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Ron Gilbert asks readers which are the latest good adventure games

From his Grumpy Gamer blog, Ron wrote the following post, at the end he asked a good question. You are invited to answer :grin:

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I shamelessly plugged your adventure game, @seguso !

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What did you dooooooooooooo! :grimacing: :grimacing: :grimacing:

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You don’t know the latest version of my UI…! Now you have to compose like:

IN ORDER TO objective, USE object SO THAT subject ---- continuation

Example:
IN ORDER TO take Kate’s belongings, USE wanted poster SO THAT Kate – will be arrested.

Here, “will be arrested” is chosen by the player from a list of about 20 continuations – similar to the game “Tangle Tower”.

(some puzzles have “BECAUSE” in place of “SO THAT”).
:sweat_smile:

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Please blur that spoiler!! Some people playing that game as we speak :wink:

Right… probably Ron Gilbert himself would finally get unstuck at his own game , after reading that!

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Other example:

IN ORDER TO take the carpenter’s nails, USE peg leg SO THAT the carpenter — leaves to fix it

(where “leaves to fix it” is chosen from the same predefined list of 20)

Whenever the USE (method) and IN ORDER TO (goal) form a valid combination, will you implement (unique) responses for all of the 20 continuations?

For example:
IN ORDER TO take the carpenter’s nails, USE peg leg SO THAT the carpenter- is knocked unconscious?

Is the list of 20 continuations changing depending on which goal and method you combine? In other words if you are able to construct:
IN ORDER TO take the carpenter’s nails, USE red herring SO THAT the carpenter- leaves to fix it?
before you have the peg leg then you give away part of the solution.
If you add continuations to the list only after acquiring the peg leg it stands out as a new option - so surely must be the solution!
On the other hand if a player acquired the peg leg before unlocking the goal “take the carpenter’s nails” and is allowed to construct things like
IN ORDER TO buy a ship, USE peg leg SO THAT the carpenter- leaves to fix it…well in this case it should at least create a reaction which doesn’t solve any puzzle but shows that the carpenter does leave and return because why would the reaction be anything different? the carpenter doesn’t know you want to rob him even if you do not know yet you’ll want to later on!

Careful design may overcome these issues, of course. But it is always interesting to see if/how that works on an existing puzzle or puzzle chain.
Playing MI2 again with other people who never played it before really shows the way you discover and solve puzzles can be very different, which leads to a very different experience of the same game.

Thanks for questioning the new UI! I’ve been able to reply to just the first part of your question… I’ll finish later!

Is the list of 20 continuations changing depending on which goal and method you combine?

No, it’s fixed. It’s simply all the final parts of the solutions of all the puzzles in the game, put together.

In some exceptional cases, for some objective, I hide a specific continuation, because it’s borderline for that puzzle… but this is very rarely needed, because the continuations are very specific concepts, like “leaves to fix it”, “is jailed”, and so on.

Here is the current list of continuations for my game (not a spoiler, for reasons I explain later):

The reason why I don’t consider these giveaways would deserve a discussion by itself. Briefly, let’s get back to the carpenter puzzle in Monkey2. Since the beginning of the game, you see that “leaves to fix it” and “is jailed” are possible continuations that you can use. But I don’t think these are giveaways. Knowing since the beginning of the game that to “get someone jailed” is a possibility does not giveaway that puzzle IMHO. And knowing since the beginning of the game that to “get someone to leave to fix something” is a possibility does not giveaway that puzzle.

Whenever the USE (method) and IN ORDER TO (goal) form a valid combination, will you implement (unique) responses for all of the 20 continuations?

I’m not sure I understand… Since the continuations are very specific, they will almost never make sense with the wrong objective or with the wrong object, so I don’t need to handle unique responses. I only need the generic response “this doesn’t make sense” or “I don’t see how this helps to XX”. In other words, with this UI you almost cannot compose sentences that both make sense and are solutions to some puzzles.

in other words if you are able to construct: IN ORDER TO take the carpenter’s nails, USE red herring SO THAT the carpenter — leaves to fix it

before you have the peg leg then you give away part of the solution.

(What do you mean by “before you have the peg leg”? The peg leg can’t be picked up in Monkey2. Just sawed.)

Anyway, in general, I dont’ think that seeing “leaves to fix it” gives away an important part of the solution. I’m just telling you “look, in this world, making someone leave to fix something is a possibility. So remember that you can do it: sooner or later it might be needed.”. I’m just telling you the “rules of the game”, so to speak. The puzzle is to understand that , for THAT objective (take nails), and for that object (the peg leg), and for that person (the carpenter), this concept of “making someone leave to fix something” applies. The puzzle is to recognize that this abstract concept applies to the current situation…

Will read the rest later :slight_smile: . Thanks again!

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if a player acquired the peg leg before unlocking the goal “take the carpenter’s nails” and is allowed to construct things like "IN ORDER TO buy a ship, USE peg leg SO THAT the carpenter - leaves to fix it… "

No, actually he isn’t able to construct that sentence, because, after clicking “buy a ship” and “peg leg”, the UI would not propose “the carpenter”, but only “the ship” and “the peg leg” and “you”. (that’s a detail I hadn’t told you). But in previous versions of the UI it was possible to compose that sentence. So let’s pretend he is allowed to , and go on:

well in this case it should at least create a reaction which doesn’t solve any puzzle but shows that the carpenter does leave and return

I don’t agree… Because if you read the sentence, it doesn’t really make sense: you said “in order to buy a ship”. But making the carpenter leave does not help you buy a ship! So I only need to say “I don’t see how that would help me buy a ship”. In fact it’s one of the advantages of this UI: I don’t need to give custom error messages. Because, with this UI, you can’t compose a sentence that makes sense, unless it is the correct one. (almost… there are rare cases, but they are perphaps a dozen in a whole game)

btw, @Sushi, this new UI was invented to solve one problem you too reported, namely that many objects seem to more or less make sense with many objectives… so again you have an incentive to try to combine them, because you never know if there’s a link between an object and an objective. (even more so if the object is a character… it kind of makes sense to ask everybody to help with every objective) .But then, the game becomes again a trial-and-error game, which is what I was trying to avoid. So I had to ask the player to be more explicit, and explain what he expects to happen after using that object, or why this will work.

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Aha!!

Yes, and it is an interesting way to reduce brute forcing solutions to some extent. But sometimes, especially when the outcome is comic/unexpected you might take the wrong one and get a standard response.

Let’s say you need to get past a locked door and you have a key. Let’s assume the only way to open the door is to blow it up with dynamite, since the real key was lost (but you don’t know that yet). The correct solution would be “in order to get past the door, use dynamite so it is destroyed” Then according to what you explained, if a player constructs “in order to get past the door, use the key, so it opens”, he’ll get the response “I don’t see how that will help to <insert goal here= >get past the door”. While a more customised “mmm it doesn’t fit” or “this must be for another door… or another game” would not leave the player full of rage that makes them construct “in order to get past the door, use foot so it is destroyed”. Instead if a generic repsonse something like “auch, that hurt” or “not with my new shoes” would make the game feel more alive and more rewarding for trying things that may not be “the” solution but funny or well-tried efforts.
If the number of sentences you can construct that way is fairly limited, you should be able to give custom responses to the ones that are funny or nice tries but for whatever reason not possible as the solution (or one of the alternatives solutions, which I am also a fan of). You could even use it to provide a hint to the player if they’re getting warm.

Also it should be possible to detect if a player enters the same two things and is just trying everything for the third part one after another and make in-game characters (player avatar or NPC) react to this after, say, the 5th time: “I bet you’d wish you could buy a hint now? Sorry, we don’t do micro transactions.” or “Yeah, I know this doesn’t make sense, but I’ll find a solution to this… eventually!” “If you try hard enough you can do anything! Like chopping some wood!!!”

I see how making all outcomes available from the start helps to not make them stand out as opposed to when they are added dynamically to the list. Having some outcomes reused multiple times in different contexts and including a few red herrings should help to not solve the later puzzles more easily by elimination.

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Let me stop you right there :). You would never have a continuation like “is destroyed”. Too generic. (Indeed, that is not a puzzle, but the ordinary way to use the dynamite.) Instead, a proper continuation is something that explains what is the hidden link between the object and the objective that you already clicked. So the continuation can never be something that is obvious in either the object or the objective. The purpose of the continuation is to make you be explicit about how the object and the objective are linked. (because they will never seem linked at first glance, otherwise that wouldn’t be a puzzle).

Again you would never have “it opens” as continuation. there is no hidden link to explain between the door and the key. Indeed, using the key on the door is not a puzzle.

This is a UI to express puzzles, not obvious interactions. For obvious interactions, I have another UI. (I have some context-sentitive buttons: “open the door”, “go by the secret passage” , “mount the horse”, “search the bed”, “open the drawer”. etc.)

To make more examples of how powerful continuations are to express hidden links: sometimes , after you click an objective and an object, the UI does not propose “so that”, but “because”. Example: IN ORDER TO get inside the Queen’s castle, USE Jack BECAUSE [Jack ] [is actually her nephew].
So in this case the continuation (is actually her nephew) does not express the result of your action, but explains a hidden link (jack is actually her nephew ). the puzzle was actually to understand that Jack was the Queen’s nephew.

But it would also incentivize trial and error, which I want to avoid… Edit: you are talking about custom error messages that don’t focus on the objective but on the action… I might do that…

But anyway, as I said above, it is extremely unlikely that you are able to compose a sentence that completely makes sense. For example, you are able in my game to compose IN ORDER TO xxx, USE y SO THAT [you] [drug it].
I always respond “I don’t see how this would help me to xxx”. Except in the particular case of

"IN ORDER TO win the horse race, USE mike stallone’s horse SO THAT [you] [drug it]

Here, I give a custom error message, which is what you asked. Because drugging the horse really makes sense for that objective. But this happens maybe a dozen times in a whole game. It is extremely unlikely that you are able to compose something that makes sense, including the objective that you clicked.

If the number of sentences you can construct that way is fairly limited, you should be able to give custom responses to the ones that are funny or nice tries but for whatever reason not possible as the solution

Currently I do this when it makes sense for that objective ( like in the example above). Edit: I might extend this even in cases where the action does not make sense for that objective, but makes sense considered on its own… (which is what I think you are asking)

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brute force is impossible, because you need to click four things: 1) the objective, 2) the object, 3) the subject, and 4) the continuation.

  1. in a typical situation you have 10 open objectives. (except near the end of the game)
  2. The objects can be anything in any location, so let’s say you can choose between 100 objects.
  3. For the subject you have 3-4 choices (any object contained in the objective you clicked, plus the object you clicked, plus “you”, plus any object obviously implied by the object you clicked).
  4. And then you have 38 continuations.

So to brute force you would have to try 10 x 100 x 3 x 38 combinations :slight_smile:

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Yes, I too like it very much. It makes the game seem more fair. it makes you aware from the start that, in this game, doing something is a possibility… for example, hiding inside stuff is a possibility; getting things dirty is a possibility; making someone leave to fix something is a possibility… etc.

It is difficult because continuations are very specific concepts, and therefore are unlikely to make sense in any context other than the correct one. But I managed to do this twice… with the continuations “follow the smell” and “hide inside it”… won’t tell you more on that. :wink:

So far I didn’t need red herrings, because there are already 38 continuations, so… But after playtesting I might add some, especially near the end, where you have already used almost all continuations. (after your playtesting, I mean :wink:

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The answer does not lie in games but in the energy that a person expresses to transmit joy and love. :wink:

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