FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

Journal Keeping

Another common feature of adventure games—one that is conceptually similar to automapping—is automatic journal keeping. The game fills in a journal with text as the player goes along, recording important events or information she uncovers. If the game includes a convoluted plot or large numbers of characters, the journal can be an invaluable reference tool for the player. Let her call it up and look at it at any reasonable time (though not, perhaps, while hanging over the edge of a cliff or being interrogated by a villain). As with conversations with NPCs, the journal gives you an opportunity to define the avatar's character through his use of language. Journals are ideal for games in which the player must collect informational clues, such as mysteries in the Nancy Drew series.

A Few Things to Avoid

As adventure games evolved, designers created many different kinds of puzzles and experiences for the player. Some of these are extremely clever, such as the insult - driven sword fight in The Secret of Monkey Island. A good many others, however, proved to be only tiresome time wasters, obstacles that add no entertainment value to the game.

PUZZLES SOLVABLE ONLY BY TRIAL AND ERROR

If you give the player a puzzle that has a fixed number of possible solutions of equal probability (in effect, a combination lock), but no hints about which solution is right, then the player simply has to try them all. The Infocom text adventure Infidel included a puzzle like this: The player had to line up four statues of Egyptian god­desses in the correct order, but there were no clues about what the correct order might be. The player could do nothing but try all 24 possible combinations and keep track of the ones she had already tried. There's not much fun in that. Instead, find clever ways to provide the clues.

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FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

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