Watching Thimbleweed Park "let's play"s is painful

Doing a Google search for the most recent content about Thimbleweed Park, I’ve found a TWP “let’s play” video and I started watching it. I am currently the first and only viewer of that video.

The super-frustrated player has brute-force checked all the freaking hotel rooms to find something.

From a certain point of view I admire his patience, from another point of view I’m starting to recognize a common pattern among all people who had difficulties playing Thimbleweed Park: they usually do not take their time to observe things.

I don’t know about you, but I play adventure games in a very relaxed and slow-paced way. I always invest time in looking at all items, I carefully traverse the dialogue trees to acquire information, I carefully inspect every location and I do all of this slowly, both because I like it this way and because I minimize the chance of overlooking something.

That’s not what I have observed in several “let’s play” videos. I’m not talking about videos made by professional streamers but about videos made by normal players like us. The reason why these people have difficulties to play the game is not mainly because they do not realize things or they don’t make deductions, it’s because they missed a piece of information. That usually leads to wandering around in random places or brute-forcing an activity, like the video that I just watched. This phenomenon is not rare, it happens continuously: they quickly traverse entire locations and they quickly move the mouse around, missing important items.

To me it seems that these players play an adventure game as if it was a different kind of game, in which careful observation wouldn’t be an important activity.

Have you observed something similar? Do you think that players that usually play mainly games in which fast actions and reflexes are necessary might find it more difficult to play a game that requires a slower pace?


Yes, that’s a common problem not only in adventure games: These days people are doing things “faster” and they have no (spare) time anymore. I think this is a general problem. This goes hand in hand with a lower attention span. It’s sad to see this.

Yes, definitely. With these fast paced games they train themselves to get even “faster” and solve problems more quickly. These people have to learn to “slow down”.

(I knew a woman who used to train and teach dogs. She told me, that some dog breeds are hyperactive and they have to learn first to settle down. Some humans reminds of these dogs …)

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Totally agree. I am focusing on kids and teens, more than adults: they often don’t read, and ask for “what have I to do here?”. Not just a hint: they want the solution.

Then, why playing?

Because they think it’s a game like others, they are used to play brainless games, I mean, games where the use of synapse connections are limited.

If I look at myself when I was a younger adventure player, I can see even myself wandering around, with no clues, or trying a “use everything with everything” approach. It happens. But the difference is that I was thinking of something, I was aware that there was something for sure that I hadn’t try before. I never gave up so easily.

Nowadays teens have the same amount of spare time I had at their age. Most of them are not used to think or, as @LowLevel wrote, to observe and think.

Maybe the phenomenon you are describing is a different one. I wasn’t referring to people who don’t know how to make deductions or don’t want to invest time in connecting the hints to understand how to proceed, I was referring only to people who have an hard time to manage that part of any adventure game that consists in acquiring information.

All the “let’s play” that I have watched were played by adult people, so we are talking about people who already know what an adventure game is and what kind of gameplay it requires, people who have already developed problem-solving skills in real life, people who have acquired some kind of knowledge at school and at work. It’s clear that these people have no cognitive issues, they are intelligent as any other human being… BUT they continuously get stuck in the game because they move the pointer so fast that they don’t realize that there is some item or place that they can interact with.

For example, I saw a video in which the player knew that Ransome had to find and item and he correctly hypothesized that the more probable place where this item might have been was in Ransome’s circus trailer. He went there, moved the pointer around a lot of time and he completely missed the large hotspot of the poster on the wall, which would have helped him a lot.

Another time I have observed a player completely missing the free maps in Quickie Pal and playing all the game without using the multiple maps.

I’ll tell you more: some of these players perfectly realize that they are probably missing something and they blame themselves for it! The video that I mentioned in the first post of this thread has the title “I’m an idiot.” and observing this guy playing the game was painful because he was clearly super-frustrated: nervous and agitated, stressed, impatient, sometimes blaming the game for not giving him enough information to avoid him the brute-force activity, etc. And this is not the first example of players that behaved in a similar way; several “let’s play” videos show people who get frustrated because they weren’t paying enough attention.

I’m sure that the issue that you describe among kids is quite different from the one that I have observed among adult players. Probably both scenarios have in common a general tendency to be impatient, though.

I wonder if that nervousness depends on the pressure of making a video, that could be watched by many people over the world.

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this is a problem. I have even wondered if the bad reputation and consequent fall out of fashion of adventure games is due to this mechanism: someone misses a clue => believes puzzles are unfair => believes they must be played by trying everything => believes these games are boring.

This is, by the way, what’s actually happening to me with Dragonshpere. The problem is that, if you are stuck, you don’t know if you missed a clue or the game is unfair.

I would play the devil’s advocate and ask myself if the game gave them reason to observe those things. If the game created an expectation to do something, it’s is understandable that the player does not want to take time to observe something that is apparently unrelated to that goal he has. We have already noticed in other threads that, if the game (or book) creates an expectation where the reader is eager to know something, he is impatient and will want to skip anything that is apparently unrelated to that. I myself am guilty of skipping long descriptions in books. As a child, I’ve even skipped to the solution of some detective novels. I don’t know where I am going exactly with this, but I wonder if there’s some basic principle of how the mind works that adventure games are disregarding.

In other words, did the game succeed in arousing interest in those objects, to give the user incentive to look at them and acquire informations on them? I would say Thimbleweed Park does, because you are trying to solve a mystery, and every object becomes interesting, because every object could potentially hide a secret. This is how it works for me. But maybe someone else needs something more than that.

Yes, that’s a likely explanation… maybe they don’t want to bore the viewer and they end up missing clues.

I think that it could play a role, but I wonder if this common issue of missing things can be caused only by the fact that they know that their actions will be observed or scrutinized.

That mechanism was already in place during the “golden age” of adventure games and people didn’t find this kind of game boring. Actually, these games were not perceived as boring even when they were guilty of pixel-hunting, a characteristic that has become more rare in modern adventure games.

Also, nowadays frustrated players can easily find a walktrough and realize that their issue was caused by the fact that they were not paying enough attention. One of the possible consequences of this habit is that these people will feel ashamed for not having paid enough attention.

I’m more inclined to think that if there has been a change it has happened in people or society, not in a kind of game that has not changed very much along the years.

In that case we would observe different behaviors depending on the adventure game the player is playing. But since this phenomenon happens even to people who play well-designed adventure games (like Thimbleweed Park) my impression is that “giving a reason” is not the main cause of the issue.

I find it unlikely that a game provides enough incentives to motivate the player to visit all the rooms of a thirteen-floors hotel but it doesn’t provide enough incentives to inspect a single room with the mouse pointer or to pay attention to what the NPCs say. It doesn’t seem to me a lack of motivation or a lack of time; it’s more a lack of focus or attention.

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I wouldn’t say that: Each game trains different skills. If you play for example a fast paced first person shooter, you train your reflexes. If you play a casual “jewel game” on your smartphone you train the ability to recognize patterns. It’s just sad, that no one today wants to train problem/puzzle solving. :slight_smile:

Are you referring to @ZakPhoenixMcKracken or me or to us both? :slight_smile: In my case: Today, people haven’t or are taking the time to gather information. They want to proceed as fast as possible.

After watching some adults, I’m not so sure about this (seriously).

It’s a negative spiral: The are impatient. Then they won’t see the solution. They get angry, which makes them more impatient.

From my own experience: No. At least after some minutes you forget the million people out there. But yes, depending on the person this could be one reason - but not the reason.

How old was/is the person in the let’s play?

Because we only knew games with pixel-hunting. :slight_smile: So it was natural for us.

TWP was developed with adventure gamers in mind. In some situations TWP doesn’t give you constantly a clear advice what to do next or what puzzle to solve next. (For some examples read the thread about the hardest puzzles in the game.) So I would say that TWP is/was well-designed for adventure gamers, and not for everyone (read: each casual gamer that is able to record himself playing a game).

I have something to confess. I just remembered that I too was stuck and , out of despair, went into all the rooms of the hotel, one by one. And I did find something that unstuck me, in one room: the guest you need to scare. I was disappointed. I thought “how was I supposed to know that room contained something important?”. If I did not know the game was from Ron Gilbert, i would have said the game was unfair. Only because I knew who the author was, I assumed I had missed a clue.

By the way, what was the clue I missed?

I was replying to Zak, explaining that I was focusing only on a possible lack of attention, not on a lack of thinking.

The “lets’ play” videos that I watched were recorded by people who knew which kind of game an adventure game was, but since I have only watched an handful of them I’m sure that there are also players who approached Thimbleweed Park without a lot of experience with this genre of games.

If you are referring to the player that I mentioned in the first post of this thread, I think that he is quite young (wild guess: 20 years old) but I don’t know for sure. Other players observed in the past were older though, sometimes in their thirties and one time in their fifties.

I agree, but seguso and I were talking about a specific aspect: if the game is designed well enough to provide enough motivation to the player. I would say that if an adventure game is not designed to provide motivation to a casual gamer, then we shouldn’t expect him to invest a lot of time to brute-force something.

You can read the number of the room if you use Franklin to watch the monitor of the computer in the hotel lobby.


You’re definitely more patient than I am. I also brute-forced all rooms in floors 3,5 and 10 when I stuck. But I don’t know what would it need to force me to do the rest.

However after this failure (instead trying to think of something new and original) I resorted to another exercise in the hotel lobby - doing the same things all over again for no reason. And it paid off. I forgot that there were (very rare) timed events like the manager “blocking” you from using the computer..

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I see. And what reason did I have to look at that monitor? (If any)

Unfortunately I don’t remember why I did not look at the monitor…

Because every now and then the hotel manager checks the computer saying something along the lines “Let’s see what the guest is doing.”.

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So that was the clue. I am not surprised to have missed that. I probably misread “what the guests are doing”. But there was a clue nonetheless.

Did you play with the voices turned off?

No, but if you have already read (or misread) something, you don’t really listen to the voices.

But it seems too strange that I did not look at the monitor before going in all the rooms. Is it possible that I did look at the monitor , but at the wrong time, and the hotel manager sent me away? And then I assumed I could not look at the monitor?

Yes. It’s a timed event. One of the two? in the game. I made the same mistake. Everything felt timeless so I had no idea.

The hotel manager switches the monitor off if you look at it with a living character. So the solution to the sub-puzzle is to use Franklin to look at the monitor, because the hotel manager cannot see Franklin.

Bad memory :). I stand corrected.