Challenge and how it can be met - in text games

Seconded! I never even considered this - very exciting…

@tangerine_skies Thank you - I hope it doesn’t disappoint! There are a few management and memory puzzles but the one I mentioned above is the only one of that kind and probably the one of which I’m most proud. I’m planning on doing more along those lines in my next game.


While indeed classic turn-based combat is the most effective in choice-based games (heck, earliest video games are turn-based), I dislike the idea in CS games due to the limited interaction we can have in the engine. All options are arranged to a single list, choosing an option refreshes the entire page (instead of opening secondary page/window), and there’re 2 steps just to make a choice (select + NEXT, though this isn’t quite an issue on mobile with sweeping gesture).


Some links to other discussions and examples…

1/ Nice visual maze challenge from @choicehacker here: Randomized maze - now with graphical map!

2/ Lots of different challenges here,

from @Carlos.R Missing Wings

3/ Variable images (like a different combat pose for a monster dependent on a variable set on the previous page)

4/ Whole topic about death and challenge (I guess rogue-likes often draw on this kind of challenge to lend impact to your decisions) which I’m also categorising as part of the whole challenge intensity thing - how important is it that you suceed? What are the fail criteria and rewards/punishment of success and failure.

5/ Timer system. It doesn’t provide a forced page turn for that ‘ah I’m running out of time’ sensation, but might be helpful for a less pressured time management challenge (similar to the resource management challenge).
@JimD’s Zombie Exodus - Safe Haven has a really good passage of time mechanic that does sucessfully make you feel the pressure as you try to fit multiple actions into a limited day. Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven

6/ Think I’m also going to use Zombie Exodus - Safe Haven as an example of one of the more memorable inventory systems, and challenge reward systems, where exploration and combat challenges resulted in rewards for your home/camp.

7/ Relationship balancing. A social challenge where you try to appeal to one or other npc, or try to balance and mitigate the effects of your actions on your relationships with them (or their relationships with each other). Good example in The Superlatives: Aetherfall by Alice Ripley of conflict between a Venusian and a Martian character and if I recall correctly, ro.


Very interesting thread! Thanks @Charles_Parkes, I’m happy you like the maze!

A couple of comments:

  • Variable images seem to be supported now. You can simply do:

*image basename_${variable}.jpg

I actually use this in a different (hardwired) maze, where the maps are pre-rendered as images.

  • You can use a script command to force real-time choice, like I’ve done in the randomized maze. See that thread. The implementation is not ideal, but it may be a tool to be used in specific circumstance.

Also, kudos to @Carlos.R . The tech behind Missing wings is very sophisticated.


I was inspired, and implemented a memory challenge!


The memory challenge is also a good example of

  • experimenting with sound within a challenge
  • the workarounds to accommodate repeated sounds and the length of time they take to play :slight_smile:
  • use of simultaneous images to simulate graphics (here a button lighting up with the tone sound)
  • also, I imagine the use of sound prohibits the use of multiple choices on the same page due to the need to trigger the individual sounds? I’m guessing - I haven’t actually tested two sounds on the same page before… Multiple choices on the same page here:
    How do I put multiple choices on one page? - #2 by Fiogan
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What did you have in mind with multiple choices and sounds? Chords? I imagine you could make it work if you pre-record all possible combinations, so that you can have one *sound command to play both notes.

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Some interesting stuff on balancing a mix of challenges for pacing here. I think this is quite relevant for the CG/HG audiences, who seem to want their challenges to be well integrated within the narrative. There must be lots of good ways of doing it!

We’ve been looking a lot at challenges that require a specific input for a specific output - like a specific key is needed for a specific door.

Here’s another take on inputs and outputs for systemic game design, where you redirect the focus away from specific items, mechanics etc to achieve a specific output - placing a common, more general input between your challenge/puzzle and a range of specific inputs. This is promoting non-linearity in challenge solving:

@choicehacker - your lights puzzle is amazing! With the keyboard numbers instruction (which I didn’t think was posible) you’ve created the impression of a persistent session within a visual puzzle, which is completely contrary to most of our experiences of pages of text behind turn-page decisions. That’s pretty inspiring! Shame it only works for keyboards - how is that done? That seamless transition between pages would be pretty valuable functionality if it stretched across devices.

Regarding what I was thinking regarding the multiple choices on the same page, if you imagine your light puzzle, a reader could be asked to turn multiple switches on the same page (so yes, combinations - which can get a bit messy to code if your provide too many possible combinations).
When I mentioned sound in that context, I was thinking that with your game of simon sound game, rather than waiting for each page turn to press another sound in the sequence, you could put three choices on the page (where there will be 3 sounds in the sequence, the reader can make their choices, then you can play the three sounds they picked after the page turn. Just speculation about the ease of experience really! I was guessing that the problem with such a set up is that sounds must play on the following page, because there is no input until the player selects their multiple choices and then turns the page?

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Hi @Charles_Parkes, thanks so much! I added a few notes on the tech in my other post. See here:

About the multiple choices, you could make three choices and play them in a sequence, the same way Simon plays its sequence automatically. Or you could enter a string (“1343431”) in an input box and play that, one character at a time.

In any case, I have updated the UI there too, so you can just use the keyboard - do you like it? I think it feels very immediate and responsive.

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@choicehacker I think that game of simon update actually works really well:) It feels really fluid. And while the appearance of the numbers may make the puzzle feel easier - I think the boost in accessibility really helps unravel with the marmite love/hate relationship a lot of people have with puzzles. For example, I actually find puzzles do break my immersion and I find myself reaching for google sometimes to progress to narrative elements. However, this puzzle just went from barrier challenge to fun for me, as I found remembering the visual appearance of the numbers in conjunction with the sounds far more memorable. So - better access for different minds = in my opinion, a better puzzle in this text game!

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Yes more of this would be quite appreciated

If the game has a “journal” system where things you “learn” are sort of kept for reference purposes, then this could be a nice direction to go, otherwise the player might lose track of key pieces of information

I think a mix of both usually works best. For example a game where perhaps you play as a soldier, instead of having stat checks that promote sole metagaming where you have to build “just right” to go through, you could have checks that maybe go “strength>50 or strength>30 plus environment advantage”

While I do not always enjoy min-maxing characters, I also feel there should be penalties for creating unviable builds. For example in “Magium” (Another text IF game) while there are lots of different ways to progress through the game (even an achievement for never “leveling up”) your failure to build in the right way can cause some rather very serious consequences in game

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Trails in Tainted Space or Monster Girl Dreams have fun combat in text form but not sure if they’d transition to these type of games too well.

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