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Thimbleweed Park: A New Classic Point & Click Adventure FROM RON GILBERT! AND Gary Winnick

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Stretch goals announced:

- Ios and android versions

- Translations

- Talkies

It looks like Thimbleweeb Park may have some of the same inconvenience of pre recording the dialog too... hope not.

Noooooooo. I would rather twice as much dialogue and jokes, plus the flexibility to change stuff down to the wire :(

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The "monkey wrench" puzzle barely worked in English, let alone another language. Definitely the worst puzzle in all the LucasArts oeuvre, if you ask me! :)
I never liked the monkey wrench puzzle either, but the signpost puzzle in Grim Fandango is my least favorite as it's never really explained what you have to do. At least the art of the monkey in your inventory looks somewhat like a wrench.

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I must be the only person in existence with no problem with the Monkey Wrench puzzle.

Did it take me a *really* long time to figure out? Sure.

But when I did figure it out I laughed louder than I ever have in my entire life. :P

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I must be the only person in existence with no problem with the Monkey Wrench puzzle.

Did it take me a *really* long time to figure out? Sure.

But when I did figure it out I laughed louder than I ever have in my entire life. :P

90% of the time it's a UK/European player (like Taumel it seems) that's complaining, since "monkey wrench" is a US-only name.

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90% of the time it's a UK/European player (like Taumel it seems) that's complaining, since "monkey wrench" is a US-only name.

I knew what a monkey wrench was, but still... that's some lateral thinking! (And don't forget that you need to hypnotise a monkey with a banana on a metronome first... That made perfect sense, too.)

I remember reading that the third difficulty level was removed during production, leaving only "Easy" and "Difficult" (something they realised later that was a mistake, and was then rectified with CMI, going with "Normal" and "Difficult").

I wonder if they'd described the Easy difficulty as "Normal" instead of "I've never played an adventure game before, I'm scared", more people would have given it a go. I do know someone who swears it's a more enjoyable game.

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Yeah, apparently he tried to convince Gilbert to change the puzzle solution during the development way back when. His idea was to use Engländer (Englishman): http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Engländer

How did you know that? Very interesting stuff.

The translator talked about it on his blog: http://www.dreisechzig.net/wp/archives/1921

Thanks for sharing! If only I could read German. (How DID they overcome it?)

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I know i didn understand what a monkey wrench is, its a funny term. Because what does that tool have to do with a monkey ?.

Here its called a "Svensk Nøgle" on Danish, into English that would be a wrench

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I never really 'got' that puzzle when I first played it. But I never struggled with the sign puzzle in Grim Fandango. This is one of the reasons puzzle balance is so tricky in adventure games. One person's obvious is another person's obscure.

In pure logic puzzles like Portal/Braid (okay, there's dexterity involved too but it's mainly just figuring out), you take all the pieces, figure out the right order and you're done. In adventure games it's more like depending on who you are, where you grew up and other intangible things you might not even realise what the pieces are, or you might mistake them for different pieces. That's why non adventure game veterans can get stuck for ages in something pretty easy like Act 1 of Broken Age (seen it, a lot, on YouTube), because to a certain extent these games are more about knowing 'the rules' than figuring stuff out with logic. Notable exceptions, of course.

Whatever I hope comes out of the final game, I hope the puzzles are difficult because they're neat logic problems, rather than because they're obtuse - because I think we need more of the former in the genre. :)

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Hey, almost funded. :o)

@KestrelPi

Nope, a good adventure involves, logic, knowledge, association, craziness, ...

Yep, everyone values these things on an individual level, so you need to design it for a certain audience.

A pure logic driven game would feel artificial, like a logic puzzler, like math but not like an adventure.

You're more a DF fan but not an adventure gamer in the first place, right?

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Hey, almost funded. :o)

@KestrelPi

Nope, a good adventure involves, logic, knowledge, association, craziness, ...

Yep, everyone values these things on an individual level, so you need to design it for a certain audience.

A pure logic driven game would feel artificial, like a logic puzzler, like math but not like an adventure.

You're more a DF fan but not an adventure gamer in the first place, right?

Wow, no not at all.

I've been a massive fan of adventure games since I first saw Monkey Island when I was about 10. I've played every adventure LucasArts ever put out and know them like the back of my hand, I also enjoy many adventure games from other companies, and enjoy a whole variety of different sorts of adventure games. Grim Fandango is probably my favourite game of all time.

The only reason I ever knew about Psychonaunts/Double Fine was because I knew Tim Schafer was making it.

I think you've misunderstood what I was saying, as some sort of value judgement. I agree, that there can be lots of different kinds of puzzles - and I think some of the best adventure games have diverse sets of puzzles that are more varied than simply 'use thing with thing'.

I just meant that logic puzzles tend to be the easiest to test, and the easiest to make traditionally 'difficult' because logic puzzles are taking a bunch of tools, which you know what they are - and then within those set parameters creating a sort of knot of logic to untie. So you can measure how tricky that sort of puzzle is to an extent by just analysing the complexity of the knot.

On the other hand, your standard adventure game puzzle isn't pure logic, and that's fine, but it means that it's much more difficult to tell how hard any one puzzle is, because a lot of it is sort of subjective. Not only is there the measurable complexity, but there's also a bunch of other factors, some of which you listed above. It's a different set of problems.

All I was supposing is that there could be a happy medium where all the stuff that makes adventure games good still exists, but logic plays a greater part in problem solving. I'd like to see adventure puzzles with a bit more logic, because they're the ones that give me a lot of 'a-ha!' satisfaction, but they can still do that within the framework of a story and character based game, without losing the human touch.

And I've no trouble with hard puzzles, of course. But I guess on the rare occasions I resort to walkthroughs in harder games I want fewer 'I would never have thought of that' moments, and more 'I totally should have thought of that, and would have done if I'd thought about it better' moments.

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Well, that's the art, getting a satisfying balance out from all this components and creating a funny challenging entertaining experience for its audience.

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Well, that's the art, getting a satisfying balance out from all this components and making it a fun/challenging/entertaining experience.

Sure, but my perspective on this is a little different. If adventure games were judged purely on their puzzle solving, I think they wouldn't rate much. Because as much as the games aspire to be these really clever little story driven challenges to untangle, usually even the best adventure games have a handful of really killer puzzles, and the rest is kinda okay - and some are notoriously lousy. We remember the great ones, we remember the lousy ones, and just sort of 'do' the inbetween ones.

But that's okay. I wouldn't be a fan of adventure games if this really bothered me a lot. It's really cool when an adventure game really hits the nail on the head puzzle wise. DOTT is an oft-cited example, and I think the reason it's such an interesting example is that it's a game that takes place in one (well, 3 parallel) major location for the whole thing. The only time a big new area 'unlocks' is when you free Laverne really. Which is really unusual for adventure games, and it gives DOTT this quality of being an intricate puzzle box that you gradually click bits into place, rather than the usual structure, which goes something more like:

Small, introductory puzzles ---> Plot ---> Larger set of parallel puzzles ---> More plot ---> More, different puzzles, maybe in a new location ---> etc etc ----> End bit.

But anyway, I can bear a bunch of 'okay' puzzles, even love a game with 'okay' puzzles, as long as it draws me into its world. I would say that far more adventure games I love have been memorable because of the world they built than for having particularly good puzzles. DOTT is the big exception - that's the one adventure game that I admire more for its puzzles than I do for its stories and characters. And even there, it's a close call.

---

But I digress. I'm glad that funding is pretty much guaranteed at this point, and I'm looking forward to hearing more about it as the project develops.

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Again it's about the proper balance. You want them (story/characters/puzzles/...) geared together in the right dose, then everything could be perfect, at least for you, and others like you. Anyway to shorten this up, we had such discussions many times on TTG already, most devs don't know how to do this properly (boring puzzles/characters/story/.../ugly fonts) and therefore many adventures suck, even more when you've grown up since you were the once 10 year old boy playing MI1. Therefore it would be very cool if Gilbert just could do it right.

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I can agree with that. Still, I can't help but wonder what a Ron Gilbert point and click adventure would look like if he had the funds to really go to town. Would it have been this or something else?

I do, in many ways respect the retro decision. I like pixel art in general (even if I haven't been grabbed by what I've seen here) and I think working within that limitation has the potential to really focus them in. It also has the potential to be used as an excuse to be obtuse in puzzle design, because people almost expect it of old adventure games, but I've no reason to think it'll be used that way. At the very least, this art style puts a hard limit on how graphically complex the game can get, which is quite sensible in a small team with a low budget.

But man. I remember the intro to Monkey Island, before I even knew what the game was like, being one of the most exciting things I'd ever seen. And LucasArts never lost the capacity to wow me in that way. Not just graphically, I mean, but stylistically, showing me a world I immediately wanted to be a part of. Making me feel like I was going to have an experience. I didn't get the same 'wow' first time I saw this (and incidentally I did with Broken Age, though obviously it was a bit different with the doc, and clearly YMMV).

But I've still hope that once more is revealed I'll still find plenty to like.

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This is a serious budget. It's not like someone is trying to make a game for $30k in his bedroom. Daedalic probably could make some adventure with this budget. Then again this won't be a 3-6 million dollar project as well.

I think a lower budget is good for the game because the expectations are different and Gilbert (sorry, shortening G & W up all the time) can focus on aspects which aren't related this much on otherwise costly production values. Why not making this as a first step? If then all goes fine, he might take it a step further or he might even repeat the last one because it worked out so well.

The first LucasAr... um i mean Lucasfilm Games game i've really played was Zak McKracken. I got MM earlier as a pirated copy but i didn't play it due to that i was into other games those days. Then i played Zak and i was hooked (the intro, the vibe, the adventure, ...) and from there on also started buying and enjoying the LucasArts adventures. The newspaper in Zak still is the best goody there ever was in a video game.

Maybe the gfx will have an influence on the game design but this doesn't need to be a bad thing. I like a retro style (Amiga 16-32/64 colours, 6 bpl were slow but ..., a 256 palette sometimes encourages people to be less careful with choosing the right colours or utalising less tasteful dithering. I like the idea but not so much the current implementation (it might be done by intention but nonetheless). Anyway i'm after the meat and less after the side dishes.

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Btw. there is one question (generally speaking): How much more budget does it cost to make great instead of boring puzzles? If this is within a reasonable range, i would heavily invest into this aspect because the genre lacks badly here.

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Edit: I guess the spoiler tag doesn't work on this forum? So just be advised that I've marked some puzzle spoilers from Grim Fandango and Broken Age below, if you want to avoid those.

I never really 'got' that puzzle [the monkey wrench puzzle in Monkey Island 2 -- ed.] when I first played it. But I never struggled with the sign puzzle in Grim Fandango. This is one of the reasons puzzle balance is so tricky in adventure games. One person's obvious is another person's obscure.

In pure logic puzzles like Portal/Braid (okay, there's dexterity involved too but it's mainly just figuring out), you take all the pieces, figure out the right order and you're done. In adventure games it's more like depending on who you are, where you grew up and other intangible things you might not even realise what the pieces are, or you might mistake them for different pieces. That's why non adventure game veterans can get stuck for ages in something pretty easy like Act 1 of Broken Age (seen it, a lot, on YouTube), because to a certain extent these games are more about knowing 'the rules' than figuring stuff out with logic. Notable exceptions, of course.

I totally agree with this: adventure game puzzle balance is very difficult because each player will bring his or her unique life experience to solving puzzles. Even though a good adventure game will try to include appropriate hints within the game world, the game is still dependent on the player's existing knowledge from outside the game about what objects might do, etc. That's less of an issue in a game like Portal because the way puzzles work there is so limited and specific to that game, and the game trains the player to think within those very specific constraints, hence the "Now you're thinking with portals" meme.

I do want to add something else, though. A good adventure game should try to have a consistent approach to what is or isn't a reasonable solution within its game world. For an extreme example, a puzzle that works in a cartoony world like Toonstruck would obviously feel out of place in a more realistic world like Gabriel Knight, hence the infamy of the cat hair mustache puzzle in Gabriel Knight 3, which despite the puzzle's reputation is actually pretty well-clued in the game but just feels weird and out of place in a realistic game world.

Therefore, I think one of the reasons people struggle with the monkey wrench puzzle in Monkey Island 2, aside from the obvious problem that puns often don't translate to other languages, is that the other puzzles in Monkey Island aren't based around puns, so the monkey wrench puzzle is an outlier from what players expect the world of Monkey Island to be like. Jeff Strand talked about this in an old article at JustAdventure called Good Puzzle/Bad Puzzle (which contains puzzle spoilers).

To be fair, the spinning sign puzzle in Grim Fandango is also something of an outlier because most of Grim's puzzles are based on inventory objects, whereas the spinning sign puzzle is based on movement. (The goat puzzle in Broken Sword was an outlier within that game for similar reasons.) But I think the spinning sign puzzle works a bit better in Grim Fandango than the monkey wrench puzzle does in Monkey Island because it's not so inconsistent with the world and it tries to give you indications that the puzzle will be movement-based.

GRIM FANDANGO PUZZLE SPOILERS: In Grim Fandango, you know you're looking for an exit, but every tunnel you enter leads out another tunnel and doesn't get you anywhere. And when you use the sign, you either pick it up or you plant it in the ground and it spins, so it's impossible to treat it like a standard inventory object. These imply that the puzzle has something to do with movement and your position. Also, since Grim was originally designed for direct control, I think that inherently makes the player more inclined to think in terms of Manny's position throughout the game. /SPOILERS

I can't really judge the monkey wrench puzzle fairly because I played Monkey Island 2 in the late 90s at which point the puzzle was already notorious, so I went in knowing that at some point I'd be using a monkey as a wrench, though I didn't know the whole scenario. The spinning sign puzzle in Grim Fandando I was able to solve without a walkthrough and found it to be a satisfying lateral thinking solution like Jeff Strand describes. But maybe that's partly just the way my brain works and other players' mileage may vary. Tim Schafer has mentioned that when people tell him they didn't finish Grim, it was usually because they got stuck at the spinning sign puzzle, so obviously it doesn't work for everyone. I still like these lateral thinking puzzles, though. The most memorable puzzles for me in Broken Age Part I were the cloud shoes/ladder puzzle in Vella's part and the teleporter/head size puzzle in Shay's part, which are also lateral thinking.

BROKEN AGE PUZZLE SPOILERS: Cloud shoes/ladder puzzle -- The direct thinking would be that you want to stop the bird from knocking your ladder's hooks off the nest, but the lateral thinking is to instead bolster the ladder at the bottom with the cloud shoes to stop it from sinking. Teleporter/head size puzzle -- The direct thinking would be that you want to avoid having your head shrunk, but the lateral thinking is that you instead want to shrink your head a second time to have it fit inside the baby helmet. There's also that machine that was supposed to put a helmet on you but malfunctioned, so the direct thinking would be to fix the machine, but the lateral thinking is to find another helmet elsewhere, although any experienced adventure gamer will probably leap to that lateral thinking since it's an adventure game staple.) /SPOILERS

Anyway, what I've written is drifting quite off-topic, and I don't really want to derail the thread into another puzzle difficulty discussion. But in relation to Thimbleweed Park, I guess it goes to show why people tend to trust Kickstarter pitches from adventure game designers they recognize even when other aspects of the pitch like the graphics may not appeal as much. Good puzzle design is one of those things that's hard to guage without either a prototype that's representative of the intended gameplay or some past games from that designer, so people gravitate toward designers like Ron and Gary, Tim, or other veterans that people feel have designed memorable puzzles in the past.

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Btw. there is one question (generally speaking): How much more budget does it cost to make great instead of boring puzzles? If this is within a reasonable range, i would heavily invest into this aspect because the genre lacks badly here.

It took Andrew Plotkin 4 years to make Hadean Lands, one of the best puzzle-centered adventure games I've seen in a while, so I guess the answer is whatever it takes to pay a person for 4 years. If you also want graphics and sound, then it costs extra.

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Hmm, four years sounds too long for quite some adventure projects.

First it needs the awareness how boring and lame most of this stuff is, the will to improve and the resources to do so (talent(s)/budget).

Btw. just to be clear, a great puzzle automatically doesn't need to be hard. It can range from easy to challenging (but with the current state you obviously also want to raise the level of complexity). It's about how unique/creative/challenging/funny/crazy/logical they can be. Most puzzles in adventures or games with adventure elements are bland/stupid/illogical. There's no fun/excitement/motivation/challenge in solving them. You're constantly under challenged and confronted with similar, absurd or annoying puzzle mechanics.

This is so fucking boring and also part of the reason why adventures aren't doing better. Yep, they're a niche but that niche could be bigger and way more satisfying.

G & W Interview (almost like Wallace & Gromit):

http://www.adventure-treff.de/artikel/interviews.php?id=105〈=eng

A little bit more than 12k and there will be translations.

Looking at the stretch goals, i guess people want Talkie more than Mobiles but this way it could help to fund Mobiles more easily. I would have projected the project between $400k-$800k when it all started. Their tier structure isn't optimal but things can be influenced a lot by changes during a campaign. Anyway i hope that there won't be issues again which needed to be resolved with The DFA already and that PC will offer a satisfying point & click out of the box instead of drag & drop.

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Just started a new game of Maniac Mansion with Dave, Michael and Wendy because of this thread. >_>

Hopefully you mean Mansion Mansion deluxe. fanmade improved game. takes everything about maniac mansion and makes it better. :)

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Just started a new game of Maniac Mansion with Dave, Michael and Wendy because of this thread. >_>

Hopefully you mean Mansion Mansion deluxe. fanmade improved game. takes everything about maniac mansion and makes it better. :)

I personally still prefer the NES version (especially using ScummVM so you can use the mouse). The Day of the Tentacle music doesn't really work with the B-movie atmosphere of Maniac Mansion in my opinion, and the cutscenes with the Edisons just aren't the same without the "Better Ed Than Dead" song.

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I'm never quite sure what people mean when they call the traditional adventure games "illogical". I'm sure there were some iffy games along the line that made absolutely no sense, but when I replay a lot of my favourites, everything makes a fair amount of sense.

For example, one of my favourite adventure series is the Gobliiins series from Coktel Vision. It's basically a series of absurdist games with their own unique brand of dream logic and very little exposition or even words at all.

I've been replaying Gobliiins 3 and I'm at a scene where you have to stop a colossus (who has two eyes...). The only solution for stopping him is to subject him to pollen (which you're told he's allergic to) and break his catapult. You aren't really told either of these things per se, but it's somehow obvious within the game.

The (simplified) solution is get a grain of sand that's stuck in his eye, use the sand on the catapult to break it and get a mechanical part from it (why is a grain of sand the only way to break it?), then use the mechanical part to fix a broken robot that inexplicably produces pollen. You then give the pollen to an insect friend, who you then have to manipulate in a way that gets the pollen in the colossus's nose and stays there.

All of this is crazy and in a sense arbitrary, but I didn't need help for any of it. The entire game is about learning/experimenting with the rules of the gameworld and looking for possibilities that are logical or reasonable within those rules.

The result is a really hilarious experience where you do things like build dynamite from scratch out of Incan panflutes, gunpowder, hair (the fuse), and tree sap (so the dynamite sticks).

It's completely "illogical" in real-world terms, but as long as you can figure it out within the game, who cares?

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Also Ron just mentioned the Monkey Wrench puzzle in an update:

"Also from the comments section: Will there be a stupid Monkey Wrench puzzle? No, I learned my lesson on that one. Worst puzzle I’ve ever designed."

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Just started a new game of Maniac Mansion with Dave, Michael and Wendy because of this thread. >_>

Hopefully you mean Mansion Mansion deluxe. fanmade improved game. takes everything about maniac mansion and makes it better. :)

No. Why would I mean that?

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