#92 Fortress mine - main lift - unwinnable game

v1.0_(example)
open
nobody
1
2012-12-10
2012-12-08
Palamedes
No

In the fortress mine, there's a lift which is activated by setting four switches.

If the player has activated this lift, and then made their way to the top of the lift shaft (either by riding up the lift, or by taking the "hazardous" route), and then pushed the lift down to the bottom target, but then jumps off again to the platform on the left just after the lift has started moving down, and then deactivates the lift with the top switch, and then re-enters the central area of the mine (either by dropping down this lift shaft, or by taking the processing lift down and following the route of the previous big boulder run), then the player will become trapped.

It is still possible for the player to go along the "hazardous" route to reach the right hand side of the door at the top of the main lift - but, unless the player has a slime potion, it doesn't seem to be possible to get enough clearance to jump over the shaft from the right to the left. As a result, it's impossible to reach the top switch to re-activate the lift, thereby making the game unwinnable - see attached screenshot. The player will still have access to lots of save points throughout the fortress mine, though, and is likely to have saved their game several times before realising they are trapped.

Perhaps it's possible to escape if the player positions Edgar as far to the left of the door as possible without falling down the lift shaft, and then jumping, and then starting to move left no more than a frame or two later - but I've never succeeded yet, in spite of having previously completed the game with 26 secrets in under 20 game hours. I haven't tried reducing the maximum frame rate in the source code yet, though, or configuring the game to step through the frames manually.

But supposing it is impossible, I'd suggest that the best way to fix it is either to make the door to the right of the lift taller, or to move the door further over to the right, so that it's easier for Edgar to get the clearance necessary to jump over the lift shaft.

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Discussion

  • Palamedes
    Palamedes
    2012-12-09

    Okay, I have now tried cutting the maximum frame rate down to two frames per second, by editing line 62 in src/main.c of version 1.05 - and then loading a game saved at the save point just to the right of the door, and counting exactly how many steps left were needed to get Edgar from the save point to the lift shaft, such that Edgar begins to fall down it. (It was 82 steps.)

    I then reloaded the saved game, and took one less than that number of steps (that is, 81 steps), and then tried to get Edgar to jump over the lift shaft from that position - thereby excluding my own clumsiness as a reason why I can't do it.

    And I still can't do it.

    I notice that upon trying to jump straight up from that position, Edgar only moves up for one frame. On the second frame after the jump, Edgar has already collided with the top of the door frame, and is on the way back down again. By contrast, if Edgar doesn't collide with anything above him after jumping, he'll normally stay in the air for well over 40 frames (I forget exactly how many, but point is, it's a lot more than one).

    So I think that shows that even for a player with lightning-quick reaction times, this particular game scenario would still be unwinnable.

     

  • Anonymous
    2012-12-09

    There is a question, though why player would ever want to do this, except for demonstrating the bug? Though I think, moving the door left is still a valid suggestion.

     
    • Palamedes
      Palamedes
      2012-12-10

      I agree it's a long shot. Then again, if a game features any kind of non-linear gameplay, and if a new player hasn't quite figured out the plot of the game story yet, then the player is likely to use trial and error to figure out what works and what doesn't. This might lead to them making the game unwinnable in ways that the designer hasn't foreseen.

      I think it's a good principle of game design that if a game is saveable, then it should be winnable - and that if it's not winnable, it shouldn't be saveable. It's okay to allow a player to become trapped, as this is no worse than instant-death hazards. But you wouldn't expect to be able to save a game in which the player character has already died. So how is saving an unwinnable game any different? If a player finds they can't win the game by restarting from their most recent saved game, they might think it's unfair.

      That's not to say you should expect a player to play through a game only once. But I think the replay value comes from getting to the end, and realising you've missed out on secrets or side-quests, or that your completion time or kill count could be better than it was. It doesn't come from finding yourself trapped, and thinking you can restart from your last saved game, but then finding you're still trapped, and that you can't win the game at all unless you start over.

      The Legend of Edgar is unusual in offering more than one save slot. Most open exploration games only offer one save slot - and although they can't stop the player copying and renaming their saved game file so as to give themselves a choice of restore points, some gamers consider this a form of cheating, and think that it's not really in the spirit of the game to create new saves without overwriting your old ones at the same time. But this kind of self-imposed rule is only really fair on the gamer if the designer tries to make sure that a saved game is always a winnable game.

      But lots of credit to Richard Sweeney for sorting these bugs out. It used to be quite easy to find unwinnable situations in the game, but thanks to Richard's efforts, it's now getting increasingly difficult - hence why the few that remain are more complicated and convoluted. I think it won't be long now until there aren't any unwinnable but saveable scenarios left in the game at all.

       

  • Anonymous
    2012-12-10

    I see the point, though I prefer better what is present in other sorts of games, like Battle for Wesnoth, with automatic saves at the start of each turn (each save in new slot) and unlimited number of slots to save.

    Maybe the game should keep track of all the saves, but until completion allow to load only last one or two?

     

  • Anonymous
    2012-12-10

    And if you want it so, there is a long elevator in sewer restricted zone which is switched by an arrow-button. One may open the doors and disable this elevator on the lowest position, than jump down and meet the boss, thus saving the game automatically and unable to get back after defeating the boss.

     


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