I ask this question because I’m back to contemplating a game concept that I’ve never had the time to develop, due to college coursework: a Conan-style puzzle-based adventure game.
Rather than design a pile of lock-in-key based puzzles, I wanted to make it a low-inventory game. I can’t imagine Conan solving problems by hauling around a sword, a lantern, a basket, a newspaper, a strange fungus, a dented crown, a silver tooth, two zorkmids, a rubber life raft, a ladder, a portrait of the chairman of the First Bank of Frobozz, a bone amulet, and a bottle of distilled water.
Instead of buying the old man a drink to get him to reveal the location of the treasure, you boast of your own exploits, or you threaten him. Instead of needing the key to enter the wizard’s tower, you can intimidate the door guard, or climb the wall. Solutions have few objects, if any, and those that exist are small (a lost ring, a jeweled eye) or must be carried with two hands (a big boulder, a pneumatic princess).
That design goal raises the question of how many solutions there should be for each puzzle element, and in particular, what solution should remain if the “wrong” solution is applied (eg, praising the door guard or mocking the old man).