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So there has been some discussion about puzzles before, do we like them, how would we solve em.

I was wondering if anyone has a preference for a type of puzzle, or remembers a puzzle they've played elsewhere which they really enjoyed.

 

For me, I mostly enjoy puzzles which aren't directly obvious as puzzles, but kind of blend into the world.

I always enjoyed games like Myst and Riven, where for instance in order to learn the numerical system of the world (which you needed for specific inputs elsewhere) you had to play a children´s game in an abandoned school, and infer from that.

 

I love this type of challenge because it doesn't break immersion. (I'm thinking about the Stanley parable where the games narrator makes fun of you because you start switching light switches as if that would somehow solve a non-existent puzzle)

And it´s not directly obvious how you go about it, but it does fit within the confines of the world.

 

I also pathway puzzles, where you might have to move a lot of switches back and forth the whole time to get to all the places.

 

Puzzles involving text I don't like so much. Not only are they too obvious a gameplay element ("look a puzzle") but text often is either too vague (because the creator of the puzzle assumes a cultural knowledge you might not have) or too obvious.

 

I do like a lot of puzzles in the game, but I tend to like them as a bonus, for the extra reward. Not as a main attraction.

 

I'm curious to hear what you guys think about puzzles.

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I like all sorts of puzzles, if they are in any way plausible. A text riddle from a sphinx - well, for sure. Or maybe a question from a ghost knight, which is more of a moral dilemma. Or any sorts of Joker puzzles, the prisoner dilemma (I think that even was in BG2), riddles where you have to find a door combination in the level (not on a plate!), where you have to gather clues and combine them in a good way.

 

I remember the puzzles (well to say they were puzzles is an utter disgrace for an actual puzzle) in Skyrim. Right in the first dungeon you had to find a certain symbol for a door. Well, I thought, I'm going to search this place. I inspected all of the walls, tried to find similar symbols, tried a few combinations based on my "research" only to find out that the correct answer was on the dragon claw (or something like this). So it wasn't even a riddle. That made me mad.

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I like pretty much all kinds of puzzles. What I don't like, at least in cRPGs, is riddles. Why? Because it's almost always multiple choice, and it's usually extremely easy to figure out which answer is the correct one. They should at least let stats like Intelligence and Wisdom figure in somehow, otherwise it's just pure metagaming (a D&D character with an Intelligence score of 7 should not be able to solve the Riddle of the Sphinx, even if the player knows the answer).

Which I guess they did on a few occasions in PS:T, but then you only got two alternatives instead: the right one, which was only available if your Intelligence score was high enough, and "I don't know".

 

Here's how I think riddles should be handled instead: They should still be multiple choice, but the correct answers should only be available if your Intelligence score is high enough (they should not be marked in any way - e.g. [intelligence]: "Blue").

If your Intelligence is almost high enough, but not quite, incorrect answers that sound plausible should become available. If your Intelligence is very high (several points higher than what's required to unlock the correct answer), then - and only then - should the correct answers be marked with an [intelligence] or other giveaway.

Of course, companions with high Intelligence scores should be able to chime in and help stupid PCs - if they are loyal (high Influence/Friendship score), that is.

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I like pretty much all kinds of puzzles. What I don't like, at least in cRPGs, is riddles. Why? Because it's almost always multiple choice, and it's usually extremely easy to figure out which answer is the correct one. They should at least let stats like Intelligence and Wisdom figure in somehow, otherwise it's just pure metagaming (a D&D character with an Intelligence score of 7 should not be able to solve the Riddle of the Sphinx, even if the player knows the answer).

Which I guess they did on a few occasions in PS:T, but then you only got two alternatives instead: the right one, which was only available if your Intelligence score was high enough, and "I don't know".

 

Here's how I think riddles should be handled instead: They should still be multiple choice, but the correct answers should only be available if your Intelligence score is high enough (they should not be marked in any way - e.g. [intelligence]: "Blue").

If your Intelligence is almost high enough, but not quite, incorrect answers that sound plausible should become available. If your Intelligence is very high (several points higher than what's required to unlock the correct answer), then - and only then - should the correct answers be marked with an [intelligence] or other giveaway.

Of course, companions with high Intelligence scores should be able to chime in and help stupid PCs - if they are loyal (high Influence/Friendship score), that is.

 

I don't know about that. In my opinion the meta-gaming aspect is negligible. The same goes for meta-gaming in a D&D session. I really don't care if it's coherent roleplaying-wise because keeping that coherent doesn't work at all. Sure, if you're into the whole hardcore-roleplaying-aspect sure, but the way I experienced riddles and puzzles in a game it's mostly there for stimulating the player and giving the player a challenge. I mean if you have a low-INT barbarian, he might not see certain situations and would not react as intelligently as the player allows him to. Basically EVERYTHING in an RPG is metagaming, even the dialogues to a certain extent (because you have to reflect on a variety of possible answers, which almost always leads to compromise).

 

I see riddles of all kinds as stimulation of the player, which is about exactly the right thing to do, because a game should cater to to the player, not the character. What has happened with that, we can observe with Hitman: Absolution.

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I'm not suggesting that the riddle should be solved automatically if your INT score is high. That's why I want multiple choice, and why I don't want the correct answer to be marked with [intelligence], like in so many other games, unless your INT score happens to be VERY high (e.g. 18+ in D&D terms) - maybe not even then. I want to be challenged, but I also want it to make sense roleplaying-wise. Stats like Intelligence and Wisdom should matter. They should open up new dialogue options and affect your problem solving abilities, not only grant stat bonuses to a few skills and/or determine how effective spells are.

Edited by Agelastos

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself! Apart from pain... and maybe humiliation. And obviously death and failure. But apart from fear, pain, humiliation, failure, the unknown and death, we have nothing to fear but fear itself!"

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Word games. Guessing games. Riddles. Mazes. Sequences. Sliding tiles - It's not the type of puzzle matters to me, it's about how difficult it is to complete. A puzzle just isn't fun for me if I can just breeze through it with barely a single thought.

 

Dragon Age Origins had a few riddles and word games and a physical puzzle that required moving around your party characters and I found them all to be lacking. They were either overridden by a character stat(dex/int or persuasion) or they were just downright easy.

 

The riddles were the worst. Disregarding the fact that the riddles themselves were extremely simple - The multiple choice dialogue offered you no room for error, since the answer was proudly displayed with neon lights. Sure, you technically could pick the wrong answer, but the "wrong" choices were so extremely far fetched that it would be hard for anyone not to pick out the correct, and obvious, answer in a heartbeat. Honestly, I swept through the riddles in that game with barely a break in my stride, and that was so extremely disappointing that I almost stopped playing.

 

The Physical Puzzle, by popular opinion, is supposedly the "hardest" in Dragon Age Origins, requiring you to move around your party characters to push down the correct buttons in the correct order. It required me to pause for a moment and assess the buttons, but that was all it took, a short pause and I flew past the puzzle with barely a backward glance. I found the sequence itself so simple to figure out that I practically had it memorized after my first run, and I discovered on a later play-through that it wasn't randomized, needless to say the entire thing was wasted on me.

 

A lot of puzzles recently have just been jumped up "connect the dots" or the most simple riddles possible with obvious answers in the dialogue responses. I don't see the point of including puzzles if they're not going to be the least bit challenging. I love to be challenged, it's where most of my fun comes from, whether it's by combat or by mazes, puzzles or word games. While I know that the combat will be as challenging as I like, I worry that puzzles will continue to disappoint me with bland and straightforward messes that can barely be considered "puzzles".

 

The last puzzle to make me stop, think and even take notes, was "Hells" from Mask of the Betrayer - A word/guessing game in the Sunken City. It wasn't even complicated, all you had to do was guess, in the correct order, which 4 Hells the man was thinking of, if you get too many wrong guesses you lose. Simple. Utterly simple. You guess once for a starting point and you work from there - Discarding some names and attempting to arrange the rest in the correct order. Hells was one of the most fun "mini-games" I've ever played and all it took was a single NPC in a tiny room.

 

Puzzles don't need to be complicated, but I really do think they need to be challenging. Anything from riddles and word games to sequences and mazes, it should all be challenging, fun, and incorporated in a seamless manner. Although I hope that this Project will produce a good sum of puzzles that will make me curse liberally and chew through many pencils, I don't think riddles and puzzles should be a "requirement" for advancement - There should always be multiple solutions to a problem, even if one of those solutions is making a Riddler choke on his giblets, no one should ever be forced to pursue a course of action they don't want to. Duh.

 

All just my opinion mind you.

Edited by Sylvanpyxie
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They should* still be multiple choice, but the correct answers should only be available if your Intelligence score is high enough

 

* That should read "could". It's not that I want multiple choice (as I said in my first post, that usually makes the riddles way too easy to solve), but I'm struggling to think of a better alternative.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself! Apart from pain... and maybe humiliation. And obviously death and failure. But apart from fear, pain, humiliation, failure, the unknown and death, we have nothing to fear but fear itself!"

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  • 3 weeks later...

~PlateCraft Puzzles

"Stand on this one to active this other one which activates that one over there to activate something that finally opens the door whilst shutting you in and you have to find another plate that activates another plate that opens another way out of the dungeon"

 

With 6 party members some physical "Press this button" or "Stand on this plate" in synchronicity would be cool. Perhaps not a puzzle that requires all 6 party member slots filled (what with players playing different party compositions ranging from 1-6) but some dungeon puzzles that requires a party (and those who play 1-2 characters gets left out). Likewise perhaps there could be some content or puzzles that can't be accessed if you are more than 2 player characters.

 

Perhaps some "God" Door doesn't accept the passage of 6 party members, but "gladly" grants passage for 2 characters. This would allow for replayability as well.

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Dialogue puzzles, figuring out what to say to an NPC to get the most favorable results based on information I can get from the game world. (I don't like speech skills, though attribute-dependent answers are cool.)

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Baldurs Gate 2 have some neat puzzles, riddles in conversations, physical puzzles like "coding" a gods name by using letters on the ground (Hey Indiana :)) or placing some objects to their right places.

 

The problem with puzzles(if they only require player IQ) is they are good only when you solve them first time and mostly ignores our avatars stats/situation. I really dont think my 3 int 8 wisdom half orcish barbarian was able to solve any puzzles but he was faster than my all other characters :) because i remembered every one of them puzzles.

 

Also another point, i really want to see puzzles as an optional objectives. While i love them there are lots of players who see them as chores. It would be good to let them avoid puzzles or solve therm with right stats.

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I love puzzles. My only stipulation would be that there's some effort to fit them into the larger context. I.e., that there's some excuse for the puzzle to be there in the first place, and ideally some reason nobody else has shown up to solve it yet. Even better, put in some really hard puzzles in optional areas.

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Dialogue puzzles, figuring out what to say to an NPC to get the most favorable results based on information I can get from the game world. (I don't like speech skills, though attribute-dependent answers are cool.)

 

QFT.

 

1) it's much more interesting to read/ click your way through dialogue than it is to backtrack through the entire dungeon to see what effect your last rearrangement of those 12 levers had :facepalm:

 

2) usually, dialogue "puzzles" are the only ones with replay value. This is of course enhanced if you don't get any info on what stat/ skill checks are performed.

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1. Unstated puzzles. That is to say, "secrets". You notice something suspicious on a wall, maybe a clue that tells you, "Hey, maybe there's something I can do here?"

 

2. Word/math puzzles. Of course, some of the more obscure math puzzles suck but it's still fun being presented with them.

 

3. Puzzles with varying outcomes. Perhaps some puzzles have multiple answers, the reward you get for a certain answer varies.

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Puzzles that aren't frustrating.

 

1. Unstated puzzles. That is to say, "secrets". You notice something suspicious on a wall, maybe a clue that tells you, "Hey, maybe there's something I can do here?"

 

Isn't that just a secret? Those usually are just a clue that says there's some obscure wall you can open by right clicking it. And then you do it and you get some crappy generic random loot chest reward (DA:O and Skyrim I'm looking at you.)

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Word games. Guessing games. Riddles. Mazes. Sequences. Sliding tiles - It's not the type of puzzle matters to me, it's about how difficult it is to complete. A puzzle just isn't fun for me if I can just breeze through it with barely a single thought.

 

Dragon Age Origins had a few riddles and word games and a physical puzzle that required moving around your party characters and I found them all to be lacking. They were either overridden by a character stat(dex/int or persuasion) or they were just downright easy.

 

The riddles were the worst. Disregarding the fact that the riddles themselves were extremely simple - The multiple choice dialogue offered you no room for error, since the answer was proudly displayed with neon lights. Sure, you technically could pick the wrong answer, but the "wrong" choices were so extremely far fetched that it would be hard for anyone not to pick out the correct, and obvious, answer in a heartbeat. Honestly, I swept through the riddles in that game with barely a break in my stride, and that was so extremely disappointing that I almost stopped playing.

 

The Physical Puzzle, by popular opinion, is supposedly the "hardest" in Dragon Age Origins, requiring you to move around your party characters to push down the correct buttons in the correct order. It required me to pause for a moment and assess the buttons, but that was all it took, a short pause and I flew past the puzzle with barely a backward glance. I found the sequence itself so simple to figure out that I practically had it memorized after my first run, and I discovered on a later play-through that it wasn't randomized, needless to say the entire thing was wasted on me.

 

A lot of puzzles recently have just been jumped up "connect the dots" or the most simple riddles possible with obvious answers in the dialogue responses. I don't see the point of including puzzles if they're not going to be the least bit challenging. I love to be challenged, it's where most of my fun comes from, whether it's by combat or by mazes, puzzles or word games. While I know that the combat will be as challenging as I like, I worry that puzzles will continue to disappoint me with bland and straightforward messes that can barely be considered "puzzles".

 

The last puzzle to make me stop, think and even take notes, was "Hells" from Mask of the Betrayer - A word/guessing game in the Sunken City. It wasn't even complicated, all you had to do was guess, in the correct order, which 4 Hells the man was thinking of, if you get too many wrong guesses you lose. Simple. Utterly simple. You guess once for a starting point and you work from there - Discarding some names and attempting to arrange the rest in the correct order. Hells was one of the most fun "mini-games" I've ever played and all it took was a single NPC in a tiny room.

 

Puzzles don't need to be complicated, but I really do think they need to be challenging. Anything from riddles and word games to sequences and mazes, it should all be challenging, fun, and incorporated in a seamless manner. Although I hope that this Project will produce a good sum of puzzles that will make me curse liberally and chew through many pencils, I don't think riddles and puzzles should be a "requirement" for advancement - There should always be multiple solutions to a problem, even if one of those solutions is making a Riddler choke on his giblets, no one should ever be forced to pursue a course of action they don't want to. Duh.

 

All just my opinion mind you.

 

I agree on your post.

However, I thought hells was too easy. I quickly deducted an algorithm for solving hells (it is an easier version of the game "mastermind", which itself has algorithms to solve it) and than it was just winning by going through it step by step.

My point is not that I'm good at mastermind, but that it is really diffictult to get the difficulty of puzzles right, as the difficulty mostly relies on your background. Puzzles are either logical where they can be analysed mathematically, or they rely on speech and the like or they have no structure at all (= bad puzzles).

 

However, if your personal life resolves around analysing patterns (most scientific jobs, for example) or being eloquent (for lacking of a better term as I'm not eloquent) puzzles that are hard to others without that background become trivial. There's also the part that after playing a lot of games, you've seen most "popular" puzzles, thus making them and minor modifications trivial again. That is also a reason why significant intelligence tests are rather difficult to make, as you're doing better if you've practiced on/seen the puzzles they contain beforehand (which is also why there is a market for books preparing you for assessment centers).

 

So I think finding challenging puzzles in a game is pretty difficult once you as a player have developed a certain "puzzle skill" - at least if you want to make puzzles accessible for everyone regardless of background at the same time.

 

That said, I like most puzzles, even if they are not challenging at all. Usually, the more math it involves, the happier I am (as long as I can't solve it without writing some notes). Also, I liked hells anyway, as it was fun to deduct the algorithm necessary to win every time. It's just that after that, actually winning hells was just mechanical work which at the same time will stay this way for every subsequent playthrough I'll have in the future, which is rather meh.

Edited by Doppelschwert
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I like some classic puzzles when done well. For example the Towers Of Hanoi puzzle that Bioware are fond of (and is taught to everyone taking their first algorithm class as an example of a NP problem) worked well in Mass Effect where it was a proper puzzle. It did not work as well in KOTOR where it was done via dialogue and it was hard to keep track of where each "piece" was.

 

A game that has a ton of good puzzles is The Secret World. Some of the puzzles are fairly easy, some are extremely obscure and require the player to look up dutch artists, to realize that a password hint is the title of a book that used encryption (which you'll have to use as well), and some are in between. The fact that the reward for doing these puzzles were usually good, that the puzzles were varied, and all completely optional (except you had to do some of them to get access to the next ones) helped a lot too.

 

I detest jumping puzzles in almost every game, since they usually have exactly one solution, often require very good reflexes and timing, and often have an instant fail or a long backtrack if you miss one jump.

 

The best kind of puzzles as someone already mentioned though, are the completely optional ones. Sometimes I like to think my way through challenges, sometimes I like to sneak around or talk my way through a difficult sitation, but I like to be able to fall back to brute force (of the greatsword to their face kind), especially when I fail at one of the other ways of doing things.

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I generally don't enjoy puzzles unless I am playing the genre specifically (I liked Grimrock ok). Puzzles shouldn't block me from being able to progress the main storyline, the more optional they are the better. They should be logical and integrated into the world around me... though when I think about it, are there really any 'puzzles' in real life? I can't think of any off the top of my head. Even something like the pyramids that were designed to foil grave robbers didnt really have any 'puzzles', just some traps and hidden passages. So it seems to me that in order to be logical they must also be necessarily fantastical (magical talking sphinx or wizards teleporter mazes).

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Puzzles that aren't frustrating.

 

1. Unstated puzzles. That is to say, "secrets". You notice something suspicious on a wall, maybe a clue that tells you, "Hey, maybe there's something I can do here?"

 

Isn't that just a secret? Those usually are just a clue that says there's some obscure wall you can open by right clicking it. And then you do it and you get some crappy generic random loot chest reward (DA:O and Skyrim I'm looking at you.)

 

I mean something akin to an actual secret.

 

There are four items you find that appear to serve no purpose. Their symbolism is explained somewhere in the context of a level. There are four pedestals hidden in a room that apparently serve no purpose. The puzzle is to put these pieces together, put each item in a specific order on each pedastal, to open a hidden room. The less obvious this seems, the better. Though it shouldn't feel 'cheap' or 'random'.

 

Most of DA/Skyrim's 'puzzles' are just barriers everyone is expected to solve and are relatively obvious by design.

Edited by anubite

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I generally like puzzles of two kinds:

 

1. Those that are integrated into the game. There needs to be some kind of logical reason for why there's a puzzle here that makes sense in the game context.

 

2. Those that are completely optional. I'm not that fond of crit-path puzzles that prevent you from going forward until you solve the puzzle, particularly when they're unspeakably fiddly and annoying.

 

I generally *don't* like puzzles that are tests of timing and reflexes. I want to be able to do the puzzle at my leisure.

 

I'm pretty tolerant for having to do the same mini-puzzle to unlock every lock in the game, but I appreciate why some people are not.

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1.) I like puzzles/riddles that encourage me to learn more about the game world.

For example: King's Quest VI had a pictograph puzzle used for its copyright protection. Said protection was hidden in a lore booklet describing the islands and giving more life to the cartoonishly diverse setting.

 

2.) I like logic puzzles that are obviously installed by in-game forces to act as a defense rather than obviously designed by designers to slow down our progress.

For example: I have a general disliking of the "ooh, physics" puzzles from Half-Life 2 but enjoy the portal puzzles of Portal.

 

3.) I like puzzles that are impossible without cheating around them and have such a way implemented in-game.

For example: Beyond Atlantis has a puzzle requiring you to receive three specific stamps in a specific order to receive an item. Anything but the correct order will be flat-out rejected, no clue given, and there are dozens of combinations. The only practical way to solve the puzzle is by rescuing an NPC who gives you the answer in thanks.

 

4.) I like puzzles that reward in-game exploration and/or use of non-combat skills.

For example: Might and Magic 2 featured a Guardian Spirit who would grant you a stat boost if you could track him down on the first day of the year and tell him his name. His location was explained in a message in a dungeon, but his name could only be learned by using a Language skill to read runes.

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