I'm running a roundtable at the upcoming Game Developers Conference on this
subject. Here are some quick thoughts:
1. There's much more story development in even the first-person shooters as
of late (Half Life) etc...
2. However there are very few story based games that are solved via.
intellectual means (i.e. not reflexes) ... I guess Grim Fandango and a few
3. Huge market for strategic games though. My 12 year old lives with
So fire away and we'll discuss this stuff at GDC.
>I may be after posting this....
>I'm running a roundtable at the upcoming Game Developers Conference on this
>subject. Here are some quick thoughts:
>1. There's much more story development in even the first-person shooters as
>of late (Half Life) etc...
Yeah, but not everyones path to fun is shooting things, so regardless
of the plot, if you arent into shooters then shooters with a plot wont
matter much to you.
Action films didnt always used to play up a romantic situation in them
as they almost all do now, does that make dramas or romance movies
irrelevent because action movies now have pieces of them?
There will always be PacMan vs Asteroids vs Pinball people because
people have different tastes. If people liked Adventures for the
stories or puzzles before, why would they stop just because other
genres offer a little of what they like?
>2. However there are very few story based games that are solved via.
>intellectual means (i.e. not reflexes) ... I guess Grim Fandango and a few
Most adventure games qualify as this as they dont have you twitching
much I would say. Also there are a lot of puzzle games, like chess,
some strategy games (definitely turn based anything).
>3. Huge market for strategic games though. My 12 year old lives with
IMO, adventures just need to be niche-ish to interest more people.
Myst interested a lot of people I think a lot because there was
nothing to do with sci-fi or dragons or horror haunted houses, etc.
All the things that a lot of people arent interested in or consider
geeky or something they dont understand. People just saw something
that looked beautiful they could explore, which is about as mass
market as you can get.
>So fire away and we'll discuss this stuff at GDC.
Lupine Games http://www.lupinegames.com/
Depends what you mean by 'intellectual means'. Half Life can be considered an
adventure, and the thing about the puzzles is they are semi-realistic. There's
only one solution, but you have to think a little and then you get it. (I've
only got to the 'On a Rail' chapter, but the only silly solution so far
involves getting blown up a vent by a fan. In some adventures that would be
the most realistic puzzle in the entire game.)
What made linearity a cuss-word up to now is that in most previous adventures
the solutions to puzzles were ***stupid***, and so the 'right' solution did
not seem superior to the alternatives. When there really is one sensible
solution, linearity doesn't hurt, and as a bonus you get to tell a coherent
I haven't played Grim Fandango. If it's anything like traditional graphic
adventures, then what you mean by 'intellectual means' is what I call 'lateral
thinking'. A useful component of intellect, but no more valuable in itself
than being able to count.
- Gerry Quinn
> solution, linearity doesn't hurt, and as a bonus you get to tell a
I don't agree with this. Just my personal experience, but whether or not
puzzles are stupid, or even present (like say, in a platform game),
linearity is to me, bad in and of itself. I like the freedom to explore
the game world, to seek out new life and new... well, to explore. And to
not be locked down to one thing, because that one thing may prove very
difficult for the moment (even if things make real world sense doesn't mean
people figure them out right away - witness reality), so I want
alternatives. Even if it isn't hard, I still want alternatives. It's just
an unpleasant feeling to be stuck to one path and have no freedom. Any
little bits of non-linearity are good, like if you want to have your
coherent story, you could have bottlenecks where the story occurs. For
instance, you're hanging out in the village, and decide to go exploring.
When next you return to the village, it's burned down. The last surviving
villager mumbles something about "northwest... big tower..." or something
suitably dumb, and keels over dead. Now your story has advanced, but you
had that free exploration previously, and you can now go freely explore
some more, but know that eventually you must go to the big tower, where
again the story will advance. The problem with this method is it kind of
makes a mockery of time, as in, no matter how long or short you spent away
from the village, it's burned when you return (some games would set a
minimum, so you don't just step outside and back in to find it burned,
which would be kind of goofy). But nonetheless I prefer it to the village
gates all being locked so I can't leave, and then it burns down around my
ears, and somehow the rubble crashes just right so that the only way I can
go is to the last surviving guy (besides myself) and hear his words, and
then there's one path through the woods that happens to go northwest, etc.
Being led by the nose just isn't enjoyable.
In fact, speaking of Half-Life, I've only played a bit of the demo, which
was so buggy I couldn't continue, but I'll talk on FPSes I have played- one
thing that hugely bothers me about them IS the linearity of the levels.
The best example I can think of is the first level of Sin (which is a very
crappy game by the way), which is ostensibly a bank. But for some reason,
it's all set up with doors you can't open and long corridors and things so
that you just happen to have to take it in a specific order. What it
SHOULD be like is hallways with doors all down them, and each door an
office (as far as I know, that's what banks are like, beyond the big main
room). In some offices are things of interest, in others are nothing of
interest. You still have a linear goal, to get into the vault and get the
robbers, and somewhere around the bank there's the keys and computers and
things you need to do that, and in fact you could even have them doable
only in a set order, but for heaven's sake, you don't have to make the
level one big winding path that must be followed. It's okay if not every
single thing is of significance or on the critical path - that's realism.
And finding the correct path can be considered a grand puzzle. A realistic
one, no less. And one more thing I want to say about Sin, just for fun-
the funniest thing in it are these doors they have that if you try to open
them, your character says "Hm, no reason for me to go in there!". Now that
is just sad (the actual reason for the doors is so innocents can run away
through them, but come on...).
Anyway, what I was just endlessly droning on about was that I think
linearity by itself does hurt a game. It destroys replayability, if
nothing else. Not that adventure games are terribly replayable anyway, but
in other types of games. Two main things about nonlinearity are what make
it so good: anti-frustration (if you meet a challenge you can't quite
tackle, you can go try other things for a while), and a feeling of freedom
and of being immersed in a real world (as opposed to being led by the nose
through an artificially constructed one). The player may not actually be
all that free, but it's the feelings that count. Imagine if you got the
player to feel like he wasn't besting the designer's puzzles, but rather
actually saving this virtual world from certain doom (and/or the princess).
That would be quite a feat. I'll shutup now.
One word. Riven.
> 1. There's much more story development in even the first-person shooters as
> of late (Half Life) etc...
> 2. However there are very few story based games that are solved via.
> intellectual means (i.e. not reflexes) ... I guess Grim Fandango and a few
> others qualify.
> 3. Huge market for strategic games though. My 12 year old lives with
Sorry, can't afford GDC... But here goes...
Adventure is not dead, it's just CHANGING.
(I assume you're talking about GRAPHICAL adventures, since text adventures are
long dead, and long live Infocom!)
To put it plainly, graphical adventure games have not changed much since
Roberta William's Mystery House. The character sprites are larger, more
colorful, the background prettier, etc. BUT THE GAME is still the same. Given
limited amount of interaction, move the character(s) around, take/give/use
certain objects to solve the "puzzle" and advance the story. Usually, it's
just a matter of figuring out who wants what and where to get it.
FPS's are getting more and more adventure elements because that's the only way
that genre can inject some new elements. Instead of all action, there's more
interaction with NPCs, more puzzles, etc.
The way to refresh adventure games is to introduce more pieces of OTHER
genres, in a LOGICAL context.
Example: A mercenary with a mysterious past, adventure in the countryside...
occasional combat with bandits and monsters (FPS? or side-scroll? or 3rd
person?) A town hires you to help it defend itself (a bit of strategy thrown
in) you discover you are actually a prince (I know, I know...) and an Usurper
sits on the throne... Then it's a matter of raising an army, travel to other
kingdoms for diplomacy and support... And getting back your throne, and maybe
find some love interest on the way (dragons to slay, damsel to save...) This
is one grand adventure, with bits and pieces of other genres thrown in.
Am I making any sense? :-)
Kuo-Sheng "Kasey" Chang / spam-hater / Paradox Guru / X-Com Guru
Sci-Fi Fan / Treknologist / Military buff / a guy (yes, male!)
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> One word. Riven.
One retort: got outsold (monthly/weekly sales) by Myst a few months
after its release.
<*> Nathan Mates - personal webpage http://www.visi.com/~nathan/
# Network Programmer, Battlezone 2: see http://www.pandemicstudios.com
# NOT speaking for Pandemic Studios or Activision, ONLY myself
# "What are the facts, and to how many decimal places?" -R.A. Heinlein
>"Bill Volk" <bv...@inetworld.net> writes:
>>I may be after posting this....
>>I'm running a roundtable at the upcoming Game Developers Conference on this
>>subject. Here are some quick thoughts:
> One word. Riven.
Cause Grim Fandango is two words? :)
>Adventure is not dead, it's just CHANGING.
>(I assume you're talking about GRAPHICAL adventures, since text adventures are
>long dead, and long live Infocom!)
>To put it plainly, graphical adventure games have not changed much since
>Roberta William's Mystery House. The character sprites are larger, more
>colorful, the background prettier, etc. BUT THE GAME is still the same. Given
>limited amount of interaction, move the character(s) around, take/give/use
>certain objects to solve the "puzzle" and advance the story. Usually, it's
>just a matter of figuring out who wants what and where to get it.
Maybe if you took a little time to examine that dead genre of text
adventures, and its thriving--and expanding--deveopment community, you'd
discover that state of the art has advanced rather substantially.
Eventually some of the narrative techniques people are playing with in the
text world will percolate over to the graphical world.
"There's a border to somewhere waiting, and a tank full of time." - J. Steinman
Yeah, when the history books are written, I wonder if Myst and Riven will
be seen as signifying the beginning and the end of the 'CD-ROM'
interactive mulit-media era. Or at least maybe static 'content' driven gameplay.
Still, Grim Fandango is pretty way cool. So, how could the genre be dead
with a game like Grim Fandango fresh out? It seems only when the genres
are totally dead, that someone can do a game that's not an exactly clone
of the latest and greatest hit. Maybe the adventure game is being partially
murdered by the idea of trying to be 'Tomb Raider' -- the way the RPG was
done in by trying to be DOOM, so many years back.
The genre isn't dead, but it's definitely on life support if Grim
Fadango is about the only 'big' adventure game to be released in '98--
Redguard was about the only other biggish one I took notice of.
From comments I've seen from others online, their major gripe about
the adventure genre is its lack of "replayability." Basically, they
don't see it as offering anything "more" on the second time through.
[Though I'd bet that some of these aren't skilled enough to win the
game without resorting to a cheat guide or walkthru, so they get much
less personal satisfaction by winning, and wouldn't care for a
Bill Volk wrote:
> I may be after posting this....
> I'm running a roundtable at the upcoming Game Developers Conference on this
> subject. Here are some quick thoughts:
> 1. There's much more story development in even the first-person shooters as
> of late (Half Life) etc...
> 2. However there are very few story based games that are solved via.
> intellectual means (i.e. not reflexes) ... I guess Grim Fandango and a few
> others qualify.
> 3. Huge market for strategic games though. My 12 year old lives with
> So fire away and we'll discuss this stuff at GDC.
> Bill Volk
Oddly enough, I just got an email from Bob Bates who's talking on "The State of
the Art in Adventure Games" and was asking some of the same questions. You may
want to contact him over at Legend and compare notes so you guys don't cover
too much of the same ground.
Freelance Interactive Design
To reply remove the obvious
John Nagle wrote:
> "Bill Volk" <bv...@inetworld.net> writes:
> >I may be after posting this....
> >I'm running a roundtable at the upcoming Game Developers Conference on this
> >subject. Here are some quick thoughts:
> One word. Riven.
> John Nagle
And your point is...? That 1.5 million unit sales of a sequel to a 4 million
unit game means the genre is dead? Or that if 1.5 million units is a failure,
the genre is far from dead?
>(I assume you're talking about GRAPHICAL adventures, since text adventures are
>long dead, and long live Infocom!)
Um, that's all. Cheers.
(change i's to y's to get my real address)
Quite possible. I *loved* Grim Fandango, personally. And I probably will
play it again at least once, just to enjoy the atmosphere, and see what
happens in a few places if I do things in a different order.
Copyright 1999, All rights reserved. Peter Seebach / se...@plethora.net
C/Unix wizard, Pro-commerce radical, Spam fighter. Boycott Spamazon!
Will work for interesting hardware. http://www.plethora.net/~seebs/
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>Example: A mercenary with a mysterious past, adventure in the countryside...
>occasional combat with bandits and monsters (FPS? or side-scroll? or 3rd
>person?) A town hires you to help it defend itself (a bit of strategy thrown
>in) you discover you are actually a prince (I know, I know...) and an Usurper
>sits on the throne... Then it's a matter of raising an army, travel to other
>kingdoms for diplomacy and support... And getting back your throne, and maybe
>find some love interest on the way (dragons to slay, damsel to save...) This
>is one grand adventure, with bits and pieces of other genres thrown in.
>Am I making any sense? :-)
Yes but this story has nothing to do with changing genres or
adventures games changing or anything.
You could have everything in your story here and do it in EXACTLY the
same format adventure games have been in since the beginning. Blade
Runner did a lot of the things you talked about, with occasional
Making a game a shooter/adventure, just makes it a *shooter* with
puzzles and some story, most likely not something people who are
interested in adventure games would see as an advancement of their
Also it probably WONT appeal to any people besides people who arent
really into pure shooters and people who arent really into pure
adventure games which may be a smaller number rather than larger, as
its unclear whether that particular mix of less defined genre is more
mass-market/more appealing to gamers than straight shooters or
straight adventure game alone are. People who are into shooters
primarily will probably say there is too much puzzle stuff, not enough
shooting and vice versa for the puzzle people.
Games like Half Life havent tested this yet, as HL is more like a
shooter with a story than a shooter/adventure game.
Kinda puts you in the mind of something like The Truman Show.
> In fact, speaking of Half-Life, I've only played a bit of the demo,
>was so buggy I couldn't continue,
The full version seems almost bug free - I got stuck behind a pipe once, and
apart from that I saw nothing except some very minor and occasional graphic
glitches. Just to let you know.
But the fact of the matter is that Adventure games are probably the hardest
games to write, and definitely the hardest games to write well. I wrote
a response in some newsgroup about doing movement-route-finding in a lucasarts
style adventure game. I figured I was pretty smart, and wanted to try it
out in my own adventure game. Sat down, looked at a blank piece of paper,
and it suddenly became quite obvious that the route-finding algorithm was
the easy part.
Creating a game like Quake, or Mario Kart, or even Mario 64, is more of
an exercise in technical design. Even Mario 64 which had every new innovation
under the sun, each of those innovations - while great - were in the form
of something technical. New camera movement, new motion algorithm, new
gameplay technique. Never once in these type of games do we meet a character
that has the personality of, say, the Men of Low Moral Fiber from the Monkey
Once you've sat down, come up with a general story-arc, created characters
that are lovable, named their cat Woofles...you still need to come up with
puzzles. Puzzles are difficult to solve, but 1000x more difficult to design.
Saying a door needs a key is one thing, but realizing that there needs to
be both a door and a key is another thing entirely.
So adventure games are hard to write, but they are fairly easy to program.
This immediately turns of "hardcore" programmers. Most of the kids making
video games are more interested in the technical aspects of a game, than
the emotional. The people who make adventure games shouldn't be the kids
who spend their spare time adding surplus cd-rom drives to their linux
machine for fun.
Then you have the market. Adventure games just don't sell very well (at least
in America). Everybody know about Grim Fandango, but who here got Toonstruck,
Quest for Glory V, or Fable? Granted these weren't great games, but the
lack of sales aren't going to look good in the eyes of producers. I mean,
LucasArts used to thrive on adventure games. Then they realized that
Jedi Knight and X-wing would sell a lot better.
My point is, yes, the adventure game is dead. It is too hard to make for
story-lazy designers, and too hard to sell in a market dominated by quake.
As long as there is TV, people won't read books. As long as there is Quake,
people won't play adventure games.
(That is not to say that the adventure game genre won't mutate. For instance,
Resident Evil has dumb puzzles, and a minimal storyline, but had zombies
you could shoot with stuff. Zombies are pretty cool. Maybe we don't even
want them to come back. In Japan, whole new genres appear overnight that
never make it to the US - Musical stuff, Dating, Fishing. Maybe we should
start looking for new ways to entertain, rather than trying to keep the
old ways alive...)
My thoughts on this of late have to do with the balance and spectrum
between "being" and "doing." Shooters are "doing" games. From what
I've seen, Grim Fandango has a bit more being-ness to it, though clearly
in an odd sort of way (given that you're, you know, dead :-) ). On the
far end of the spectrum, Barbie Fashion Designer and games like those
from the late lamented Purple Moon are much more about being than
doing. Neither end of the spectrum seems to provide a strong recipe for
satisfying adventure games.
Pokemon is an interesting and almost paradoxical example, because its
first-order effect seems to be entirely "doing." OTOH, training and
trading the monsters has a large "being" component to it, just as having
the best Magic deck or baseball card collection does: these things
affect an individual's status, and thus add a powerful component beyond
the ephemeral deeds of the moment.
Getting back to adventures, the reason that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is
a classic and Richard Chamberlain's "Quatermain" movies are excreble and
largely forgotten goes beyond good acting or dramatic writing: 'Raiders'
was conceived and constructed such that we come to be interested in and
care about the characters involved. Indiana Jones is a fleshed-out
character, not just some disposable "adventure hero." The reason the
'Raiders' franchise works (especially the first and last movie
contrasted with 'Temple of Doom') is because it successfully arrives at
a sense of 'being' through 'doing.' We see Indy go through his daring
trials, but along the way also watch *him* change; the human bond
between us in the audience and the character on the screen is what makes
the movie enthralling.
To put this in game terms, Tomb Raider is a lot of fun. And yeah, for
most guys watching Lara go through her paces has a certain (you'll
excuse the word) titillating allure. But that's all just 'doing.'
Pretty soon that fades into just-another-shooter (yawn). To make this a
real adventure game, IMO, I would want to know something about Ms.
Croft, and somehow, through the course of the game, come to see her in a
new light, have a new appreciation for her, and see the character's view
of herself change in meaningful ways too. That's what makes a good
story, and a good story is a core (but often missing) component of any
As a final example, I think you can go right back to the original, Sid
Meier's "Pirates" (a game I *still* enjoy playing on an old C128). Yes,
there's lots of 'doing' in the game -- getting a crew, trading, taking
ships, sinking ships, etc. But there's also a more durable, longer
wavelength 'being' component running throughout the game: have you found
your sister? Have you found a pretty bride? How's your reputation? As
in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and other good adventures, these 'being'
components emerge through your deeds. And ultimately, at the end of the
game, while you have your hopefully daring career to look back on, your
ultimate score in the game is translated into terms of the person you
have become: have you become a wealthy land-owner, a tavern owner, a or
something less reputable? The deeds of the moment support and are
ultimately subsumed by the person you become; this is the essence of
If we can learn this lesson, adventure games will not be dead. As long
as we keep trying to call an otherwise meaningless concatenation of
monsters an "adventure," the genre will not flourish.
I disagree. The adventure game is most certainly alive and well - it's just
changing shape, like everything else.
Point 1) - While it may or may not be true that the techie types don't care
about the "emotional design" of games, it's important to keep in mind that
for every one techie in the world there are scores of writers who would like
nothing more than to spend their life creating stories - if this were not
true, you wouldn't have people pushing scripts under George Lucas's bathroom
door. As our industry continues to mature, more and more of these "emotional
designers" will want to get into our industry and create killer stories.
Point 2) - Evolutionary entertainment technologies usually kill existing
ones, but *revolutionary* technologies rarely phase out their predecessors.
Color TV is better than black and white TV, yes, but even tho we have TV,
people still read books, because books provide an experience that's different
than television. The existence of TV doesn't make books any LESS fun to
read. Similarly, the existance of Quake doesn't make Monkey Island or SimCity
any LESS fun to play.
And Myst didn't blow the lid off retail sales by being a technical evolution.
It was basically a hypercard stack.
The adventure game is very much alive and well, however, IMHO, it will veer
off into multiplayer only. Adventure games and movies are parallel, and if
it's more fun to watch a movie with friends, logic dictates that it'd also be
more fun to play through an adventure game with friends - assuming low
latency, of course :).
Adventure games aren't dead - in the future I'll bet we'll see some
outstanding multiplayer-only adventure games, with very creative storylines,
technical advances, better actors, etc.
One datapoint: According to PC DATA, "Myst" sold 560,734 copies in 1998 while
"Riven" sold 363,374. "Titanic: Adventure out of Time" sold 436,198 copies.
The *only* FPS to make the top 10 in 1998 was "Deer Hunter II". Does this mean
that the FPS genre is dead?
"Starcraft" and "Age of Empires" finished 1st and 9th respectively, but
between them sold less than the top three adventure titles, so is RTS less
popular than advenutre?
Sanitarium? Blackstone Chronicles? Starship Titanic? Of Light And Darkness?
The X-Files Game? These seem to have had considerable launches, even if only
the first two received warm welcome.
I deliberately exclude the latest King's Quest, since the complaint that it's
not exaclty an adventure game seems valid.
But given the expense and production efforst that must go into an Adventure
game, the fact that at least six of them were produced last year doesn't
indicate a real dearth to me.
I just want to counter that you aren't everyman. Some people like being
led my the nose. Some want a very defined structure to the games they
play. Some people want a third party to tell them what to do. Some
people just can't handle too many choices.
I like both free-form "play" games sometimes and restricted linear
games sometimes. Halflife was very linear, and it often struck me as
fairly stupid that the whole game is built around getting through
just one door at a time, and not just in the OEM demo. I got past that
artificial constraint and enjoyed the game, because I thought the rest
of it was so well done.
That said, my point is that just because some people don't like linearity
doesn't mean there's not a market for it.
Grim Fandango had great design and execution. It was a bit buggy,
though, and I eventually stopped playing when a bug ate a long day's
worth of adventuring (yeah, bad Andrew, *smack* for not saving,
but still). I think a 2D adventure game like Curse could still do
very well. I *loved* CMI. But then, CMI *didn't* do very well...
If the Adventure is indeed over, then many of us will be in
> Getting back to adventures, the reason that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is
> a classic and Richard Chamberlain's "Quatermain" movies are excreble and
> largely forgotten
Said Quartermain movies were deliberate camp, down to the platic vegetables
floating in the cannibal's pots and the line "It's a jungle out there", not
mention Sharon Stone's ever-shrinking short-shorts.
On the other hand, of the three Raiders movies, I liked "The Temple of Doom"
the best. I don't know that Indy has that much personality beyond that which
Harrison Ford imparts to him.
I believe MYST blew the lid off retail sales by being an ARTISTIC evolution.
6 titles isn't a dearth? There's roughly 3000 commercial PC titles
produced per year, and 6 isn't a miniscule amount of that? [Heck,
there were 3 WWII fighter combat games, which is a niche of a genre.]
And the best selling adventure game of 1998 (Myst) is 4 years old,
doesn't that say something about the dearth of quality titles?
There's FPSs, RTSs, Sports games, wargames, and the like coming out
the wazoo. Adventure games are definitely on life support-- not dead,
but definitely heading downhill-- compared to their heydays. Maybe
you're happy with 6 titles per year. Most people think that's miniscule.
First of all, I don't think a linear story is bad (while linear gameplay
is). A good example for a stricly linear game without any real freedom
(as in freedom of choosing how the plot will continue) is Grim Fandango,
and most other LucasArts adventures.
With linearity/ freedom in adventures, there's a paradoxical situation.
One might think of the hard task of making a believable, Eliza-like
storyteller: each monologue will get the story across, while making
Eliza unbelievable, and each user interaction will make it believable,
while preventing Eliza to tell the story. In adventures, there's one way
to solve this: let the user do the things you want him to do, but make
him believe he's doing it of his own free will. Or the user may say 'Yes
it makes sense I can't kill that harmless person, even if I should
identify with the character, so it shouldn't have a different moral then
mine, but right I'm supposed to be a hero'. Learning and changing
throughout the story is what defines a round character.
Another problem is created now. Let's think of an adventure world
targeted at unfolding a predefined story in itself by the way of
puzzles. Now, the player is most likely to try out what he thinks of as
easy solutions at first. Every time a puzzle is not handled correctly
even if the player thought it would be a nice solution, a frustration
comes up. And if there's no frustration, there'll be no satisfaction
when you finally found the working solution. If there's too much
frustration, there's the feeling you're constantly pushed onto a
predefined path you don't want to go. So, the adventure has to make a
guess about the user skills, which may be the hardest part. And letting
the user choose difficulty is shifting responsibility to someone who
knows more about himself, but less about the game (like Curse of Monkey
Island). I don't know why adventures won't adjust to the user skills
after analyzing his first few moves/ puzzles on the basis of wrong tries
and time used etc., and then lay out the extra puzzles and rewards
accordingly for the rest of the game.
An option for more linearity is to have two or three linear stories the
user may chose to follow. Something like this can be seen when Indy Fate
of Atlantis has to choose to play alone or as team. If there's really
two stories, the downside for the publisher/ creators is you get two
games for the price of one, while most of the players, even if they
finish the game, will only ever see one of the two. Avoiding this might
result in basically the same game with a twist so little it won't change
things really, and especially not graphics, since it takes place on the
same setting (like Maniac Mansion). But each additional path if it's
meaningful and original means additional graphics, programming, music,
story, which will be lost on many players. If there's enough ressources
available, meaningful subquests of course makes for a feeling of much
more freedom. Like Final Fantasy 7, which is part RPG/ Adventure, and
has a perfect design of a relatively linear plot within a freely
explorable world. Which doesn't mean you can walk anywhere, like adding
a simulated world, it means every exploration will be connected back to
the story and add content. Your choices actually change the character,
like an RPG should. Maybe it could be wished for adventures which would
have more an approach of memorizing the players attidude then just
checking for keys, or making any relevant part of the story part of a
The Court http://start.at/the.court
>Also it probably WONT appeal to any people besides people who arent
>really into pure shooters and people who arent really into pure
>adventure games which may be a smaller number rather than larger, as
>its unclear whether that particular mix of less defined genre is more
>mass-market/more appealing to gamers than straight shooters or
>straight adventure game alone are. People who are into shooters
>primarily will probably say there is too much puzzle stuff, not enough
>shooting and vice versa for the puzzle people.
>Games like Half Life havent tested this yet, as HL is more like a
>shooter with a story than a shooter/adventure game.
>Lupine Games http://www.lupinegames.com/
What is this obsession with puzzles about? If somebody is telling me about an
amazing adventure he had, I do not expect to hear about a load of stupid
illogical puzzles! I expect tales of derring-do and excitement. Falling into
a pool of toxic sludge, crawling out half-drowned and poisoned, and blasting a
zombie with his last shotgun round would certainly qualify (heck, I'd buy him
a drink). Searching everywhere for a red key to fit a red door would not.
Adventures need puzzles like CRPGs need INT and WIS stats. They are obsolete
relics of the early days of computing. Half Life is a true adventure game
- much more so than (say) Day of the Tentacle or Zork.
Maybe we should split the genre into 'action-adventures' and
'puzzle-adventures'. 'Puzzle-adventures' - sounds like a contradiction in
terms, doesn't it? But that's what we've been palmed off with all these
years. I want to play proper adventure games, that will merge the adventure,
the shooter and the CRPG, and dump the un-adventurous stuff from all three.
Maybe I'm just starting a war about what subgenre gets the coveted title of
adventure, something which is common in CRPG discussions. But as Enid Blyton
used to say "Adventures come to the adventurous!" Nothing about the
puzzle-solvers there ;) Of course there will be puzzles, but 'reality'-based
Don't bury all puzzles along with the illogical ones. Adventure
designers -have- grown lazy, or have not learned some necessary lessons, if
they are just starting out. And a lot of bad puzzles have been the result.
If you don't study a genre you design in, but simply attempt to copy it,
sloppy, derivative puzzle-design isdpractically a given.
Puzzles have as valid a place in games as in other media. In drama we call
them dramatic obstacles. When done properly (not just because it's time for
a car chase or a bomb-defusing to keep the audience awake), they can support
the story and characters of a film. Puzzles that are grounded in the
reality of the universe a game creates for us can enrich our player
character, something Mike Sellers has rightly pointed to elsewhere in this
thread as a good thing in adventure games as in movies; they can advance the
story by revealing something new in the very nature of the solution they
present; and they can simply add to entertainment value by presenting a
challenge that does not remove the player from the overall experience.
As for lock and key puzzles, as Jonathan Atchley (Curse of Monkey Island)
pointed out to me at the CGDC last year, ALL puzzles can be broken down into
locks and keys whether they're mechanical, logical, character-based or
whatever. The craft (supported by the talent of the designer) is to
disguise this by keeping the puzzles solidly in the universe of the game,
and making them fun to figure out, so they are also an integral part of the
Gerry Quinn wrote in message ...
>ultimately, at the end of the
>game, while you have your hopefully daring career to look back on, your
>ultimate score in the game is translated into terms of the person you
>have become: have you become a wealthy land-owner, a tavern owner, a or
>something less reputable? The deeds of the moment support and are
>ultimately subsumed by the person you become; this is the essence of
>If we can learn this lesson, adventure games will not be dead. As long
>as we keep trying to call an otherwise meaningless concatenation of
>monsters an "adventure," the genre will not flourish.
This is nicely stated, and I certainly agree it's the essence of a well-told
gamestory. It's the essence of adventures, although we see it rarely. It
is the essence of RPG's where it's built into genre, even if it is usually
very fiftfully implemented. It could (and may be) the essence of action
games where a point to the mayhem seems to be more and more in vogue.
Everything I've learned convinces me that an appreciation of, even a need
for, stories and the characters who inhabit them are built into us as human
beings. And if we ignore that in whatever genre, the genre will ultimately
remain a niche.
>First of all, I don't think a linear story is bad (while linear gameplay
>is). A good example for a stricly linear game without any real freedom
>(as in freedom of choosing how the plot will continue) is Grim Fandango,
>and most other LucasArts adventures.
Linear stories remain with us in every genre. It'scertainly the easiest
way to go, and the way most people attempt. And I certainly agree that the
game play should not follow along lockstep in similar linear fashion. But I
am also convinced that non-linear storytelling is the best choice for
gaming, because as you say, linear gameplay is bad. IF the designer can
tell a story in a non-linear way, the experience, the sense of freedom, the
feeling that the story is set in a dynamic universe that reacts to the
player's choices, then it should make the experience far more rewarding, far
more "immersive" (I hate that word, but...) than one that only goes halfway.
>let the user do the things you want him to do, but make
>him believe he's doing it of his own free will. Or the user may say 'Yes
>it makes sense I can't kill that harmless person, even if I should
>identify with the character, so it shouldn't have a different moral then
>mine, but right I'm supposed to be a hero'.
Yes! It is all illusion. The art of the game designer is the art of the
magician. The game universe need only be as large and responsive as
necessary to give the player the sense that it -is- responsive. And if the
player can willingly suspend disbelief, if the "walls" when encountered, are
logical enough, there should be no problem. The craft here of course is
making that simple statement into a real game. And there are a lot of
slippery spots in between!
>Learning and changing throughout the story is what defines a round
Same point Mike Sellers was making elsewhere in this thread, and a good one.
>letting the user choose difficulty is shifting responsibility to someone
>knows more about himself, but less about the game (like Curse of Monkey
>Island). I don't know why adventures won't adjust to the user skills
>after analyzing his first few moves/ puzzles on the basis of wrong tries
>and time used etc., and then lay out the extra puzzles and rewards
>accordingly for the rest of the game.
The first solution shows up the most because it's relatively easy. The
second is easy to understand, but hard to implement. Think of productivity
packages that attempt to figure out what you want to do, then slam a
roadblock in your path by "guessing" wrong, or worse, preventing you from
doing what you want, because in their "user-friendly" environment they want
to do something else automatically, and you don't even get a choice. That's
annoying enough in MS Word. Think what it would be like in a game that is
trying to make you lose yourself in the reality of the experience! I'm not
saying it's impossible. It's just hard and dangerous.
>An option for more linearity is to have two or three linear stories the
>user may chose to follow. Something like this can be seen when Indy Fate
>of Atlantis has to choose to play alone or as team. If there's really
>two stories, the downside for the publisher/ creators is you get two
>games for the price of one, while most of the players, even if they
>finish the game, will only ever see one of the two. Avoiding this might
>result in basically the same game with a twist so little it won't change
>things really, and especially not graphics, since it takes place on the
>same setting (like Maniac Mansion). But each additional path if it's
>meaningful and original means additional graphics, programming, music,
>story, which will be lost on many players.
Yeah, which is exactly why developers can't really take this route. But if
the illusion is strong enough, the disbelief has been willingly suspended,
you don't really need it.
>has a perfect design of a relatively linear plot within a freely
I still think this is less than perfection. I won't be satisfied until I
can create a non-linear plot in a freely-explorable world. The irony is,
that very few people have even noticed the first small, halting steps I've
taken. And for general gamers that's how it should be. They don't care how
the fun was achieved, only that they had fun and got their money's worth.
This is a favourite topic here on r.a.i-f. The question is how to define a
puzzle. You need some obstacles, right?
For instance, take the recent adventure Bad Machine. I certainly couldn't
say there are no puzzles - the whole thing's a puzzle. But they aren't
puzzles in the traditional Zork style. You're basically thrown into a strange
world, and everytime you try to do something the machines around will try to
stop it. It takes a lot of ingenuity to figure out how to get around this,
but its not at all gratuitous.
Spider and Web is another example of this: it's a spy game. There are a lot
of "puzzles" of the form "How do I get through this door? How do I stop this
alarm going off?" etc. But again, that's the kind of thing you'd expect a
spy to have to worry about.
That's what adventure games should aim for - there's a place for games that
lack all traditional puzzles (like Photopia) but the best balance seems to
be seamless puzzles, where there's really no way to point to any specific
point and say, "This is a puzzle" as opposed to "This is an obstacle".
Personally, I'd like to see some tactical I-F, where the "puzzles" come from
strategy. This could be a lot like a shooter except that how quick you really
are on the trigger doesn't affect your survival chances: if you go through
that door unprepared, you WILL die. If you can get up to the balcony and
set up a good shot, you WILL succeed.
A good tack for this would be the way similar to the way System Shock did it -
you could set the "Action" slider to 0 to let the game shoot for you, letting
you concentrate on setting up your shots and getting advantage of ground, etc,
or you could set it high if you like to do your own shooting.
>Maybe we should split the genre into 'action-adventures' and
>'puzzle-adventures'. 'Puzzle-adventures' - sounds like a contradiction in
>terms, doesn't it? But that's what we've been palmed off with all these
>years. I want to play proper adventure games, that will merge the adventure,
>the shooter and the CRPG, and dump the un-adventurous stuff from all three.
Time to repeat my periodic call: "More swashbuckling I-F!"
Congratulations, Canada, on preserving your national igloo.
-- Mike Huckabee, Governor of Arkansas
Mike Berlyn is trying to do exactly this in his new game, Chameleon, which
sounds like its going to be completely open-ended. He's said he vastly
underestimated the complexity, though - which should sound a big note of
caution: if one of the founders of the genre can underestimate the work it
takes to move from one storyline to many possibilities, maybe those of us
saying "where aren't there more nonlinear games?" should think this through
a bit more.
For my part, I've pretty much decided I'm going to focus on importing
narrative styles and dramatic techniques from static fiction, even if it does
lead te linearity. It's possible they won't fit, in which case I may well be
wasting my time, but it'll be a worthwhile journey nonetheless.
I agree entirely with the above. I also spoke of 'reality' based puzzles. My
example, Half Life, has a good few of these. They are not difficult, but they
make you think for a little, and the solutions are satisfyingly logical.
This is only partially right. True, it doesn't offer anything new the
2nd time but that doesn't screw replayability. Sure, you don't play an
adventure 2 times in succession but if it was good you'll possibly
replay it a couple years later. I've played almost all of my
adventures at least a second time some years later.
Adventures have to be regarded more like books. You don't read the
same book 2 times in succession (at least I haven't) but you keep a
good book and reopen it again and again in later years. MSB
I think we forget a very important point here. Not being of interest
to the industry any longer doesn't mean death of a genre. If you read
rec.arts.int-fiction (to which this thread is being crossposted) you
see that text adventures are live and kicking though they're not being
sold anymore. Maybe the same will happen to the adventure genre as a
whole but this isn't necesserily a bad point.
As more and more people get wired, more and more talent is available
on-line. And with technology advancing so rapidly, production of a
commercial-quality game becomes feasible for ambitious hobbyists. An
example for this are videos. Every guy with a camcorder and a PC can
do video cutscenes today. Just recruit a couple of students from a
near-by university who'll do costumes and acting just for fun and off
you go. MSB
I think Toonstruck IS a great game !! Tastes always differ. MSB
Really? Hmm, maybe I should see if I can dig up a bargain basement
copy. From the images I've seen, I thought that the live action
and cartoon mix didn't really work that well. Especially after
seeing something like Roger Rabbit. Though this is only prejudice
and I haven't actually played the thing.
It depends on whether you enjoy first person shooters, personally
speaking I dont really care for them, whereas I adore RPG's and
|Zork was a first attempt at what one would call an adventure - at
|lost in a cave is presumably exciting. Back in those days, there was
|division between adventure and CRPG - the guys who did Rogue called
|adventure, and opened up one way in which PCs could create
|replayability. But I don't think anyone can deny that the focus of
|games' then switched into lateral thinking, absurd puzzles, and (very
I have to dispute this, Monkey Island 1,2 $3, Day of the Tentacle,
Full Throtle, Sam'n'Max and even quiter programs such as Broken Sword
1&2 all contained genuinly amusing jokes. (as well as an entertaining
storyline with interesting characters)
Linearity was part of it too, but in a bad way. As I posted before,
|it's okay to have one solution, like puzzles in Half Life do, so long
as it is
|clearly more valid than any other solution - but the traditional
|not usually achieve this.
Use the chicken on the clothes line, what could be more logical? ;)
|>There's also currently a big discussion on rec.arts.int-fiction
|>constitutes a puzzle, and part of this may have to do with that
|>It's certainly not impossible that there can be a good game without
|>Half Life is not without puzzles), but they're far from "obsolete
|>days of computing"!
|>> Maybe we should split the genre into 'action-adventures' and
|>Um... it pretty much is, although not by those terms. In fact, I'd
|>two entirely different genres.
|>>'Puzzle-adventures' - sounds like a contradiction in
|>> terms, doesn't it? But that's what we've been palmed off with all
|>> years. I want to play proper adventure games, that will merge the
|>> the shooter and the CRPG, and dump the un-adventurous stuff from
|>If that's what you want to play, fine. Don't assume everyone else
|>same way you do. Personally, I like text adventures, I like CRPGs,
|>graphic adventures (LucasArts-type). I don't particularly like
|>(though there are things I like about Half Life). Yes, I like the
|>and I'd like to see a good first-person-view CRPG. But every genre
Oooh no until they get the following problems sorted out first person
would be dreadful for CRPG's (and I dont especially like it in
- The pitiful viewport, Its as though the character has one eye and is
using a telescope, why cant they impement a screen size that reflects
how much we are able to 'see' has humans
- why is turning around such a laborious process, in a first person
game I want to be able to *instantly* look all around me
- I dont believe requireing speedy recations and pinpoint accuracy can
every be married with thoughful RPG gameplay
Is it genuinely true that Adventure games are no longer selling as
well as they did or are they merely declining relative to the size of
If its the latter then we have to accept that as computer gaming has
become more popular the lowest common denominator of players has
decreased. The majority of players now probably aren't interested in
thoughtful games and would much prefer to simply kill a variety of
creatures in ever more spectacular ways.
Indeed. In preparation for writing my own adventure games, I've begun
reading Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, the famous screenwriting
book. It's quite practical due to its logical mapping of a story's
progress... and even more useful in the deep importance it places on the
age-old art of telling a good story.
- Brendan Reville (www.twilightsoftware.com - adventure engine coming soon!)
Ghadz, I hope that the venerable "Adventure" genre is not fated to
this dismal fate. Even with Hollywood productions, some of these games
have been just BAD BAD BAD. Without that, I can't imagine how aweful
most of them would be.
I would hope that adventures in the style of Myst or Grim Fandango
(cgi, not live acting) would be the choice for most hobbyist game
producers. I do feel, though, that without professional artists doing
the work, we'll see a severe plunge in quality, at least as far as
the visuals are concerned.
Personally, while I do believe that the Adventure genre is in a major
slump, like the RPG genre has been until just very recently, I believe
that it is still a viable genre for commercial production. I think
Sierra is going to regret having turned King's Quest into a 3D Action
game. I think that Quest for Glory V is a FAR superior game, and worth
a look for anyone who likes Sierra games. Sierra is not through with
the Adventure genre though -- they do have in the works another
Gabriel Knight game coming, and several others.
I think though, that Lucas Arts has stolen the title as "king of the
Adventure genre" from Sierra. I think we can look forward to at least
one quality title from them each year.
Sanitarium was a very good game, maybe we'll see more from ASC.
If the answer is NO, Adventure is alive and kicking, what then? Do we just
sit back, glad that we can still find solace in a good story with interactive
elements? If the answer is YES, do we some how form a call to action, trying
to raise the titanic of video game genres? Or do we just let it stay dignified
in its grave, confident that a new genre will take over? Or maybe, we let
this "YES" sound out a warning to any garage developers who might be
considering an adventure game....or maybe we let this "YES" sound out a
challenge to make a better adventure game.
Whatever the answer is, there isn't anything we can do about it, so it
isn't worth finding. Everyone has their own reasons, and everyone has their
own ideas. And because of that, everyone has their own answer.
I once read that Ron Gilbert wrote Maniac Mansion because he didn't like
Philipp Lenssen <Jes...@t-online.de> wrote in article
> .... I don't know why adventures won't adjust to the user skills
> after analyzing his first few moves/ puzzles on the basis of wrong tries
> and time used etc., and then lay out the extra puzzles and rewards
> accordingly for the rest of the game.
Er... because it wouldn't work.
Sorry. I don't mean that as harshly as it perhaps sounds. I see a lot of
problems with trying to do things that way, though. For instance, I
consider myself a fairly good puzzle-solver in adventure games, but I
tend to take a long time to solve them, partially because I like to try a
unrelated things too. If the game adapted its difficulty level based on
time used (or the "wrong" tries - how would it know what was really a wrong
try and what I was trying just for fun?), it would therefore probably
I would prefer a lower difficulty level, even though I wouldn't. I just
the "analyze the player's skills and adapt accordingly" strategy as a
----- Jason F. Finx
You're taking rather extreme examples on both ends - especially on the
end. I wouldn't consider searching everywhere for a red key to fit a red
of a puzzle, and I don't think many other people would either. But there
puzzles too. Not all puzzles are "stupid" and "illogical", and some can be
> Adventures need puzzles like CRPGs need INT and WIS stats. They are
> relics of the early days of computing. Half Life is a true adventure
> - much more so than (say) Day of the Tentacle or Zork.
Ack. Hm. I'm trying to think of exactly how to reply to this. I think
one of the
first things to establish is what we mean by "adventure game". Now, Half
may be a good game, but it's definitely not an "adventure game" in the
sense of the word - and "Day of the Tentacle" and "Zork" are. Now, if you
that "Half Life" has more "adventure" in the action sense, well, sure. But
what makes an adventure game?
and I'd like to see a good first-person-view CRPG. But every genre has its
quirks and possibilities. There are things that can be done in a CRPG that
be done in a text adventure, and vice versa, and similarly for the other
including FPSs. Merging them all into one is not the answer. Nor is
what you call the "un-adventurous stuff". To me - and I know to a lot of
rec.arts.int-fiction and quite likely elsewhere - immersiveness is
nonlinearity is a big part of that; I'd trade off what you call
for greater freedom of action any day. A game where you fall into a pool
sludge, crawl out half-drowned and poisoned, and blast a zombie with a
doesn't interest me much if the _only_ thing you can do at that point in
the game is
fall into a pool of toxic sludge, crawl out, and blast the zombie. Action
interest me if there's nothing else to it. And no, an "adventure" that
of running around and killing things doth not an interesting story make.
> Maybe I'm just starting a war about what subgenre gets the coveted title
> adventure, something which is common in CRPG discussions.
Hm. I don't see why that's important. Historically, the text adventure
strongest claim to the name, but I don't see that what you call them is
important issue. The problem is that you're now starting to apply it to
completely different from what it originally referred to, which may cause
> Of course there will be puzzles, but 'reality'-based
Well of course! If that's all that's bothering you, no problem! Of course
should be "reality-based", and that's just as true of other genres as it is
first-person shooters like Half Life. (Which, incidentally, has some very
un-reality-based puzzles too. Why would anyone ever design a reactor like
one in Half Life? You know, with all the rotating rings and platforms that
and down and multiple layers? Must be impossible to service!) Even in
adventures, hunting endlessly for red keys is largely a thing of the past -
least a thing of the lesser games that nobody pays much attention to.
Okay, I'm done now.
----- Jason F. Finx
P.S. Hm... just realized that for some reason I can't access the comp.games
groups, so this message isn't even going to be seen by the person it's
as a reply to. Well, now that I've written all this, I might as well send
No, no. *Because* of Hollywood productions, some of these games have been just
BAD BAD BAD. With the current crop of "hobbyist" games, a single author has
complete control over the production. With a Hollywood production, sacrifices
are made in the name of mass-market appeal. Some great games have resulted
despite being designed by commitee, but a single designer almost always has the
edge. I'm always more excited to hear about a new game by Andrew Plotkin or
Adam Cadre (or even Rybread Celsius) than I am to hear about a new game by
LucasArts, even though LucasArts has an excellent track record.
The games being produced by the rec.arts.int-fiction crowd are mostly text,
BTW, but a few have graphics as well - Kent Tessman's _Guilty Bastards_ is a
Gateway-style text-and-graphics adventure, for instance, and Stephen Granade's
_Arrival_ uses graphics and sound effects to illustnrate key scenes. I should
mention that I haven't played _Guilty Bastards_, mostly because the Linux port
doesn't do graphics: I'm saving it till I can get Dosemu to work, in order to
get the whole effect.)
>I would hope that adventures in the style of Myst or Grim Fandango
>(cgi, not live acting) would be the choice for most hobbyist game
>producers. I do feel, though, that without professional artists doing
>the work, we'll see a severe plunge in quality, at least as far as
>the visuals are concerned.
Oh, I see what you're saying. Yes, I think CGI will definitely be a better
choice. _Arrival_ used plasticine models and tin plates to create B-movie
visuals - but that was appropriate because it was a B-movie parody. Kent,
is _Guilty Bastards_ CGI?
Lack of "professional" artists isn't really a concern, any more than a lack
of "professional" writers. There are some great "amateur" artists who can
be tapped. At the moment, though, there are more writers (who mostly, I'd
imagine, don't have any artistic talent - but maybe that's just me) than
artists making these games, which is why text adventures are so popular:
most of us just can't draw, and create in the medium we're most comfortable
Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. _Bad Machine_ and _Photopia_ would be
completely different games if they had graphics. _Bad Machine_ would work
well, I think, but I can't see _Photopia_ as anything but a text game. And
you would need a *damned* good artist to illustrate any of Andrew Plotkin's
games and match the power of the text.
>Personally, while I do believe that the Adventure genre is in a major
>slump, like the RPG genre has been until just very recently, I believe
The resurgence of RPG's is a good sign that we shouldn't give up hope.
>a look for anyone who likes Sierra games. Sierra is not through with
>the Adventure genre though -- they do have in the works another
>Gabriel Knight game coming, and several others.
I was overjoyed to see this. Also keep your eye on Looking glass, who seem
to be doing exactly the type of game I want to see (System Shock II is coming
For example, in a mystery or horror game, each door is an unknown.
"What's behind... THIS door?" "Uh, a bathroom?" "Well... what's in
the BATHROOM?" "Uh, towels."
-- Steven Marsh
It is my first for any kind of computer based platform, but I have
designed RPG gaming modules for publishers. I have also been a working
illustrator for the publishing and gaming market concerns for 20 years,
so I know about gamers and games from my experience in the industry. I
have been both a developer and a player, and although I am not a huge
developer, have little or no funding, and absolutely no experience
programming, I have managed to assemble a team of 28 people, to work on
a type of game that may well change the way some people think about
gaming. They are all working for one of two things: potential shares in
a company that does not exist yet, or to add the project to their
portfolio. They are for the most part, either professionals or
individuals seeking professional status in their chosen fields. The
fields I have people in currently include music and sound, computer
programming, web-site construction, 3D graphics, and writing.
I have played all of the games like Myst and Riven, and I have played
all the games like Quake and Duke Nukem. I personally do not like games
that I have to look down on, so I do not like games like Warcraft.
It seems to me that what eventually destroys any game's functionality as
amusement is that it cannot change from day to day. People who play
games of any kind want to be amused for however long they can get away
with, and in many cases, games have no replay value as a result of their
being like a closed room - it has built in limitations. Whether it is a
puzzle like the Myst Genre, or a First Person Shooter, like Quake makes
no difference, because eventually, you will run out of options.
A game must continually change in order to continually amuse, and most
games available today cannot change much because they are crippled from
the start by their original defining parameters. Quake and all other
first person shooters are really no more than Wolfenstein 3D, but for
the graphics and the higher complexity of the story line.
Riven is just a hard puzzle filled with pretty pictures. At its most
basic level, it is simply a well designed maze.
Whether a game is linear or non linear makes little difference, because
without the built in ability to grow and change with a player, a game is
destined to death at some point through sheer lack of continuing changes
that keep a player interested. How many times can you find a secret
door? How many times is it amusing to kill the same boss over and over?
The closest any game has come to continuing change, is in an online
mulitplayer version of any given shooter, or in a role playing MUD,
consisting primarily of text and a few pictures to look at outside of
the room you play in. In both cases, the change variables are introduced
by players, not designers. You never know what another player might do
or introduce into the equation.
The problem with MUDs, MOOs, and text driven RPG's, (IMHO), is that they
bore to tears with their text filled screens. However, a lot of people
log into these stupid things everyday, because they know it will be
different than yesterday.
The problem I find in multiplayer shooters is one of repetition. Same
things over and over... But those things might do something different
because a diferent player might get into it. I believe this explains the
popularity of this genre.
In order to come up with a completely new idea, you must either get out
of the box you are in, or never have been there in the first place. I
have never been in the computer game design box in my life, so forgive
what might sound to you to be simplistic... I am only an artist and a
Take for instance, Wizard's of the Coast... In 1990, they were 4 guys
playing a new card game at science fiction conventions. By 1993, they
were all millionaires, and by 1997 (or 1998), they bought TSR - without
a doubt, the biggest gaming company in the open market... When they
created their game Magic: The Gathering, it shook the entire gaming
industry because it was totally unexpected. It was also a total
renovation of thinking... Nobody was making card games - then everybody
The key to Magic is that it is never the same, even when you play the
same cards over an over, because there is no linearity or order to what
you must do to play in the first place. The random element of change is
always there. It was also easy to pack around... and you no longer
needed 4 books and a hand full of dice and paper to play... and it was
very nice to look at...
The key to a successful computer based game will also nclude all of
these elements: continuing change; random variability based on player
input; accessibility to everything required to play the game, (Note that
Riven may not have sold as well as it could have because of it's then
rather stiff system requirements?); and lastly, it will be very nice to
look at... the eye candy forces "a suspension of disbelief", and in
order to amuse, it must seem real.
Adventure games are not dead, they simply need to be upgraded...
Ray Williams/Village Idiot Aartworks/The Amethyste Project
>> Adventures need puzzles like CRPGs need INT and WIS stats. They are
>> relics of the early days of computing. Half Life is a true adventure
>> - much more so than (say) Day of the Tentacle or Zork.
>Ack. Hm. I'm trying to think of exactly how to reply to this. I think
>one of the
>first things to establish is what we mean by "adventure game". Now, Half
>may be a good game, but it's definitely not an "adventure game" in the
>sense of the word - and "Day of the Tentacle" and "Zork" are. Now, if you
>that "Half Life" has more "adventure" in the action sense, well, sure. But
>what makes an adventure game?
Zork was a first attempt at what one would call an adventure - at least being
lost in a cave is presumably exciting. Back in those days, there was no
division between adventure and CRPG - the guys who did Rogue called it an
adventure, and opened up one way in which PCs could create non-linearity and
replayability. But I don't think anyone can deny that the focus of 'adventure
games' then switched into lateral thinking, absurd puzzles, and (very poor)
humour. Linearity was part of it too, but in a bad way. As I posted before,
it's okay to have one solution, like puzzles in Half Life do, so long as it is
clearly more valid than any other solution - but the traditional adventure did
not usually achieve this.
Have text adventures got better - I don't really know - do you recommend a
good modern one that will run on a Windows machine? Very likely this genre
has something to bring to the party too, when we create for the first time
proper computer-moderated adventure games.
'Graphic' adventures took off from where text adventures were 10 years ago.
To my mind they are a peculiarly abominable genre, but they do have a degree
of popularity which I suppose can be said to validate any game. But they took
all the flaws of text adventures at that time, and added more - instead of
OK - You slip and fall off the cliff. You are dead. Reload?
>You are in the middle of a field.
>USE SANDPAPER ON SOLES
>QUIT, I NEVER WANT TO DO THIS STUFF AGAIN
OK - The time outside is 1988.
..you had to spend 5 minutes walking through three screens. This was a big
contributor to the 'reload' culture that blights games and game design now,
particularly the 'adventurous(TM)' genres (Adventure, CRPG, FPS).
One does expect to pass a door saying 'Safety Officer - Homer J. Simpson'!
I've worked in plants that were pretty bad but they never quite achieved the
risk factors in Black Mesa...
> Even in
>adventures, hunting endlessly for red keys is largely a thing of the past -
>least a thing of the lesser games that nobody pays much attention to.
>Okay, I'm done now.
> ----- Jason F. Finx
>P.S. Hm... just realized that for some reason I can't access the comp.games
>groups, so this message isn't even going to be seen by the person it's
>as a reply to. Well, now that I've written all this, I might as well send
Your outward access seems okay - I'm reading this on c.g.d.d. I'll email it
too just in case.
The algorithmic implementation of course had to be done by the
programmer in each special case, which is why I just suggested methods.
For example, time doesn't necessarily have to be taken as critical,
since you might just have left the game without seeing a need to pause.
Or you played the demo of the first stage and now know exactly what to
do. When it comes to trying out things for fun, even if you already
guessed the right solutions, there'd be two solutions I can think of.
Make an obvious time critical first stage, where the passing of time is
visible (an airplane is on fire and the pilot has a heart attack) and
the actual danger obvious (the player complaining about how to safe the
passengers). Like, the player reacts on trials not part of the solution
with the remark that it's not the time for this and he feels less and
less competent to successfully handle this situation.
The other solution is to regard 'fun' trials worthy of scoring points,
as opposed to doing the same wrong things over and over. I still think
in any case an advanced player will be faster then an inexperienced one
in finding a solution, and if there's only two skill options available
the actual outcome doesn't have to be analyzed perfectly.
I don't say this skill adapting system would always be perfect; the
alternative of no skill system at all is ok too, but I think it's more
then worthwhile to try this instead of letting the user choose. In many
cases it feels like the designers are unsure if what they came up with
is too complicated for most, so they ask the user, who didn't pay for
designing, but playing the game, and if whatever he answers doesn't seem
to work out, blame it on the user for choosing the wrong option. For
example looking back on the LucasArts adventures I played, if all had an
difficulty option, for some I would've chosen easy, for some hard. If
I'm now buying a new LucasArts game and they ask me about my skills, all
I could do is ask back: Well, is the medium setting going to be like Zak
McKracken, then make it easy, or is it gonna be like Curse of Monkey
Island, then make it hard... so even in the ideal setting of games from
the same company presented to a player who knows them, there's
absolutely no way to figure out if it's your skill before getting into
the game by playing it.
I'm all in agreement with that, of course.
> >As more and more people get wired, more and more talent is available
> >on-line. And with technology advancing so rapidly, production of a
> >commercial-quality game becomes feasible for ambitious hobbyists.
Knight37 (knig...@flash.SPAMBLOCKA.net) wrote:
> Ghadz, I hope that the venerable "Adventure" genre is not fated to
> this dismal fate. Even with Hollywood productions, some of these games
> have been just BAD BAD BAD. Without that, I can't imagine how aweful
> most of them would be.
Most *writing* is bad. Ask any book editor about the "slush pile". Look at
fan-fiction on the Net.
Nonetheless, great first novels get written. We're interested in the good
> I would hope that adventures in the style of Myst or Grim Fandango
> (cgi, not live acting) would be the choice for most hobbyist game
> producers. I do feel, though, that without professional artists doing
> the work, we'll see a severe plunge in quality, at least as far as
> the visuals are concerned.
Again, you're looking at the average. For that matter -- professional
artists, like professional writers, are all people who got started as
A giant industry machine -- whether Hollywood or the commercial game
industry -- just is not optimized to produce good work. It's optimized to
make back its investment with minimum risk. When a good movie comes out,
frankly, it's because someone has enough clout to fight the system, or is
a small enough fish to not warrant much attention.
Whereas independent films, and even student films, are all over the map --
some awful stuff -- but are usually far more *interesting*.
BTW, I agree with Sean Howard that "Is Adventure Dead?" is a pointless
question. Fortunately, we've drifted way off that subject in this thread.
"And Aholibamah bare Jeush, and Jaalam, and Korah: these were the
> It seems to me that what eventually destroys any game's functionality as
> amusement is that it cannot change from day to day. People who play
> games of any kind want to be amused for however long they can get away
> with, and in many cases, games have no replay value as a result of their
> being like a closed room - it has built in limitations.
You have to allow that there are different sorts of players here. I'm the
sort that would rather play through a long scenario and then get to the
end and stop, rather than doing the same kind of thing over and over (as
in, say, SimCity.)
I also re-read books. And I *know* those are going to be the same each
time I read them.
> Riven is just a hard puzzle filled with pretty pictures. At its most
> basic level, it is simply a well designed maze.
At its most basic level, _The Sorceress and the Cygnet_ is some paper that
says "Once upon a time, some stuff happened." That's not why I love it.
I realize that you're working towards a different model of game. I've
considered that sort of thing too. It's different. I don't have the
resources to pursue it right now, and I'm glad someone else does.
*However*, please don't declare this horse dead while I'm still sitting on
it. It might get distracted and put one leg down a gopher hole. :)
I've recommended Robert McKee's classic book "Story" before. It's not
aimed at game designers, but you can learn an *immense* amount from it.
A little Joseph Campbell wouldn't hurt either. Patrick O'Brian too, but
mainly for deep technique background -- and general enjoyment. :-)
Perhaps Lee, the problem with most current puzzles-as-obstacles is that
they fall into the same trap as songs in early musicals -- suddenly some
of the characters break into song while everyone stands around and
watches them, and yet the song doesn't propel the story forward.
Consider for example a puzzle like the pipe organ in the spaceship in
Myst. Why a pipe organ? Why a space ship? Why that particular puzzle
in that particular place? These elements and their juxtaposition should
inform us about the world (beyond, "hey, coooool") and the story that's
unfolding. Was someone trying to escape? Did they create a musical
lock because another character was tone deaf? Did the ship itself run
on steam like the organ? There are lots of questions that you can ask
that in the vast majority of games today lead absolutely nowhere. Loose
ends like this are frustrating to us as story-consumers. As
story-producers, we should be conscious of and design in elements that
tell the story of the world and the characters without having to rely
exclusively on cut-scenes and tedious narrative.
Well, for me at least, the whole point of text adventures is that the
power of descriptive text is so much greater than any picture by even
the most talented artist. The description can do more than present you
with a picture, it can tell you how you respond to it emotionally too.
For instance, you can describe a scene as being so awe-inspiringly
beautiful that it takes your breath away, or so darkly foreboding that
you feel uneasy tiptoeing through it, but presenting someone with a
static picture kills the effect of the textual description.
> And you would need a *damned* good artist to illustrate any of
> Andrew Plotkin's games and match the power of the text.
I totally agree, and that just supports my point.
Long live text adventures!
James Taylor <james(at)oakseed.demon.co.uk>
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