A “Diegetic” Attempt to Improve the Puzzle

Puzzles can be ludic as they are meant to be. But to convey a consistent gameplay experience, being ludic is not enough. A good puzzle in a adventure should be in the adventure, that is to be “diegetic”.

In the design of the original puzzle 2 (shown below), the tracks may not be well explained from a player’s view — what’s the point of setting up tracks in Tesla’s laboratory  even in a half-fictional game context?  In addition, it doesn’t contain adequate ludic elements of electricity.

a2 tracks puzzle

An attempt of improvement was made to make it more “diegetic”.

First, the whole track system has been redefined as a AC/DC power dissipation simulation experiment left by Tesla.

In the room there are some high-resistance circular plates which can be rotated to form a circuit to conduct both AC & DC power form generators to motors. Both AC and DC motors are connected to an elevator through the power transmission.

Notice that a plate in the centre is missing, only the DC circuit can be established to partially power the elevator though the DC motor. Notes around the room indicate that DC power loses current easily over long distances (simulated by the high-resistance environment in this situation).
The elevator can only take the player down to a storeroom where the missing plate is located when powered by the weak DC current.

Now the player has to figure out a way out since they are now trapped in the storeroom, for the DC current is too weak to pull
the elevator back upstairs. Then other puzzles involving ladder assembly and trapdoor lock picking can kick in. After the player successfully get back to the upper room with the plate found, the AC circuit can be completed and then leads to the AC motor puzzle. Finally after it is solved, the elevator is powered by the AC motor, which runs on the strong AC power, it can take the player up to the next puzzle room.

a2 tracks puzzle _2

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Puzzle Designs (for Chapter 1)

Chapter 1 takes place in Edward Dean Adams Power Plant at Niagara Falls. The puzzles in this chapter feature Tesla’s inventions of AC power systems. A room puzzle consists of several contraption puzzles of different types. In order to solve room puzzles and proceed, players sometimes have to solve certain contraption puzzles first. Environment investigation is needed as players can find required puzzle items e.g. cables and Tesla’s written notes as clues in rooms. Audio cues are played in some contraption puzzles to indicate whether the attempt is correct or how close the attempt is to the solution.

Types of contraption puzzles:

1. Electric frequency/potential matching:

This type of puzzles requires players to manipulate (using mouse/keyboard combinations or touchscreen flicks) Tesla’s special cables in horizontal and vertical directions to adjust (position and shape) and produce current patterns of the correct electric frequency (horizontal) and potential (vertical) that match the current patterns shown to players. The match rule can vary in different puzzles. This type of puzzle can also be incorporated in larger Device repairing/operating puzzles.

2. Device repairing/operating:

This type of puzzles requires players to repair or operate devices/machines in some simple and simulated ways. The procedures vary in different puzzles.

3. Wiring:

This type of puzzles requires players to manipulate switches in the wiring system to achieve different purposes. By powering Lamps, parts of the room will be lit up so more environmental clues can be discovered easily.

4. Miscellaneous:

Other environmental and contraption puzzles.

Puzzle items that player can interact with in the scenes are listed below:

Item Description
General Control Panel Serve different functions
AC Generator Power AC Wiring and TransformerNeed mechanical power
DC Generator Power DC WiringNeed mechanical power
AC Motor Power Track Control and Power TransmissionNeed AC power
DC Motor Power Track Control and Power TransmissionNeed DC power
AC Socket Provide and receive AC powerNeed connection to AC Wiring
DC Socket Provide and receive DC powerNeed connection to DC Wiring
AC Wiring Transmit AC power
DC Wiring Transmit DC power
Track Controller Control the formation of TracksNeed power from AC/DC Motor
Tracks Made of 3×3 rotatable track blocks and allow AC/DC Motor to move around
Power Transmission (mechanics) Transmit mechanical power provided by AC/DC Motor and power Exit Gate
Regulator Regulate the power output of AC MotorNeed AC power
Transformer Transform AC powerNeed AC power
Tesla Coil Prototype Discharge at a sharp point

In the design sketches:

Colour Grey represents completed contraption parts and screen clues;

Colour Red represents uncompleted contraption parts and player controls;

Colour Blue represents DC system;

Colour Purple represents AC system;

Colour Yellow represents dull DC lamp light;

Colour White represents bright AC lamp light.

The default states in all Device operation and Wiring puzzles are as shown in the sketches.

Room Puzzle A1:

The room puzzle is the tutorial of the game and players are encouraged by Tesla’s notes found in the room to solve the puzzles.

The cables (with limited lengths) needed in solving the puzzles are hidden in cabinets and drawers across the room, and some extra ones may be taken to the next rooms.

The Sluice in the room can provide additional water to drive the AC Generator, which can generate more power which is needed in the Diorama puzzle.

One ideal solution:

1. Solve the DC Generator puzzle;

2. Connect the cable from the DC Generator to a nearby DC Socket;

3. Solve the DC Wring puzzle (light Lamp 1);

4. Solve the AC Generator puzzle;

5. Connect the two cables from the AC Generator to a nearby AC Socket.

6. Solve the AC Wring puzzle (form a route from AC Socket to the Sluice);

7. Solve the Diorama puzzle.

Clues: Tesla’s notes

Rewards:

1. The whole diorama is powered and starts to work, demonstrating the general workflow of hydroelectric power generation;

2. Key to the exit door is revealed.

Contraption Puzzle 1: DC Generator

Type: Electric potential/frequency matching

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

This puzzle serves as a tutorial of this type of puzzles and thus manipulation of cable in horizontal direction is disabled. Match the blue pattern using a cable connected to the red terminal on the DC Generator. The match rule is vertical inversion.

Audio cue: Yes

Solution:

The current pattern shown in the Player Screen in the sketch

Clues: Tesla’s note

Reward:

Contraption Puzzle 2: AC Generator

Type: Electric potential/frequency matching

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

This puzzle serves as a tutorial of this type of puzzles and this time manipulation of cable in horizontal direction is enabled. Match the purple pattern using cables connected to the red terminals on the AC Generator. The match rule is horizontal inversion.

Audio cue: Yes

Solution:

The current pattern shown in the Player Screen in the sketch

Clues: Tesla’s note

Reward:

Intelligence about Tesla’s inventions of AC generators

Contraption Puzzle 3: AC/DC Wiring

Type: Wiring

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description: N/A

Audio cue: Yes

Clues: Tesla’s note

Reward: None

Contraption Puzzle 4: Diorama

Type: Device repairing/operating

Prerequisite of solving: The Sluice is opened

Description:

This puzzle requires players to power the diorama by connecting cables from AC/DC Sockets to its three terminals. Players may refer to the patterns on the AC and DC Generators.

Audio cue: Yes

Solution:

Left: cable with power from grey terminal of the AC Generator

Middle: cable with power from the DC Generator

Right: cable with power from red terminal of the AC Generator

Clues:

Reward: Key to the exit door is revealed.

Room Puzzle A2:

The room puzzle requires players to power the Power Transmission at the Elevator to exit the room.

Trick: Through careful investigation players will find out that there is no DC Socket near the Power Transmission so this puzzle can be solved only when the AC Motor puzzle is solved and the AC Motor is used at the Power Transmission.

One ideal solution:

1. Connect the DC Motor to Track Controller and turn the motor on;

2. Solve the Tracks puzzle (operate Track Controller to form a route from the AC Motor to Power Transmission);

3. Solve the AC Wiring puzzle (form a route from AC Power Source to the AC Socket near Power Transmission);

4. Move the AC Motor to the track next to Power Transmission;

5. Connect the AC Motor to Power Transmission;

6. Solve the AC Motor puzzle (connect it with three AC power sources);

7. Turn on Power Transmission and the Exit Gate opens.

Clues:

“This room looks not so symmetric.” (When walking through the room)

“What’s on the ground?” (When walking on the Tracks)

“The gate feels heavy!” (When investigating the Exit Gate)

“This seems to drive the gate.” (When investigating Power Transmission)

Rewards:

1. The Elevator is powered to transport players to the next room.

Contraption Puzzle 1: AC Motor

Type: Electric potential/frequency matching

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

This puzzle features Tesla’s early and most applied invention, AC motor (three-phase). This time the puzzle solving slightly differentiates from the ones of generators, which requires players to memorise the patterns on the motor and match the patterns using cables at an AC Socket without looking at the original patterns. Finally players need to connect the cables to the corresponding terminals on the AC Motor. The match rule is vertical inversion.

Audio cue: No

Solution:

The current patterns shown in the Player Screen in the sketch, from left to right each matches 1-3

Clues:

The match of pattern no.1 is already given.

Reward:

Intelligence about Tesla’s inventions of AC motors

Contraption Puzzle 2: Tracks

Type: Device repairing/operating

Prerequisite of solving: Track controller is connected to working AC or DC Motor

Description:

The puzzle requires the player to rearrange the tracks by rotating each track by operating the Track Controller.

Audio cue: Yes

One ideal solution:

Form a route from the AC Motor to Power Transmission. One possible route is shown in the sketch.

Clues: None

Reward: None

Contraption Puzzle 3: Wiring

Type: Wiring

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

Audio cue: Yes

One ideal solution:

Form a route From AC Power Source to the AC Socket near Power Transmission.

Clues: None

Reward: None

Room Puzzle A3:

In this room, players have to gain two accesses to proceed. One is the Tesla Coil Prototype discharging electricity at the Exit Gate, which is already powered by a relative low voltage AC power (this power cannot be cut and is running through a Transformer) that needs to be transformed to a much higher voltage in order to be passed safely. The other is the Exit Gate itself which is already connected with the AC Motor (it needs AC power from the AC Generator), which is not enough because the power output of the AC Motor is too high that the Exit Gate will open and close repeatedly at a very fast speed for players to pass. Thus players have to consider the usage of the Regulator.

There are no Lamps in this room so players can only explore the room environment using their flashlights.

One ideal solution:

Solve the two contraption puzzles in any order.

Clues: Tesla’s notes

Rewards:

1. The Exit Gate is clear and open and close at a slow speed so players can pass.

Contraption Puzzle 1: AC Power

Type: Device repairing/operating

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

The puzzle incorporates Electric potential/frequency matching puzzle element and at this time, player can choose to use their own original pattern at the AC Generator and match rule. But still they have to consider how to connect the cables in order to both power and regulate the AC Motor. After the puzzle is solved, the power output level of the AC Motor can be adjusted using the Regulator’s handle.

Audio cue: Yes

Solution: One possible solution is shown in the sketch.

Clues: Tesla’s Note

Reward:

Intelligence about Tesla’s invention of regulator for AC motors

Contraption Puzzle 2: Transformer

Type: Device repairing/operating

Prerequisite of solving: None

Description:

The puzzle requires players to adjust the number of turns of the primary and secondary coils. Tesla’s note explains the basic principles of transformers and implies how high the voltage is needed in order to pass the Tesla Coil Prototype safely.

Audio cue: No

Solution: One possible solution is shown in the sketch.

Clues: Tesla’s Note

Reward:

Intelligence about Tesla’s invention of electrical transformer

Source:

http://www.teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla-patents-381,968-electro-magnetic-motor

http://www.teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla-patents-382,280-transmission-of-power

http://www.teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla-patents-390,820-alternate-current-regulator

http://www.teslauniverse.com/nikola-tesla-patents-433,702-electrical-transformer

Two initial puzzle demos for Project Tesla (The Tesla Files)

The original idea of “first person actor” was abandoned for its practicality for a small development team and limited budget. The project then turned to the idea of  a FBI agent’s detective discovery of Nikola Tesla’s life and work.

To demonstrate the possible game mechanics of the game, which are supposed to be related to the Tesla theme, two puzzled demos were created.

The first one is a general acoustic puzzle, which introduces the player to the puzzle mechanics of audio pattern recognition. The player will hear a sequence of electric current sound and three shorter sounds that make up the sequence. The puzzled is solved when the shorter sounds are clicked/tapped in the correct order.

puzzle1_1puzzle1_2

Now, the second puzzle takes the pattern recognition further by introducing the visual patterns.

This puzzle features Tesla’s early and most applied invention, AC motor (three-phase), requiring players to choose three stretch cables from the boxes of AC power sources of different phases and connect them to the corresponding terminals marked “1”, “2” and “3” on the AC motor. Players have two ways of identifying the matches:

1. Acoustic: By moving the mouse to or tap the central gear and the three boxes with curve patterns, players can hear a sequence of electric current sound and three shorter sounds that make up the sequence respectively. This approach has been introduced to the player in the previous puzzle.

2. Visual: Next to the number marks of the terminals there are three coloured curve patterns (representing the wave form) and each of them is a complementary vertical inversion to a curve patterns on the box.

Players can click/tap on a box to choose a cable of AC power source and then click/tap again on a terminal to apply the match. Signal sounds are played to indicate whether the match is right. The puzzle is solved by completing all three matches.

puzzle2_1

When the puzzle is solved, the player can get some related source information about the puzzle as a reward of the Dossier system. Also, since the AC motor is powered up, it functions to interact with other contraptions and becomes part of the whole room puzzle.

puzzle2_2

Demos Download:

For Windows: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zrfib0hwovwhzjs/4jW2OOqsoj

For Mac OS: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/muwbbjlh5p9prbh/IxJ_n9wX3z

The Original Idea of Project Tesla

What if you were the mysterious genius, master of lightning, Nikola Tesla? What would you do to with your inspirations and talents for inventions? Would you be able to realise Tesla’s dream of world wireless power transmission, death ray and even more…as a different Tesla?

Theme: You as a possible Tesla

Genre: Point-and-click/tap-and-drag (touchscreen) graphic/puzzle adventure, alternative history simulation, RPG

Narrative: A narrator narrates while the player plays in first person perspective; the story is in a chorological order with multiple endings

Core gameplay: The player plays Tesla in his view (with his acute sense of hearing and sight), from his early career on.

  1. Role-playing: Put in the historical scenarios, the player may either follow the indicated path of Tesla or make different choices to alternate the history in critical events such as the decision of charging for his AC generator patent.
  2. Career simulation: The player has to raise and manage funds for invention projects in which the player also need to balance time and energy between work and social activities.
  3. Inventing: The player collect inspirations (represented by graphic symbols) from daily life through puzzles (ref. Myst, Machinarium) and then assembly them in a certain logic way to create a new invention. This process takes time can energy.
  4. Key variables: fund, time and energy