I see people (mainly in other forums) who give hints to stuck players in a way that makes them just robots that execute commands.
I would like to share with my approach to giving hints, which is based on the description of the “Hints” category of this forum:
Ask for and get hints about Thimbleweed Park. Please don’t post SPOILERS. Help people in a way that gets their mind thinking along the right path. Please indicate if you’re playing in Casual or Hard mode.
When a person comes to the forum to ask for help, we don’t have an important information: if he’s more the person who likes to reach a conclusion by his own or if he would prefer more explicit indications about what to do next.
Since we don’t have this information, it’s tricky to understand how much we should tell him, because telling him exactly what action to execute might spoil the fun if he’s the kind of player who likes a lot to explore, observe, deduct, etc.
So, taking for example a recent thread in the hint section of the forum, if a player has clearly missed something in a location, he might prefer a simple “Search better” answer or he might prefer a more explicit “Go there” or “Use this object” answer. But you don’t know what he prefers and in my opinion making assumptions that he wants more explicit suggestions is not the best approach.
A good way to solve this problem would be to do what the in-game hint line of Thimbleweed Park does: giving incremental hints. You write a list of two or three suggestions, the first one very vague and the following ones more and more explicit. In this way the player who likes just a generic help on his approach can stop at the first vague hint and the players who like more explicit suggestions can read also the subsequent hints. And of course, all hints use spoiler tags.
I’m just suggesting this approach, because I’m the kind of player who doesn’t like to be transformed into a robot that follows explicit directives. So, for me, a hint like “Do you remember any character who is somehow related to pies?” is a better first help than “Talk to this character.”.
Also, in my opinion telling people what question they should ask to themselves is an extremely good way to handle those players who like to reach a conclusion by their own.
What do you think about it?
Added: I would also always use spoiler tags around words that explicitly cite objects, places, characters or actions.