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Rampant Games - Puzzles and RPGs

by Dhruin, 2011-03-11 21:41:12

Jay Barnson discusses puzzles in RPGs, with particular attention to the different types and they can be used without frustrating the player:

The Self-Contained Puzzle: This is a classic puzzle or logic game that requires no external tools to resolve.  Worst-case, these may often be resolved by brute force. Some players hate these. Some players think they are kind of fun.  Sometimes they take the form of a mini-game.  Examples that I’m dredging up from past games might include the riddle-protected chests in Betrayal at Krondor, or a mastermind-style puzzle in Wizardry 7. Or a twisty maze of little passages, all different.

The Sequence Puzzle: Sort of a variation on The Self-Contained Puzzle above, this is a puzzle that requires the player to take actions (often, simply moving) in a specific sequence.  Failure may result in having to start over. The key to making these puzzles not suck is twofold: Making sure that there are clues to the correct sequence so that it’s not a pure trial-and-error experience; and making sure that failure is not too punitive. If each stage of an 8-stage sequence takes a full minute to complete, it’s going to piss off players.

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