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This topic has some discussion that inspired me to create some discussion that isn't so heavily RPG-based, but RPG-based discussion within the topic is still very much welcome!

The Secret of Monkey Island (Commercial)
Shifter's Box - Outside In (Freeware)
The Shivah (Indie, Commercial)

(hopefullly these will clue you in if you don't recall adventure games)
These are quite a classic style of games, and there is an indie community that makes them with the AGS engine: http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

Adventure style games revolve around puzzles traditionally based on objects you find (and sometimes the ways you combine them.) Some examples include the classic Monkey Island series, Loom, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the freeware Chzo Mythos series, and my personal favorite, The Longest Journey. There is even a great RPGMaker series of adventure games called The Pangaea Chronicles. Adventure games also heavily focus on writing, and it's always great when puzzles fit within the context of the story and writing.

However, puzzle design can be a little tough. When designing these puzzles, developers have to think in the mind of the player. "What is logical? What fits together?" Say the character knows there is a key dropped down a grate, and the puzzle is designed so that you must buy a pack of gum somewhere, chew it, and attach it to a piece of string to lift up the key. But what if the developers create a fishing pole item for a different puzzle? The developers have to compenstate for the logical overlap that exists there (and this is a problem that I have seen within adventure games.) They could remove an item, or come up with some sort of excuse like "I won't be able to hook it and bring back up with me--keys don't take bait!"

As I pick up progress on Muse, and eventually venture further out into Night Shift Noble, I will have to do more and more of this sort of thinking, and I am not quite sure how I will create all these puzzles yet. What do you guys think of this sort of puzzle, and who has actually successfully created a number of these puzzles? What sort of steps should a developer take to design these logic puzzles? (i'm looking at you catamites)
First of all I'd just like to say that I'd think it would be a shame if these forums were limited to the design of RPGs alone. It's "Game Design & Theory" not "RPG Design etc" and there are many games outside the RPG genre that are developed within this community, despite its namesake.

Anyway, puzzles in adventure games like the one listed above (I remember playing a few called Space Quest or something as a kid) are often very simple - find an obstacle, find an item or person that allows you to clear the obstacle and then progress. That got me thinking, especially with your example of the fishing rod.

What do you guys think about puzzles like above with multiple solutions? Why couldn't you use EITHER the fishing rod or the chewing gum. Maybe the game could contain a few ways to beat each puzzle, with the player receiving some kind of bonus for taking the more creative, more difficult options?

I can't help but bring the game Scribblenauts for DS into the limelight here, because while it is very different from an adventure game, the puzzles all have multiple solutions and it may give you guys something to think about?
Hmmm. What if perhaps the developer wants the player to play through a puzzle to get the fishing rod? Or the string and gum? Like, with those came different puzzle elements. Then after passing through the door, the player would have to backtrack to find the other items.

However that could work in some situations! I have yet to play Scribblenauts (don't own a DS.)
Yeah i think you should be able to use both. I would say just don't make the answer to the puzzles too confusing(like you have to attach the gum to the stick, then put on a nail, use the inside of the chicken to blahblahblah) which adventure games sometimes do.

I think the main problem i have with adventure game puzzles is sometimes it's too obscure, and i'm thinking 'why would someone even think about doing that?' I think sometimes you have to spell it out to the audience without really...spelling it out.
That may just be me though, too often have i had to use a walkthrough with adventure games. I suppose if you were thinking of spending a lot of time on it, you could create an easy version and a harder version like tales of monkey island 2 did.
(like you have to attach the gum to the stick, then put on a nail, use the inside of the chicken to blahblahblah) which adventure games sometimes do.
I actually really love this aspect of adventure game puzzles. They make me feel like MacGyver :D

A really standout game that illustrates how this can be done well is Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess. Released under the name Kult in some regions, I'm pretty sure the DOS version is available for download as abandonware.

For me it had the perfect balance of obscurity and sensibility. The situations you get thrown into are completely alien (literally, too) and the whole game setting is just so damn weird that it makes sense to be, at times, unforgivingly hard to figure out. It probably also helps that it has a "pass these mind-racking ordeals, filthy human" premise. You typically don't get any clear clues. In the beginning you're given an item and told what room it will be useful in, but then you get to the room and it looks something like this:

yes that is a fetus used as a HUD element

Anyway, you get to the room and realize you weren't given much of a head start at all. The game involves clicking around (the game tells you if an object is interactive so you're not flying blind) and interacting with objects until you figure out how to beat the puzzle. It's not all trial and error, though, because common sense does play a part. Touching boiling acid kills you, mouthing off to guards gets you beaten to death with zapsticks, obeying the spider lady when she asks for a kiss means you get bitten and have your liquefied guts sucked out (not as hot as it sounds), and generally it's pretty clear if doing something will make you destroy or lose important items ("hmm... drop wooden die down long tube... shit.")

It's just.... really hard for most games to get puzzles that rely on intuition right.
i'm actually awful at puzzles and i cringe when i remember some of the ones i made! pay no attention to the man making this post! however monkey island developer ron gilbert wrote a really excellent article about it for his site here http://grumpygamer.com/2152210 .

rereading it again i dont think i could add much but really in terms of thinking it through from the player's side it mostly comes down to:
- know what you're meant to be doing (travel to mars)
- recognise what's preventing you from doing this (those snooty elitists at the nasa reception desk)
- whenever possible try to distinguish the method of getting rid of this obstacle (janitor says receptionist loves chocolate so you know not to just spend ten minutes coming up with increasingly elaborate ways to throttle receptionist with phone cord)
- observe the tools at hand (chocolate chip, poison, surly janitor)
- use stuff at disposal to resolve conflict (poison cookies give to receptionist hifive janitor go to mars)

the OBSERVE TOOLS part is a biggie since most inventory puzzles etc rely on just looking at the properties of an object and thinking about how this can be used. gum is sticky, string is long, attach gum to string to get a long sticky thing. part of the trick is recognising the obvious and not-so-obvious properties of the objects and knowing when to use which (keys open doors but are also sharp and hard). this is also why you should try to stay away from stuff with uh more elaborate uses, like guns or welding equipment. SHOOT LOCK SHOOT RECEPTIONIST it can get out of hand!

also for the slightly more esoteric stuff it's better to give the player the tools as directly as possible, because that makes it easier to work out what you are to do. like the BUY GUM part or just FIND GUM ON GROUND in order to get the key in the drain, that's usually a good place to draw the line so things dont get ridiculously convoluted. if you already had a fishing rod, and needed some way to pick up the key, it would make sense because you'd be on the lookout for a sticky/hooky thing. if you just had a stick and some string then purchasing gum to make the rod seems a step too far. idk its kind of a nebulous distinction but i think with COMBINE OBJECT puzzles especially it's best to make sure the player already has all the necessary stuff, either from previous puzzles or general exploring, and THEN make them figure out how to use them in order to get by, to stop that whole ridiculously circuitous SHAVE CAT GLUE CATHAIRS TO MOP stuff.
alternatively read this and make a list of all the really horrible and inexplicable parts:

Gabriel must disguise himself to fool the moped clerk.

You must combine several items to construct an adequate disguise and gain access to the motorbike. First, return to the museum and swipe the red cap from the lost-and-found box. You couldn't do this in the previous time blocks, but Gabriel knows he needs it now and has little trouble stealing the hat from the box. With the red hat in hand, head to the church.

Look at the Abbe's house and notice him watering his plants with a spray bottle. Wait for the Abbe to move back into his house and grab the spray bottle... When you emerge on the new street, you'll spot a black cat in the corner. Move Gabriel up to the cat and use the verb menu to examine and pet the cat.

The cat dashes into a small opening into an old shed. Examine the hole that the cat entered. Open up your inventory and pick up the piece of masking tape (if you failed to get the tape from Gabriel's hotel room, return there and open the dresser to get the masking tape). Use the masking tape on the shed door hole.

Walk back from the shed and notice the cat is now on a ledge. You can attempt to pet or grab the cat, but Gabriel can't because the feline is just too high. Here's where the spray bottle comes in. Select your inventory and pick up the spray bottle. Use the spray bottle on the cat, and he'll leap down and run, again, through the small opening into the shed. When he runs through the hole, he left some hair on the piece of masking tape you placed on the hole. Pick up the masking tape, and you'll gain black fur in your inventory.

Return to the hotel now and collect any items you missed the first time around that are vital to the disguise. These include the black marker from the hotel desk (just make sure Jean is wandering around), a piece of candy from the table near the lounge, and a packet of syrup from the dining room.

Head upstairs and knock on Mosely's door (room 33). He'll let you inside. If you want a hint about what to do with the candy, you can offer Mosely the candy, which he'll gladly take and consume quickly. Also, talk with Mosely about his passport, the key to solving the disguise puzzle. If you give Mosely the piece of candy, you must return downstairs and grab another one.

Locate the painting over the table depicting the street scene. Use the piece of candy from your inventory and place it on the table. Head down either staircase into the lobby. Look to the left of Jean's front desk and spot the room buzzers. Examine the buzzers and press the one for room 33, Mosely's room. This will buzz Mosely down to the front desk, but he'll become sidetracked by that yummy piece of candy you left for him.

Ascend the stairs on the right side, so you're on the opposite side of Gabriel's room entrance. Follow the camera around to Mosely's room and watch him exit and walk to the table with the piece of candy. Mosely will bend over and grab the candy, gobbling it up like before. Walk Gabriel over just behind Mosely and use the mouse cursor on Mosely or his passport to pickpocket him and swipe the passport.

As soon as you've got the passport, quickly head to Mosely's room 33 and enter it. Nab his gold coat on the coat rack by using the verb menu while the mouse is over the coat. Place the coat in your inventory and exit Mosely's room.

This sequence could take a few tries to get everything right, but you can repeat the process as many times as necessary to secure the necessary items: the passport and gold coat. Just use more candy and keep pressing that buzzer.

Open your inventory now; make sure you have the black marker and syrup. Grab the black marker and use it on Mosely's passport to make a mustache. Next, grab the black fur from the cat and use it on the syrup to make a black mustache. Finally, use the red hat on the mustache and then on the gold coat to complete your Mosely disguise.

With your disguise ready, return to the moped rental shop.
I just want to add: What makes an adventure game for me, is when you can die from your choices. I sincerely hate it when I play an AGS and you're never in any danger. I could play one without deaths, but it better make up for it in other ways.
fuck the cat hair mustache

It's worse than 'Hypnotize traumatized man to get him to recite some old one chant which you have to record and then use when some lovecratian horror attacks out'
catmitts that Ron Gilbert article is fantastic, thanks.
Back in the day back when I didn't need a dos emulator to play it, I had a copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game. Thanks to the babel fish puzzle in it, I never played another text based adventure game nor do I play adventure games with graphics.
Seriously that shit was ridiculous.
The cat hair mustache sounds even worse.

So I guess I'm another person without much say on the subject.
I'm not comfortable with any idea that can't be expressed in the form of men's jewelry
As a note, I want to say that the perspective used in most adventure games really bothers me. I feel highly constrained in them.
catmitts, that is an excellent article.

WIP, are you referring to the perspective in the 3rd screenshot I posted at the top? What about the second? It could be you're more used to scrolling maps or top-down, because I grew up playing Monkey Island, and the perspective has never bothered me.
I have to admit that even though I'm a fan of adventure games it is not actually because of the puzzles. The puzzles are usually frustrating things that I just wish were easy so I could go on and find all the fun stuff.

Of course I have also thought many times "Why don't I read a book or watch a move instead then?". Well... That's actually what I've done. I like adventure games. But I hardly ever play them.

But on puzzle design. I personally have always liked the RPG aspects of adventure games. Early adventure games were essentially based on RPGs (King's Quest, if that isn't someone playing out their D&D adventure I don't know what is). And the thing that originally drew me to RPGs were the adventure game-style dialogue trees.

But yeah. On this actual topic I don't really know what to say. What I really want is the RPG adventure game hybrid. A game where you walk around and talk to people but the game itself and its puzzles are entirely open-ended. The strict linearity of many adventure games do annoy me. (bad puzzle design that is)

But having tried my hand at adventure games I also know that good puzzle design is nearly impossible to do. How do you make a puzzle fun, inventive and logical? It's nearly impossible.

To me that is. I tip my hat to anyone that makes good adventure game puzzles.
Adventure games are an interesting category because they are one of the most simplest games to make and rely on story more than RPGs. However, it's very hard to make a well thought out adventure game.

That may just be me though, too often have i had to use a walk-through with adventure games..

This is another interesting thing about adventure games. In most games, a walk-through is used to give you a knowledgeable advantage in defeating a boss/obstacle, but you still have to do all the reflex work and timing. However, when you look at a walk-through in an adventure game, you are practically cheating. I think poor design can force a player to give up and use a walkthrough, but sometimes the player shouldn't be so full of haste if they don't want to rely on walk-throughs. The general idea of an adventure game to spend a lot of time looking around and playing around with stuff for hours. Most RPGs and Action games have some progression even if you're not progressing with the story. But, if you don't solve a puzzle in an adventure game, you're not progressing at all, unless you (realize a hint or find a new item but still). I hated myself for jumping to a walk-through to soon, so I forced myself to spend more time dicking around and trying to understand what the game designers wanted from me. Suffice to say I got 'better' at adventure games once I took my time more often. But maybe you were taking your time, and maybe it's the game fault you resorted to walk-through but who knows. My point is, adventure games require patience.

That said, has anyone ever played Dark Seed?

I loved this game for the style, but it is not very well designed. Mainly because it requires the player to die multiple times to understand how to play through the game. Why? Because A) it's on a time limit. B) If you miss an item (and you can) it will fuck you over later in the game. Basically, you have to know exactly what to do in a specific order, at specific times. That means a lot of trial and error. This is where not even mere patience can prevail, only godlike tolerance.

Now to flip things over, how about Phoenix Wright?

The awesome story and characters need zero introduction. However I'd like to point how well made this game is as an adventure game (yes it is an adventure game!). Basically there are three basic phases. The "what the hell happened" phase, the "look for clues phase" and the "court phase" Generally the game does not allow you to move between phases (or even areas!) unless you've gathered all the needed clues to move on to the next one. Generally this is good design, because imagine if you were allowed to go to court without interviewing/pickingup a person/object? You'd be screwed, and be going back and forth between phases to see if you've missed a clue. In court you have all the clues you need to solve the case, it's just a matter of putting everything together and finding contradictions in the witness statements (which is fun!). I only used the walk-through like three times for the first 2 games (I haven't played the third however, but I plan to). I'd say more on why PW is very well designed, but I haven't played it in awhile to list specific examples and I think everyone has played this (and those who haven't should).

moral of the post: fuck dark seed
The times i relied on a walkthrough was when i either hadn't played for a while and totally forgot what i was supposed to be doing, or when i just didn't have a clue how to proceed forward in the game.
It might just be that i haven't played all that many adventure games so im not that hardcore, but sometimes i just ended up clicking on everything trying to understand what i was supposed to be doing, so i'd go to the walkthrough and it would tell me i was supposed to pick up that tiny nail on the floor. It felt like a waste of thirty minutes.

and phoenix wright = woohoo! I think the 'puzzles' are a lot, lot easier. Also i like that it only takes a click to get from one place to the next so it doesn't feel like it's dragging.
Yeah, I've had to resort to a walkthrough many times. Like, in the first Monkey Island, I got through everything until the point where you had to get a head from the natives--I spent ages and couldn't figure it out without a walkthrough.
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