Poll Question 120 – How long do you spend on a puzzle before cheating?

20th April 2009

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

This week’s poll question is inspired by Jason Gimba AKA Kyouryuu who commented on Dangerous World Demo that after 15 minutes of trying to get past the gate he noclipped through.

It got me thinking about how long I normally spend trying to pass puzzles.

After playing The Trap for Half-Life 1 I have found myself trying for much longer than in the past. It made me think carefully and look everywhere.

That’s not to say I am now an expert or even better than before, it’s just that I am prepared to wait longer and try harder.

Puzzle are a very useful tool when creating levels and they have to be very carefully thought out and tested if they are to achieve whatever it is the develoeprs wants.

Some are included to break up a certain type of gameplay, others are included to allow access to certain areas and others are included because the developers are messing wtih your head.

If it’s too hard then clearly most players will cheat, if it’s too easy then it’s a waste of time.

Somebody, (no, not me (well, maybe)), should make a collection of the best puzzles included in HL2 mods. In fact if somebody would like to collate it, I’ll work with them to publish a Hall Of Fame just for puzzles.

The Poll


  1. That same part had me stumped too and I did indeed use noclip, but I’m sorry to say I lasted far less than 15 minutes! Probably closer to the 5 minute mark I think. Generally it depends on the puzzle. If I can see roughly how I’m supposed to advance I will try all the options, but if I have absolutely no idea what to do then I think I give up much quicker as I become far more frustrated and lost.

  2. I voted for “I never cheat”. That’s true as long as puzzle makes sense to me, or I want to solve it. For example in Dangerous World Demo I kind of cheated, passing the gate simply by jumping over it (I mentioned about my jumping skills in HL2, right 🙂 , and I knew that wasn’t the way to pass the gate, but I just didn’t care. Because it didn’t make any sense. In a real life situation nobody could have been stopped by that stupid gate. It’s too shallow puzzle to be worthy to solve.

    I think I made myself clear about that. Other than that I’m a hardcore puzzle solver. I sometimes use walkthroughs unwillingly, but before using them I spent so much time on the puzzle. I really push it to the edges. This is the case for most adventure games for me. For example in the Scratches, in a part of the game I’ve got totally lost, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to go, it was so annoying, but the situation was entirely believable, if I were there in real life, I wouldn’t know what to do or where to go, so I just spent an entire week wondering around, without an exact target. Can you imagine the joy of solving that puzzle? I was so happy that I almost cried.

    I just needed “More hours than a day has” option to vote.

  3. Wait, I should point out that my response applies only to mods. With commercial releases it would be a lot longer unless it was a particularly poor game.

  4. Mel

    Not long is my short but honest answer, if it takes much more then 5 minutes then I have lost interest. however I do normally differ between jump and solving type puzzles, having more patience with the search and figure-out type and very little time for the jumping type puzzles, if I cant make it in 3 or 4 attempts I cheat, if it’s endless sequence of jump after jump I give up, but now days thanks to the reviews on PP I avoid such mods and don’t download them.

    I enjoy most of the puzzle solving elements within all the retail HL games it’s only some of the custom puzzle orientated mods that piss me off.

  5. Mel

    Just to mention I did not find the puzzles in the mod demo Phillip refers too, as being difficult just a matter of searching around to trigger the next sequence, however I think the demo in question could have included I few cut scenes showing what was triggered, this would have lead to much less confusion. Puzzles should be fun, if not they lead to frustration and annoyance.

  6. Jasper

    I never cheat with puzzles. I just ask the wife who has never neen beaten yet!
    Mark you. this is only a bit better than noclip

  7. Kasperg

    Sort of like Mel said, there are several types of puzzles and each takes a different amount of time to figure it out and a different amount of time to solve.
    If a puzzle isn’t presented well in terms of goals and elements or actions needed for those goals, a lot of players will end up cheating out of frustration. These situations are often aggravated by the presence of other possible actions, paths and objects that are not part of the puzzle, but ocupy the same playing area. Although realistic, it’s not good level design. If the goal isn’t terribly clear, it’s the surroundings and objects that should give tips. That’s why you can’t mix them up with irrelevant things.
    The other type of puzzles (in which the jumping puzzles would be included, as well as the “find the battery” types of puzzles) are the ones in which the goal is very clear, and so is the way to achieve it. The problem arises when the process to achieve that goal isn’t enjoyable. Jumping from ledge to ledge (specially when you can see the last one you have to reach) can turn a lot of people off. After all, you know what’s going to happen on the way.
    Games that present their paths (with obstacles included) too suddenly can be big turn offs. “Great, I have to get from A to B, and I know exactly how. But is that fun?” The trick is letting the player figure out he has to get from A to B being subtle but clear, and not really telling what’s going to happen on the way. That’s the only efficient way to combine both the predictability of current gameplay mechanics and the interest and uncertainty of exploring a new scenario.

  8. Well, I usually get past all puzzles I encounter, except in the case of The Trap. That mod was wicked hard, but also very good in my eyes. Unfortunately I stopped playing it, it just got too hard.

  9. My tolerance for jumping puzzles is pretty low, but with most key or event gates, I’ll first assume I missed something further back in the map and run around exploring again. It those instances, it takes quite a while for me to give up and assume I’m either not clever enough, or the mod is cheating itself.

  10. andi

    Never. I’ll be on the way to work the following day and sigh “Oooooooh!” as it all falls into place. There have been a few truly stumping puzzles, but not for some while – or atleast, I’ve forgotten the most recent ones.

    A truly well designed puzzle is ultimately simple, whilst coming across as hard enough for the player to feel proud of themselves after solving it. Most of the hl2 (and Minerva) puzzles do this extremely well.

  11. I voted “never”, but that’s not quite true, and it depends on the definition of “cheating”.

    If “cheating” means “no outside help of any kind, nor the use of cheat codes”, then I cheat fairly often because I’ll use walkthrus if I can’t figure something out and have spent too much time being lost. Offshore, I think, was one where I had to resort to walkthrus more than I like to, because some of the levels were damned difficult and I missed something critical. Get A Life was similar.

    Now, if you only consider console hacks (noclip) as cheating, then the only one I’ve ever had to cheat was Cyberscape, because I missed something important and couldn’t get into the tower in the last section of the game, and that was a noclip. I did use one on Get A Life, but that was because I missed a trigger and didn’t get into the upper office in the dry dock when I got there the first time, and I couldn’t manage to jump over onto the office again, so I noclipped.

    Otherwise, I try NOT to use codes; but I’ll use walkthrus occasionally as needed.

  12. tattie

    I will not say I NEVER cheat but I will try everything before giving up.
    I take my time, and take a long time to play, but then I like to wander off exploring.

  13. john

    i dont use the cheats. I did play the trap and was disappointed after the first mod prison. I got board with the puzzles. they were hard and I wanted more of a story mod.
    some times I need a walk through to give me a hint on what I just cant find or missed. but, only after meny meny hours of game play. for exp. in offshore I got very very far with out the bazooka. wondering why their was ammo but no bazooka. I decided to check the walk through and I missed it way back. I have replayed the mod with the bazooka and other then killing the helecopter found no need for it.
    in poke I did need a cheat of no clip, which was impossible to load. but good folks at planet phillip helped me. I just couldnt make jump 4 or jump 5 at the end. if I would have died when I missed the rock I might have had better luck. after I no clipped to the top I turned off no clip.
    now to bear my soul I did turn on cheats a long time ago….. after beating half life 1. I went back with god and impulse 101 till I got to the top where a few too meny marines and a osprey needed to be taught a lesson. to tell what happened. the game kept shooting the missiles at me even though I blew the osprey out of the sky, the marines were all wacked via crowbar. (very satisfying) and I even climbed the ele fence to explore the other areas of the map. it was fun. but after my revenge was complete I turned off the cheats. have gone long here but hope this explains it.

  14. geekofalltrades

    I play for at least as long as it takes to figure out how the puzzle is supposed to be solved, then I decide whether or not to cheat based on whether I want to solve the puzzle or not. In a lot of Portal mods especially, puzzles are so poorly designed and/or tedious that I just don’t feel like doing them, or they’re too infuriating to complete. (For a good compilation of puzzles that are complete garbage, see “Portal: Prelude.”)

  15. I spend 5 to 10 min. trying to figure out puzzles. I don’t cheat via the console because I don’t know. To me that’s the worst kind of cheating. lol That’s just my opinion 🙂

    I depend on walkthoughs or PlanetPhillip comments to help me out of tough spots.

    By the way, never mind I don’t wanna know.

  16. Usually, when I’m stuck on a puzzle I look for solution on forum or somewhere, If I don’t find, well I’ll use cheat.

  17. Aniline

    Never cheat, can’t be bothered to no-clip, but will spend hours searching for enough barrels to build a 4-story pyramid in order to jump a wall. Sometimes come to here where Philip is good enough to drop clues without spoiling.

  18. james

    i dont cheat. because I dont know how. but if I did I would cheat all the time. just kidding…

  19. Anonymous

    I didn’t vote because sometimes I will take hours or even days (meaning I will get frustrated after a while and quit and try again the next day). It is only after I do this many times that I might noclip through to see if I can figure it out. However, I never ever skip a part. I merely use noclip as a tool to see if it can provide some insight on the puzzle, but I will then go back and do the puzzle. What’s the point of just skipping it entirely?

  20. GeorgeC

    I never cheat. I either try working it out and try things like going to a previous save incase the game messed up then play at it for about an hour, if its too frustrating I just get off of it and go back about a month later and complete it.

  21. I don’t cheat on puzzles. I got through The Trap without any help at all.

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