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xwkd

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  1. I just watched Episode 2, and after the puzzle discussion, I felt the need to come post some input. Puzzles are not only a challenge / reward mechanic, but they serve as a tool for pacing. They break up the flow of the game and give the player a little bit of time to sit and stew in the world they're in. A good puzzle with help pace the game in a positive way, and a bad puzzle will either cause expletives to be used, or insult the player's intelligence. Look to Valve for examples of how to maintain this balance, and how it affects the narrative. Err on the side of complexity, because players are probably smarter than you realize, but don't lock down the whole experience if a player can't figure things out. This was one of the best things about the Portal series. Glados and Wheatley served as a continual source of enjoyment, even as you were trying to figure out how to get "up there" or "over there." Their quips and jabs were perfect because they didn't distract you too much, but they also weren't easy to ignore. They made you feel like you were still part of the flow of the game and the story, even though you were stuck in a test chamber. You could still experience some good game content without having to solve the puzzle right out of the gate, which has a bit of a relaxing effect and doesn't make each puzzle feel like a chore. Oh, and while we're on the subject of complexity: Hints are horrible. There isn't much that makes a player feel worse than solving a puzzle with a hint. It's not even bittersweet. It's like an F+. It's your annoying brother coming in and pointing at the screen saying, "Click that, genius." That's not to say that you shouldn't use other tools that serve as hints, though. The art is in the cleverness and the subtlety of the push. For example, the grass in a Zelda game in the shape of an arrow is probably overkill, but a character casually saying something about another character liking bananas in passing a few chapters back is probably okay. I could discuss this stuff ad nauseum, but here's the gist of what I'm trying to say: In the end, a point and click adventure game with no puzzles is just an interactive story. Go left, go right, poke this guy, insult this thing. Sure, there's an element of discovery here, but no sense of accomplishment or reward. It's important to have both in order to make your game a memorable experience. Personal struggle is part of what separates the "pretty good" games from the, "I wish I could wipe my memory and play it again for the first time..." games.
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