Puzzling Problems

Where I am now: I worked on Act 1 for the last two weeks. I was planning to return to Act 2 and try to make the Zelda section gameplay complete, but with a playtesting session in mid-July at K-days in Edmonton, and another in September at Maker’s Faire, I’ve decided to continue working on Act 1. It is the most challenging to design, so I feel that spending my time refining the gameplay will make the most use out of these upcoming playtests. It’s going to be a busy summer.

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New puzzles. Over the last two weeks, the main goal was to re-work the puzzles in the school buildings. The previous puzzles were all abstract math problems which I was fine with until the GDX playtest session, where I learned that their school-like nature ruined the tone and tipped it closer to a kid’s game. So with some advice from a friend, I spent what time I had redesigning the puzzles, and I’m much happier with the direction it’s going in now.

The puzzles are now designed to tell more about the world and the player’s place in it. Specifically it focuses on the gauntlets and how they influence the stone citizens in the world, or rather the influence on the citizens before they mysteriously turned into stone.

For all of these puzzles being displayed, the first picture has the reference board which the player then uses to solve the questions, which are in the second picture.

Here’s the first puzzle set:

puzzle1 puzzleProblems1

Since this is introducing the gauntlets, it starts off very basic and asks the player to correctly identify the gauntlet based on shape.

The second:

puzzle2 puzzleProblems2

This next one places the gauntlets in a rank formation, and asks the player to place them in the correct order.

The third school starts with this puzzle:

puzzle3 puzzleProblems3

This shows the gauntlets applied to different people and asks the player to rank the different citizens according to their gauntlet. Each person also has their own distinct clothing which helps identify them better as the gauntlet is fairly small. So now with the gauntlets applied to people, and with the player having their own gauntlet, my intention is to start making the player think of their own rank in the world, and hopefully where it’s leading them.

One thing I just realized I’m not fond of in this puzzle is that because each person has their own article of clothing, and it’s hard to see the gauntlets each is wearing because its so small, it seems to de-emphasizes how important the gauntlets are. What I should portray instead is that it doesn’t matter what the person is wearing or any other physical feature. All that matters for determining rank is the gauntlet.

The next puzzle in the third school:

puzzle4 puzzleProblems4

Each citizen has their role to play in the world, and the role is determined by the gauntlet. So this asks the player to match the citizen to the role, and also to rank the activity based on the rank of the person performing it.

The final puzzle in the third school:

puzzle5 puzzleProblems5

Perhaps the most important puzzle. I want to get across that a person cannot increase their rank by performing their assigned tasks. A rickshaw driver will always be a rickshaw driver, and so on. This is important to understand since the player is also not going to increase in rank once they receive the final gauntlet. From their bronze rank, they will forever be stamping boards if they wish. They can only progress through the rest of the game by other means, which has yet to be implemented.

So to help the player realize this, I based all these questions around the bronze gauntlet, which is what the player will receive after completing this school. I still don’t think it’s enough, so I’ll have to find more ways to hammer home that the player is stuck with the bronze gauntlet forever.

Color correction. To get closer to the tone I’m going for the game, I added some desaturation. You can see the before and after here:

beforeColorCorrect afterColorCorrect

The old look feels too bright and calming for the tone I’m chasing after. After the color correction it feels a bit more stark with higher contrasts, and also more washed out. I really like this new look.

So I’m going to continue working on Act 1 for the summer. The main feature I want to put in is the mother’s emotions and how they affect the player, because right now she’s way too passive.

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