Different ways to solve puzzles, and what to do about it (if anything)

I believe you are not distracting jojo, you are hypnotizing him. => he is not able to play anymore => the waiter allows you to take him, which wouldn’t allow if he was able to play.

It can be interpreted in this way, but from what you observe it’s clear that the barman doesn’t play a role in this puzzle nor the puzzle has explicitly something to do with the incapacitation of Jojo.

If you try to pick up Jojo before putting the banana on the metronome, Guybrush just says that he doesn’t want to disturb the monkey. And after taking Jojo, the barman doesn’t say something related to the fact that the monkey is now incapacitated. Actually, he says something like “sure, take my entertainment away”.

No, really, the entire line of the “monkey wrench” puzzle is flawed. “I need to open this valve, so I need a monkey that I don’t want to disturb, so I distract/hypnotize him because doing so makes acceptable the fact that I have to disturb him.”. Meh.

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The word monkey wrench doesn´t even appear in the game. Never. Not even after you used it. And when you look at the pump guybrush doesn´t say “I might need a monkey wrench” he says “what does this have to do in a game about pirates?”

You don’t get to criticize puzzles because they are the most subjective thing in the world! Kidding. Anyway, guys, Lucasarts required to write “40 hours of play guaranteed”, so they had to make the game like this. (what would I have done? Added 10 selectable objects per room, useless)

Yeah, not to say how this pun was translated in italian…
Anyway, Ron stated on a blog post, 2 years ago, that no more “monkey wrench” puzzles will be included in future adventure games.

I didn´t.

You really would love the game Dreamweb, you can literally pick up every single cigarette bud and the inventory space is limited.

How? Where does the word even appear?

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Your deductive reasoning is leaving out two significant clues. If you look around the carpenter’s shop, you might notice that there are several peg legs hanging in his shop, which indicates the carpenter’s experience with them. Another clue is that the pirate with the peg leg draws attention to the relationship between his peg leg and the carpenter by paying you to retrieve wood polish from the carpenter in order to have his leg polished.


In my opinion the difficulty of this puzzle relies also on the fact that it’s not evident that the carpenter can go outside his shop. Except for Largo, all other Woodtick citizens appear to be quite “static”.

Well, there is the hotel manager you have to lure away by cutting the pet lizard off it´s line. And the guy in the kitchen but they both leave permantly.

But you´re right, and that´s why I wrote that a cutscene might have helped where you see him leaving the store because he got called out for work.

Right. And another thing: the goal itself is uncertain. In my description, I assumed that the goal (take the hammer and nails) was given, but that must be actually deduced from the fact that maybe you can use them on Stan’s coffin.

interesting related question: those puzzles where part of the puzzle is to understand what your goal is … do they work in practice? or are they in practice always brute-forced, defeating the purpose?

In my experience, I’ve always vividly remembered the puzzles I had to guess at. That’s why the monkey wrench puzzle sticks in my mind. Bananas have strong associations with monkeys, so trying to use the banana with a monkey wasn’t too much of a stretch, but hypnotizing the monkey was cartoon logic and I had no reason to expect that’s what would happen or why it was important. Another puzzle I vividly remember was from Monkey Island 1. I had to brute-force the puzzle for getting the head of the navigator. Many years later in introspect, the clues provided were pretty good, though they did rely on a play on words. If I had to do that puzzle for the first time right now, I could probably figure it out, but at the time I was just trying to give the cannibals everything I had until something happened to work. Getting back to Monkey Island 2, I ended up brute-forcing the maze in LeChuck’s fortress, because not only did I not recognize the significance of the song earlier in the game, I also didn’t notice that Guybrush actually wrote it down.

With that in mind, I don’t recall having too much trouble figuring out how to distract the carpenter.

The main difference is that to send the hotel manager and the cook out of their location, you do something in those same locations. For the carpenter it’s a bit different because the player has to realize that doing something in a location will have an impact on a character in a different location.

That or a simple sign “Emergency service 24/h.”. Basically, anything that gives a hint about the fact that the carpenter can exit the room. But seguso said that there is actually a hint in the game, so probably I just don’t remember it.

You solved it in the “right” way? Noticing the hint of the wood polish, and knowing that cutting the leg would make him leave the shop?

I am not surprised you can recover lost wallets anywhere…

“Monkey wrench”, the tool, in italian is “chiave inglese”, literally it would be translated as “english key”. When Jojo is hypnotized, with his arms and legs fixed, it appears in the inventory list as “chiave inglese”.
If you don’t know that “chiave inglese” = “monkey wrench” in english, you can’t understand the pun.


Funny, I recently replayed the english version of the game (SE in classic setting) and it never said anything but Jojo not even after using him.

There’s an important benefit to both of these examples. In both cases it is possible to recognize the solution to the puzzle without having all the items. Allowing the player to complete some of the steps helps indicate to the player that they are on the right track.

For instance, with the rat trap example, it’s possible to bait the box without having the stick or the string. Of course, that does not work because the rat won’t go near Guybrush to get the bait. Alternately, it’s possible for the player to prop the box open with the stick and string, but the rat has no reason to go into the box since there’s no bait. As a third possibility, it’s possible for the player to bait the trap and prop it with the stick, but the trap won’t trigger automatically when the rat starts eating the bait. It’s only when the player has all elements in place that the trap works, but since it’s possible to put the trap together in various failed configurations, it helps the player understand what elements of the trap are missing, so that they have an idea of what they should be looking for.

To a lesser degree, the balloon puzzle in Fate of Atlantis works the same way. It allows the player to recognize that they’ve partially solved a puzzle, rather than simply refusing to be solved until all the elements of the solution are in place.

Thanks, I more or less understand this. (I need to pay you consulting fees one of these days). I am abstracting out what can be considered “operative details”, but they might be an important part of the experience. Incidentally, my reasoning was: these “operative details” I am leaving out are either obvious or non-obvious. there’s no third alternative. Now, if they are obvious, then they are uninteresting (this is of course a conjecture) and so it’s ok to leave them out. If they are not obvious, then they will have to be achieved by trial and error. But then they are annoying (another conjecture), because you have already solved the puzzle by then. (For example, the fact that you need to actually use the saw, and not your hands, or some termites, can’t be arrived at by pure logic, you need to arrive at that by trial and error). So I thought: these details are either uninteresting or annoying.

Why do you insist in treating the player – the guy who’s paying money to give you a job, and who selected your work as a form of entertainment – like an adversary?

Consider this: You are a fan of Mr. Ron Gilbert’s work, right? When has he ever treated you like an adversary, forcing you to do things against your nature or will, or imposing onerous rules on your game-play? :wink:


a UI that enforces proper reasoning does not necessarily treat player as an adversary. Or at any rate we cannot assume that. See later posts for an example.

If you assume that, you give up a priori the possibility to discover something new.

There is a definite problem: as Ron said, players can be their worst enemies. We should not rule out a priori that a UI can exist that solves this problem without antagonizing the user.

I guess it’s the language that you use. You were not talking about improving your design or aiding the player, but of forcing the player into a particular pattern because they are too stupid to play the game in what you think is the “correct” way.

That, to me, is an adversarial attitude.

Personally, if a significant number of people are playing my game in what I perceive to be the “wrong way,” I would consider it a failure of my design or implementation.

If, on the other hand, it’s only a few who are failing, I would consider trying to improve the interactions or interface to see if that can help (without impairing the experience of the rest of the players).

At some point in time you have to realize that not everyone will “get it,” and that’s OK – perhaps the game is not for them. However, I wouldn’t try to force anybody into doing anything that does not come naturally or intuitively to them.


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