I’m in need of a way to design a particular puzzle, and I’m not coming up with anything I like. What follows is a bit spoilery, but there’s no help for that. I’ll try to disguise the less than essential bits.
This is an old-school parser-based game. You need to find a way to open a secret door in the bookstore location, and the key to doing this is going to be a phrase you’ve acquired by solving a complex anagram puzzle. The scuff marks on the floor will reveal the existence of the door, and there’s a bust of Shakespeare nearby.
The phrase I have in mind to use is a few words from Henry IV, Part 1, but of course that fact is much too dreadfully obscure for any player to notice the connection between the phrase and the bust of Shakespeare. I can nudge the player toward seeing the connection. The phrase is “unclasp a secret book” and I can provide an old leather book, held shut by a clasp, whose title is “Shakespeare’s Secrets.” That’s a reasonable in-game clue, once you’re unscrambled the anagram.
But what will the player do with the phrase once she has noticed that it may be relevant in that room? Using it as a command would be weird, because the verb isn’t a normal IF command. Entering it into a computer terminal is just too old-school a cliche, so I don’t want to do that. Saying it to the bust of Shakespeare would be rather silly, because the bust is clearly just an inanimate object. I had thought of having the door open when you open the clasp on the book, but then the anagram puzzle becomes irrelevant, and it’s a huge part of the scenario.
Wild and impractical ideas would be welcome – this game is going to be full of them!