Hi Thomas,

That message summarized things quite neatly. For my own part it isn't that I am unable to play games with guesswork, and certainly not due to an inability to create them. But your switch versus jungle example perfectly illustrates my point. While it might be obvious in this particular case that the switch will due the trick, there is no actual logic that says so. And that is the whole difference between the tree over the river, and the switch. It is very much logical that you might cut down a tree and make it fall across the water in order to climb over, where as pressing random switches doesn't present the same logic at all. Again, it might be easy enough to do but there is no sense in actually doing so.

In my upcoming game, for instance, there is a patch of quicksand that you cannot jump across. You can attempt to run over it, but there is a very high risk that you will get stuck and die. Right next to it is a swinging vine that you have to catch but that alone doesn't cary you over the quicksand either, even if you jump to the right when the vine is swinging as far to the right as it can go. Instead you need to climb up the vine, above which is a branch that you can climb on and then catch another vine which is just to the right of the quicksand to climb down again. That, to me, is a perfectly logical puzzle and my game will be full of those.

Again, personal preference must be the final judge as you say. And I think that it is a good thing that we have vastly different approaches, as we will end up making two vastly different sidescrollers. Smile.

Kind regards,

Philip Bennefall
----- Original Message ----- From: "Thomas Ward" <thomasward1...@gmail.com>
To: <phi...@blastbay.com>; "Gamers Discussion list" <gamers@audyssey.org>
Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2011 5:36 AM
Subject: Re: [Audyssey] Seamlessly upgrading DirectX

Hi Philip,

Well, always as author/creator of the game it is up to you how you
want to create your puzzles. If you think putting a switch or lever in
another room is a bad idea don't do it that way. As I mentioned in my
prior post most of the time the switch, button, etc is in the same
room as the item to unlock.

For example, in Tomb Raider Anniversary one of the first obsticals to
pass is a room filled with poison darts. You can either try and avoid
them, or you can climb up the wall and push a switch which will
disable the dart traps. This is in the same room and a quick
inspection will show that there is a switch high up on the wall. I
don't think it takes too much logic and/or ddeduction to figure out
that a switch high up on the wall most likely disables the dart traps.
Make sense?

In one of the Classic NES games I use to play there were locked
tresure chests scattered around the levels with special items in them.
They weren't particularly hard to open. Usually, there was a green
button in the middle of the room you would jump on and when you did
the lid would pop open on the chests. Little things like that weren't
hard to figure out, but added so much more to the game play for me.

However, I've played plenty of games where the switch, lever, button
wasn't located in the same place. In Tomb Raider Prophecy, for
example, you might be in a room with a locked door. You might have to
run up a staircase, go right, flip the switch, and hurry back to the
dor before it closes again. I'm use to that kind of puzzle element
because I've played lots of games like that.

I certainly agree it doesn't make any logical sense, but it does
require some experimentation, and/or practice to figure it out. In my
opinion that is exactly the kind of thing that makes me play a game
over and over again until I figure it out. The less obvious the puzzle
the harder the game is to figure out and play. I don't like games if
they are too simple or too easy to play.

As far as a jungle environment goes there are a number of things you
can do that is logical and still have some sort of puzzle element in
them. What if you are trying to cross a river filled with hungry
crocodiles. Well, there might be some way to create a makeshift
bridge. There might be a big tree nearby you can cut down to cross the
river, or you can use boulders to create a foot bridge across the
river. Perhaps there is a large tree with a vine on it you have to use
in order to swing across the river. You see, it doesn't have to
necessarily be high tech. Just obsticals etc you have to do a little
thinking to figure out how to resolve.

One puzzle element I've recently encountered in a game is shooting
switches from a distance. For instance, if you are in the jungle and
you have to get from one cliff to another there might be a drawbridge
you have to lower to get to the other side. You might use your bow and
arrow to shoot an arrow across the chasm, hit the switch, and the
drawbridge will fall down.  These kinds of puzzle elements are
becoming quite common in mainstream games, I think make sense, and I'd
personally like to see more elements like this in audio games.

Personally, I don't mind a certain amount of guess work, because I
really enjoy that in a game. That is something I truly miss, and
something many accessible game developers seam to dislike for one
reason or another. I don't say this to be overly critical, but in my
opinion accessible games are being dumbed down, over simplified, etc.
Instead of creating games with a serious level of challenge developers
are continuing to produce very simple games that are below average
when compared to the mainstream in terms of complexity etc. I don't
know if this is a skill or experience thing, or just an attitude that
we aren't smart enough, good enough, or able to play more complex
games but I kind of find it a bit of a defeatest attitude when people
say this or that is too complicated or too hard. I personally don't
believe they have tried hard enough at it myself.

The thing is that I feel like an alien when I'm around other blind
gamers and other blind developers because I'm litterally from two
different worlds, two different levels of experience, and i find it so
absolutely frustrating to get people to understand what real
mainstream gaming is like. Most of them don't really care which I find
a bit ironic. Every few months there is a debate on Audyssey where
people want Sony, Nintendo, Activision, Capcom, etc to listen to us
and create accessible games for the XBox, Wii, and PS3. Unfortunately,
if they did start making their games accessible I feel most people on
this list wouldn't play them. Not just because of the money involved,
but the games are so much different that people would most likely end
up wining and complaining about them being too hard like the always
do. Accessible gaming, such as it is, wouldn't really prepare them for
the kinds of games someone sighted our age is playing right now.

Anyway, to sum up you are the creator/author of your games and it
really isn't up to me to tell you how to create them. Merely take
these ideas as suggestions, and take from them what you will. I
understand that my views aren't the popular views shared by my fellow
blind gamers, and my point of view has largely been influenced by
mainstream games that I have personally played. I am well aware that
my experience with gaming is quite a bit different than your own, and
I got interested in guess work, mazes, and other challenges early on
where you dislike those things. Unfortunately, this comes down to a
matter of personal preference, but I do think some things can be put
to good use if you look at some mainstream games and borrow from them
ideas that might be of interest to you personally.


On 3/9/11, Philip Bennefall <phi...@blastbay.com> wrote:
Hi Thomas,

Speaking of puzzles. You mention things like pushing a certain switch to
unlock a door in another room, but I don't really see that as a puzzle. I
see that more as a random action that just happens to do something. I mean,
there is no logic that explains why this switch should or should not open
that particular door. Do you see where I'm coming from? In other words you
would not be able to figure it out with an intelligent process of deduction,
you would have to try things at random to see what happens or be told by
someone else. Puzzles that are in some way connected to what they actually
do, I would call those proper puzzles. But just pressing a certain switch
somewhere has no logical connection with the door in question in my mind.

Another problem with this is the environment setting. My upcoming game is
set in a jungle, and there would be no logic for me to use switches or
similar high-tech devices to accomplish things. I could make it so that you had to jump on a certain stone to accomplish something but it wouldn't make any logical sense, it would just be something you had to do to progress but
there would be no particular reason for doing so. These kinds of puzzles
turn me away from a game rather quickly, since if I don't see a reason why I
have to do something it doesn't really create an enjoyable experience. It
becomes guesswork rather than gaming.

What are your views on this?

Kind regards,

Philip Bennefall

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