Unsolved Games

Not unsolvable per se, but I seriously doubt that anyone has ever solved Stuga/Cottage (Cottage - Details ) without hints. Not only is it generally hard, and some puzzle solutions are far-fetched, but there are passages that you have to take, which are randomized, so most of the time they just lead you back to a place you’ve already been. But sure, if you’re just a really lucky person, you get where you need to go. :slight_smile:


There’s plenty of games that nobody has solved without hints or source/binary peeking. Especially from the early 1980s when IF design was in its infancy!


As you know, my session ended at the altar when I received a screen dump of every takeable item in the game when I attempted to PRAY. My PLATO sessions continually disconnected or crashed so I gave up. The guy administering it was as helpful as he could be considering. Maybe I was playing in ATHEIST mode.


Some might say the “infants” are the ones who can’t countenance unwinnable states, or meta deaths without squealing. Modern doesn’t necessarily equal better.

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I think you have misunderstood what I meant by “infancy”.

I follow Jason Dyer’s blog playing games from the very early 1980s. There’s a bunch of them which are just broken. I mean broken by 1980 standards, not “modern standards”. Unmentioned exits. Unmentioned takeable objects. Verbs that only work in one room or with one puzzle. Puzzles where the solution is “try this one unhinted action twelve times until it works”.

This is not surprising, since the state of the art in 1981 was that anybody could write a two-word parser in BASIC, make a bit of a game, and then upload it to a BBS or sell a few copies on tape cassette or maybe get it printed as a source code listed in a magazine. (I did some of that in the 1980s myself.) Not everybody was Infocom or even Scott Adams.


Yes - I apologise for that. It is a truism however that there are some very well constructed old games (the second most ancient being an empirical setting that actual cavers have verified as geographically and archaeologically accurate) and a lot of diabolical and slapdash tat from the recent past.

I have also never understood why authors consider themselves duty bound to bundle solutions with their games. You may as well strain to compile a cryptic crossword puzzle and give the reader a printed solution so they can fill in the grid. I can name some high profile IF names (and I’m sure you can) who break their necks to speed type a walkthrough solution so they can plant their “I’ve finished!” plastic flag in the soil. Let 'em earn their corn.

Where is the stimulus or satisfaction in being hand held the whole way?


I know of some games where I hate as IF, but love as linear fiction!

If you fail to catch me as a gamer, maybe you’ll catch me as a reader. Or would you prefer me to just dump your whole game as broken?


That is the very reason why I added Story Mode to my IFComp entry! To entice people (not familiar with / scared by / whatever reason) parser games to give my game a try instead of ignoring it as not for me… Of course it was rather story heavy, so it worked out nicely IMHO.


Not all players have the same level of experience with parsers. Some puzzles that can seem incredibly easy for some will be excruciating for others. Just having things like hints or a full walkthrough to help out those who could use a hint or two, or even a solution can make the game enjoyable for the one that struggle.

It’s nicer to be able to look through a solution page and continue with the flow of the game than stop the game, post your question on the forum for help, wait for someone to respond, then pick the game back up when you finally can…

Also it’s a nice way of introducing new players to the medium :person_shrugging:


I’d like to flatter myself that this refers to me (and maybe it does!) but either, the shoe fits me.

I understand where you’re coming from. That’s why I think you should try my new game:

It has no hints and no walkthrough, and no one’s been able to beat it in less than 30 hours that I know of. I made it for people like you, specifically (not every aspect of your personality, just your view on older large games). It has a lot of difficult puzzles, including some that are hard even for me who made it after replaying several times.

I freely admit to using walkthroughs. I also use a crossword dictionary and occasionally online crossword solvers for cryptic crosswords. I don’t really have a defense, although the concept that there are objectively right ways that other people should behave is, outside of some basic human laws like ‘don’t murder’, an example of a cognitive distortion: How to recognize and tame your cognitive distortions - Harvard Health


If it helps make you feel better and put your preferences on a more rigorous basis, there’s actually been theoretical work on what people get out of puzzles and games, and challenge or a sense of accomplishment is only one of many potential things that make games engaging to players – the MDA framework is a fairly solid approach, I think, and outlines other aesthetics like narrative, discovery, and fantasy that are I think more typical of the design goals of modern-school parser IF.


Walkthroughs also help with the problem of “I’ve been enjoying this game a lot so far but I can’t get past this one puzzle, I’m not sure if the game’s broken or if I’m missing something fundamental or if I just can’t find the one phrasing it wants”.

When I run into those situations, the presence/absence of a walkthrough (or hints, or people I can ask on the forums) tends to be the difference between “I’m skipping that puzzle and continuing to enjoy the game” and “I’m done playing this, I have better ways to spend my time”. As an author, I’d vastly prefer players do the former!


Despite what others may say, I agree wholeheartedly. You are playing a game, not reading a book. The enjoyment of playing a text adventure lies in the sense of discovery, the challenge and the satisfaction of solving it. If you follow a walkthrough, you miss all this, you haven’t solved it and you never learn so that you can get better when playing other games.

Mind you, if you get stuck (and I mean really stuck, not just lazy), then hints are a boon.

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Seriously, this is not a competition to demonstrate that your way of playing games is the rightest.


Hello Rovarsson.
I’ll add some thoughts:

Both Skybreak and Lost Coastlines were not intended to be games where the “end” mattered very much. It’s cliche to say its about the destination rather than the journey, but both play with the idea of “progression” quite a lot. Skybreak’s opening quote changes each game but many are about how “traveling” can be more fun than “arriving.”

Lost Coastlines was explicitly designed to be an RPG you can’t lose and you can win anytime you want. With a few very slight exceptions, you can “Win” lost coastlines anytime you want by typing “WAKE UP”, whereupon you receive a final score.

That said, an “ideal” play through of lost coastlines looks like this

  1. Gather items, secrets, questions, and stories
  2. Tell all your stories at a tavern
  3. Answer all your questions at an academy
  4. record all your secrets at a library
  5. renounce all your possessions at a temple
  6. wake up.

Thus the objective of the game CAN BE “locate all those things and then find a good place to give each of them away

There is also a secret: there are eight alternative win conditions, seven locations on every map that are almost certain to appear, which provide different ways to “wake up” and score your game. For example, if you travel to the Coldest Climes, you will not be scored by how much pleasance you have, but rather by how much worry you have. If you drink from the shimmering sea, you MIGHT end the game without any form of unpleasance except sadness affecting your score. If you pay your respects at the shrine of the first dreamer’s first love, you can lose all your sadness before having your game scored.

So yeah, really big game. The manual and the tutorial explain all this stuff, but I don’t begrudge people for not reading them.

Two of my older games, Tingalan and Six Silver Bullets, have no public solutions to my knowledge, though people have written me and told me they “figured it out” . These games are kind of deliberately frustrating so they’re not for everyone.


Thanks for elaborating. Now I’m in the mood to start up Lost Coastlines again!