Inventure: A proposal for an inverse puzzle mini-competition

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olethros

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Nov 24, 2010, 5:04:17 PM11/24/10
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Puzzles have always been a staple of interactive fiction. You must
have learned to recognise the standard patterns by now, some of them
reviled (such as find the item in the maze), some of them simply
boring (such as unlock the door with the key), which do crop up in one
form or the other in plenty of cases.

A side-effect of the existence of such patterns is that they guide the
player towards very specific, easily detectable goals, that usually
take the form of some obstacle. What is a closed door, but an
invitation to open it? On the other hand, if the puzzle requires to
_lock_ the door, this may be something that is not immediately
apparent to the player. Does this hold more generally for other item +
action combinations?

The aim of this mini-comp is to break some new ground in puzzle
construction by re-thinking classic puzzles. If you find the concept
interesting, and I get enough responses by Dec 15, I shall announce a
mini-comp with deadline (approximately) Jan 15 2010. Entries should:


1. Take a classic puzzle theme
2. Change it so that the puzzle solution entails performing the
opposite (or just a completely different) action.
3. Be a stand-alone game so that the puzzle makes sense within the
context of the game.

In my opinion, entries should be judged on two criteria:

1. How recognisable the original puzzle is.
2. How awesome the new variant is.
3. How great the game is!

Comments? Suggestions?

Christos

George Oliver

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Nov 24, 2010, 9:00:16 PM11/24/10
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On 11/24/2010 2:04 PM, olethros wrote:
> The aim of this mini-comp is to break some new ground in puzzle
> construction by re-thinking classic puzzles. If you find the concept
> interesting, and I get enough responses by Dec 15, I shall announce a
> mini-comp with deadline (approximately) Jan 15 2010.

[....]

> Comments? Suggestions?


I really like this idea, and while I don't consider myself good at
puzzles in any way, it's inspiring enough that I'd give it a go.

Captain Mikee

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Nov 25, 2010, 10:14:57 PM11/25/10
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On Nov 24, 5:04 pm, olethros <christos.dimitraka...@gmail.com> wrote:

> 1. Take a classic puzzle theme
> 2. Change it so that the puzzle solution entails performing the
> opposite (or just a completely different) action.
> 3. Be a stand-alone game so that the puzzle makes sense within the
> context of the game.

Sounds like fun. I have a puzzle like that in my WIP, but it's just a
small part and I don't think it will be ready for a competition any
time soon.

There is at least one game already like this. Have you seen
Enlightenment?

http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=fn8r65rg7upfff0o

You might get some more if you start a poll at ifdb.

olethros

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Nov 27, 2010, 7:41:21 AM11/27/10
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On Nov 26, 4:14 am, Captain Mikee <captainmi...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> On Nov 24, 5:04 pm, olethros <christos.dimitraka...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > 1. Take a classic puzzle theme
> > 2. Change it so that the puzzle solution entails performing the
> > opposite (or just a completely different) action.
> > 3. Be a stand-alone game so that the puzzle makes sense within the
> > context of the game.
>
> Sounds like fun. I have a puzzle like that in my WIP, but it's just a
> small part and I don't think it will be ready for a competition any
> time soon.
>
> There is at least one game already like this. Have you seen
> Enlightenment?
>


Enlightenment is a great example of such a thing, yes :)

Jim Aikin

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Nov 27, 2010, 1:12:02 PM11/27/10
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On 11/24/2010 2:04 PM, olethros wrote:
>
> 1. Take a classic puzzle theme
> 2. Change it so that the puzzle solution entails performing the
> opposite (or just a completely different) action.

Since I'll never get around to doing this, here's an idea that anyone
can freely adapt, if they're foolish enough:

The goal of the game is to be eaten by a grue.

Don't ask me why. That's one of the things I haven't quite worked out.
Also still in the planning stage -- why it's difficult, what a grue
would look like (since you can never see them), and so on.

--JA

The Year Is Yesterday

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Nov 28, 2010, 11:57:07 PM11/28/10
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On Nov 24, 2:04 pm, olethros <christos.dimitraka...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Comments? Suggestions?

I'm certainly interested, but I'm not the most experienced with IF, so
I can't promise my offering (if it does end up surfacing) will be
anything mind-blowing. Mostly I'd like to see what everybody else
comes up with, as you can't go too wrong with subverting classic
tropes.

Would it be contrary to the spirit of the thing to ask for a list of
other common puzzle tropes to help kick-start my imagination? I'm
drawing a near-complete blank.

-TYIY

S. John Ross

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Nov 29, 2010, 12:37:18 AM11/29/10
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> Would it be contrary to the spirit of the thing to ask for a list of
> other common puzzle tropes to help kick-start my imagination? I'm
> drawing a near-complete blank.

I have such a list in the works for my own amusement, and I'm sure there
are others around (maybe at ifwiki?) but a quick-fix way to refresh your
memory on them is just grab the old Infocom invisiclues and read those
:) (available in various electronic forms all over, even in z-code
format at the archives, IIRC).

The trick (and the fun) of doing any kind of taxonomy of puzzles is that
people have been reconfiguring them since the beginning, and Infocom did
most of them a half-dozen times or more ... (for example, if you
reconfigure a locked door into a guardian beast that must be pacified
[exact same puzzle, really], you get everything from the the Cyclops to
the little yappy dog to the hellhound to Cerberus to the crocodile to
the mass of penguins to the Giant Microbe ...)

The trick with subverting them (and I don't mean to criticize the
contest idea; I think it sounds fun) is that you almost have to draw
attention to the subversion, lest it just be mistaken for another
variant. It's true that needing to lock a door is a subversion of the
more common need to unlock one (as the OP suggested) ... but on the
other hand, there've been games since the beginning where you've needed
to lock doors (or other things) to succeed, so unless there's the
equivalent of a sign saying "see what I did there?" a subversion can
easily go unnoticed and just a slightly-less-common variant ...

S. John Ross

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Nov 29, 2010, 12:39:53 AM11/29/10
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(I couldn't spot a list at IFwiki, but if you go there and just do a
word-search on terms like "trope" or "cliche" you can get a LOT of
potentially-useful hits ...)

Tiddy Ogg

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Nov 29, 2010, 2:50:54 AM11/29/10
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On Sun, 28 Nov 2010 23:39:53 -0600, "S. John Ross" <sj...@io.com>
wrote:

>
>
>(I couldn't spot a list at IFwiki, but if you go there and just do a
>word-search on terms like "trope" or "cliche" you can get a LOT of
>potentially-useful hits ...)

Well the obvious one is finding a lamp, and not being able to succeed
unless you turn it off, but like everything, it's probably been done -
I can think of a few scenarios.

Robin Johnson

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Nov 29, 2010, 9:45:09 AM11/29/10
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On Nov 24, 10:04 pm, olethros <christos.dimitraka...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The aim of this mini-comp is to break some new ground in puzzle
> construction by re-thinking classic puzzles. If you find the concept
> interesting, and I get enough responses by Dec 15, I shall announce a
> mini-comp with deadline (approximately) Jan 15 2010.

Rather than a single puzzle, would inverting the broader goal of the
game count? My WIP - which I might get finished by 15 Jan given
sufficient motivation like a mini-comp - sets the player a fairly
standard goal at the beginning (rot13: erfphr gur acpf), but there is
an alternate ending if you do the opposite (trg gurz nyy xvyyrq),
which is supposed to be the 'real' win. If this fits the bill, and if
I get it finished in time, I'm up for it.

Robin Johnson
http://rdouglasjohnson.com

Michael Neal Tenuis

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Nov 29, 2010, 10:37:32 AM11/29/10
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The page http://www.ifwiki.org/index.php/Category:Game_help lists
"typical sorts of puzzles" (without spoilers, despite what the category
title may suggest).

AnssiR66

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Dec 1, 2010, 3:59:36 AM12/1/10
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> Comments? Suggestions?
>
> Christos

By all means go for it and announce the comp! The idea sounds fun and
would probably attract several entrants.
-Anssi

olethros

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Dec 1, 2010, 8:05:22 AM12/1/10
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> other hand, there've been games since the beginning where you've needed
> to lock doors (or other things) to succeed, so unless there's the
> equivalent of a sign saying "see what I did there?" a subversion can
> easily go unnoticed and just a slightly-less-common variant ...

Yes, that is part of the difficulty.

olethros

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Dec 1, 2010, 8:15:22 AM12/1/10
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On Nov 29, 3:45 pm, Robin Johnson <robindouglasjohn...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> On Nov 24, 10:04 pm, olethros <christos.dimitraka...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > The aim of this mini-comp is to break some new ground in puzzle
> > construction by re-thinking classic puzzles. If you find the concept
> > interesting, and I get enough responses by Dec 15, I shall announce a
> > mini-comp with deadline (approximately) Jan 15 2010.
>
> Rather than a single puzzle, would inverting the broader goal of the
> game count? My WIP - which I might get finished by 15 Jan given

This sounds somewhat tangential, actually.

Captain Mikee

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Dec 2, 2010, 10:40:18 AM12/2/10
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On Nov 29, 9:45 am, Robin Johnson <robindouglasjohn...@gmail.com>
wrote:

> Rather than a single puzzle, would inverting the broader goal of the
> game count?

I don't remember the name of it, but I think there's another game that
starts, like Enlightenment, at the end of a treasure hunt, where you
get chastised for stealing and tasked with returning all of your loot.

Stephen Granade

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Dec 2, 2010, 12:06:16 PM12/2/10
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Captain Mikee <captai...@yahoo.com> writes:

I would guess either Zero Sum Game
(http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=nzydrfu1rl2qkuop) or possibly Janitor
(http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=utic1iedvvnnsf3a)

Stephen

--
Stephen Granade
ste...@granades.com

Captain Mikee

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Dec 3, 2010, 10:25:50 AM12/3/10
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On Dec 2, 12:06 pm, Stephen Granade <step...@granades.com> wrote:

> Captain Mikee <captainmi...@yahoo.com> writes:
> > I don't remember the name of it, but I think there's another game that
> > starts, like Enlightenment, at the end of a treasure hunt, where you
> > get chastised for stealing and tasked with returning all of your loot.
>
> I would guess either Zero Sum Game
> (http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=nzydrfu1rl2qkuop) or possibly Janitor
> (http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=utic1iedvvnnsf3a)

Zero Sum Game is the one I heard about, but thanks for the link to
Janitor. What a great idea!

Captain Mikee

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Dec 3, 2010, 10:32:01 AM12/3/10
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I'm having too much fun with this not to share, so I'm posting a poll
at ifdb:

http://ifdb.tads.org/poll?id=fp7gh2yvrq824f7u

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