I’ve been trying to come up with ways to eliminate unwinnable states in A Killer Headache, and I think I just got an idea for one. Let me lay it out for you:
[spoiler]The biggest and most frustrating unwinnable state that remains is getting stuck behind the diner when the children are chasing you. The “official” solution was to go in the front entrance first, then sneak out the booth by breaking the window, so they never follow you out back. Once they see you go from the road to the parking lot, the game is unwinnable.
I was hanging onto this for a number of reasons, one of which was the lawnmower death scene, which would never even happen if it weren’t for this puzzle. But I doubt that anyone else loves this scene as much as I do, given that it’s very hard to figure out what went wrong.
But I just realized that a solution I came up with earlier for another too-easy state (don’t hate me!) might work for this one too. I didn’t have the pack of dogs enter the diner until a pretty late stage, when I realized you could win the game by outrunning the children, and never use the jukebox at all. Having the dogs means you must be in the dining room with the children before you can win the game. Well, it just occurred to me that this might solve the back-of-the-diner problem too. If I allowed the player to go in the employee entrance instead of stopping you with that dumb “shaking” excuse, the dogs could find you in the kitchen, forcing you to lure the children into the dining room and turn on the jukebox. You wouldn’t need to break the window in the booth, but I’d be okay with demoting that to an alternate solution.
There would still be a time pressure issue: you’d have to get the generator on and slip into the employee entrance before the kids arrived at the Shed. That might mean another unwinnable state, in the sense that “undo” wouldn’t give you enough time to wake up and escape. Maybe I could come up with a range of actions during the lawnmower sequence - attacking the horde gets you killed, but running away wakes you up, or something.[/spoiler]
Please, forgive me for the wretchedness of this puzzle, and help me come up with something better. I’m not sure if there are unanticipated loopholes or pitfalls to this proposal, so I really need someone to pick it apart. I would be deeply in your debt!