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 Post subject: Thought experiment
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:12 am 
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In my more cynical hours, I amuse myself by imagining what these forums would look like if Delin, Tsogal, and the pod Ages had been released three years ago, and Kadish showed up today.

Half the posts would agree that it was pretty, but far too repetitive -- trees, trees, and more trees. An Age's worth of content cloned out to three times the size it should be, to make us think we were getting more stuff. Half would be annoyed that you could finish the whole thing in twenty minutes (just read any of the spoiler posts) and then there's nothing left to do. Half would be irate that the alternate vault violates the rules of linking. Half would be disappointed that you get nothing out of it except this pillar thing (a mere Relto trophy!)

And the *final* half -- probably two-thirds -- would say that the whole thing was a waste of time, because it has no social element at all. A single person can solve the entire thing! Why even bother putting it into Myst *Online*, if nothing in the Age design involves groups of players?

(I know: the design of Kadish was influenced by the decision, whenever ago it was, to release ABM as a single-player product. This is a thought-experiment, not an alternate history.)

I am *not* trying to insist that everybody who is currently unsatisfied would complain regardless. People want specific things. What I'm trying to tease out is: what, specifically, do you want? Is it something you got before and are now missing? Or are you influenced by your initial expectations? The early rush of having four large Ages be "released" on the same day, the first time you finished the Cleft?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:12 am 
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(I have, quite unfairly, glossed over some of the elements of Kadish: the bookshelf journal describing it, the Yeesha speech you get when you finish it, the link to the City gallery. Are those elements you are missing from the newer Ages? Which elements? Would you have missed them if they appeared gradually, over the course of weeks, rather than appearing all at once? Much of what we know of Kadish, after all, comes from the POTS expansion -- we didn't get that in Prologue.)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:48 am 
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Imagine Kadish coming out now ... initially there is no link to the gallery. You link in, explore the area available to you, and think ... "gee, this is it?" Then a week after release, the gallery book appears, but the only "artwork" on the wall is the hint/solution to the first puzzle. The week after that, one more hint/solution is revealed, etc. So this relatively huge Age is released little by little. This is the kind of thing I'm looking for in brand new Ages, and hey, who's to say that this isn't what we will experience with the pod Ages over the next few months?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 6:03 am 
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If Kadish had been introduced along the lines proposed in the thought-experiment, similar to the way the pod ages seem to be coming together, I would not have been a happy camper.

Offline, in ABM, of course everything you need to solve an age is available when you start the age. Armed with the Gallery clues, I did Kadish in one marathon session one weekend with no hints or walkthroughs - the satisfaction of seeing those vault doors swing open on command was the ultimate reward; the collectibles, just icing.

Now, I can imagine myself freshly dropped into the online Kadish with no clues. Unable to get very far, finally wondering if I'm missing someting obvious, I "give up" and start looking through the forums. Before long I encounter a poorly-hidden spoiler from someone who's solved the puzzle by luck or brute force. Crap, I think to myself, there really wasn't an elegant way to solve this (yet, anyway), and now that puzzle's spoiled.

The problem is, in the situation where puzzle ages are rolled out piecemeal, it seems that it's practially impossible to figure out whether you've just missed a big clue somewhere, or whether something's actually unsolvable at that point. How could you possibly know, if you were scrupulously avoiding spoilers? Maybe the DRC could give you some kind of IC heads-up via KImail, I don't know...

Plus, anyone who joins the game after the new thing is old, knows he can solve the puzzle by paying attention, all the clues are there, just like in any offline game.

Trying to put a more positive spin on this, perhaps we (the players) are still being trained, to enjoy the experience as Cyan has intended. Delin and Tsogal were something totally unlike what you could expect from an offline adventure puzzle game. Now we have these pod ages. Whatever it is we must do to "solve" them will be interesting, even if we all kind of stumbled through them blindly at first. When we get to the "big" ages, whether they're familar ones or not, I will try not to assume that we'll be able to blast all the way through to the end from the moment they're released to us. I figure if I'm still stuck after a month, then it's time to look for what I missed.

In any event, I'm glad I got to experience Kadish the way I did.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 4:36 pm 
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I'm not a speedy puzzle solver (to put it mildly!). I love the idea of having an age and its secrets revealed slowly. I relish having a tidbit dangled in front of me, trying to figure it out alone for a little while, then talking to other explorers or reading forums for ideas outside my train of thought. I'm in no hurry and enjoy the beauty of each age, the speculation and story that slowly develops. Kadish would not be a disappointment for me if it had just been revealed, but it would be a struggle to savor it with other explorers rushing through the puzzles. Not that they shouldn't if that's what they enjoy, but I'd have a tough time not clicking on all those spoiler tags in the forum :)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:05 pm 
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If I have to solve a puzzle that is not related to the Age itself I want to know why, otherwise it seems to me I'm just solving a puzzle for puzzle's sake.

If I can't solve a puzzle, I want at least a hint on the fact that I can't solve it, so that I'll avoid looking at the spoilers on the forums and accidentally find out about the brute force solution.

If the hints for solving an Age are gradually released, I want that release to be in the order of weeks, not months, especially if there's not much to do in game except that which we invent ourselves.

And mostly... I want setting. I want journals, history, tidbits, information. I want to know the places I'm going into, or find explanations as a reward. I can live with not being part of the current story if there is at least some backstory to get lost into.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 5:06 pm 
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I (IMHO) think that releasing ages without their relevant 'clues' is a bad idea, for this reason. Even if the puzzle would completely stump a single person without the clues, thousands of online players hammering on it Will solve it by Brute Force. Then, people who aren't careful about reading the spoilers will all know the solution. Then the clue will be released, and it will appear 'absurdly simple' to the players who know the answer already. Sherlock Holmes often laments that once he reveals his train of reasoning, everyone remarks on how absurdly simple it was, even though they were completely stumped moments before.

Only new players who come upon it later will get the true impact of the puzzle. The clue will appear impenetrable to them, until they finally discover the answer and get the full satisfaction of solving the puzzle. (Assuming nobody tells them the answer first)

I believe that the clues should be put in place first. They will act as 'teasers' while we speculate about what they might mean. Then, when the relevant age/puzzle is released, and everyone has had time to become familiar with the clues, a good portion of players will have the satisfaction of solving the puzzle the way it was intended.

Take Kadish as an example. (again). say that Kadish was not released with the base game. Only the city is available to us. One day, the DRC opens the gallery doors. We all storm in and scour the place and wonder what the heck it all means. The DRC tells us it's just 'art', and some move on.. others speculate wildly. Are there some strange symbols or clues hidden in these images? Why did they give us this place? What are those funny tree looking things?
Then, the DRC places the Kadish book in the gallery. People linking in recognize the symbols in the scopes that they've been staring at as 'art' for the last 2 weeks. People see the connections, and it all makes sense! Praise is given for the depth of the puzzle, instead of complaints about the lack of purpose, and the necessity of using brute force. It is topped off by Yeesha's speech, which starts off more speculation about Kadish himself, how he died, etc...

Of course, we all know about him now, his motives, his exploits, his devious and maddening puzzle sense.. But think how that story could have played out... That's what I want to expect from Cyan. Will I see it? That remains to be seen. :wink:

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes... A character named Mary Sutherland appears more than once in his adventures... Does today's DRC member know her namesake?

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Last edited by Nadnerb on Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:41 pm 
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Nadnerb wrote:
I believe that the clues should be put in place first. They will act as 'teasers' while we speculate about what they might mean.


I think this is a very good suggestion.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:23 pm 
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Glad to see thoughtful replies...

The problem of having a puzzle appear before the clues is not actually new. All the way back in Myst, you could *encounter* a puzzle before the clues -- the fireplace is the most blatant example. If Myst were released as a new multiplayer game today, there would be teams of players testing different fireplace combinations tomorrow, and they'd have it cracked by Sunday. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:35 pm 
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True, but one must remember that in Myst, you are armed with the knowlege that all the puzzles are solvable from the start, you just have to find the clues. The problem arises when there is uncertainty.

So, yeah.. if they released Myst island, but removed all the books from the places of protection and 'broke' the tower rotation, this would be a problem. But it wasn't built to work like that, hence, it's kind of a flawed example. (no offense ;) )

Kadish and others make such good examples because all the uru ages were originally designed for online release, at least in the early planning phases.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:27 am 
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The spoiler comparison does not bear up to close examination.

It is indeed true that you can spoil yourself on any Myst puzzle, but that does beg the question about why you play the game at all (with notable exceptions to, basically, rubbish puzzles like the end of POTS or the Eder Gira baskets nonsense).

But you VERY much have an alternative, to work the darn thing out yourself with logic and intelligent thought.

In Negilahn and Dereno you don't have that option. It's simply not there. For the overwhelming majority of players, the only possible option is to look up one of the calendars created here. It is simply not practically soluble for most people. Only the community as a whole could really crack it, and hence that was a one off deal.

So I certainly don't want anything like that. Group puzzles- fine. I understand the division, so long as you don't need too many people. Solo puzzles- great, of course, especially if they can be aproached as a group also.

But whole community puzzles? Very questionable. Certainly for a game still trying to find its feet. Most people will bounce of them with a 'huh?' I want puzzles that, reasonably, every single player could take part in the experience of if they so chose to. I think that is eminently reasonable.

I'll add my voice to the choir above commenting that if there IS an ultimate mystery to the pods- and I will keep an open mind but my instinct says no- it should be clues first and then Age, not the reverse. The reverse just, basically, ruins the Age.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:31 am 
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Ushgarak wrote:
The spoiler comparison does not bear up to close examination.

It is indeed true that you can spoil yourself on any Myst puzzle, but that does beg the question about why you play the game at all (with notable exceptions to, basically, rubbish puzzles like the end of POTS or the Eder Gira baskets nonsense).

But you VERY much have an alternative, to work the darn thing out yourself with logic and intelligent thought.

In Negilahn and Dereno you don't have that option. It's simply not there. For the overwhelming majority of players, the only possible option is to look up one of the calendars created here. It is simply not practically soluble for most people. Only the community as a whole could really crack it, and hence that was a one off deal.

So I certainly don't want anything like that. Group puzzles- fine. I understand the division, so long as you don't need too many people. Solo puzzles- great, of course, especially if they can be aproached as a group also.

But whole community puzzles? Very questionable. Certainly for a game still trying to find its feet. Most people will bounce of them with a 'huh?' I want puzzles that, reasonably, every single player could take part in the experience of if they so chose to. I think that is eminently reasonable.

I'll add my voice to the choir above commenting that if there IS an ultimate mystery to the pods- and I will keep an open mind but my instinct says no- it should be clues first and then Age, not the reverse. The reverse just, basically, ruins the Age.


Whoa, whoa, whoa there. You can't make subjective exceptions. It just doesn't work that way. What if I think ALL the puzzles are "rubbish puzzles"? What if I think NONE of them are? It just doesn't WORK THAT WAY.

And I say, wait till the 29th before you judge the pod ages. Payiferen will probably be released then, and I think all will be made clear, it will be more of a real puzzle.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:33 am 
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That is, of course, an opinion from me, but I will submit that a very great deal of people found the Gira basket puzzle, for example, deeply unsatisfying on very many levels. It's a poor piece of gameplay and I don't blame anyone at all getting so frustrated as to look it up.

As I say, I am keeping an open mind about the pods, and if my instinct is wrong then it is wrong, But brute force still ruined the first two. Personally, I don't want it done like that in future. As others have said- clues first, then Age.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:34 am 
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Ushgarak wrote:
That is, of course, an opinion from me, but I will submit that a very great deal of people found the Gira basket puzzle, for example, deeply unsatisfying on very many levels. It's a poor piece of gameplay and I don't blame anyone at all getting so frustrated as to look it up.

As I say, I am keeping an open mind about the pods, and if my instinct is wrong then it is wrong, But brute force still ruined the first two. Personally, I don't want it done like that in future. As others have said- clues first, then Age.


Go ahead and submit a feature request that it be this way in the future. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:35 am 
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Well, I may well do that. Meanwhile, this thread has asked what we might want from Ages, and I have replied, just as others.


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