(Good luck on IFComp all you authors!)
I’m wrapping up my big parser game I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve started to sketch out the final areas, getting rid of all the temporary placeholder rooms I had and working on the intro.
I have the story and overall plot of the endings picked out, but not the puzzles. I’d be interested in hearing what you guys like.
Here are some endings for big games I’ve played in the past (spoilers for all of them):
- ADVENTURE: Teleported to another area with cool fourth-wall breaking ideas and a couple very difficult/unfair puzzles
- Mainframe Zork/Dungeon: A very complex puzzle about manipulating a colored box followed by a lore quiz
- Curses: Teleported to a new area with timed puzzles and a lot of ambience, not too long
- Not Just Another Ballerina and Mulldoon Legacy: I don’t remember much of the endings of these two, but looking at walkthroughs it seems they both involve Navigating a complex maze followed by a few simple puzzles
- Finding Martin: I also don’t remember this one well, but from the walkthrough it seems like it’s a fairly short sequence of thematically important puzzles with some leaps of intuition required.
- Cragne Manor: A combinatorial puzzle followed by a short, light puzzle sequence
- Blue Lacuna No puzzles really, just making a thematic choice and getting the consequences of it
- Hadean Lands: I remember the very end but need to look up what proceeds it. You put together your knowledge from earlier in the game to echo earlier content, although now with greater effort and preparation
9.Counterfeit Monkey: You have puzzles of roughly the same difficulty as earlier but with really cool tools you didn’t have before.
- Inside Woman: A difficult riddle/combinatorial puzzle
Speaking of Mulldoon Legacy, the help text of that game says:
However, I’d like to stress that “The Mulldoon Legacy” is primarily a puzzle game, and using hints WILL spoil your enjoyment of it. There is no fantastic plot here which is worth a walkthrough just to see.
That’s pretty much where I’m at with my game. I noticed while making this list that the endings of big puzzle games are rarely what I remember most. It seems like most people opt to do a smaller, lighter set of puzzles at the end or to have one horrendous puzzle followed by more light options.
I’m currently planning on 2 main endings, but one of them having two distinct variants story-wise but not puzzlewise. So endings 1A, 1B, and 2. I’m planning on making each ending about half the size of a ‘regular’ dimensions.
I’ve already had a lot of hard puzzles in the game (of the 9 dimensions made so far, 5 are puzzle-heavy and 4 are puzzle-light). Some of the puzzles are hard enough that I have to sit down and work them out on paper even though I wrote them. So I don’t think there have to necessarily be hard puzzles at the end. But there could be! And the nice thing is with two different sets of ending puzzles (1A/B and 2) I can accommodate multiple ‘tastes’.
So what do you like to do at the end of a big puzzle game?
- One very complex set of puzzles to prove my worth
- A generally puzzleless area that is story focused
- A set of puzzles that ‘puts it all together’ using the skills you’ve learned
- An easy but timed sequence where death is possible
- A few simple puzzles with hard solutions (like riddles)
- Mild puzzles with big lore dumps
- Something else I’m going to comment below
Before seeing the results, my current plan is to have one medium-difficulty ending that echoes the earlier puzzles and to have one complex ending that’s timed and/or has possible death.