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What are the key elements to a KQ game?

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 463 users

What makes a KQ game a KQ game for you?
What are the vital "ingredients"? What is needed to get the proper atmosphere of KQ?

Let's try to define KQ as objectively speaking as possible. What are vital elements of the story? The subplots? The characters? The gameplay? The experience in total? The musical cues/style?

What are some KQ "Rules" in your opinions? Like rules that a KQ game shouldn't go outside of, or neglect in order to be a "real" KQ game.

For example, some consider non-violence (except with the main villain or sub-villain) a key part of KQ, which is why KQ8 is considered by many to be not a "true" KQ. For other's it's a must that a member of the Royal Family be involved.

What is KQ to you, in esssence?

19 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • The story isn't very vital to King's Quest at all. Anything beyond "a land in peril, and you're the hero who saves all" is deeper than anything KQ has ever done. I mean, it's gotta have something interesting as a premise, conflict, and a goal to grab you, but anything with any deep plots or twists is going overboard. KQ was never about in-depth storytelling to me. It always seemed to promote a great gaming experience above all else.

    Beyond that, just what's been repeated countless times before: deaths, play as a member of the royal family (preferably Graham), (very) challenging puzzles, interactivity with pretty much everything you see in multiple ways (look, use, talk), inventory item combination (like Monkey Island), and not so many conversational puzzles or much conversation at all (besides narrator dialogue). King's Quest wasn't very talky...certainly not in a puzzle sort of way. There were never any conversation options in any of the KQ games as far as I can remember (besides the AGDI remakes). But hey, anything to make the game a little more challenging. Also, a large countryside area to explore is paramount. Hopefully this can be done effectively in episodic format.

    There should be characters (and animals?) for you to help along your journey. It gives the feeling of making good karma for yourself and blessing your immensely perilous journey...sometimes in KQ this does in fact help you in the future. Like helping the eagle in the snowy mountains in KQ5 (he later rescues you from an impossible to escape situation). Another thing is multiple solutions to a puzzle. Some that help you less. Some that are more moral routes of thinking and give you a higher score in the end, which brings me to another thing: score. If the classic "0 / 140" score style is too "hardcore" maybe something like Conquests of Camelot would suit things better. Having a certain rating of different character actions by the end of the game. How ethical you were and so on.

    But at the end of the day just give us stuff to DO and not just make us sit around in the same 3 screens talking and have all the puzzles handed to us without a fight. King's Quest was hands-on, get your feet wet and your hands dirty adventure kind of work! A lot of (inter)action, doing things, exploring, and puzzle-solving. Which is why a large exploratory world is so important.

    My thoughts.

  • [LIST]
    [*]Deaths
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Compelling story involving the royal family
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Multi-icon interface
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Narrator
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Large world to explore
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Evil wizard/witch to defeat
    [/LIST]
    [LIST]
    [*]Large number of cosmetic objects to comment on, not everything has to be pertinent to the story
    [/LIST]

  • What MusicallyInspired said. I'd especially emphasize the "large countryside area to explore". I liked that much of the time, the environment in King's Quest was continuous. You signed on for a whole journey. Sure there were bird-powered trips and magic carpet rides and magic maps. But very seldom were you taken from one place to some other entirely different place via a cut-scene.

    @caeska said:
    [LIST]
    [*]Large number of cosmetic objects to comment on, not everything has to be pertinent to the story
    [/LIST]

    I think this point about interactions that don't directly advance the story is too often phrased awkwardly. It's not about interaction for interaction's sake; it's not just cosmetic. The feedback you get from such interactions should contribute to the atmosphere of the game-world. Moreover, they should be incorporated into puzzle design. Something said in a description of one hotspot can provide a subtle, even necessary clue to a puzzle elsewhere. You need a great deal of this descriptive material so that the clues don't stand out like sore thumbs. The further spread out the puzzles and the information needed to solve them -- the more deeply they're embedded in the game-world -- the more satisfying it is to progress in the game. It's like this has become a lost art, replaced by Hints features. (The recent trend toward making Hints features part of the entertainment of a game absolutely sickens me, but that's beyond the scope of this thread.)

  • I always felt a lot of King's Quest was 'ground up', in the same sense that a Metroid Prime game was. Information about the world you inhabited was constructed on a lot of observation rather than a lengthy block of lore or exposition.

  • When I said "... a great deal of this descriptive material..." I wasn't implying that individual lines of dialog should be lengthy; in fact, they shouldn't be. I was referring to the number of lines, which was huge in the KQ games, at least the later ones.

    In a quick glance, I found 9 different (all short) lines of dialog using the "eye", and 5 unique responses for "hand", in the very first screen alone of KQ5 -- a screen on which there is nothing you're required to do. There are at least 10 different lines of dialog for "eye" on the first screen of KQ6, all of which give unique responses when clicked with "hand". Now multiply that by the number of screens and factor in inventory items. A huge number, all enriching the game-world, supporting the story, and fueling our ideas for further exploration. You need the character's or narrator's eyes and not just your own observation to tell you that the weird thing is Crispin's whatchamacallit and about the undertow on the beach.

    I suppose the modern, cinematic way to start KQ6 would be a cut-scene emphasizing the relevant information in lieu of all that bothersome interactivity: your ship's fucked up, the ocean has an undertow and, by the way, there's a plank you need to look under. :eek:

  • @thom-22 said:

    In a quick glance, I found 9 different (all short) lines of dialog using the "eye", and 5 unique responses for "hand", in the very first screen alone of KQ5 -- a screen on which there is nothing you're required to do. There are at least 10 different lines of dialog for "eye" on the first screen of KQ6, all of which give unique responses when clicked with "hand". Now multiply that by the number of screens and factor in inventory items. A huge number, all enriching the game-world, supporting the story, and fueling our ideas for further exploration. You need the character's or narrator's eyes and not just your own observation to tell you that the weird thing is Crispin's whatchamacallit and about the undertow on the beach.

    Don't forget that the talk icon also has a unique response for almost all those objects again. For example, if you try to talk to the rock, the narrator says "The rock remains silent, as it has been for ages past".
    That's the kind off thing that really enriches a game, and I also agree with you in that the narrator is needed to provide vital information, like the undertow, the deadly spiders and all those poisonous snakes.

  • @caeska said: Don't forget that the talk icon also has a unique response for almost all those objects again.

    Not in KQ5 on that first screen, except with Cedric. And then I forgot to try "talk" when I looked at KQ6 yesterday. But, yeah, definitely. I like having "talk" separate, because sometimes (or always, actually) you want to "eye" somebody before talking to them. And there have been occasions -- not necessarily in KQ; I can't recall the specific instances -- where using "hand" (or something like "push"/"pull" in Lucasarts' nomenclature) on a character is needed to solve a puzzle. Added complexity. :)

  • If there was ever a time for Tell Tale Games to leave the episodic model, I think now is the time. I'd much rather have one giant world to explore than four or five smaller ones.

    That being said, we have seen episodic King's Quests before. KQ7 is the most blatant about it, but King's Quests 4 and 5 could be broken into episodic elements with very little impact to the game itself. AGDI's version of King's Quest 2 is fairly episodic as well.

    So I'd be okay with something similar to KQ4 or KQ2: Redux. Give us a giant land to explore that all the episodes take place in, with each game taking place later in the day, causing the world to change in subtle ways, and a different goal for each episode.

  • Actually even KQ2, KQ3 and KQ6 can be divided into chapters.

    KQ2 is fairly obvious, three splits at the magic door, with the search for the three keys, and then the travel to the enchanted realm.

    KQ3 has several linear 'chapter-like' sections, Llewdor, the pirate ship, the beach and mountains, and finally Daventry and Cloud Land.

    KQ6 had hidden chapter triggers (as the developers described it), certain actions opened up new areas in the game locked out others. The earliest for example is obtaining the magic map, triggers the nightingale and partial access to the islands. These 'chapters' are seamless so the player's don't realize they unlocked the next portion of the game.

    Even KQ8 is more or less chapter based with it's linear progression. There are only a couple of puzzles/side quests that require back tracking!

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