I’m looking for some help coding/designing the final puzzle for my game. This is more a plea for brainstorming than a hard coding question.
In my hybrid IF/graphical game, you take the role of a reporter working your way through a murder. Basically, by the end of the game, the player will have accumulated heaps of information, some of it relevant, some of it not. If the player (not the PC) knows the significance of the info, they will be able to piece it together into a correct account of events, pinning down who did what, why, and how. I’m envisioning a puzzle in the form of the reporter PC’s notes. I can do this visually, so hopefully that allows for some options that might not be possible in straight IF.
Basically, there are a couple of potential suspects and a couple of things the victim has been involved in that could motivate a murder. It’s gonna be the peak of the game, so several elements and layers of complexity would be cool.
Some things that I was thinking were:
[spoiler]A simple series of more or less direct questions: Who was the murderer? Where did it happen? What was the weapon? This will accomplish what I want (testing the player’s, not the PC’s knowledge), but it feels really heavy-handed.
A wheel showing all the NPCs with the victim in the middle. The player would draw lines between the NPCs (both the suspects and the bystanders) to indicate their relationship: Alice hates Bob, Carol betrayed Alice. The problem is, I don’t know how to guide the player unless I give a list of relationships (hate, betrayal, jealousy) that would feel ridiculously artificial. I could set it up so the player actually types in the relationship, but this also feels a little odd.
Otherwise, I could do a timeline where the player puts events in the victim’s life in order. When I think about the motive and what led up to the murder, it makes most sense to think of it sequentially. But when things actually happened isn’t a puzzle, so the puzzle would be knowing what was significant. The problem here is how do I ask the player that? If I just put out a list, then the significance becomes obvious. If I ask the player to type it, the events are too complicated to spell out.
There’s already a notes system in place that I quite like. The PC jots down relatively innocuous statements automatically as he/she discovers them, but it is up to the player to connect two separate pieces.
For example, say there’s a bunch of notes, in two different sections (one about the body and one about Adam), it’d look something like this:
- Fact: Zachary was murdered on Tuesday between 0200 and 0600
- Fact: Body had rope marks on wrists
- Fact: Zachary was shot with a .44
- Adam: “I haven’t seen Zack since raquetball on Sunday”
- Fact: Adam was seen at the Slee-Z motel Tuesday @ 2300, out at 0800 the next day
- Fact: Adam worked at a bank
- Adam: “I was visiting my mother Tuesday night”
So if you select 1A and 2B a conclusion pops up saying “Adam couldn’t have been the murderer”. If you select 2B and 4B you’d get something like “Adam was lying about where he was the night of the murder”. If you select two unrelated ones (say 2B and 3B), no conclusion would appear.
I think maybe if I use this notes system it’d be fine to just put the important conclusions in a timeline: the player will have already made the inference.[/spoiler]
Anyway, what do you guys thing? Have you seen similar puzzles in other games? What works? What doesn’t?
All the best,