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Category: text adventures

Pondering Puzzles

Pondering Puzzles

Okay, while in this post I’ll be talking about the games I’ve been creating in Wander, this post isn’t really about Wander specifically, but about text adventure games in general.  And more specifically, about puzzle design.

While planning out one of the games I was going to create with Wander, “The Eye in the Forest”, I kind of stumbled into a stupid trap of game design.  Fortunately, I think I stumbled back out of it.  I’d come up with a particular puzzle I was fond of, involving the player’s reaching a certain platform, but then later on it occurred to me that, given some of the available objects in the game and their possible interactions, there was another course of action that logically should also allow the player to get to the platform.  Of course, I already had a solution in mind for the puzzle, so I wrestled for some time with the question of how to rule out that unintended alternate solution. It wasn’t until the next day that the answer finally occurred to me, and when it did it was obvious:

Don’t.

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The Limits of Wandering

The Limits of Wandering

All right, so, I’ve come up with an idea for the game I want to write in Wander, and I’ve started coding it. (I don’t have the entire game and all its puzzles planned, but I have enough to get started.) Working title: “The Eye in the Forest”. I’m… actually afraid some of the puzzles might be a little too tough. There’s one especially near the endgame that requires some use of different mathematical bases… then again, while they may be difficult, I don’t think any of the puzzles are actually unfair, and I like the way they fit together enough to go with it… what the hey.

So now that I’m working with the language, what do I think of it so far? Well, like I said in the last post, I actually kind of like the quirky syntax of the fields. It takes a little getting used to, but once I got the hang of it it’s kind of fun. That’s not to say this would be my first choice of a language to write a text adventure in, of course, because it has some pretty significant limitations. So let’s talk about that a little.

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Wander: Language Overview

Wander: Language Overview

So, now that we’ve looked at the surviving Wander games, let’s take a glance at the Wander language. (I’m not sure “language” is entirely the right word… data file format? But I’ll call it a “language” for purposes of brevity.) I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it as I actually start using it to make a game, but for now let’s just see what we can get from the documentation.

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Wander: The Surviving Games

Wander: The Surviving Games

So, last time I discussed Wander as a whole; this time I’m going to talk about the surviving Wander games. (And then next time I’ll go into the Wander language itself.) I’m not going to do a play-by-play of the games; if you want that you can go to Renga in Blue or CRPG Adventures, where Jason Dyer and Nathan P. Mahney, respectively, provide playthroughs. I’m just going to briefly summarize the games to provide a frame of reference in case I want to refer to them later.

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Wander (1974)

Wander (1974)

Every text adventure fan knows the name of Adventure—a.k.a. Colossal Cave. Created by Will Crowther in 1976 and expanded the next year by Don Woods, Adventure gave its name to the genre class, and was the first adventure game of all.

Except that it turns out it wasn’t.

Oh, adventure games do take their name from Adventure; that much is true. (And if you insist on calling them “interactive fiction”, you’re dead to me.) But it seems that Adventure wasn’t really first after all.

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