Jun 8, 2018

Creating Puzzles for TUAT

12:10 PM Posted by Lucas Izumi No comments
In today's post, I would like to show our creative process while creating puzzles for TUAT.

In TUAT, puzzles are much more than simple game elements. If they are not directly connected with the narrative, they are at least connected with cultural elements of Ancient Egypt. In order to create this connection we have to work with a few limitations, like the restricted use of mechanisms, after all, at that time there was still no variety that we know today.

Historical Limitations
A good example of this was during a discussion we had about a puzzle. It would work very well with the use of cogwheels, but by researching on it we discovered that cogwheels did not yet exist at that time. The Predynastic period of Ancient Egypt dates from around 5500 BC and the first reported use of a cogwheel was in the Antikythera mechanism, from around 200 BC.

In a later research, we then found about the defense mechanism used in the Great Pyramid of Giza. It uses a system of huge granite blocks suspended on grooves. When activated, the blocks would be released and slid to close a passage. The puzzle itself was not about closing something, but we could use the core idea of this system and adapt it to fit our puzzle settings, replacing the cogwheels entirely.

Source: Science Channel
Puzzle Design and Ancient Egypt Culture
Our puzzle creation process starts by asking ourselves a few questions:
- What's the purpose of the puzzle? Is it to teach a new mechanic? To obtain an item?
- Where will the puzzle be located?
- Based on the puzzle location, which basic elements fit that environment?
- Which cultural/mythological elements fit that environment?

By putting all these answers together we have a clear view of what to use in that specific puzzle. From here we take a look at our limitations: are all elements good to use? After doing a research and discarding or replacing some elements, we finally come up with an initial idea. This idea is documented and tested using Paper Prototypes (or simply diagrams). We discuss it and when we all find it interesting enough, we implement a prototype of it in the game itself.

The Ancient Egypt rites and the games played in those times are a great source of inspiration when designing a puzzle. Take for instance the Canopic Jars. They were used during the mummification process and each one of them holds a specific purpose. By exploring their purpose we created a puzzle that teaches the player their use and has a conceptual value that calls upon the beliefs of that era. This is something strong in TUAT. We don't want puzzles to be a mere element between the narrative. We want to use them to further dive into the Ancient Egypt culture and present it to the player in different ways.

The Canopic Jars Puzzle
I really wish I could share more about the game puzzles, but I don't want to spoil your experience! I hope you guys enjoy this post and please keep an eye out for TUAT! We shall be releasing a demo soon!