This puzzle was developed using the RenPy visual novel engine. Thanks to the RenPy team!
The puzzle involves "dating" five mysterious figures. Unfortunately, Paper Luigi doesn't have much of a chance to get to know them before he is forced to choose a date.
Good conversation is important to the success of any date, so the first step is picking the answers to your date's questions that fits with the topic:
|1||1||Philosophical school||Reductionists||Interpol||Mattachine Society||Rat Pack|
|1||2||Line of latitude||Exosphere||Debye Radius||Equator||Heaviside Layer|
|1||3||Disney songs||Everlong||Honor to Us All||Red Balloon||Rock Around The Clock|
|1||4||Defunct magazine||Instyle||National Geographic||Good Housekeeping||Teen|
|2||1||Barn activity||Ice Skating||Mountain Climbing||Napping||Equestrian|
|2||2||Henry James books||Our Man In Havana||The Will To Believe||Daisy Miller||High Fidelity|
|2||3||Moscow landmark||Elbrus||Lena Pillars||Peterhof Palace||Epiphany Monastery|
|2||4||NYC landmark||Holland Tunnel||Fountain Of Four Rivers||Uluru||Liberty Bell|
|3||2||Rappers||Lana Del Rey||Iggy Azalea||Elvis Presley||Sade|
|3||3||Game systems||Neo Geo||Super Soaker||Power Hour||Apache Cassandra|
|3||4||Impossibilities||Regiomontanus' Problem||Towers Of Hanoi||Is there a positive integer solution to the Diophantine equation x^n + y^n = z^n for n > 2||Stable Marriage Problem|
|4||1||Knots||Don Knotts||Oval Of Cassini||Ninotchka||Underwriter's Knot|
|4||2||Documentaries||Thin Red Line||Man On Wire||Ugetsu Monogatari||Scenes From A Marriage|
|4||3||Industrial revolution inventions||Gas Lighting||Electric Cars||The Wheel||Helicopter|
|4||4||Musicals||Everyman||Sizwe Bansi Is Dead||Next To Normal||Equus|
|5||1||Legends||Impossible Burger||Great Gatsby||Chupacabra||Norman Mailer|
|5||2||Geometric theorems||Optical Sine Theorem||Theorema Egregium||Rolle's Theorem||Equipartition Theorem|
|5||3||Basketball strategies||Pistol Offense||One-three-one||Long Ball||End-to-end Encryption|
|5||4||Mathematical constructs||Atomium||Koch Snowflake||Schrodinger's Cat||Edgeworth Box|
The first letters of the wrong answers spell IMREDHERRING, IMNOTHELPFUL, USELESSPARTS, DONTUSETHESE, and IGNOREPLEASE to indicate their irrelevance to solving the puzzle.
If you are able to hold least three successful conversations, the identity of the mysterious figures are revealed:
After arranging the correct answer in the grid at the end of the game, the first letters spell the clue phrase REDUCEDIMTHENGOTHINK:
|Question||Figure 1||Figure 2||Figure 3||Figure 4||Figure 5|
|2||Equator||Daisy Miller||Iggy Azalea||Man On Wire||Theorema Egregium|
|3||Honor to Us All||Epiphany Monastery||Neo Geo||Gas Lighting||One-three-one|
|4||Teen||Holland Tunnel||Integer solution to |
x^n + y^n = z^n for n > 2
|Next To Normal||Koch Snowflake|
This is an instruction to first reduce the dimension of the figures. Then, contained in the dialogue of the game where Paper Luigi is thinking are words that when combined with the flattened shapes is an alternate answer to the questions in the game.
Those alternate answers match the given enumerations, which extracts the phase answer GENTLEMAN MEDAL.
|Figure||Question||Topic||Alternate Answer||Extracted Letter|
|Sphere||1||Philosophical school||Vienna Circle||A|
|Cube||1||Barn activity||Square Dancing||N|
|Tesseract||1||Umami flavorings||Stock Cube||S|
|Sphere||2||Line of latitude||Arctic Circle||R|
|Cube||2||Henry James books||Washington Square||G|
|Plane||2||Documentaries||The Thin Blue Line||N|
|Tetrahedron||2||Geometric theorems||Triangle Inequality||T|
|Sphere||3||Disney songs||Circle of Life||L|
|Cube||3||Moscow landmark||Red Square||E|
|Tesseract||3||Game systems||Game Cube||M|
|Plane||3||Industrial revolution inventions||Assembly Line||A|
|Tetrahedron||3||Basketball strategies||Triangle Offense||N|
|Sphere||4||Defunct magazine||Family Circle||M|
|Cube||4||NYC landmark||Times Square||E|
|Tesseract||4||Impossibilities||Doubling the Cube||D|
|Plane||4||Musicals||A Chorus Line||A|
|Tetrahedron||4||Mathematical constructs||Pascal's Triangle||L|
Our main concern when constructing this puzzle was to make sure the solve path was illuminated enough to prevent solvers from being lost. Our original model for the dating sim puzzle was a lot more complicated and involved Paper Luigi going on a series of dates with more complicated branching structure that required multiple replays and route-jumping to work out the solution... In any case, we decided to distill things down considerably and keep the solve path relatively simple, keeping in line with the overall editorial vision of the hunt.
As a small side note, it's fairly easy to unwind the game and look through our Renpy code. This partially motivated us to keep the answer out of the game and to obfuscate the intermediate a-has. The best you can do with the code is figure out which answers work for which questions, but that's easy enough without looking through the code.
We were somewhat wed to the counterintuitive ordering of the answers for extracting the intermediate clue and answer phrases because we didn't want the first date to only have the first letters of the word ANSWER extracted. The grid at the end of each date was added after a few playtests to motivate solvers into ordering with the correct method. In playtesting, we also noticed that many solvers skipped past the intermediate phrases or didn't realize that the "GO THINK" part of the clue phrase meant to refer to the thinking texts in the story. We were ultimately okay with that, reasoning that a strong team with the intuition and knowledge to make the connection between the shapes and answers would still be able to solve the puzzle just fine. Perhaps we should've made that step more necessary, but our playtesters seemed to enjoy the puzzle irrespective of whether they fully used the intermediate phrase.
Despite simplicity being an explicit design goal, we still wish we could've done something more with the medium. We hope that some of the peripheral features of this puzzle (humor, art, interactivity) were able to make up for that. Ultimately, we feel like it was best that this puzzle primarily focus on a simple concept (the flattening of the shapes), but perhaps in the future we'll revisit this medium for something a bit more intricate...