Puzzle Box Games

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LucFrench

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Nov 17, 2001, 12:01:12 PM11/17/01
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Paul O'Brian and others have discussed a certain kind of game that shows up
occasionally; a genre where the puzzles are more important then the plot.

I call these Puzzle Box games; they have certain defining features:

1. Little to no plot.
2. Focus is tightly on the puzzles.
3. The game itself can be easily viewed as a puzzle.

Magic Toyshop, One Room Dilly, and Colours could all be considered Puzzle Box
games.

Common, but not required, traits:

1. Organization around a theme.
2. Ultradescriptive titles.
3. Simple map organization.
4. Most puzzles can be solved in a similar way.
5. Confined play area. (Frequently, there's only one room.)

Desired traits, in order of importance:

1. Bug free. In a plot heavy game, being bug free is less important; in a
Puzzle Box game, a bug can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy the
game.
2. Clear text. It must be immediately clear what everything is; any bit of
unclear text can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy the game.
3. Concise text. Long descriptions can cause havoc on the player's ability to
enjoy the game.
4. Positive feedback. This one is not required, but if the player doesn't know
if he's on the right track, well, that can cause havoc on the player's ability
to enjoy the game.
5. Negative feedback. Again, this one is not required, but if the player
doesn't know he's on the wrong track, well, can cause havoc on the player's
ability to enjoy the game.

Anybody got any comments on the matter?

Thanks
Luc "Puzzled" French

Sean Don

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Nov 17, 2001, 2:07:11 PM11/17/01
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Well, here's my 2 cents in regards to "IF theory":


LucFrench <lucf...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20011117120112...@mb-fq.aol.com...


> Paul O'Brian and others have discussed a certain kind of game that shows
up
> occasionally; a genre where the puzzles are more important then the plot.
>
> I call these Puzzle Box games; they have certain defining features:
>
> 1. Little to no plot.
> 2. Focus is tightly on the puzzles.
> 3. The game itself can be easily viewed as a puzzle.
>
> Magic Toyshop, One Room Dilly, and Colours could all be considered Puzzle
Box
> games.
>
> Common, but not required, traits:
>
> 1. Organization around a theme.
> 2. Ultradescriptive titles.
> 3. Simple map organization.
> 4. Most puzzles can be solved in a similar way.
> 5. Confined play area. (Frequently, there's only one room.)


In contrast to a puzzle-oriented "dungeon crawler" such as Colossal Cave,
yes, I would agree that smaller maps are common here.


> Desired traits, in order of importance:
>
> 1. Bug free. In a plot heavy game, being bug free is less important; in a
> Puzzle Box game, a bug can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy
the
> game.


In a story-based game, I prefer obvious-puzzles; it takes away from ruining
the plot, and it gives better justification for the games linear-ness.
With more traditional games and with puzzle-oriented games; I find I
strongly prefer non-linear games.

So, bugs are a factor, yes; but I also find havoc in those puzzle-games that
require the player take an exact path and do things at exact times.


> 2. Clear text. It must be immediately clear what everything is; any bit of
> unclear text can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy the game.
> 3. Concise text. Long descriptions can cause havoc on the player's ability
to
> enjoy the game.


"The Legend Lives" comes to mind. Its first few rooms are quite verbose.

I personally prefer concise text in all IFs; however, IMO --there's no
pure-objectivity on the matter-- I think that regardless of a given game's
telos, players, like myself, often look for a great deal of detail and
implementation.

This point might be why I see a lot of people that don't mind verbose text;
because there's lots to look at. But also why it isn't necessary, so long
as the game is detailed in other ways.


> 4. Positive feedback. This one is not required, but if the player doesn't
know
> if he's on the right track, well, that can cause havoc on the player's
ability
> to enjoy the game.
> 5. Negative feedback. Again, this one is not required, but if the player
> doesn't know he's on the wrong track, well, can cause havoc on the
player's
> ability to enjoy the game.
>
> Anybody got any comments on the matter?


4 and 5 might be summed up by saying that the player is given "motivation"
or clues as to what to do next.
When I first started playing IF, I lost interest in so many games due to
the lack of reason to do anything in them; today, I'm less discriminate.

I read somewhere a quote to this idea: I like many games; but there are very
that I love.
In so many IFs (regardless of style) guess-the-verb and sometimes even
guess the noun puzzles (guess what the author is thinking) often jot the
flow of the game (maybe with the exception of the game entitled Tapestry).

There's also the question of how logical the puzzles should be; Perdition's
Flames had some of the most logical puzzles (IMO).
This is in contrast to a Zork game. A lot of people didn't seem to mind
Zork's wackiness in what I would consider "ill-logical" puzzles --although I
personally would enjoy logical puzzles a lot more.


Just my 2 cents,
Sean

Joe Mason

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Nov 19, 2001, 12:18:55 PM11/19/01
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In article <20011117120112...@mb-fq.aol.com>,

LucFrench <lucf...@aol.com> wrote:
>1. Bug free. In a plot heavy game, being bug free is less important; in a
>Puzzle Box game, a bug can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy the
>game.
>2. Clear text. It must be immediately clear what everything is; any bit of
>unclear text can cause havoc on the player's ability to enjoy the game.
>3. Concise text. Long descriptions can cause havoc on the player's ability to
>enjoy the game.
>4. Positive feedback. This one is not required, but if the player doesn't know
>if he's on the right track, well, that can cause havoc on the player's ability
>to enjoy the game.
>5. Negative feedback. Again, this one is not required, but if the player
>doesn't know he's on the wrong track, well, can cause havoc on the player's
>ability to enjoy the game.
>
>Anybody got any comments on the matter?

I'd consider positive and negative feedback more important than that. Before
clear text, even. Maybe. Definitely before concise text.

Joe

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