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Monthly Archives: April 2009

It’s a shame my attempt at blogging became one quickly forgotten under a pile of coursework deadlines but now I’m reaching the end of the madness I can hopefully start to get back to this little internet adventure. So.. my riddle.

To make sure I don’t lose anyone, I suppose my first post regarding my web riddle should probably best explain just what it is. Currently lacking a proper name (although support has been shown for the name “Shaun’s Online Riddle”, once described as “F**king catchy!”) my riddle game is a strange little experiment based off online riddles such as Notpron and Zest. A game where the player is provided with a web-page starting at level 1 and simply has to find a way to get to the next web page, which is level 2, and so on untill a finish page is reached. Every ‘level’ consists of a html web page and a picture with a number in the corner. Each page is a riddle, that provides clues to the player as to how they should reach the next level. Players progress by finding hidden buttons, changing URLs, editing pictures to find hidden passwords and so on. As players get deeper the riddle gets progressively harder, whilst designed carefully to teach the player the mechanics he will need for the later levels in early stages where the game is far more forgiving. I can’t explain it any better without you going ahead and trying it. So if you’re still lost:  There you go, knock yourself out.

The idea itself had been done. By many people. Notpron being the most popular. (Speaking of Notpron, I am proudly the 8th person in the world to finish it. 😉 ) But there were many things with notpron I didn’t like, as much as there were things I loved. I’ve strived to maintain what I loved about Notpron in my own creation whilst adding my own touch to it and trying to make it ‘mine’ in every way possible. I’ve been testing this riddle by handing out the link to friends and people who I thought would be ‘good at this sort of thing’. To my surprise I learned, not only is it better to test with people who are useless at ‘this sort of thing’ but the people I thought would be into it weren’t the people that got into it. I left the link on my facebook profile and people I never would have thought of were emailing me about the game, which levels they were stuck on and generally words of praise for the riddle itself. (Aside from the obvious curses against me for making such an ‘evil’ (translating I would hope to addictive if frustrating) game) Yet the people who I hand picked seemed somewhat more uninterested and less able to play without help than those who found the link themselves.

Level 6 has been a thorn in the side of many players since the beginning. I get more emails about this level than any other. Some people breeze through it and for others this is where they gave up. I won’t go into specifics about the level in order to not ruin it, but while everyone manages the first task of the level easily enough, there’s a final far less obvious step that needs taking that people struggle to find no matter how strong the clue. I’ve tweaked and tweaked and tweaked and I think the level is fairly solvable by anyone now, but I still get complaints! In a way there’s a nice feeling that only an elite sect of people can make it to the end, but I’d like to think everyone can get as far as level ten. Otherwise I just feel i’ve failed as a designer. The level is definitely in a better state, and so are many of the future levels thanks to good feedback. I don’t know exactly where I’m gonna draw the line and say “It’s finished” make a proper intro page for it and let it stand on its own with the exception of a new level now and then. But I figure I basically have all the time in the world to make it right. There’s no money on the line here, no deadline to meet, I can let it grow and evolve at my own pace. Making games outside the ‘industry world’ is very pleasant in that respect.

I’ve been adding hidden levels for a while now too, there are currently… I think 27 levels on the main path, and about 6 hidden levels. So far about two of the many people I know to have tried the game have found a hidden level and none of them have yet been solved. This is actually exactly how I want it. These levels are just self-indulgence. And there to give a big pat on the back to anyone good enough to solve them. I’ve yet to think of fun rewards for these hidden levels, but at the rate they’re being solved at I think I have plenty of time to think on that one.  A small handful of people have stuck it through and solved the entire riddle. And comparing this to the number of people that have tried it at all, again, this is kind of nice. People are having fun out of the game without completing it, and those that do complete it get to feel special. They’re few among many, they did something other’s couldn’t. The 27 levels in the riddle are far from impossible and anyone with enough time and dedication could solve it without aid. One of the people in the hall of fame struggled on just level 2 for hours on end, but still persevered, hit the learning curve just right and worked his way through to the finish.

That all said, I don’t like it when anyone says they’ve given up on it. I’m always working to make the riddle want you to play it and want you to have fun with it. But on the flip side, I’m certain that anyone who perseveres long enough to beat level 6, has gotten some fun out of the game. And really, that’s kind of the whole point.

-Shaun