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« Blogs Index < Game Guides < HATPC Guides < Cave Design
« jebby's Blog

Introduction to Traps

As a beginner at  making and designing caves, you need to figure out the structure of caves  before you get imaginative. In this section, I’m going to give you a few  examples of basic traps that you can use in your cave to make it look  half-decent. Let’s remind ourselves of what a trap is exactly:

‘A trap is an  assembly of different tiles that forces Hannah to move in some way, usually by  threatening death or a blockage that makes the cave impossible. Traps almost  always feature arrows and/or dynamite.’

Traps vary in size  and shape and difficulty. Some may be easy to figure out just before you  attempt to beat them. Some are a little harder to work out. Some require you to  look at the map before trying. The hardest traps are the ones where you are  given no clues at all on how to beat it (mainly because you are forced into  them or certain aspects of the trap are hidden) and these have to be beaten by  trial and error. The ones I’ll be showing you in this section are ones that you  can stand outside and have a good look at before you try them.

SOIL  â€“ What Every Good Trap Needs

So then, what does every trap need? There  are things that the majority of basic traps have in them. They are:

  • Set-up: a trap that encourages or forces a player to get an objective
  • Objective: a goal that is the reward for beating the trap – usually the entrance to the next room or a treasure chest or two
  • Incentive: a reason for playing the trap – threat of the exit being blocked/death/not getting all treasures/basically making the cave impossible
  • Limitations: boundaries that prevent incentive from being lost – limits to the trap that stops a player from getting through the trap while avoiding the incentive

There is always a  set-up and there is always an objective, but sometimes there isn’t an incentive  and there aren’t any limitations. You may give the player a choice as to  whether they play the trap or not (no incentive) so as to confuse/distract them  or perhaps to give them more than one possible route to the door.

Some traps aren’t meant to lack boundaries,  but some do. The aim of every trap is to make it ‘airtight’ so that no player  can get to the end of it stress-free. It’s surprisingly hard to do this as good  players have skills and tricks up their sleeves that can get around even the  most difficult of traps. Whenever you make a trap, always check to see if there  are any ways that a player can avoid it. Play it yourself and play the trap to  your best standard and then tighten it until you’re sure it’s airtight.

The  Exit Blocker

Now to go through a few standard traps, I’m  going to show the same traps with and without incentive/boundaries and I’ll  point out the difference it makes.

Below is the exit  blocker in its simplest form. The game has just begun; Hannah is forced to hit  the arrow and is then forced to run to the exit before the steel crates come  down and block her way. The set-up is the arrow that connects with the steel  crates. The objective is the exit. The incentive is the threat of not getting  to the exit in time and having to restart the game. The limitation is the box  of terrain. Another limitation is the fact that Hannah is forced to hit the  arrow. If you were to take this limitation away, Hannah would be able to avoid  the trap.

The Exit Blocker

Here is the same trap without boundaries or  an incentive. There is a way in which Hannah can get to the exit without going  through the trap and she isn’t forced to set the trap off (minus boundaries).  There is no incentive as the trap isn’t going to block her way unless the arrow  is hit.

Bad Exit Blocker

Starting  Position Avoidance

Pretty obvious stuff, isn’t it? Perhaps  not. This is a really simple example where the missing boundaries and incentive  are clear. There are some things that new players often miss when making traps  airtight and one of those things is starting position avoidance. This means  that the starting position enables you to avoid the first trap. Look at the  next image – you can’t avoid either trap, right? The one on the left is  avoidable because of an unusual glitch in HATPC. The starting position in the  actual game is always slightly to the left of where you place it in the  cavemaker. It isn’t on the next square along, it is about half way. Therefore,  if you hold Left down when you start the game, you can just swerve out of the  way of the arrow. This isn’t possible when holding Right down. In the right  half of the image, this solution isn’t possible as the steel crate is  preventing Hannah from falling to the left of the arrow. There is another way  of avoiding the dangers of this trap and setting it off at the same time; can  you guess what it is?

Starting Position

Although the trap  will have to be set off on the right hand side, you can avoid the first set of  arrows and any other two-high arrows that come along by jumping on top of the  steel crate. If these arrows were the only one endangering you then, it makes  sense to jump over them directly, but if there are more layers of arrows coming  then jumping on the steel crate is a good idea.

Invincibility  Avoidance

As you may know, you  get a few seconds of invincibility when you first start a game. Players could  use this against your cave and beat good traps that you have made at the  beginning by avoiding it with invincibility. Look at the next example. The  image on the left shows Hannah starting the game by setting off a trap  immediately. You’d think this would be impossible to avoid. It’s not – all you  have to do is stay where you are and the arrows will hit you harmlessly. This  is all because of the few seconds of invincibility you have at the start of a  game. The image on the right is different; the danger arrows are further away –  by the time they get to you, your invincibility will have run out and they will  kill you. That’s if you stay where you are; if you run into the arrows (going  to the green arrow in the picture), you’ll meet them quicker and should  survive. When you’re making these starting traps, you need to test whether they  can be avoided by invincibility.

Invincibility Example

Staying on the topic of invincibility, it’s  sometimes a good idea to push it to its limits in a trap – with spikes. Put the  starting position over a load of spikes and force the player to get through a  small spiky cavern to get to safety before their invincibility runs out. Test  it until you can only just get out in time. A player looking at the map for  this cave might think that it’s impossible, but it’s not. Just hold Left down,  drop through the secret area and head right to the door.

Invincibility Example

Beware of Shortcuts

The easiest way of  avoiding a trap or at least making it easier is by using shortcuts that a  careless cavemaker has left in. Your aim is to ensure that no shortcuts are  available. The most common shortcuts made by new cavemakers involve platforms.  In the picture below, Hannah has to get to the top before the boulders fall and  the final platform is destroyed. The cavemaker here has intended that the  player hops side-to-side up the platforms. When you’re new to cavemaking, it’s  easy to forget how far Hannah can jump and that she can jump up through  platforms. Therefore, you just need to jump up a few times to beat the trap in  half the time.

Shortcuts Example

Here’s the same trap again, but this time  the cavemaker has been clever and forced the player to go on the side platforms  as there are treasure chests on them that need to be collected. This is the  simplest solution:

Shortcut Esample

Once again, the player has foiled the  rookie cavemaker who probably tested it in with more difficult solutions. It is  so hard to control a player’s movements without making a cave very restrictive.  Here’s how I’d make them do it the hard way:

Shortcut Solution

The floating treasure  chest forces the player to jump on to the treasure-lacking platform without  disrupting the arrow path. The spikes force the player to perform difficult  jumps that take a bit more time than a more ordinary route. Remember that when  you’re testing, always test on the easiest solution possible (make sure it  isn’t actually easy, just easier than the others) and try and make that the  ONLY route possible. This forces the player to think about what they’re doing. Although  it is mainly skilled required in the example, it is a simple puzzle cave as the  player has to figure out the quickest way to get to the top with all the  treasure.

Another common blunder in new cavemakers is  letting walking paths across platforms appear. When there are two platforms  with a one-square gap between them, you can just walk across them as Hannah is  somehow lifted up on to the second platform after falling off the first. This  is something that many new cavemakers do not know and leave gaping open in  their traps. For instance, in the next image, the player is supposed to jump  from one platform to another. A quicker way would be to just across the gaps.

Shortcut Example

Notice that there are terrain blockers to  force you to jump one at a time (assuming you don’t walk)? Well, if you were to  take these away, walking would no longer the quickest option. The player could  jump two platforms at a time and then walk across the last platform; this is a  bit faster than walking all the way. Always make sure you find and test the  easiest route across platforms.

The Thief

Thieves get their name from the fact that  the treasure chests that are available in the trap are stolen from you. You run  towards the pile of treasure chests and they are suddenly dropped down a spiky  pit – not nice. Here are a couple of examples of this type of trap:

Thief Example

The set-up of the arrows wouldn’t be like  this, but you get the picture. The treasure chest is either dropped into a  spiky pit or a pit that you can’t jump out of. Alternatively, you could have a  boulder come down and destroy a platform next to the one that the treasure  chest is on. This would destroy both platforms as boulders can destroy up to  three platforms in a row. Thieves can also be set up so a treasure chest is  blocked off like in the exit blocker.

Ordered  Traps

There are some traps where you start off in  a sticky situation rather than being under threat of getting into one. Usually,  this involves getting out of a locked room. The best way of making these  challenging is to force the player to think about which order they make certain  actions in to get out of the room. Look at this example and then I’ll explain  it for you:

Ordered Traps Example

Hannah has to escape from the room by  destroying the dynamite on the right-hand side. How does she do this? There are  a lot of arrows in this room, one of which points at the dynamite. The player  has to figure out how to hit the dynamite with this arrow when there is a steel  crate in the way. It turns out there’s a combination of arrows that destroys this  steel crate. Unfortunately, this combination itself is blocked by a steel  crate. Luckily, there is another combination that can destroy this steel crate.  Once again there is a steel crate blocking the way and once again there is a  combination that can destroy it. This one isn’t blocked. In your mind, hit the  arrows in the order in the next picture (blue, red, green and then yellow) and  you’ll have access out of the room.

Ordered Traps Solution

Got the idea? Most of the first examples in  this section were mainly skill-based traps. This is a 100% puzzle trap; there  is no physical skill involved so you just have to think to get out of it, just  as much as you have to think in order to make one of these traps. We’ll return  to puzzle traps later in the manual.

These are the most basic traps with the  most basic examples of SOIB. The most common incentives for a player to do  certain things in a trap are:

1. Death if no movement is made.
2. Death if movement isn’t made in a  certain time.
3. Progression to other parts of the cave  prevented if the trap isn’t completed.
4. A treasure chest is made inaccessible if  the trap isn’t completed.

The art of cavemaking is to be able to  force people to take the bait. This involves putting in boundaries/limitations.  It is often very difficult to make a cave totally airtight with no ways of  avoiding or breaking traps. More details of this will be made out later.

In any trap that requires physical skills  such as speed, precision and flexibility, the objective needs to be clear. In a  puzzle trap, the idea may be for the objective to be concealed or at least the  means of getting to it concealed. In more advanced caves, the objective may  only be revealed by looking at the map.

The set-up is the only part that really  needs any imagination – this is the fun part. Every cavemaker makes traps  differently and although the limitations, objective and incentive may be  similar, the set-up will almost always be different from one trap to another.  The set-up is what makes caves memorable.

In the next sub-section, we’ll be looking  at how you can link traps together. A cave can look pretty ugly with each trap  put in individual boxes. You could have some amazing traps in a cave, but the  cave might not give the best impression. The way to solve this is to make some  kind of connection between one and another that makes the cave feel like a cave  instead of a group of traps.

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