Food and Puzzles don't mix

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Azel
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Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Azel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:11 am

Quick intro: I absolutely love Grimrock 1 and 2, and I am a huge fan of puzzle solving adventure games (I have all 5 Myst games in original packaging, I love Longest Journey, etc). My first dungeon crawler was "Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements" for the NES (released in 1990); I've been addicted to single player RPG's since the first Final Fantasy.

LoG does a virtually masterful job of blending dungeon crawler with RPG with puzzle solving adventure. However, the implementation of Food is the one thing that works against this trifecta of game genres. More precisely, the food/starving element hampers the puzzle solving adventure experience.

What makes adventure games so intriguing is the ability to engage in the story and explore the artwork that makes up the beautiful environment within the game, which helps distract the player from the fact that they are walking around the same places over and over again, looking at the same scenery hoping to find some clue on how to solve a riddle or puzzle. The magic behind a great adventure game is the "distraction" element, because it reduces or eliminates the frustration behind trying to solve difficult puzzles.

Games like Myst and Longest Journey do this very well. Grimrock does it differently, yet in a very unique and brilliant way: distraction via RPG (whereas games like Myst/Journey are limited to distraction via more artwork and more story).

But whether it is a pure adventure game like Myst or a dungeon crawler like Grimrock, the premise behind puzzle solving should be the same: the player is about to endure a large number of hours racking their brain in an effort to solve puzzles therefore the game world itself should help reduce feelings of frustration and instead promote a sense of goal-oriented fulfillment which then empowers the player to do it all over again, and again, and again.

Despite my love for solving riddles and puzzles, I found myself resorting to online Spoilers more often than not while playing Grimrock. In contrast, out of the hundreds of puzzles in the Myst series and throughout Longest Journey, I resorted to an online Spoiler only a handful of times and only when absolutely necessary (ie, an entire week has passed and I still can't figure the darn thing out). But with Grimrock I can't really do that because if I keep walking around looking for clues and trying different combinations for stepping on floor plates, climbing ladders, crossing over bridges, walking under bridges, chasing light, dodging light, etc... I end up needing to feed my damn crew members. And if I run out of food I need to leave the puzzle area to go hunting. That's not the right kind of distraction from puzzle frustration, that actually adds to it - in my opinion.

With Grimrock, if I can't figure out a puzzle in 20 minutes or so, I have to decide if it is worth engaging in the puzzle solving element of the game and hope that I don't have to worry about food for awhile, or if I should just read a Spoiler and skip the food/starvation headache. I choose the latter more often than not, and when that starts to kill the gaming experience for me I end up bypassing the food problem by simply letting my team starve until I figure the puzzle out myself; at which point I then "re-load" the game to a previous SAVE point in order to solve the puzzle quickly using the food supply I had when the ordeal began.

The Save/Reload routine is already taking place in high volume due to the live action dungeon crawler RPG aspect of the game; having to Save/Reload to get around food/starvation issues when trying to solve puzzles starts to take away from this games beauty. Things start to become less about the game world and more about Save Files.

I would love to see Food either eliminated or drastically reduced in future releases of Grimrock. I think the dev's are leaning that direction anyway since they gave us that Chain necklace in LoG2 which removes starvation from 1 character. They just gotta quit the foreplay and code that feature out already :mrgreen:

FIN.

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Dr.Disaster
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Dr.Disaster » Mon Dec 01, 2014 4:18 am

Azel wrote:However, the implementation of Food is the one thing that works against this trifecta of game genres. More precisely, the food/starving element hampers the puzzle solving adventure experience.
This is only true when the game (and mod) designers forget to add replenishing food sources. The main campaigns of both LoG's do this quite well so unless you deliberatly avoid to look for replenishing food sources this is not an issue. I tend to explore rather intense thus playing slow and at least for the main campaigns my party usually drowns in food without much hazzle.

In addition food is only used when
- characters need to regenerate health and/or energy
- the party rests (something i rarely have to do in LoG2)
- the party moves

Just standing around does not use food.
You can stand for hours and hours in a room to think about a puzzle without anyone growing hunger.

Azel
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Azel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:05 am

Replenishing food sources are typically above ground. Some are indoors (Snakes in the Pyramid) but there are plenty of examples of puzzles deep underground that can't be solved by standing around and thinking; such as the "Tetris" puzzle in the Sewers. Without the use of spoilers it takes a lot of walking, climbing, and swimming to figure out the hidden pattern required to make the secret Portal spawn. And it was downright embarrassing how difficult it was for me to figure out the 2nd pattern in the Archives floor plate puzzle to get the Dragonbreath Revolver (Right vs Right 1 vs Rotate Right) ... omfg I still feel dumb for that one.

A large amount of excess movement is required to solve these, and in both cases the player is quite far from any replenishing food sources. Adding more food sources doesn't seem like a good answer because all that does it cause "item hoarding" to become the anti-starvation strategy. And if we are gonna make starvation a non-issue by adding more replenishing food sources, then why not just make starvation a non-issue by eliminating it? :D

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Dr.Disaster
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Dr.Disaster » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:15 am

Azel wrote:A large amount of excess movement is required to solve these, and in both cases the player is quite far from any replenishing food sources.
You know that you have an inventory to carry stuff like food around?

As i said above there is plenty of food to grab in the game. When you keep starving you're doing something very wrong.

An example: you said yourself in a different thread that you have a level 20 Farmer in your party. It takes a massive amount of food to level a farmer that high which makes your points about food shortages and starving sound rather hollow.

Azel
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Azel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:50 am

Dr.Disaster wrote:You know that you have an inventory to carry stuff like food around?

I wrote something about not wanting to Item Hoard. You apparently missed that point.
Dr.Disaster wrote:As i said above there is plenty of food to grab in the game. When you keep starving you're doing something very wrong.

If I did end up with a starving group often you would be right. Luckily that is not the case. You missed the point, twice now.
Dr.Disaster wrote:An example: you said yourself in a different thread that you have a level 20 Farmer in your party. It takes a massive amount of food to level a farmer that high which makes your points about food shortages and starving sound rather hollow.
You should try playing the game and leveling up a farmer before commenting on it. If you had played a farmer then you would realize how hollow your attempt to call my point hollow is. In order to level up the farmer he has to "eat" the food. Which means all that excess food isn't being hoarded in my inventory, it is being shoved in to the farmers mouth the moment it is acquired. Secondly, in the post you are referring to the mass food consumption took place in one location: the Herders Den. Once you destroy all the enemies in the Herder's Den the monsters stop spawning and the food source is permanently gone, which further makes your counterpoint hollow.

I know you've played the game so perhaps it is your Fanboism that caused you to miss the mark so terribly in that reply.

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Dr.Disaster
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Dr.Disaster » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:08 am

Azel wrote:
Dr.Disaster wrote:You know that you have an inventory to carry stuff like food around?

I wrote something about not wanting to Item Hoard. You apparently missed that point.
Dr.Disaster wrote:As i said above there is plenty of food to grab in the game. When you keep starving you're doing something very wrong.

If I did end up with a starving group often you would be right. Luckily that is not the case. You missed the point, twice now.
Having 2-3 food items on each character is hardly item hoarding and if starving is not an issue for you then this whole thread is pointless.
Azel wrote:
Dr.Disaster wrote:An example: you said yourself in a different thread that you have a level 20 Farmer in your party. It takes a massive amount of food to level a farmer that high which makes your points about food shortages and starving sound rather hollow.
You should try playing the game and leveling up a farmer before commenting on it. If you had played a farmer then you would realize how hollow your attempt to call my point hollow is. In order to level up the farmer he has to "eat" the food. Which means all that excess food isn't being hoarded in my inventory, it is being shoved in to the farmers mouth the moment it is acquired. Secondly, in the post you are referring to the mass food consumption took place in one location: the Herders Den. Once you destroy all the enemies in the Herder's Den the monsters stop spawning and the food source is permanently gone, which further makes your counterpoint hollow.
Thx for fueling my argument that you did something very wrong: while feeding your farmer you neglected the rest of the party. Also if you played the game as much as i did you'd know that once the Herder's Den boss fight is over monsters are also respawned there like toads, wargs, turtles or fish elsewhere in the game.

Bottomline is: food in LoG2 is an infinite resource. It's up to you to manage it right.

Azel
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Azel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:38 am

Dr.Disaster wrote:Having 2-3 food items on each character is hardly item hoarding and if starving is not an issue for you then this whole thread is pointless.

I typically do have 2-3 food items on each character, which is more than enough to handle the dungeon crawl and action RPG elements of the game. By the time I'm done exploring and fighting, I am almost out of food but eventually find more before anyone ever gets a chance to starve. I have faced the problem of starvation zero times in this game. What this whole thread is about, however, is the puzzle solving aspect of the game. It's even in the title, "Food and Puzzles dont mix." Reading is your enemy today but that's okay, I will hold your hand and walk you through it.

Lets say I have 3 food items in my inventory (per character) and I am facing the Tetris puzzle in the sewers. Without using a spoiler I will be doing a whole lot of moving around before I solve it. That's going to cost me a piece of food, possibly 2 if I'm extra dumb that day. Once I solve the puzzle I still have a massive dungeon to finish with more puzzles and enemies. I prefer to save my 2-3 food items for the dungeon crawl and action RPG aspect. I don't want to waste them trying to solve a puzzle. If it takes me a few days to solve a puzzle I don't want that to involve food runs. Yes I have an inventory but there are a few hundred other items other than food that are way more important and useful.
Dr.Disaster wrote:Thx for fueling my argument that you did something very wrong: while feeding your farmer you neglected the rest of the party.

Is your brain just scrambling the words I am typing? I said nothing whatsoever that would indicate I neglected the rest of my party. Only farmers level up from eating food, did you not know that? There was no reason to feed the rest of my party until they needed the food. So while in the Herder's Den my Farmer would eat a good 20 pieces of food before the rest of my party needed 1. And I gave them that 1 piece of food, and they always had 2-3 pieces in reserves. No one ever starved in the Herder's Den. Nor did they starve before, nor after. Are you daft?

Dr.Disaster wrote:Also if you played the game as much as i did you'd know that once the Herder's Den boss fight is over monsters are also respawned there like toads, wargs, turtles or fish elsewhere in the game.

I think you've played the game so much that you can't even see straight; as noted by the delusional things are you trying to argue against (eg, you fantasized about me somehow neglecting the rest of my party in the Heder's Den). You should unplug yourself asap.
Dr.Disaster wrote:Bottomline is: food in LoG2 is an infinite resource. It's up to you to manage it right.

Nah, the bottom line is, "there is no god but Grimrock and Dr.Disaster is his prophet" :lol:

I mentioned two locations as an example of complex puzzles that could easily deplete an inventory of 2-3 food items per character, and those locations do not have infinite food reserves. You have to leave those areas to find more food which takes away from the puzzle solving adventure aspect of the game. It makes solving puzzles frustrating instead of fun.

Bottom Line: Food and Puzzles dont mix.
Bottom Line: Dr. Disaster cant read.

You seem to have convinced yourself that I am running around the game without any food for my party, or always searching for food. That's not the case. All that ends up happening is that I don't want to be bothered with excessive food runs so if I can't solve a puzzle after wasting 1 piece of food on it, I either look up the Spoiler online or I use the Save/Reload method. Both of those don't do this game justice.

I assume that your next reply will involve the notion that all I typed just now is, "I cant find food and I cant solve puzzles" :lol:

Anurias
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Anurias » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:32 am

Ok, I think I want to chime in my 2 cents on this... if your characters are starving because you're moving around so much trying to solve a puzzle, then chances are you're missing a clue that will tell you exactly how to solve the puzzle, so you should go do something else until you find that clue. Case in point, the tetris puzzle in the sewer. I solved that as soon as I walked into the room because I had already found the note that tells you the exact order to do it in. I didn't have to resort to trial and error on that or any puzzle in the game as the game gives you the clues to solve every puzzle. You just have to find the clues, which may not be near the puzzle itself.

The fact that you have starvation is supposed to encourage you to keep moving and not waste your time on something you aren't ready to solve yet. It's a motivating factor. Your issue isn't that your characters are starving, it's that you're just being too stubborn to move on and come back to something later when you've had time to think about what you are probably missing.

Azel
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Azel » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:45 pm

Not every clue in the game tells you exactly how something should be solved. The map to the Tetris puzzle doesn't explicitly state that you need to follow the order from "left to right" and that is the order of ladders you should climb, as opposed to the order of areas to swim around. Other puzzles simply require walking in a certain pattern so it's not unusual to have someone swimming in circles in the Tetris puzzle for a long time before they finally try adding ladders to the mix. Especially if you did the "hold your breath" puzzle prior. The tetris note could mean a number of things, such as how long you have to wait (rest) before the room changes - this literally happens in other parts of the game; or the order to which you have to leave some item on each Tetris structure (this is the type of solution to probably 90% of the games puzzles).

Solving these becomes easier and quicker in hindsight, but not when first encountered.

Another great example is the Pressure Plate puzzle that involves directions (UHU, AR, TE, LAM). To open the first door the very first instruction is, UHU NA, which means Forward 2. However the first instruction for the second door is simply, TE, which means, Right. In reality, to solve the puzzle you need to understand that "TE" is the same as "TE NA" so that you can move, Right 1 (thus, Right = Right 1). That is certainly not apparent in a puzzle that starts off explicit and then turns vague; causing this part of the puzzle to only by solved by process of elimination. Lots of walking which would cost me a piece of food.

Also, there is no clue in the game that tells you PALA is Rotate Left and FAAM is Rotate Right. Those are found by process of elimination which further complicates issues, and costs me more food.
Anarias wrote:The fact that you have starvation is supposed to encourage you to keep moving and not waste your time on something you aren't ready to solve yet.

There are far too many examples of puzzles in Grimrock that require strict dedication to the immediate area in order to solve. Trying to find hidden switches (like for the Meteor Shield) can only be done by covering all the walls above ground and underwater before located. There are no hints, no clues for any of these. So no, I don't think the point of starvation is to keep the player moving. It is not uncommon for food to be implemented in an RPG (see: Betrayal in Antara), and I think that is exactly why it was introduced in Grimrock: it has strong RPG elements, and the Farmer class gains level by eating Food.

However, since Grimrock also tries to implement a strong puzzle solving approach - moreso than a traditional RPG or dungeon cralwer - I feel that the food element begins to work against the game. I feel that the dev's are starting to realize this which is why they added the Chain item that removes starvation as a feature from a character.

Trying to defend the game by referencing the ability to go get more food or go find more clues is not adequate for reasons that should be obvious (food is too far from the harder puzzles and not everything has a clue). As I already stated, the starvation issue can be avoided by Re-Loading saved games after solving a puzzle, but I do feel that this approach just further subtracts from the beauty of Grimrock. We already play the Save/Reload game during tough battles, or when trying to use one of the limited Gold Keys (or even a Lockpick), or falling down a shaft. Using it to manage food and puzzles takes away from the maturity of the game.

Well despite the fact that the only two commenters in this thread decided to defend the game, I decided that the best approach is just to use the Console to spawn more Neck Chains to use when trying to solve the longer more complex puzzles. While using the Console is technically "cheating" the Neck Chain item is a legit item, which means I get my wish: starvation goes away entirely for the puzzle aspect of the game. Very useful since tough battles often come after solving a puzzle; I need my damn food for those scenarios.

Hopefully in future versions of the game the dev's can either get rid of it, or give more Chain's early on. :geek:
Anarias wrote:Your issue isn't that your characters are starving, it's that you're just being too stubborn to move on and come back to something later when you've had time to think about what you are probably missing.

Agreed that I am stubborn :D

Puzzle solving adventure games like Myst and Longest Journey rewarded my stubbornness. That is what makes them great for their puzzle solving approach. Grimrock's puzzles tread in to this genre, but doesn't quite offer the reward for dedication and stubbornness to puzzle solving. Hence this thread. :mrgreen:

Dematto
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Re: Food and Puzzles don't mix

Post by Dematto » Mon Dec 01, 2014 7:55 pm

I'm having trouble understanding...
why would food not be classified as one of those distraction/motivation factors? It's a subsystem that adds a layer of immersion and the illusion of urgency to the party's mission.
The latent conflict between the two systems--the conflict that you outline--helps drive the urgency by threatening to take away resting as a means to recovering health and energy.

It's part of their larger system of engagement, in line with what you mentioned. Rather than tap into awe and wonder, Grimrock tries to gently tweak the player's sense of fear and failure. That's why combat is real-time, right? So that you, as a player, are the real limitation and chances are you/I aren't always fast enough. We fumble spells. We miss attacks. We can't remember if there's a pit behind us. There was a secret button, but we don't know what it opened. And now I can't find my dart. And I don't know if Earth 3 Fire 2 does anything, but I sure hope it does. And oh god, that wasn't there before. The monsters are faster, they play by different rules. And now you're out of food and that means you have to use herbs to heal, and those take FOREVER to duplicate, and now you have a leg wound on two characters and one is overencumbered and you can't move, and you hear a scratching behind you. It's unfair. The deck is stacked.


Insert Batman Begins quote about falling.
Last edited by Dematto on Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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