284: Give Me An Axe, I've Had Enough Of This Puzzle

Jonas Kyratzes

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Dec 12, 2010
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Give Me An Axe, I've Had Enough Of This Puzzle

Puzzles pull us out of the gaming experience, but obstacles pull us in.

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DTWolfwood

Better than Vash!
Oct 20, 2009
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AMEND! I can't possibly agree more!

Cant stand Pipe dream in Bioshock

Cant get enough Lockpicking in Oblivion/Fallout

obstacle >>>> puzzle
 

DannibalG36

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Mar 29, 2010
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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This reminds me of the Incorporeal Bridge in Dragon Age: Origins (the second to last section in the Gauntlet, for those of you who remember). I spent at least an hour trying to figure everything out before giving up and turning to the Gamespot forums for assistance.

If only my mage could have cast a glyph of levitation (or something).
 

Dr_Steve_Brule

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Mar 28, 2010
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This is exactly the reason why I like destructible environments in my game- no excuse if you block my path with a wooden door.
 

Latinidiot

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Feb 19, 2009
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Intersting read. You are probably right. But how about the puzzles in AC 2? Would they fall under obstacles, or puzzles?


I like puzzles. Most of the time I like the reason why they are there. But I've never really encountered a puzzle that pulled me out of the experience.
 

WanderingFool

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Apr 9, 2009
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*Note to self: Dont us puzzles, use obstacles*

But seriously, I agree wholeheartedly. Some puzzles are okay, but sometimes they can break the already weak immersion im in. I also like the "cant solve the puzzle? Break the f**king door down!" bit. I think that should be allowed in a number of games.
 

HentMas

The Loneliest Jedi
Apr 17, 2009
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hehehe, might i ask you to check out "M.O.T.A.S" (Mystery Of Time And Space) its a puzzle game that has being active for over 10 years, its still in devellopment and people all over the world have played it, there is just no end to that damn game, but i love it to bits, all the puzzles are easily identifiable and still they manage to have some level of dificulty (it deppends more on the time you are willing to spend checking the enviroment than the actuall "college" you went to)

HERE!!! a link for you!!! http://www.albartus.com/motas/
 

Bloodstain

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Jun 20, 2009
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Very good read. I loved MYST and URU...because of the complexity of the obstacles, the universe and the atmosphere. If someone just put similar puzzles right in front of my face without any context, it would be a bit boring. Therefore, after soem consideration, I agree with you.
 

Azaraxzealot

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Dec 1, 2009
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YAY FOR SOLVING EVERYTHING BY DESTROYING IT!

seriously, that's what i want, it reminds me of that one part in Knights of the Old republic where you had to move all the rings from one pole to the next and some rings couldnt go where other rings were because those rings would cause the stuff to explode and you would die and there was a--- AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

i just wanted to plant explosives on the door and not worry about it! fuck inserting complex puzzles into my games! I just want to PROGRESS and STAY IMMERSED!
 

spectrenihlus

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I see you favor the Alexander the Great approach when it comes to puzzles.

I admire that.

Yes I too wish I have the option of smashing when it comes to especially devious puzzles.
 

spartan231490

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Jonas Kyratzes said:
Give Me An Axe, I've Had Enough Of This Puzzle

Puzzles pull us out of the gaming experience, but obstacles pull us in.

Read Full Article
I like puzzles in games. The pipe dream in bioshock and the ghost bridge in dragon age being two of my favorites. Another favorite, from my short time playing the game, is the floor puzzle games from DDO.
On the whole, i think that an argument could be made that puzzles do pull you out of the gaming experience, because you cease being your character and become yourself, but I think that aids in immersion which enriches the gaming experience, not detracts from it, eveb if it alters the flow somewhat.

Edit: after reading the article again, I don't think i "get" the authors distinction between a puzzle and an obstacle. Intellectualy, i see the difference, but I haven't really ever seen a puzzle that I would say isn't integrated well into the world. Taking the puzzles I liste above, the water puzzle makes sense to me if you simply assume that the water, either literally or metephorically, represents the intent of what you are hacking, which you then artificially force to go where you want it to. The ghost birdge in dragon age makes perfect sense becuase it's a gauntlet made to test mental fortitude as well as strength, perfectly justifying a puzzle, just like it justifies riddles and fighting ghost forms of yourselves. Just like it justifies having to unequip my armor. The puzzle games also make sense in DDO because they are put in place in order to protect powerful artifacts from unwanted influence, which justifies puzzles.
 

Onyx Oblivion

Borderlands Addict. Again.
Sep 9, 2008
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I'm fine with it, I'm not big on immersion, so a puzzle and an obstacle are the same thing to me.

But I am against puzzles in games that don't need them.

God of War has way more puzzles than it needs, and they are all way too simple.
 

carpathic

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Oct 5, 2009
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I think this an interesting view, and one I agree with. I remember playing Hexen and thinking, these puzzles aren't about being smart, they are about aligning your thoughts in concordance with the ideas of the designer. I am not sure in the end, that it was ultimately helpful to have the puzzles in the game.
 

Falseprophet

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DannibalG36 said:
This reminds me of the Incorporeal Bridge in Dragon Age: Origins (the second to last section in the Gauntlet, for those of you who remember). I spent at least an hour trying to figure everything out before giving up and turning to the Gamespot forums for assistance.

If only my mage could have cast a glyph of levitation (or something).
The salt in the wound was one of your party members (probably Alastair) lampshading after the fact: "so we're supposed to demonstrate our worth to the Maker by solving logic puzzles?" Even the NPCs feel immersion whiplash!

Onyx Oblivion said:
I'm fine with it, I'm not big on immersion, so a puzzle and an obstacle are the same thing to me.

But I am against puzzles in games that don't need them.

God of War has way more puzzles than it needs, and they are all way too simple.
So many people whose opinions I respect hold up God of War as a great example of characterization, and how the fighting embodies the rage Kratos feels and so on, and while that may be true, that's maybe 25% of gameplay. The rest is these irritating puzzles and it really strains my suspension of disbelief to accept the same enraged mass-murderer you control in fights or cutscenes would be patiently crawling all over ancient booby-trapped temples like Indiana Jones.

Latinidiot said:
Intersting read. You are probably right. But how about the puzzles in AC 2? Would they fall under obstacles, or puzzles?
If you mean the Assassins' Tombs (and Romulus Lairs in Brotherhood), I'd argue those are not as annoying, because:

i) They're optional. You can finish the main plotline without doing them,
ii) They use the same parkour/free-running skills you use throughout the whole game (and they're good practice besides), and don't bring in a completely different set of gameplay mechanics, and
iii) They fit the narrative. It's well-established by the story these ancient conspiracies have hidden their secrets behind puzzles.
 

purity

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Nov 26, 2009
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I've been lurking the forums and reading the articles for a long time, and I just have to say in response to this article:

The Longest Journey (the first one)

Totally agree with the review, although I enjoy puzzles just for the sake of the puzzles as well ^^
 

Dastardly

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Apr 19, 2010
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Jonas Kyratzes said:
Give Me An Axe, I've Had Enough Of This Puzzle

Puzzles pull us out of the gaming experience, but obstacles pull us in.

Read Full Article
Agreed fully.

A good game teaches you how to engage its world--the rules, regulations, patterns, and so on--and then it tests you on how well you've learned. It teaches what will be tested, and it only tests what it taught.

These obstacles should demand that you think inside the game world, rather than think outside in abstraction. As you described, context is the key. In education, we've got names for the difference between the two: authentic and inauthentic assessment.

Inauthentic assessment is when a student is asked to describe knowledge. I give you a formula, and you repeat the formula to me and maybe answer some numerical problems. It tells me whether or not you're familiar with the knowledge. Authentic assessment is when a student is asked to apply knowledge. I give you a formula, and then I give you a problem that requires you to use that formula to find a useful answer. It tells me whether or not you're fluent in the use of this knowledge.

Games should rely as much as possible on authentic assessment. Teach players the rules of the game and then make them apply those rules in novel situations. Provide context to the puzzle, and you've got good content.
 

Optimystic

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I have to agree - whenever I find a puzzle in a game, I just go to the game's wiki and look for the fastest solution, so I can get back to the actual game. I did it with the slider puzzles in Resident Evil 4 and Dragon Age and I did it with the damn Tower of Hanoi in Mass Effect.

An example of an obstacle that I enjoyed was the sunlight-mirrors section in Resident Evil 5. I was playing co-op, so I could park Sheva on top of the plinth (away from the rays and direct my roommate, using my vantage to predict where the beam would go once he rotated all the mirrors, AND being safe from the deadly laser myself.
 

Latinidiot

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Falseprophet said:
Latinidiot said:
Intersting read. You are probably right. But how about the puzzles in AC 2? Would they fall under obstacles, or puzzles?
If you mean the Assassins' Tombs (and Romulus Lairs in Brotherhood), I'd argue those are not as annoying, because:

i) They're optional. You can finish the main plotline without doing them,
ii) They use the same parkour/free-running skills you use throughout the whole game (and they're good practice besides), and don't bring in a completely different set of gameplay mechanics, and
iii) They fit the narrative. It's well-established by the story these ancient conspiracies have hidden their secrets behind puzzles.
EDIT: woops, something went wrong there.

No, I'm talking about the bits ofsubject 16 memories, and the various 'Information unlocking' puzzles that they bring with them. I like them, but according to this article, they would be.....bad design.
 

veloper

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Jan 20, 2009
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I don't mind puzzles in games myself, because I like them and I'm good at solving puzzles, but I agree that games in other genres should be upfront about what kind of experience they try to deliver.
Throwing one or two puzzles in an action game isn't really catering to puzzle lovers and it may actually spoil it for the action players.

Good article.
 

Ironmaus

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Nov 29, 2007
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I agree in principle, though I feel the linguistic distinction is arbitrary and limiting. There are in-game puzzles that are wholly a part of the world, and it seems wrong to me to refer to them simply as "obstacles." Take the God of War puzzles, for example. Using Medusa's head to freeze a minotaur when it steps on a switch is a puzzle. The rules of the puzzle are built into the world, and the solution is a simple one, but it's definitely a puzzle. The Rings of Pandora are a puzzle, and a wonderfully devious one at that. It seems to deny a part of their nature if you lump them in with boss encounters and big rocks as "obstacles."

Also, since the article all but proposes a game design philosophy, then I need to take issue with one part of that proposal:

"A slider puzzle on the kitchen door is just a puzzle; needing to get the key from the cook is an obstacle."

Please, dear god, don't let us replace puzzles with fetch quests.