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KuroShiro

Multiple Solutions

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I'll repost my idea from the main forums: I think all the problems with multiple solutions can be avoided if DF does it Humongous-style (i.e. there's no choice between different solutions, but each time you start a game some things are different and you have to solve new puzzles)

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It caused the makers of Blade Runner enormous difficulty, didn't it?

If it would do the same this time as well, Tim would recognize that. Or anybody else, and say "Sorry guys, we tried that, and didn't work." to us. Don't you think? And what's that obsession with the "multiple solutions would make the game too easy" thing? Didn't you ever played a good game with a non-linear story? That's multiple solution as well...

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Double Fine implemented multiple solutions in Stacking, and did it brilliantly I must add (Yes, I know it's not a point-and-click, but close enough, or do you point and click in the PC version?).

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One solution for a puzzle is the best because it makes you feel cleaver for figuring it out. I just don't want this game to have the issue that you get a bunch of items that would work to solve a problem, then the real solution is contrived or stupid; I'm looking at you Runaway.

I do however like the idea of non-liner puzzles, where you don't have to solve everything in an exact order. An adventure game should be a free exploration adventure, not a stop by stop tour.

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A very interesting idea. I haven't got to Stacking yet, since I am replaying through Grim Fandango at the moment.

In terms of adventure games and multiple solutions, I think it is short sighted to say "It makes it too easy". That is up to the designer.

I would love scenarios where you could do the easy way, use a few items, but then in the next area those items would have been very useful and you would have to do the more difficult solution because you took the easy route in the other area. That would make the difficulty more dynamic, and you would really have to stop and think, "Should I use this now? Or save it for a harder area?" Good ideas in this thread.

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I'm not sure I agree with having entirely different multiple solutions for the whole reason of it might somewhat take away from each solution being meticulously crafted for humour and cleverness, but as others have mentioned the idea of sensible alternatives is appealing; there were occasions when playing monkey islands where I was convinced I'd figured out how to solve something but it was just not working, causing me to cave and look up hints only to be told I was doing the exact right thing but just was using 'push' instead of 'use' or something haha, which is the most frustrating thing ever. In that sort of context I think a tiny bit of flexibility could be a good thing

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I'm not sure I agree with having entirely different multiple solutions for the whole reason of it might somewhat take away from each solution being meticulously crafted for humour and cleverness, but as others have mentioned the idea of sensible alternatives is appealing; there were occasions when playing monkey islands where I was convinced I'd figured out how to solve something but it was just not working, causing me to cave and look up hints only to be told I was doing the exact right thing but just was using 'push' instead of 'use' or something haha, which is the most frustrating thing ever. In that sort of context I think a tiny bit of flexibility could be a good thing

I feel you on that one. I have spent quite a bit of time at puzzles doing the right thing, but hitting the wrong key, or the wrong pixel etc. Then I look it up and just confirms what I am doing. In those cases I don't feel like I cheated, I just misclicked :P

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Haha well I tell myself that but I feel like I was robbed of my victory moment! I'd probably not play for a while out of sheer annoyance and hurt pride :P

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A very interesting idea. I haven't got to Stacking yet, since I am replaying through Grim Fandango at the moment.

In terms of adventure games and multiple solutions, I think it is short sighted to say "It makes it too easy". That is up to the designer.

I would love scenarios where you could do the easy way, use a few items, but then in the next area those items would have been very useful and you would have to do the more difficult solution because you took the easy route in the other area. That would make the difficulty more dynamic, and you would really have to stop and think, "Should I use this now? Or save it for a harder area?" Good ideas in this thread.

Bakadayo, fully agree with you. I really like that idea of having your actions impact further gameplay!! :-)

It adds a whole new level to the game and would also add replayability.

Do you have any recommendations on any 'recent-ish' games that work like that?

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A very interesting idea. I haven't got to Stacking yet, since I am replaying through Grim Fandango at the moment.

In terms of adventure games and multiple solutions, I think it is short sighted to say "It makes it too easy". That is up to the designer.

I would love scenarios where you could do the easy way, use a few items, but then in the next area those items would have been very useful and you would have to do the more difficult solution because you took the easy route in the other area. That would make the difficulty more dynamic, and you would really have to stop and think, "Should I use this now? Or save it for a harder area?" Good ideas in this thread.

Bakadayo, fully agree with you. I really like that idea of having your actions impact further gameplay!! :-)

It adds a whole new level to the game and would also add replayability.

Do you have any recommendations on any 'recent-ish' games that work like that?

I don't have any suggestions, I haven't seen a game yet that has taken that route (Though one may exist). It just reminds me of other genre's like survival horror... I can use my rocket launcher now, but then I have less ammo against the boss. Take that principle and slap it on an adventure game.

I do think it is a compelling idea. And I think it would appease the people saying, "It would make the game too easy".

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A very interesting idea. I haven't got to Stacking yet, since I am replaying through Grim Fandango at the moment.

In terms of adventure games and multiple solutions, I think it is short sighted to say "It makes it too easy". That is up to the designer.

I would love scenarios where you could do the easy way, use a few items, but then in the next area those items would have been very useful and you would have to do the more difficult solution because you took the easy route in the other area. That would make the difficulty more dynamic, and you would really have to stop and think, "Should I use this now? Or save it for a harder area?" Good ideas in this thread.

Bakadayo, fully agree with you. I really like that idea of having your actions impact further gameplay!! :-)

It adds a whole new level to the game and would also add replayability.

Do you have any recommendations on any 'recent-ish' games that work like that?

Try the game I linked in the OP, A Tale of Two Kingdoms. It is pretty much exactly like that.

For example, for one of the first puzzles there is an obvious way to do it, and a less obvious way. One of them lets you keep an item that you would have otherwise lost that lets you solve an optional puzzles later. And other such similar things.

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Ahhh. Thank you KuroShiro! This is exactly what I was talking about. I believe the DF team could do wonders with that kind of gameplay!

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A big YES on the multiple solutions bit. Anyone here play Scribblenauts? A big part of that game was coming up with the most absurd solutions possible.

I'm not saying we need to have a thousand solutions to one problem, but maybe some subtle differences. i.e., you're in a room with a lever on the wall and you need to pull it, but it's out of reach. You could 1) push the nearby crate up to the wall to give yourself a boost, 2) grab the ladder on the far wall so you can climb up to it, or 3), attach a hook to a length of rope, and pull the lever down by catching the hook on it.

Same goal in the end, but a different solution. Whether or not they change the outcome of the plot, like in Fate of Atlantis, I'd need to know more of the general premise before I could say something to that effect.

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Many thanks Bakadayo and KuroShiro! Looking forward to trying this out (downloading it now).

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Yeah that would be cool. If it fits with the game designers' vision, then they shouldn't avoid making the game that way to conform with some trend or tradition.

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I like when there are choices that change what puzzles become available. You can have multiple solutions but only one of those solutions will get you the "true" ending. A little while ago I was playing 999 for the DS and it was really great that way. Not only does it have a number of different endings but you actively want to play through it several times to get those endings because things change and it's easy to skip stuff you've seen before.

I think it's just because while I love multiple endings in games I hate when they're designed in such a way that to get those multiple endings you have to play through the exact same game x many times. It's much better when a lot of those endings aren't really the ending. I like to think of it as new game plus to extreme lengths.

That being said. I'm currently playing stacking and I think the reason why the multiple solutions works so well is the focus of the game. The plot is not the focus of the game. The focus is solving puzzles. Yes someone could blitz through it only taking the easiest/fastest/most obvious solution for each puzzle and finish the game incredibly fast. But it wouldn't be fun. The fun is in running around and finding out what all the dolls do. It's in coming up with really weird ways of solving puzzles and the disturbing dialogue you get sometimes when something should have worked but doesn't. The game even encourages this behavior with the hijinks menu and a collection page for unique dolls.

I'm not saying that multiple solutions always works, but I think if it's properly integrated into the play style it can be really helpful. That way you give the player a choice. Do they want to dick around on this screen for the next half hour figuring out 50 uses for the squid they just picked up or do they want to just open a door with it and get moving?

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One of the problems with many (or most) point & click adventures is that alternate solutions that seem valid and *should* logically work do not because they are not The One Solution, which makes the world seem fake.

I also think multiple solutions for puzzles is a good direction to go. Nothing is more frustrating than having a perfectly fine idea that just doesn't work because the designers thought that the one true and only solution is something totally different. In a way I'm still astonished that the only point-and-click adventure that I know of that had multiple solutions to many of its problems was one of the oldest I know: "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (click here if you're interested at having a look how puzzles could be solved in different ways, but pay attention, spoileriffic walkthrough of the game). It feels somewhat backwards that this style of puzzle design was never taken up again and seemed to just disappear.

I also find the idea that an item can be used for an easy solution earlier, but makes it harder to solve puzzles later on quite compelling. As I do the idea of having end credits showing how many solutions you discovered and where you might look to find alternative ways ("Indiana Jones and the last Crusade actually had something like that with its Indy Quotient at the end, with how many points you made in this playthrough and a total of all yout playthorughs, growing with each newly discovered solution).

Lastly I don't think the way "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" did really do multiple solutions to puzzles. Instead it offered you three different stories for the middle part, but each puzzle in these stories had only one solution. I personally would prefer it that instead of deciding in the beginning if I want the action way, the thinker's way or the team way I could decide that for every puzzle individually. Perhaps I want to knock out the first guard, but talk the second one down or the other way around, not knock both down or only talk.

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The only thing I have against multiple solutions is that gamers tend to be "path of least resistance" types and multiple solutions could detract from the game's difficulty in a negative way if not handled well. They can be a good thing if the choices you make with your puzzles are somehow reflected in the story in ways that are both significant and insignificant.

Personally, I think it would be interesting if a game had somewhat randomised puzzle mechanics to make each play through challenging and slightly different. I do think that multiple paths or possible stories could make a great game.

i don't know about if a random puzzle system will work in an adventure genre. it does seem to work well for RPGs with randomized quests (KoA:rekoning or Xenoblade Chronicles) or randomized areas (the upcoming Diablo 3). one example i haven't read here is DF's own Stacking, which i haven't played myself but seemed so rich in solutions to each roadblock or objective that instead of path of least resistance- which is true in this case for 1 player, a friend of him tackling the game could play it in whole different way, not randomly but differently- and to positive effect.

it seems to me that the best and most satisfying solution is to include something done similarly on CoMI- a hard mode. with different solutions to the same puzzles taken to the next level- it can achieve two things- replay value and USI brag rights. i remember it as the first adventure game i ever played, even before learning English (not my native, you see) and couldn't even pass that midget pirate kid on act I bless his soul. 10 years later fully equipped to tackle it again i came back with a vengeance and still had a hard time on the expert mode, which only made the experience better.

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Multiple solutions would be fine as far as I'm concerned provided what solution you take actually affects the outcome of the game, not just the path you take to get there. Taking the 'easy way' or the 'hard way' should have consequences.

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My personal take on it:

- On the whole I think it's more important to make sure that there are lots of puzzles going on simultaneously as opposed to individual puzzles having multiple solutions. The thing I liked about the Three Trials segment of Monkey Island or the bit in Monkey Island 2 where you are doing the island-hopping to put together the map is that in both cases, you have a bunch of distinct challenges which you can tackle in any order you like, and if you get stuck on one you can go away and work on one of the others for a while and come back with a clear head. Obviously you can hit a point when playing the game where there's one crucial puzzle you need to solve in order to progress, but having a lot of parallel tasks available means that that point is at least delayed as long as possible.

- That said, I raised the multiple solutions thing in the other thread because it bugs me when there's a puzzle in a game where an alternate solution with the resources you have available really ought to work, but either you can't even try or the designers come up with some really lame-sounding reason why it isn't viable to do it. I would rather either have multiple equally difficult solutions in such a case or a really good reason why I can't use the crowbar I used five minutes ago to open the crate in front of me. On the whole I would prefer the latter solution in most cases.

- That said, if the devs wanted to have a branching plotline, having multiple puzzle solutions might be a way to go about it - that might give the game more replay value than typical adventure games after all.

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Simultaneous puzzles is almost required I believe. I look at Grim Fandango which has this feature throughout the game. Each year has an intro puzzle, an exit puzzle, and in between has usually 3 simultaneous puzzles with many steps included within each.

Ron and Tim talked about it in that 30-45 min video about adventure games a genre. They both agreed its a good feature to have, so the player can get "Stuck" on one puzzle then go do something else for a little while then come back to it with a fresh outlook. Nothing is more frustrating looking at the same Room with some items and just sitting there... starring... So multiple simultaneous puzzles is a great way to keep the player moving and thinking. It's also great because it put more False solutions, I have this peanut butter and I keep trying to use it on the sandwich puzzle, but it belongs in the dog puzzle...

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Ron and Tim I 100% trust to get that aspect of the game right, at least - it's pretty much their trademark after all. :)

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Maniac Mansion, Zak, and the Indiana Jones games had multiple solutions. I suppose the Secret of Monkey Island did too if you count that you can use a lot of items to create the flaming mass on the ship. Also Monkey Island 2 if you count the "glitch?" way of raising money. I think Loom also had more than one way of finding out notes. Phantasmagoria also had a couple junctions with one being how you drew blood. So yes games have had them, but most of the time it's rare.

I think multiple solutions should be increased, but not to the point where it makes an adventure game so challenging because you have so many options of solving a puzzle. I'd also like to see points, Lucas Arts weren't big on them for some reason, and multiple endings. Finally I'd like to see the return of Monkey Island's gameplay levels. That way you can accommodate both the casual and hardcore gamer without scaling back to satisfy the casuals.

Edit: Oh yeah I can think of 2 more for Monkey.

1. You can be nice to the navigator head or talk about dropkicking it into lava.

2. You can you use root beer on a ghost when you return to Melee or simply bypass it with the weird doors.

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Unfortunately the multiple flaming mass creation methods lead to a problem for me when I played Monkey Island recently. I ended up with none of the items needed to create the flaming mass, after having thrown everything into the cauldron. Oops.

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What you're talking about there is different subject. "Getting stuck in an adventure game."

I don't think that should be done unless it's a blatantly obvious action you should have done, but there should be deaths.

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Heheh yeah. Although from a developers perspective, it's harder to test all the permutations for more open solutions, which would increase the chance of the player getting stuck.

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I think multiple solutions could work really well, especially if each solution produced a unique event (which would make you want to experience all possibilities in different playthroughs). It often bothered me as a kid in adventure games if say, to create an over-simplistic example, you have to break something with a hammer, which you cannot proceed without, despite the fact that you have a crowbar, big stick, explosives... You see where I'm going. There are often more logical solutions to a situation than have been implemented in the game. I feel like having multiple paths through some of the less consequential puzzles would keep the player thinking creatively by rewarding their ingenuity. It would just be a little more work for the designers, who would need to consider all the options and inventory combinations available to the player at each point in the game.

Having multiple solutions doesn't have to over-complicate the design much, though. The whole game doesn't have to be densely packed with multiple paths at every turn... It would just be nice to have different possibilities open to the player at times, when and where it makes sense.

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Things like this that could be messed around with would be great. Often adventure games have things that don't always click or are vague. Making multiple solutions, different ideas coming into play, randomization...there's potential that's never really been explored as most of the change came in the narrative, not the play.

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