Idea for a Video Game Puzzle

I’m not a game designer, but a couple of nights ago a puzzle came to me in a dream, more or less complete. It seems like a waste not to do something with it, so I thought I’d at least write it up. If you are a game designer, or you have another use for any part of this, you’re more than welcome to it.

The basis of the puzzle is a rectangular room, at the centre of which is a long, rectangular table. There’s one chair on each side of the table, perhaps more ornate ones on the two ends, and simpler ones on the longer sides. Elsewhere in the game — perhaps throughout the wider house — there should be contextual clues that will enable the player to discern which of four family members sits in each of the four spots. As an example (and because this is how it was in my dream), let’s call these people Adam, Eve, Cain, & Abel.

Around the room, on and against each of its four walls, there should be a series of items with unique, distinctive features: eg. a painting of a sunset; a sculpture of a whale; a taxidermy owl; a vase of flowers. Taken together, here’s a sketch of the basic layout:

The puzzle itself operates by giving the player a prompt, comprising a subject and a vantage point: eg. ‘Sunset, aspect of Cain’. The player must determine in which cardinal direction the corresponding object in the room sits in relation to the named person; they must then press the corresponding direction on their controller’s directional pad. The correct response to the prompt above, therefore, would be ↑.

For the sake of completeness, let me note that in my dream this actually had to be done for two object / vantage pairs, simultaneously. The prompt read eg. ‘Sunset, aspect of Abel; Whale, aspect of Eve’, and two inputs had to be made simultaneously: one on the directional pad, and one on the face buttons. The correct response to the above prompt would be ↓ & B on an Xbox controller, or ↓ & ◯ on a PlayStation controller. A series of five correct dual-inputs had to be made, against a short timer, to complete the puzzle. This was one of those frustration dreams where you repeatedly attempt and fail at a task, so if you do implement any version of this, I’d consider staying away from this more complicated iteration!

Adam Wood @adam