My attitude towards questions in general chat is a mix of sympathy and scorn. I see where Endgame Viable is coming from, because people ask some fundamentally stupid and lazy questions, ones where the answer was probably already on-screen but they clicked past it instead of reading (or asking that exact “endgame viable” question in a newbie zone). I am also the veteran of a dozen MMOs where broken quests were the norm rather than the exception, so it seems reasonable to ask whether you have the right answer. I suppose my dividing line is between “is this the right answer?” and “what is the right answer?”
I just played Anna – Extended Edition. (Quick review: creepy atmosphere, nice story breadcrumbs, some interface dodginess.) It has some of the classic adventure game insanity I described in the linked post and Old Man Murray described in the post linked therein. It matters which of several bladed objects you use to cut particular objects, and essential items are hidden in drawers (but some desks’ drawers are purely decorative and cannot be opened). I am pretty sure this is a game where the atmosphere is the point more than the game itself, and I felt only the most minimal shame in having a walkthrough open on my second monitor. While the point of a puzzle game is to solve the puzzle, I do not feel lessened because I did not guess I was supposed to find baby hair in an object in one of the cribs, nor that I did not independently guess which dark brown rectangles on one of fifteen shadowy shelves per room was a book.
In MMOs, the social aspect of the game is supposed to be part of the game. If content is meant to be puzzled out on your own, not in cooperation with others, it pretty much needs a big sign over it saying, “Go in unspoiled!” because our default is to collaborate. You could solo the scavenger hunt, or you could work with your friends. And with 100,000 “friends” playing, at least 100 of whom will update a wiki or post a comment, it seems little wonder that people expect the guide to be written for them.
I am all for asking for a nudge, direction, or confirmation in general chat. I think my wife gets a better puzzle game experience than I do because I either force my way through it or Google the help, while she has someone in the room she can ask, “Am I doing this wrong, or am I doing the wrong thing?” I wish we had a better way of teaching new players to ask that question rather than “tell me how to do it.” Whatever your thoughts about giving a man a fish or teaching him to fish, “can you fish in rivers or just lakes?” seems like a fair question.