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So, how best to have puzzles in Genesis?
Easy Puzzles, for new Explorers 5%  5%  [ 1 ]
Rooms with Secret Compartments 37%  37%  [ 7 ]
Core Room with rest of Age hidden 37%  37%  [ 7 ]
Areas you can only access as Groups 11%  11%  [ 2 ]
No Secrets - leave puzzles alone 5%  5%  [ 1 ]
WAIT! I have a better idea! 5%  5%  [ 1 ]
Total votes : 19
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:20 pm 
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Greetings and Shorah, fellow Uruites.

After the last couple of questions, we have established that people
preferred both natural seeming puzzles, ones hidden off to the side,
if you will, and they preferred mainly garden ages.

Well, today we will look into game and puzzle dynamics.

Basic game rules are task and reward, we all know this:
Kill the dark dragon, save the princess.
Beat the covert ops, get a new gun.
Drive faster than the other racers, get a better car.
Go to dot, kill dot, get money.

Image

Now, most games have it (especially, say, platform games) that you have to get a key to unlock the next level. Sometimes you would have to perform a TASK to get the KEY. This task could be anything from kill a boss to collect one hundred gold coins. (Again, see, task and reward - your reward for completing the task: A Key. Reward for getting the key: Unlocking the door. Your reward for unlocking the door: Next Level.) Kind of a dog-to-catch-the-cat-to-catch-the-rat-to-get-the-cheese situation.

Myst’s basic system was far better than all that, and even HIGHLIGHTED by the end of the game.
Solve the puzzle, get a pretty place to explore.

Okay, so here is the “puzzle” layout of Myst island –

Image

You would have to do a task (turn on the switches) to get the key (from the tower) –ILLUSTRATED BY A KEY, NO LESS – to get the next key (input the correct time in the clock tower) to open the way to the age (reward).
A beautiful, tantalising age full of mystery summed up so abruptly.
Why?
Because it was not the game dynamic that decided the real atmosphere of the game, nor did it shape the story of Myst.

So, let’s take it up a notch: Riven.
To show the whole of riven’s task – to – key – to – door map would take several hours, several maps and a four dimensional diagram. However, let’s look at just the first island you link into:

Image

You have the task of the turning room – atmospheric, glorious, beautifully done, and more than a few people got permanently stuck with it. So, you “solve” the task of the turning room, and are rewarded with…some locked doors and a gas valve. The valve is a key to the viewer… and there that cycle ends. You need more keys and to have completed other tasks to get much further.

Moving on, you go to the throne room. Within is a key (a lever) to a door, which opens to a car of some sort. The reward? A whole new island to explore.

Now, as to how this affects us and the Age of Genesis. We need an age with puzzles, but also an age that is easily explorable. Make the puzzles easy? But where would be the fun in that? Replay value would drop…fiery abyss, the first play through for most would be unchallenging and thusly unrewarding. So, what do we do?
To help illustrate I have chosen this castle layout – you start on the right, you have a nice courtyard to open up the setting, and you have rooms lining either side. Here you can meet friends, have a chat, or show a new explorer around.

Image

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In the middle of this courtyard is a linking book – to a semi-nexus (an Age outside of this age) that will let a new explorer move to each room with ease – jumping to the end, so to speak. However, that is all there is – the room, and a way back. No exploration, just explanation. How do we make it interesting?

Image

Well, if this was any other sort of game, we would make each room locked up, with its own key. (Think along the lines of Zelda, Quake, or any other adventure game). Within these locked rooms would be the part of a key to the final room, the inner castle. So, you could jump to the end room of each through linking, or you could explore your way there, solving puzzles on the way and BECAUSE YOU TOOK THE HARD ROUTE, are justly rewarded, with more areas to explore.

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So, what else could we do with this format? Make the puzzles hard? Give them tasks? Have them carefully interlinked so that you can only get halfway through one before you have to backtrack, go somewhere else, and only then continue? (Gahreesahn, anyone?) Well, we could also make them even more complex with alternative group puzzle sections hidden within each room. The team would have to keep in KI contact, but they could, say, solve puzzles simultaneously, or they could press a button at the same time which will unlock a room within the inner bowels of the castle.

Image

But of course, this could all be done subtly. Rooms could appear to be closed of to the average onlooker, but it takes someone who is actually exploring to find the rusty key that will open them. Someone fresh to the game may find it easier to jump to the “end” but they would miss out a lot in doing so.

SO, the question remains, should we do that?
Have links to rooms that showcase elements of the community (guilds, dance floors, etcetera) that also show a lot of the Age that they are missing by not exploring (thus encouraging them to explore)? Or should we Just have, say, a central chamber with alcoves holding information, and a secret key that unlocks a whole unseen part of the age? Should we have secret chambers that only groups can access?

Again, the shaping of this Age is up to you all, so the choice is ultimately yours.

Shevek


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 10:52 pm 
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To me, an Age without puzzles is pointless. Without them, URU isn't a game, but rather a glorified chat room (some people would say it is anyway, but we don't talk about them :roll: ) How puzzles should be delivered is another subject. As per the polls, people prefer a garden age with "hidden" puzzles.

I like the idea of a garden age sized "starting area" where people can just visit with friends and hang out, like we did in the gardens. This could be the area where the guild/supporter/library/gallery rooms should be. These rooms can be set up to hint at other areas in the Age, encouraging players to explore the "locked area." Perhaps a telescope viewer, or journals can be set up in these rooms. I always felt those were the best methods used by Cyan to encourage exploration.

I like the idea of a simple, but well disguised key to the next area. Something any player (solo or party) could find if they look. However, it should be well hidden.

I do not think that the guild rooms, etc should actually be the reward for exploring the age. We should have those right up front, almost like the opening credits of a movie. You never know if a person will every play through our age to the end, so if part of our goal is to show support/gratitude for the guilds, we should make sure that everyone who visits our age will see our tribute.

Instead, I would rather the reward be something else. Depending on the availability of UCC, perhaps custom clothing items or linking books to further Genesis ages (assuming there is support for further similar projects...I don't mean to be jumping ahead in time like this :oops: ). Since such rewards would have to be appended in later after the initial release, I'm fine with the reward simply being a breathtaking view at first. I saw the view at the end of Ercana as the reward, for example.

Another option, which I strongly support is developing a rich backstory for the age, and littering journals and notes about it throughout the age in various legs of the journey. The reward could be the culmination of that story. Such journals would provide for a good place for hints, as well as a driving force for explorers.

I could go on and on about this, but I'll save you an even bigger wall of text.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:39 am 
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I voted for # 2 but please no important text(s) in the D'ni language. (for puzzle solving)

I wish More to be very, all ages, userfriendly.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:17 pm 
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I myself think that outsourcing content for puzzles (making people know about things outside of the age) is an annoying and frustrating idea - in Riven it worked as extra content: People could read the information if they wanted to, but it had little impact onthe main game.

Shevek


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:38 pm 
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When I say to include journals throughout the Age, I mean ones written in english. Also, as far as hints go, I was thinking more of scraps of paper or photos rather than reading the journals. I think journals should be extra IN CASE someone is interested in the story. Puzzle hints should be a simple "click" and "oh this diagram is a hint" but, as in the case of Teledahn, hidden among other unimportant notes scattered on a desk.

Expecting people to learn an entire language or number system just to solve a puzzle is an unrealistic expectation. I'll be honest and say that when I found similar puzzles in the Myst games, I went straight for a walkthrough.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:03 am 
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Hey Adrian
Great to have your input, guys! Anyway, yes there will be journals about the history of MOUL, and the people who played a major part in it - but that IS the story. In this Age, there will be no tales of mysterious D'ni survivors, ancient sorcerers, or trapped prisoners. The story is:
Genesis is a world built by Explorers who have just been granted the Art.

We will hopefully have a journal up in the GoW soon, and there are going to be some special announcements later tonight. So keep watching, guys. ;)

Shevek


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 12:47 am 
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ah! Good to know.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 4:25 am 
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a long time ago , in a basement far away from this one ....


i once played a game that had many puzzles in different ages .....the twist , was that in order to solve the puzzles in each age you had to solve something in at least one of the other ages. another twist in another game was to hide clues and/or keys in other ages. thusly, one had to walk through each of the five ages to gather story/clues and then to return to each of the ages to solve the puzzle(s) in each of them .

this gives a longer playtime as well as a different layer to exploring each age as the clues only really made sense once the story was known, then one had to figure which clues were relevant and where to get them in order to solve each age.

at the completion of the puzzles was a link to yet another age that, if explored thoroughly, better explained how the puzzles all fit together.

i rather liked this format. Though it was an entire game, it was fascinating in the layered format that it had and i would love to see something like this done again .

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:20 am 
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What was the name of the game, Soupfork? It sounds interesting, if a little back-and-forth.

I've played a few games with some interesting formats; Schizm, for one. You control two different people who have crash landed at two different sites on an alien planet and must solve puzzles to get home.
Or Zork: Nemesis, with four different mages of the elements. You must go into each of their worlds to discover the key elements and bring them back to battle the nemesis. A nice story, with a basic format, and very self-enclosed puzzles.
(It is also a shame that it was called Zork. It wasn't a Zork game, because it just wasn't funny.)
Speaking of those, the Zork: Grand Inquisitor game had a nice little twist: You have spells to help you solve puzzles, but at some point you wander through a mirror into a mirrored world. There you must use the reverse of the spells to unsolve puzzles! :lol:

Since I like new and different games, I'd like to hear about your game, SF. :D

Shevek

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:44 am 
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Some of my all times favorites were the two Syberia games and
Broken Sword 3, The Sleeping Dragon.

A Syberia 2 puzzle is still "stuck" in my mind: A hint in
the chapel hidden under a wall painting. You needed to find
a tool to be able to see it and it took me a long time to figure
out the secret for the injection seat in the crashed plane.

SCHISM was by far the hardest game I ever played.
(like winning a game twice in a row against the computer)

Broken Sword 3 was also a play between two avatars. Woman againt men.
I especially loved the "fire extinguisher hit" on somebody's head.

My last best one is The Egyptian Prophecy.
(also very puzzles oriented........a lot)


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 9:54 pm 
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Schizm was a ridiculous game for me. It was fun, but some of the puzzles were too hard. Anything having to do with math is not fun, and EVERY Adventure Company game has at lease one really hard math puzzle in it.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 09, 2008 2:53 am 
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I personally think it would be cool to have a "Core room with the rest of the room hidden". :D


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