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Hey everyone,

On our latest Community Roundtable, on the 2nd of March, @Jalen.P asked for suggestions in regards to potential puzzles we'd like to see in the game. I'm here to start this conversation and introduce some of my own expectations and ideas.

When it comes to puzzles, I've identified a few potential kinds of puzzles that Deadhaus may have in the game.

  1. Lore puzzles
  2. Boss puzzles
  3. Combat puzzles
  4. Exploration puzzles
  5. Minigame puzzles
  6. Environmental puzzles
Let me talk about them individually, with examples and concepts.

Lore puzzles
Lore puzzles are called so because they require you to have some awareness of the game's universe in order to identify and solve them. Anything that contributes to the world's complexity can be a part of the lore. A conversation with an NPC, something you've witnessed repeatedly happening independently on the game, observation of the scenery, the reading of texts and codex entries, narration and even music can serve as potential clues and inspirations.
An example would be, for instance, a statue of an undead in a crypt that is wielding a sword. But if you identify who that character is, from descriptions you've read before, you may identify that that undead actually wielded a staff instead. By going to the statue, removing the sword from his hand and giving him a staff would trigger an event, solving the puzzle. However, there would be no indications that that statue would even be important in the first place, as it would simply look like part of the scenery. But an attentive individual could be drawn to it, and be rewarded for it.
Another example would be a passage that is sealed, or hidden, and the only clue you have are some cryptic words written on a language you do not know. If you take the time to talk to NPCs, you realize that this place used to belong to a specific kind of civilization. When exploring another part of the world entirely, a location that also belonged to that same civilization, you find the body of an archaeologist that was studying that civilization. Together with him, you find a notebook. In that notebook, you find scribbles he made when trying to decipher their language. With those scribbles, you can translate the words on the sealed passage you've found before. When you translate them, you realize it is a riddle an that you need to say something in front of the door. After solving the riddle, you have to create a phrase, selecting them word by word as in a regular dialogue, with your reply. Upon replying correctly, the passage opens up.
Dragon Age: Origins had some interesting quests that would not even be revealed as quests until you took the time to read the codex entries you found exploring the map and figure out how to interact with certain objects within a magical academy. You had to find the excerpts, read them, them find the objects they were talking about, and then interact with them according to the story behind them, and only then would it become a quest that you can track. And it was satisfying to discover them. I guarantee most players have never even encountered such a thing... but they are powerful tools, if done right.
The level of complexity can get pretty high on lore puzzles, but they are also meant to be the most enticing and, possibly, rewarding of challenges. It creates a whole new layer for players to immerse themselves in the world and spend time on it. The rewards don't even need to be items or gameplay-related at all, they can simply be an answer for a question players have been asking for a long time... But gameplay rewards are also good. ;)

Boss puzzles
Boss puzzles are puzzles that you need to solve in order to defeat the boss or to make fighting it easier. These are typically gameplay-related puzzles that you can solve with your character's regular capabilities (it doesn't need to be related to specific class skills, for instance).
An example of that would be traps that you can activate when fighting a specific boss that limits his actions or movement. If it's a big boss, that could be as simple as closing a gate on top of it in order to gain time or damage it. If it's a humanoid character, you could use large items in the scenery to knock him down or stun him, in order to dish damage unhindered. A more complicated level of puzzle would be something that you HAD to do in order to defeat it, such as breaking a Liche's ritualistic barrier by destroying his magickal pylons outside the combat area before engaging in the fight.
The problem with boss puzzles is that, the more required they are in order to defeat the boss, the simpler they need to be, because you shouldn't be preventing people from continuing the story indefinitely if they are not able to solve puzzles.
When it comes to boss puzzles, it's absolutely fine to reveal what you need to do after the characters have been stuck on a particular fight for long. If they can't solve it, and yet they are capable of maintaining themselves throughout the fight, they should be progressively presented the solution in order to continue the game, before it becomes frustrating.
If the boss itself is not a part of the main questline, such as a secondary boss you get to find through exploration alone, you can also mix that with lore-level riddles and puzzles.

Combat puzzles
Combat puzzles are related to the enemies specifically, such as fighting a horror creature that needs to have parts of it destroyed in the right sequence in order to die, or having to react with specific elements or movements on certain attacks.
While I don't like the combat in those games, Dark Souls and Bloodborne are examples of how you have to react in specific ways depending on what your enemy is doing. But you can do better than that, by making certain enemies really difficult to fight against or, rather, requiring the players to focus on them in order to defeat them.
An example of that would be using specific kinds of attacks, if you have weapon damage types in order to break down someone's armor before you can finish them off. Or make an enemy get tired by causing him to miss attacks until you can strike without getting damaged yourself. Or by using elemental powers to weaken an enemy unit's defense, break it, and then fight against it normally.
You could say these are more "mechanics" than puzzles, but by requiring the players focus (while in the middle of a fight), and using some level of randomness, possibly with procedural generation added on top, you can add an intellectual layer to the action experience.

Exploration puzzles
Exploration puzzles are exactly what the name suggests. Instead of being lore-related or useful in combat, those are rewards that put in place for people who like to walk around the world, getting to know every little corner and checking under every little of rock to see if any of them have "Made by Azathoth" written on them.
Both Blood Omen and Eternal Darkness are games that have interesting exploration puzzles, such as possessing other characters in order to access hidden sections of the map in BO, or finding Mantorok's rune in ED. With the sheer variety of classes in DHS, it would be interesting to see some places only accessible to specific powers, available to specific classes only.
Examples of this would habe possessing rats in order to go through small passages or using a class' transformations to access a high location, or a Revenant's rage to lift something otherwise impossible.
Exploration puzzles can be closely tied to lore-puzzles, as they can easily be a part of each other. However, if the rewards are meaningful to more than one class, it needs to be accessible by the other classes as well.
Regular movement abilities are also quite well and good when it comes to exploring places, if nothing else. Might & Magick (and Dark Messiah of Might & Magic) are good old-time examples of things like that.

Minigame puzzles
Minigames have to be done tastefully. When done well, they can work for great effects. Instead of giving examples of potential minigame puzzles, I would like to point out a few aspects to try and follow, or avoid:
  1. Minigames cannot be repetitive. They need to have variety, even if the mechanisms are the same.
  2. There should be alternatives to playing/solving minigames. They may be expensive or not, depending on the puzzle's relevance.
  3. The difficulty of each minigame type should be, easy for the player to learn, then harder as time goes by, and eventually getting so easy that it becomes superfluous. You are meant to get to know the puzzle, then challenge yourself, then quit the hassle entirely and skip it instead of repeatedly solving the same style of minigame you've been going through the whole game.
Environmental puzzles
When I thought of those, I was mostly thinking about PVP matches. By environmental I mean things that can change the scenery. For instance, something that you can do to break down a bridge and force the enemy players to use different routes to reach the enemies' base, or spreading lava/running water across the environment by destroying a barrier or shifting the ground.
I only have conceptual suggestions for this one. I think this would highly depend on what sort of experience you want players to have in PVP. Whether the scenario can change dynamically or not, and whether players will have an influence on that. What I can say is that, if there is such a thing, the puzzles themselves need to be fairly obvious and not that time-consuming: they would mostly exist as alternatives to controlling the battlefield and shifting the dynamics of combat.
It would also have to be taken into account that inexperienced players (or trolls) could inadvertently activate certain triggers that may work against their own team, so that would have to be well-thought before being implemented. Still, I wanted to mention them here to serve as potential inspiration, maybe for something else entirely, or even one single, specific puzzle.

Some of them, such as the environmental and combat puzzles, could also likely be defined as "mechanics" instead, but if they have some sort of thinking and potential for failure involved, they might as well be forms of puzzles.

These are conceptual ideas for where and how you may implement puzzles in the game, not specific puzzle suggestions, but feel free to let us know your own ideas for specific puzzles just the same below, if you would like to.
 
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Varik Keldun

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variety is going to be the key to puzzles / challenges though. as you mentioned in the stream - Bethesda is beating a dead horse with lockpicking in elderscrolls / fallout - among the other few puzzles that are ALL the same. (if you were to do a lockpicking style puzzle, there ARE different types and styles of locks, not everything is a simple door lock)
some ideas that you could toss in are word riddles where you maybe have to bring something to place on an alter, or as you mentioned in the stream kill X enemies near a bowl to fill it with blood. a simple riddle to use could be something like... "In darkness, the path is lit." or "In darkness, you will find the hidden truth." which of course means if you extinguish all the light sources a door is opened or revealed.

A simple crypto(i said cypher in the discord) text where some of the text is already decoded for you for easier puzzles and fewer are revealed for more difficult puzzles. - these are of course not for every person.
order specific triggers / lever puzzles (with or without clues)
a shattered relic / artifact puzzle where you need to collect the peices which are scattered through the instance in different locations to bring to area X to place in object Y to open door Z. (these could be a "big loot" type puzzle to reward the players for exploring, finding every part to assemble the relic, and bringing it to the correct location.) maybe even have the items hidden behind other puzzles to make it that much more challenging

possibly a (dinner table seating puzzle) where you have to figure out what goes where based off of their supposed relation to the other objects.
 

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All of these puzzle types would be interesting to see in the game. I'd really like some lore and boss puzzles. The important thing imo would be that what ever types of puzzles are integrated into the game are not repetitive. Seeing and doing the same puzzle repeatedly such as in bioshock, elder scrolls lock picking, and soul reavers block puzzles gets very tiresome. However some boss fights from soul reaver and blood omen 2 are good examples of a puzzle based boss fight.
 
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One puzzle I like that I haven't seen replicated is the Painting puzzle in Resident Evil 4. Where you're given a verse with the order of a feast, on one side of the room is a painting, you have to shoot the food on the painting in the correct order to open a door. Something similar, where you find a scrap of paper talking about a feast, and finding certain carvings around the area and interacting with them in the correct order opens up a secret area. Sort of like the cache of some thieves.
 

Capt.Cutthroat

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One puzzle I like that I haven't seen replicated is the Painting puzzle in Resident Evil 4. Where you're given a verse with the order of a feast, on one side of the room is a painting, you have to shoot the food on the painting in the correct order to open a door. Something similar, where you find a scrap of paper talking about a feast, and finding certain carvings around the area and interacting with them in the correct order opens up a secret area. Sort of like the cache of some thieves.
Didn't you only have to shoot the wine?
 

Capt.Cutthroat

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Nope I remember now all you had to do was shoot the wine. You can look it up if you don't believe me.
 

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Okay yeah I see it you do just have to shoot the wine. But seems like a lot of people think that the puzzle might be bugged or just deliberately set up to make players waste ammo. But yeah you do just have to shoot the wine.
 

Capt.Cutthroat

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I actually never did that puzzle the way it was supposed to be done. Didn't even know it was supposed to be a puzzle. I just noticed the first time that the wine looked different in the scope and shot it. After that did the same thing every time.
 

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Unlocking artifacts would be neat, stuff in the same vein as the puzzle box from Hellraiser that upon unlocking takes you into a pocket dimension where the challenges and rewards await you.
 
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I just had the idea of using the environment to get rid of "seals" that were put to prevent you from proceeding. For example flowing water can erase the paint, or a current of wind can scatter the salts or a collapse can ruin the shape of the seal etc. I believe seals will fit easily with the lore as they are used as protection against evil in many cultures
 
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