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KestrelPi

Can someone explain to me why the sign puzzle is supposed to be hard or obscure?

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I think we can all agree that the signpost puzzle is a bit weird. Maybe even not that great a puzzle. But what I don't get is why it's so frequently cited as such a ... either difficult or obscure puzzle.

From what I can tell the puzzle is this: There's a sign that gets knocked over. You can go and pick it up, and replant it anywhere in the ground. When you do, it points in a direction. If you keep following and replanting to where it points (or save yourself some time by triangulating a bit) then eventually it'll lead you to a spot where a door opens.

End of puzzle. Didn't trouble me then, didn't trouble me now. I think the one thing I tried before realising what I had to do back in 1998, is that I thought perhaps the arrow was pointing at a particular hole around the outside of the area where you have to plant it, but I quickly realised that couldn't be it and that the solution was far more straightforward.

So someone explain it to me. What's the deal? Why so many adventure gamer tears over this puzzle?

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At first I struggled precisely because I thought the sign was pointing to specific holes, but I ended up figuring it out. I don't think it's by any means one of the hardest puzzles...

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At first I struggled precisely because I thought the sign was pointing to specific holes, but I ended up figuring it out. I don't think it's by any means one of the hardest puzzles...
I did the same. Every time I replanted I went through a different whole. I think I spent more time on that puzzle than anything else in any adventure game ever (and I played a lot back in the day). Eventually I had to break down and walk through it. It's one of the only times I've ever had to do that.

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To be sincere I had lots of problems with this one in 1998 and now again, because I couldn't remember the 'trick' anymore. The difficulty depend on the approach. Seeing the tunnels and how they are connected, and considering the sign is animated, you could be led thinking that you have to use all these things together. Also you are asked not to use the sign everywhere, but specifically in the zone with the tunnels, suggesting the sign has something to do with them and their solution (additionally it's a sign, so you'd expect it shows a direction more than a point by itself). For example, that only carrying the sign while walking through the tunnels will show you the right way, to be repeated more times until one of the tunnels become the exit to another zone (various other adventure games have infinite forests where you find the right way only when you use the right object or similar). So the main question are the tunnels in front of you, while without them would be even too easy. It's different from the other puzzles of the game, it's more a little joke to the player (since cannot be accidental the presence of 12 tunnels exactly where you have to use the sign). The 'riddle' is, if we want, not being confused by the tunnels.

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My guess is that most people don't like mathematics, and by extension Euclidean geometry, and don't think about applying the concepts.

It's my favorite puzzle in the game by the way. I really like how you're not actually supposed to think out of the box to solve it.

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My guess is that most people don't like mathematics, and by extension Euclidean geometry, and don't think about applying the concepts.

It's my favorite puzzle in the game by the way. I really like how you're not actually supposed to think out of the box to solve it.

But surely the slow but easy way of solving the puzzle would be just to replant the sign closer and closer until you get to the spot? It's not like you need to triangulate to solve the thing...

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I did the same. Every time I replanted I went through a different whole. I think I spent more time on that puzzle than anything else in any adventure game ever (and I played a lot back in the day). Eventually I had to break down and walk through it. It's one of the only times I've ever had to do that.

Same here. To my defense, I was 11 years old at the time, and every other time I later played through the game I knew the solution already... so, to me, I have no precise guess why the solution was not apparent, but I guess it was because I was thinking of a too complicate solution :)

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It's just annoying because:

1. A huge plot point has just happened, but the story comes to a grinding halt.

2. It requires you to watch the same animation over and over.

3. It's slow to solve -- you don't even realize you're doing something wrong at first.

4. It tricks you into thinking it's the tunnels... which can mean climbing into the Bone Wagon and driving through it only to discover you've done something wrong... taking ages.

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My guess is that most people don't like mathematics, and by extension Euclidean geometry, and don't think about applying the concepts.

It's my favorite puzzle in the game by the way. I really like how you're not actually supposed to think out of the box to solve it.

But surely the slow but easy way of solving the puzzle would be just to replant the sign closer and closer until you get to the spot? It's not like you need to triangulate to solve the thing...

It's an interesting solution, but I'd argue that method is harder since it's just an inefficient triangulation method. It's impossible to find the exact location of the point by doing so in a finite number of attempts, only approximate it. The only reason it works in the game is because of the error tolerance. If you don't realize the point is fixed on the floor and walk too much between each attempt, you can remain stuck.

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I remember it felt bad to be tricked by the tunnels. Even after it seemed like it probably wasn't the solution, I was still too fixated on how to plant the sign to get it to point at the correct tunnel. I never considered that it was pointing at something else. Revisiting the puzzle after ten years, I knew that the tunnels were a red herring but couldn't remember the solution so I looked it up instead of having to relive that puzzle again.

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As far as I remember, the main problem for me was the planting animation, which was annoying, and made me plant the sign as seldom as possible. I also fell for the tunnels, and I think I figured it out when I realised that the sign always pointed in the same direction when exiting a specific tunnel.

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The reason I like the puzzle, and I guess also the reason why a lot of people find it particularly "hard or obscure", is that it uses the 3D nature of the game. Pretty much everyone's first instinct is to plant the sign and go though the tunnel it seems to be pointing to. When that appeared not to be working (and the tunnels seemed randomised), my next instinct was to start playing around with the sign, taking it closer to the tunnel it was pointing at to see if that changed anything. That pretty much immediately led me to the solution. But I guess if the player's thoughts go to more traditional interaction-based solutions, then they're never going to get to the solution. Seeing as there hadn't been any other similar 3D solutions or interactions so far in the game (iirc) to train the player to think in this way, it's understandable.

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The reason I like the puzzle, and I guess also the reason why a lot of people find it particularly "hard or obscure", is that it uses the 3D nature of the game. Pretty much everyone's first instinct is to plant the sign and go though the tunnel it seems to be pointing to. When that appeared not to be working (and the tunnels seemed randomised), my next instinct was to start playing around with the sign, taking it closer to the tunnel it was pointing at to see if that changed anything. That pretty much immediately led me to the solution. But I guess if the player's thoughts go to more traditional interaction-based solutions, then they're never going to get to the solution. Seeing as there hadn't been any other similar 3D solutions or interactions so far in the game (iirc) to train the player to think in this way, it's understandable.

That's a good observation. I never thought about the 3D-ness of the puzzle itself.

Even though I found the solving to be slow - because of the animations - (and so frustrating), I don't hate the puzzle at all. It's very clever. I just generally hate that whole section of the game, to be honest. If I left El Marrow and arrived in Rubacava, I wouldn't miss anything.

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I managed to solve this puzzle randomly, and it's only at that point did I realize what was happening. Fell for the tunnels, too. Didn't take me too long, so I don't really hate it but I can see how it could be very frustrating.

I don't know about anyone else, but I had some problems trying to discern which direction the sign was pointing in the first few times I tried it. Maybe it's because I'm playing at a higher resolution (1680 x 1050), but the sign was so pixelated that the big arrow and smaller arrow pointing in the opposite direction looked about the same size and was throwing me off

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I was very frustrated at this puzzle and eventually gave in to looking at a guide. The problem was that I WAS walking around planting in different spots, then I would walk over there and it would point in the opposite direction as I replanted trying to decide which tunnel it was pointing at. All I knew was NE of screen pointed SW, S pointed W, NW pointed SE, W pointed E. Then I got stuck into thinking it was a lost woods style puzzle and I need to go through them in the right order, then I tried taking the sign with me each time and planting immediately after exiting the tunnel.

The animation was annoying to watch again and again, and the answer to the puzzle felt cheap, it doesn't feel like putting the sign in that spot should do anything. I think I would have liked it better if Manny said something after unsuccessfully going through the tunnels, "I don't think I'm getting anywhere through there" or "All these paths just lead back here". Something to give the clue that the tunnels couldn't be brute forced.

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