Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"?

Posted by: Becky

Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 11:23 AM

Plot puzzles -- the kind where you have to piece together the order in which events happened, or investigate until you belatedly realize what actually DID happen -- are some of my favorite challenges in a game.

Do people consider these to be a "legitimate" form of gameplay? If a game consisted wholly of a series of plot puzzles, would you still consider it to be a game? Or if the game has plot puzzles, and the other (inventory, mechanical, etc) puzzles in the game are fewer or easier in order to accommodate all the thinking that goes into piecing together the plot -- do you feel that the game is "too easy?"
Posted by: Volkana

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 11:30 AM

Becky i have to admit that i understand the half of what you said (my poor poor english) but from what i understand i can tell you that i like putting the pieces together in the plot of a game and i don't think that a game can be easy if not has mechanical puzzles... I like the inventory puzzles though... For example in Sinking Island there was a lot of plot puzzles but few of inventory puzzles... I didn't mind... If the plot puzzle factor in a game is strong then i don't mind the not existence of any other puzzles smile
Posted by: Rushes

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 12:55 PM

It's a delicate balance, with a lot of other factors coming into play. Is the story involving enough? Does it draw you in, and make you need to know the why, when and wherefore? I would absolutely enjoy and support a game which consisted largely of plot puzzles, if it was well-made and entertaining.
Posted by: RayBres

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 02:41 PM

I'm not sure that I understand the subject here. Perhaps examples of different types of games so described by Becky would clarify the matter.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:13 PM

Hi Becky, I have to agree with RayBres here, I'm not sure I understand the subject either. An example of a game or two would be helpful? smile
Posted by: Rushes

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:23 PM

Overclocked is a good example, I think. It's told in reverse flashback, so you have to piece together the story from the fragments. The puzzles are quite simple and inventory based.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:26 PM

Hi Rushes, I haven't played Overclocked yet - are there any other games that could be compared? smile
Posted by: gremlin

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:30 PM

Becky, are you asking about things like the CSI games, where you're putting together a policy investigation, based on figuring out what has already happened?

Gremlin
Posted by: Rushes

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:38 PM

Hi chrissie wave

Shadow of Memories (aka Shadow of Destiny) is another example.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:46 PM

Maybe the question should be whether something that has "plot puzzles" and no other type of puzzles qualifies as an adventure game -- or should it be under a different classification (maybe interactive movie).
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:49 PM

Thank you Rushes. smile Shadows of Memories was a very interesting & engaging game I thought, with a very innotative approach. I liked it very much & would like to have seen more - there was at some point some talk of a sequel.

It didn't have an inventory as such or puzzles, & I didn't consider it easy but it was to my mind a legitimate & superb AG! I'd love to see more games like it - but they'd have to be as well done or better & not instead of our normal AGs - as well as! smile
Posted by: Rushes

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 03:58 PM

chrissie, did you take part in the GB group play of Shadow of Memories/Destiny a couple of years back? I remember that as being great fun.
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 04:03 PM

Rushes, sadly I didn't - I think I was a lot newer to the forum then, also my version is for PS2. But I do remember following some of the thread smile
Posted by: Becky

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 06:54 PM

Shadow of Destiny (Memories) was one of the games I was thinking of, as was Overclocked (though I've just read descriptions of Overclocked so far).

I was also thinking of games like Scratches, Dreamfall, The Experiment and The Lost Crown, where there are detailed discussions in the forums as to what exactly is going on in the game and what the implications are for the plot and characters.

I've seen Dreamfall, Shadow of Destinies and Overclocked criticized as not having enough gameplay or for being too easy. Which seems very strange to me, since figuring out the plot in games like these seems to me to be as much an intellectual exercise as figuring out which inventory item should be used on which hotspot.

I can understand how others might feel differently, however. So I was curious as to how many people might agree or disagree.
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 06:58 PM

Plot puzzles to me (like Overclocked) are like interactive movies. Considering I have the attention span of a gnat unless I am actually doing something, I have to say those games are not for me at all. Finishing Overclocked was very painful for me.

Ana wave
Posted by: Becky

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 07:00 PM

So it isn't that plot puzzles don't make you think (they do that). It's that they don't make you feel as though you are actively doing something in the game?
Posted by: BrownEyedTigre

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 07:06 PM

I was bored to tears is the truth. Even though the story was gripping, I wasn't in the mood for a movie. Perhaps if you had to do something else but click on a recording to trigger advancement each time it would have been different.

It needed "more" anything. It's like watching a movie at the theatre but everyone has to get up and change rows every ten minutes. It broke the spell of the "movie" to have to do something to trigger them, and it broke the gameplay to continuously click on a PDA to trigger a cutscene.

Ana wave
Posted by: Mad

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/14/08 10:20 PM

Hi smile

I haven't started Overclocked yet so can't comment on it - but I do prefer a variety of puzzles in a game rather than a mainly plot puzzle driven one ....

Often I simply can't spare the proper amount of "sit and think" time during a gaming session when plot puzzling is the only way to progress rolleyes

Cheers.

Mad grin
Posted by: nickie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 01:42 AM

I love the plot puzzle style, and found Overclocked more immersive than when I have to stop game play in a game to figure out a machinery puzzle, or how to sneak past something, etc.
Posted by: dragonuk44

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 03:58 AM

Thats why I like detectives .Guessing who did it is part of the fun .Then proving it .With some puzzals of cause that coinside with the game .Every one of cause likes differant themes .I like the daft one to monkey island where every thing goes .Its all according what sort of mood I am in . lol wave
Posted by: Rushes

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 11:57 AM

It really does depend upon the individual game, doesn't it. smile I was bored by Overclocked, but I did very much enjoy Shadow of Destiny and found it a very well thought-out game. And I've played Dreamfall 3 times now, and enjoy it more each time; its world is captivating and magical, and (for me, at least) the lack of any real puzzles doesn't detract from it in any way.
Posted by: Bernard

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 12:16 PM

I love it when the plot leaves some things to the imagination, I even like games with an open ending!


Bernard
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 01:00 PM

Originally Posted By: BrownEyedTigre
I was bored to tears is the truth. Even though the story was gripping, I wasn't in the mood for a movie. Perhaps if you had to do something else but click on a recording to trigger advancement each time it would have been different.

It needed "more" anything. It's like watching a movie at the theatre but everyone has to get up and change rows every ten minutes. It broke the spell of the "movie" to have to do something to trigger them, and it broke the gameplay to continuously click on a PDA to trigger a cutscene.

Ana


I have to agree with Ana. I haven't played Overclocked, but I've encountered the same kind thing she's talking about in other games. Most of these games would have worked better as real movies than as "interactive movies."
Posted by: LindaMarion

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 02:54 PM

Apology for my ignorance.

What is the definition of *plot-puzzle*?
Posted by: Becky

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 03:47 PM

A plot puzzle occurs in a game where significant portions of the story are ambiguous or parts of the story occur in odd time sequences (for instance, perhaps your character is traveling through time, or to different worlds in different times, or perhaps she is remembering things, but it's not clear what order the memories are in). So you spend part of the time you're playing the game trying to come up with the most logical time line, or figuring out how certain events fit within the plot. That's how I would define it, anyway. grin
Posted by: looney4labs

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 05:36 PM

Well, I really liked Dreamfall and I would definitely class it as an adventure game. However, I guess for me it has to do with how strong the story is to start with.

I'm not sure I'd like to have to order the timeline though I don't mind learning what happened in flashbacks or by written material wave
Posted by: chrissie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 05:50 PM

I think one of my main issues with a couple of the 'plot puzzled' games mentioned i.e Dreamfall & The Lost Crown is nothing to do with them being 'plot puzzled'. It was more to do with stories that weren't concluded satisfactorily.
I got on with Dreamfall far better as it had a story within itself which was concluded & a comprehensible story-line, although I was annoyed that I felt left hanging and a sequel is needed to tie up the loose ends. I wish game developers wouldn't do this & make their games completely 'self -contained'.

As for the Lost Crown, as much as I enjoyed playing it, on it's conclusion it had dropped from potentially being in my top 20 games to the ranks of 80+. The reason being that the ending didn't really offer any full explanation as to what the story was about so the content ended up feeling 'shallow'. Also ambiguity in small doses can be interesting, but throughout a whole game it is just feels that you are on the recieving end of a developer who can't make up his mind what he is doing. smile

Posted by: LindaMarion

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 06:13 PM

ive played computer games for long time but never seen the words *plot puzzle* before.
Ive seen slider puzzle, sound puzzle, inventory puzzle, mechanical, etc

many thanks becky for your explanation but i still dont understand. i put plot puzzle in google and got different things absolutely.

Quote:
A plot puzzle occurs in a game where significant portions of the story are ambiguous or parts of the story occur in odd time sequences

wouldnt this be a *plot problem* or a *plot ambiguity* or even a *plot failure or bug* or something?

why is it called puzzle?
Posted by: Becky

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 06:27 PM

I think of plot puzzles as puzzles because (to me) they require as much thinking as more "traditional" puzzles, such as inventory or mechanical puzzles. I find them just as challenging and enjoyable as other kinds of puzzles.

I suppose partly what I'm asking is: are they indeed puzzles? Or are they really something else? (Is the plot just the plot, even if you have to piece it together to understand it?)
Posted by: Bernard

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 07:09 PM

For me the 'plot puzzles' are the most important ingredient of memorable games. I love to piece the parts together while playing the game. What I even like better, after finishing the game, is to sit back, enjoy a beverage of choice and pondering about the plot. Filling the plot holes with my own interpretations! When a game succeeds to do that, it's sure to get high on my favourites list!


Bernard
Posted by: WRMW

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 08:55 PM

Perhaps the argument can be made that a "plot puzzle", as defined by becky, could be a puzzle, but it would be a stretch to call it gameplay. That would be like saying a mystery novel has gameplay.
I myself wouldn't consider it a puzzle in the video game sense at all. Though it can be engaging, I would call it "plot comprehension" or just "plot".

And it is not a substitute for active gameplay either. Both have an important role in the quality of a game.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/15/08 10:06 PM

Quote:
A plot puzzle occurs in a game where significant portions of the story are ambiguous or parts of the story occur in odd time sequences

But that often happens in real movies too, that have no gameplay at all.
Posted by: LindaMarion

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/16/08 04:20 AM

i must be all too dense.
sliders, mazes, combinations, and on, are put in by deliberately by the game makers to puzzle the people.
are these plot puzzles,which i still dont really understand,put in deliberate by the developers to puzzle people? or are they sort of faults when making game?
im still mixed up.excuse me
Posted by: Becky

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/16/08 04:35 AM

LindaMarion -- yes, using a plot this way is put in deliberately by the game makers to puzzle people and make them reconstruct the plot or think hard about what must have happened in the story. Some gamers really enjoy it and others (from what I can tell) chiefly find it confusing. It's not a fault, IMHO, it's an added layer of challenge.

Jenny -- yes, I'd say it does occasionally happen in movies. I wouldn't say that it happens a lot. An example would be Momento.

Games draw puzzles from other media too. Sliders, mazes, codes, etc. -- though those are more traditionally "game-like."
Posted by: nickie

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/16/08 10:01 AM

Originally Posted By: LindaMarion
i must be all too dense.
sliders, mazes, combinations, and on, are put in by deliberately by the game makers to puzzle the people.
are these plot puzzles,which i still dont really understand,put in deliberate by the developers to puzzle people? or are they sort of faults when making game?
im still mixed up.excuse me


The developers of Overclocked did this on purpose - with the overall piecing the time frames together to form the plot. They deliberately made the other puzzles in the game, such as using inventory items or logic puzzles easy, with the main focus on piecing together the story. Like it or not like it, it's still a puzzle to solve. This is different from a game that is just constructed willy nilly and without that intent.
Posted by: Jenny100

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/16/08 10:49 AM

Certainly a plot doesn't have to take a chronological path from what happened first to what happened last, whether it's in a game, a book, or a movie. But revealing a plot -- putting together the pieces of a mystery -- isn't unique to games. You pretty much always see it in mystery novels. Just because the same method of storytelling is used in a game doesn't make it "gameplay."
Posted by: sierramindy

Re: Plot Puzzles -- Are they or aren't they "Gameplay"? - 05/16/08 02:53 PM

Hi Becky,
Your "plot puzzles" definition answers some of my personal questions about many of today's games.
I think adventure games are evolving into something else and that something is a lot more complex than adventure. I'm from the old, old school where an adventure was a *quest* and the gamer was part of the plot in a way. We had to look at everything and had tons of inventory to be curious about and to search out answers to make the game move forward. I can't really explain it but (strictly my own reaction to these two well made games) Overclocked was boring in one way and Jack Keane was boring in another way. I wasn't interested enough to try to finish either game, kept thinking that the creators of these two games had *never* played an adventure game so didn't really know how it worked. But then, I come from the "good old days" and the only adventure game worth the name for me this year has been Diamonds In The Rough, a true adventure game gem, nothing rough about it, except in the title, of course.