Originally Posted by smashing
Unfortunately I don't think such hint mechanism can be integrated into ToMI.
SoMI have the wonderful hint system, as it is a game that have been played millions of times over the decades. The original game have no hints per se. But there have been enough feedback, discussions and talks all round to give the developers an idea where are what type of hints to give.
For a new game, it is extremely hard to know what puzzle is going to stump a gamer; when to give hints; and how much information is too much information. It will need a lot of game-testing, and a lot of follow-up work between the testers and the designers to come out with a feature that will provide suitable hints, something like the way SoMI did with their hint system. And at this point, I really don't see how the company can afford the luxury to put in the hint system.
I think almost everything these days, not just games, needs more user testing, simply because I see so many things with potential for improvement (obviously it's not just me who can see the potential; my personality just leads me to be a bit more vocal about it at times). There's always potential for improvement, but there's also a sort of sweet spot where the design of something is at least "comfortable," in that "things just work" (see the God of War game series; those games, for the most part, flowed. They had extensive play testing, and yes, a massive budget, but many games with similar budgets aren't nearly as good as the God of War series, which I believe can be at least partly attributed to lack of extensive play testing). The saying, "a system is at it's best when you don't notice it working" seems to apply here.
Budget constraints are indeed a factor, but I think many things (not just games) could be improved significantly with a few, low-cost tweaks (or at least, tweaks with costs equal to those incurred already) here and there. (This is a big subject, though, in that there are many--many
reasons behind why certain things are design the way they are--not just referring to games.)
Anyway, to respond more on-topic...
I don't think it's difficult to come up with hints similar to MI:SE for ToMI (i.e. a hints system with more "gradients"). Many people in certain professions (writers; entreprenuers; teachers; etc) are well practiced in "getting in the head" of whoever they're serving and delivering content that is suitable for them (i.e. at their level; not too advanced, or, in the case of ToMI, hints that don't give too much away, while still being helpful).
To do this for ToMI, I'd just assign the hints to a button and then create three levels for each of the current hints. The first group would have more cryptic (i.e. challenging) hints, the second has more direct, and the third would be blatantly instructional (although, since Guybrush speaks the hints, I can see how very instructional hints could impact immersion a bit, but I'd say not being able to solve a puzzle and alt-tabbing to an FAQ or quitting the game in frustration is more of an immersion killer). I'm not sure if this would lead to nobody ever getting stuck, but I think it'd be a significant improvement (mainly enhancing immersion, since I believe immersion is the lifeblood of most experiences--games--that are created for entertainment rather than education, or training, or other non-entertainment purposes).
That said, I can see how it'd take a lot of time to do that, so indeed, it is a money thing.
I'm pretty sure Telltale did their best, given the resources they had available. I'm not so much saying "the hint system is bad," but more so "here's an easy way it can be improved" (re: the idea for assigning hints to a button. The hint system "gradient" idea is a nice possibility, but the assigning hints to a button idea is more of a realistic change that could probably be implement fairly easily and have a nice return on investment).