Do you have any 'rules for game design' that are objectively false but you still cling to?

Take, for example, getting the wine from the shopkeeper in Dr Ludwig Vs the Devil.


Hey I need some help, I am stuck in this maze.
Just drop some items to disambiguate rooms!

Tidal Swamp
The air is thick with the scent of rotting vegetation.
Exits lead in every direction, though it's hard to see far.
> drop priceless pearl
As the priceless pearl slips from your grasp,
it disappears into the muck with a faint "plop" and quickly sinks out of sight.
The water ripples briefly before returning to its stagnant state.
That's not a verb I recognise.

That sort of thing happens in Starcross! (Oh, except as far as I know, you just have the objects returned to you.)

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In Barcarolle in Yellow, you need to drop a silk scarf to survive, because it marks you as prey for the serial killer.

Another idea I considered was that when you fall into the water you need to drop all heavy objects that cause you to sink, before you drown.

I can see many uses for it. And it can be surprisingly unexpected precisely because all parser players develop that specific 2x1 combo of kleptomania + Diogenes syndrome as soon as they start playing :grin:


This is a legit DROP use. Not commonly done, however. Yes, having to drop poisonous objects is a good puzzle. I personally haven’t seen any, although I suppose I need to play more games.


I think it doesn’t hurt to break your own rules occasionally. Having argued vehemently against inventory limits in the past, I included one in To Sea in a Sieve. But it’s a volume based inventory limit. I always thought it was ridiculous in old-school games that you’d have to drop a paperclip to pick up a ladder. You wouldn’t necessarily notice the limit in TSiaS, unless you tried to pick up multiple large objects, and I think that’s fair, especially since the game is essentially one big physics puzzle.

My equivalent to this list would be:

  • You can’t have a story without characters, so NPCs are pararmount.
  • Puzzles should serve the story, but if you’ve got a really good puzzle, build the story around the puzzle.
  • Don’t make the game cruel. I’m far too polite to do that.
  • Randomisation? Sure! Why not? I like to write farce, and random elements add a frisson of chaos to the proceedings. But it can make the game a bugger to test!

I think randomization in atmospheric effects works well. In puzzles, only if you want a rogue-like or table top RPG feel.

I replayed Tales of a Slavers Kingdom recently, which has a lot of randomized combat. (Sometimes frustratingly)


It can certainly be overdone, yes! I mainly use it for atmospheric effects and for NPC behaviour, rather than in puzzles.


A text adventure is the equivalent of an escape room in that you have to solve puzzles in order to achieve a goal. When playing an escape room, I challenge you to pick up everything that’s not nailed down and carry it around with you, even after you’ve used it, and still manage to solve all the puzzles while juggling 30 or 40 items.


I prefer kinetic puzzles. Something like chess. That’s what an adventure game is to me. Walking simulator is fine, too. Going touristy in imagination land.

I know that the largest part of the potential audience prefers player characters that are easy to identify with and hence unremarkable if not outright undefined so as to project themselves into them.
Yet I’ve written most of my games with rather more idiosyncratic, probably difficult to relate to and possibly even objectionable protagonists.


For me that’s not true (both as a player and as an author). Maybe a little “space” left for the imagination is not bad. But not completely undefined. I can think of IF games and immediately associate a PC with them.


Hmmm… I think the term you’re looking for is:

> Aarrrggghhh!
That's STILL not a verb I recognize.