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TrueStoryGuy

What happened to the Tram puzzle in Meriloft?

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I was watching a previous episode, Episode 9 Broken Age, and Ron Gilbert plays through the "Cloud Colony" stage to give feedback to Tim. While Ron is listing off the four things he likes he lists "The tram puzzle." Then, later in the episode, Meriloft Main screen appears with a "TRAM -->" sign. Currently, the game doesn't feature the tram puzzle. It appears it was cut.

Was it moved to Act 2 to continue the "difficulty gradually increases" aspect?

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Well it may have been cut when they ran into financial difficulties. The scope of their game was too wide to finish on the budget they had left and so some puzzles/areas had to be removed entirely. I wouldn't keep my hopes up that it will still be in the game. It may be, but its not guaranteed.

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kinda hard to tell if that wasnt just a joke that one or more of the four things he liked wasnt even in the game. or if tim makes it a red herring / non-spoiler.

seems a little late to be cut...he seems to be playing a fairly finished area at that point.

or it could be in part 2. they would have worked on part 2 simultaneously, at least with some areas that already had assets.

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I'm still playing the game, but have finished Vella's part and was missing this specific puzzle too. I remember that during the HOF (in episode 6 or 7) someone also mentioned "taking the tram to Shellmound". So, apparently both villages were connected. Back then the critique was that meeting the various characters in Meriloft was a bit overwhelming in terms of story exposition. Maybe Tim designed the lumberjack into the game to provide for a short interlude between the two villages?

It's weird, though, because cutting out the tram appears to have such a great impact on the whole puzzle design. Trying to get the three heavy eggs to escape from Meriloft now seems such a natural thing to do within this village that is all about airiness and lightness. Having said that, the Lumberjack-section - because it was so short - felt a bit as an afterthought that was designed into the game. I'm really curious why Tim decided to cut the tram puzzle.

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I'm still playing the game, but have finished Vella's part and was missing this specific puzzle too. I remember that during the HOF (in episode 6 or 7) someone also mentioned "taking the tram to Shellmound". So, apparently both villages were connected. Back then the critique was that meeting the various characters in Meriloft was a bit overwhelming in terms of story exposition. Maybe Tim designed the lumberjack into the game to provide for a short interlude between the two villages?

It's weird, though, because cutting out the tram appears to have such a great impact on the whole puzzle design. Trying to get the three heavy eggs to escape from Meriloft now seems such a natural thing to do within this village that is all about airiness and lightness. Having said that, the Lumberjack-section - because it was so short - felt a bit as an afterthought that was designed into the game. I'm really curious why Tim decided to cut the tram puzzle.

You really thought the lumberjack was tacked on? I really liked that part and thought it totally fit, I didn't watch the documentary at all so I had a clean slate with this game.

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You really thought the lumberjack was tacked on? I really liked that part and thought it totally fit, I didn't watch the documentary at all so I had a clean slate with this game.

That's good to hear, because I was already thinking that my feelings regarding the lumberjack section might have been influenced by knowing how it came together from the documentary. I really did like the lumberjack and the forest, but I wish it would have had more scenes, so that I could have spend some more time there. Overall I had some problems establishing how the different parts of Vella's world relate to each other: where are Sugar Bunting, Meriloft, Shellmound and the forest located relative to each other? Now that I've finished the game, I've high hopes that act 2 will help me establishing a better sense of this world. I just can't wait to play it!

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Just remember with both of these complaints, no tram puzzle and not enough Curtis, we've only played half the game.

It'll be a shame if Curtis doesn't end up a major character though, since Wil Wheaton does him so well.

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get the girls to sing in tune puzzle? when was that mentioned? that sounds awesome

Never really. I just had the feeling there could be one from what was presented in the scene.

I was so convinced that I tried to steal the whistle pipe he was using, thought it might be one of those timing puzzles like with the knife. Wasn't sure what you'd swap it out for, was going to try the art object from the lumberjack's house.

But no. They suddenly sing in tune when the monster arrives. Still not sure how I triggered that happening.

Did you notice they only sing part of the song in tune, compared to the length of the song that wasn't in tune..

Perhaps the puzzle was to get a parrot from meriloft to copy someone singing it correctly.. perhaps that old lady from bunting? The 'in tune' version had a slightly operatic style to it that is more common in old people singing.

The parrot would naturally only sing a few short lines over and over.

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I wonder if they saved an uncut build or version with sketches and temp art...that would be something to have a look at.

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Very observant of you! Yes, there was once a tram puzzle and it in fact was cut.

Around the time in the documentary where we are talking about our scoping problem with the game (not having enough money for the design at hand) and we were talking about the various solutions, I started hacking into the design and cut a lot out of it. And that's just to fit it into the already late schedule. That's the amazing thing about making games. Even when you hack out what feels like 50% of your game, that's just to fit it into a schedule that's still 200% too long. Sigh.

Adventure games are time consuming and expensive. Nothing is leveraged. Every single puzzle and joke and story moment is hand crafted and experienced usually once by the player.

Anyway, there was a tram that you took from Meriloft to Shellmound. But it was cut and we made it so you could walk from Curtis' cabin all the way to the beach. Also, Alex's pyramid wasn't connected to Shellmound. You had to ride Jessie to get there!

That may still sound fun, and you may be disappointed that we cut it, but if we hadn't you might not be playing act 1 until 2015! :)

Tradeoffs. Hopefully people watching the doc will see how many tradeoffs you have to make to get a game out the door. That's how every game goes! Unless you have infinite money or zero expenses.

But don't be sad. The tram was really a jerk and I'm glad we cut him. He would always spoil the end of movies, and also never put in enough money when we split the bill at lunch. Smell you later, Tram!

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And yet "the tram puzzle" was the only thing Ron Gilbert liked about the build he played...

So I guess the BA we got isn't "Tim's Vision" like everybody was saying. Apparently he had to hack the game apart to fit the budget after all, and even then it's being released in two parts.

It's astounding how underfunded the game apparently is. We all donated to fund "Tim's Vision," and it turns out we got a butchered approximation of that.

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On the other hand, anyone who's ever done creative work knows that editing reluctantly done because of external forces usually makes the end product much better. (If that's true in this case, we'll probably never know.)

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And yet "the tram puzzle" was the only thing Ron Gilbert liked about the build he played...

So I guess the BA we got isn't "Tim's Vision" like everybody was saying. Apparently he had to hack the game apart to fit the budget after all, and even then it's being released in two parts.

It's astounding how underfunded the game apparently is. We all donated to fund "Tim's Vision," and it turns out we got a butchered approximation of that.

Sorry to let you know, but that is all art. Literally everything you've ever seen has had to make constraints for budgets and time. What you got was Tim's Vision™ within the restrictions of reality. What you are implying you want is an infinite budget/time-frame. You know what happens when that exists? Nothing, because it takes an infinite time to create. Plus, to claim what we were funding was "Tim's Vision" is bullshit idol worship because so many people were involved in this game creatively that to call it "Tim's vision" is ridiculous and insulting. What we funded was a modern adventure game written and directed by Tim Schafer, and that is exactly what we got.

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tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be. money is a curse I tells ye. so is no money.

can I just say you managed to stitch it together beautifully though. that must be super hard as so much stuff relies on other stuff all the time in adventure games.

but hey, like I mentioned above - this time theres no need for the design work to be "wasted" - I bet many backers would enjoy playing through a temp-art build to get a peek at what it used to be. or if youd rather save those ideas for something more proper later on I understand of course.

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You guys, it's not surprising that he had to cut things. It's surprising that he had to "cut 50%" of what he wanted, even after production had begun to the point that they had a (cut) puzzle playable by Ron Gilbert.

Cutting 50% of content doesn't sound like an activity that would result in a game that resembles the original vision. Maybe that's why the puzzles feel so empty and half-assed -- because the original puzzle structure was thrown into the blender as various key components were sliced from the game. Maybe that's why all the puzzles became [pick up item]->[use item]->[win].

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What you are implying you want is an infinite budget/time-frame. You know what happens when that exists? Nothing, because it takes an infinite time to create. Plus, to claim what we were funding was "Tim's Vision" is bullshit idol worship because so many people were involved in this game creatively that to call it "Tim's vision" is ridiculous and insulting. What we funded was a modern adventure game written and directed by Tim Schafer, and that is exactly what we got.

^ THIS ^

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@Ed & Kalavinka: I dont really agree with that. what he means with "tims vision" is just the game that tim want to make. without corporate stooges, making as little compromises as possible. that IS why we pledged, thats what we wanted to happen. that said, what was pitched was just a small adventure game, "we ll do what we can with just a bit of money" - then after the kickstarter happened everyone thought thatd be enough money to do _anything_.

the original design probably wasnt unfeasible or constantly, infinitely iterated on at all. it just didnt fit with the new production values that people now expected. with the new pipeline and tech and everything its probably just hard to plan ahead.

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tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be.

That's... not entirely accurate. He would have designed a smaller scoped game to begin with, and probably still had to end up cutting things.

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tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be.

That's... not entirely accurate. He would have designed a smaller scoped game to begin with, and probably still had to end up cutting things.

would he? whats the argument here? that he wouldve made it smaller if theyd done the game in AGS or something? (just as an example) why?

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tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be.

That's... not entirely accurate. He would have designed a smaller scoped game to begin with, and probably still had to end up cutting things.

Do you seriously not see the difference between "cutting things" and "hacking into the design and cutting a lot [50%] out of it"?

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Very observant of you! Yes, there was once a tram puzzle and it in fact was cut.

Around the time in the documentary where we are talking about our scoping problem with the game (not having enough money for the design at hand) and we were talking about the various solutions, I started hacking into the design and cut a lot out of it. And that's just to fit it into the already late schedule. That's the amazing thing about making games. Even when you hack out what feels like 50% of your game, that's just to fit it into a schedule that's still 200% too long. Sigh.

Adventure games are time consuming and expensive. Nothing is leveraged. Every single puzzle and joke and story moment is hand crafted and experienced usually once by the player.

Anyway, there was a tram that you took from Meriloft to Shellmound. But it was cut and we made it so you could walk from Curtis' cabin all the way to the beach. Also, Alex's pyramid wasn't connected to Shellmound. You had to ride Jessie to get there!

That may still sound fun, and you may be disappointed that we cut it, but if we hadn't you might not be playing act 1 until 2015! :)

Tradeoffs. Hopefully people watching the doc will see how many tradeoffs you have to make to get a game out the door. That's how every game goes! Unless you have infinite money or zero expenses.

But don't be sad. The tram was really a jerk and I'm glad we cut him. He would always spoil the end of movies, and also never put in enough money when we split the bill at lunch. Smell you later, Tram!

Much thank you for the reply, Tim.

Of course I'm not disappointed that you cut it. I understand the nature of development for video games, and as such I expect there to be cuts. It is perfectly reasonable to cut content to make a game pace better or to fit into a scheduled release date.

We, as backers, can only hope that some of the design can make it back into Act I and Act II if Broken Age is a massive success for Double Fine. That also means more point and click games from you, too, which we will love.

I wish you the best, Tim, and thanks again for the reply!

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Very observant of you! Yes, there was once a tram puzzle and it in fact was cut.

Around the time in the documentary where we are talking about our scoping problem with the game (not having enough money for the design at hand) and we were talking about the various solutions, I started hacking into the design and cut a lot out of it. And that's just to fit it into the already late schedule. That's the amazing thing about making games. Even when you hack out what feels like 50% of your game, that's just to fit it into a schedule that's still 200% too long. Sigh.

Adventure games are time consuming and expensive. Nothing is leveraged. Every single puzzle and joke and story moment is hand crafted and experienced usually once by the player.

Anyway, there was a tram that you took from Meriloft to Shellmound. But it was cut and we made it so you could walk from Curtis' cabin all the way to the beach. Also, Alex's pyramid wasn't connected to Shellmound. You had to ride Jessie to get there!

That may still sound fun, and you may be disappointed that we cut it, but if we hadn't you might not be playing act 1 until 2015! :)

Tradeoffs. Hopefully people watching the doc will see how many tradeoffs you have to make to get a game out the door. That's how every game goes! Unless you have infinite money or zero expenses.

But don't be sad. The tram was really a jerk and I'm glad we cut him. He would always spoil the end of movies, and also never put in enough money when we split the bill at lunch. Smell you later, Tram!

Cheers Tim! If only we lived in a world where you could have broken your funding goals even more :D

I suppose the upside of a constrained budget is that you can kill your darlings a bit more easily...

tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be.

That's... not entirely accurate. He would have designed a smaller scoped game to begin with, and probably still had to end up cutting things.

Do you seriously not see the difference between "cutting things" and "hacking into the design and cutting a lot [50%] out of it"?

If you cut things a few things from a modest design or a lot of things from a grander design, how do you not end up in about the same place? I'm really not sure how you spin this into being upsetting. Keep in mind as well that not everything that was cut would necessarily have worked out perfectly, and some of it might have needed to be cut because it might fundamentally not work.

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tim! damn...thats ironic. I completely understand why the production values skyrocketed after the kickstarter made much more than it was supposed to and everyones expectations went up, but that feels very strange that you could have made the game you wanted if it had been a less polished indie thing like it was going to be.

That's... not entirely accurate. He would have designed a smaller scoped game to begin with, and probably still had to end up cutting things.

would he? whats the argument here? that he wouldve made it smaller if theyd done the game in AGS or something? (just as an example) why?

It may be splitting hairs a bit - I'm not actually saying that way of looking at things is wrong. I mean, who knows how things would have turned out really? But my argument is when the kickstarter began, there was NO game idea at all. The way the kickstarter went had an influence on where the project started. The smaller game with the smaller budget? Would that really be the game he wanted to make? It's definitely possible. However, in my small experience with creative projects, my dream is always just a bit above my ability to pull it off. The design ALWAYS gets cut - and I have to say for me it's almost always cut by a pretty significant amount. Before I fail to finish of course :P

The difference here is we actually got to see that process in a way we usually aren't privy to - and we share some of that pain.

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Darn, would've preferred waiting for a jerk-tram filled 2015 (but I'm sure the internet would've exploded from that). O vel.

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saluk: I wasnt trying to say they should have done it differently or it would have been better with less money or anything like that. I was just saying its ironic that the more money should have, at a glance, of course increased the creative freedom, but in the end its instead increased the stakes to the point where doublefine itself could be on the line, the bar is set very high production-wise and theres more pressure than ever. (nooo thats not my point either, its gonna be fine of course.) just... saying...its a little ironic that that is how things work sometimes.

that was all.

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saluk: I wasnt trying to say they should have done it differently or it would have been better with less money or anything like that. I was just saying its ironic that the more money should have, at a glance, of course increased the creative freedom, but in the end its instead increased the stakes to the point where doublefine itself could be on the line, the bar is set very high production-wise and theres more pressure than ever. (nooo thats not my point either, its gonna be fine of course.) just... saying...its a little ironic that that is how things work sometimes.

that was all.

More money more problems :)

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