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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : Ghostsmiters: Prequel (Short prequel to ”Ghostsmiters”, a hold about solving puzzles in ”3D”.)
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Bent
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File: Ghostsmiters Prequel v6.hold (58.8 KB)
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icon Ghostsmiters: Prequel (+3)  
For those of you who have not tried Ghostsmiters, it is a hold focusing on puzzles in 3D (kind of) using scripted elements. What the player does in one room will affect what happens in the next, and so the challenge lays not just in solving each individual room, but the level as a whole.

In retrospect I think Ghostsmiters starts out too hard. It has no real introductory level, but rather throws the player into the deep end right from the start. This hold is meant to provide a gentler start for people new to Ghostsmiters, or for those who tried it, liked the concept, but was put off by the difficulty.

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[Last edited by Bent at 05-15-2018 09:09 PM]
02-20-2018 at 04:46 PM
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Insoluble
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File: Ghostsmiters Prequel.demo (18 KB)
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (+1)  
Like the original Ghostsmiters this is really neat. The attention to detail is great. I really love the aesthetics and layout. The aesthetics, scenery, and dialog are all terrific. Also like the original Ghostsmiters the execution is pretty exacting. I don't really know if it's really all that much gentler than the original. I managed to clear three rooms (including the first room, which technically starts cleared). Haven't gotten the last two yet. Demos are attached. I tried to record multi-room demos and label them in a way that makes sense. If you start watching from #1 it should play through the whole sequence. Here are some thoughts:

Beginning sequence: Getting to the top.
Getting past the second floor is already a pretty big roadblock. There are a lot of different ways to manipulate the ghost on the first floor that feel like they could be correct but leave you in an untenable position on the second floor. The player first has to realize where you need the ghost to be on the second floor in order to make it to the bottom, then has to find a way to get the ghost into position on the first floor. The sequence of moves required is interesting, and I thought it was a neat puzzle, but it was pretty involved for what is supposed to be a gentle introduction. The irony is that just about all the sequences after that for getting to the top floor are pretty manageable. Those felt like they might have been a better choice for a first puzzle.

If you are planning to keep things pretty much as is, I would recommend putting a checkpoint at somewhere like (7,17) in the first level (the entrance). That way if a player does mess up the positioning of the ghost a bunch of times while making attempts at the 2nd floor, they'll have at least one good checkpoint to restore to that doesn't make them replay through the whole opening dialog.

Clearing the 5th floor: Already for the first real room clear we need to manipulate a goblin to block the ghost in a corridor. Thankfully the goblin manipulation isn't too tricky, and it's pretty clear that getting the ghost stuck on the goblin in level 4 is the only way to get him in the right spot in level 5. But manipulating the ghost to get into that corridor took a bit of figuring out. Again, this was a neat puzzle, but didn't really feel like a gentle introduction. I'm feeling a solid 7 brains difficulty so far.

Clearing the 3rd floor: The "telefrag" hint in the opening sequence is nice in that it lets the player know that this approach will work without having to experiment with it. It's also pretty clear that this is the only way to kill that particular goblin. But again, the setup for this one was pretty tricky, involving all three top floors, plus requiring the ghost to be in the correct spot from the end of the first kill (so you'd better not have moved him out of place and overwritten your checkpoint save), and coming to the realization that you need to reuse the western area that seemed to be just for the introduction. I really enjoyed figuring this one out, but it was easily 7 brains if not more.

Unfortunately I'm not seeing how having level 3 clear opens up any new opportunities and so I haven't made further progress. Still enjoying this so far. Closing thoughts: This is definitely a bit more difficult than anything I would describe as "a gentle introduction". It may just be me though, difficulty is very subjective. The manipulation, while tricky, is not as precise and demanding as the first level of the original Ghostsmiters. In fact, I think the difficulty lies more in the long term planning across floors and in thinking three dimensionally (possibly with the exception of very first puzzle in the first two rooms). I've enjoyed this so far, and wouldn't complain if you just decided to keep the difficulty and re-conceptualize it as a hold of comperable difficulty to the original.

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02-21-2018 at 04:22 AM
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Bent
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Thank you so much for your feedback and demos, they were super useful! :)

I seem to have a really hard time judging the difficulty of these puzzles… I haven't given up the hope of making a gentle introduction yet, but I'll just have to start from scratch. I don't know yet what I'm going to do with this level, whether I'll release it separately, or as a later level in the prequel, or potentially as a part of a sequel.

The way you solved 3rd floor was unintended: You do not really need the ghost to be at the correct spot from the end of the first kill, although the general idea is the same. I've uploaded a new version which enforces the intended solution.

I also make the rest of the oremite-climb a bit trickier, to make the difficulty more even.

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02-21-2018 at 12:21 PM
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Bent
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Big update! I have made a new level serving as an introductory stage, and have decided to keep the old level in the hold as well. Other than that I have made multiple changes to the story and dialogue.

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02-27-2018 at 05:00 PM
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Insoluble
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File: Ghostsmiters Prequel.demo (25.2 KB)
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (+1)  
The new intro level is much more approachable. Demo attached. I think this will be a much easier introduction for people to get used to the element and it still ends up being an interesting and fun series of puzzles. I'll try to go back and take a look at the other level again. EDIT: Never mind, went back and solved the second level too since I was having so much fun with this! Multi-room demo is attached.

A couple of quick comments:
It might be nice to have some checkpoints that are not right next to the stairs. One issue I found with the checkpoints at stairs is that if I exit and re-enter a room it overwrites the save at that checkpoint while giving the ghost a chance to move twice. So basically I can get trapped at a fail state in a pair of checkpoints pretty easily. This is easy enough to avoid by just paying close attention to the room I'm about to go in to, but especially for folks not used to this element it could be better to have one checkpoint possibly a couple of tiles away from the door or in the middle of the room.

It might also be nice to have a scroll or something similar at the beginning of the hold reminding people that they can hit F5 to record a multi-room demo. I found this to be super useful since the game won't automatically record demos unless you actually clear the room and in most of these rooms the tricky stuff is actually in the passes where you don't clear the room.

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[Last edited by Insoluble at 03-10-2018 06:41 AM]
03-10-2018 at 04:34 AM
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Bent
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Hold updated again. As Insoluble suggested I've added a few more checkpoints, and a scroll telling playtesters how to record multi-room recordings. I've also made two room changes:

First stage 3rd floor: Insoluble solved this room in an unintended way, I've added a couple of walls to fix it.

Second stage 2nd floor: I've reduced the size of the pressure plate under the eye, because I realized that it didn't have to be so large.

I'll also mention that I mastered this new version before uploading it, just to make sure that no hold-breaking changes were introduced by accident.

Oh, and Insoluble, just to let you know, you missed a secret in the first level. :)

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03-10-2018 at 04:14 PM
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superluminal
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (+1)  
This is a great hold!

I tried the first hold, but the difficulty got me early on. This is a welcome version! The right half of level two gets tough (8 brains) but everything before that is doable (6-7 brains). I'd give the whole hold seven brains because the concept takes some getting used to.

I didn't find any unintended solutions or little problems, so you're good on that front. My only complaint: I couldn't figure out first level 3N until I realized that Gunthro keeps his orientation after using stairs. Maybe there should be some scroll or dialogue mentioning this difference from usual stair behavior?

Great writing! I love puns!

EDIT: I'm sorry I can't be more helpful with my comments, other than "me likey". I hope this is valuable anyway.

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[Last edited by superluminal at 03-11-2018 04:24 AM]
03-11-2018 at 03:38 AM
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Bent
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Thanks for the feedback superluminal! :) I've now added a scroll mentioning that you retain your orientation when using the stairs.

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03-11-2018 at 04:34 PM
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Insoluble
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File: Ghostsmiters Prequel.demo (30.7 KB)
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Bumping this because it's too cool a hold to not get published. I recorded a new demo for the first level. I think that you must have fixed whatever the break in the third floor was. Also played through the secret room. It was definitely tougher than anything else in this level by a good amount, but was probably a good difficulty for a secret. Manipulating the monster wasn't too bad in this room actually as the little shape in the upper left corner of the room provides a lot of options. A lot of the difficulty came from figuring out which position to get the ghost in and finding out a way to survive afterwards (using room geometry in a nice sneaky way.) Great hold! I hope this gets published.

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04-30-2018 at 07:23 AM
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Bent
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icon Re: Ghostsmiters: Prequel (0)  
Thanks again for more feedback! Rest assured, this hold is not forgotten and will be published. :) I plan to submit it to HA soon (probably sometime this month), but I want to play through it one last time first, just to make sure that I'm completely happy with it. I've watched your new demos and everything seems to work as intended!

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Holds of mine that are currently in need of playtesting:
Click here to view the secret text

05-02-2018 at 05:39 PM
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