Helping Hands

Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. That's what this update is all about.

Firstly, there's now a link to a series of hints for each of the puzzles. You'll find it on the game page beneath the main description. The style of the hints is inspired by the system in realMyst (though I'm sure other games have used similar systems) - it starts by giving the vaguest of clues, such as a general concept to consider, and proceeds, hint by hint, each one more specific, eventually revealing the exact solution. As a player, I found this to be perfect. The joy of puzzle games is in solving the puzzles, but sometimes you find yourself completely stuck, unable to continue. With many games, your options are then either to quit or to look up the solution, which removes any satisfaction to be had from solving the puzzle. Being able to read just enough to be nudged in the right direction but still feel like you've found the solution yourself is exactly what you'd want from a hint. I hope I've managed to do that.

Second up is a tweak to the way vacuum tubes work. The vactubes were originally conceived as a faster means of backtracking than simply trudging through the rooms you'd already solved. When I realised that simply using the tubes was quite fun in itself, they took on a larger role, carrying the player forwards as well as back. Whilst I like this from a gameplay point of view, it means that they're not entirely meeting their original purpose, as travelling through a vactube is often an act of exploration and can end up taking the player somewhere they don't actually wish to be. They're then forced to backtrack on foot, as it were, which defeats the object. The change is to allow the player to travel through the orange vacuum tubes in both directions, but only after they've travelled through them forwards. This has the dual effect of eliminating the frustration of traversing a tube to see where it goes, only to have to retrace your earlier steps, and also providing shortcuts from the starting room back to the furthest points you've reached along the various paths. Tubes that have been made reversible show a little orange dot on their exit piece to indicate they've been activated, as shown in the screenshot.

You can try out the change in the beta version of the game available here. Assuming no major issues are found, I'll promote it to the main release in a day or two.

Thanks for playing!

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