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Should the new King's Quest game have unwinnable states?

posted by thejobloshow on - last edited - Viewed by 772 users

I'm a big advocate of death and losing in adventure games. I think if a gamer is given enough warning that what they're about to embark on involves an element of genuine danger it makes for a much more intricate engagement with the game out of sheer glorious TERROR.

The puzzles in some King's Quest games border on the masochistic and I would feel disappointed if there wasn't some attempt to beef up the difficulty in order to genuinely reflect what this series was all about. You were adventuring in strange new worlds where fairy tale and horror had come to life - sometimes the best approach to make sense of this crazy world was to take a stab in the dark. You better grab that item right now or else you might never see it again! Maybe if I write this guy's name backwards i can pass this area. Things like that.

Dead ends are considered the worst possible thing you could do in an adventure game. It was part of the LucasArts manifesto to go against this design flaw, which brought about a flurry of genre defining adventure games that lasted up until Grim Fandango. However, that was never King's Quest's concern. In fact, when they removed unwinnable states in King's Quest VII the game was lambasted by fans for being TOO EASY!

So, why not bring back the dead end? Some of the most popular adventure games today have refined what it means to have an unwinnable state such as Ace Attorney and Ghost Trick. Surely there's a way to reconcile delicious punishment in a modern era of adventuring without throwing away the whole thing!

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  • @Sleeq said: Death wouldn't be shunned if it wasn't for moon logic puzzles and unwinnable states. It's no longer fun, just frustrating.

    No one said that games should be easy and only hold your hand. We as lovers of adventure games and other types such as RPG's etc don't want to have everything handed to us. But it does not justify ruining your whole game because you didn't have that one item.



    I recently replayed first King's Quest and Space Quest games. Sure there are some unwinnable situations, but most are relatively easy to avoid if you explore the locations carefully. And even if you have to restart, so what? Those games aren't long and if you know what you're doing you can play those from start to finish in hour or two. You spend at least the same time in replaying one mission of modern shoot em up game, because you accidentally saved over your only save just before sniper's shot kills you.

  • All I'm saying is, having multiple unwinnable states in one game (sometimes to the point they are parodied such as KQV) isn't something to strive for.

    Hence why I brought up the Demon's/Dark Souls concept.

  • So what you're saying is, unwinnable states makes deaths not fun? So what is your opinion on deaths without unwinnable states?

  • Death scenes? Yes. The comedic way they were handled in the King's Quest series is a small part of the series' charm and would indeed seem lacking if they were not possible in the new game.

    Dead ends? No way. Most dead ends ocurred when a player followed a path that altered from the one intended by the designer. This often meant that if a player decided to follow a path other than the most obvious one, because they wanted to experience every delicious morsel of the game possible prior to advancing the story, they would often end up stuck in the game with no way to continue. What's worse, the games never told the player they had just entered a dead end, so the player is forced to go back and continuosly beat their head against the wall thinking there might still be some hope of advancing if they could just figure out the solution to the puzzle. A puzzle that didn't even exist. This can reduce an adventure game to a methodical labor of clicking every item on every object in every screen sequentially until you hopefully hit the sweet spot. Only with a dead end, you would exhaust that process and still be stuck. What is the point in punishing the player by causing them that level of frustration, uncertainty and wasted time. Dead ends are bad in gaming in general. Their level of bad is compounded exponentially in adventure games.

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    Darth Marsden Moderator

    @MusicallyInspired said: So what you're saying is, unwinnable states makes deaths not fun? So what is your opinion on deaths without unwinnable states?

    Deaths are fine in adventure games so long as they don't come from nowhere and there's either a checkpoint or enough forewarning to let players save their game beforehand. If not, that could mean restarting the entire game, which would be a massive no-no.

  • If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.



    I agree with this. Why should adventure game have checkpoints (I don't oppose those, but I just don't think those are necessary, because good player saves often). But I admit that while I play many games in "ironman mode" it doesn't serve much purpose in adventure game unless there are dead ends, because you'll just end up doing the same things again. If we could get rid of that, then I think that a great adventure game could have dead ends, but it also should offer alternative solutions, so you could still save the situation if you didn't pick some object in first scene. But the alternative solution should be more difficult to achieve (and you still could miss it) and you would also miss the chance to get perfect score.

  • The first couple King's Quests come to mind, where there were alternate puzzles for almost anything if you forgot to pick up or do something. However, if you didn't have the alternate inventory items you would still be stuck. Also, the alternate solutions were not favourable and would not grant as many points, and in some cases, cost you some.

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    Darth Marsden Moderator

    @MusicallyInspired said: If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.

    Have you ever had to start a game over because you died? It's not a nice experience. EVER. Especially if you happened to bear near the end of the game. As I was. TWICE.

    The checkpoints can be as far back as you like. Hell, you could even replace them with autosaves made every half an hour or so. But if you're going to punish players just because they didn't have the frame of mind to physically save the game in case they happened to die, then you're still punishing players. That's never cool.

    Yes - checkpoints can remove tension, and they can make certain sections repetitive. But if that's the price I have to pay to avoid starting over or having to lose an hour's worth of progress, then I'm more than happy to pay it.

  • No, it's not a nice experience. But it is absolutely INTEGRAL to the overall enjoyment of a game. Punishing players is WHAT GAMES ARE ALL ABOUT. You have to overcome these obstacles! Overcome what the game throws at you! Against all odds! I hate games that hand themselves over to you on a silver platter. "Oh you died? Well, that's ok. You can still beat me. Here, I'll even give you infinite retries." What's the point in deaths if that's what you get for them?? I mean, what obstacles are even left in games now? They've taken out death and failure, the number one obstacle in any game. Even FPS games are really easy now. No challenge. Just try try again. I don't know about you, but I don't want my challenge in a game to be simply how fast I can run through it, because it's so easy. Or to just be repeating a frustrating and annoying sequence over and over again with no penalties whatsoever. It completely removes the suspense, the edge, and even the immersion.

    It's the same failure in understanding game design that led to Jurassic Park's removing of walking around between scenes because "it's annoying to take the time to walk from place to place when you can just go there with a click". Well, golly gee why don't we just remove all interactiveness in a game then? It's annoying to take the time to actually play through the game, let's just get to the ending and see how it all turns out! You're not really playing the game anymore anyway. You're watching it. And that's all games are becoming now. Cinematic. Gameplay-less. And then after you fail a number of times it starts making things easier for you to make sure you beat it like hints, or dynamic game difficulties, etc. They make you feel at first like you're an amazing gamer and you solved/beat it, but really all you did was follow the signs and follow them down the brightly lit and completely safe path, instead of finding your own way through the dark woods with dangers everywhere, so to speak. Some games even offer you the option of skipping the section if you fail too many times!! It's insane!!

    Are games progressing? No, they're devolving and getting more and more dumbed down to appeal to the LCD, resulting in gaming trash. That's why I appreciate games like Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac for pulling no punches and slamming you right in the face with its difficulty. Sure it can make you livid sometimes, but then after you beat it that feeling of satisfaction is like nothing else. Sierra games were the same way, until they added retries.

    I'm sorry, if the price means losing my enjoyment of my game, then I refuse to pay it.

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