Game Development Reference
cajole, outsmart), subterfuge (create a diversion), or violence (time for that mace you
picked up earlier) to name just a few. Mental puzzles can be riddles, math problems,
or social, scientific, or psychological conundrums (solve global warming).
Puzzles can be combined in puzzle suites (many thematically linked pieces of a
larger obstacle), or chained together in series to create elaborate puzzle structures.
Some puzzling considerations for writers:
Puzzles can pose moral dilemmas. To combat evil, must I become evil? Does
the end justify the means?
Consequences of certain puzzle solutions may not be readily apparent. I
opened the water valve so I could swim across the ravine, but the flood drowned
Puzzles can provide exposition: reassembling this bomb, I can match it against
the techniques of known bomb makers and maybe identify who made this
Every good puzzle has a crisis, a climax, and a resolution, just like a good story.
Keep in mind that your task is not to create puzzles so hard that the player
cannot solve them, and that you can easily modify a puzzle's level of difficulty
with skillful writing.
Play fair! All the information needed to solve a puzzle should be available
somewhere within the game.
Remember above all that if you want to integrate all the elements of your adven-
ture game, your puzzles must be in context. In the recent series of Agatha Christie
adventure games I wrote and designed, I tried to make every puzzle, every obstacle,
every action the player takes relate directly to the story and the characters, make them
logical within the fiction of the game world, and keep them thematically consistent.
3.9 Story and Structure
The structure of an adventure game is not a sandbox. The player cannot invent the
story and make it her own as other types of games try to do. The adventure game
is a progression from point to point. This does not mean it has to be linear! Don't
make that mistake! But even if it isn't linear, it forces players to assemble the story in
concrete pieces that do not allow for much emergent gameplay as we typically define
Even if the puzzles can be solved in any order, they must be solved, or the game
is not a true adventure game. This is one of several reasons adventure games have
fallen out of fashion in recent years in the face of wide-open worlds that promise a
unique experience for every player.