Spoon feeding the player: clues

AuthorTopic: Spoon feeding the player: clues
Master
Member # 5977
Profile Homepage #0
(The full question is at the very end of this post, just so you know)

Most scenarios, if not all, for BoA, have a very simple principle: the party has to find the bad guy, and does it by collecting clues. With most of them, if not all, this is done in a way in which the player is sort of told what the party thinks. An example:

"You found a scroll, saying yada yada yada. It looks as though the goblins have something to do with this. Go tell random mayor/captain #5 about it."

I suppose this has to be done in the scenarios in which it happens, for a reason already being stated in the example: "Go tell random mayor/captain #5 about it." This basically means that we are bound to a system in which dialogue spoon-feeds the player, by telling him stuff he himself probably didn't even think about. This is what Exile did a lot better. In Exile, one didn't have to state that "this is that." The party could find a clue, think for himself about it, and try asking certain words to random mayor/captain #5, which is a good thing. An other reason could well be that has become a standard to immediatly tell what things could be, so, naturally, every designer does it, which is a pity.

And here is what my question comes in: In TNS, you collect clues too, but you are most probably not going to really tell anyting about it to anybody. So I thought I might as well try to break lose from the standard things, and do it differently: I won't give any hint about the clues, and the player will have to identify for himself what the clue says. My question is, what do you prefer: think about clues on your own, without the designer giving any form of hint whatsoever, or the traditional spoon feeding (like in the example)?

Poll Information
This poll contains 1 question(s). 29 user(s) have voted.
You may not view the results of this poll without voting.

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Play and rate my scenarios:

Where the rivers meet
View my upcoming scenario: The Nephil Search: Escape.

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Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
Guardian
Member # 5360
Profile #1
Thinking is good. Very good.

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May the fires of Undeath burn in your soul, and consume it.
Posts: 1636 | Registered: Wednesday, January 5 2005 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #2
Thinking is good and you always have this board and the satellites if you really get stuck. Walkthroughs can always help the idiots.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 8615
Profile #3
I tend to enjoy having to solve puzzles myself, instead of the mission text doing that for me. If I'm completely stranded, I look at a walkthrough. That's what they're there for, right?

I would personally enjoy playing a mystery type of scenario, where the challenge lies in thinking out what to do, not running back and forwards following direct directions. *grins*

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~ Eschar Blacke
Posts: 13 | Registered: Monday, April 30 2007 07:00
Agent
Member # 2759
Profile Homepage #4
If I wrote a scenario, I would spoon feed the player in an effort to cut down the number of e-mails I would receive from players who got stuck.

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"I can't read this thread with that image. But then, that's not a complaint." -Scorpius

Geneforge 4 stuff. Also, everything I know about Avernum | Avernum 2 | Avernum 3 | Avernum 4
Posts: 1104 | Registered: Monday, March 10 2003 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 8615
Profile #5
How about this: Make the scenario enjoyable for everyone, by making it a mental challenge, and bundling a walkthrough with it?
It doesn't even have to be a 'complete' walkthrough, merely how to progress through the story.

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~ Eschar Blacke
Posts: 13 | Registered: Monday, April 30 2007 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3174
Profile Homepage #6
Good point. I prefer to do the sleuthing myself, with maybe a tiny hint on what should be done next

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Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle, melloneamin.
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Finder of impossible beta testing errors.
Posts: 364 | Registered: Saturday, July 5 2003 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 8615
Profile #7
That is indeed preferable!
Leaving around clues, for example a piece of paper on the floor, which you recognize the handwriting of if you:

a) Have seen it before (looked at a similar piece of paper on someone's desk, for instance) and
b) Have enough luck, nature lore or similar skill,

leading to a new trail, would be very fun.
A break to conventional Adventuring sounds like fun to me.
-Eschar suddenly gets a mysterious expression on his face, turns on his heel, and swiftly strides towards his BoA Editor-

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~ Eschar Blacke
Posts: 13 | Registered: Monday, April 30 2007 07:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #8
Honestly, I have plenty of time to think at school and work. When I play a game, I like it to be like I'm watching a movie. I don't like wandering around not being sure what to do. I don't like thinking about what secrets I may have missed. I want to play it once, and I want to take advantage of everything it has to offer with minimal work involved. Making the player think about things is really just covering up a crappy plot that can't stand up well enough on it's own.

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3174
Profile Homepage #9
quote:
Originally written by Eschar Blacke:

-Eschar suddenly gets a mysterious expression on his face, turns on his heel, and swiftly strides towards his BoA Editor-
I say...will we be seeing a new clue filled scenario soon?

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Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle, melloneamin.
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Finder of impossible beta testing errors.
Posts: 364 | Registered: Saturday, July 5 2003 07:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 6700
Profile Homepage #10
Ideally, you'd need a combination of the two.
You would have to give a lot of unannounced clues for the player to find, but you would still need to point out the major, blatant, and obvious pieces of evidence, for those that are completely clueless.

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The Silent Assassin did it in the Kitchen with the spanner.
I don't want to know what he did, though.

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-Lenar Labs
What's Your Destiny?

Ushmushmeifa: Lenar's power is almighty and ineffable.

All hail lord Noric, god of... well, something important, I'm sure.
Posts: 735 | Registered: Monday, January 16 2006 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3174
Profile Homepage #11
Loosening the water faucet so it'll spray when someone tries to use it?

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Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle, melloneamin.
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Finder of impossible beta testing errors.
Posts: 364 | Registered: Saturday, July 5 2003 07:00
Lifecrafter
Member # 6193
Profile Homepage #12
You could include an "Ask about" node at the start of every dialog chain so that the player could use text input, like in BoE.

Just a thought.

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Guaranteed to blow your mind.

Frostbite: Get It While It's...... Hot?
Posts: 900 | Registered: Monday, August 8 2005 07:00
Agent
Member # 3364
Profile Homepage #13
I remember having this difference of opinion with Bain on our scenarios. He didn't like that Redwall had 'tasks' that needed to be done but the 'what' had to be searched for and the 'how many' was not disclosed in game. I didn't like how he told you exactly what to do, many times twice.

But there is a balance to be made. If I have talked to everyone in a town and come away with no direction to go in next, I'm frustrated. If the outdoors is big, it is essential to offer the player at least a general direction to head in. Most players should pick up on the little clues, just make sure you don't hide the clues too good.

I would love to see the 'ask about' implemented in BoA. Guessing words was one of my favorite things in BoE. It was even better when I came upon something by accident. Like in VoDT I went to talk to the hermit guy that didn't like visitors. I didn't know his friends name but I asked him about the 'school' and was able to move forward in the game. I would have been stuck otherwise because I distinctly remember going through all the other towns and having no other leads.

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"Even the worst Terror from Hell can be transformed to a testimony from Heaven!" - Rev. David Wood 6\23\05

"Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." - John Wesley
Posts: 1001 | Registered: Tuesday, August 19 2003 07:00
Master
Member # 5977
Profile Homepage #14
You can't believe how relieved I am to see the poll results. Of course, keep on voting: the more the merrier. I do want to say some things about what I read in the topic.

Lenar: the ask about feature is something I will be implementing, as I already thought of it some days ago. Nice to see though that other people get the same idea as myself.

Eschar: What you said about "seen before" will be implemented for the same reason as with Lenar. For example, if you have, say, a Slith in your party and you see a typical Slith item, then you will of course know what it is. Same goes for a party that saw that same item earlier on. And although it might not know who's item it is, they will know that it is the same and there might be a connection (like with the Vahnatai in Avernum 3, for example).

Tully: I understand that point of view and I sympathise with it. I must honestly say that this is exactly which made me make this poll. Otherwise I would just have gone ahead and make this a total thinking scenario.

In general: I'm very positive about thewse results. However, although I sympathise with the ones that just want a fun game to play, I don't think I will do a whole lot for you. I will, of course, write a walkthrough. Even if I won't be trying to make the player think for once, I would have put in a walkthrough. This goes without saying. I will also put in the "ask about" feature, as I wanted to do that all along, and same goes for Eschar's suggestion, though I might not put the "luck" parameter in. Nature lore of course, though. I have already used it a lot in TNS (See the screenshot back on my website titled "searching for a good spot to camp"? Well, that uses nature lore to actually find that camp + hints to point you in the right direction).

Thanks to all of you who took the time to express their opinion. Others are of course more than welcome to add on what others said, or of course comment on my plans.

I think it becomes more and more apparent how mind-driven TNS will be. That's why I ask people's opinions. Given the fact that TNS will be, in some way, alike The Zakazi Run, and in more ways alike Exodus, and I saw what great faults these scenarios have, I thought I have to do something that makes TNS outstanding compared to these too. In other words: learning from their mistakes to make TNS better. Part of this is asking people's opinions to make sure that what I make is what most people want.

[ Monday, April 30, 2007 22:27: Message edited by: Thralni ]

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Play and rate my scenarios:

Where the rivers meet
View my upcoming scenario: The Nephil Search: Escape.

Give us your drek!
Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
Apprentice
Member # 8615
Profile #15
quote:
Originally written by Enalya:

I say...will we be seeing a new clue filled scenario soon?
Soon? Not from me, anyway. Some day? Perhaps. I promise nothing. At the moment, I'm merely testing the editor a bit, I'm nowhere near the stage where I can make entertaining scenarios, yet. *grins*

The idea of using a text box, like in Exile, pleases me to no end. That's one of the reasons I liked the Exiles better than the Avernums.

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~ Eschar Blacke
Posts: 13 | Registered: Monday, April 30 2007 07:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #16
Just be careful with how many text boxes you use. Dikiyoba is not a fan of them.
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Shaper
Member # 3442
Profile Homepage #17
I will be using the text input box a lot in my next scenario, but only for selected NPCs.

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And when you want to Live
How do you start?
Where do you go?
Who do you need to know?

Posts: 2864 | Registered: Monday, September 8 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #18
I can't stand not knowing where to go or what to do, and "guess what I'm thinking" puzzles are even worse. If you do have puzzles, bundle a very specific walkthough with the scenario. Even with walkthroughs, I still sometimes can't get anywhere, because the walkthrough is too vague.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 4153
Profile Homepage #19
It's difficult to design for thinking puzzles... that said, I think it's more fun as a player to figure out something on your own.

[ Tuesday, May 01, 2007 14:01: Message edited by: Ephesos ]

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #20
Thralni, for future reference, you'll get more accurate results from your polls if you don't make one of the answer options sound much more favorable. "Spoonfeeding" is something you do to a 3 year old child, so people are a lot less likely to select that insulting option. More neutral options would be:
1. I prefer direct narration.
2. I prefer puzzles.

With that in mind, while I like occasional well-made, well-integrated puzzles, I prefer direct narration for larger scenarios.

This depends largely on the type of scenario you are making: something like Zankoozie's Big Mistake (if I remember the name correctly) is intended as a fun collection of puzzles. However, if role playing is supposed to be important, the best way to ruin the mood (and make me abandon a scenario) is to throw in a bunch of lever puzzles, or leave me with no idea where to go, forcing me to close the game and look up hints/walkthroughs.

So if you are making a role-playing scenario (rather than a purely puzzle-based one) make sure that all puzzles make sense from the character's point of view: "Which NPC could be the 'tall man in black cloak with piercing blue eyes and a slight limp' that a little boy had seen last night?" is a good kind of puzzle. "Which four letter word do I say to Jane the shopkeeper to get her to tell me about last night's robbery?" is not a good kind of puzzle.

[ Tuesday, May 01, 2007 14:19: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Master
Member # 5977
Profile Homepage #21
At the moment I'm thinking of giving the player an option in difficulty:

- clueless
- clues

This will give the player directions and alarm them of clues. This way you can choose for yourself if you want to think about the clues given to you, or that it is told to you by me. However, with clues, I think most of you have no idea what I'm talking about. "Not knowing where to go" is really not a problem in TNS. I fear that most of you have no idea what TNS is about anyway, otherwise I wouldn't have received comments about the way the party should go. TNS is very lineair, in fact. It is at the present moment, anyway.

The puzzle part will be difficult for some, for others not. It's the same with Bahs: Some found the laserpuzzle difficult, others not. When I talk about puzzles, you must not think of lever puzzles or laserpuzzles, though. I can assure you they will not be in TNS. I'm trying to think of puzzles that are new and not done before.

At the moment I have three puzzles: One to cross a river and you should make a bridge (which is not really puzzle, anyway), one because I liked the idea, and one other again to cross a river, but this one is combat based. I can imagine I will put at least one more puzzle of this sort. Of these three, I think the second is the only one of which the basic principle is well knoen. However, I added stuff to make it mor einteresting, and more of a challenge.

All the puzzles I just mentioned don't require too much clues, though. What I wanted the clues for, is for trying to let the player figure out who put all these puzzles there. They are there with a reaosn, of course, and somebody put them there. You are the one to figure out who. For this you don't need me telling you where to go, and places where there might be confusion, I will be giving a hint anyway.

And kelandon, please, of all people. You are the one to put that laserbeam puzzle in Bahs that people found too difficult. I cleared it in about five minutes, but most people took just a bit more time. I also found it a puzzle which was just there to be a puzzle, with no apparent reason other than making it more difficult to get to the triangle. The fact that you dislike puzzles so strongly is also quite evident of the enormous amounts of tedious hack 'n slash in Bahs, and, according to others (I didn't play it yet), Exodus too.

The BoE style dialogue will be clearly explained in the readme, along with all other stuff I want to mention explicitly. For example, I will put in the readme file in which order you have the ask question. An example:

not "statue", but "cave", "statue" => first mention where you were, then what you found. I think it will be quite clear.

If there are any more questions concerning the puzzles or clues, I will be glad to answer them. I do want to ask people to stop asking about walkthroughs: there WILL, of course, be one there, and I already said this.

EDIT: Incomplete sentence.

[ Tuesday, May 01, 2007 23:51: Message edited by: Thralni ]

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Play and rate my scenarios:

Where the rivers meet
View my upcoming scenario: The Nephil Search: Escape.

Give us your drek!
Posts: 3029 | Registered: Saturday, June 18 2005 07:00
The Establishment
Member # 6
Profile #22
I agree that the poll results are probably not completely valid due to how the responses were phrased. This is what we call a push poll. If you ask a question right, you can demonstrate virtually any result you want.

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Your flower power is no match for my glower power!
Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 3174
Profile Homepage #23
I'm going to try one...but no lasers...I hate those things. And it's likely nothing will be seen for about a year

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Aa' menle nauva calen ar' ta hwesta e' ale'quenle, melloneamin.
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Finder of impossible beta testing errors.
Posts: 364 | Registered: Saturday, July 5 2003 07:00
Warrior
Member # 6096
Profile Homepage #24
I'd prefer a very specific walkthrough because the players can leave it unread if they want to solve the problems themselves.

I like to "think" about the solutions but I almost always get stuck at some point. If there's no walkthrough, I may be too lazy to ask about it on a forum. And sometimes no one answers the question.

I think there could have been less spoon-feeding in Avernums and Geneforges. I'd like to need the walkthrough, not just go from place A to B without thinking.

[ Thursday, May 03, 2007 12:33: Message edited by: *Milu* ]
Posts: 77 | Registered: Sunday, July 10 2005 07:00