Twisty Little Passages

Development journal for a novel game book of dungeon crawl puzzle adventures, live on Kickstarter
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Dungeon crawl puzzle design

Mike Rimer
United States
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Microbadge: Copper Board Game CollectorMicrobadge: 5 Year Geek VeteranMicrobadge: Puzzle fanMicrobadge: I design games for the love of itMicrobadge: Video Game Developer
Hi, I'm Mike Rimer, lifetime board, card, and video gamer. I run an indie game studio called Caravel Games, which has been developing a series of puzzle adventure games called the Deadly Rooms of Death for 15+ years. Our team is producing a unique dungeon crawl puzzle adventure game book called Twisty Little Passages that I'm super excited to share with you. I'm organizing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for us to publish and distribute it.

This book is divided into a sequence of story areas, where each area features a map of the area that you must navigate to move the story forward. You pick up keys, health, equipment and special items, fight monsters, and must defeat the boss at the end of the area to win. Each area is designed as a puzzle, and there is one right way to solve it, which you must discover. You draw your progress right on the map as you explore it, opening doors, defeating enemies and unlocking new areas.

From gallery of mrimer

There's a lot of backstory to where the idea for this book came from. I'd like to take you along on our journey and give you a peek behind the curtain for how we're developing Twisty Little Passages. I guess I should start at the beginning.

Like many of you, I grew up on D&D and other RPGs as a kid. I played in groups and built campaigns of my own starting in elementary school. Drawing dungeon maps was a core part of the fun. When I wasn't playing in a group, I played solo adventure books like Joe Dever's Lone Wolf. An aspect that has always fascinated me about RPGs was how a simple narrative and setting, layered with rules and mechanics, immediately becomes a living, breathing place in my mind. A place to imagine, explore and play.

From gallery of mrimer

I've always loved mazes, numbers and puzzles. A crawl through a dungeon was just another kind of maze to navigate. Dungeon map art was a bonus, but I was often just as happy to sketch out the experience with my own paper and pencil like in Wizardry! ( Enemy encounters, where numbers were bandied about to distill every action to cause-and-effect, were a kind of puzzle to solve. If you understood how to solve the puzzle, you'd survive. Otherwise, you'd die.

It's this idea that’s at the core of Twisty Little Passages. The title is a nod to the oldschool roots of the classic Adventure game:

An early work of interactive fiction, it featured this description for each area of a maze:

From gallery of mrimer

In Twisty Little Passages, our team seeks to provide a unique puzzle gaming experience combined with thematic, fun, classic fantasy D&D-esque scenarios, designed to evoke memories of those great gaming moments we've shared over the years. We appreciate your interest in this project and are pleased to share our experiences that have led to the creation of TLP. In this blog, I'll relate a developer's journal and share some thoughts along the way on what makes for a good puzzle, what makes a puzzle interesting and engaging, ways to make a puzzle interactive and what design considerations go into sharing that puzzle with an audience.

I look forward to your thoughts on puzzle design and Twisty Little Passages as we share it with you.

What type of old school adventures do you have fond memories of?
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