Author Topic: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion  (Read 1181 times)

Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« on: 20 Nov 2017, 14:35 »
http://archive.is/FFx6z | https://www.polygon.com/2017/9/8/16263050/game-design-magic-tricks

Article: Game Design Magic Tricks

Hey, I read this article and was curious on which magic tricks could be used in point and click adventure games. Anyone has ideas?

Mandle

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #1 on: 20 Nov 2017, 15:53 »
One old trick comes to mind: The assistants roll the stairs out that the magician uses to climb up to the suspended platform he/she will vanish from but then once the curtain comes down around the platform the magician hides inside the stairs which the assistants roll away... The curtain rises and he/she has vanished from a platform suspended in mid-air!!!

The trick of using a convincing double or twins to perform feats of teleportation could also work well in a point-and-click, especially if they could be coerced or otherwise removed so that the trick did not work as expected in the performance (see the movie: The Prestige)

EDIT: I appear to have completely misunderstood the point of this thread. (laugh)
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2017, 23:06 by Mandle »

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #2 on: 20 Nov 2017, 16:27 »
The most obvious is when games start dropping hints if you stay stuck on a puzzle for a while. If it's done subtly enough you might not even realize.

Manipulating time/health/damage so you're more likely to just barely make it is an old trick in adventure games too: Ron Gilbert talks about it in one of his classic game design articles (it's used in the timed puzzles in Monkey Island).

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #3 on: 20 Nov 2017, 20:21 »
A basic one is forcing you to pick up everything you need from an area you can't return to.

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #4 on: 20 Nov 2017, 23:23 »
When your testers suggest an alternative way, particularly an easier way, to solve one of your puzzles: don't put in the umpteenth synonym of "you can't get ye flask" but put in some code to make it actually work.

Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #5 on: 21 Nov 2017, 00:23 »
Here's a big one, don't make a puzzle solution reliant on one line of dialogue that the player may have missed. Allow them access to that information again somehow through dialogue or something else. Seen a lot of players annoyed by puzzles they had no idea on because of this.

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #6 on: 21 Nov 2017, 10:50 »
Perhaps in adventure games there's no meaningful distinction to be made between a "magic trick" and simply good design? Good design is often invisible: you may not be consciously aware of the visual composition that led your eye to the hotspot you need to interact with, but that's often what makes the difference between a nice puzzle and a frustrating pixel hunt. Is that a "magic trick", or just good graphics design?

Also, a lot of the way in which the adventure game genre departs from reality have become codified as conventions or rules (e.g. that there shouldn't be any dead ends where you lock yourself out of being able to complete the game). In a certain sense that's a trick to ensure players don't have a negative experience playing through the game, but it's so widely expected and understood that it's hardly "magic".

I can't really come up with many more ways that adventure games "trick" players, pretending to do one thing while really doing another.

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #7 on: 21 Nov 2017, 12:38 »
(it's used in the timed puzzles in Monkey Island).
There are timed puzzles on Monkey Island? 8-0
I can think of only two (sort of), the one with the idol underwater on SOMI, and the spit one in LeChuck's lair on MI2. And that first one is a joke, and the second one has an unlimited amount of time (since it repeats every time the time runs out).

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #8 on: 21 Nov 2017, 12:52 »
There are timed puzzles on Monkey Island? 8-0

The mugs of grog puzzle could be considered a timed one I think?

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #9 on: 21 Nov 2017, 13:07 »
There are timed puzzles on Monkey Island? 8-0
I can think of only two (sort of), the one with the idol underwater on SOMI, and the spit one in LeChuck's lair on MI2. And that first one is a joke, and the second one has an unlimited amount of time (since it repeats every time the time runs out).

Yeah, there's a bunch of them: mugs of grog, tailing the shopkeeper to the Swordmaster, opening the safe while the shopkeeper is gone...

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #10 on: 21 Nov 2017, 19:55 »
Another one may be a psychological trick that is working based on the communication science term "Priming", which is basically a way to manipulate a person into thinking about something by inducing this very thought beforehand (like what the character Cub did in the movie Inception). E.g. if you wanna implement a very complex puzzle in your game but are not sure how to let the player get to the significant idea for the solution on him/herself, you can implement some little trigger - a little background animation, a dialogue line or even more abstract ways - which is making you think about a certain process. Later on in the best case the effect will make the player thinking of a solution, whereby they are not aware that they only got it because they have been primed. An exceptional game using exactly that technique is "The Witness" by Jonathan Blow. But you can find it also in the Myst series.
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2017, 19:57 by Kumpel »

Danvzare

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #11 on: 22 Nov 2017, 11:55 »
There are timed puzzles on Monkey Island? 8-0
I can think of only two (sort of), the one with the idol underwater on SOMI, and the spit one in LeChuck's lair on MI2. And that first one is a joke, and the second one has an unlimited amount of time (since it repeats every time the time runs out).

Yeah, there's a bunch of them: mugs of grog, tailing the shopkeeper to the Swordmaster, opening the safe while the shopkeeper is gone...
Oh yeah. For some reason I always forget those puzzles exist. :-\
I always did like how the mugs sort of melted quicker the closer you got to the destination. It acted as both a hint mechanism, and a sense of "just in time" urgency.

Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #12 on: 22 Nov 2017, 15:32 »
I like this idea a lot Kumpel, but it requires a lot of planning.

I was looking more in tiny adjustments and tiny ideas that enhance the experience while not being obvious.

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #13 on: 22 Nov 2017, 17:00 »
The trick of making seemingly different options lead to the same outcome (which I suspect most adventure games use in dialogue at least) is the only one I can think of that really qualifies as a trick - something the player remains unaware of. As Snarky said, a lot of the suggestions in this thread are good design tips, but not exactly tricks.

I guess the difficulty of identifying these kind of tricks in adventure games is due to the fact that adventure games are comparatively un-interactive. They don't have enemies, health bars, stats, timing or physics based challenges. There's less room for the game to secretly cheat, because a lot of the 'game' of an adventure game happens in the player's imagination.

« Last Edit: 22 Nov 2017, 17:08 by Ali »

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #14 on: 23 Nov 2017, 15:02 »
One from the article above, perceived fairness, even in adventure games we often use rng’s to determine success. Pure random outcomes don’t always feel random, so track the misses and if two “misses” in a row the next attempt is a garaunteed “hit”(or keep adding an accuracy bonus after each miss and reset on the next hit).
Already described: TellTales infamous trick, the narrative suggest that this decision will have lasting consequences but under the hood nothing changes (this actually annoys me because you can spot it easily, but a nice extra touch nonetheless).
Also already touched on, but often we acquire an item that will not be used for sometime. When receiving the item tell a “story” regarding its use that can be tangibly linked to the entirely different use later. Ex. This newspaper headline makes some fiery accusations of the mayor, then later use the paper to keep the fireplace going long enough to see the killer.

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #15 on: 23 Nov 2017, 17:07 »
Quote
which magic tricks could be used in point and click adventure games?
The illusion of the passage of time : in most point & click games, progress is entirely dependent on the actions of the player. Yet you're supposed to believe that time passes normally.

It's commonly used even without thinking about it. Few games do it differently : Last Express, Maupiti Island...
« Last Edit: 24 Nov 2017, 10:46 by Creamy »
 

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #16 on: 23 Nov 2017, 21:08 »
Another one may be a psychological trick that is working based on the communication science term "Priming", which is basically a way to manipulate a person into thinking about something by inducing this very thought beforehand

Related is one of the classic tricks from Portal (yeah, not an adventure game, I know). How do you get players to carry an otherwise bland cube all the way to the end of the level? By starting to describe it and never shut up about it. And then,+

Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #17 on: 23 Nov 2017, 21:34 »
I will try to synthesize the things here so far...

design "magic" tricks:
  • sublty drop hints when the player is stuck on a puzzle for a while;
  • if your game or particular puzzle has either healt or damage or time limit, manipulate it so the player barely make it;
  • making seemingly different options lead to the same outcome - which most adventure games use in dialogue. ;
  • Priming, like in Portal, how do you get players to carry an otherwise bland cube all the way to the end of the level? By starting to describe it and never shut up about it.

good design practices:
  • don't make a puzzle solution reliant on a SINGLE line of dialog, allow that information to be accessed later on;
  • playtest and observe interesting solutions to your puzzle that didn't work because you didn't program it but that actually makes sense, and include them in the game;
  • force the player to pick everything in an area he can't return (if items are needed later on).

If I forgot something let me know, I tried to not repeat things I felt there was too much overlap.

Snarky

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #18 on: 23 Nov 2017, 22:29 »
I guess the difficulty of identifying these kind of tricks in adventure games is due to the fact that adventure games are comparatively un-interactive. They don't have enemies, health bars, stats, timing or physics based challenges. There's less room for the game to secretly cheat, because a lot of the 'game' of an adventure game happens in the player's imagination.

Yeah, or to put it another way: because adventure games don't rely so much on rule-based "systems" to generate gameplay. If there are no rules, you can't cheat.

Related is one of the classic tricks from Portal (yeah, not an adventure game, I know). How do you get players to carry an otherwise bland cube all the way to the end of the level? By starting to describe it and never shut up about it. And then,+


That's verging on lampshading: if some part of your design doesn't quite make sense, instead of pretending it does and hoping your players won't notice, you can get away with it by pointing out the problem yourself and making a joke out of it. Several adventure games do this with pulling gigantic inventory items out of their hat/trousers/etc., for example.

Trying to get back more to the article's definition, do you know of any adventure games that use adaptive difficulty? Where it somehow gauges how difficult you're finding the puzzles and ramps the difficulty up or down?

With games like Heroine's Quest there would seem to be a lot more obvious scope for tricks of this kind. For example you could make the stats calculations to complete certain tasks different depending on what character class you play, in order to improve the game balance. Did you do anything like that?

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Re: Game Design Magic Tricks discussion
« Reply #19 on: 24 Nov 2017, 09:40 »
With games like Heroine's Quest there would seem to be a lot more obvious scope for tricks of this kind. For example you could make the stats calculations to complete certain tasks different depending on what character class you play, in order to improve the game balance. Did you do anything like that?
Very few things in HQ are actually dependent on your class, most of it goes by skill.

One trick HQ uses is that certain tasks appear to require a very high skill level but they actually don't; this is used to prevent dead ends. For instance, if you're in a situation where the only way to proceed is Animal Ken skill (or certain cross-class skills that you're not guaranteed to have) then you can automatically do this regardless of your skill level. In non-dead-end situations, having a low skill level may cause you to fail.

And, of course, you're not allowed to cross a point-of-no-return (Svartalfheim and Gastropnir) unless you have all the items/spells required. The game tries hard to be non-obvious about this, e.g. by making it very obvious to obtain the item or spell, or by requiring it for an earlier puzzle. But there's also a hard check just to make sure the player doesn't get in a dead end situation.