Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thinkin' about challenges

I've mentioned before that I don't think Scribblenauts will be that difficult of a game. This isn't to say that's a bad thing, though. In the beginning - going back a couple of months ago - this disappointed me. As a fan of the puzzle genre I prefer those games to be difficult. However, as I learned more and watched actual people playing the game I realized that the difficult is mostly self imposed. Levels will probably be chock full of "boring" solutions that are easy, but where's the fun in that? The whole point is to challenge yourself, to use your imagination, to be creative!

I'd say a fair amount of people have also picked up on that notion which leads me to the point of this article. People have already come up with different challenges and restrictions they could force themselves to do in order to experience the game in a different manner. Perhaps you ban a certain type of object or you only allow them a narrow selection. Either way, those sort of challenges are fun to come up with, so I've decided to share a few of my own that I plan on doing once I get my hands on the game. Who knows? Perhaps one day we could be seeing Scribblenauts Tournaments that make use of these rule subsets.

1. It's like I'm really playing Pokemon

Though Scribblenauts does not have a very robust battle system it does have a very thorough bestiary. As anyone who knows the world of Pokemon realizes (and I gather there are a lot of you), Pokemon trainers don't do crap. Even small tasks - such as cutting down tree saplings - are done with Pokemon.

Creatures cutting down trees for their owners...?

Seeing where I'm going with this?

The idea of this challenge would be to solve every level using creatures. You, the player, would be disallowed from doing any task that would require a tool. For everything else you'd need a creature of some sort. They'd provide transportation, protection, and various utilities like being able to eat wood. Think you could do it?

2. Around the alphabet

A lot of people have already come up with ideas for letter based challenges. Perhaps you have to solve levels only using words that begin with the letter "B", or maybe only with words that don't have an "E" in them. But this challenge should provide an extra layer of depth to the mix.

Each item you summon is restricted to a letter of the alphabet that is constantly changing. Your first item must begin with an "A", while your second item must begin with a "B", and so on. Once you hit "Z" you'd wrap around to "A" and repeat the cycle. The idea would to be to go through the entire game like this with the intent to have the fewest amount of cycles.

Though someone could technically spawn "junk" answers until they hit a letter that helps them, that would only server to increase their par and cycle count, keeping the challenge balanced.

3. MacGyver Style

Alright, look around the room you're in. Look at all the objects at your disposal. Think you can solve a level with them?

This challenge I feel has the opportunity to be one of the coolest. The idea is that because Scribblenauts contains (near) every object you could possibly have in your house it would entirely be possible to summon in items in your room to help you in game. MacGyver, as you SHOULD know, is famous for solving problems and situations using nothing but the items at his disposal, no matter how useless they might seem.

I imagine most people don't have an axe or chainsaw lying around, so imagine a level as simple as 1-1 and how that changes everything. Spawn a bed, perhaps, and jump on top of it to grab the starite out of the tree. Or maybe you have to rely on glue and a bunch of office supplies to build a makeshift pole and knock it to the ground. Seriously, by forcing creativity by focusing on the use of otherwise mundane items really turns the whole point of the game on its head. It's a challenge I'd love to try...so long as I'm in a decently sized room!


  1. MacGyver Style: turning Scribblenauts wifi item collection to a reality! :P

    Jackson wasn't lying about the proximity bit. It's just that you need a bit of imagination, like with the rest of Scribblenauts. Unfortunately, this play-style limits you from using a lot of fun items. You can use any meme you want, though, by printing off a picture to stand near. ;)

  2. Bwhahaha, good call, I entirely forgot about Jackson mentioning that as a joke. Looking around my room right now...I'm definitely glad it was a joke. Being a college kid I'd be solving many levels by stacking a bunch of books, paper, and desks together...

  3. Didn't Jackson say that some of the levels will make you curse his name because they're so hard? Granted, some news outlets have said that the ability to spawn any item makes the game easy, but Jackson said they don't have access to all of the levels.

    That being said, the McGyver idea would be a ton of fun.

  4. We can still hope that rumored 'super hard' mode where you can only use an item once is true right?

  5. Woah. All creatures. I'm definitely going to try that in my second playthrough. :)

  6. @Anonymous

    As with the challenges listed here, you don't need a built-in option for said 'super hard' mode. However, noting down every item you've used would be annoying. Thus, it would be preferable for the super-hard mode to exist.

    The Around The Alphabet challenge is a neat way to organise a letter-based challenge. For an easier version, you can use a word simply CONTAINING the letter you're up to.

  7. this sounds epicly fun especially the McGiver challenge, though i dont know if the game will allow too much nuttyness ie. dont try to disassemble you stapler and make a robot, still sounds fun i will try.
    i think more challenges could be
    1. you can't simply "delete" any objects you have summoned (ie. if you summon t-rex to fight enemy, you now have to deal with a t-rex)
    2. pretty much the animal version bit easier because you can use other humans too, maybe it can be called "lazy mode"
    3. and solving using only devices, pretty much the opposite of only animals, you must use tools and you mustn't let anything help

  8. @AHomelessHomie

    1. Then you'd just avoid creatures. Guns don't turn on you after defeating your enemies.
    2. Lazy Mode is win. :)
    3. So, you can't create anything with AI? Are you allowed to, say, grab a time machine, jump back in time, and ride a dinosaur back if you happen to need one? :P

  9. What could be interesting, granted I don't know how well this would work, would be to open to a random page in a dictionary. Once there you could only use words on that page to solve the level.

    Wikipedia Roulette might be interesting, also. For that, hit random page on Wikpedia, and then use only that page and hyperlinked words on that page.