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Not Puzzles, but Scenes: Cinematic Gameplay Interactions
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Not Puzzles, but Scenes: Cinematic Gameplay Interactions

June 5, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

From Puzzles to Scenes

Another example: a complex puzzle where the player needed to find two steam valves and place them in their correct places and use them, became a simple situation in which the player just needed to interact with a valve in order to lower the level of water of a tunnel and pass through. Of course, some zombies would try to grab him as he passes.

This "puzzle" became more of a "scene" -- something that the player experiences and not something that the player has to do. But this worked. It really worked for most of the players. They were engaged while playing through this scene.

And so, we kept transforming all of the puzzles we had. Then is when we stopped calling them "puzzles" and started to call them "gameplay situations" or just "scenes."

Some of them became so simple that, in the end, the player only needed to run forward, to press a button, to find a hidden spot in a room, or even just to jump over a zombie.

My favorite example is the scene where Randall finds the fireman's axe. It's extremely simple, but I could see the satisfaction face in every player as they get stuck in the fence -- maybe for five or six seconds -- and then realize that there is a fireman's axe stuck on a body. They grab it, watch Randall's animation, and then use it to break the lock of the fence and advance.

It's simple, it's easy to solve -- but it's rewarding. And the player feels smart.

The fireman's axe scene

And so we started to create these scenes, all through the game, exploiting the game systems we already had and adding different elements to each level to keep the game interesting and to create variations.

If a level had a helicopter, we had to create puzzles using the helicopter; if a level had traps, we had to use the traps. And so on.


We learned the path from the "depth of mechanics" to the "width of mechanics" the hard way. We reduced the complexity of the puzzles, but we increased the variety of them.

This is the approach that games such as Limbo or Amnesia take. Actually, Frictional Games' Thomas Grip has posted about this issue.

As old school players, we tend to look for games such as Braid or Monkey Island, which try to challenge players. But the kind of immersive, cinematic experience we wanted to deliver fitted better with the other approach -- and classics such as Another World and Prince of Persia did so, too, so it's not as if we're straying from our roots after all.

Deadlight got a 69 on Metacritic. We know that there are many things that we could have done better, but I believe that the overall "puzzle" experience has been positive for the players.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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