Designing the Puzzle. From Game Design by Bob Bates Chapter 6. A Good Puzzle. A good puzzle fits into its setting and presents an obstacle that makes sense. When the player solves it he knows why what he did worked. Types of Puzzles.
From Game Design by Bob Bates
A good puzzle fits into its setting and presents an obstacle that makes sense. When the player solves it he knows why what he did worked.
In “Eric the Unready”there’s a key on a chain which is too
Short to reach the lock. But, there is also a wax seal that
can be used to create an impression of the key.
Preparing the way – A wrinkle on the excluded middle puzzle that makes it even more difficult is require the player to create the condition. In the proceeding example, let’s say the door is green but the player has a bucket of red paint.
People Puzzles – Here, the player needs to learn the key to a persons desires. If he is a guard, perhaps he can be bribed. If he is a spy, perhaps the player can uncover the secret piece of information he is seeking. If he is a child perhaps the player can find a toy.
Timing Puzzles – This is a difficult class of puzzle that requires the player to recognize he must take an action that does not yield an instant effect, but instead will cause something to happen at a particular point in the future.
The Classic Diversion – If a player sees that a guard will always leave his post to investigate a noise, he can go to a different location and set up a noise-making device there.
Sequence Puzzles – Usually the player is presented with a simple means to achieve a simple goal. However, suddenly when he performs the action something pops up to prevent his achieving that goal.The situation then resets, and the player must put something in place to solve the problem before kicking off the sequence again.
“ My first name comes before a duck,
My last name’s found in fences.
Some days I have to bring a truck,
To bring home all my pences.”
Answer: Bill Gates
Alternative Interfaces – In “Mission Critical “ there’s a rupture in the pipes that provide the coolant fluid to the spaceships nuclear reactor. The player has to manipulate the controls of the machine that pumps the fluid through the pipes, to reroute the fluid past the rupture and prevent a meltdown.
Good puzzle design involves looking around in the world you have created and using obstacles, objects, and characters that would naturally occur in the environment. Bad puzzles violate this rule, and they frequently break other rules as well.
Hunt-the-Pixel Puzzles – Sometimes an important object on the screen is so small that it’s easy to overlook. This is usually created by problems of scale. If the room is large and the object is small, the player might overlook it.
Creating the Puzzle – You begin where any author begins, with your story and characters. You create a setting and populate it with interesting characters. Then you create the player and give him an overall goal. Within each scene, you create obstacles that hinder the player from reaching the goals. Those obstacles are the puzzles.
The Villian – Something is there that does not want your hero to succeed. Whether it’s a person, the gods, the government, or the ultimate bad guy – whatever that thing is, that’s the villain. When you are designing a puzzle, ask yourself why it should be there. Who would have put it there? Who is this bad guy, and why is he threatening your hero?
Player Empathy – This is the ability to look at the game from the player’s point of view. When you do this, you can anticipate the kinds of things he will want to try. When you learn to anticipate his moves, you can give him a better game experience by creating interesting reactions to them.
Make sure that your puzzles enhance the game rather than detract from it. Use puzzles to draw the player into your story so that he learns more about your characters. Don’t withhold the information he needs in order to solve the puzzle. Develop player empathy and strive for that perfect level of frustration that drives a player forward rather than turns him away. Above all – play fair!