Pondering Puzzles

If we want to make a good point and click adventure game then we need to make sure we design good puzzles. When it comes to point and click adventures, puzzles are the real meat of the gameplay. In order to make the game interesting and entertaining certain aspects must be considered while designing puzzles. These are:

Does the puzzle provide a reasonable obstacle?

One of the first problems that we faced when creating puzzles for players was making sure that they were reasonable obstacles. We had to make sure that whatever was on the player's path to success had justification for being there, and that it was problem they should focus on overcoming. An example of this is blocking a player off from an area using a heavy iron gate instead of just using a waist high wooden gate. We need there to be justification that the problem requires an actual solution such as getting a key to open the gate vs going through the steps to get over the wooden fence when it could have just been hopped.

Does the solution make sense?

Another issue that is oftentimes encountered during design is coming up with solutions for puzzles that may seem obvious to you, but in fact are not obvious at all. Since you are the one coming up with the puzzle itself the solution to it may seem natural however that usually is not the case with others. For example suppose you wanted to get through a window into a building and your solution was to throw a heavy wrench the player picked up earlier to shatter the glass. But most people may not think of this answer and may spend time searching for a way to pry open the window.

Are there appropriate clues?

This more or less relates back to the last concept, we need to make sure while designing the puzzles that users could figure out if they were on the correct track or not when it came the answers they attempt. We have an example of this sort of hint giving in our previous game, Cozy. In it there is a section where the player must unlock a door that is frozen shut with a glass of warm water. While the player is trying to get a glass of warm water we provide nudges to point them towards the correct path if they have the right idea; such as if they try to heat the water using the fireplace we let them know this isn’t the appropriate way to do it, however this gives them the clue that they are on the right track for solving the puzzle.

These are just some of the considerations we have been making while designing the gameplay of Shiver. In order to make sure the game is as enjoyable as possible we must make sure the puzzles and content of the game work as well as possible, and following these guidelines we are working hard to do just that.