5.- THE PUZZLES AND THE MAP
Now I needed a plot, some events, and difficulties that Gent Stickman must confront to achieve his goal. This is mainly what stories are.
Due to the lack of time available to implement that part, I could only have a few scenes, and they needed to be very easy to create from the side of development.
With more time available I would love to create the full set of things, an epic story in the line of the Princess Bride: A revenge, a miracle, a giant, and true love.
But once proven that this story was going to lack the last one of those things, I decided to stick to simpler ones.
First, I was going to need several locations. I thought about the kind of things children usually draw, and a tree and a house come to mind (you can search in google images and it will probably show you drawings with houses, trees, sun, and family members, if for any reason you didn’t have your own childhood).
From my point of view, locations needed to stay as simple as possible (for technical and aesthetic reasons), so those were going to be two different locations.
As the Evil Meat Hand had kidnapped the princess, the house quickly became a castle that Gent Stickman needed to reach. That would be the first difficulty that the players were going to have to overcome.
A moat would be the obstacle that would split the world in two parts in an allegorical way: The first side where all should remain childish and innocent, and the second side where the adult world would be, with the real images of the “Evil Meat Hand”, the long-awaited goal of finding the Lady, and the disappointments of growing up. Once the pit was crossed, it would not be possible to get back to that land of innocence, that lost Eden with the tree.
If it was going to be an Eden, it was also going to need an apple, so I started to think about getting it and then giving it some use. It should be the medium to leave Eden.
I had some obvious ideas and solutions to cross the pit, but they were mainly a two-way road, and I liked the idea of non-return, not only for this metaphorical approach that probably nobody was going to see nor care about, but also to make it clear to players that once they reached the other side, they were not going to need more things from the initial one.
Some of these ideas for crossing the pit were things like: chop the tree and drag it to the moat, fill the moat with water to go swimming to the other side, stab “something” in the spikes to walk over them without dying, and those kinds of things.
Making a catapult bending the tree some way to throw Gent Stickman to the other side was one of the possible puzzles to create, but I finally thought that the best option was to use the apple for this to create a new tree just beside the pit. The player would jump from the top of it to reach the other side.
The best of this puzzle was that it was taking advantage of the cartoon style reality of the game, making possible and plausible approaches and solutions to problems like this one.
This approach has a clear drawback, that was also pointed by one of the beta testers: In a crazy world as the cartoon one, it’s difficult for the player to understand what is possible and what is not, so the game should give some help to the player to know what they are supposed to do.
Doing it without text was for me the greatest challenge of this game, I think, and I will talk about it later.
But let’s continue with the puzzles.