Monday, September 20, 2010

The Impossible Torch

My post yesterday described how frustrating it can be to discover that my gaming experience is taken for granted by designers, and gives me an edge over less experience gamers. But thinking back and reading the comments from yesterday reminded me of another anecdote where my gaming experience put me at a serious disadvantage.

It happened in Ocarina of Time in an early dungeon. There was a room with a stick in it. Near the door was two torches, one lit, and the other unlit. I remember trying all kinds of things to get out of the room, and nothing was working. The weird moment came when my roommate walked in and started offering suggestions.
"You should grab the stick and light it on fire, then use that to light the other torch."
"That won't work."
"Why not?"
"I dunno. You can't just light sticks and light anything on fire with them."
"Why not?"
"Ugh, fine. Let me show you."
I walked over with stick in hand and to my surprise -- and unlike games I had played before it -- the stick caught fire, and I was able to use it to light the other torch. It may sound incredibly obvious, but truth be told, I wasn't used to games following physical logic and convention. I so expected some peculiar game rule to be explained to me that using natural law to solve a puzzle was an almost game-breaking curve ball. It really opened my eyes to new possibilities.

The same situation is less likely now that physical puzzles are far more common, but there are still times when my preconceived notion of how something should control or play really get in the way of an experience, that might be fine without my gaming baggage.


  1. I think I did the same thing at the same spot. But in our defense, even if lighting the stick on fire and lighting the torch with it make sense, the fact that that opens a door doesn't. : )

  2. Ha! True, though doing odd things to getting doors to open via unconnected activities was a pretty standard Zelda convention at that point.