I feel like the puzzle quality is this game's biggest weakness so far.

For discussing anything about House Party that is not a bug, telling us what you want to see in the official Eek! stories or what extra features the game might need, or for asking questions about how to avoid Frank the Eternal Avenger, Lord of a Thousand Fists, First of His Name, King of the Assholes, and Tamer of Flasks.
Forum rules
Forum rules
No racism, sexism, anti-semitism, brigading, doxxing, or ANY form of abusive behavior. No discussion of hacking or piracy or the buying, trading, or selling of ANY type of product or service (digital or otherwise). No advertising of any product or service (digital or otherwise, and this includes streams or any service involving 'subscribers'). No discussion of religion or politics. Do not link to other adult sites, with the exception being discussion of other adult games in Offtopic/allowed subforums; i.e. no pornography.

Do not spam, do not try to circumvent any automated tools that are part of these forums or any linking to these forums. Do not judge others based on their preferences for custom stories, their opinions, sexuality, etc., and most certainly do not bring it to the moderators.

Respect the moderators and each other and all will be well. Report any violations of the above rules. Do not violate local or international laws (including, but not limited to the laws of your country and/or the laws of the United States) while making use of these forums. The IP address of all posts are recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions.

We will use username, e-mail, AND IP bans without reservation, and mods hold the final word in such decisions.
Post Reply
Jimothy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:50 pm

I feel like the puzzle quality is this game's biggest weakness so far.

Post by Jimothy » Mon Nov 26, 2018 5:52 pm

I want to start off by saying this game is charming and I like it. I also know that it doesn't want to be taken too seriously, but I think that's too easy a cop-out sometimes. A game heavily-based on social engineering and dialogue puzzles is a fun concept, but so many of the puzzles fall flat.

To start, it feels to me like the dialogue puzzles are mostly too straightforward to be called puzzles. When Madison says that sky animal crap and you go talk to her, for example, you have to choose between positive adjectives ("direct," "sensitive,") and negative adjectives ("arrogant," "brash,"). The last option is essentially a summary of the previous ones: "Be a dick, or don't be a dick." Should I feel a feeling of accomplishment for knowing "not being a dick is better than the alternative?"

On those occasions where you really do have to consider what to do, the relationship bar gives too large a hint. For example, telling Amy to keep going with the scavenger hunt gives you a clear hit to her attraction, making the other path obvious.

Some are genuinely good. I like that you had to choose between being truthful or not about the petition you were having people sign. Of course, some factors of that didn't make sense -- Derek says Frank checks his ass out (he's bi) and there's no evidence that Frank is stupid, but he accepts the "reinstate prohibition" answer over having Derek take his shirt off. I get that we're having a laugh, making fun of Frank for being a jackass, Patrick and Stephanie for being stupid, Katherine for being overly severe... but the laugh shouldn't come at the expense of the puzzle. Katherine's smart but bitchy, okay... but from her attitude, you get the impression that she's the kind of bitch who controls men. There's no reason to think she'd believe a guy is having her sign a petition for his own castration. The Stephanie and Patrick answers were good jokes, and made sense. The Frank and Katherine answers were okay jokes, but didn't make sense, and so felt out of place.

The tonality can be off, too. I like the idea of having to choose between telling Ashley she looks like her sister, or that she doesn't. You sort of have to gauge their relationship on the fly, to see if Ashley would consider the comparison a compliment. But in execution it feels like it misfires. Saying "you're much hotter" is oafish flattery, clear objectification. It's just one step above "you've got a great ass." Ashley reacts positively to a stranger saying "you're really hot," but not to the ass comment. Seems like "you're much prettier" is at least more tactful -- perhaps "I see you got the looks in the family," or something. It feels like someone needs to make a decision about Ashley's character. Is she the insecure, attention-starved younger sister who will react positively to ANY male attention (the kind who would like to hear "you're hotter than your sister")? Or perhaps she'd be wary of that kind of approach, taking more pride in being sweeter, nicer than her sister? Perhaps she should be talked out of pranking Madison back, liking someone who says "That's something Madison would do, but you're better than that," and "I didn't think you were the type to try to hurt someone on purpose."

The Rachael "dare" puzzle could have been really great. What if some of the dare options were too obvious, or would give you away? I initially thought, for example, that you'd only get one dare (because then it'd be Rachael's turn to dare Vickie), and thought it was a puzzle to see which one would increase her attraction the most. But no, it doesn't matter whether you tell her to lose her shirt or her shoes, etc. There could have been dares that risk giving you away, that sound too good to be true... but the most suspicious escalating dares of "do more and more for the cute guy" don't even tip your hand. Why not, "Dare you to blow the guy who got your thermos back," or something similar, that could tip her off? Give me some way to fail!

It's possible that all this sounds really nitpicky, but it feels like there's a lot of missed potential here. You've created characters that, because they're uncomplicated, are fairly easy to judge. Having the dialogue trees be a real test of how quickly you pick up on their personalities could be engaging and satisfying. Instead, they seem interchangeable at times. It would often be really confusing or difficult picking the correct dialogue option, except that there are no other options that aren't clearly wrong.

erasmus
Posts: 611
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:29 pm

Re: I feel like the puzzle quality is this game's biggest weakness so far.

Post by erasmus » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:40 pm

We've got this on our minds constantly and I've brought this up to our writer, but even so we'll probably have to go back and tweak the player responses several times as well as massage dialogues and events, as there are some indisputable inconsistencies in character behaviors that affect the "thinking" or "social intelligence" aspects of longer playthroughs. It's a tough balance between legitimate puzzles (and how many moments of gameplay SHOULD be a puzzle), direct satire of party behaviors you might run into IRL or blatant memetic jokes, and accessibility, while also maintaining a generally light and humorous feel. We'll do our best. Thanks for the feedback!
Erasmus
Quality Control and User Experience Director

Jimothy
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2018 4:50 pm

Re: I feel like the puzzle quality is this game's biggest weakness so far.

Post by Jimothy » Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:56 am

Thanks for the reply. I know the undertaking is incredibly difficult.

I feel like one of the easiest ways to approach making things easier for the writer would be to have threads specifically addressing each character and having players discuss their impressions of each of them. Then it's easier to see if the character is "on the mark," so to speak -- whether they're coming across as intended and are understandable from a wide range.

Post Reply