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marcus

Annoying puzzle quirk in Time Traveler segment

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This post contains spoilers, so if you haven't completed the Time Traveler's segment (without using any inventory items from previous areas), stop reading now. :-)

I generally find the puzzles in The Cave well balanced and executed, but I really have to complain about the "bucket" puzzle in the Time Traveler's segment. (I played the game on PS3, if it makes a difference.)

Now, the first time I played through this segment, I still had the Miner's bucket in my inventory, so picking up the oil was no problem whatsoever. Then, when I next reached the segment in a later playthrough, I did not have the Miner's bucket, so I realized I would have to procure a bucket (or "Ranghurst") by some other means. Since I had already completed the segment, I knew the purpose of all the stuff in the segment, except for the rolling boulder. So obviously that was going to feature somehow.

Well, my first attempt was to go to prehistory, and push the boulder to the side, allowing water to flow into the crevice. Then, I'd switch to a character in the present or future time, to see if anything had happened. Nope, no change. The boulder had rolled back to the original position (for present time), and there was no water in the crevice.

I think I then spent an hour trying different variations, and looking for things to use to prop up the boulder (since just pushing it was not enough), before I finally gave up and went to the internet. Imagine my frustration when I discovered that I had been doing the right thing from the start, but was somehow expected to know that I should _hold the square button_ while switching characters.

This is bad puzzle implementation (I won't say "design", because I can't imagine such a nonsensical decision to be part of the design document) because:

A) It does not make sense. The boulder stays perfectly still just by idling in front of it without pressing square (just like e.g. mine cars do). So holding square does not introduce any relevant change to the world state.

B) It is inconsistent with how the rest of the game works. If you for example press square to pull a lever, the character will keep pulling the lever until you move from the spot, so you can switch to a different character with the lever still being pulled, without holding square during the switch. So nowhere else in the game are you required to input this "square + D-pad" chord.

C) The visual feedback from not pressing square is totally misleading. What you see after switching characters is that the character that was blocking the boulder has turned into bones, and the boulder has returned, and there is no water in the crevice. What can you take away from that except that the mortal flesh of one of the characters is too fleeting to keep the boulder in place for long enough? So what the game tells you is that you are on the wrong track, and that you need to find an inanimate object to prop up the boulder.

I expect this was one of those cases where the playtesters knew too much about the puzzles to be able to clearly see this flaw...

Anyway, if you're planning on releasing a patch, I would suggest doing one of the following:

1) Don't require square to be pressed down while switching characters for the solution to work

or

2) Make the boulder roll over the character, killing him, if you release square. Then it would actually make sense that you'd have to keep square pressed.

Thanks for listening, and for making a nice game!

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Yeah, I agree with this. It's not intuitive at all, and just like in your case, made me search the entire area in all three timezones several times over before I gave up, looked up a walkthrough and realised I was approaching the problem correctly the very first time but failed because of a controls quirk. It's a good puzzle, but the "keep holding X" part of it is not signposted at all. (And I assume it's not even part of the puzzle if you're using the mouse.)

Sort of reminds me of that one puzzle in The Dig which wasn't really a puzzle if it weren't for the fact that it's the only instance I'm aware of in any LucasArts adventure game ever made where clicking isn't enough and you are supposed to hold the mouse button down. It's not unreasonable, but the context makes it needlessly obtuse.

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I had to look it up as well (only portion of the game I've had to so far). How something like that got past testing is beyond me.

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Well I eventually figured it out but I too spent an hour or so trying to work it out.

In fact, I tried that first and when it didn't work I spent an hour trying to get the rock from the very top down the ladder. I was certain it had something to do with it as each time-zone had a different material blocking the rock from falling down (stone, wood and metal). I thought maybe if we all jumped on the rock in the wood phase the wood would break but nooooope.

Went back the the boulder and pushed it to the side and this time it worked.

I really like how you see skeletons of your characters if you go into the future with one or more still in the past.

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I actually had no problem with the boulder part, probably because i figured out the "hold down use key while switching" mechanic earlier in the minecart gold puzzle.

However actually getting the damn bucket out of the well probably took me an hour. Why? The game features an identical well early on in the game, and there pressing the use button once makes the character spin the crank until the bucket comes out. In this puzzle however you are expected to hold down the use key, thus creating an inconsistency with how the game mechanics works and what you learned about them earlier. I pressed the use key once and figured the well was supposed to be broken.

Only after a long time running around in confusion did i keep it pressed longer by accident and figure it out. The puzzle is actually really clever and well designed, it's just a shame many people will remember it for the frustrating mechanics instead of the awesome puzzle solving.

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(And I assume it's not even part of the puzzle if you're using the mouse.)

Nope.

I kept seeing this issue on the forums and finally realized it's the difference in control type. It seems like there are a handful of these control-specific issues.

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Same situation happened with me. I mentioned it in a bug post because the puzzle is very fickle on Wii U (works sometimes, others does not). A lot of folks have expressed frustration with this over MiiVerse as well. This is definitely the least intuitive puzzle in the game.

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/signed

That was one of the major frustration Points in the game. It did't make sense to me. Even after watching it in a Video it took me a couple minutes to figure it out.

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I completely (and unintentionally, at the time) cheesed that puzzle by bringing a bucket with me from a previous section of the cave.

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I completely (and unintentionally, at the time) cheesed that puzzle by bringing a bucket with me from a previous section of the cave.

I read this was possible somewhere else and realized it when I accidentally brought the shovel with me all the way to the Island at the end on my 2nd playthrough. I still have to replay the Time-Traveler once for the "good" ending, so I fully plan on just keeping the bucket with me and skipping this puzzle. :)

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I completely (and unintentionally, at the time) cheesed that puzzle by bringing a bucket with me from a previous section of the cave.

I read this was possible somewhere else and realized it when I accidentally brought the shovel with me all the way to the Island at the end on my 2nd playthrough. I still have to replay the Time-Traveler once for the "good" ending, so I fully plan on just keeping the bucket with me and skipping this puzzle. :)

With taking a hotdog with you you can skip the entire zoo inbetween area.

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I completely (and unintentionally, at the time) cheesed that puzzle by bringing a bucket with me from a previous section of the cave.

I read this was possible somewhere else and realized it when I accidentally brought the shovel with me all the way to the Island at the end on my 2nd playthrough. I still have to replay the Time-Traveler once for the "good" ending, so I fully plan on just keeping the bucket with me and skipping this puzzle. :)

With taking a hotdog with you you can skip the entire zoo inbetween area.

Also, if you have the monk, you can use his ability on the hotdog machine in the zoo area to get a hotdog without having to take care of the hunter first.

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I completely (and unintentionally, at the time) cheesed that puzzle by bringing a bucket with me from a previous section of the cave.

I read this was possible somewhere else and realized it when I accidentally brought the shovel with me all the way to the Island at the end on my 2nd playthrough. I still have to replay the Time-Traveler once for the "good" ending, so I fully plan on just keeping the bucket with me and skipping this puzzle. :)

With taking a hotdog with you you can skip the entire zoo inbetween area.

Also, if you have the monk, you can use his ability on the hotdog machine in the zoo area to get a hotdog without having to take care of the hunter first.

Yeah I realized the monk could raid the hot dog machine when I finally used him, and it did help shorten the Zoo quite a bit. It is nice that some of the special abilities allow for a few shortcuts as opposed to only opening the path to their specific puzzle section.

Using the Time Traveler to snag the key on the Knight's puzzle and skipping the elevator sequence as a result is another good example. I think you can use the Monk there too, but I did not run those two characters together.

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A) It does not make sense. The boulder stays perfectly still just by idling in front of it without pressing square (just like e.g. mine cars do). So holding square does not introduce any relevant change to the world state.

B) It is inconsistent with how the rest of the game works. If you for example press square to pull a lever, the character will keep pulling the lever until you move from the spot, so you can switch to a different character with the lever still being pulled, without holding square during the switch. So nowhere else in the game are you required to input this "square + D-pad" chord.

C) The visual feedback from not pressing square is totally misleading. What you see after switching characters is that the character that was blocking the boulder has turned into bones, and the boulder has returned, and there is no water in the crevice. What can you take away from that except that the mortal flesh of one of the characters is too fleeting to keep the boulder in place for long enough? So what the game tells you is that you are on the wrong track, and that you need to find an inanimate object to prop up the boulder.

I had no problem whatsoever in solving this puzzle almost immediately. In fact, this is the puzzle that I love most from the game. When I solved it I had a 'WOW' effect and thought 'Ron Gilbert is a genius!' This reminded me of the time travel puzzles from DOTT.

A) Holding the square and switching timeline signifies your character's intent to hold on to the boulder forever rather than just idling in front of it for a while.

B) It is consistent. Pushing and pulling mine-carts, boxes, crates, rocks and boulders all works in the same way. Switches work in a different way because they have a different mechanism and affordance.

C) I guess this happens because you are just blocking the boulder not pushing or pulling it. I always pulled the boulder from the outside, so letting go of the button would release the boulder immediately and it would fall before I could switch characters, so it was quite obvious that I had to keep holding the button while switching, otherwise it wouldn't work.

Anyway that's just my experience, but I don't think it's a hard or badly designed puzzle.

The concept of time travel puzzles is quite interesting and I think that if there were more of them then DF could have gave players more changes of experimenting with the mechanics and maybe in that case this puzzle would have been obvious for everybody.

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C) I guess this happens because you are just blocking the boulder not pushing or pulling it. I always pulled the boulder from the outside, so letting go of the button would release the boulder immediately and it would fall before I could switch characters, so it was quite obvious that I had to keep holding the button while switching, otherwise it wouldn't work.

Yes, that might be a pretty big factor. But frankly, in real life you wouldn't even dream of pulling the boulder – it simply makes no sense, unless it's one of those boulders with handles bolted to them. And those are kind of rare.

It's not that the puzzle is badly designed, but it's a good example of that eternal adventure game frustration when you know exactly what it is you are supposed to do, but can't make the game understand your intention because of something that's really quite arbitrary. "You can't get ye flask" and all that.

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This reminded me of the time travel puzzles from DOTT.

I don't recall DoTT ever requiring you to keep some button pressed while switching characters. Note that the complaint is not about the puzzle in general, just about this specific implementation detail.

A) Holding the square and switching timeline signifies your character's intent to hold on to the boulder forever rather than just idling in front of it for a while.

Not moving the stick signifies my character's intent to stay in the same spot until further notice.

B) It is consistent. Pushing and pulling mine-carts, boxes, crates, rocks and boulders all works in the same way. Switches work in a different way because they have a different mechanism and affordance.

As I already said, you do _not_ have to push square to block a mine car from moving, for example when loading it with gold. I never use square to do it.

C) I guess this happens because you are just blocking the boulder not pushing or pulling it. I always pulled the boulder from the outside, so letting go of the button would release the boulder immediately and it would fall before I could switch characters, so it was quite obvious that I had to keep holding the button while switching, otherwise it wouldn't work.

Yes, I can see that by pulling the boulder instead of pushing it, you would not be affected by the quirk. (Like in my suggestion with the boulder rolling over the character and killing him, holding square or releasing it actually makes a difference in the current timeline in this case.) But I don't see why pushing should be considered a "worse" solution (and thus be punished with strange quirks) than pulling. If anything, pulling seems less natural, as suggested by basilisk.

Anyway that's just my experience, but I don't think it's a hard or badly designed puzzle.

Me neither. The design is fine. It's the _implementation_ that contains an annoying quirk that should be addressed.

The concept of time travel puzzles is quite interesting and I think that if there were more of them then DF could have gave players more changes of experimenting with the mechanics and maybe in that case this puzzle would have been obvious for everybody.

The problem isn't that the solution to the puzzle isn't obvious, but that it's not obvious how to enter the solution into the control system.

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Same happened to me. Had to resort to searching the Internet for a solution.

C) I guess this happens because you are just blocking the boulder not pushing or pulling it. I always pulled the boulder from the outside, so letting go of the button would release the boulder immediately and it would fall before I could switch characters, so it was quite obvious that I had to keep holding the button while switching, otherwise it wouldn't work.

Problem is, this doesn't happen if you keep the boulder still by placing your character in front of it and switch from the present to the future (not the past) and vice versa: the character stays where he/she was and keeps the boulder in position.

It's a huge inconsistency, that's why it's probably a bug.

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The problem isn't that the solution to the puzzle isn't obvious, but that it's not obvious how to enter the solution into the control system.

Pretty much this.

I had the same problem, and thought it was lame that I had to "cheat" by looking this up online even though I had the right approach from the beginning.

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Yup, i also had some problems here. First to convince the game to acknowledge what the controller was trying to tell the game and secondly how to communicate the idea what you wanted to accomplish to the game. I think the current implementation has its issues because it's not fully logical, f.e., it already is enough to roll the log/stone a little bit away and stand in a passive mode right next to the log. So, when it's not rolling back in a visible way, why shouldn't this more passive mode (position energy and friction) be enough already? It lacks some sort of feedback if this isn't the wanted solution. This was either not well designed or done by intention in order to make the puzzle harder but without keeping it logical.

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Yes, had that issue here too. Searched the whole level many times, until i found on the internet that it should work the way I thought it worked.

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I agree with the OP, and the same thing happened to me. It was the only time I looked up a solution on line and was perplexed to discover I had the right idea, just not using the correct control method. I even thought it mattered which way I pushed the boulder at one point.

I think the puzzle may have worked better if there was a way to roll the boulder completely out of the dip and destroy it.

As an aside, what's with the antique arcade machine in the future area? I assumed that the scientist could 'hack' it but I've not had the scientist and time traveller together on a playthrough yet.

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Totally agree with everything that was stated in the opening post- my thoughts exactly as I fiddled with it.

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This one bummed me out! I was trying my best to not look up any answers, but I tried absolutely everything I could. After a half hour or so, I gave up and looked online. So frustrating that I had it all along, it sapped a bit of the joy and momentum out of my first playthrough.

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As an aside, what's with the antique arcade machine in the future area? I assumed that the scientist could 'hack' it but I've not had the scientist and time traveller together on a playthrough yet.
It's just… there. If you hack it with the Scientist, it turns on and behaves exactly the same as the arcade machine in the Scientist's section, i.e. it shows two different images but otherwise does nothing at all.

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Same thing happened to me in this segment (except that i tried stuff for like 2 1/2 hours until i got frustrated and looked it up, seeing that i was doing pretty much the correct thing in the beginning...

I'd strongly suggest having the stone kill you as soon as you release whatever your push-button is. Would make this entire thing way less frustrating and give you kind of an "Ahh, so i have to...!"-feeling if you release the push-button. Right now it feels more like bug than part of the puzzle to hold the button.

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Actually holding a button and switching characters is a mechanic that shows it's head in much more friendly forms later on, but yeah, this was indeed a kick in the balls.

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