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In which a demo-note is likely finalised; the level-five upper-puzzle sees much work; a new mechanic is added for the level-five upper-puzzle; and a plot-relevant inventory item is added.

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Greetings and salutations!

This week's screenshot shows the note intended to be shown in place of level three in the new demo:

Screenshot from 2020 08 15 13 34

Perhaps the primary work of the week just past was in the upper puzzle of level five, with a small miscellany of other things done besides:

As shown above, the note shown in place of level three was updated in the week just past: touch-ups were made to the text, a bit of logic added, and a border placed to either side. I think that this is more or less done now, barring further touch-ups!

But, as mentioned above, the main work of the week just past was likely that which was done towards the upper-level puzzle in level five.

Some of this was fairly uninteresting: the writing of various responses for historical events discovered in the puzzle; adjustments to the position and orientation that is the end-point of the initial cutscene-mode skim through the documents; adding of a few clues to the level's clue-page to give direction here; assignment of year-ranges to each section of bookshelf; and possibly a few other things besides.


Perhaps more interesting is the structure of the puzzle itself.

I believe that I've mentioned before that I've had some uncertainty regarding this puzzle: how might I make a search through date-sorted histories engaging?

As of last week's blog-post, I had taken a simple approach, as I recall: each shelf was divided into four sections, and the player was tasked with examining a given section, determining whether the revealed information--if any--lay before the target section or after, and then moving to a new section as appropriate.

That basic premise remains, but in the week just past I realised that by itself it was just too easy to brute-force. There were, after all, only sixty-eight sections (I think that it was), leaving few enough that simply going from one end to the other wasn't overly troublesome.

At first I tried to deal with this via a simple fade-to-black, held for a few seconds, with the sounds of page-searching overlaid. This did slow things down... but still not enough, I feared. And furthermore, it wasn't terribly interesting.

I did have another idea--but I wasn't sure that it fit the game in tone. In addition, using it meant adding a new minigame-puzzle, not only late in development, but somewhat late in the experience of the game, too. Was this wise...?

But I wasn't happy with the fade-to-black, and the minigame might at least give the player something to do, and so I implemented it.

In short, this minigame presents the player with a page of miscellaneous words, and asks the player to select the one word relevant to the search. Do so correctly, and a useful response is given; otherwise, a response indicating that nothing was found is given.

There is a catch, however: there's no guarantee that a given section, and thus its associated puzzle, will contain such a relevant word: some sections just don't hold anything of interest.

It's a simple mechanic, but I'm hoping that it will engage players a bit more in the search than just clicking on sections might, and slow them down enough to disincentivise brute-forcing.

Right now the words have vertical offsets to baffle the eye a little, making it harder to skim over the lines; I'm not yet confident of keeping this.

Furthermore, I currently have it in mind to add an accessibility mode that reduces the number of words and spaces them out further.

Screenshot from 2020 08 15 13 32

In the week just past I also added the inventory item that's gained at the end of this level: a date torn from a history-record, associated with an important event in the timeline of the city Ketel/Catol. I don't intend to show that here, however, as it's a bit of a spoiler for the upper-level puzzle!

And finally, a few other things were done that don't seem worth detailing here!

That then is all for this week--stay well, and thank you for reading! ^_^

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