Learning to Play Without Instructions

> Puzzle Testing Room

Forgive the cluttered desktop. I created a test room using this Youtube tutorial in GameMaker Studio. This is the setup I’ll be using to create and test puzzles. I’ll be developing this puzzle by itself to ensure that it is well-balanced and enjoyable in and of itself before I work on integrating it into the game as a whole. Once I begin the process of placing it within the context of the rest of the game, there is a good chance that a lot of it will be repositioned or discarded for the sake of atmosphere – this is fine. Once the driving mechanics behind the puzzle has been determined, it will be easier to break down and build again wherever necessary.

> Teaching the Player

I don’t want to rely on written instructions for this game. The player’s journey will revolve around intuitive controls. Most simply, arrow keys to move and jump, and most importantly, puzzles that can be solved without explicit instructions. The controls for the game above are simply the left and right arrow keys to move and the up key to jump.

There will be no HUD. No health, no combat. Like in Limbo, there will be obstacles that can kill the player instantly. This will be used as a way to teach the player of their own mortality, which will condition them to recognize threats so that eventually an insurmountable threat can be set upon them near the end. Mortality will also serve to familiarize the player with the game’s menus and save file. This is critical, because the menus and save file will be altered and used to communicate with the player throughout the game (this is another example of subverting the player/game relationship, and will be hinted at as being caused by the Object).

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