What should an adventure be like then?

5 views
Skip to first unread message

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Sep 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/2/98
to
In article <35EC0DDD...@adventuresoft.com>,
Simon Woodroffe <si...@adventuresoft.com> wrote:

> Then we thought, lets ask the experts and the people we are actually
> writing games for!
>
> If you have ideas about what should constitute an adventure game then
> please mail me with your suggestions and ideas. We are totally willing
> to listen to what the true gamers think about this declining genre.
>

It's really very simple; a lot of people will probably give you a lot of
conflicting answers, but it's really just a matter of taste. THe only thing
that it's really essential to keep in mind is this:

Make it make sense.

Simple, huh? You can have fighting if you like, you can kill the player, you
can have puzzles, or no puzzles, object puzzles or logic puzzles, heavy NPC
interaction or no NPCs, FMV as a major component, a minor component, or not a
component at all; you can have action segments, you can write a game in 2D,
or 3D, or Myst-style pseudo3d,you can have gore, violence, sex, furry animals
(though probably not sex _with_ furry animals), cartoon graphics,
photorealistic graphics, no graphics, you can even include alpacas, crack,
and corn. Just so long as it makes SENSE.

Here's what you can't do: Fighting just for the sake of pulling in the action
game audience -- no crazed man standing in the back room of the record store
who bites your head off for no very good reason. Killing the player just to
be mean, or without some sort of fair warning -- If the player jumps off a
cliff, they deserve what they get coming to them, but if they walk near a
cliff, it's reasonable to assume that they've got enough dexterity not to
stumble over the edge without explcitly wanting to Logic puzzles just for the
sake of making the game hard. If, say, you're penetrating the lair of a mad
inventor, with a fetish for puzzles, it makes sense. it does not make sense
that the town barber locks his door with a tower of hanoi puzzle. And sliding
tile puzzles are NEVER a good idea. :-)

Write a good story. Have compelling characters, if you use them. Make it fun.
Make it long, if you could, I can't afford to keep spending like this.

That said, I hope I've gained _some_ respect here, and I'll promptly go and
fritter it away by telling you what _I_ have liked.

I don't generally like fighting, though I've not minded it in some games. I do
object if fighting _isn't_ an option, even when it makes sense.
I like having the ability to die -- so long as it's sensible, again, and
save/restore isn't a pain. If an undo is provided, I'm downright okay with
death, again, if it's reasonable. I DON'T like being able to render the game
unsolvable, without finding out immediately. If you're in fierce competition
with an enemy where every second counts, not being able to die sort of
eliminates the element of suspense. The worst thing I have ever seen is where
no-death games try to recreate the suspense by adding a system whereby if you
fail, you do not die, but are forced to repeat some tedious task. the player's
suspense is not fear of death but the fear of being bored. Quite frankly, I
don't want to play a game where my "fear" is the fear of being bored.

I prefer object-based puzzles to logic ones, though a combination thereof is
also perfectly understandable. I rather enjoyed at least one game which had
all logic puzzles, but this game had a particularly compelling story. A
compelling story will, at least with me, save your game's place in my esteem
even if you do one or several things that aren't my cup of tea. I don't like
particularly difficult puzzles.

I dislike bad NPCs. If you can't do NPCs well, then don't do them. NPCs are
the hardest thing to program well, and it may be better ultimately to use few
or no NPCs, devoting those efforts to some other area. However, again, it has
to make sense -- a city should be peopled, unless there's a darn good reason
it's not.

I enjoy games with FMV. I don't think the technology currently exists to use
FMV well as a major component, however, and I've considered most
intensive-FMV games to be more enjoyable as novelties than as games in their
own right. FMV cutscenes as a minor component, however, can be very moving.
And if you've got some brilliant new technique up your sleeve that will make
FMV viable, PLEASE don't be put off by the naysayers. I think it's got a lot
more potential than even 3-D.

In general, I prefer the 2-D third person perspective in graphical games,
though, paradoxically, my 3 of my 5 favorite games have used myst-style 3d.
True 3d is impressive, though I do not like it for characters (see below)
True 3d is also exceptionally processor-intensive. Many do not have 3d cards.
Many do not wish to upgrade their processors. Fusion games tend to sit well
with me -- a 3d engine cound certainly be adapte to use photographed
characters and photorealistic backdrops, which may even prove less processor
intensive.

I vastly prefer photorealistic graphics to cartoon graphics. Just a matter of
taste. No graphics at all is also PERFECTLY valid; a text or sound based
adventure can tell as entertaining and involving a story as a graphical one
(note I do NOT say "or better", because I'm talking about an "ideal" graphical
game, and an "idea" text game could only be "as good as", not "better" than an
ideal graphical game; there's no inherant superiority of one format over the
ohter)

As for the plot... well, being an open-minded person, I tend to like a variety
of plots, though I'm not quite so kindly disposed toward games in which the
characters are furry animals.


-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/rg_mkgrp.xp Create Your Own Free Member Forum

TenthStone

unread,
Sep 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/2/98
to
L. Ross Raszewski <rras...@hotmail.com> caused this to appear in our collective minds on Wed, 02 Sep 1998 02:14:45 GMT:

>In article <35EC0DDD...@adventuresoft.com>,
> Simon Woodroffe <si...@adventuresoft.com> wrote:
>
>> Then we thought, lets ask the experts and the people we are actually
>> writing games for!
>>
>> If you have ideas about what should constitute an adventure game then
>> please mail me with your suggestions and ideas. We are totally willing
>> to listen to what the true gamers think about this declining genre.

Declining may not be the most accurate word. I think it's relatively stable:
even growing, perchance, but not to a great extent.

>It's really very simple; a lot of people will probably give you a lot of
>conflicting answers, but it's really just a matter of taste. THe only thing
>that it's really essential to keep in mind is this:
>
>Make it make sense.
>
>Simple, huh? You can have fighting if you like, you can kill the player, you
>can have puzzles, or no puzzles, object puzzles or logic puzzles, heavy NPC
>interaction or no NPCs, FMV as a major component, a minor component, or not a
>component at all; you can have action segments, you can write a game in 2D,
>or 3D, or Myst-style pseudo3d,you can have gore, violence, sex, furry animals
>(though probably not sex _with_ furry animals), cartoon graphics,
>photorealistic graphics, no graphics, you can even include alpacas, crack,
>and corn. Just so long as it makes SENSE.

Also, keep away from pretentiousness. And don't try to pretend it's something it's
not. Okay, the graphics in Mystery House were acceptable when R.W.&K.W.
put it out, a fact which we understand when we play it and so it's not so atrocious.
If I, on the other hand, en ce moment wrote a game with stick-figure graphics,
I'd be ridiculed, maybe even more than I already am. When looking at Minoan
pottery, one takes it account the limits of the medium. If Michelangelo had drawn
flat figures on clay pots, he wouldn't have ever gotten the chance to be the namesake of
a Ninjutsu-using reptile. If you don't have the resources to take advantage of
two-year-old graphical technology (at the least) then I advise against using graphics
at all. For graphical adventures, i.e., SVGA is a minimum, high-quality music
(preferably not MIDI) is a very good idea, and parsed-command/graphic-screen mixes
are herewithin by me strongly maligned.

Unless you can make your game seem rustic instead of archaic; this calls up nostalgia,
not disgust, and you might get away with it. Might.

>Here's what you can't do: Fighting just for the sake of pulling in the action
>game audience -- no crazed man standing in the back room of the record store
>who bites your head off for no very good reason.

Especially when the only way to kill said man is by shooting him continuously,
with unlimited ammo, and watching him regenerate over and over again. (Once
again taking the brave stand that Detective is a truly horrible game)

>Killing the player just to be mean, or without some sort of fair warning -- If the
>player jumps off a cliff, they deserve what they get coming to them, but if they
>walk near a cliff, it's reasonable to assume that they've got enough dexterity not to

>stumble over the edge without explcitly wanting to.

This is a big issue with graphical adventures. Sometime, play King's Quest -- especially
KQI. Or, better, the remake of KQI. The arcade sequences -- climb this vine without falling
off and making a uncomical scrunch, walk down the planks inside this mountain without
falling into the groundless pits on either side --are pathetic excuses for wasting the player's
time. Especially when the rules change from the game to the remake (when climbing
the stalk in KQI, one's feet must always stay on the vine. In the remake, the hands must always
stay on the vine. Sure, it makes more sense, but it's rather cruel to those who learned it the
first time).

But especially in text adventures, where visual clues are not forthcoming, you must be careful
not to do anything altogether unexpected.

> Logic puzzles just for the sake of making the game hard. If, say, you're penetrating the
>lair of a mad inventor, with a fetish for puzzles, it makes sense. it does not make sense
>that the town barber locks his door with a tower of hanoi puzzle.

Well, unless the whole village is mad.
I don't even like the mad-inventor premise, because that's exactly what it appears to be:
a forced method of extending playtime.

>Write a good story. Have compelling characters, if you use them. Make it fun.
>Make it long, if you could, I can't afford to keep spending like this.

The story is very important, as it _is_ why people typically play adventure games. Mark that,
it's _not_ for the puzzles unless they're somehow very special.

>I don't generally like fighting, though I've not minded it in some games. I do
>object if fighting _isn't_ an option, even when it makes sense.

Not that "sense" must also take into account both the player's and the NPC's personalities.
Which is another important choice: first person versus third person.

Graphical adventures are nearly always third-person. Think King's Quest, Phantasmagoria,
The Dig, Hugo's House of Horrors (heh-heh). The person you see on the screen is another
person, not you: a person who you may adopt the persona of, but remains distinct.

Text adventures can be either. The perspective is usually (exceptions besides "The * Under the
Window"?) first-person, but the style varies. Zork, Adventure, and the Scott Adams games are
first-person: the nameless main character is meant to be you, the player. Curses is full-fledged
third person: the main character, named, has an extensive history and character traits. Spider
and Web, So Far, and Jigsaw are what I call partial third person: the main character
is the player, given enough of a situation so that it's no longer entirely the player, but similar to
the player in dramatic form: it's You in a Mask.

>I like having the ability to die -- so long as it's sensible, again, and save/restore isn't a pain.
>If an undo is provided, I'm downright okay with death, again, if it's reasonable.

Note that "death" doesn't necessarily mean actual loss of life, but more an incomplete end
to the story. Such as a fugitive begin caught.

>I DON'T like being able to render the game unsolvable, without finding out immediately.

Neither do I. I don't think the player should be warned; I think the player should just have
less attractive ends to the story. Note that any measure of progress aside from win/loss
can ruin thie effect.

>If you're in fierce competition with an enemy where every second counts, not being able
>to die sort of eliminates the element of suspense. The worst thing I have ever seen is where
>no-death games try to recreate the suspense by adding a system whereby if you
>fail, you do not die, but are forced to repeat some tedious task. the player's
>suspense is not fear of death but the fear of being bored. Quite frankly, I
>don't want to play a game where my "fear" is the fear of being bored.

Zork (not Dungeon, but Zork) is an example of this. I, personally, don't mind Spider & Web's
handling of this.

>I prefer object-based puzzles to logic ones, though a combination thereof is
>also perfectly understandable. I rather enjoyed at least one game which had
>all logic puzzles, but this game had a particularly compelling story. A
>compelling story will, at least with me, save your game's place in my esteem
>even if you do one or several things that aren't my cup of tea. I don't like
>particularly difficult puzzles.

Puzzle guidelines:
1. Too many item-searches can be annoying. No, wait. They are annoying.
2. Too many find-the-shiny-silver-key puzzles can kill a game.
3. Pointless puzzles do no one any good. Don't make me play chess to open a door.
4. Mazes (not necessarily literal mazes) can be tolerable (e.g. the KQV desert), but treat them
with kid gloves and don't belabour the point. The cave in Deep Space Drifter is
exhausting, and the plant maze is ridiculously difficult to finish without a map -- even
though the goal is obvious from start.
5. Geography puzzles must be intelligent. Jigsaw, part one, has a good example.
6. Precise timing must be logical.

>I dislike bad NPCs. If you can't do NPCs well, then don't do them. NPCs are
>the hardest thing to program well, and it may be better ultimately to use few
>or no NPCs, devoting those efforts to some other area. However, again, it has
>to make sense -- a city should be peopled, unless there's a darn good reason
>it's not.

In the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, there shouldn't be any people on the streets --
including the player (unless it's a robot?). Just an example, no real point.

>I vastly prefer photorealistic graphics to cartoon graphics. Just a matter of
>taste. No graphics at all is also PERFECTLY valid; a text or sound based
>adventure can tell as entertaining and involving a story as a graphical one
>(note I do NOT say "or better", because I'm talking about an "ideal" graphical
>game, and an "idea" text game could only be "as good as", not "better" than an
>ideal graphical game; there's no inherant superiority of one format over the
>ohter)

I think people can be done well in animation, but it needs to be excellent -- no
cheap, hashed-together stills shown in equal time in an excuse for running.

>As for the plot... well, being an open-minded person, I tend to like a variety
>of plots, though I'm not quite so kindly disposed toward games in which the
>characters are furry animals.

What about that chicken-comp game with the squirrel? That was cutely done.

-----------

The inperturbable TenthStone
tenth...@hotmail.com mcc...@erols.com mcc...@gsgis.k12.va.us

Al Staff

unread,
Sep 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/3/98
to
The one thing that really iritates me with text adventures is the directional
commands. If you go SOUTH, then going NORTH should almost always take you back
to the place you just were. Of course there are some exceptions, but when
you're in the living room and simply go EAST to the kitchen, you should never
have to go SOUTH to get back to the living room. There seem to be a lot of
games that can't get that kind of thing right.

Al Staffieri Jr.

AlS...@aol.com
http://members.aol.com/AlStaff/index.html

Adam J. Thornton

unread,
Sep 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/3/98
to
In article <199809030348...@ladder03.news.aol.com>,

Al Staff <als...@aol.com> wrote:
>The one thing that really iritates me with text adventures is the directional
>commands. If you go SOUTH, then going NORTH should almost always take you back
>to the place you just were. Of course there are some exceptions, but when
>you're in the living room and simply go EAST to the kitchen, you should never
>have to go SOUTH to get back to the living room. There seem to be a lot of
>games that can't get that kind of thing right.

This is an artifact of ADVENT.

You see, the Crowther bits were designed to be a moderately accurate
simulation of Colossal Cave.

I don't know if you've ever been spelunking, but it's all about Twisty
Little Passages, All Alike. And almost *never* will going north from
someplace allow you to go south and return to the same place. This is
probably the reason the Dungeon map is so much more aggravating than the
Zork map: it tried to be more faithful to the genre as it existed at that
time.

Adam
--
ad...@princeton.edu
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman

Darin Johnson

unread,
Sep 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/3/98
to
ad...@princeton.edu (Adam J. Thornton) writes:

> You see, the Crowther bits were designed to be a moderately accurate
> simulation of Colossal Cave.

Even in non-caves, such directions don't hold. Ie, a long hall with
two doors on the west wall. Going through either door could take you
to rooms where you must go east to get back. To go through the doors
though, you would go north or south. In the outdoors, it's simpler
also have a turn while moving in a direction. Ie, from the side of a
house, going south takes you to the back yard, then going north will
take you inside the house.

In essence, things are not laid out in grids.

--
Darin Johnson
da...@usa.net.delete_me

John Elliott

unread,
Sep 4, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/4/98
to
mcc...@erols.com (TenthStone) wrote:
>
>Especially when the only way to kill said man is by shooting him continuously,
>with unlimited ammo, and watching him regenerate over and over again. (Once
>again taking the brave stand that Detective is a truly horrible game)

I've got a colleague at work who plays Quake-II, and that seems to be a
fairly accurate description of what happens in it. Except that the creatures
he kills don't disappear in a cloud of green smoke, which is a pity.

------------- http://www.seasip.demon.co.uk/index.html --------------------
John Elliott |BLOODNOK: "But why have you got such a long face?"
|SEAGOON: "Heavy dentures, Sir!" - The Goon Show
:-------------------------------------------------------------------------)

HarryH

unread,
Sep 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/5/98
to
In article <35edae87...@news.erols.com>, mcc...@erols.com says...

>The story is very important, as it _is_ why people typically play adventure
games. Mark that,
>it's _not_ for the puzzles unless they're somehow very special.

So, um, are you saying it's okay to have a story and no puzzle? How are you
going to interact with the story? Why would you want to? Why not read a book?

-------------------------------------------------------
Of course I'll work on weekends without pay!
- successful applicant


Aris Katsaris

unread,
Sep 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/5/98
to

L. Ross Raszewski wrote in message <6si9mk$2f4$1...@nnrp1.dejanews.com>...

>you can have gore, violence, sex, furry animals
>(though probably not sex _with_ furry animals)

Hey, hey, hey! You are limiting my creative horizons!

>- no crazed man standing in the back room of the record store
>who bites your head off for no very good reason.

Damn. And I had just been planning to do this. Spoilsport! :)

Just kidding, ofcourse...

Aris Katsaris

Lelah Conrad

unread,
Sep 5, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/5/98
to
On Sat, 05 Sep 1998 02:12:26 GMT,
har...@iu.net.idiotic.com.skip.idiotic.com (HarryH) wrote:


>So, um, are you saying it's okay to have a story and no puzzle? How are you
>going to interact with the story? Why would you want to? Why not read a book?

I wouldn't mind at all if there were no puzzles. I think a story can
be interactive without it having to be hard to get through. There
could be different lines of conversation, depending on what you asked,
different events happening, depending on where you went, and maybe
even completely different story lines, depending on what you did.
I've been contemplating doing something like this in the game I'm
working on, but I don't think I'm adept enough to pull it off yet.
This wouldn't be the same as either reading a book or a CYOA because
more intricate flags could be set to make stuff happen/not happen.

To me, interactive fiction *does not have to equal* puzzle solving.

Maybe there have already been some games written like this? (I-O
seemed to have a bit of this, I thought.)

Lelah

HarryH

unread,
Sep 6, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/6/98
to
In article <35f0c78...@news.nu-world.com>, l...@nu-world.com says...

>I wouldn't mind at all if there were no puzzles. I think a story can
>be interactive without it having to be hard to get through. There
>could be different lines of conversation, depending on what you asked,
>different events happening, depending on where you went, and maybe
>even completely different story lines, depending on what you did.
>I've been contemplating doing something like this in the game I'm
>working on, but I don't think I'm adept enough to pull it off yet.
>This wouldn't be the same as either reading a book or a CYOA because
>more intricate flags could be set to make stuff happen/not happen.

It somehow feels familiar. Let's see:
1. IF MUD
2. RPG
3. CRPG
4. Erazmatazz
5. CYOA w/ more intricate flags (or speech recognizer? :) )
6. Tapestry <- Try this one, Lelah!
7. Infocomics
8. Moral-IF (as opposed to Puzzle-IF or Story-IF)

What you say sounds intriquing. If I have to implement it, I'd probably go
for CRPG route. I'm not sure I'm up to Tapestry, either. On the other hand,
even Sunset over Savannah has puzzles, and that is predominantly Story-IF.

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages