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How do I make an interesting puzzle?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by jlorenzi, May 6, 2022.

  1. jlorenzi

    jlorenzi

    Joined:
    May 2, 2021
    Posts:
    282
    I'm not sure if this is the right thread to post this in, but I'm gonna do it anyway.

    I'm trying to make a horror game with puzzles in it. The entire premise is that you are stuck in a completely white room, only thing in there besides you is a cube that you can pick up and throw, there's also a vent on the wall in the room, currently you can throw the cube at it and it'll fall down along with a dead body that was hidden in the vent. I was going for a mysterious, kind of mental hospital like vibe. This is my first horror game, and I've never done puzzle design before. If anyone can provide any tips of what I could do with the premise of the game, I'd be extremely grateful. Thanks!
     
  2. Not_Sure

    Not_Sure

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2011
    Posts:
    3,546
    Depends on lots of things.

    This game should be a sort of mystery box approach.

    You should allow the players to peel away at the game while giving them more and more information in an inverted pyramid (starting with very little then add it exponentially).

    So you start with the box and vent.

    They are the only things in the room, so of course they are related.

    They throw it at the vent and the body drops.

    Well now they have to consider what happened to this person, look at how they died, why are they there, who they are, what they are wearing…

    Next step is searching them.

    Give the player a clue that leads to follow after they get out of the room. Concert tickets, a lighter, an AA 5 year chip, whatever. Something that is a red herring and meaningless. And something that will seem meaningless and forgettable and has a call back way later in the game. Maybe a tattoo.

    I would probably put a key on him. Then you use the key on the door and it doesn’t work. But then you find out you can use it to unscrew the box, which leads to the next step forward.

    That’s called a puzzle double take. The answer seems obvious and simple, but it doesn’t work and contains elements to solve it.

    So you open the box and get the thing and put the key away.

    As the game goes along the player is going to use the key on everything and it becomes an obsession.

    But you know what you do after all that time? It opens something like a locker and there’s nothing in it, but it belongs to a character that implicates them with the murder of the body. Someone you wouldn’t suspect at all otherwise.

    Now I’m not saying do exactly that, but I’m sure you can see the general flow of how these things work.

    You are controlling the players flow information and dropping random clues that will cross thread all through the story with call backs.

    Just don’t abuse red herrings and clear out things when they are done with them. Don’t make them carry an item around that has outlived its purpose.

    And give them an item that they have to hold onto to torture them a little that they don’t know why they have it and has a mystery.

    And always always always write from the perspective of the player and what will make them curious and what sort of solutions would someone consider to move forward.

    Don’t write from the perspective of the end conclusion first and drawing a line backwards.

    That’s lazy, boring, and bad.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2022
    jlorenzi likes this.