Gamebook puzzles/problems

I'm approaching the time when I need to be thinking about the ending of my game and I would obviously like something that feels quite 'big'.

I've tried to make my gamebook feel as much like a parser game as possible, which not only means making sure most of the player's choices matter, but conveying this to them before they make that decision. For that reason you'll not see any of this kind of nonsense that plagues most gamebooks.

Get out of bed.
Turn the alarm off and go back to sleep

I've done most of the traditional puzzles (needing a light source, needing bullets for a gun, needing to fix something before its usable, etc) but I'm fast running out of puzzles to set the player.

Does anyone more familiar with gamebooks than me, have any suggestions for puzzles/problems which might inspire me to the finish?

Thanks in advance.

Well it completely depends on your story. I mean, if it's sci-fi you could have locked doors requiring keycards, or schematics for equipment.

If I recall yours is about survival. So maybe you get sick and have to collect materials to heal yourself. It's hard to say what would work workout seeing the game.

Yes, should have stated what type of game.

Like you say, it's a survival affair, inspired by Cormac McCarthy's novel The Road.

I like the sickness idea and could maybe do something with that. Thanks.

Maybe steps that lead you to a safe house of fellow survivors. "I Am Legend"-ish.

That's the ultimate goal, Xan, as outlined in the game's launch screen, and it is ultimately the final hurdles in getting there that I want to make memorable.

A good analogy would be to say that I want a final 'boss' the player has to defeat before he reaches the safe haven, but I've exhausted all the 'hurdles' the limitations of a gamebook provide.

It would be hard to answer this question without seeing your game in full.

  1. A final boss that requires knowledge of previous game events to defeat?
  2. Check criteria met as you try and enter a final boss room. If it's not met, move the player away with a hint that not all is prepared?
  3. Entering a specific code to enter a boss room? The code could be based on key inventory items or hints laid out throughout the game?

Just some ideas. If you want a tester, I'd love to test up until the boss and offer more possibilities.

I'd be interested in testing this too. I actually quite liked the minimalist approach you had taken (in the test version you uploaded at least). Would be interested to see how it had been developed further.

Thank you, both. I may upload what I have so far, but I'm a little reluctant.

You might think this a bit stupid, but I think finishing the game (something I've never ever done) and having people tell me it's crap, would be easier to take than the same thing happening with a three-quarter finished game, because then I'd feel pressured and maybe even discouraged.

If I finish it and it's crap, I can at least say I saw it through to the end.

I like your ideas, Xan, but puzzles are tricky little buggers, aren't they?

Example as to why this is so.

You reach a door and are asked for a permit to enter - which you don't have. You then suspect that the bandit you killed ten pages previously, and who you failed to search, was carrying said permit.

Now that's an okay problem, but if the player has to get through this door in order to continue the game, I then have to give them an alternative to do so. Not so tricky with a parser game, very tricky with a gamebook.

Can you give them an option to visit/remember a "cliff notes" version of the room when they need to do a recall? I know some games have the player keep a notebook they can refer to when needed. Perhaps you can tap into your memory at end game and the player can cycle through pages (rooms) to find an end game answer? Just a thought. It probably isn't that hard to implement, right?

Puzzles are especially difficult in game books, because the player has all the options there in front of her.

How about a moral quandry? Or some other decision(s) where both outcomes are success of a sort, but have different downsides? Perhaps saving a group of people, and you need to decide who to save, perhaps at cost to yourself?

Thanks, Xan, but the games finished now (see Game announcement forum). Nice idea though.

TP, you're right, that's the problem with gamebooks. I do have a few moral decisions in there.

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