The Witness And The Joy Of Note-Taking

Inspired by recent experiences with The Witness’ [official site] puzzles, Robert Zak has been reminiscing about the art of note-taking while playing games. From graph paper for dungeon crawlers to suspicions and clues for Her Story [official site], many genres are represented, with only the noble pen and paper to hold them together.

Not far into my wanderings around The Witness’ vibrant, surreal island, I encounter a non-interactive diagram made up of hexagons. It brings back harrowing memories of chemistry classes and those hex-symbols denoting chemicals, or elements… or something else I never fully grasped. And just as in those chemistry classes, I don’t understand what this diagram means, exacerbating my anxiety as I leave it unsolved after 10 minutes of fruitless chin-scratching. Maybe I’m just not cut out for this high-brow puzzle stuff, I think to myself.

But an hour or so later, feeling buoyant after completing a series of early confidence-boosting squiggly puzzles, I stumble upon another hexagonal diagram that requires me to input the pattern I saw in the first one. I run back to the first diagram, try to memorise it using a photographic memory technique I only half-remember from a Derren Brown book, then carry the image in my head back to the interactive diagram. By the time I reach it however, the image had spilled out of my mind like water out of a bullet-riddled bucket (I want my money back, Derren). After a few vain attempts at inputting the pattern from my so-called memory, I realise that the game doesn’t want me to memorise the grid, but to do something I haven’t done in a very long time…

… so I reach into my drawer – the same drawer where I keep relics like blank DVDs and polypockets – take out a stack of post-its and a notepad, and begin to draw the diagram.

At first, this feels strange. My hands have been conditioned to type rather than handwrite for most of their lives and mine (we’re the same age), to the point where the muscles and bones contained therein just aren’t positioned to hold a pen anymore. But even though my grip is sweaty and fisted, I’m pressing on the paper too hard, and my tongue’s sticking out of my mouth like a focused five-year-old’s, I manage to complete my hand-drawn diagram and solve the puzzle – and it feels great.

Before long, I’m knee-deep in my Witness-related doodles, and my PC desk starts to resemble a briefing room in a US cop drama – all connecting lines, colour-coded post-its, and to a large extent complete nonsense that’ll inevitably be scribbled out. I not only jot down the things essential to my progress, but also the themes expatiated in the audio logs, legends for the symbols representing different puzzle rules, and descriptions of the statues dotted around the place, trying to understand what Mr. Blow is trying to convey. Through the act of note-taking, The Witness’ gaming space spilled out from the screen onto the desk in front of me, going into a dimension (let’s call it the Doodle Dimension) that both video games and I have neglected for years, and are only now beginning to rediscover.

Novel though the use of pen-and-paper in games seems today, it used to be a necessary evil in the 90s – more of a crucial survival tool than a fun bonus mechanic. In the absence of GameFAQs and the internet, a graph paper pad was the figurative ball of string that stopped us from being swallowed up in the labyrinths of dungeon crawlers like Ultima Underworld, Eye of the Beholder, or the Wizardry series. These dark, disorienting worlds of endless corridors, mass-copy-pasted wall textures and 10ft lines of sight would quickly reduce you to boredom and despondence unless you mapped out each block-based step you took, and created your own symbols for pressure plates, secret switches, and locked gates that you’d need to return to later. I’m pretty sure my Maths exercise book got more love from the sprawling labyrinths I drew throughout its back pages than it ever did from the long divisions and fractions up front.

Likewise, point-and-click puzzlers and adventures didn’t feel obliged to keep our eyes fixated on the screen at all times. The Witness’ own grandpa (once-removed), Myst, forced us to patiently chart its island of pre-rendered snapshots, keeping track of long chains of associative logic as later puzzles required us to call on the things we learned much earlier in the game. With the help of a notepad, we could even learn the island’s entire fictional language of D’ni. People became so engaged in solving not only Myst’s puzzles, but its entire universe, that there’s even a Pinterest page dedicated to players’ notes taken on the series – each note focusing on different aspects of the world, and each codifying things in the player’s own way, giving us little glimpses into the mental clockwork of its creators. Looking at these notes, it’s clear that for some the pen-on-paper documentation of Myst was a passion rather than a chore.

It’s easy to say that those were great times in hindsight, but to many of us notes were just part of the process of playing arcane PC games – keyboard, mouse, notepad. As the 90s progressed, and interactive maps, fast-travel, and condescending arrows pointing you in the exact direction you needed to go became the norm, I unquestioningly embraced the brave new world, and my gaming notepad was quickly consigned to the drawer (you know, with the blank DVDs and plastic wallets…and used batteries that I feel guilty about throwing away).

The platitude that you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone mercifully didn’t apply here. I was too caught up in the breakneck progress of games – with their graphics, and guns, and open-worlds, and just shitloads of mindblowing bloody stuff – to notice. In fact, it’s only with the launch of Fez that the idea of note-taking re-entered my consciousness, reminding me of the things I’d been missing out on. So, to prove the platitude wrong, sometimes you only appreciate things after you lose them then get them back again…

Fez was a complex platformer of cryptic codes and a language system seemingly inspired by tetrominoes. If it felt strange writing notes for The Witness, then for Fez – after a 15-year hiatus from the practice – it was like being witness a Titan awakening from its primeval slumber to take to an ancient craft the world had forgotten long ago. But as I creaked into handwriting motion, the practice became a joy, and I like to think that the same people who made all those beautiful Myst notes found out about Fez, embraced it, and that they or their spiritual progeny are behind some of elaborate schematics uploaded to this blog dedicated to Fez notes.

Since Fez, the notepad has made regular appearances as a game mechanic. More than that, it’s even being utilised as a means of narrative immersion. The FMV investigation game Her Story engages us through an unlikely combination of bashing in search terms to uncover more video clips and jotting down theories about what really happened the day Her husband was killed; when playing, I envision myself as a jaded PI, scribbling keywords and notes while getting through a bottle of bourbon a little more briskly than I care to admit to myself; so focused that I leave the forgotten cigarette in the ashtray to steadily burn itself out, a thin rivulet of smoke snaking its way past the single dim lightbulb that illuminates my scribblings. The notepad is an essential appurtenance to this hard-boiled fantasy.

Tomb-raiding puzzle-platformer La Mulana is impossible to get through without writing down the information you discover on skeletons, the room names, and the locations of Dark Souls-like shortcuts that connect different parts of the ruins. But the process also makes the game feel that bit more mysterious, and your adventure that bit more intrepid, as the deeper you go into its daunting depths, the more you’ll have to count on your own ability to assemble information to survive.

Throwback dungeon crawler Legend of Grimrock, meanwhile, is delightfully self-aware in its retro sensibilities, encouraging you to take notes on save crystal locations, treasures to return to later, and alchemy ingredients (ideally written using a quill and parchment). It even has an ‘old-school’ mode that removes the map, forcing you to resort to graph paper if you want to remind yourself of how things were ‘back in the day’.

Of course, just about all this note-scribbling business could probably be achieved by taking photos using your smartphone, or an all-too-convenient cloud-synced organiser app, but then you’d miss out on that personal, immersive touch. Quickly drawing lines between points, writing diagonal stamp-like notes encircled in red that scream LOOK AT ME, and even angrily scribbling out conjectures that you’ve since disproven to yourself – all of those things turn your pen-and-paper notepad into the most honest, accurate representation of your shifting thought processes throughout the game, and that can’t be achieved using digital means. And while taking physical notes for The Witness or Her Story taps into our codebreaking and PI fantasies, there’s no such fantasy involved in taking smartphone pics of your PC monitor. At least not to the best of my knowledge.

The notepad-as-gaming-tool is back, and based on recent form it’s here not only to stay, but to keep evolving alongside the gaming medium. So take your pick – quill and parchment, pencil-and-graph-paper, or bourbon, cigarette and leatherbound notepad – and rediscover the Doodle Dimension.

What are your greatest memories of doodling and note-taking while gaming?

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  1. Premium User Badge

    LarsBR says:

    The dark levels in Binding of Isaac also require you to map them out on paper, if you want to get the most of every floor.

  2. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Rather than pen & paper, I tend to use my phone to take a snap of the info I might need later. Perhaps not as pure, but who’s got the time?

    The Witness is pummelling my brain. A lateral thinker I am not and even only two hours in, I find myself resorting to walkthroughs. Didn’t have much of a problem with the Portal games so not sure why I am here.

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      And if you are peeking at walkthroughs, generally it’s time to stop playing the game, especially one which has no narrative as such.

      • horsemedic says:

        The more you cheat at the Witness the more you’ll need to cheat, as the process of solving puzzles gradually teaches you the game’s metalogic, which you’ll need to understand to solve other puzzles.

        It’s like cheating on your algebra test so you can graduate to calculus class.

        • grrrz says:

          You don’t have to solve every puzzle to finish the game anyway.
          Though I had to look at solutions for some of the very lasts ending columns puzzle, because trying to solve those made me physically sick. I nearly barfed on my screen during the ending scene. The game didn’t leave me with the best of impression.

          • horsemedic says:

            Haha. I admit I cheated on those infernal bird puzzles, because [spoiler] I’m almost tone deaf and even after I knew what to do my ears could not separate out the sounds.

        • krimhorn says:

          Amusingly, my calculus teacher was one who said that calculus was the thing you studied when you wanted to really LEARN algebra and DiffEq was what you studied when you wanted to really LEARN calculus.

          IMO, most of the puzzles in the game aren’t difficult in terms of understanding what you need to do, they’re difficult in terms of finding the specific way to draw the line to do so. Some people are just not wired to think in the particular spatial orientation for some of the puzzle types and, rather than banging their head on those “impossible” puzzles (for them) it’s doesn’t really hurt them to get the answer to the question they already know the strategy behind the answer for and move on to puzzles they do have a chance of solving.

          I looked up the solution to about 10% of the puzzles involving tetronimoes because I just don’t think in the kind of spatial way required to find the answer (after, of course, spending quite a bit of time on each looking for the solution myself in the event it did come to me). Doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s required of those puzzles and, as a step of proof to that end, I’ve solved the vast, vast majority of the 510 puzzles I’ve found so far myself.

  3. pillot says:

    Come on folks! Steam has a screenshot key, and you can see your screenshots by pressing shift-tab. No notes or phone snaps required :)

    • FurryLippedSquid says:

      And with Google Glass you could have it beamed directly to your eyeball! We have to draw the line somewhere, friend.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      And The Witness itself has a screenshot function.

      I still used pen and paper some things though.

    • noilly says:

      I did this, opened the pictures in ms paint and drew on them. Although I did pen and paper some late game puzzles that are resistant to easy screenshotting.

    • grrrz says:

      at some point it’s easier to use a pen and paper.

    • KDR_11k says:

      For remembering something, yeah. Not for annotating or compositing though.

    • int says:

      Pah! The only proper way to write down clues is to chisel them in an intricate language only you know into large stone slabs, that way no one can find your hints and use them to cheat!

  4. jgf1123 says:

    The last times I took notes for a game were Her Story (mainly keywords to look up later) and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (names to look up, clues, and connections between pieces of the case).

  5. Servicemaster says:

    Papers, Please lived up to its namesake and I almost unconsciously started scribbling on envelopes and napkins in order to be the best goddamn bureaucrat in Arstotzka.

    Funny story, for Myst my dad mapped out the entire subway portion of the game as we never figured out that the sounds the train made were what tell you how to get to the end.

    • -funkstar- says:

      I remember doing exactly this for the subway maze – and hating it. I later stumbled across a reference to this maze having an easy and elegant solution, but I never figured it out at the time.

      Mapping feels like busywork to me, but notes I’ll do (e.g. in Her Story.)

    • phlebas says:

      I did that too! I love mapping (at least if things are discrete/systematic enough for a goon like me to map) but such a straightforward maze seemed out of place in Myst until I realized.

  6. ersetzen says:

    The witness is weird because with note taking there aren’t many interesting or difficult puzzles left. And yet there are a lot of situations that are amazingly annoying without notes, where you have to remember patterns somewhere between a corner or half a minute of walking away.

    Looking at my notes, other than a bunch about the small town which has puzzle elements that weren’t introduced yet and which I really wanted to solve without backtracking… Allmost everything is made up out of sketches of labyrinth in which you have to remember the path.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Solving the town without backtracking? You’re crazy, that area is specifically designed to test everything the other 10 teach you…

  7. Baf says:

    I personally used screenshots to keep track of the hexagonal patterns in The Witness, but there were certainly other things in the game that I jotted down in pencil. To me, the difference is that screenshots are adequate for remembering information, but taking notes is crucial for combining or synthesizing it.

    One of my favorite note-taking experiences ever was in the Mystlike game Rhem. This is a game with a fairly complicated layout of passages and walkways, easy to get lost in. There are two locations in the game that have partial maps on display. I screencapped them both, then merged them into a more complete map using an image editor, which I also used to strip away the background noise in the image. This I printed out so I could consult it more easily while playing. But the map as given didn’t contain nearly enough information, so I wound up marking it up heavily with pencil.

  8. Gus the Crocodile says:

    My housemate gave me a Tetris lamp for Christmas, where all the separate pieces can be rearranged into whatever fashion you like, and I’m sad to say it’s basically been sitting on my desk unplugged and neglected since then. But that silly little lamp got its moment in the sun when The Witness’s swamp wanted a shape containing one of each tetromino.

    • Windows98 says:

      I made a whole load of little cutouts from squared paper to help solve those puzzles.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Honestly, that one I just counted the squares and did some brute force because IIRC there were only 2 free squares anyway and they couldn’t be placed in that many spots. I didn’t feel like doing all the arranging in my head though I may have ended up doing that anyway to find the solution quicker.

  9. Synesthesia says:

    I did some cutouts for the tetrominos puzzles, it really really helped. Photoshop was a savior more than once too!

    • grrrz says:

      yeah I filled entire pages to try to solve one puzzles. the later ones in the swamp are so frustrating.

    • renner says:

      Same! After a while I upgraded from the paper cutouts to just remaking the puzzles in Adobe Illustrator. Now I have an Illustrator file full of puzzles I’m hopelessly stuck on, but I can work them on secretly when I’m at work.

      • davethejuggler says:

        Shit, thats a bloody good idea. I am totally doing that this weekend (although with sketch as i can’t stand illustrator)!

  10. racccoon says:

    Eye of the Beholder did. lol

  11. Warduke says:

    I remember my brother taking some pretty detailed notes around the game Dungeon Master on Atari ST. He had all kinds of spells written down as well as maps of dungeons on graph paper and the like. I used his same notes when I played years later, fun stuff.

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    Muppetizer says:

    Probably the most obvious and ongoing theme in The Witness seems to that of consciously perceiving the world from different points of view, either just literal changes in angles for the puzzles or analysing how we interpret life through science/math and art/religion.

    Getting the player to re-imagine the puzzles with a notepad and pen and having them read them as both a transcriber/creator in the real world and as a player in the gameworld is a really interesting way for Blow to have continued that theme in a cool meta way.

    It feels like a super deliberate decision to me as (as does every. single. thing. in the game), like you said, there are a few puzzles where screenshots really don’t help at all.

  13. IbisMummy says:

    I think I devoted the most ink (and the majority of a 5 subject notebook) to Ultima IV. Mantras, locations of books, secret passages, shrines, and other inane ramblings sprawled randomly across the pages. Lessons learned from that expedition led to me coming up with all kinds of organizing short-hands (different shapes to denote linked information, color coding for various types of notes ((that I’d develop at the start of each new game))). Alas, I gave all my notes away with my Commodore 64 (and associated games ((and, why oh why, all of those fabric maps))) to our neighbors kids when I hit high school (i.e., kegger-age).

  14. Voidlight says:

    Sunless Sea had me alt tabbing into a Google doc to keep track of where the hell I needed to go and in what order with my precious little fuel, but now I’m thinking an old leather-bound journal would be a way more thematic method of chronicling my woes on the unterzee.

  15. Arglebargle says:

    It was a technological shortcoming of the era now being hailed as a element of design. Failed design, in my book. Didn’t play them then, not going to play them now. For me, the most boring aspect of games. And I like maps.

    It’s a computer! You can set it up to do the mapping, to take the notes (or let you take the notes), to do the grunt work. There are times when I’m going to be away from the game for long periods. It should be the externalized memory that brings me back to where I was. Not scraps of paper that have gotten scattered to the winds. Much better to have a map/no map setting in the UI so folks can do whichever they prefer.

    • Premium User Badge

      Risingson says:

      I agree and I don’t. Bad design elements would be mazes in adventure games or convoluted dungeons in RPGs. But you know, writing in a notepad, reading a well written manual, it actually involves you with the game. With the “this is bad design” approach to anything that requires some effort we get close to say that all the books longer than 200 pages are badly edited books.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      If it’s fun, it’s not bad design. But then, if you don’t find it fun, then it is bad design for you. Seems like it works for a lot of others though.


      “It’s a computer! You can set it…to do the grunt work.”

      Technology is a crutch, if you can’t figure out puzzles on your own with pens and paper, you aren’t going to get smarter if you have machines do all the work.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Myst, of course, has the most notes. But my favourites are my Loom notes :_)

  17. dorobo says:

    As an artist id say real paper and graphite feels so much better than all the digital means of making marks.


      Writing with a tablet feels horrible, but keyboards are still the best in terms of WPS.

  18. phlebas says:

    I used to map games on the Spectrum using graph paper, though I never got the hang of mapping anything with a continuous playspace.
    When I was in the sixth form I played through Bard’s Tale 2 and filled an exercise book with maps and notes. I remember a puzzle involving three quotations from the King James Bible, looking all the references up for context before realizing I’d overthought it…
    More recently I’ve played Mean Streets, the first Tex Murphy game, from GOG, and it needed a lot of notes – that really helped with the detective feel of the game. And Rhem was quite satisfying to map and solve bit by bit.

    • phlebas says:

      Oh, I forgot one of the most recent and exciting examples! Playing TIS-100, worked out most of my solutions on scribbly paper during coffee breaks before taking them home to try out. That’s something about external notes – as well as being a way for the game world to break out beyond the screen, you can take them away from the game or even away from the computer to process them.
      (NB I work as a programmer and also enjoy the process of debugging assembly code using a printout and highlighter pens)

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    Harlander says:

    Having to write on an external piece of paper is pretty ropy. If your game is going to need me to take notes, give me something in the game I can take notes with.

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    cpt_freakout says:

    I don’t remember what game was it (I think it was Broken Age (yeah, I’m dumb)) but I started to jot down all these single-word notes and numbers in random papers I found on my desk; somehow those papers ended up on the table one day and when I came back home my partner gave me this funny “why the hell do you write random numbers on paper” look… I refused to explain, hinting that maybe I was about to solve dark matter or invoke Azathoth. Fun times.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Benratha says:

    For ‘modern day’ games I will freely admit to writing mind-map type scrawls across a blank piece of paper for “Her Story”. The next day I tried to understand what I read, failed, and went back to making a list.
    Oh, and Stasis! after missing several obvious clues scrawled on walls or stuck on PDAs and hence having to backtrack several times I tried to write or draw all sorts of stuff.

  22. Fenix says:

    Not a PC game, but the Etrian Odyssey series is basically based upon some kind of note taking… in it you have to draw your own map as you progress through the games areas and while playing I always felt it satisfies the same way note-taking did.

  23. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    I mapped out all the islands of Little Big Adventure. In the sequel your Holomap gave you a birds-eye view of the area but in the first game it only indicated which island you needed to go to. Always thought that was a good balance as far as objective indicators are concerned, giving you a reminder of your goals and roughly where to go but letting you find your own way there.

  24. Geebs says:

    My favourite part of note-taking in games is the knowledge that if anybody finds them, I’ll probably end up getting committed for my insane doodles.

    That said, I used an iPad app to sketch puzzles in the Witness, and there’s no way I’d have managed the RGB puzzles or the carpet tetrominoes without it.

  25. Scratches Beard With Pipe Stem says:

    You should dig out your copy of Ultima Underworld. One of its big innovations was the automap — it drew the map for you, and you could even type notes on it!

  26. ivanmussa says:

    Serpent in the Staglands is also a wonderful – and recent – game to take notes to.

  27. Giuseppe says:

    As far as note taking in games goes, I’ve been known to do it even in games where I didn’t really need to do it; it just makes things feel more tangible. However I think I’d stop short of making maps of grid based dungeon crawlers. I know some older guys (like the fella doing the CRPG Addict blog) seem to love map making, for me it just seems like a chore.

    Re: The Witness. It’s like someone took one of those generic puzzle magazines that you can buy at a newspaper stand and decided it would be a great idea to make one into a video game. The whole game world is static and dead and it only serves as an inconsequential 3D distraction from the fact almost the entire game is made of puzzles that would work just as well, if not better, in printed form. Or better still, in one of those finger-swiping tablet puzzle games.

    • IntoTheSky says:

      I feel confident in saying that easily half the puzzles in the Witness, if not more, could never exist as puzzles printed on the page. Some require interaction with the environment, some are three dimensional, some rely on you listening to the world around you, and others would require incredibly cumbersome tools, such as UV lights or cardboard cutouts to solve.

      I’m also pretty sure there’s some rationale behind the unchanging nature of the Witness’s world, though I can’t say I’ve figured it out quite yet. At the very least, it’s a lot easier to solve puzzles when you’re not being distracted by the rain or wind or small woodland creatures.

  28. KDR_11k says:

    I’ve had a lot of notes in Fez (though admittedly that didn’t have screenshots which I used in The Witness to record anything suspicious) and got very close to 100% there (well, only one heart cube but really, those aren’t meant to be found by yourself), just the clock and the parliament kept me away from getting 64 cubes. I tend to overlook things a lot, hence missing the parliament and needing a hint on where to look to get to the true final parts of The Witness.

    I didn’t take many notes in The Witness, for remembering things like the codes in the lockboxes a screenshot would do. Only some pillar puzzles had me drawing them on paper so I could see them in full. And of course using photoshop to combine the RGB versions of two specific puzzles to see their true layout. Doing all the solving in your head helps a lot with preparing you for the Challenge…

    Another game where notes make sense is La Mulana though I’m too bad at observation and combining those super obscure clues to solve that myself, especially since that was a game with very little consistent logic, almost every major puzzle required a different logic or actions you weren’t even aware you could take aned might never do again. My go-to example of the fuck-you logic that game employs is “Where the finger points and Annunaki is afraid to look.” What that hint actually means? It points to two places: One is the basin of Annunaki with a big mural of said god, because the mural is facing left you have to walk through the wall on the right. The other is one room in the Mausoleum of Giants where a big statue points to the right, in fact it points at one of the breakable pots that are everywhere in the game but this one time you must not break the pot but jump onto it and press down to enter it like a pipe in a Mario game. Neither of these is remotely close to where you get the hint or where you get warped by doing these actions (I think the basin might be close in the game’s weird logic of wraparound mazes but it’s still on the other side of the area map when viewed by a sane person). Also there are probably hundreds of statues in the game that could be understood to be pointing at something and you probably don’t even notice that the hint is about two different places.

  29. Mi-24 says:

    I use pen and paper a lot in uplink, remembering codes, IPs, names and details of jobs. I also had fun mapping out the entirety of lord bafords manor in thief on paper, getting the proportions right is bloody difficult though.

  30. communisthamster says:

    I kept a log of my inventory in haven and hearth, as it was dispersed through many, many containers and I needed to know for trading. Made me feel like an old-worlde merchant. Useful for mapping the procedurally generated caves too.

    Ni No Kuni had a lot of cypher puzzles too, so I managed to get quite good at handwriting the second alphabet and translating it, to the point where I didnt have to look at the key, I just knew that particular funny squiggle was the letter E


    I normally hate puzzles that require brute force, The Witness seems like it asks you to think critically about the hints you’ve written down for yourself, where other games just have you mindlessly regurgitate a code or map or something.

  32. Contrafibularity says:

    after a 15-year hiatus from the practice
    How is that even possible? Half the games I played since the 90s practically require notes. I mean I try to do this mentally or just remember as much as possible but it’s just so useful (and fun) in most worthwhile games; map/world layouts, keycodes, puzzles, names, clues etc. I could make a stack 5cm thick of scribbled notes I’ve taken over just the last decade or so. Granted it doesn’t always pay off in-game the way I hoped it would what with the massive casualization of pretty much everything over that same period (and no game, unfortunately, even seems to dare any longer to punish the player for not taking notes) and half the notes I take turn out to have been scribbled entirely in vain later on when the game turns out to have done it for you, but still.

    Either you’ve not been playing terribly interesting games or you have the mental eidetic workspace of a nuclear physicist (or possibly both?).

  33. Glokta says:

    The last time I made a map or took notes was when replaying Torment recently. I mapped out my movements in the last iteration of the Modron Maze because I got tired of my wanderings not bearing fruit. Once I made the map it was simple.

  34. wilynumber13 says:

    Every now and then I write down one or two short notes in a Notepad file or draw a diagram for one particular puzzle, but the only two games where I really wrote a lot of stuff down were the original version of La-Mulana (remake let you save clues in-game so I never felt the need to write things down), and Morrowind, for the several years that I owned it without those Expansions that so helpfully improved the Journal feature.

  35. AirRaid says:

    I actually took pen and paper notes for the Freedom Trail puzzle in Fallout 4.

  36. Fnord73 says:

    Bards Tale 3 for the C64. Oh, those freaking spinners.

  37. Gryz says:

    Winter of 1982-1983. We played the original [url-]adventure[/url] on a PDP-11 with BSD Unix. As everybody knows, adventure has a famous maze, with “twisty little passages, all alike”. We couldn’t find our way out. So we drew a map. And still couldn’t find our way out. :)

    I’m playing The Witness. I was planning to not use drawn notes. Because of this article. Unfortunately I have to admit I do make notes now. There are a few puzzles that will be really tough if you try to solve it in your head. (Although not that many. But what do I know, I’ve only done 311 puzzles so far).

  38. 30lars says:

    I have only just discovered the art of note taking with Darkest Dungeon when I decided to not use the internet as a help.