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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : The Wheelhouse (Puzzles based on the custom element, "Wheel")
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Xindaris
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icon The Wheelhouse (+2)  
The Wheel is a custom element inspired by the circular rotator things in the GBC Zelda games. It's a very special kind of switch that changes its state as you move through it, and honestly much easier to intuitively understand by using than it is to explain the behavior of in words. This hold was made specifically to introduce the player to the Wheel, and hopefully get architects interested in using it in their own holds eventually. If you want to know how long I've been working on this, well, I started it around when the Custom Element Contest was an idea I had just had. There was a very long break between being mostly done and being completely finished, but I'm pretty happy with the end result.

This hold is structured as a linear intro level, a hub with 4 levels to choose from, then a linear finale section back in the first level again. The story is silly. Three of the hub-based levels operate on a "do the introductory puzzle, then solve the remaining rooms in whatever order you want" basis, while the fourth, Together, is based on showing how coming in from different entrances drastically changes the "layout" of a room with a Wheel in it, so it's highly linear again (though you can still leave the level before completing it), involving going back and forth between rooms to solve them, arranged into four distinct room groups.

It's worth mentioning that the Wheel's peculiar way of cutting off paths makes it possible for backtracking issues to occur, but I've been very careful about ensuring there's a way back whenever there needs to be. The intro and finale rooms require the player to clear to move forward, and mostly don't allow going backwards, the three non-linear levels from the hub are fully traversable, and room entrances and exits in Together are carefully orchestrated to be usable in the intended order as well as (at least eventually) backtrackable and such.

I'd like feedback on if the puzzles are good and the checkpoints well-placed (as usual), and if they do a good job of familiarizing the player with how the Wheel and puzzles starring it work, and finally if the explanation in the "post-conquer" level Teaching of how to use the wheel as an architect is clear enough.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 02-26-2018 10:13 PM]
02-13-2018 at 12:26 AM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (0)  
UPDATE:
-Turnabout 3N1E (one of the "finale" rooms) tweaked to better enforce the intended requirement for completing the room.

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02-17-2018 at 07:09 PM
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Insoluble
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (+2)  
Played through a bit of this until I got stuck on a room. I commented a bit in chat, but I imagine you'd probably rather have comments in a place you can easily refer back to so I'll repeat a few of the things I said there. This is pretty neat so far. The puzzles feel very maze-like and my solving strategy tends to be pretty similar to the right-hand rule. Demos attached in case you want 'em.

Turnabout
1N1W: This is the first puzzle room and the first room in which the player gets to really experiment with the element (Though it's nice that you can go back to 1N to play around with the thing there a bit). I like the cut scene demo of how this thing works. Everything is made pretty clear and there's no "guess the scripting". The very first puzzle is basic enough to be a good introduction but not so trivial as to be boring. This was a nice first room.

2N1W: As mentioned in chat, this one probably felt more difficult than it was mostly because it's the first puzzle with these things that requires a bit more thought and the player hasn't really gotten a feel for how to think about them yet. I tried coming in from the alternate entrance to the room mostly as an educated guess Why else would you make it possible to do that?) and not based on deducing that the original entrance did not work.

2N: I decided early on to do this one from the south because, again, why else would that entrance be there. At this point most of my problem solving strategy was a mix between the right hand rule for mazes and the heuristic of trying to use everything you give me for something (i.e. the tunnels and the pressure plate I can only use once (which by the way, you might as well use a one-time use plate for no?)).

2N1E:As I mentioned in chat, this one was actually not too bad. The set of three trapdoors suggests pretty strongly what my overall path should look like and following that path did indeed result in victory. So far the strategy of assuming that I need to use all the stuff you give me has worked out, but if you ever start throwing red herrings in I'll be royally cooked.

Traversal
The Entrance: Nice little room. Introduces the general theme of the level. It was fairly easy, but that's not a bad thing for an entrance room.

1W: I'm not so sure how I feel about the pick-one-pressure-plate-to-skip at the beginning thing. You can go back to the choice midway through, but I ended up getting all but one arrow but being unable to make it back to the beginning which was a bit annoying. I ended up having to undo a whole bunch then just repeat the same set of moves. It's an interesting little puzzle in theory, and after the fact I can see how the plate you skip is the odd one out in many ways. But I imagine a lot of people will do this one the same way I did. Go through getting all but one plate, then reset and do the whole thing again after first hitting the orb.

1E: I found fairly early on that I'd have to end by the green door. After that it was mostly using the right hand rule algorithm to hit the rest of the plates. This one was not too difficult.

2E: I found this one to be a little bit trickier, but can't really say why. I mostly used the same strategies as in previous rooms. It is a little hard to see the plate at (10,26) super clearly with the checkpoint on it, maybe move it to (12,25)? That way it's still in line with all optimal paths going past the plate, but doesn't cover it up and is even useful for paths that don't go over the plate.

1S2E: Here's where I stopped. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to be able to get the trapdoor at (28,3). Were those arrows supposed to be pointing south maybe?

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02-18-2018 at 04:22 AM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (0)  
Turnabout:
I'm actually just fine with someone concluding "well, I probably need to come in from the other entrance since it's there"; the idea is really just to show off that this is a thing that can happen. Otherwise, glad you liked it.

Traversal:
1W: There are actually two correct answers here. This room came about when I just built the configuration first and then discovered that there was a way to get stuck in an endless loop after getting all but one of the pressure plates, and then with some more work realized that one plate couldn't be reached. But then I also figured out that a certain choice can be made that determines which one that is. I'm not completely sure how to reconfigure the room to not require the player to choose first and then check...maybe a clone in an isolated area does the picking? But the idea of the puzzle is kind of "figure out what you can't hit here" so I dunno.
2E: I'll see about moving the checkpoint, yeah.
1S2E: The arrows are pointing the way I want them. You might also notice that the way the tunnels are configured would actually make reaching that trapdoor impossible if they were pointed the other way. If you want a hint:
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[Last edited by Xindaris at 02-18-2018 05:02 AM]
02-18-2018 at 05:01 AM
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Chaco
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (+2)  
Well, I beat the intro level Turnabout and have gotten nearly all the way done with Together, so I think I've got enough to actually comment on now.

Turnabout

A pretty good introduction to wheels and the kinds of techniques you'll need to exploit in order to get anything done in this hold (wheel re-use, loop-around paths to multi-toggle a wheel, entrance exit/re-entrance to reset wheels).

2N1E is a little tough but reasonable as an "entrance gatekeeper" to the rest of the hold since it forces the player to pay attention to state and all possible available actions at each branch.

Together

A multi-room maze where state is a combination of room state and what entrances you have access to. Confusing, but mostly intentionally so.

I think this level could benefit a lot from both colored paths (i.e. not everything is stone, some paths are checkerboard/sand/dirt/ etc.) and a bit of path simplification (fewer turns, tunnels with more direct paths). Just to bring out an example, 1N1W has tunnels that go all over the room when they could be relatively easily re-positioned so as to be more direct. It'd also be nice to mark the endpoint regions of said room-spanning tunnels (e.g. both ends of one set of tunnels are grass) so as to more easily mark the non-planar path endpoints.

1N1W in particular also seems to have a completely useless/redundant tunnel at (9, 20) - this South-facing tunnel just leads to the tunnel below, but there's already an easily-walkable path there. No tunnel leads to the (9, 20) tunnel either.

I don't have too much to say about room difficulty here; they're a bit tougher than in level 1 but the format makes it pretty clear that a lot of rooms have to be traversed to different entrances first, then actually solved from other entrances. Thus, despite looking maze-like the level is actually pretty linear.

I think I might have found some kind of break, though, since I managed to solve the west half of the level but somehow didn't solve 1N. Solving 2N closed a sister gate leading to the middle North entrance in 1N, which seems like a good entrance to solve 1N. I tried entering 1N from other entrances in order to leave via North-middle, but couldn't figure it out. Did I find a shortcut or am I just having a failure of imagination?

--

Anyway, I'll probably move onto other levels, to see what else is being done with these widgets. Maybe this is the prelude to more DROD-like puzzles.

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02-25-2018 at 05:24 PM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (+1)  
I strongly prefer Together having winding, twisting passages aesthetically, which (as an example) is also why there's a tunnel at (9, 20) in 1N1W (it's symmetrical with the tunnel at (31, 20)). I'm not saying I won't make changes to the way the paths are organized, but I'll have to think about how to specifically handle any of that. One annoying thing about restructuring paths is that anything that requires me to actually move the location of a wheel also requires me to re-connect all its orbs properly.
It's a lesser change to redecorate floors or maybe use some ceiling lights to show which tunnels are connected to which, so I'll see about actually doing that in the update after this one. (Maybe even throughout the hold; tunnel use is a pretty consistent theme.)

More importantly, you found an unintended solution to 2N which is actually also a backtracking issue. The hold uses a script to confirm each level is clear, so having an uncleared room in Together that can't be cleared because the necessary entrance is unavailable (as you guess, the intent is to clear 1N from that middle entrance) means not actually being able to finish the hold! So, if you want I can PM you a "temporarily broken" version to let you into the "right" entrance of 1N so you won't have to redo the level to get "credit" for it. I'm updating mainly to fix that leak and the other one you told me about in chat for the moment, larger changes pending me having the time and energy to work on them.

Update:
-Checkpoint in Traversal 2E moved from (10, 26) to (13, 26)
-Connection to door in Together 1N2W changed from toggle to close, which it should have been all along.
-Together 2N (29, 29) changed from green door to north force arrow to hopefully fix a room leak that doubles as a backtracking issue.

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[Last edited by Xindaris at 02-26-2018 10:27 PM]
02-26-2018 at 10:20 PM
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IQubic
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (0)  
I don't have any concrete room comments yet, but I do want to say one thing. The scripting is a bit weird. The flashing arrows appear OVER a mirror, so you can see both the mirror and the directional arrows. The center tile is also drawn OVER a mirror, completely obscuring it. This is odd, and I have once or twice forgotten the position of a mirror this way.

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[Last edited by IQubic at 04-11-2018 03:22 AM : Clarification]
04-11-2018 at 03:21 AM
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Xindaris
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (0)  
I'm well aware of the mirror issue, which is also present with powder kegs. It's completely impossible to fix because of the way Ghost Display layering works. The rooms mirrors are in don't really require you to keep them in the wheel zones though, so it should not be a huge issue.

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04-11-2018 at 03:50 AM
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mauvebutterfly
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icon Re: The Wheelhouse (0)  
Possible work around: separate ghost display graphics that include kegs and mirrors that are used when those items are being covered up.

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04-11-2018 at 03:55 AM
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Hi, I have played a couple of rooms and I like the concept. I got confused many times and I'm often struggling to analyze all the room and then think of a route to work with, surely because i'm not used to play with the element, a lot of practice is needed.

It's mainly a door mecanism, it needs to be combined with other elements to make look puzzles the less "maze" possible. Puzzles based on monster mouvement with this wheel can be very interesting.

04-15-2018 at 06:40 PM
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