Playing The Secret World last night we had a ton of fun on a particular Investigation mission called Immersion. It’s a crazy, mind-bending mission where you play a text-adventure within the game. As per usual I don’t do spoilers so I won’t talk much about the mission details other than to say it is really, really well done.
As we puzzled our way through a game within the game that made me think quite a bit about puzzles and technology in MMORPGs. This topic mostly excludes the vast majority of fantasy/pseudo-medieval settings MMOs use. The few online multiplayer games that are set in a technical world, at least those that I have played, do not make much use of computer systems or puzzles for that matter.
The Secret World
Has the G.H.O.S.T interactive computer interface in many missions, especially Investigations. You are usually presented with a menu of options and search through those for clues. Occasionally there is more interactivity, such as finding the password for the system in the game world before you can access any information. It’s a bit strange that this parallel version of Earth has a 1980s MS-DOS clone as the global computer operating system but I guess budgets and tech are limited for a windowed graphical user interface within the game.
Puzzles of course represent one of the three mission types in the game, albeit less numerous than the action (kill ten rats) category. Still TSW wins the prize when it comes to the number and creativity of its puzzles.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Sadly SWTOR, despite all the love I have for its droids and holograms, doesn’t do much with interactive technology beyond “click to slice” (the Star Wars term for hack). It would have been nice to have had a mini-game for slicing perhaps, but then mini-games aren’t always popular. I suppose beyond using consoles, a lot of interaction with technology in this universe is done by ordering droids or companions to do the work so it kind of makes sense we have relatively little interaction ourselves.
Puzzles are pretty absent from SWTOR, as they are from the vast majority of MMORPGs I should add. I’m deliberately excluding jumping puzzles from this discussion, so the holocron hunts in SWTOR don’t count. The penultimate chapter of the KOTFE expansion does feature a puzzle. I hope the devs keep adding the odd puzzle going forward as it was really nice to have this in the game.
Star Trek Online
Although I’ve only played the Klingon PVE story campaign, and only to level 52, I’ve found a good number of puzzles in STO. Many of them are sequence or logic puzzles that require you to use a menu system styled with the standard Star Trek universe computer graphics. So STO actually combines the two, puzzles and interactive computers, quite nicely.
I do not feel I have played enough of the game, nor paid attention closely enough to know what ratio of missions puzzles feature in, but there are enough for them to be memorable and not feel ultra-rare. I should also note that on occasion a puzzle may have multiple solutions based on your character’s career (tactical/engineering/science), which is a very nice added variety to see in a game.
Since my highest character in this game is only level 30 I’m hesitant again to offer much comment on this Sci Fi MMORPG. The game has some puzzles, I’ve found several that are an in-game copy of the electronic game SIMON where you repeat colour/sound patterns. There are also plenty of jumping puzzles but I’m focused on the more cerebral variety for this post.
Like SWTOR the extent of computer interaction in Wildstar seems to be of the “click on the console” variety. I’ve not seen any deeper, more interactive use of a computer interface.
Do you know of any other MMO games that offer interactive computing experiences within game or a plethora of mental puzzles to solve?