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Puzzle Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Have Modern Gamers Lost the Patience For Puzzles? 622

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the get-off-my-lawn dept.
Brainy Gamer has an interesting reflection on old puzzle games and why their style of gameplay seems to be a dying art. According to the author modern gamers seem more interested in combat and seem to have lost the patience for difficult puzzles. "Despite my fondness for the adventure games of yore, it appears the days of puzzles in narrative games have come and gone. Puzzles - especially the serial unlocking variety found in the old LucasArts games - seem to have become a relic of a bygone era. Where they once provided a necessary ludic element to a—clever and often complex narrative - designed to add challenge and force the player to earn his progress through the story - few modern players have the patience for such challenges anymore."
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Have Modern Gamers Lost the Patience For Puzzles?

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  • by t0qer (230538) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:06PM (#24375021) Homepage Journal

    http://dan-ball.jp/en/javagame/dust/ [dan-ball.jp]

    I don't know why
    I have an odd fascination
    with this little java game
    There are no puzzles
    there are no goals
    it's not quite a painting program
    but it's not quite a game either

  • by monkeyboythom (796957) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:06PM (#24375025)

    ...

  • by afabbro (33948) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:07PM (#24375027) Homepage

    ...as opposed to ancient gamers? Preindustrial gamers? Renaissance gamers? Pre-war gamers?

  • I don't buy that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The End Of Days (1243248) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:07PM (#24375031)

    Plenty of modern games are based around puzzles, they're simply more organic to the game environment and therefore not as noticeable. I don't think it's a matter of modern games not having enough patience, I think it's a matter of gaming evolving into a more immersive and holistic experience.

    • by Walking The Walk (1003312) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:20PM (#24375251)

      I agree with you - the puzzles are simply better integrated with the game, and are offered as a challenge to get more of the story/points/powers, rather than being roadblocks that must be passed. Think KOTOR, where the puzzles enhance the gameplay, vs something like Myst, where solving the puzzles enable futher gameplay.

      I think it's also a reflection of the fact that most puzzles don't benefit from improved graphics or processor power, while fighting/shooting/action games see measurable benefits. So the puzzles still look and play very much the same way ("very well", in my opinion), but each year the action elements improve visually and kinetically.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nbert (785663)

        I agree with you - the puzzles are simply better integrated with the game, and are offered as a challenge to get more of the story/points/powers, rather than being roadblocks that must be passed. Think KOTOR, where the puzzles enhance the gameplay, vs something like Myst, where solving the puzzles enable futher gameplay.

        Kotor really seems to be one of the finest examples in the last years. You had the Diablo "level-up-addiction" combined with lots of story and many puzzles to solve. And since you were the

      • by cmburns69 (169686) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:27PM (#24376397) Homepage Journal

        Puzzle games are less replayable. While not impossible, it's extremely difficult to come up with a system for dynamically generating puzzles so they're fresh each time.

        And multi-player also suffers in puzzle games.

        So in all, it takes a LOT more effort for a game company to make a puzzle game that has both multiplayer modes and is replayable, and those are large segments of the market. In short, it is easier to make an action game that will appeal to more people. Puzzle games are still great for once-through single-player, though (take Zelda games, for example).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hellwig (1325869)
      You mean like all the wonderful Jumping Puzzles in the original Half-Life?

      I remember games like "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Full Throttle" where if you didn't catch something 2 levels back you couldn't proceed. Some modern games have a nice mix (the Chrono-XX and Final Fantasy series for example) where you have to decipher clues and do things in the right order, but other games (pick any modern FPS like Prey, Half-Life 2, Metroid Prime, etc..) and the puzzles are just there to increase gam
      • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:01PM (#24375943)

        A well designed game will offer BOTH. In GTA IV there were a lot of missions that you could do complete a lot easier if you went through a certain way, and you were often clued into it by the mission description (i.e. you sneak in the back door, trigger the cops, and slip out while the baddies are fighting the cops vs. fighting through and killing everyone, then evading the cops). Of course, not every mission was like that so it often lead to disapointment if you wanted to play them all like that.

    • Re:I don't buy that (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bamasurface (740135) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:41PM (#24375585)
      A current game franchise that uses puzzles as part of the narrative is "The Nancy Drew Mysteries". http://www.herinteractive.com/prod/index.shtml [herinteractive.com] You play as Nancy (and occasionally as some of her friends) in first person and solve mysteries by piecing together clues. The puzzles often unlock the next clue. The game is addictive (because of the puzzles, mostly) and a lot of fun.
      -todd
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dekortage (697532)

      I don't think it's a matter of modern games not having enough patience, I think it's a matter of gaming evolving into a more immersive and holistic experience.

      I also wonder if the demographic of "gamers" has evolved. You used to be a pure computer geek to play games. Nowadays everybody plays them: rappers, punks, jocks, business types, etc. So puzzle games may still appeal to the kind of people who enjoyed them 20 years ago, but their percentage of the "gamers" industry has been reduced by an influx of

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalgiblet (530309)

      Total agreement. One word: Portal.

      I love that game, and it is nothing but one big set of 3D puzzles woven masterfully into the story.

      I've been playing video games pretty much since they became commercially available (the '70s), and I've always HATED the puzzles the article rhapsodizes. I think I feel about them the way I feel about musicals. You have a perfectly good story under way when everyone stops to sing a song. Or in this case solve an arbitrary puzzle.

      A puzzle that wouldn't make sense in the real

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:08PM (#24375059)

    Or perhaps one called Portal? I hear some people played them in 2007.

    • by Shade of Pyrrhus (992978) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:45PM (#24375641)

      Please note that we have added a consequence for failure. Any failure will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death.

      Portal can be a pretty harsh puzzle game, too...

    • by mblase (200735) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:53PM (#24375815)

      Amen. "Boom Blox" for Wii probably counts as a puzzle game, too. They're all over, if you know what to look for.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Puzzles aren't dead, "puzzle mode" is.

        I've been working my way through Psychonauts on the XBox. It's one big puzzle game disguised as an arcade game. The difference is that the puzzle play is in-lined with the natural mechanics of the game, rather than having this big "YOU ARE NOW WORKING ON A PUZZLE" transition. This is better design, IMHO.

    • by ivan256 (17499) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:20PM (#24376273)

      Exactly.

      Gamers still love puzzles.

      Game studios, hardware manufacturers, and especially game reviewers hate puzzles.

      How do you compete with low-budget studios if the gameplay is king instead of the graphics and high-budget art and voice assets?

      How do you sell a fancy new video card if the latest game doesn't require ripping through a fast changing scene at 100 FPS using the most realistic techniques currently available?

      How do you review a steady stream of games if you can't experience 90% of it in two or three encounters with an enemy?

      We've had game series after game series be wildly successful based on interactive puzzle style game play only to be ruined in sequels as more focus is put on the combat. Yet reviewer pan games based on the combat system without giving the puzzles any thought; even if the puzzles are the vast majority of the game!

      If Portal weren't bundled as part of Orange Box, it probably would have received little critical attention.

  • The opposite for me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thyamine (531612) <[moc.snogardfo] [ta] [enimayht]> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:09PM (#24375071) Homepage Journal
    I've found the opposite for myself. As I've gotten older, I have less appreciation for killing that last boss, and prefer some puzzle solving/creative thinking in my games.
  • by pickyouupatnine (901260) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:10PM (#24375081) Homepage
    I'd say that Portal by Valve pretty much dispels this argument. Gamers aren't tired of puzzles. They've simply gotten smarter and like being challenged rather than bored over mindless running around and pressing buttons to make doors open.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Banquo (225167)
      Yep,..

      I think gamers have gotten tired of THE SAME puzzles served up with a thousand different faces on them. (I loved Weltris with a passion that still makes me giddy) Portal has proven that, and Bioshock to a lesser extent (sometimes old puzzles are fine if you're not spending hours on them) There's a huge following of puzzle games in the "in a window" gaming community. Games like Desktop Tower Defense, Spaced Penguin [bigideafun.com] (one of my favs), and most of the games at Homokaasu [homokaasu.org] are puzzle games that are differe
    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:35PM (#24375483) Homepage

      Compare "Portal" with, say, "Zork" or "The Bard's Tale". The puzzles involved were quite simple and mostly involved wandering around in the dark desperately drawing maps until you found the clue hidden in one corner of a dungeon just so you could answer the riddle one level up and in the far corner, but the level of player involvement is significantly higher.

      You don't see players making detailed hand-drawn maps [brotherhood.de] of every level of Portal, complete with precise notes, just so they can solve the puzzles. Gamers today just don't have the patience for it. Even online RPGs, the last stronghold of the fanatical mappers and note-takers [eqatlas.com], have all given up and provided automatic mapping tools which even a brain-dead cat sleeping on the keyboard could use [worldofwarcraft.com].

      As the article and its accompanying comments mention, the market for involved puzzle games didn't shrink, it just didn't grow with the rest of the industry. While there may still be a market for a few thousand people who like Monkey Island, there are also now millions of people who think that Halo is about as complicated as a game can get before their heads explode. Welcome to today's market.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:48PM (#24375693) Journal

        I think the puzzle ideas and note takers of WoW have switched from the old mapping the world and figureing out where every little corner is, to the theory crafting of figuring out the exact game mechanics of each item to figure out things like DPS, threat, ability to tank or heal etc... While the basics are quite simple, to tune a character to top the charts will be quite complicated and are constantly disputed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Luyseyal (3154)

        Well, sure. In a world with GPS and Google Maps, why on earth would you want to fill up notebook paper with terrible maps when a computer could do the job so much better? It's sort of like when they took food acquisition and eating out of RPGs. It was simply a better gaming experience continuously working on your quest -- not having to figure out how much food you need to take or getting robbed on the way and having to make it back to town just to eat. Automatic mapmaking is great.

        Now if I could copy/paste

      • Uh.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by raehl (609729) <[moc.oohay] [ta] [113lhear]> on Monday July 28, 2008 @07:16PM (#24377063) Homepage

        I think you've confused PUZZLES with TEDIUM. Memorizing (or writing down) a map isn't puzzle solving. It's data storage.

    • by philspear (1142299) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:40PM (#24375547)

      God of war 1 and 2 were even balances of puzzles, timing battles, slaughtering minions, and bosses with predictable patterns. Aside from the minions, that could be considered 3 types of puzzles.

      Portal mentioned twice is good, but additionally there were sorts of puzzles in half life 2.

      Zac and Wiki, one of the best known hidden gems on the Wii is a point and click puzzle game.

      Zelda and the Phantom hourglass certainly has it's share of very VERY innovative puzzles, making good use of the touch screen and even at parts the FOLDING of the DS (it says to touch a symbol on the top screen to a map, after about an hour of tapping everything in the dungeon I realized it was just you had to close, then open the DS, brilliant nintendo!) and I'm aware that the rest of the series relied on puzzles too.

      Metroid prime 3 had quite a few puzzles and that's an FPS (although some who drink too much nintendo koolaid inist it's it's own "FPA" genre.)

      Lego Star wars had many.

      Halo 3 did not. Katamari didn't. Mario doesn't so much.

      Furthermore, Tetris has been sold well on every system ever, Lumines is quite popular, Meteos did well...

      In my limited experience, puzzles are still a staple of many, in fact I'd even say MOST games (aside from racing and strict FPS.) The author only mentioned two games to support his argument, and the fact that kids don't like puzzles. Well, kids don't like a lot of good stuff. When I was a kid, I thought macaroni and cheese was the greatest thing ever invented, so did my friends, yet you never saw any articles suggesting that fine dining is going extinct because MacDonalds does well and a lot of kids think steak is gross.

      He's obviously picking a few games that don't have puzzles in them that he's played recently and jumped to the conclusion that developers and gamers all have ADD and don't want puzzles. He's wrong.

  • by jessecurry (820286) <jesse@jessecurry.net> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:10PM (#24375089) Homepage Journal
    Did you just totally miss Professor Layton and the Curious Village [wikipedia.org]?!?!?!?!
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:10PM (#24375091) Homepage
    There is a STRONG culture for puzzle games.

    Just look at the Wii.

    But there are also is a strong culture of arrogant shooter gamers that think "If it doesn't have bleeding edge graphics and a ton of violence, then I don't call it a video game. No, I don't care that the Wii is outselling my personal favorite brand of gaming device. They must be sitting unused in closets. Stop telling me statistics. I'll cover my ears LA LA LA LA LA leave me alone and let me play my shoot-em up game and look down on all other gamers."

  • Yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:11PM (#24375121) Homepage Journal
    I ran a D&D campaign recently with a younger crowd. I created it myself, and naturally incorporated a plethora of puzzles, riddles, and number games in it. But whenever the players got to these things, they'd often resort to just trying to fight their way through whatever mechanical obstacle stopped them.

    I think a lot of it has to do with the games that this generation is being brought up on. There's not much strategy or thinking needed for Halo, team fortress II, etc. These newer games through out puzzles and storyline and replace them with better graphics and bigger worlds. Even RPG's these days are less puzzle oriented, and more grind oriented. Thus, most gamers have a mentality that if they can't figure something out they probably just have to overpower whatever it is that is stopping them.

    Compare that to the games that older generations were brought up on (Nethack, Mist, older rpgs) and it is pretty obvious to see why this newer generation doesn't endorse puzzles like some of the older peeps here do.
    • Re:Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gad_zuki! (70830) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:31PM (#24375417)

      That fine, but a lot of puzzle elements in games are just incredibly badly done. Having grown up on King's quest and before that text-based games, I have to say there's no excuse for:

      1. Get key from wizard's corpse
      2. Have level 12 enchantress bless it with swamp water from a Super Troll
      3. Carry it in magical satchel for 4 hours, constantly typing "USE KEY" at every opportunity.
      4. Give it to talking vulture who swallows it and poops out the real magic key, thus going back to the beginning of the game.

      Its just arbitrary absurdist trial and error. People rebelled against this and moved to shooters for a reason. Typing in "USE KEY" 100x doesnt really compare to Doom. Now the shooters have become stale and we're going back to puzzles.

      Of course in D&D its a different but scripted computer puzzles have serious limitations. Its not the genre's fault. Its the people and technology's fault.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Culture20 (968837)
      You need to teach your players that often the best thing to do in a dungeon is run from danger, or come back to a puzzle later; unless all of your dungeons collapse as the players leave.

      That said, some puzzles are okay in a tabletop, but number games should be easily solved with a quick Int check by a character with a Mathematics skill or not at all (because math isn't a common skill), so number games come down to a skill roll or player knowledge.

      Speaking of Nethack, I recently played the latest Zelda
  • What's old is new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tragedy4u (690579) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:12PM (#24375129)
    Give it enough time and things will eventually come full circle, people will get tired of the same old shooter with amazing graphics and frankly thats what it's been for the last 7 years its been mostly about shooters with big guns and dazzling graphics. Today thats not good people want great gameplay mechanics, just look at the Wii, which reminds me of the good olde days of when my family and friends would crowd around ye olde Atari 2600. The good puzzle adventure games had their day after the Atari's sunset, give it some time and they'll be back.
  • Of course! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B Nesson (1153483) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:12PM (#24375133)
    That's why Portal was so wildly unpopular, right?
    • Re:Of course! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pla (258480) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:55PM (#24375841) Journal
      That's why Portal was so wildly unpopular, right?

      And as the fifth (at least) person to bring up that single game, I'd say you've all done more to support the FP's point than refute it.

      A good, popular puzzle-oriented game stands out enough that many of you thought to try using it as a counterexample.

      A good, popular puzzle-oriented game.

      Yeah, you can probably name a few more obscure ones, but that kinda demonstrates exactly the complaint expressed... For every puzzle game, you have a handful of MMOs and a few dozen fluffy eye-candy shooters. Not really a ratio that makes me say "wow, look at the thriving puzzle-oriented game market!"
  • Puzzles of Old (Score:5, Insightful)

    by king-manic (409855) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:12PM (#24375135)

    I think it might be a reaction to the highly arbitrary puzzles in past adventure games. Remember FFX and the arbitrary puzzles it forced you into every once in a while, they were maddenly arbitrary and added nothing to the game. Many of the Sierra games had random arbitrary puzzles as well. This is par for the video game puzzles. They add nothing and simply provide a barrier for people. There were a few interesting puzzles but largely they were senseless and distracting. I don't really want to play the towers of Hanoi every 20 minutes so I can open a locker with ammo. I'd prefer not to have to figure out that I need to insert a spatula into a anti-matter reactor so I can power a jar opener to access a gob of acid to eat through a door. If you left it optional, then maybe; but stopping the story and game to play some ridiculous puzzle or some arbitrary item combination is not fun.

    • Re:Puzzles of Old (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:40PM (#24375557) Homepage

      I think this [oldmanmurray.com] explains perfectly well why the "old-school" style of puzzle game, ala Sierra and Lucas Arts, have gone by the wayside and it'll be a while till they come back.

      I say "think" because my proxy blocked the link. Basically, if it describes a puzzle in which you have to create a disguise by using cat hair and scotch tape to make a mustache in order to imitate a guy who doesn't have a mustache, then you're at the right place. :P

      I think it was Kings Quest 6 that basically broke my brain for puzzle games. At least Space Quest made me chuckle while making me do random retarded things.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by PylonHead (61401)
        Heh. I was going to link the same article. You linked page 3, btw. Here is page 1 [oldmanmurray.com] It's probably the best thing on the site, and the site has many quality articles.
  • by Dobeln (853794) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:12PM (#24375141)

    Having non-randomized puzzle elements in games made sense before the easy availability of Internet boards and hint sites.

    Today, any such content is rapidly bypassed by most. To some degree that is a pity - games like Cruise for a Corpse were great experiences. But alas, the genre just requires too much self-command to be viable.

    Of course, randomly-generated puzzlers are still with us - perhaps with increasing computer power, and more sophisticated AI, we will see a revival of randomized puzzle-like adventures?

    I have always thought that the old Sid Meier title Covert Action is the best blueprint to follow to revive the puzzle-based action-adventure genre.

  • DROD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Disoriented (202908) * on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:14PM (#24375161)

    This game series [caravelgames.com] has kept me busy for nearly a year now.

    No fancy graphics here; it's pure turn-based puzzle, kind of a mix of Nethack and Gauntlet. Everything from horde monster fights to door-lock puzzles to old classic riddles.

    A kind review: http://www.maa.org/editorial/mathgames/mathgames_06_13_05.html [maa.org]

  • Strange comment (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpct0 (558171) <slashdot@NosPAm.micheldonais.com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:16PM (#24375189) Homepage Journal

    GameFaqs made games easy for some, meaning game creators added some challenges that can ONLY be solved by zealots, which pissed off people, meaning most people use walkthrough for the puzzles. (I'm looking at you, Final Fantasy, where you need NOT to get 4 crates to get the best weapon in the game)

    Some challenges are absurd, or blocks the user and are required to continue to play, which means people tend to get to the Faqs again after a period of time.

    Some "puzzle" games are all the same crap (I'm looking at you, website I need to change the address to continue by looking at the source code) ... meaning people get annoyed by these puzzles.

    But frankly, I _love_ a good puzzle game, and I _love_ to solve challenges, when they can be really solved, like all the friends I know.

    But you are right, I hate cheap-@$$ puzzles, I hate copycats of all the same style, and I hate looking at a game for a good hour and not being able to figure out what to do at that point. Up your game while creating your puzzle game and you will have people happy to figure out all the intricacies out of it.

    Cheers!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Don't blame GameFAQs, the puzzles have always been of the impenetrable use-live-weasel-on-airliner-after-setting-fire-to-cake-in-sweden variety that everybody hates. I recall some Elvira knock-off giving answers to adventure puzzles in CU Amiga and it bewildered me that people would start playing those games to begin with if "use the tuning fork on the harpy before, and only before, going to the west wing" was the standard of intelligence going into the gameplay. Good stories, but the "necessary ludic eleme
    • Re:Strange comment (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:39PM (#24375541) Homepage Journal

      I have a rule I use to distinguish good puzzles from bad puzzles: If the easiest method for solving the puzzle is a breadth-first search of the entire possible-solution space, it's a bad puzzle.

  • by sesshomaru (173381) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:18PM (#24375209) Journal
    There are puzzles that make some kind of logical sense, and then these kind:

    .

    The infamous cat hair moustache puzzle is outlined here. [gabrielkni...mpaign.com]

    Those are the kind that make Penn Gillette say "Suck Death, Puzzle loving pig!" as he shoots you with a .357 Magnum.

  • by Channard (693317) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:18PM (#24375217) Journal
    .. as Old Man Murray points out [oldmanmurray.com]. Some puzzles may have been great, but I remember plenty of horrible ones, such as the Gabriel Knight one above, where you had to construct a false moustache using cat hair and syrup, in order to hire a moped.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TriggerFin (1122807)

      .. as Old Man Murray points out [oldmanmurray.com]. Some puzzles may have been great, but I remember plenty of horrible ones, such as the Gabriel Knight one above, where you had to construct a false moustache using cat hair and syrup, in order to hire a moped.

      Yes, and following the link to "the Gabriel Knight one" above, you would learn Jane Jensen had nothing to do with that particular puzzle.

  • I like puzzles (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danse (1026) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:21PM (#24375257)

    I loved Portal and I'd like to see more games like it. The key is a comprehensible and consistent set of rules. I don't mind trying to figure out a puzzle as long as it makes sense.

    What I hate are those "puzzle" games that have you clicking on every goddamn thing on the screen and using every item on every other item to try to figure out what some designer decided should work based on some arbitrary reason or whim. Of course when you try some similar solution in another level, it won't work. That shit is just annoying. Give me more games like Portal!

  • I grew up on the early Sierra and Lucasarts adventure games, and even some text adventures, but even then - puzzles often felt forced and arbitrary.

    "Oh, look -- another door in this dungeon is locked, but has a series of gem-shaped indentations in it! I can't wait to figure out the proper order of the gems! Hooray!"

    The best puzzles were the ones integrated into the story, when Character A (whom we already care about, because of previous plot developments) needs Item B and I need to talk to Character C (whom we also already care about) and figure out that I need to use Item D with Item E at Location F to accomplish that goal.

    But even then, those puzzles bordered on tedium that you simply had to endure in order to see the next bit of (often wonderfully-written) story.

    It was downright schizophrenic: wonderful story, tedious puzzle, wonderful story, tedious puzzle, wonderful story, etc.

  • by ProppaT (557551) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:32PM (#24375431) Homepage

    Anyone who thinks the puzzle/point and click adventure genre has died hasn't played Zack and Wiki for the Wii yet. The game plays phenomenally well with a lot of personality to boot.

    A lot of people are looking towards the Wii as the savior of the genre. Point and clicks aren't always geared towards casuals, but this has always been one of the casual gamers prefered genres. It requires thinking, not quick reflexes and competition.

    The DS is also reviving this genre with games such as Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory and ports of games such as Last King of Africa and Myst. I can only imagine it's a matter of time before we start seeing more.

  • Stretching (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aarmenaa (712174) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:41PM (#24375575) Journal

    It's not that people don't like puzzle games, it's the manner in which they've been used in games lately. In many games they're nothing more than an annoyance, with variants of the same puzzle appearing over and over again in a desperate attempt at stretching the game out and make it seem longer. I have no patience for this sort of thing at all and doubt many people do. If you want to make a puzzle game, or incorporate puzzles into your game, you'd better not make them annoying, mandatory, and long. That sounds like an honest job description; how could anyone not hate that?

    I loved Portal by the way. All the puzzles were different, and the rewards for completion (the humorous voiceover and further interesting puzzles) were excellent.

  • by Errtu76 (776778) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:43PM (#24375625) Journal

    This conversation often comes up when i'm talking about games with younger people. I remember playing the same game, the same phase in that game, for weeks, sometimes even months! Remember the Kings Quest series where you had to find numerous ingredients to make some crazy potion and had to go through all kinds of weird places to almost score with a chick in Leisure Suit Larry. The increasingly difficult and hugely entertaining puzzles in 7th Guest and 11th Hour, and not to mention the fun hours playing Day of the Tentacle.

    I am a huge fan of ScummVM and play some of these games still every now and then. Some months ago my wife and i re-played The Dig, the game that was supposed to be a movie but due to budget became a video game.

    Yeah ..

    And Zelda for the NES is just nothing compared to the one for Wii, i'm sorry. Must be because i'm an old fart (damn, i'm only 31!) but these newer games lack the fun and playability (playing for weeks and still finding it amazingly funny and challenging) that the older games had. Sure there are exceptions, but games like KQ,LLL.MI,DOTT and the like are classics which no modern game can top.

  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday July 28, 2008 @05:47PM (#24375689)
    I loved some of the early puzzle games, particularly Adventure and the MIT version of Zork. Some of the puzzles were fantastic, and you really had to submerse yourself in the world and understand it to grasp how to solve the puzzle.

    But unfortunately IMHO many of the later games (including some later offerings from Infocom) copped out and instead of eloquent puzzles they offered painful trial-and-error puzzles or puzzles so obscure and obtuse that you really had to buy the hint books, call the 900 number, or otherwise "cheat" or you were not going to solve the problems. Far from wonderful puzzles, these are just crude hacks disguised as puzzles from writers who either can't or will not take the time to design graceful puzzles. To come up with an absurd series of idiotic steps that a player must somehow recreate to accomplish the goal, with no logic behind doing these either in the real world or in the game world other than that's what the author has decided you must do, is hardly a valid puzzle. It's just an ego trip for the author and the reason for the decline in supposed puzzle games. And as at least one commenter here pointed out, there are still some good puzzle games, such as last year's Portal.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:01PM (#24375933)

    My older D&D players love them or ignore them.

    Some of my younger D&D players got very upset.

    Talking to them later, they feel their self-image is threatened when they can't solve them and instead of wanting to push harder until they do solve them they get upset and stop. My response has been to be more careful about leading them into the riddles with game events or easy riddles leading to harder riddles and they are getting better. I was surprised at them being upset tho and I have to assume it has to do with the "no real winners and losers everyone has to feel happy" attitude in school these days. They can't handle losing very well. Instead of viewing it as a challenge, they view it as unfair.

    To be fair, it is possible that my older players had similar issues when they were younger.

  • WELL ! (Score:3, Funny)

    by smoker2 (750216) on Monday July 28, 2008 @06:50PM (#24376751) Homepage Journal
    WELL !
    HAVE THEY ?!?!?!
  • by 7Prime (871679) on Monday July 28, 2008 @08:48PM (#24378211) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, the DS is has tons of adventure games with a lot of hard non-linear puzzles. Try the Phoenix Wright series or Hotel Dusk. Those have the same kinds of puzzles and problem solving that you'll find in the old Monkey Islands, Mysts, and similar games. Then you have the more epic Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, and Zelda games, that offer a combination of adventure puzzles with action elements.

    As a fan of really puzzly adventure games, I really don't agree that puzzle games are disappearing. In fact, I think they're getting more involved and more difficult. Sure, the puzzles are becoming more integrated into the setting, but I think that's a really good thing.

  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Monday July 28, 2008 @09:59PM (#24378935)

    Does anyone here remember those old "Choose your own adventure" books that was basically a printed form of a decision tree? (There used to be hundreds of the things throughout the 80's and 90's.)

    Although the stories were a bit lacking, it did make reading as a kid much more enjoyable since it was interactive.

    To be honest though, I'm amazed the genre never expanded to more adult readers. There's so much that could have been applied to the format to make them more interesting. For example, requiring the reader to solve complex puzzles to determine what their choices are, or remembering previous elements from the story to know what they need to do next. Span that over 1,000 pages, and you could have an adventure last several hours.

    One interesting approach, a story involving a mystery requiring you to gather evidence and take statements from witnesses to build a case, then going to trial with it where the reader can choose to be either the prosecution or the defense.

    Something like this could make for an interesting project for writers like Tom Clancy or John Grisham, who already write incredible linear stories like these. This would simply be an extension of their talents to make the reader far more involved in the story and the outcome.

  • by Kintanon (65528) on Monday July 28, 2008 @11:37PM (#24380031) Homepage Journal

    What I DON'T have patience for is WALKING. It's one thing to have to figure out how to unlock some complicated door puzzle, it's another thing to have to spend 20 hours walking back and forth gathering bits and pieces to "solve" a puzzle.
    The problem with puzzles in games is that the nature of the puzzles deteriorated over time to be moe time consuming and tedious and less clever.
    Get rid of the extraneous travel time associated with the puzzles and a lot of people will suddenly have a lot more patience for them.

    Oh, and that will have the added bonus of stopping developers from artifically increasing the playtime of their games via incredibly long travel times.

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