my problem with if is there's often a difference betwene puzles that require cleverness or thinking around a problem to solve, and puzles which are just problems with the language or weerd actions in game.

In shade from Andrew plotkin for instance, the first puzle is to get a drink. there is a sink and turning the tap on yeidls the message "yep, the water hasn't been cut off yet, you turn the tap off" typing "drink from tap" gives you "you haven't druk from the forsit sinse you were small"

You find a cup, but the game simply refuses to recognize the command "put cup under tap"

this just frustrated me to the point where I gave up, sinse there was no logical reason why the stupid character if he was thirsty shouldn't fill the blasted cup, ---- yet he couldn't!

Contrast this though with the really nice puzle in earth and sky part to by Paul panks.

You are trapped on a small asteroid with different bio environments, which you can travel betwene by jumping from place to place in your powered earth suit (you are a superhero in that game afterall).

you discover a button in the tropical zone covered with slugs next to a locked elivator door, and a flask with some white christals. putting the white stuff on the slugs kills some of them, but more slither on top, so you need to get more salt.

one zone is sea, so you go to the sea zone. one item you have is a large dome (actually a broken observation shelter), which you can fill with water. You then need to take the full dome to the desert and leave it in the sun. In the desert is a y shaped cactus (this confused me a bit at first), and another item you have at this point is a lense from a broken teliscope which you slot into the cactus to focus sunlight onto the sea water.

A couple turns later and bingo, you have salt, which you can then collect in the flask to take to the tropical area to kill the slugs.

This was a puzle I took some time on, exploring, working out what needed doing and what item did what, but the solution just required an application of logical principles and a use of what you found. No weerd commands, no instances of your character being stupid, just streight forward looking at the problem and considdering a solution which imho made for a good puzle.

I think this is my problem with a lot of if, particularly the early zork and collossal cave type affairs.

"oh, so I was supposed to open the rusty lock by using the grane to lure the mother ostridge away from her nest, stealing an egg, taking it to the construction site and putting it under a steam hammer, annoying the monkey in a tree until it throws a coconut at me, smashing the coconut in half with the steam powered gillertene then picking up the yoke in the half coconut, piling the lose news paper near the sparking ellectric lead until it catches fire, then cooking the ostridge egg yoke in the half coconut until it turns to fried egg which I can then smear on the lock to grease it" ---- how stupid of me not to guess!

A made up example this is, but I have seen games with puzles just as convoluted as this, and while I love explirng a world and history, meeting it's characters and interacting in it's plot, having this type of frustrating, convoluted riddle which most of the time just stops me frome xploring and causes me frustration I find actually puts me off games.

I suppose it's a balance and a fine line, but a lot of If I've tried does seem to get it wrong.

If I find is one of these things that is fantastic when it's good, but really quite dire when it isn't.

This is also why I'm a fan of limited parza or commands, sinse that insures the player can experiment more easily and thus is likely to be able to find the solutions to complex puzles just by trying things out, where as having to specifically type instructions just seems to make such experimentation more and more difficult given how imprecise english is.

Beware the Grue!


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