16 - Puzzles

Developer diaries about creating Devastated Dreams.
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matt
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16 - Puzzles

Post by matt » Thu Jul 23, 2015 9:31 am

In this dev diary, I talk about our new approach to puzzles for Devastated Dreams and why we are doing things differently than in Neverending Nightmares.

-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 16 - Puzzles

Post by evilkinggumby » Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:24 am

ok totally like mentioning the forums and comments.. that is a great idea.

since you are having VO narration by the main character, is it possible to consider having her "thinking" what she needs or has to do as a next step as a hint? I am thinking of something akin to what they did in Uncharted where if you are lingering too long in a given area it gives you a hint as to where you should be looking to progress. In DD you could have Angel talking to herself or in her head to hint at what to look for or where to go if the player seems stuck on a particular spot for too long. it'd mean a lot of clips to record as the game is developed, but it also means you COULD have a variety of puzzles, both quick and easy and somewhat more tricky, and so allow folk that like each style to have fun.

I say this cause whereas you may not appreciate head scratcher puzzles and tough things to figure out, there is a community of folk who DO and appreciate adventure game challenges when they play stuff. If the whole game is too easy, those folk won't enjoy the game and be less inclined to promote the game or buy into future games in the series. if they're all head scratchers, more casual folk may get frustrated and quit. But a mixture with hints means those that don't want to deal with it still have a method to proceed, and the ones that like a challenge will proceed (hopefully) before the hint activates. It might take some finagling to determine how LONG to wait before a clue is given(it might also be possibly to turn off or delay clues in the games options so players choose their play style), but it seems like a decent middle ground.

As well the additional narration will help solidify Angel as a person the player can be attached to or empathetic towards and so motivate them to keep her safe/alive/get her to her baby. If the actress matches the scene/screen with an emotion, all the better. like quiet moments where no immediate threat is at hand she can read as fairly normal, but in sections where noises and blood drips and other stuff mean an aswang is lurking SOMEWHERE she can read the lines with a degree of emotional stress, anxiety, or outright fear. I know if i was stuck and the narration went from casual to panicked to "OMG WHAT DO I DO" I'd be panicking and terrified something was about to happen and frantic to figure it out. :)
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matt
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Re: 16 - Puzzles

Post by matt » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:15 am

I'm not sure Uncharted is the best example because I felt like they offered me the hint right as I was trying to understand the puzzle or as I was executing my solution to it. Speaking to a friend on the development team, that was deliberate. But yes, that is a good idea and it is something we could do. I was hoping that in Telltale's Sam and Max, they would advance the adventure game genre by doing that, but they didn't do it very much. Neither did they in Broken Age, which was a missed opportunity.

I think the problem with difficult puzzles, is they feel very unnatural. I kind of enjoyed some of the door puzzles in Fatal Frame where you had to rearrange things with a certain number of moves, but it really makes no sense in the narrative. I haven't come up with any good puzzle ideas that work with the context of the game. I guess the best idea for that was the broken glass in the asylum. Hopefully I'll have some more interesting ideas as we progress on development, but so far, I don't have a lot of puzzles lined up that are going to be cool. I suppose they are very environment specific though, so I need to know the level first.

One thing we would LOVE to add is Angel talking to the baby. I'm not sure if you or your wife did that, but my wife talks to our baby a lot, and I read him stories. I think that would give Angel more character as well as cement the relationship between her and her child, which makes the monsters coming to suck the baby out of her belly all the more terrifying.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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evilkinggumby
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Re: 16 - Puzzles

Post by evilkinggumby » Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:33 am

matt wrote:One thing we would LOVE to add is Angel talking to the baby. I'm not sure if you or your wife did that, but my wife talks to our baby a lot, and I read him stories. I think that would give Angel more character as well as cement the relationship between her and her child, which makes the monsters coming to suck the baby out of her belly all the more terrifying.
YES YES 100x yes. this is a great idea if you have the time and budget to pull it off. That bond between mother and child will also create a bond between player and mother and child, and emotional investment will go a long way. I love this idea. it'll be tricky to have it feel meaningful and "true" and not just sound like she's muttering to herself, but with some effort it could be done to great effect.

we did talk to the baby and play music for him and see how he reacted. it was quite interesting and fun. we also got to see how he reacted when my wife ate certain things (if she had apple juice or cider he would start doing cartwheels over and over lol). As a mechanic of the game it would be interesting to have items and gameplay where you had to try and "settle" the baby to progress. I know one problem most women have is that the baby rests on their bladder, making it hard to walk/run and NOT pee. having a level where you are limited to NOT sprinting due to that, and having to get from point a to z safely and slowly because of that would be a completely honest yet unusual dilema a lot of people would understand (and a lot of women could sympathise with). even if it was a minor puzzle to find a safe bathroom to use (how prevalent are bathrooms in those villages? indoor plumbing/outhouses? would be handy if sometimes they are few and far between and so "searching" for one in game reflects philipino lifestyle naturally).

it'd also be the kind of off kilter challenge that would likely ALWAYS get mentioned in reviews and articles and draw attention if it was done right. Looking at stuff like that - challenges and stresses of being a pregnant woman - can open up all kinds of puzzles.
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matt
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Re: 16 - Puzzles

Post by matt » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:47 am

Yeah, I just wonder how well the peeing issue could be communicated. It seems like something people who haven't experienced pregnancy might snicker at because they don't know how legitimate it is. Well, if the game gets funded, we should have some time to brainstorm on this. I think the first step would be to try to establish a bond between baby and mom. It will be tricky to do right, but I think we can pull it off, and it will benefit the game immensely!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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