Mystery Fun House: Stuck   1 comment

Image via Giant Bomb. “Before exploring the Mystery Fun House, you must figure out how to get inside. Once inside, you’ll see all the typical Fun House sights, concealing a valuable prize.”

This isn’t the first post I’ve given this title, nor the first where I’m going to do some pre-planning before my next game session. Let me catch up some events, though:

One of the puzzles I hadn’t solved yet since my last play session involved a merry-go-round; attempting to get on resulted in this:

WHAT SHALL I DO? go merry
HUH? Why do you want me to MARRY?
Calliope is so LOUD I can’t hear clearly!

Apparently, the calliope is too loud for the computer parser to hear.

Turning off a valve in an unrelated part of the fun house turned down the music. I was then able to climb the merry-go-round to the top, where I found a wrench and a flashlight.

The wrench let me take one (and only one) of the two bolts off the grating outside. Here I am now very stuck.

. . .

I really am fascinating by the moment of stuckness in adventures; it seems to be both the primary source of joy in puzzle games (once a difficult puzzle is cracked) but also the most common reason people give up on them or avoid the genre in general. Theoretical question: If we wanted to design a game with moderate or high difficulty, is there a good way to mitigate the pain of being stuck for all users?

Whatever the answer is, Scott Adams games tend not to have it. By necessity of stuffing into the memory of a TRS-80, the responsiveness is fairly low to commands that aren’t part of the correct solution. Consequently, there’s very little help or encouragement when things are wrong.

Also, the stuckness is quite often not from missing the appropriate way to put together puzzle pieces, but misunderstanding the nature of the environment. A fairly good example is the part in Strange Odyssey where I wasn’t aware I could >ENTER JUNGLE because the jungle was given in the room description rather than as an object, unlike every other enterable location in the game.

With this game, I was stuck a while at the top of the previously mentioned merry-go-round; there was a hint about a piece of hemp falling on my head, but that didn’t quite equate to what I needed to do: LOOK CEILING, upon which I would find a rope. I might be wrong, but this might be the first time in a Scott Adams game you can refer to the ceiling at all as an object! One would normally expect the game to not recognize its existence. (Yet I solved the puzzle; to be fair, it was a pretty strong hint.)

. . .

Still, I want to continue with a principle I established in playing Philosopher’s Quest, that even when nothing is resolved, eliminating possibilities is still progress. The adventure-game system (or in my real life job, the math problem) isn’t necessarily going to give you any feedback that lets you feel some movement and accomplishment. In such cases I try to create the feedback myself.

For example, as I mentioned in my last post, there are some spectacles that let you see a secret door in a mirror. After I found the secret door I never used the spectacles again, but one possible solving attempt is to take the spectacles to every accessible room, just in case they find something else. I did a half-hearted attempt at this while I was in the midst of playing, but I got tired quickly. Knowing and documenting what’s been checked with the spectacles makes the experience at least a little satisfying.

Known puzzles that need solving

Other bolt on grating in parking lot

Locked door at pit

Locked door above merry-go-round

Things to try

Use the spectacles on everything to find more secret doors

Try to blow things up with the gum from the shoe – main problem is it attracts guards, is it possible to muffle the sound? Would be useful if it worked on the grating, but the gum doesn’t stick, is there a way around this?

Try to track down where the mermaid goes if you open the drain – is this just a gag or is it useful?

Is the skeleton useful?

There’s a red knob that makes a hallway get occasional strong blasts of air rather than light blasts of air – try dropping items there and see if anything useful happens?

Posted May 24, 2017 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction

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One response to “Mystery Fun House: Stuck

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  1. Pingback: Mystery Fun House: Finished! | Renga in Blue

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