Friday, November 1, 2013

Puzzles in horror games. Part 7.

Now it is time for the final component in these series on puzzles in horror games! This post will be about some puzzles in Penumbra that I personally find especially interesting. Because of this, the post will be filled with puzzle spoilers so if you are planning on playing any Penumbra game and have not yet accomplished so, do so prior to reading!
Very first I am going to go by way of some standard recommendations we had when designing the puzzles though.

Common puzzle design
Our main rule when implementing puzzles was something we known as the "Island strategy". What this signifies is that all things needed to solve a puzzle are situated in the very same area, the "island", and connections amongst islands need to be extremely handful of and very obvious. An instance of this sort of connection was the hand and head necessary to open the door the in residential region in Black Plague. The puzzles to get hold of the head and hand exactly where each confined to their respective islands and exactly where then linked with each other, hopefully clearly, at the biometric panel.

I think we managed to stick by this rule quite properly and it was just some situations, like at the finish of Overture, when the connections became a bit too obscure. Contemplating the feedback we have gotten, the appraoch worked fairly nicely and the island approach is some thing we will use for our upcoming game also.

Possessing gotten some critique right after Overture that there exactly where also several locked door puzzles, we set out to minimize the quantity of locked doors in Black Plague. Our major objective was to not have a single key-and-door puzzle and while we did not totally succeed, it did force us to come up with much more interesting obstacle than we probably would have otherwise. Also, when having a locked door we tried to mask it as significantly achievable or at least make it a bit more intriguing by utilizing other signifies of opening it. It was also exciting to see how numerous obstacles that boiled down to locked doors when one particular thought about and how difficult it was to not consist of them.

Now for the puzzle examples:

Invisible Ink (Overture)
This began out as a puzzle exactly where the player had to study a note written in invisible ink by making use of a uv-lamp and then our writer, Tom, recommended that the uv-lamp ought to also show text all over the walls. I actually like how this combined the puzzle element with a sturdy horror occasion and from feedback we got it, men and women seemed to take into account it a single of the most frightening moments in Overture.

Exploding Potion (Overture)
At the end of of the game, the player wants to clear a cave-in by employing homemade explosives. This is accomplished by very first mixing something named Armstrong's Mixture, a hugely sensitive explosive, carry it by way of an "obstacle course" and location it at the cave-in. A entertaining fact is that we had to censor the actual receipt for the mixture as we had to get a 16+ Pegi rating and our publisher exactly where worried that finding out children how to make bombs would give it a greater rating. This is also the lead to why dextrin was renamed to the nonexisting substance "baxtrin".

The puzzle was supposed to be solved by searching up the mixture in a book identified earlier. Even so, it was created tougher by not appropriately labling the chemical and a sort of cypher had to be solved. Because of some poor design and style in this, numerous men and women did not make the appropriate connections and got stuck at it. Luckily, there where only 6 distinct chemicals and it was effortless adequate to resolve it by brute force, some thing several seemed to do.

Attempting to get the chemical previous the obstacle course is a favourite of mine. I feel numerous did not like it as it could be very frustrating, but I believe it did what it was intended to. It was quite tense and worked as a sort of physical endurance test as it could be very exhausing to maintain the mouse pressed down, being aware of that releasing it for only a fraction of a second could make the resolution explode.

The Blood Lock (Black Plague)
When designing Black Plauge one more purpose we had was to give the puzzles themselves a horror feeling. This puzzle does specifically that and connects quite nicely to the story providing the player some forshadwing of factors to come. It is also an example of a locked-door obstacle that we tried to make a lot more interesting and much less generic. The desing of the device, exactly where the player wants to inject blood in order to unlock a door, is not quite realistic even though and a silly way to lock a door in a facility overrun by alien creatures. Player's did not seem as well bothered by this although and I believe that as lengthy some thing fits the game globe and is fun adequate, one particular can take a bit of implausibility.

The Cryogenics Chamber (Black Plague)
This is one more puzzle exactly where the element of horror was utilised as a base for style. To comprehensive the puzzle the player had to almost kill himself (creating Clarence very disappointed) and then grab a severed head from a thawd cryogenics container. Hopefully this helped sending some chills down the player and nonetheless worked as a puzzle.

The Tuurngait Trials (Black Plague)
What produced this series of puzzles various from any other puzzle in the Penumbra series was that it attempted to convey an notion. The main objective of these puzzles was not to challange the player mentally but rather to have her consider as a hivemind organsim and find out to see factors their way. This was very experimental and a lot of folks either did not get the theme (and just saw it as some puzzles) or thought that the complete section was out of place. A handful of men and women seemed to get the message even though and this was extremely exciting for us as we where worried nobody would like it. The segment was far from a success, but was at least a entertaining experiment and provided that some folks got the point it may be worthwhile to attempt the approach some other time (if we do, it will be in a completely various way although...).

Camera Puzzle (Requiem)
This puzzle starts the second leve andl is worth mentioning as it is probably the puzzle with the most attainable solutions. The player can choose to take a different path at the beginning and if she decides to tackle the camera head on there are at plenty of methods to do so. Jens spent a lot of time with the puzzle and I was not aware of some of the solutions until right after Requiem was released. This puzzle also shows that physics does not imply that puzzles have mulitple options "constructed in", as an alternative it needs time and difficult work to implement them. We place much more and a lot more time into this for each and every release and Requiem consists of far more multiple resolution puzzles than the other two games combined.

That marks the finish of this post and the horror puzzles series. Hope you all enjoyed it and at least gotten some thing out of it! As often please tells us what you thought about it and what you would like to see in the future.

For those of you who have not checked all components. Here is a fast round up:
Part 1: Why are puzzles so suited for horror games?
Portion two: Typical issues with adventure game puzzles.
Component three: Why physics puzzles is not the "promised land" of adventure games.
Element four: Backtracking and why it is vital.
Part five: Issues to take into account when desinging puzzles.
Part6: On "brain boosters" and hint systems.

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