Mazes and Beyond

I’m aware that many players of parser IF dislike mazes. Mazes tend to be boring and tedious.

At the moment I’m thinking of possibly writing a game that is essentially one huge feature-rich maze. Navigating would be easy, and the locations would all have distinct descriptions, none of that “twisty passages, all alike” business. The central puzzle would be not “how to get from A to B” but rather “how to get from A to B along the route dictated by certain clues, and how to prove to an inquisitive NPC that you actually did so.”

I guess what I’m curious about is how people would feel if they launched a game and then realized that that’s what was on offer.

In an important conceptual sense, every parser IF game is a maze, so I guess what I’m wondering is how effective it would be to ask the player to learn a route when there are no locked doors, uncooperative guards who have to be put to sleep, or any of that stuff … in spite of which, the game would likely be very difficult to win.

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I like your idea a lot. Do be sure to give the player enough context and incentive to want to play by your terms.

The concept of a big-picture puzzle being “all roads are open, but you have to find/follow the right one” is very appealing to me. Would this be a game where you are encouraged to explore all “wrong” paths too? Or an optimization game to complete the right path in as few moves as possible? Or…

First thing that comes to mind is picking up certain objects along the right path and showing them to the NPC, but you probably thought about this already.

Good luck!

I’m not sure at this point. I’m just brainstorming. My thought is, when you enter a room where there’s an NPC, have a conversation, and then leave, that NPC may go elsewhere. And you may need to come back to that room (via another route) later. If the NPC is gone, it might throw your navigation seriously out of whack, unless you’ve taken notes on your earlier conversation.

My guess is, most players would probably want to play the game twice. First time, just wander around and see everything. Then do a restart and try to follow the trail of digital breadcrumbs.

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Well, I certainly would do that.
Just thinking aloud here, but you could kill off the player who strays from the path after x moves, allowing some freedom of exploration, but severely punishing a player who tries a brute-force or luck-of-the-draw approach without carefully considering the clues and thinking about her next actions.

Of course, this would invite another kind of brute force approach: memorizing the path where you don’t die. Learn by dying, in other words.

I guess you could make brute-forcing more tedious by increasing the solution space by whatever means.

In response to the OP, the game concept sounds good to me. Even if ‘maze’ has become a twitch word to a lot of parser IF folk, I think what those folk don’t want is to map something for ‘no reason’. If they’re aware of all the mechanics of how to map, and there’s nothing in or ‘to’ the map other than the room connections, that’s the kind of maze they’re down on. That’s not what you’re doing.

There are at least two games (probably more) by Andrew Schultz that already work with ideas related to what you’re pitching:

-Wade

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