Non-battle gameplay (Puzzles, etc.)

Valryia

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For me, this feels more like general discussion then game design to me, that's why i put it in this subforum.


The majority of RPG's throw puzzles or minigames in as a "diversification". Probably because they all read the book "Level up" by Scott Rogers and took everything in there for granted.


For me however, it is annoying


I prefer RPG's like Odin Sphere which are all about fighting and making your character stronger (Together with great story/lore/gameworld, gameplay, music and aesthetic of course). If i wanted to solve puzzles, i would play actual puzzle games. Furthermore, the argument that the mind needs change of pace... i can do that myself.


Mind you, there is a difference for me between a "single room puzzle" that you have to solve, and an "dungeon wide mechanic" that changes battles (Example: Valkyrie Profile:Silmeria). The later doesn't put up a wall that needs to be broken down to continue, but instead gives the gameplay more layers.


On another note, while i have no problem with completly seperate minigames, i do have a problem with them influencing the main game in an gamebreaking way (Tripple Triad) or having absurd conditions to get exclusive equips, items or achievements (Lightning dodging in FFX, 1000 jump roping in steam FFIX).


Fact is, every other playthrough a already solved puzzle is nothing more then a time waste. Also, why make non-battle puzzles when you could integrate puzzles into fights?


One of the things i like about RPG's is the flexibility it provides. Instead of trying over and over again at the same enemy/challenge, you could maybe level up a bit. Or change equipment or get new equips, etc.


Puzzles, on the other hand, are just "do or do not", because they don't provide flexibility.


No matter your opinion on this matter, at the very least i hope you guys consider to give the player an option to circumvent puzzles.
 

Negueshi

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Welli'm using im my game a good bunch of puzzles, i realy like them in a gameplay to solve, discover and to give some kind of knowledge to the player about the universe of rthe game.


^-^
 

Slammy

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I don't think there is anything wrong with having non-combat puzzles in an rpg. Often times constant combat can get repetitive and boring if nothing is worth doing in-between in it, no matter how good the combat is. Having that change of pace is actually very good if done properly and not just thrown in for the sake of having puzzles that only end up being laughably easy or ridiculously hard.


I believe it also can fit into the general adventure feel most RPGs have, there is more challenges to an adventure than just combat. Having to come over many different types of challenges can make the game you are playing feel like a much larger journey than if you only opted for one of the two.



Puzzles also can make receiving items much more satisfying. Hiding a good item behind a somewhat tough puzzle makes getting the item feel more satisfying, as you had to think and work for it. Though this is mostly a matter of preference, I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with having puzzles in RPGs, especially for ones that want less of a combat focus.
 
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Valryia

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@Rusty_Gears


Constantly having to do the same puzzles on an new game (plus) is just as repetitive. The "change of pace" becomes a "disruption of pace" instead.


Adventure is more then just combat and/or puzzles. It is using the right setpieces, creating mystery and wonder, among others. And it can be created without either... or even both.


And Satisfaction? You could get that from a good battle aswell. I get the feeling that you simply didn't find a battlesystem that happens to be right for you.
 

Slammy

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@Valryia


This is more of a personal opinion when it comes to solving puzzles again, the same thing could be said about having to deal with the same battles again through another playthrough. Just as there is ways to make the same battles interesting on subsequent playthroughs, the same could be said about puzzles.. Maybe on New Game + the puzzle is replaced with a harder variant as a way to challenge the player once again. Or, maybe the puzzles are already solved to save time and not cause that disruption you speak of. There is plenty of ways to work around the issue of already knowing the solution, just like how there is plenty of ways to make fighting the same boss again still interesting.



Also, often times when people replay games it is not immediately after when the puzzle is still very fresh in their mind, it will often be a few weeks, months, or years down the line until they revisit the game again. By then, it is highly unlikely they remembered the solution to the puzzle. It's entirely possible to find yourself stuck on a puzzle again you solved a long time ago because you forgot the solution. You may remember bits and pieces of it, but it's highly unlikely you'll remember exactly how to solve it.


I understand that there is more than just combat and/or puzzles to an adventure, but as the main forms of gameplay they are something important to get down if you really want to properly capture that feeling. I'm not trying to imply that games with combat only can't have a sense of adventure, I'm just saying that games with well thought out puzzles only add to that sense of adventure.



For example, say that in your game you are going through an ancient and mysterious old temple trying to uncover a lost treasure. Sure, there is bound to be plenty of monsters to fight in battles of power, but there could also be battles of wit. After fighting off some dangerous monsters the party could find themselves trying to figure out a dangerous puzzle in order to escape with their lives. This would show many different kinds of struggles throughout their journey, which in turn helps it feel like an adventure.


Finally, it's a different kind of satisfaction from a battle. Figuring out a puzzle by yourself gives you a much different feeling than beating a hard boss, it's more about the thought put into solving the puzzle instead of the strategy or skill used to beat a battle. There is nothing wrong with having both of these in a game as long as they feel well implemented and properly deliver that satisfying feeling. That comment about not finding a right battle system seems a tad bit unnecessary and rude. I am having no issues with my current battle system, I'm just trying to say that puzzles have their uses in making a game interesting, fun, and engaging and can be just as fun and engaging as a battle.
 

Valryia

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@Rusty_Gears


I dunno what kind of battles you have been dealing with, but in all the games i played, new game (plus) battles normally have enough flexibility to try out something new.


Puzzles, on the other hand, always had only one solution, and thus an robotic way of solving them. And please don't make harder puzzles for a new game plus. Or more precisely, make it an option.


Other then that, it seems we have completly different preferences. My idea of an RPG / Adventure is more battle focused, while yours more puzzle focused. You pick up the same game later, i do it sooner. My memory about puzzles is different, too.


In any event, if you give your players an option to circumvent puzzles, then that's all i ask. If you really don't want your players to circumvent a puzzle, then give them tips over time or by them searching around the dungeon. I also recommend to give your players multiple solutions to puzzle, maybe with different rewards, to add to the flexibility. Just don't let them hit a wall or they will get frustrated.
 

Kes

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The problem with absolute assertions (e.g. "they will get frustrated") is that there only needs to be one person who does not get frustrated to negate the whole statement.  I think that this approach risks turning a personal preference - which is a perfectly valid one, I'm not saying otherwise - into a universal standard which others are expected to comply with.


Nope, not going to happen.  Players have different preferences, as do developers, and I personally do not want rigid "must have/must not have" rules about what can and cannot go in.  As always, it's down to the implementation and who the target audience is.
 

Matseb2611

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This is why I think offering multiple paths and multiple character builds is a huge plus. You can stick in a puzzle, but you can also put in a shortcut somewhere that lets players bypass it if they've invested in the right skills (e.g. lockpicking, etc). You can do this for combat too with visible encounters. Players could have skills such as charisma to bypass it if they so wish and engage in as few fights as possible. This is the kind of gameplay that many players really like, because they like to be offered options that reward their choices, including their choices of in-game skills they've picked.
 

cabfe

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There are multiple ways to make a puzzle that is not a chore.


Depending on the puzzle, you can set difficulty levels, have them skippable, allow to cheat (with an in game item is even better!) and so on.


I remember that I was that close to rage quit Pier Solar when they threw that mandatory agility puzzle - with limited time on top of that.


Just what were the developers thinking?!


That kind of puzzle is a big no-no in my book. But I guess some people found it fun.
 

Valryia

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@ksjp17 One absolute meets the other: A absolute wall will frustrate. Granted, such an extreme is rare, but the context is still true.


@cabfe While i will more likely implement a sort of adabtable difficulty, and also recommend to you to do the same, i fully agree otherwise.
 

Kes

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But... If it's an absolute wall - which implies no way through - then it's not a puzzle (which by definition has a solution), it's a road block. There is an interesting thread discussing just such things in Game Mechanics Design at the moment.
 

Valryia

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@ksjp17 It seems we have an missunderstanding here. And i'm certainly not talking about "roadblocks". In fact, i despise them. Let me explain with an example.


The player gets a challenge. If the player has a same or greater skillevel for that kind of challenge, he will pass the challenge. If he can't, and he has used up all his options, the player will hit a wall and can't continue.


Since puzzles only have one answer, this reduces the player passing the challenge. A broadening of options for the player - often by paying other resources, including time - remedies that. That is one of the strenghts of RPG's, since the leveling allows the player to overcome battles he normally can't. Really, levels are the first instance of adaptable difficulty. But, a classic puzzle destroys that system. The player not only has to move away from hie normal zone - battles - but either he does or he doesn't.
 

Oddball

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cant we just make puzzles with multipule solutions? or better yet, level the player up by starting withintuitive puzzle mechanics individuallythen gradually making them more difficult


cant a new game plus have different puzzles in the puzzles place?


sometimes puzzles can be used to tell a story
 

Soulnet

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 That is one of the strenghts of RPG's, since the leveling allows the player to overcome battles he normally can't.


I'd counter that by saying, oh you want me to go do the same thing over and over again to level up so I can pass this battle? I have no other option but to level up to pass this battle. There is no other way.


This argument is a circle. It comes down to what you like and don't like. I'll have chocolate thanks!
 

Oddball

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also. from what ive read in this thread. everyone has argued for puzzles. you should make games other people find fun. or else they wont play them
 

Valryia

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Yes, that is my the whole intent: No more of the ancient, inflexible and narrow puzzles of old.
 

Oddball

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Yes, that is my the whole intent: No more of the ancient, inflexible and narrow puzzles of old.

the thing about puzzles though


they can be made flexable and openn ended
 

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