• Josh Hardy

My Final Major Project - 5 Puzzle Design

Within my level, I found that I wanted some puzzles in the level. Most action-adventure games (if not all) have some kind of puzzles to pace the gameplay. Therefore, I started out thinking about how I would make puzzles for my game. I initially though I would use a riddle that would be read and then the player would need to interact with several objects to open a gate that would allow them to proceed. However, using a simple interaction would provide some extremely boring gameplay and requires extra interactivity. I watched a GDC (I cant remember which one) a while back that talked about how in Luigis Mansion, the vacuum is used for almost everything in the game and how the devs stuck with that one core mechanic to make fun, interesting and original gameplay. This made me think about using the mechanics in my game for my puzzles. I was already using the hammer to activate portals, so why not let them do other things too?

I also wanted the ice blast to freeze objects and enemies. Therefore, I already had two mechanics that derived from the combat that was being used elsewhere. All I had to do was make the player think about using them to solve problems. I thought that as I was using runes to activate portals, these runes would become the affordance to the player that you could use the ability on the rune to activate something. Therefore, both my main puzzles involve using these runes and using the lightning strike ability.

The puzzles and how they ended up looking in-game can be seen in my logbook but I will briefly explain them here too.


This puzzle operates as a key point in the level. The player has just arrived at the Witches cave and the rune is covered in dirty fantastical plants and the player has not yet got the hammer. A cinematic occurs where the witch spawns lots of enemies and Thor sends down Mjolnir to your aid. The hammer strikes onto the rune, cracking it and also activating it (showing the player that it can activate the runes) and this causes 3 pillars (the fourth pillar is broken, showing the player that they need to break) to rise out of the ground and then slowly sink back. The player needs to freeze them and break them all to deactivate the Witches barrier to her cave.


This puzzle started out way more complex than it ended up. I originally (actually my second iteration, the first can be seen in pencil below) wanted 3 spinning runes that would be stopped by activating its power rune (3 rings, 3 runes). Only one ring could be stopped at a time so the player would need to stop a rune at the correct point, then activate another rune to stop another ring and do this for all 3 so they are all in sync and end up in the correct position at the right time. This, however, would provide complications such as stopping the runes in the exact place would be impossible meaning I would need to make it continue spinning to a specific amount (only stops on a number divisible by 10 for example) and the player would take more time to understand what is going on, plus a constant check for if they're in sync would need to be done. Therefore, I changed to it to a more of a lock design in which the powering of a rune, makes its corresponding ring spin once by 45 degrees and they need to be aligned to unlock the magical lock. This is much easier to understand, learn and implement.

I do have some problems that I am most likely going to run into though. That is: determining WHAT is freezable and breakable, and HOW to represent that to the player. There are only two instances of breaking objects by freezing them, this is the chain at the start to teach the player the abilities and attacking and freezing all in one. The second is for the puzzle. The player can freeze some enemies too but this will be done out of luck/ whilst performing the attack as normal not necessarily with intent. The chain is told to them but the puzzle is not. Therefore I am thinking about making the already broken pillar already frozen so that the player instantly thinks they are freezable, but this may not indicate they need to be broken either. I will go with making the broken one frozen and change it based on testing feedback.

I did originally have the runes in the witches area work as pillars that have chains attached but due to this puzzles location, runes seemed way more appropriate and thematic.


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