So, I was thinking of making a game in the future where you input one command and it runs through two characters. But in having trouble thinking of puzzles where it requires both characters. For instance, one puzzle involves needing a cart in only one of the games, which is only achievable in one room where one is the interior of a shack and the other is the edge of a cliff, so you push it over the cliff (but in one it won’t fall off). Any action involving the cart from then on when the cart’s only visible in one place will be a sort of deja vu feeling on the non-visible one part, but that’s not important.
What I’m having trouble with is incorporating puzzles so that it requires two characters doing different things.
That is exactly what I mean. One puzzle of that sort is above, and another is set in a car park - where you can move in one direction and end up in two different rooms, but never end up in an unwinnable situation.
How do you see both characters in both locations? Is the room description split? What if there is no hat in location 2? What’s the game’s response if only one character can do a thing? Does each location mirror the other exactly, and if so, what’s the point of the 2 players?
There’s something intriguing in this idea, but from a design perspective, I can see so many problems that it’s obscuring the narrative usefulness of the idea.
Almost all the time, the rooms and the objects are the same. If there isn’t, Something feels wrong… or the sort. And yes, split screen. But I need to think of more ideas for split-character puzzles before I can do that.
What an incredibly interesting idea! My mind immediately went to the Upside Down from Stranger Things and having a character in the real world and a character in the Upside Down, each of whom are mirroring the other’s actions whilst navigating perils and obstacles the other cannot see.
Having the same command run through two different characters is more difficult though: you might require them facing different directions or different physical characteristic, etc. Even getting them in the same room is tricky (in a sokoban-like way) as I suspect you would have to get one “stuck” for a bit while the other catches on.
@David_Welbourn once mentioned an idea like this in conversation on IFMUD a few years ago. If I recall correctly, he wanted to have two different parser games that took input from a single parser. Both would have fairly obvious but contradictory solutions; i.e. taking the obvious path on one would spell disaster for the other. The puzzle would be figuring out what series of commands would solve both puzzles. Please correct me if I’m wrong, David.
A lot of Lucasarts adventure games with multiple characters like Maniac Mansion do this, although in graphical fashion. The most typical is one character must push a button that has to be held down to keep a door open while the other character goes through it. Another is one character distracts an NPC while the other searches what they’re guarding - in MM you would have one character ring the doorbell so Weird Ed would go downstairs and answer it while the other character ransacked his private room. To get into Nurse Edna’s room one character had to let themselves be captured by her and while she was locking them in the basement, the other character would search her quarters and then rescue the other by unlocking the door. Another one involved one character turning a valve to drain the pool that was being used to cool a nuclear reactor that would explode if the pool was drained for too long - I think one person didn’t have enough time to turn the valve, enter the pool, and get back out before a meltdown. That was also one rare way you could kill someone by flooding the pool before they climbed out. (I assume the water was irradiated due to nuclear reactor so it wasn’t just a matter of swimming to the ladder.)
Day of the Tentacle did this with time travel; I think there was a puzzle where you had to stop George Washington from chopping down a small cherry tree in the past so the tree would exist in the future grown higher to climb and reach an otherwise inaccessible window. (In this game each character was trapped in a different time period so they had to help each other. The time machine (which was a port-o-potty or “Chron-o-John”) had to be repaired so they couldn’t fully time-travel but could “flush” items back and forth to each other in different time periods.
Another Maniac Mansion quirk was each character (you chose 3 out of 7) had special skills that changed how the puzzles could be solved. A couple had music knowledge and could play a piano to create and send off a demo of one of the Tentacle’s songs to make him famous and leave the house, one was a writer and knew how to get Weird Ed’s novel published to make him an ally and stop capturing you, some had technical knowledge and could fix things others could not (you always wanted Bernard on the team!), characters who worked out on the gym equipment became strong enough to lift the broken garage door (but I think Bernard would refuse to work out), and there were alternate puzzle solutions based on what individuals could or couldn’t inherently accomplish.
There are a bunch of puzzle platformers that play with the idea of characters moving together: most of them revolve around getting one character “stuck” so you can get them out of sync, and then one can hold a switch down, or serve as a step to lift another up, etc.
The Swapper (Wikipedia) is perhaps my favorite of these. They (I think) tend to be not quite what you’d want in an IF piece but there might be some inspiration there…
Maybe mirrored movement, too? In at least one of the early Zelda games there are enemies that mirror your movements and you have to figure out how to maneuver past them (or maneuver them so you can hit them without being hit back).
Or past selves: The Company of Myself is an old Flash platformer with a bit of a narrative (maybe about loneliness and possibly mental illness of some kind? it’s been a while) where you could interact with (mostly stand on top of) shadows of your past selves replaying your former movements.
Sorry for the long delay in replying, but yes, that’s more or less what I said. I was envisoning a split screen ala Adam Cadre’s Nacrolepsy, so the text of both games are running side-by-side but every player’s command applies to both sides. I still have no idea what sort of stories or puzzles would work in that setup, but it would sure be different. Probably hell to play too, with text scrolling up in two places all the time, and you’d want both story panes to support scrollback.
I suppose, alternatively, one could present the two stories in different text colors, or one all in italics, so the two stories could share the same story pane. Might be slightly easier for both the author and the player that way.
I am wondering how that would work.Or rather what would stop the player focusing on one side, then the other. The character on the left screen needs to get the key and unlock the door, so the player does GET KEY, then UNLOCK DOOR. On the right screen, we just see “You see no key here” and “With what, you have no key?”
I am not seeing how that makes a puzzle. You would have to have the right hand world littered with keys and locked doors, and bad consequences if the wrong one is opened.
I am not saying this is a bad idea, but I think it needs some very careful thought before you invest too much time in it. Work out some transcripts before hand and see how it would play out.
One thing could be like, if time passes for one player, it passes for the other. Therefore if you’re in a difficult, timed situation or in the dark with a limited light source, you want to find important similarities between games.