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crowgnarly

[Feedback] Gathering Items & Solving Puzzles

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In a lot of old adventure games, we are allowed to gather items far in advance from when we'd actually ever use them, but I feel like Broken Age has a chance to make that right. I found myself collecting things and trying to get stuff without a reason. This was very apparent in the Vella storyline (not sure about Shay yet). This made the puzzles very easy to solve, as I always had the items I needed before having to think about it and hunt down the solution.

Vella Examples:

Making a stool - I was able to talk to Curtis about making me a stool before talking to the tree about what made it sick/barf sap.

Driftwood - I was able to pick it up before talking to Curtis about needing wood to make me a stool.

Getting the pail - Almost immediately I was able to talk the Mayor into giving me the pail on his head. I didn't have a reason for this yet, as I hadn't even made the tree barf up sap to collect.

Collecting sap - I had a bucket of sap before I even talked to the 'Mayor' about his sand not holding together.

Stained Glass - I was able to poke and grab the diamond stained glass chunk before I had a reason to get it (aka, I hadn't broken the quartz panel in the ship yet).

"Art" in Curtis's house - I was able to talk him into giving me the 'art' above his fireplace before I actually wanted or needed it for anything. (I had not even been in the Dead Eye God temple/ship, so why would I want it).

Fixing/rewiring the Death Ray - I had not talked to Alex about fixing the ship or anything of that kind and I was able to go pop out panels, put the stained glass in place and build a death ray simply by playing around with it. I had no motivation to do so other than just clicking around and knowing how adventure games typically work. I would have liked Vella to have some concerns about touching anything else after breaking the first quartz panel. Maybe bringing Alex the stained glass and having him be 'ok' with me monkeying with the circuit. It also cut off the rest of the dialog tree with Alex, which I had to reload and go back to enjoy.

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True, I had the same experience.

It didn't bother me though. I would be pretty pissed to double back to the cloud colony to get the damn apple.

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This is actually something that bothers me about newer adventure games. I think Daedalic Games in specific are an example that come to mind. I found myself often stumbling upon a seemingly important item that the character just refused to take. So I dismissed it and went on, but often times it turned out later that you actually COULD get that item but that I just hadn't advanced far enough yet for it to be triggered. I hope it's clear what I mean to say, I'm a bit tired...

Long story short, I actually like being able to take items without (obvious) reason. Triggers that prevent you from taking items you -should- have access to already are bad, bad, bad.

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My 2 cents:

carrying items around from earlier stages on to later stages of the game - WITHOUT knowing what they would be used for - is actually a good way to make the game more challenging and interesting.

Why?

Because such items serve as "red-herrings" that distract you and lead you to search for different solutions (that don't work). They constantly make you wonder what purpose they serve (if any).

Of course that IN SOME cases it's wise (in terms of game design) to lead you to go and get an item BECAUSE you are looking for it, but it shouldn't ALWAYS be the case. In fact, I think that most of the time it shouldn't be the case.

As long as it's not 100% obvious that you need to use that "old" item (that you acquired a long time ago) on the challenge you are currently facing, it's a good puzzle.

The example you gave about collecting the sap is actually a good example for a GOOD puzzle (or at least a tricky one):

You can get the bucket of sap very early, and carry it around for a long while without realizing what it should be used for. That's what happened to me. Of course, there's the hint where the Mayor (or candidate rather) tells you that "The sand is falling apart", but i kept trying to apply the sap bucket on the sand - and it didn't occur to me that I have to give the bucket to him. You can say (in hindsight) that this is silly, but I just didn't try it, so i looked for OTHER paths of progressing in the game...

So,

Even though i didn't "go out and look for sticky stuff" once I realized that the sand is "Falling apart", it was still a good puzzle, because it was not 100% obvious (at least not to me) that the sap needs to be used on him.

Some of the points you raise (about some interactions being possible before you even know what they mean -- like the Death Ray) are valid though. In those cases it's best to just "protect" the interaction by a dialogue that must take place first - especially if the two (the justification and the interaction) are in close proximity, and won't require you to travel 19 screens back just to get a peach.

All i'm saying is that it's a case-by-case issue, and in some cases (like picking up items or solving early puzzles) it's good to let you do it without there being an immediate and apparent use for them, and in OTHER cases it's best to block certain interactions to force you to explore the world more first and find a "justification" for that interaction.

For example, I would have been glad for there to be something to "hold me back" in Vella's house from just solving the riddle and moving on to the ceremony, before I had the chance to fully exhaust all dialogue options with her family members...

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