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JimmyTwoBucks

When do you reach for the walkthrough/hint book?

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I'm currently playing Sam and Max, which I never got round to playing as a kid, and it

got me thinking about walkthroughs and/or hints...

 

This is when I used hints in the SQ games (in the order I played them):

 

-- SQ4: I don't remember using any hints (no internet back then and the country I was in didn't have hint books!)

-- SQ6: I'm pretty sure I used hints on how to kill the terminator guy, I can't remember how I got those hints at the time though

-- SQ1VGA: I don't remember using any hints for this

-- SQ2: I think I reached for the walkthrough quite early on and I think I used it continuously throughout the game!

-- SQ3: I think I needed the hints for the early part, but got through most of the rest without hints

-- SQ5: I think I got lazy with this one and if something didn't click right away, I just looked at the walkthrough

 

I think the real danger with walkthroughs, is if I check one thing on them, I feel like I've "cheated" (because I kinda

have, lol), and then I'm much more likely to not play the game seriously for the rest of it... I tend to

then go right back to the walkthrough as soon as I get stuck AT ALL after that initial use of it.

 

But then again, sometimes I really think I need the walkthrough, especially when there is something

fundamental I've missed and I would just spend months wandering around if I hadn't gotten the help.

 

For example, with Sam and Max, I got "stuck" halfway through the game because in one section I didn't realize 

you could walk past a certain point on the screen, so it wasn't a "puzzle" that got me stuck, it

was just a graphical thing.

 

But then I got stuck again at a later point and went back to the hints and I was like, ah, damn, I

COULD have figured this puzzle out, I just got lazy.

 

Do you use walkthroughs/hints at all, do you think they spoil the game?

 

 

 

 

 

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No I don't, and yes they do. I've ruined many a classic as a kid by abusing walkthroughs. Never again. I'm a firm believer that all but some of the looniest "moon logic" puzzles have enough clues for you to figure them out. It just requires a level of patience and out-of-the-box thinking that few had the capacity to believe existed as a successful means to an end even back then, let alone nowadays.

 

After learning nearly everything there is to know about the games that I cheated through, I discovered that there was indeed many hints and clues aptly seasoned into the game for every puzzle, as long as you were patient enough and willing to explore everything you see (and in some cases, don't see) on the screen. That's a rare concept especially in today's fast-paced "I don't have the time" society. It's also partially why I'm against adventures on mobile devices.

 

After I played Broken Age and accepted that I was thoroughly disappointed with it, I decided to take another adventure, one that many seemed to have problems with, and complete it entirely on my own. I discovered Deponia was a title that I'd heard many a complaint about (especially regarding "too many hotspots", I don't believe there is such a thing, I also didn't understand that claim as I found the hotspots lacking). I had this game in my Steam library for a while from some bundle or deal, but never sat down with it yet.

 

I played and finished the game in a couple weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that what I was fearing was going to be the end of the game, because I was so used to bad short adventures, turned out to be the end of only the first Act. This helped allay my fears and I continued through the game. By the time I reached the end I felt challenged, accomplished, and thoroughly satisfied. I implore any adventurers out there, take the time to play through a game alone, or with a friend, thoroughly and completely. It's not just the destination, it's the journey. It's right there in the genre label. ADVENTURE. Use hints if you absolutely must, but avoid walkthroughs like the plague that they are. They ruined my experiences with many Sierra and LucasArts games when I was a kid because I thought I wasn't smart enough to solve them on my own. I wasn't just as happy because I cheated through them and got to the end. Beating the game is NOT as important as PLAYING the game and it's not the same experience if you're just following instructions. You're robbing yourself of a much richer experience.

 

THAT is the magic of adventure games. It isn't just in nostalgia, or characters, or story. All of that is meaningless if you aren't working it all out in your head and seeing it unfold the way it was meant to. It's what I believe was truly one of the chief contributers to the adventure's demise. There's a reason they were top of the line. People look back and ask "Were these games really as good as we thought?" because they're looking from that spoiled walkthrough point of view and missing the magic of exploration and discovery, whether they already solved it knowing what to do and forgetting the fresh experience or if they hadn't solved it before and used a walk thru because they didn't have the patience to sit through it properly, both have completely missed the point.

 

ok, rant over.

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I think on several occasions I've used the walkthrough AS the hints (i.e. I look up the answer for just the one

thing I'm stuck on and don't read the rest) which is probably not a good idea... 

I should probably look up the actual "hints" from the hint books if I'm going to go down that route.

 

I think even just seeing the overall look of a walkthrough, with the game reduced to a series of simple instructions, 

kind of kills the magic a bit, even if you're just there for the one puzzle.

 

I would definitely ideally have a "no hints, no walkthrough" policy and the games I completed

back when I couldn't get hold of those things were the best experiences.

 

On the other hand though, there were games I spent ages on as a kid but ended up giving up on.

It tended to be when there wasn't a clear idea of what the next objective was, and there being

hundreds of possible things to do, and where I'd resorted to just trying every object and action 

with every other object and action in every location.

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As little as possible.

 

I remember having cheating my way through a couple adventure games when I was younger; but even then, shortly after doing so I was able to notice I'd taken most of the fun out of it. I made a rule of thumb pretty quickly to only seek a hint if I were stuck for at least a full month.

 

That is, spending about two hours a day (what my parents had allowed me on electronics), 7 days a week, for one full month. If I couldn't figure it out by then, I'd cheat on the current puzzle at hand. That means even if I only progressed one screen or something, and got stuck on the very next puzzle, I'd wait another full month before cheating again.

 

That, of course, was when I had access to the internet (or happened to have a specific hint book for the game I was playing). Sometimes I didn't, and so there wasn't even monthly cheating. I remember I began PQ2 when I was about 11, and didn't beat it until I was 16 (and yes, it took cheating).

 

But that's talking about hint books. Walkthroughs are a crime to both the designer and the player.

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That is, spending about two hours a day (what my parents had allowed me on electronics), 7 days a week, for one full month. If I couldn't figure it out by then, I'd cheat on the current puzzle at hand. That means even if I only progressed one screen or something, and got stuck on the very next puzzle, I'd wait another full month before cheating again.

That sounds like a good system, I might have to adopt that.

 

I think for me it also depends on the actual game, if it's something I'm really enjoying and think is a superb game,

I definitely try to avoid any hints whatsoever...

But if it's midway through the game and I'm kind of "meh" about it, I'm much more likely to want go to the hints.

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That sounds like a good system, I might have to adopt that.

 

I think for me it also depends on the actual game, if it's something I'm really enjoying and think is a superb game,

I definitely try to avoid any hints whatsoever...

But if it's midway through the game and I'm kind of "meh" about it, I'm much more likely to want go to the hints.

This is EXACTLY how I feel. If I am indifferent to a game, I'll just look up hints in order to quickly finish it. But, when I am really liking a game, I avoid doing so. Some games are more fun than others when you're stuck, though.

 

When I'm trying to figure out how to proceed in a game, I like being able to take my time and walk all over and examine all kinds of things and talk to characters at my own pace. (Still, it can be helpful when the game, through dialogue or narration descriptions, gently reminds me of the direction I'm supposed to be going or what I'm supposed to be doing.) This is one reason I often prefer Sierra-style games to LucasArts games; when I get stuck, exploring all over the place (and trying to get "unstuck") in Sierra-style games can be fun because more of the virtual world is examinable. With LucasArts games, often the worlds seem like movie sets with dead props (not enough "hotspots"). And now with non-adventure game, interactive movies from Telltale, there's next to no exploration possible, and the weak puzzles wouldn't keep people stuck for very long, anyway.

 

And I feel like I'm cheating myself out of a fun experience when I look up hints.

 

It's like when you're talking to someone and trying to remember something or figure something out, you might say, "don't tell me, don't tell me!" And then they tell you. And then you feel kind of pissed off and disappointed because you wanted to see if you could figure it out yourself and they robbed you of the opportunity. I hate that! :-)

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I still use walkthroughs when I'm stuck and frustrated at a game for cockblocking my progress when I just want to see the story unfold. Some games use puzzles as an integral part of the story that moves the narrative forward; some delight in just putting up outlandish roadblocks to hinder your progress as much as possible.

 

GK2 is a great example of a game where the puzzles are so expertly tied to the narrative that you always (barring the odd museum visit and wolfy-closing-doors sections) know what is expected of you. Contrast that to a game like Discworld where you're just never sure what the fuck you're supposed to do, and even when you accomplish something it usually feels like you just stumbled upon the solution by accident.

 

I only used a walkthrough sparingly for GK2 when I couldn't wrap my head around the wolfy arcade at the end, or when I couldn't get that damn chapter 4 to finish. Discworld, on the other hand, I realized I'd have to play all the way through with a walkthrough, and I just gave up.

 

I can get very impatient sometimes. ;)

 

The odd-one-out here, I think, are the Take 2 FMV games Ripper and Black Dahlia. If I hadn't used a walkthrough for those games, I'd probably still be stuck in them. And it's not because of bad puzzle design; this is simply because the games are too smart for me.

 

Toughest game I ever played? Woodruff and the Schnibble of Azimuth. Anyone who claims to have beaten that game fair and square is either lying, a genius or French. :)

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I actually have very short tolerance span towards puzzles these days. Perhaps it's because there's so much more to entertain myself with, but I've noticed that especially in cases where the puzzle solution is based hopping in different places I just often opt to look where I should go rather than try to figure it out. And then there's certain types of puzzles which I just flat out always look from a walkthrough. Those would be the kind of that use mathematics (not a huge fan) or any music based puzzle (use more than 3 tones I just give up).

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I try and avoid walkthroughs but will use hint books where I need them - I think it's mostly a case of whether it increases or decreases one's enjoyment of a game, wrestling with something you had no idea might be there for hours can just be vexing and frustrating and not particularly fun. There are several cases in SQ where the basic "look" command could ideally have a couple more hints added to it (the deep part of the SQ2 swamp springs to mind, AFAIK there's no way of finding it other than blundering into that area at the back of the screen and so it's extremely easy to play through a load more game, save a bunch of times, and suddenly you're in the dark in a cave system and the game is nigh impossible).

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This is one reason I often prefer Sierra-style games to LucasArts games; when I get stuck, exploring all over the place (and trying to get "unstuck") in Sierra-style games can be fun because more of the virtual world is examinable. With LucasArts games, often the worlds seem like movie sets with dead props (not enough "hotspots").

 
It's funny, I hadn't noticed that as a kid playing games like Monkey Island 1+2, but when I just played Sam and Max now, I was definitely surprised by the lack of hotspots.
There were some rooms where there was literally only one thing that had a hotspot.
 
One other thing I am fine going to the hints for, is where there is some sort of bonus game, but it's not clear if it HAS to be
done to finish the main game. Especially if it's a bad bonus game, I'll usually look it up to see if I actually get an object for doing it.
 
Also there are places in games where I know how to figure out the puzzle, but I also can see it'll take hours to go through it (something
like the library book thing in Monkey Island 2 comes to mind), and I know I won't enjoy the tediousness of it, so I just look it up.
 

It's like when you're talking to someone and trying to remember something or figure something out, you might say, "don't tell me, don't tell me!" And then they tell you. And then you feel kind of pissed off and disappointed because you wanted to see if you could figure it out yourself and they robbed you of the opportunity. I hate that! :-)

 
Haha, yes, also I usually get one of two feelings, either: "phewf, glad I looked that up, I would have NEVER thought of that"
or, "ohhh! Damn, I so could have figured that out if I'd given it a little longer and hadn't been impatient."
Maybe there is a real art to looking up hints... to know when you are truly stumped as opposed to just momentarily flummoxed.
 

Contrast that to a game like Discworld where you're just never sure what the fuck you're supposed to do, and even when you accomplish something it usually feels like you just stumbled upon the solution by accident.

 

Yeah, the thing that normally prompts me to look something up is when I just start randomly trying every object with every other

object... that will eventually reveal the answer, but why bother, just look it up. And yes, it's one thing to not be able to figure

out a puzzle and another to not even know what puzzle you're meant to be trying to figure out!

 

...in cases where the puzzle solution is based hopping in different places I just often opt to look where I should go rather than try to figure it out.

 

Yeah, on the one hand, I love it when games have many locations to jump to, but at the same time, if it's like the solution is hidden in one of 20 locations,

it's like, ehh, I don't want to have revisit ALL the places and try everything to find the solution, so it sometimes helps if games are structured so

that you are in a relatively finite area for each part.

 

I am trying to work out how I am going to approach this when Space Venture finally comes out, I think so far am

I going with a "no hints at all" policy as it'll be a special occasion!

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Lucas games alwyas tried to be more streamlined than Sierra games and used more cinematic approach in their narrative. While they have their openwordl games, evn they go story first rather than puzzle first, which often is why Lucas puzzles oftern are more logical than Sierras.

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@JimmyTwoBucks: Ah, yes, good point about "the ART of looking up hints." Because once I've had to look up a hint to solve a puzzle and it turns out it's something I never would've thought of, or if the solution was just unfair (e.g. relying on pixel hunting), then I will be more predisposed to look up hints as I play the rest of the game -- because, in my mind, I KNOW the game isn't playing fair. ;)

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Lucas games alwyas tried to be more streamlined than Sierra games and used more cinematic approach in their narrative. While they have their openwordl games, evn they go story first rather than puzzle first, which often is why Lucas puzzles oftern are more logical than Sierras.

 

Yeah, I just finished playing Full Throttle (another game I had never got round to playing earlier)

and it was very heavy on story and the cinematic aspects. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was very quick

to complete, as a lot of the puzzles were where you only had access to 2-3 items and could only use

them on 2-3 things, so you very quickly figured out the puzzles.

 

I did have to use ONE hint though, haha... there is a part where you have to control a car in a derby,

it's essentially a mini-game that you have to finish, and I had two of three things worked out for it,

but I wasn't enjoying the mini-game much, and I didn't want to be playing it for hours, so I looked it up.

 

What I find sometimes is that you can be really close to figuring out a puzzle, but the game doesn't give

you any sense that you're going in the right direction, so you wonder if you're totally on the wrong tack,

and mistakenly think you'll have to spend hours to figure it out.

 

 

@JimmyTwoBucks: Ah, yes, good point about "the ART of looking up hints." Because once I've had to look up a hint to solve a puzzle and it turns out it's something I never would've thought of, or if the solution was just unfair (e.g. relying on pixel hunting), then I will be more predisposed to look up hints as I play the rest of the game -- because, in my mind, I KNOW the game isn't playing fair. ;)

 

I'll give a game the benefit of the doubt for a few puzzles... I think every game is allowed a few puzzles that

didn't work out that great, but yeah, if it's a reoccurring thing, then I'm more likely to go to the hints.

 

I think in general, I prefer longer games with medium-to-easy level of puzzles, rather than short games

with really hard puzzles.

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