Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Puzzle Tweaking - Tale of a Wooden Stick

Once upon a time there was a wooden stick, a stick so firm, a stick so stuck it could not be seen upon without the touch of many small, busy hands.

And so this tale beings.

Today we released a new gameplay video. Keeping to the Amnesia tradition it is one single clip, showing a sequence from the game. This time it's about exploration and puzzle solving. It is the puzzle part that this blog post will discuss, as it took quite some time for us to get that puzzle right.

The puzzle is that the hatch is too heavy to lift by hand, but by using a crank and pulley contraption the player can open it. Unfortunately something is wrong with the crank/pulley and the player has to figure out what it is. It turns out that a small piece of wood has been jammed into one of the pulleys, making it impossible for the crank to pull the rope going through the pulley.

This particular piece of wood took quite a lot of tweaking in order to make it noticeable. For each test session we found that there was always one or more testers that got stuck on this puzzle. They simply could not find what was wrong, most important, they did not notice the wooden piece at all. Over and over we tweaked the puzzle, we added descriptions and interaction messages, we changed the texture of the wooden piece, we added some faint light to show it clearer in the dark, there are some particles coming down from the wooden piece when you pull the crank, we made the model larger and we changed the angle it is stuck in. We even added an alternative solution to the original solution (not saying what the solutions are, in-case you like to solve the puzzle in another way than what is shown in the video).

Finally, we hope, for the love of all puzzles, that this puzzle has been tweaked to perfection and that none of you will get stuck on it*.

*If you watch this video, it would be very strange if you did. :)