What is a good puzzle?

This is the Development/Design section of the forum and it says:

Warning! SPOILERS are OK here.

So, I think you can feel free to elaborate if you want to.

Ok, elaborating[quote=“David, post:20, topic:641”]
Just sticking to TWP, probably the whole bit with the Radio Station. I don’t want to give more info here since it wold be a spoiler, but this puzzle more than any other, after I got it working, kept breaking other things in the game.

Ok, elaborating… getting Cassie to walk from one “room” to another, and then another, so that you could actually follow her… and even if you weren’t following her, she’d take about the right amount of time to get to her destination, was one issue.

But what kept breaking things were the cutscenes that happened at either end of her destinations. I wasn’t doing enough checks to make sure other things weren’t happening when they were triggered. This led to breaking things. Like if someone was on a phone call when her cutscenes triggered (the phone calls weren’t exited properly), or entering a door. Or Franklin trying to return from the Cemetery to the Hotel through the portal.

We didn’t catch these in testing since they were 1 in 1000 or 10000 types of random events. But once the game released, then those really rare events could happen more frequently when 10s of thousands were playing it.


I imagine that reproducing the problem in order to fix it was also complicated.

Yes, exactly! Helped that we have great testers…

Another complex puzzle in TWP was the elevator and in Zak the bus.

In TWP it was simplified a lot by not allowing multiple PCs in it.
Also when the elevator doors open/close the player loses control, likely to workaround bugs.


WOW it really sounds “handle with care”, nevertheless you did a great job :clap::wink: thanks for the answer David

1 Like

Yes, but I think the whole TWP is a great lesson in puzzle design, it really has everything and as David said it wasn’t a walk in the park apparently :slightly_smiling_face: Up to 6 characters to control and a huge world to explore and the fact that all the scenes are always active.

1 Like

6 playable characters? :delores::franklin::ransome::ray::reyes:
Who did I miss?
Oh… of course!!
@David, @RonGilbert, why was that floating body/character called Boris and German anyway? Is it an extended cameo by Boris Schneider? Or an in-joke reference to him?

When I started the game the very first time and saw the first playable character was a certain Boris from Germany, I immediately thought at him, believing that it was a cameo and a huge hommage (you know, that’s the far most visible cameo in the game…) but nobody else in the blog or the forum seemed to have the same idea, apart you… maybe the staff could clarify…

Or 7 if you count Flesh-Franklin and Ghost-Franklin as different ones.

well, the highest pledge grade was “your likeliness will be used as the body in the river”. Still that is a big step between that and a full talking part (with even more lines than the developers at ThimbleCon)
Also, I think that pledge was never taken (I remember the KS saying 1 out of 1 left, until the end of the campaign)

Maybe they chose the name (Boris S.) because of him but this may be all.
Btw. the victims full name is Boris Schultz and was voiced by Gunnar Bergmann

From Kickstarter:

Pledge $2,500 or more
We’ll recreate your likeness as the dead body from Thimbleweed Park in pixel art then you’ll get a super high quality fancy-smancy one of a kind print. You’ll need to provide an appropriate photo (subject to our approval, no real corpses please).

This doesn’t sound like it was meant for being in the actual game.

Another important property of a good puzzle occurred to me: in a good puzzle, it must not be obvious what is a clue and what isn’t. For example, clues should be disguised to look like something else: maybe jokes , or maybe parts of the environment with another function. Examples: in TWP, the fact that the bottle can be sold for 5 cents looks like a joke. In Monkey Island 2, the wanted poster on the island looks like it has already accomplished its function. Same for the electric fence in TWP.

There is an interesting parallel with mystery books. In Agatha Christie books, clues are dissimulated to look like something else, and to look totally natural when they are spoken. The way people tell them, you’d never think they could have a second meaning or could be clues. (Example: I say I just pricked myself with a rose thorn when I was outside in the garden. Instead, I just injected myself the antidote to the poison I just put in our meal).

I think that’s why I don’t like puzzle games like 7th guest. There, puzzles are self contained, and it is clear that the clues to solve them are given in the same screen.

Why does it feel this way for you? When I saw that sign in Quickie Pal I immediately suspected that it could have been part of a puzzle, because in a PnC adventure game I pretty much assume that anything can be part of a puzzle.

Well, first of all, I read the bottle description much before I found the quickie pal. And it totally looked like a joke. Second, I don’t remember any sign in the quickie pal! :slight_smile: If there was a sign, you are telling me the puzzle was easier than I thought :slight_smile:

It’s pretty normal for a bottle (in the US) to be returnable for 5 cents (actually 10 cents now in my State). You pay the extra 5 cents or 10 cents when you buy it, to encourage the recycling.

Yes, I know it’s normal, but the way it was told looked like a joke (it listed all the states one by one)

I see what you mean. It’s clearly a joke, but I guess you are saying you kind of dismissed it as a ‘clue’ since there was a clear joke tied to it.

1 Like

exactly. You don’t think that the bottle description has a double function. That’s the beauty.

1 Like