to help you get your bearings once you know an area, and I have a strong sense of direction.  I think, in graphical adventure games, even with perspective changes, my strong sense of direction carries over to some extent.

However, I don't think my sense of direction helps me in text adventure games.  And what makes them really diabolical is their direction-warping.  If I go north from Room 1 into Room 2, you'd think that if I go south I'd be back in Room 1.  Nope, going south from Room 2 leads me to Room3.  I have to go NW from Room 3 into Room 4 and then west from Room 4 to get back to Room 1.  The direction warping is what really does me in, and makes me run for a pre-made map.  I was fine with the box-maze puzzle in Zork 3 because at least their was no warping.

So I suppose it's not so much that I think mazes are the worst aspect of puzzle design as that I think direction-warping is the worst aspect.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 01, 2011, 04:40:01 PM
Isn't direction warping a form of or description for the perspective change? That is to say that the controls change based on direction you are facing, so you have think in 3-d dimensions, based on current direction you are facing in the game?

Cause in KQ5, when ever perspective changes, your north (or rather your movement foreward) is whatever way you are facing, and behind you is "south" (or rather back). In graphical adventures there is usually extra compass that makes it a bit easier to keep track of the direction switching.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on August 01, 2011, 08:38:24 PM
Isn't direction warping a form of or description for the perspective change? That is to say that the controls change based on direction you are facing, so you have think in 3-d dimensions, based on current direction you are facing in the game?

No!

No matter what your perspective is, whether it's changing or not, if you go north from Room 1 to enter Room 2, you should be able to get back to Room 1 by going south - unless there is direction warping!!!  Just look at the maps for the mazes in Zork 1 ... that's an entirely different beast than KQ5 (where if you go north and decide you want to go back to where you were, you can just turn around and go back south).
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 01, 2011, 09:12:03 PM
I'm still a little confused. Since in some games, using n, s, e, w keys stood in for, forward, back, right, and left.

Maybe its not like that in Zork (I haven't played the series in maybe 15 years), but it was something I remember making some text adventures confusing as hell, since I had to rethink things from whatever perspective I was facing, and remember it would be different if found myself back in the room from a different side of the room!

I'm looking at some of the mazes in Zork, and its looks like in some cases, a direction might send you down some kind of winding passage, before you reach another room. So literally your character switches directions in an automatically described fashion. So the entrance to the tunnel might be south in one room, but the winding nature of the tunnel between two rooms turns it east in next room (or some other direction). So you would have too look at that room to get your baring again. This reminds me of some of the descriptions in the Hobbit, when it describes Bilbo exploring the Goblin caves, and how his sense of direction was always changing due to the winding tunnels putting him in another direction before he entered into another room..
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on August 02, 2011, 02:01:31 AM
Take a look at this map from Zork 1

http://www.lafn.org/webconnect/mentor/zork/Z1Maze.gif

If you go south from Maze (01), you end up in Maze (04).  If you go south from Maze (04), you end up in Maze (01).  And if you go north of Maze (01) you end up in ... Maze (01).  That is direction warping.

The only way to find you way around in such a maze (without a pre-made map, that is) is to drop objects to identify the different rooms, and then map them.  Not only is this extremely tedious, the thief might decide to pick up some of those objects which 1) means you don't have that object (until you beat the thief) and 2) you might end up in the same room thinking it's a different room because the object you used to mark that room is no longer there.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 02, 2011, 08:47:00 AM
Hmm I think the desert in Wizard and Serenia works that way to some degree.

Also the desert in KQ3, which you don't actually have to enter. But I think it basically warps you around, because if you travel five screens west for example, going five screens east probably won't take you back to the desert edge. But in that game, the changes might actually be random?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 05, 2011, 05:29:28 PM
My usual problems with adventure game puzzles can be pretty much summed up with this (http://www.somethingawful.com/d/flash-tub/adventure-game-cartoon.php). "I don't need that", "Why would I want to do that?", "That would be stupid."
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 05, 2011, 05:37:12 PM
Sounds like you should vote for Rube Goldberg/MacGyver then!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 05, 2011, 05:48:12 PM
My usual problems with adventure game puzzles can be pretty much summed up with this (http://www.somethingawful.com/d/flash-tub/adventure-game-cartoon.php). "I don't need that", "Why would I want to do that?", "That would be stupid."

Heh, I couldn't help but laugh at that. It's exactly that kind of BS that annoys me the most.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: DawsonJ on August 05, 2011, 09:35:01 PM
My usual problems with adventure game puzzles can be pretty much summed up with this (http://www.somethingawful.com/d/flash-tub/adventure-game-cartoon.php). "I don't need that", "Why would I want to do that?", "That would be stupid."

Heh, I couldn't help but laugh at that. It's exactly that kind of BS that annoys me the most.

I DEFINITELY AGREE!
I voted for Action/Combat/etc.
But, in any game, TIME LIMITS make me want to scream! I'd rather scour the net  for a trainer than play even ONE stinkin' TIME LIMIT section!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Damar on August 06, 2011, 10:17:28 PM
It's a tough choice for me.  Things like fetch quests honestly don't bother me that much, as long as they have something to do with the plot and aren't there to just pad out the play time of the game.  I think the main problem with fetch quests in MOE is that they weren't particularly necessary to the plot.  Most of them were just to get power ups which made the fighting easier, but not necessary.  In fact, after beating the game a few times, I purposely didn't do the fetch quests just to make the fighting more challenging.  And in KQ7, I think the main issue was that the fetch quests were too basic.  Particularly in Ooga Booga.  Everything in those chapters revolved around the ghoul kids.  All the triggers, all the fetch quests were somehow attached to them.  But I don't think that was the fault of the fetch quest, more an issue with the puzzle design in the first place.

Likewise Rube Goldberg puzzles don't bother me much.  I kind of enjoy trying to figure them out.  As long as there's an underlying logic (or logical illogic if that makes sense).  For example the fan game Space Quest The Lost Chapter, to me, was illogical to the point of being unplayable.

Really it comes down to the hybrid games or the dumbed down interface.  It's my opinion that with hybrid games the game creators end up not doing either genre well.  Even Quest for Glory, which people seem to love, suffers from this in my opinion.  There's just not enough adventure game puzzles for me, but if I were really in to RPGs, I could see myself feeling like that part of the game was too watered down as well.  I don't think that genres lend themselves well to being mixed.  There may be exceptions, but by and large I can't really think of any.  I also think that the jumping boxes puzzles and such are also a symptom of a hybrid game because those kind of puzzles are more an outgrowth of the platformer game (or what happened when platformers went 3D like Mario 64).

That said, the dumbed down interface bothers me a lot too.  Some examples aren't as bad such as Torin's Passage or Black Cauldron.  Those are special cases though, because they're aimed at children so the dumbed down interface is actually making the game accessible.  You can't really complain about the interface in those games any more than you could complain about Sesame Street being too childish.  It's kind of the point of the games.  That said, when adventure games meant for adults dumb down the interface, it's annoying and makes the game seem overly simplistic.

Honestly I don't know which one to pick.  I feel like the hybrid games changes the adventure game into something that's not an adventure game.  Meanwhile the simplistic interface waters down the adventure game.  It's a tie between the two for me.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 06, 2011, 10:43:03 PM
Torin's Passage was actually aimed at children and adults, humor for both groups. KQ series was also aimed at children and adults. This is according to the assorted designer interviews. Hell even the back of the box for Torin's passage says "...designed for experienced adventure players." It was actually designed in such a way a child could watch their parents play the game and enjoy the humor. But alot of humor in the game is filled with innuendo for adults!

KQ7 may actually be aimed at a slightly younger audience than Torin's Passage was since it's completely clean!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Damar on August 06, 2011, 10:48:55 PM
True enough, though I think the difference is who the primary audience was.  I see Torin's Passage as a children's game first and foremost with the graphics and much of the humor, but made so that adults could appreciate it as well.  (And it does a really fantastic job of appealing to both age groups in my opinion.)  King's Quest was made for adults, but children could enjoy it as well, as long as they were old enough to understand it (be it the parser interface or the plot in general).  I think that's why KQ7 feels so out of place.  It shifts the audience to being more like Torin's Passage.  It feels like a children's game (particularly with the jackalope and Faldaral and...well come to think of it, pretty much all the game).  It's like there was an audience shift that came with the Disneyesque graphics.  That King's Quest went from an adult game accessible to children to a children's game accessible to adults.  It was still entertaining, but a jarring shift.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 06, 2011, 11:13:45 PM
It may be up to different interpretations but Al Lowe has stated he wanted to make a game he could play that his daughter would enjoy playing with him! He mentions his inspiration was actually Mrs. Doubtfire. This may come down to the difference between a children's movie and a family movie (Doubtfire is a PG-13 'family movie', not a 'children's movie')!

The intentional inspiration for the KQ7 was Disney and Don Bluth! I believe she had said she had children in mind!

The irony is reviewers when reviewed the early KQ games back in the early 80's described them as having Disney-cartoon graphics! Alot of the death animations in those early games have a looney tunes aspect to them!

Actually KQ4 is probably the first game in the series that reviewers took more seriously as far as art design!

(Posted on: August 07, 2011, 12:54:37 AM)


Quote
xes puzzles and such are also a symptom of a hybrid game because those kind of puzzles are more an outgrowth of the platformer game (or what happened when platformers went 3D like Mario 64).
Actually jumping box puzzles predate platformers era by many years! They appeared in early adventure games and puzzle games first on Apple II and early IBM. Largely found in text adventures or games with limited graphics back then, like the Indiana Jones text adventure. It might be said those types of puzzled were inspired by Raiders. One also appears in the The Last Crusade adventure game! KQ6 has a variation without the jumping but with the tiles. One or two of the zork games have them as well! The final puzzle of Return to Zork is a tile jumping/chess style puzzle! As shown in earlier picture one of Torin's Passage's puzzles is one of those types of puzzles! Even the third Gabriel Knight had one. Sierra also included one or two in the two Dr. Brain adventure games (Castle and Island), they also showed up as a puzzle variation in the Seventh Guest/11th Hour series. It's been a long time, but I also seem to recall one or two in Simon the Sorcerer games as well. I think there was one in Gobliiins series as well. It would almost be too much work to try to list all the games that have had some variation of a tile puzzle, jumping puzzle, or the like!

But many of the early ones were before Nintendo. Keep in mind that most of the 3-d games, like 3-d action-adventures and 3D platformers came about 1996 and after. Torin's Passage (which I've pointed out has one of these jumping puzzles, came out in 1995) Most of the adventure games with these types of puzzles came out before 1995.

Keep in mind that 2-d platformers were more primitive in 1995 or before, and couldn't handle these types of puzzles (not unless they had some kind of Isometric interface)! Most platformers in 1995 or before were 2-d side scrollers, and lacked puzzles!

So ya, Torin's passage's puzzle predates Tomb Raider by a year (and there are much earlier examples);
(http://www.mobygames.com/images/i/01/47/333397.png)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbI8TZILsWY (see 5:27)


There are earlier 3D shooters like Wolfenstein, Doom, and Duke Nukem, but none of them as far as I know have tile puzzle elements, no block puzzles, nor any real puzzles at all. So your history is off!

Also keep in mind that Tomb Raider has historically been part of the Adventure sub-genre (a derivitive of the Adventure genre), known in the industry as Action-Adventure. As opposed to part of the genre the industry calls "platformer"! Although both have 'platforming elements'. It has more to do with the focus of the game. Tomb Raider has been more about the 'adventure' with action, rather than its assorted platforming elements.

But ya a few modern "true" platformers adopted the idea (starting in 1996 and later). Platformer versions are worse, since usually the jumping is free form, as in you can actually miss jumps (jump too short, or jump to far). The adventure game versions (early or later ones) tend to automatically make you land on the tile you choose. So the only thing you have to worry about screwing up, is choosing the wrong tile.

I don't know if you have an iphone here is the type of jumping puzzle, stripped the bare bones (well its actually fairly complicated, but the tile jumping puzzle is made the focus of the game), and turned into a casual puzzle game (no its not a platformer);

http://www.slidetoplay.com/story/indiana-jones-and-the-lost-puzzles-review

(http://img.slidetoplay.com/20091104/indiana-jones-and-the-lost-puzzles_3.jpg)

It's alot of fun!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MusicallyInspired on August 07, 2011, 07:19:56 AM
Goldeneye for N64 has a tile puzzle on the Aztec level.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 07, 2011, 07:27:26 AM
It's also a 1997 game, so it still came after most adventure games with tile puzzles!

Come to think of it Don Bluth's 1983 laser disk Dragon's Lair and possible it's sequel, and Space Ace, also had one or two tile puzzles! Those are not platformers! They are actually some of the first interactive movie games, some class them as adventure or action/adventure games.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 07, 2011, 11:25:33 AM
Sounds like you should vote for Rube Goldberg/MacGyver then!

I think my problem would be more the design choice that the player knows excactly what the designer wants them to do.

Example: In Still Life, there is an object on the wall that you need later, it doesn't highlight at anytime else except when it is needed.
Another example from Still Life: There is a moment, where the character says "I know exactly what to do." I knew excactly what toi do, but the game wouldn't allow me to do it before I talked to somebody about doing what I knew I should do because otherwise the game character didn't know what I wanted to do when I did what I knew I was supposed to do which was the same thing I was supposed to do after talking to this person I had no need to talk to.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 07, 2011, 12:12:01 PM
That might  closer into the linear progression issue then.

Less you have a better term for it?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 07, 2011, 02:34:57 PM
I would use the term "not untill you've eaten your veggies that I've hidden within 5 km radius of this house."
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 07, 2011, 03:52:06 PM
Ok 'gated progression'?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 07, 2011, 05:29:42 PM
Ok 'gated progression'?

But the gate would have to be invisible.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 07, 2011, 06:16:54 PM
Sure 'gates' can be invisible or visible!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 07, 2011, 06:38:05 PM
But if it were visible, I would know that the option is not possible. Frustration comes from banging your head against the gate like a bird against a window.

Call it a "glass gate progression" or something like that.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 07, 2011, 07:33:26 PM
Well I point to a visible gate, that people complain about!

The snake in KQ5. It's there, yes you know you gotta get past it. But you never specifically told when you can get past it! The tamborine only appears in one screen after you meet the requirements (if you don't wander back to that screen you might overlook it)! Also not everyone gets the idea that the tamborine works to scare the snake away!

Another 'visible gate' is the kind where it tells you "You don't think you have found everything you need to leave", over and over, until you find every needed item. The visible part is the message.

Another 'visible' gate is in KQ3, that if you enter the cave and talk to the oracle, the pirates will show up. But say you never head back to the town to find the pirates, and take too long they could sale off before you even now they leave!

That is a timed/visible gate!

So even 'visible gates' may be unseen, if you aren't in the right place at the right time!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Haids1987 on August 08, 2011, 07:40:40 AM
The snake in KQ5. It's there, yes you know you gotta get past it.
The POIsonous snake?! :shock: :watchout:
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 08, 2011, 08:16:12 AM
The snake in KQ5. It's there, yes you know you gotta get past it. But you never specifically told when you can get past it! The tamborine only appears in one screen after you meet the requirements (if you don't wander back to that screen you might overlook it)! Also not everyone gets the idea that the tamborine works to scare the snake away!

I considered this a Rube Goldberg puzzle. Mainly because a tambourine wouldn't normally be used to scare away a snake. It's these nonsensical puzzles that restrain the player from progressing without a hint or walkthrough.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 09:18:15 AM
Well snakes are actually affected by vibrations from sound, and they can actually 'hear'. So loud noises and stomping of feet can make a snake startle and flee.  That is the logic behind it (KQC, pg 512), for a biology lesson, see here (http://exoticpets.about.com/od/snakehealth/f/snakesnoises.htm). Most people don't know this however (actually instead believe an old wife's tale that snakes 'can't hear'), so it still is a difficult puzzle because of that. Snakes are also startled by movement and changes in light, so the sun flashing on the silver plates of the tamborine might also have an effect (as long as you don't get close enough for the snake to strike). But ya, its actually a very logical puzzle, as long as you understand snake biology!

But actually the snake is a gate, we have the development notes for that particular encounter which says it is! I'll post them up!

Quote
Roberta also writes a script describing how each room works, although sometimes the action changes as the story develops. Room 2, the scene just south of Crispin's cottage in KQV, is the beginning of the path to the mountains. Cedric is supposed to warn Graham if he doesn't have enough gear to cross the mountains successfully. Here's the original script for that room:

Room 2
Path below Crispin's house.
Hot spots - Path, large tree.
Characters - Graham and Cedric.
Special views or animation - None.
"Look" messages (Eye icon) - Would give an "X" symbol if there's nothing to "see."
Path or tree: "A worn dirt path wanders through a thick wood alive with the sound of many creatures. Between the trees, to the east Graham can see the outline of a great :mountain range."
Manipulation (Hand icon)
Path: Clicking the "Hand" icon on the path causes Cedric to POINT with his wing to the east and say- "See how the path goes to the east up into the mountains? That's the route to Mordack's castle."
Cedric puts down his wing and continues - "If you follow the path to the south over the next rise you'll come to the town."
(On subsequent times (FOREVER AFTER THIS) just put up an "X.")
Dialog-No "specific" dialog between Cedric and Graham except for the "Hand" icon on the path causing Cedric to "speak."
A side note-If Graham is not ready to cross the great mountains yet because he hasn't obtained everything he needs, then when the player starts to take Graham up the :mountain trail (to the east), Cedric will fly nearer to Graham and say - "You aren't ready to cross those mountains yet, Graham! You'll never survive without being properly outfitted."
Of course, the player always has the option to ignore Cedric's warning and go up into the mountains anyway. If the player HAS everything he needs, then Cedric won't say anything.
If the player tries AGAIN to go up into the mountains from here but is STILL not ready then Cedric will say - "You're not going to listen to me, are you, Graham? I told :you you weren't ready to tackle the mountains yet. Ah, well. Do what you will. I'm not going to warn you again."
After that, whether the player is ready or not, Cedric won't say anything.

Later it was decided that something stronger than a warning was needed to keep a player off the path if he hadn't collected the necessary loot to survive the mountains. A poisonous snake was put in as an obstacle; to get rid of the snake, players must have the right instrument. This gatekeeping/checkpoint routine keeps a player from getting to the end of the game only to find he has forgotten to pick up an important item at the beginning.

The snake change was one of 13 changes outlined in a memo to the programmers. Here's the text, with the word thing substituted for the actual object so as not to give away clues. This is how the room works in the shipped version of the Quest.-The Making of the Quests (The Official Book of King's Quest 2nd Edition)

But speaking of snakes, remember KQ4? In real life Cobras are not 'hypnotized' by the sound of the music, but rather the movement of the snake charmer! So only experts that have spent there entire life learning the correct movements would successfully be able to 'charm' a snake. If they didn't do it right they might be bitten (though many of the cobras that the snake charmers work with have been devenomed)! Rosella is lucky!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: KatieHal on August 08, 2011, 10:00:05 AM
Well, IIRC, Rosella did so some hip-shaking as she played that flute. :)
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 10:18:49 AM
Right, but remember snake charmers do it sitting down, there is very little, "hip movement"!. Snake charming has more to do with way the flute is moving! In hand charming its about how the hand is moving mimicing another snake. Some use head movements. It's usually one part of the body, a part that is about the same size of the snake, and can mimic the snake's movements.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVEhnoYJtok

Too much movement, and the snakes will still strike! Snake charming is something that takes ages to learn starting from childhood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbPe6wGvs_o) (training at that age is overcoming fear of snakes).

Here is a charmer that uses his knee (and notice the snake does try to strike, before the music and controlled movement starts)!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gScBzmKXTE

For that matter, once the music ends, the snakes are no longer 'charmed'. So Rosella would never have been able to walk by!

It's not a 'realistic puzzle', its based more on a common misconception and old wife's tale!

That's what I think makes the two snake puzzles interesting! One is based more on an old wives' tale (but isn't realistic), the other has its basis in the logic of reality and snake biology (ignoring another old wives' tale about snakes not being able to 'hear').

I'd liken this to a Popeye solution! The idea in Popeye is that spinach gives him super powers, because of a high content of 'iron' in spinach! However, its now known that spinach does not have a noticeable amount of iron in it (no more than any other green leafy vegestable). How did this happen? Well apparently when a nutritionist was writing about spinach, he placed the decimal in the wrong polace, exaggerating the iron by something like a factor of 30! Other health concious people latched onto the mistake, thinking it was real! So now its believed by many people, even though it is more of an urban legend!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 08, 2011, 12:08:04 PM
I was unaware of the snake's senses, but that's interesting nonetheless. I would have settled for feeding the snake a mouse or something, as long as it is widely known. Another puzzle was the Ice Queen in KQ5. I didn't find any logic in that puzzle, but like the snake puzzle, I might have missed something.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 12:23:04 PM
As an owner of a snake, you don't want to get in the way of feeding them! They are more likely to strike with food around! We feed it dead mice which makes it less aggressive, but you have to train them to eat dead mice, it's unnatural (also a dieing mouse is not the most pleasant sounding experience!). Also they are more likely to remain in place as the allow time to digest the food! But not any less likely to defend themselves!

A less obscure way to move a snake is a snake lasso, or a bottle of snake repellent  (both are used in Laura Bow II) or simply killing the snake with a machete or sword! But were would you find a snake lasso or snake repellent in Serenia realistically? The other method is a bit violent (when there are perfectly non violent alternatives to scaring snakes)!

As for the ice queen it's an obscure answer. Part of it is biblical I think, a reference to King Saul/David with a touch of Phaoroh's hardened heart, and knowledge the story of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson (she had a frozen heart). Another is knowledge of the idiom, "music soothes the savage beast". This is basically what the KQC states as the influence.

Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 08, 2011, 01:31:55 PM
So, some puzzles rely on myth and lore, and then other puzzles rely on science. It's nice to know they are making each puzzle distinct, and not related. I just feel distracted when a puzzle is so abstract from the usual fairy tales that are used in adventure games. Maybe I'm being too stubborn, but the puzzles could use more logic. Like, a flute for a snake would make more sense to me, because of the snake charmers. A tambourine is too off-the-wall for me.  :-\
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 01:39:25 PM
I'd like to know who designs the puzzles? In KQ games, How many were Roberta, how many came from others?

Who came up with the cheese puzzle, and what logic was behind it? No one seems to know!

Did you also notice that Roberta switched fairy tale sources everytime she introduced genies? From the three wish kind, to the angry force of nature kind, to the unlimited wish kind! Her trolls never followed any one set of fairy tale! Rumplestiltskin is used two different ways!

Lots of puzzles in KQ are based on obscure fairy tales, quite a few from the green book, or obscure myths! Not the standard Disney list of fairy tales!

As for snakes and tambourines you'll actually see many people associate the two if you google, due to tambourines being able to mimic he sound of rattle snakes! Some even sell tamborines painted to look like a rattler! That adds another possible logic to the puzzle!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on August 08, 2011, 07:28:43 PM
As an owner of a snake...

No wonder you're such a snake geek.

Anyway, I had actually never heard the old wives' tale that snakes can't hear - in fact, I distinctly remember from my biology class in ... elementary school? middle school? ... that snakes have ears.

I had also figured out that the tambourine scares the snake in KQ5 without a hint/walkthrough - it didn't even take me very long to figure it out.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 07:33:01 PM
Well, its technically my sister's snake... (ya she might be weird for a girl!). I've caught garter and king snakes before!

I also once helped donate a taxidermied cobra and mongoose that belonged to a neihbor to a museum once! The good news, it wasn't Graham and Mordack!

My interests are wide and varied though! I love science, biology, history, etc.

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that snakes have ears.
Ya, but I guess many people don't realize it because they aren't external! They are physically internal.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 08, 2011, 08:57:58 PM
As for snakes and tambourines you'll actually see many people associate the two if you google, due to tambourines being able to mimic he sound of rattle snakes! Some even sell tamborines painted to look like a rattler! That adds another possible logic to the puzzle!

A tambourine mimicking the sound of a rattle snake even makes sense, but in the context of the game, almost no information was given. I'm not saying it was completely illogical, just saying it could have done with a comment or two. Not that it was an incredibly hard puzzle either. Given my inventory at the time, it was easy to figure out what was what, and it didn't take me long at all to figure it out. I'm just playing the Devil's advocate towards KQ5's choice of inventory. In comparison to the other KQ games, KQ5 had an awkward set of tools.  :-\

My interests are wide and varied though! I love science, biology, history, etc.

Quote
that snakes have ears.
Ya, but I guess many people don't realize it because they aren't external! They are physically internal.

I got to dissect a snake in my zoology class. Quite an interesting specimen. It was having to identify all of the organs that was tricky. Each organ looked stringy, so it was important for me to determine the differences between each organ. Ahh, I'm so glad I passed that class.  ;D
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 08, 2011, 09:53:06 PM
Sounds like you got to experience the inner workings of a snake first hand! That's more than I care to see! All I've ever seen dissected was a frog!

I'm not going to dissect my sister's snake to find out!
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 08, 2011, 10:22:27 PM
Eh, it's not all it was cracked up to be. It was a zoology class, so I had to dissect a whole lot more than just a snake, but at first I was reluctant to do so. We went through the entire list of Phylum and Subphylum and dissected at least one from each group. For the Chordata phylum, we had to dissect an animal from Class Mammalia, and my professor had us dissect a rat.  :X

Also, I can't imagine your sister would be content with you dissecting her snake. I suggest just looking at pictures.  :P
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 09, 2011, 08:32:53 AM
The zoology class I took was not nearly that exiting, we didn't even get to dissect anything.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 10, 2011, 06:54:08 AM
The snake in KQ5 is not a good example of what I'm trying to say here. You can try your whole inventory on the snake, you know you have to get past it and you can even let it kill you. What I'm talking about are moments where you don't have those luxuries. "The puzzle is figuring out the script. No clues."


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Too much movement, and the snakes will still strike! Snake charming is something that takes ages to learn starting from childhood (training at that age is overcoming fear of snakes).

Really, I though they just sewed the snakes mouth shut or de-fanged them and let it slowly die of hunger.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Baggins on August 10, 2011, 01:19:13 PM
Defanging yes, I don't know about tieing their mouths shut. That would probably be expensive to have to keep replacing the snake. ...and Some cobras spit. But even a devenomed snake can strike. If they bite it can still hurt. It's still something they have to train for years to avoid.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 11, 2011, 01:21:04 AM
Sew, not tie. when sewn, it can still flick its tonque and look normal. You can also remove the glands so that the snakes don't have any venom in them. And if they bite you, hey, just rub some rhubarb on it and say that it's some mysterious natural remedy. Showmanship never fails. If it weren't for the venom, I'd be more scared of a northern pike than a cobra. Now, that is a jaw to be feared.

There was that one episode of Crocodile Hunter called "Island of Snakes", where Steve Irwin went around Sri Lanka and met a group of snake charmers. They had snake eggs ready to hatch and some non-defanged. Couldn't find the clip of it, except for this german dub version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4gF1A2hQOs#t=05m37s). He wasn't really happy with them.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Demidronik on August 12, 2011, 11:49:54 PM
I was looking for an option for "moon logic" in you poll, but I guess that falls under Rube Goldberg/MacGyver.

Like throwing the bridle on the snake to make it turn in to a pegasus, or killing a yeti with a pie.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: MikPal on August 13, 2011, 02:47:02 AM
killing a yeti with a pie.

You know, as a person who was raised with movies where people throw pie at each other for ten minutes straight, that puzzle wasn't really that far fetched.

The hardest puzzle in the game for me and my friend was waiting for Mordack in the library for 5 minutes.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: glottal on August 13, 2011, 05:03:22 AM
Yeah, I'm another one who didn't find the pie-at-yeti far-fetched either.  In fact, I think the pie was the very first thing I tried (and I hadn't consulted a hint/walkthrough either).  I have never been killed by the yeti while playing KQ5.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 13, 2011, 12:12:28 PM
Rather than discussing the difficulty of KQ5's puzzles (considering that none of the puzzles were really that difficult), wouldn't it rather be pertinent to discuss the logic of the puzzles? So in this case, was there a movie where some guy threw a pie at a yeti, or was it truly a "there is no other item in your inventory that would be able to ward off a yeti, so use a pie" kind of puzzle?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Demidronik on August 13, 2011, 02:19:51 PM
It wasn't a difficult puzzle per say, you just had to try every item in your inventory on the yeti until one of them worked. You had a hammer in your inventory at the time, to me it seems like a hammer would be better to bludgeon a yeti to death with than a pie. Also beasts in this game seem to like the music from your harp or your tambourine, why not use one of them to soothe the beast.
Earlier in the game graham is dying of hunger, it would not be a jump in logic to assume that you could satiate his hunger with the pie. (not sure if it will let you eat the pie at that point in the game)
It just feels like a jump in logic to assume that the pie will kill the yeti. I tried throwing the pie at the witch earlier on in the game and it didn't kill her. This pie will ONLY kill yetis, I guess it is yeti killing flavor.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 13, 2011, 03:08:55 PM
It wasn't a difficult puzzle per say, you just had to try every item in your inventory on the yeti until one of them worked. You had a hammer in your inventory at the time, to me it seems like a hammer would be better to bludgeon a yeti to death with than a pie. Also beasts in this game seem to like the music from your harp or your tambourine, why not use one of them to soothe the beast.
Earlier in the game graham is dying of hunger, it would not be a jump in logic to assume that you could satiate his hunger with the pie. (not sure if it will let you eat the pie at that point in the game)
It just feels like a jump in logic to assume that the pie will kill the yeti. I tried throwing the pie at the witch earlier on in the game and it didn't kill her. This pie will ONLY kill yetis, I guess it is yeti killing flavor.

This is potentially what I was getting at earlier. The inventory in KQ5 wasn't the best, and a lot of the items were not tied to the puzzles with relevance or logic. Like catching a gnome with honey and gems? There was clearly not a fairy tale or a myth that would support any of the puzzles in this game. The puzzles might have been easy, but they still didn't make any sense.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Damar on August 14, 2011, 01:31:42 PM
In my opinion, catching the elf with the emerald/honey trap is the worst puzzle in King's Quest.  Possibly any game I've played.  It is a combination of everything that people have said is wrong with the game.  At least the original disk version of the game puzzle was.

All the other puzzles might be illogical, but you can figure them out just by clicking your inventory on everything.  Other nearly impossible puzzles, like the gnome's name in the original KQ1 or the bridle on the snake in KQ2 were difficult to the point of being impossible, but they didn't stop the game.  You could still get the key in KQ1 and you could pick your way through the brambles in KQ2 (it was very, very hard but possible.)

The elf trap had no context though.  It is the textbook illogical McGyver puzzle.  Sure, maybe I can see elves wanting emeralds, but you didn't know they were elves at first.  Just that they were glowing eyes.  But that was only half the issue.  In the original disk version, you had interface problems as well.  KQ5 was completely new as far as the interface.  So you had this pouch but you could no longer type "open pouch."  And when you click it on Graham, you just get the red x of doom.  I could never even get to the illogic of the elf puzzle because I couldn't get the pouch open in the first place!  In the CD ROM game they simplified it by putting the hand icon in the inventory itself.  In the original disk version of the game, though, you had to pull up the inventory, then go up to the icon bar and select the hand icon.  This sounds simple, but if you think about it, every game prior in the old interface paused the game when you selected the inventory.  You couldn't do actions with the inventory screen up, outside of look at the objects (if you clicked F4 and could select them).  So the concept of accessing the icon bar from the inventory screen was completely alien and never occurred to me.  I think it took a call to the Sierra hint line to have them tell my family and I how to do it.  In my opinion, the new interface caused a lot of difficulties with KQ5.  The scenes with the cat and the Roc in particular still jar me because the icon would change to a crown, which you've been conditioned to think means you can't do anything.  But it's a different type of crown which means you have a limited number of actions you can do if you access the icon bar.  Even to this day my thought process in the Roc's nest is, "Ok I need that necklace.  I need that necklace.  As soon as my icon comes back...OH SHOOT ITS HATCHING GIVE ME MY ICON GIVE ME MY...oh right, I have control still.  Stupid crown..."

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that in the case of KQ5, the puzzles never bothered me a ton.  That particular game suffered from the fact that the interface wasn't perfected.  It might have been a first for King's Quest, and for computer games in general, but it had flaws to work out.
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: darthkiwi on August 14, 2011, 04:54:57 PM
I completely agree about both the pie and the elf-honey-emeralds puzzles. I think Sierra as a company didn't take the player's experience into account enough. They built these amazing worlds and came up with these strange puzzles to allow you to progress through them, but I seldom get the sense that they looked at the game from the *player's* perspective, but always from the *designer's*. It's as though they were building these games for themselves, rather than as things to be navigated by others, which is why playing them can sometimes feel like reading the developer's mind.

Does anyone else sometimes get this impression? Or is it just me?
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Delling on August 14, 2011, 05:31:18 PM
The earlier games had hints that made the player's actions sensible. (Ok, in KQ2, with "throw baby bridle at snake", that wasn't really hinted at, BUT it just required you to think: "this is a Sierra game... ?I played KQ1? ...killing is seldom the solution or if it is a solution, it is not the best one" (though from that to "throw baby bridle at snake" is a bit much... but that's because it was a text parser... I wonder what commands would have worked for that...).

Actually, I think 5 was the worst for this. Generally, there were hints if you talked to and looked at EVERYTHING, even in 6 and 7... we are not talking about 8. :P An exception might be that The Catacombs...

are basically solved by going in and dying to traps that you don't have the solution for yet...
Title: Re: Worst aspects of adventure game puzzle design!
Post by: Fierce Deity on August 14, 2011, 09:39:58 PM
I completely agree about both the pie and the elf-honey-emeralds puzzles. I think Sierra as a company didn't take the player's experience into account enough. They built these amazing worlds and came up with these strange puzzles to allow you to progress through them, but I seldom get the sense that they looked at the game from the *player's* perspective, but always from the *designer's*. It's as though they were building these games for themselves, rather than as things to be navigated by others, which is why playing them can sometimes feel like reading the developer's mind.

Does anyone else sometimes get this impression? Or is it just me?

Nah, I feel that way too. I used Telltale's repertoire as another example for illogical puzzles, and a lot of the time, the answer will make sense after the fact, but the progression up to that point shows no context. Which would only mean that the designers would be able to get through just fine, but the player would have to randomly click around the screen until something happens.