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Item Use in Adventure Games... (poll... ish...)

posted by Ashton on - last edited - Viewed by 269 users

This is something that I've been thinking about lately. When your playing an adventure game, would you rather the game have, say 20 items in it, all of which are requried for completion. Or would you rather it have 50-100 items in it, of which only 20 are required and hte others are just red herrings or used to unlock extra jokes, plot bits, etc.

Also Should items be destroyable (before tehy're required) and/or destroyed in their use --- even if you use the wrong item. Or should they only dissapear after their purpose. I.e. Should it be possible to get the game into an unwinnable state?

17 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • My preference is to have an item destroyed once it's been used, not before it's been used, and retaining it after it's been used would only confuse the player. That doesn't mean that you can't keep an item for a long time (like Guybrush's wedding ring).

    The only useful/fun items that a player might have in their inventory, but can't be used to solve puzzles (that I can think of) are diaries (to remember things), mini-games (for fun), or random things for frivolous side quests (not sure if this one has been incorporated in an adventure game before). Other than that, I don't think I'd want to have a lot of extra junk in my pockets.

  • I think adventure games are better if you can't lose them.
    I mean, it's hard enough (at times) wondering what to do next, I don't think we need the option of "you're actually stuck because you did something wrong 2 hours ago, but you'll have to try all your items and check the walkthrough before you realise that".

    I'm okay with a few red herring items, as long as:

    - you don't HAVE to pick them up, you might just miss them
    - there aren't more red herrings than items that get used
    - if you pick up all items, you get something. Like a "100% complete" thing. So that the items are actually worth picking up.

    I tend to get a bit confused by items just disappearing after I use them. I prefer if there is a sentence explaining it. Like "I don't need this anymore" of "wow, how weird, that thing just vanished".

    Items that disappear without being used shouldn't be necessary (see my first point).

  • @avistew said:
    I tend to get a bit confused by items just disappearing after I use them. I prefer if there is a sentence explaining it. Like "I don't need this anymore" of "wow, how weird, that thing just vanished".


    It doesn't even have to be an elaborate explanation. For example, in Machinarium, after you've used the umbrella, the wind simply blows it away.

  • I think it would be much better if games followed the 'Zack and Wiki' style of play, which is to have a small number of items that you re-use for different situations. So, say you get a crowbar - you don't just use it to crack open one specific door, you also use it to grab a bunch of keys through a grate or to weigh down a pressure pad or something. That, to me, makes much more sense then having a hundred different items, each with one and precisely one purpose.

    The fewer items, the better, I find.

  • Good point. ToMI implemented this somewhat with the hook, even though the "unlock" function the hook was a little overused.

  • I think that as often happens the truth is in the half: `less items the better' is exaggerate and makes the game too easy; on the other hand hundred of items you do not need anymore in the pockets are plain confusing.

    About the hook I personally liked it: every time I saw a lock I said `There is no lock I cannot open!'

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    puzzlebox Telltale Staff

    @ezzetabi said:
    About the hook I personally liked it: every time I saw a lock I said `There is no lock I cannot open!'

    The brilliant thing is that it didn't work on the very final lock (the "drinks cabinet" on LeChuck's ship). :D

    I prefer only having items that will be of some use in the course of the game. The exception is where a puzzle has multiple solutions, and you can use several different item combinations in order to solve it - in those cases it's fine to have "leftovers". That kind of puzzle is very cool.

    I rather like the Monkey Island method of clearing inventory, where you lose a bunch of items in the transition between one chapter and the next.

    Adventure games have probably evolved beyond the point where messing up early in the game can make it impossible to finish later - it's massively frustrating for the player to get to that point. I'd call it poor design these days, mainly because it discourages exploration and experimentation. I like doing silly things just to see what will happen, and don't think the player should be punished for that.

  • IMO more items than required would be nice. Messes with your head, and that's a welcome addition for an adventure game. Not too much though.

    Making the game "unwinnable" without any hint what-so-ever would be extremely poor game-design. So a big no-no from me.

    I am fine with an item dissapearing if it makes sense (a key used on a lock, a candle burned up, you get the drift). Personally I would prefer in most cases the item is kept, and may be used later in another puzzle. As mentioned, it's a little weird if items have one specific purpose in life. However, some may have no purpose anymore either, returning to the "messing with your head" territory.

  • First of all I'd like to say I prefer the `Day of the tentatle way' where you simply cannot lose.

    But I also find acceptable the death or losing if it is immediately understandable you did something wrong and the game is over.
    `Beneath a steel sky' (it is freeware now!) used this system and put you just before the wrong action afterward. Even MI does it sometime: you do something wrong and the games `rewinds' or give a silly and fun explanation like `rubbers tree bounced you up the cliff'.

  • @Ashton said: Should it be possible to get the game into an unwinnable state?

    Nah, it would make you scared to experiment which is what an adventure game is allo about, you shouldn't be penalised for it really, particularly in your inventory. I really can't stand adventure games that say kill you for innocently crossing the street, it's more understandable say when you touch...oh I don't know, a sparking live electric cable with your hands, but even then i'd still rather that you just get a bit of a "no way" recorded dialogue

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