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"Pick up", "Push", "Open" and other lost verbs

posted by Opa-Opa on - last edited - Viewed by 126 users

My native language is Portuguese, and that was a bit of an impediment for playing some games when I was a kid, but I believe Lucasarts adventure games thought me most of my English. I really can't remember when I knew it well enough to play those games, but I do remember playing them with my brother when I was 7 or 8 and he was 12 or 13 and that being very significant. Before that, all I could read was "press start button", "options", "easy", "hard", "game over", "congratulations", "thank you for playing", "the book is on the table", those kind of things. That learning is pretty understandable, and it's been several years since I realized that. Adventure games back in the day not only obligated you to read full dialogues to find out what you had to do next, but you also had to choose what you'd say and make sense with that. It also thought you to verbalize, creating full sentences for your actions ("Pick up mug", "use mug with barrel o' grog", "walk to the sun"). Later, since Sam and Max Hit the Road, I believe, with those games becoming more and more intuitive and getting rid of the HUD filled with verbs, that was lost. Nowadays you have no verbalizing of any kind, with the same kind of click doing the "look", "pick up" and "use", and that makes sense, I mean if you click a door you probably want to open it, close it or go through it, but I always felt that some richness there was lost. It also made those games a lot easier, since you have many times less possibilities for your actions.

18 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Losing the verbs made them a lot less frustrating, and not necessarily easier. Easier != bad, anyways.

  • @Kroms said: Losing the verbs made them a lot less frustrating, and not necessarily easier. Easier != bad, anyways.

    I totally agree, but maybe a good compromise was the Curse dobloon. However, I love the TellTale interface. It make the designer focus on the complexity and fantasy in gameplay, and not to the "discover the right verb" challenge. However not all the TellTale game designers in TellTale are able to use properly this simple interface as a way to build an alternative challenge with the making of various and fantasy puzzles. Grossman for example with his "Lair" did it perfectly. Darin a bit less...

  • It's actually a tiny bit of a shame we lost the verbs, perhaps not from a playing point of view but as a way for people to learn English, from what I heard the most effective way to learn a language is to form sentences with verbs (just like you do in for example the secret of monkey island). It's supposed to create a deeper understanding of the language quickly or something like that :)

  • To be honest, i was never a fan of having a huge list of verbs, But i lve having more than one. Curse struck the perfect balance. But if Tales had done a similair thing, it would double the size of the voice acting needed, which would cause further delays, bigger files, and no wiiware version (or at the very least an even more compressed version). Telltales way is more then satisfactory, and makes the games easier to pick up for series newbs. I would still like to be able to have different options for Look at, and pickup/use though (left & right click maybe, like in broken sword?)

  • I think the way it's often done now (without the verbs) is a more practical approach* but I must add that I do enjoy all those older games where you can interact using so many different verbs, just to see what the character's reaction is! It was often a good way to add a bit of extra challenge too, (not to say that adventure games are always easier without the verbs, of course). Both ways work in their own ways though.

    *By "more practical approach" I don't mean purely hiding the verbs like they did in SMI:SE - that may have looked nice on screen but was a bit tricky to get used to! (well, I thought so!)

  • I actually like the idea of the multiple verbs but this could be because I'm a fan of those incredibly old text-based adventure games. I had some trouble with the verbs when playing the old games (especially since I started with Special Edition, which didn't indicate at all that I had a list of multiple verbs and it took me forever to realize I can alternatively pick stuff up >:I) but I got used to it fast around MI2.

  • Haha, nine verbs to choose from? Amateurs.


  • >Throw baby

    EDIT: Also, I was going to mention this funny thing that happened with a text-based game named "Zork" that some friends and I loved playing. There was one point in the game we couldn't get past for a long time because we couldn't type the proper action, and it was something completely obvious. I'll just copy and paste the whole ordeal from our chat's "traditional phrases" page:

    Climb Down the Cliff Wall
    There's not much story behind this one. There's a text adventure game named Zork out there where at some point during the game you are confronted by a cliff you must climb down. Nothing seemed to work at first. "Climb down cliff", "go down cliff", "climb down"... none seemed to work. However, it turned out that the incredibly obvious answer was "Climb down the cliff wall". We all felt really stupid after that one, boy howdy.

  • i miss the verbs. or at least the variety of ways to interact, and the lack of hand-holding. AGs are just way too easy these days, TMI might be some of the easiest adventures I've ever played which is a bummer. Without all the verbs it felt like a lot was missing from the gameplay.

  • YeaH, the loss of verbs really compromised the interactivity. I mean now our option is "to click or not to click?". In TMI lots of stuff Guybrush picked up I clicked just for the sake of clicking and not because I actually wanted him to pick up... Best way would be for the default click to be "look", and if you wanted to interact of pick up you'd have to tell the game to do it. Besides I really enjoyed Guybrush's comments about other characters before actually speaking to them.

    (Off-topic: So Opa-Opa, portuguese hein? Me too :D)

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