For the first time in my game, I'm stuck with a real design dilemma. I guess that's a good thing ;) I'm building a word puzzle game that has five levels, each with 30 puzzles. Currently, the user has to solve one puzzle at a time before moving to the next. However, I'm finding the user occasionally gets stuck on a puzzle, at which point they can no longer play until they solve it. This is obviously bad because many people will probably just quit playing the game and delete the app.
The only elegant solution I can find to helping the player get unstuck is changing the design of the game to allow the users to pick any puzzle to play at any time. This way, if they get stuck, they can come back to it later and at least they have other puzzles to play in the meantime. It's my opinion, however, that this new flow design doesn't make the game as fun as the original flow design where the player has to complete a puzzle before moving to the next. To me, it's like anything else, when you only have one of something, it's more enjoyable, but when you have 30 of something, it's far less enjoyable. In fact, when I present the user with 30 puzzles to choose from, I'm concerned I might be making them feel like it's a lot of work they have to do and that's bad. I even had a tester voluntarily tell me that being forced to complete a puzzle before moving to the next is actually motivating.
My questions are...
- Do you agree/disagree?
- Do you have any suggestions for how I can help the player get unstuck?
Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts!
EDIT: I should mention that I've already considered a few other solutions to helping the user get unstuck, but none of them seem like good ideas. They are...
- Add more hints: Currently, the user gets two hints per puzzle. If I increase the hint count, it only makes the game more easy and still leaves the possibility of the user getting stuck.
- Add a "Show Solution" button: This seems like a bad idea because it's my opinion this takes the fun out of the game for many people who would probably otherwise solve the puzzle if they didn't have the quick option to see the solution.