How to make a good chasing puzzle?

WilsonE7

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I had an idea for one room of a dungeon: the player has to chase some little monster holding the key to the door. I theoretically know how to make that happen with plugins, but what I'm interested in is, how can I design it so it's not impossible or just "chase this guy in a loop around the room for hours." I'm trying to think of things like obstacle placement so the player can corner their quarry. Any ideas/examples/design tips that could give me a clue? I'm using RPG Maker MZ, by the way.
 

Milennin

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I made something like it in a single-tile path maze setting where you could drop an obstacle and then try to trap the target on the path where the obstacle was placed (it was basically just an event set to step away from the player at high speed). Nothing fancy, but it got the job done. Other things you could do is give abilities to the player, like temporarily slowing down the target or teleport tiles.
 

Wavelength

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I like @Milennin's ideas here. I think obstacles that you could reposition (along a limited area), like a few sliding creates in a room with some narrow, solid-wall passages, would work especially well - essentially having the player create a choke point and then also figure out a way to lure the quarry into that choke point, taking advantage of the quarry's tendencies to, for example, run in the opposite direction the player is approaching from.

You could also do something more action-like: for example, a slow-moving but flying/floating quarry in a room with a lot of impassable (rock), damaging (lava), or movement-slowing (water) floors, relying on the player to find a way to catch up by maneuvering quickly. This would be fun, but takes the puzzle element out. Or, you could even add in things like switches or crates that make pathways accessible or inaccessible, meaning the puzzle is in how to quickly manipulate the pathways so that you can catch up to the slow, flying target.
 

Nenen

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Heh, I was unable to post a reply when I read this on Monday, so @Milennin and @Wavelength got here first… But I’ll go ahead and give my (now extended!) thoughts.

I've generally disliked the chase sections in many of the games I've played, mostly the big-budget ones come to mind... But that doesn't mean they couldn't be done well.

I've only thought about it briefly to be honest for various projects, but here are Some Ideas:

- Interacting with the environment (moving obstacles, making something fall into the path, locking a door, setting something on fire, etc)
These can be the obvious choice of blocking the path; or be something that the quarry doesn't like or want to get near; and also, as pointed out by Wavelength, they could also be focused on making it either easier or possible at all for You to get to Them.

- Using items/skills (speed boost, oil slick, stun grenade, fireball, whatever) to either affect you, the quarry, or the environment.
These can either make you better at catching them, make them worse at running away, or change the environment in some beneficial way.

- I like the idea of having to take advantage of the behaviors of the quarry in some way too...
Perhaps, for whatever reason, in some places they're slower then normal, so you take advantage of that to catch up. And there could even be behaviors that would be problematic initially, but you do something to make them useful to you in some way.
For example: Since you have a small monster, perhaps it can move under tables and through holes to get away from you. In fact, the little guy prefers to do so, generally making beelines for such shortcuts. But it's also afraid of fire, so a quick flick of a fireball and suddenly it's running away from the table rather then towards it.


As always, the most important thing when designing any puzzle is not showing how fancy you've designed this thing, but rather helping the player to feel clever for solving it. So the priority is on giving the player a good experience with it, rather then frustrating them.
I think even people who generally hate puzzles would like them if more were designed with this in mind.
Easier said then done though :p


Random but related note: Chrono Trigger actually taught you to use the dash button by catching up to some creature at one point of the game if I remember correctly...
 

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