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Three major problems with graphic adventure games, and possible solutions.

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 900 users

Since most people seemed to ignore my rather lengthy reply, I thought I'd cut to the more interesting half of my post, and make it a discussion unto itself.

There are three major problems with graphic adventure games.

1. Uneven puzzle design. Even the best of them can get tricky. Grim Fandango threw some real curve-balls at me, as did The Longest Journey, Syberia, Day of the Tentacle.... they were all plagued by certain puzzles that were just bad ideas.

It's been said that a writer should assume nothing about what their audience knows, but to assume the audience has some intelligence. The same principle applies to graphic adventure games. Do not assume your player immediately understands what something does, the context of a situation or that they know what's happening. This doesn't mean you have to tell them outright; if you want, feel free to puzzle it out. However, you better be sure that every single person, with some thought, will be able to understand what an item does or what a person wants.

My single biggest pet peeve is to attempt to solve a puzzle multiple ways, fail, then check a walk-through only to find out that I had attempted something similar. Grim Fandango had this puzzle where you had to pop a balloon in front of these birds, but if you tried simply using the balloon, you failed. This ruled out, in my mind, the possibility of the balloon being at the heart of the solution, even though it was. It's possible to allow this sort of thing to happen, as long as it's implied that you're on the right track, and should be doing something similar.

Getting stuck will happen even if you design intelligently. Some people just won't get the puzzle. For them, provide an out. Make at least one more puzzle solution that will get them to the same place. One of the things I like about graphic adventure games, actually, is that there is only one solution. That said, I don't like it so much when I'm stuck, and I have no idea what to do. Have an alternative puzzle or two that will show up when the player gets stuck.

2. Graphic adventure games are so alive... until you get stuck. How many times have I been punished for not knowing what to do next? New areas stop popping up. Dialogue options are exhausted. Every item in your inventory seems to be entirely useless. This has to stop. You can do all you want to help the player get through the puzzles, but at some point, they're going to get stuck anyway. Might as well give them something to do in the meantime.

When the game stops moving forward, get it moving sideways. Open up new dialogue options, create little cut-scenes, allow the player to go on a vacation of sorts from the real game, and visit some sort of eccentric and fascinating location totally aside from the story. Needless to say, none of this should be important to the main game, but it will at least keep the main game a game, rather than a puzzle come to an absolute standstill.

Misery loves company. If I'm frustrated, I want my main character to be frustrated too. It makes sense; after all, he's the one who can't move forward until he figures things out. If anything, the main character should be more frustrated than the player. There should be dialogue options opening up whenever the player is stuck that reflect that. In fact, this is a good place to integrate hints for a solution (though that won't work for every game).

Integrating character into solution is a good idea. I don't get the sense that graphic adventure designers ever ask themselves, “when this character reaches an impasse, what would he/she do?â€. It's a good way to integrate the alternate solutions I suggested earlier. If a character is a hitman, then why wouldn't he try force? If the character is a diplomat, wouldn't she try to talk her way out of her problems? It's a good way to ease the obtuse, abstract nature of some of the puzzles without ever breaking out of the reality of the circumstances.

3. For a genre called graphic adventure, there doesn't seem to be much adventure. This one drives me crazy. There is a large element of exploration, but it's not properly handled. There seems to be a real lack of proper pacing in this area.

Most adventure games show their hand too early, giving you access to most areas quickly, then forcing you to retread them repeatedly. Come on, the pacing has to be better than that. Open up a new area every couple puzzle solutions, consistently reward players with new areas. Not only will this better distribute the novelty of exploration, but it will better motivate players to solve puzzles. Just be careful that you don't give the player access to too many different areas. If you do, you exponentially increase the number of variables, and therefore possible puzzle solutions, making the design overwhelming. Open up new areas gradually, close off old areas gradually.

It'd also be nice to be rewarded more often for going off the beaten path. If the player tries to go someplace out of the way, or do something rather odd, try to give them some kind of reward. Some kind of gag, a pretty animation, many a new little area, just a little perk of some kind. Just don't let these things become possible puzzle solutions, or you'll unnecessarily complicate things.

As a personal aside, I'd also like to see more graphic adventure games explore time as a puzzle element. In some games, it adds an intriguing layer of depth and urgency, having to consider both what to do, and when to do it.

The graphic adventure that has true longevity is the one with terrific writing and storytelling depth. Accomplish that, and most will overlook the faults.

32 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • At the end of the day you realise that most game genres don't fit very well any more, what with the added complexity and such. For instance, RPG. Role playing. Playing the role of a hero. When you think about it, doesn't that cover most story driven games now? Final Fantasy is no different to FEAR when you think about the title of RPG. They give you a character and say, this is you. Have fun. Okay, so perhaps you mean to say games where they cast YOU as a character. Games like Gothic III or Oblivion (note how I put Gothic III before Oblivion? I really hate Oblivion) where you create your own character. There are mutiple games (the names I can't currently think of) at the moment in which you can create your own personalized character and head out and do typical FPS tasks. Then you get the various games like Deus Ex or System Shock which change the games into Acion-RPGs and you being to realise that maybe the RPG genre isn't very well defined.

    The same for pretty much every genre. There are mixing and matchings of different genres which are similar to others, hybrid genres (e.g. Action Adventures), so on and so forth. Perhaps someone should make some new, more specific genres or we should get really specific (e.g. I love my point & click, action free cartoon adventures) and then we could stop arguing about "What is an adventure game?"

  • User Avatar Image
    Anonymous

    [quote]Since most people seemed to ignore my rather lengthy reply, I thought I'd cut to the more interesting half of my post, and make it a discussion unto itself.[/quote]

    Thanks for posting! I’ve been a little backlogged with Sam & Max stuff, but I was really happy to read your thoughts. I hope to write full replies to each of your points soon, but if you subscribe to the theory that actions speak louder words, then the first episode of Sam & Max might be an even louder reply. I’m interested to hear if Sam & Max managed to evade these pitfalls any better, and where it could still use improvement.

    But for the short answer, I think you make many very good points. I've experienced all the problems you mentioned, and I too want to correct them. In Sam & Max, we didn’t choose to address the problems in quite the same ways you proposed, but we certainly worked to make the puzzle design more consistent and to maintain a pleasing pace. I hope it paid off, but if not, let us know and we'll keep working at it!

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    Anonymous

    Yep. Very good post. (on the first page).

    I feel exactly the same. As soon as that happens, I exit the game, look for another interesting game to play. Call me a game whore, but if I can't for the life of me find a viable explanation why I can't progress, I blame it on the designers for shoddy game design and start playing another game.

    I can't actually remember the last game I finished...I think it was probably GTA: VICE CITY. And that was OLD! Since then I've bought 15 games, and haven't finished one.

    I never finished Final Fantsasy VII, but MAN was there a lot to do to keep me entertained while I 'went on vacation in the game'.

  • [quote]I can't actually remember the last game I finished...I think it was probably GTA: VICE CITY. And that was OLD! Since then I've bought 15 games, and haven't finished one.

    I never finished Final Fantsasy VII, but MAN was there a lot to do to keep me entertained while I 'went on vacation in the game'.[/quote]

    I haven't finished any Final Fantasy games. I like to get halfway, leave the games for about a year then restart them. I can definitely agree with the whole "Why play if it's boring?" idea. Makes a lot of sense.

    If I'm happily playing my way through GTA:SA then get to a certain point where the only mission I can do will require CJ to swim back and forth in the harbour for 2 hours before I can even attempt it, why should I even bother playing? I have better things to be doing than holding the forward key and occasionally pressing tab to see my stamina bar has gone up by 1/16th of a centimetre.

    Or when I'm playing Dreamfall and am then made to wander in a circle into rooms, get keycards, continue to next room, etcetera for 15 minutes. In this situation I tend to quit and go for a run. Not exactly the best design.

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    Anonymous

    Sorry I haven't responded to all the replies yet, but I should be able to get to them tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime, it seems that Sam and Max disagree with me. Don't know if you can trust them though, since they expect you to start with the top-right dialogue bubble in the first panel.

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    Anonymous

    [quote]Won't making the game larger make solving the problem tougher and more confusing? - If the player knows he has say, five screens to move around in, two characters he can talk to and only a taco in his inventory, then he knows the puzzle can be solved within that space...

    If he has the option to drive/fly to multiple different destinations, then he's going to get overwhelmed by the potential options, how does he know the solution is within that area - maybe they need to get that skull in Botswana or guitar from Guantanamo Bay before the solution can be found (its gonna take a good 5-10 minutes to get the character there, and then back again when theres no potential clues) - Essentially I guess I 'm saying Adventure games are all about solving problems - You set the player up with the situation, and the tools (i.e. characters, inventory, etc) & let them take it from there?

    At the end of the day, whatever the developers add - new dialog options, mini-games, etc.. are going to get old for the player at some point and he's going to be stuck in the same situation anyway?

    The only alternative I've seen is to have serveral plotlines running concurrently, then the player can switch between between them when hes stumped with a particular puzzle and come back refreshed at the end

    e.g. In order to leave the house the character needs to solve the puzzles of 1, getting washed, 2. Making breakfast, 3. Feeding the cat, 4. Getting rid of the annoying hangover...

    Theres no set order these need to be completed in, he can do bits of the puzzel at a time

    e.g. the character has figured out how to get the tin of cat food off the top shelf, get the bowl away from the phyco cat, but need to put together a makeshift can opener in order to feed it.

    Since the player is stumped he might want to try going back to the making breakfast puzzle/quest or the getting washed and dressed thingy...

    But even then, your going to end up in a position where you've completed all the quests/storyline/puzzles, except the one for getting rid of the hangover, which you just cant find an solution to... so your back to having 5 room, two characters to talk to and a kipper in your dressing gown pocket.

    I guess what I'm saying is that solving puzzles is the point of adventure games (having a solid, fun, entertaining, engaging story is why you keep playing) - You want to be challenged by the puzzles (& as long as the solution makes sense and isn't too obscure), otherwise theres no satisfaction in solving them.

    Otherwise Adventure games developers might as well just make the whole thing an animated short (though it would be cool if you could watch the game played through as an animation after you'd completed it - just the once though, and you'd probably get bored and turn it off after the first five minutes, like with the commentary's they've started adding to some games, I tried listening to the FEAR one - I could actually feel my life draining away with each passing second - It was a lot scarier than the actual game, which just seemed to be about a little girl throwing a strop because she couldn't find her hairbrush?)[/quote]

    Is it really good puzzle design to make the player exhaust all their variables anyway? A good puzzle should require thinking and logic to complete, not trial and error. That said, I understand your concern. When the player does get stuck, they shouldn't have too many variables overwhelming them. But of the two extremes, I'd rather the player be overwhelmed by possibilities than being able to figure out a puzzle in five minutes simply by trying all fifteen possibilities. But managing variable quantity is an important part of adventure design. Cutting off areas that are of no more use would be a step in the right direction.

    I'd also like to see designers begin to use an auto-grab system where the character automatically picks up all relevant items in a particular area. It'd certainly stop the player from constantly revisiting areas in hopes of finding that magical widget that will solve all their problems.

    Adding new stuff when the player is stuck may not get them unstuck, but it would help make the game feel more entertaining.

    I'm not suggesting that the difficulty be taken away from graphic adventure games. But if the player can't figure out that he needs to disolve his pills in water to get over his hang-over, why not provide an equally difficult puzzle involving getting the water to work for a cold shower? Again, you're going to have to face a lot of puzzles throughout an adventure. But in some cases, putting giving the player two solutions to the same puzzle will increase the odds that the player can "get" one of them. Does it increase the number of variables? Certainly. Are there ways of managing the quantity of variables? Yeah, there are.

    [quote]I would actually say that you have very important points there Oilers99. Particularly in terms of puzzles. These are the sort of things which stop the adventure genre from being a mainstream genre. Particularly in terms of puzzle design.

    I personally hate puzzles which don't really seem to make sense. For instance, in Gabriel Knight 3 to make a disguise you have to put a piece of tape above a hole where it will take a small amount of fur from a cat (when it gets chased thorugh) and you get a false moustache. Even to me that makes little sense. Or Monkey Island 1 in which to get from one part of the island to the other you are forced to go find a chicken somewhere which so happens to have a pulley through the middle allowing you to hook it over the wire and get to the other side. Maybe to slightly crazy people such as myself that makes sense but nonetheless the solution involves a pixel hunt on the other side of the island. Couple "interesting" solutions such as these with having to guess precisely how the game maker wants you to do them (e.g. where they want you to place the balloon) and adventure games become an exceptionally irritating genre.

    In games like Discworld II they actually went on to complain about it in game but they still did nothing to change it. It's still continuing in modern games as well, especially in games like Syberia and Runaway where the developers apparently refuse to try and move the genre forward from the 90's. I like these games but I have to admit that I often find them frustrating.

    The first thing that needs to happen is developers need to sit down and actually think up clear and logical puzzles. No more combining shoe box with dead salmon to distract laser cannons to allow the clown into the toilets where he can open the secret safe. More allowing access to secret base by sneaking into and disabling control center so the lasers stop and having to blackmail the clown using the pictures you took of him taking cocaine so you can get the combination for the safe.

    But this leaves how people are going to attempt puzzles.

    But how to solve this? You can make it easier for people to figure out where to use what but you still don't know if they're going to do it. Obviously you cannot completely solve this. Nobody can completely account for how a total stranger is going to approach a puzzle. Whether they're going to attempt to try and push the safe out the window or try and break it open using the explosives in their inventory meant for later. I think the best idea would be to allow a slight level of open endedness. For those who do not think to throw Max into the switchboard, put a door in the back which can be opened by bargaining the key off the owners or ripping it open with a crowbar. Perhaps in these new fangled 3D games you could allow a character to make a costume and try to trick his way in or for the casual player you can allow them to try and sneak their way in, the difference being the person who goes out of his way to get the costume will find more puzzles but won't get caught by guards and be forced to restart while the casual gamer has to knock people out and avoid guards to get about. This not only allows for how people are going to attempt to solve puzzles but also adds a little more action and other genres so that people can replay and experience a slightly different game PLUS the other genres might attract people who play different genres like FPS and stealth-'em-ups.[/quote]

    You're not going to predict precisely how the player will react, but a good designer should be able to figure it out with reasonable certainty. People will use their logic. If you can put yourselves in the shoes of someone who hasn't designed the game, and anticipate how they would interpret the information you give them, then you should be able to design a game successfully. I'm not really a fan of integrating stealth or action into graphic adventure games. Adventure games are about the puzzles, and when they stop being about that, then how are they different from any other genre? It's just a matter of making smarter puzzles.

    It's not a hopeless cause. Look at how successfully Zelda implements puzzles into its design. If that kind of intelligence in puzzle design is used, albeit a different type, then I would imagine the game would ellicit relatively few complaints.

    [quote]

    Think for a second about Monkey2.
    Lots of puzzles were totally crazy and incredibly hard.
    Just to mention some, USING JOJO WITH THE PUMP, or just a simple "pick up dog". Those kind of puzzles made MI2 one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) graphic adventures.
    You could think about what to do next for days and days, and when you finally did it, you were enthusiastic.
    Maybe what you're saying is more appropriate for a game like Maniac Mansion, which didn't even give you a hint for being following the right logic. But during the next couple of years the problem's been solved, I think.[/quote]

    And Ocarina of Time is a classic because Navi repeats the same two phrases over and over.

    A game is rarely a classic because of its flaws. If Monkey Island 2 has serious design flaws (I couldn't tell you for certain, it's been too long since I've played it), then that was a detriment to the experience. I remember loving the atmosphere and writing of the game. Not sure about the puzzles. Don't remember much about them, which might be a less-than-good sign.

    Again, not knowing what you're doing for days is not a good thing. Sure, you feel good when you finally figure it out, but what about the DAYS you spend frustrated? To compensate for something that frustrating for that long, it'd have to be nothing short of pure ectasy. Never got that pumped about a puzzle solution. Frankly, those few moments of "I did it" are never worth the days you spent trying to figure it out. And you can get the same feeling whenever you cleverly arrive at a solution. Maybe less relief, but relief is merely the reprieve from suffering.

    I'm not sure why having "I KILL YOU WITH ILLOGIC, STUPID ADVENTURE PLAYER" puzzles is a good thing.

    [quote]

    Sure, but you've got your groups of adventure titles
    Arcade Adventures - Like your Tomb Raiders
    Text Adventure - Like the old Zork games
    RPG Adventure - Like Ultima, Final Fantasy (which I calss as an arcade adventure, but none the less)
    Point & Click/graphic adventure - Link Monkey Island.

    Theres nothing wrong with preferring one genre over another, While Tomb Raider style games tend to favour action over puzzles, graphic adventure tend to lean toward puzzles over action.

    For myself, I love both games, I personally find I become more immersed in a graphic adventure, since I find the storyline and character development is far more prevalent & I feel more involved with the story, which I can enjoy as it unravels - But I enjoy playing Tomb Raider games too - Just a different buzz.

    But then, being a pirate wannabe, fighting a dread ghost pirate, getting involved with voodo and save the girl of your dreams - seems like a pretty cool adventure to me :)[/quote]

    Final Fantasy games are not adventure games. They're RPGs. If you want to get more specific, they're called Japanese RPGs or Eastern RPGs. You're the first person I've heard refer to them as adventure RPGs. Same for arcade adventure. Those games are called action-adventure, and even then, they're not all that closely linked to graphic adventure titles. They both involve exploration, and some action adventure games have puzzles (though usually not the same type), but that's about it. Text adventures are dead (with the occasional exception, tributes like Thy Dungeonman from Home Star Runner, for example) and seem to have been replaced by graphic adventures. Are these necessarily logical? No. But that's the language gamers tend to use, so in order to communicate effectively with each other, those are the labels we use.

    Dunno why I felt compelled to nitpick.

    [quote]At the end of the day you realise that most game genres don't fit very well any more, what with the added complexity and such. For instance, RPG. Role playing. Playing the role of a hero. When you think about it, doesn't that cover most story driven games now? Final Fantasy is no different to FEAR when you think about the title of RPG. They give you a character and say, this is you. Have fun. Okay, so perhaps you mean to say games where they cast YOU as a character. Games like Gothic III or Oblivion (note how I put Gothic III before Oblivion? I really hate Oblivion) where you create your own character. There are mutiple games (the names I can't currently think of) at the moment in which you can create your own personalized character and head out and do typical FPS tasks. Then you get the various games like Deus Ex or System Shock which change the games into Acion-RPGs and you being to realise that maybe the RPG genre isn't very well defined.

    The same for pretty much every genre. There are mixing and matchings of different genres which are similar to others, hybrid genres (e.g. Action Adventures), so on and so forth. Perhaps someone should make some new, more specific genres or we should get really specific (e.g. I love my point & click, action free cartoon adventures) and then we could stop arguing about "What is an adventure game?"[/quote]

    Eh, sort of. There are a lot of hybrid genres emerging, but you still get a lot of games that fit pretty squarely in a genre. Also, as new genres emerge, we create new genre names for them to fit in. Fifteen years ago, did anyone have any idea what a "stealth action" game was? Exactly.

    [quote]
    Thanks for posting! I’ve been a little backlogged with Sam & Max stuff, but I was really happy to read your thoughts. I hope to write full replies to each of your points soon, but if you subscribe to the theory that actions speak louder words, then the first episode of Sam & Max might be an even louder reply. I’m interested to hear if Sam & Max managed to evade these pitfalls any better, and where it could still use improvement.

    But for the short answer, I think you make many very good points. I've experienced all the problems you mentioned, and I too want to correct them. In Sam & Max, we didn’t choose to address the problems in quite the same ways you proposed, but we certainly worked to make the puzzle design more consistent and to maintain a pleasing pace. I hope it paid off, but if not, let us know and we'll keep working at it![/quote]

    Uh, thank you for thanking me for posting! :p

    I'm definitely going to get Sam and Max. The difficult is... how? Maybe a GameTap subscription, maybe buy the game directly, maybe as a birthday gift for my brother... regardless of how I do it, I also have to get someone to use their credit card in my place. So... who knows. I think I'll do a detailed analysis of Sam and Max, see how it stands up both in terms of writing and design.

    But if you didn't try to solve the problems in the way I suggested, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The more potential solutions that are out there in the world, the more likely it is that those problems can be solved. I'll see if I can figure out what you guys are doing in the game. When? Uh, who knows.

    [quote][quote]I can't actually remember the last game I finished...I think it was probably GTA: VICE CITY. And that was OLD! Since then I've bought 15 games, and haven't finished one.

    I never finished Final Fantsasy VII, but MAN was there a lot to do to keep me entertained while I 'went on vacation in the game'.[/quote]

    I haven't finished any Final Fantasy games. I like to get halfway, leave the games for about a year then restart them. I can definitely agree with the whole "Why play if it's boring?" idea. Makes a lot of sense.

    If I'm happily playing my way through GTA:SA then get to a certain point where the only mission I can do will require CJ to swim back and forth in the harbour for 2 hours before I can even attempt it, why should I even bother playing? I have better things to be doing than holding the forward key and occasionally pressing tab to see my stamina bar has gone up by 1/16th of a centimetre.

    Or when I'm playing Dreamfall and am then made to wander in a circle into rooms, get keycards, continue to next room, etcetera for 15 minutes. In this situation I tend to quit and go for a run. Not exactly the best design.[/quote]

    It's too bad, because Dreamfall and many Final Fantasy games have very rewarding gameplay and stories that are worth seeing through to the end. The way I figure it, by the time you get to a particularly frustrating part, you should have figured out by then whether or not it's worth getting past. In a game like Final Fantasy VII, what with its poor translation and basic gameplay, the answer was a firm no. In a game like Final Fantasy VIII or Dreamfall, definitely, absolutely, totally worth working through. Get a walkthrough, get a friend to give a second opinion, but those games are worth it.

    I don't think you can really expect a designer to be perfect, especially with the quantity of content that's in a game. The designer will mess up at some point. But the mark of a good game is one that will make you want to see it through, even when you aren't liking what you're doing at the moment.

    Just consider buying the game. It's a necessary inconvenience to play the game. If there are a few necessary inconveniences within the design of an otherwise awesome game, so what?

  • Hey, hey, hey! I'm back! And with this fancy new forum I seem to have lost my old post count. :( I spent a long time building that up. Now how will people know how... talkative I am. Anyway, to business.

    How about adventure games just put in a sliding scale of Adventuring? Like Realms of the Haunting. You could select for timed puzzles and how long you wanted the timer to go for, select whterh you wanted a more ationy experience, etc. Then for puzzles you could have different levels of... "Puzzle-osity". Really easy mode would pick up most relevant items when you got near them and even give you a small selection of items to use whenever you're trying to solve a puzzle. It could even hint things if you haven't done them (Like "Hmm... I can't fix this electric current right now. I need something to hold it together. I think there might've been something important inside..." And it could give you an option of travelling directly there). It'd certainly make some puzzle situations much easier (No more pixel hunts unless you want them). But you could also change it slightly so it picks up things but doesn't give you hints or anything, by using the options menu. But maybe if you went with harder modes you could see more stuff, so you wouldn't always be tempted to just make the game super easy because you might not get to see the dance of the three heavily bearded gnomes or something.

  • I disagree with your post. My problem with most adventure games is they are almost always lacking in the Wit, The Dialogue, or the Puzzles.

    Game Designers tend to focus on the graphics and the gaming engines, but when it comes to the stuff that makes an adventure game come alive, they almost always fall short.

    [quote=oilers99]Text adventures are dead[/quote]

    Text Adventure games evolved into at least 2 other genre's, the Graphic Adventure, and the MUD. In the case of the MUD, They take a combination of RPG ruleset, D&D Plot or storyline, and combine it with the parser style of gaming to create a textual based RPG that has Text Adventure style room discriptions and parser commands with the action and strategy of Pencil and Paper D&D.

    The MUD further evolved into online games such as Ultima Online, Everquest, and the 30-40 other modern MMOG MMORPG, etc. games you see out and about today.

    However, while Adventure text games are largely Kaput (though not entirely.) MUD's still thrive all over the internet. And in fact while it took Mud's longer to make the next evolutionary step. They are now much more popular in their MMORPG skins than Adventure games are (of any type).

    I've been waiting for about 10 years to see an Adventure game evolve into a Massively Multiplayer Online Adventure Game (MMOAG for short). But it hasn't happened as of yet, and now it may never happen because the console kiddies have largely invaded the MMORPG universe and turned it into something of an (OMG U SUXXORS) fest that drove away the players who could have made an MMOAG highly successful. heh.

    Of course there are other reasons that only small companies will mess with Adventure Games these days. Mention an "adventure" game to any one of a number of big game developer executives and you'll get to see them spill their coffee and pee their pants when they think about all the red ink that will be produced by such an under-taking. It's quite a stigmata for the bigger houses to get over, so they choose instead to go the tried and true path (which also happens to be the boring path.)

    Phew.

    The future of all gaming is online though. That's a fact and it's one even the consoles are hip to (as soon as they can figure out to make a successful game with such limited controls.) Sooner or later Adventure games will have to go online too, or their segment is going to continue to dwindle, sadly.

    Imagine just briefly an Adventure game that you and your friend (or friends) hook up over the internet with. Instead of you or them playing all three characters by yourselves, you're playing one character and they are playing the other character in real time. Doing puzzles that require both of you. Using in game walkie's (In game voice) to communicate with each other. Maybe even pausing your own screen so you can switch over to follow you're buddy's progress while they head through a particularly hard puzzle.

    And if you have no friends or want to do all three by yourself? Classic mode. hehe.

    I've heard it time and time again, that adventure games can't be done as multiplayer games. I know they can, if someone would bother to try.

  • @IronCladChicken said: like with the commentary's they've started adding to some games,


    Aw man, that's already been done? There I thought I had an original idea. I need to start developing faster, so at least something is still fresh when I release it :eek: Anyway, interesting points of views here though :)

  • @Pvt._Public said: Cutting the quote to get my post under the limit!



    I'm not quite sure what you're getting at on the whole, but I will say that if you're going to implement auto-grab for puzzles in one mode, you have to implement it for them all. How is picking up an item part of a puzzle? How does it require logical or creative thinking? Going through the process of picking up the item is not fun, is not compliant with the fundamental purpose of adventuring. It's using the item that's the fun part, the part that helps define what graphic adventure games are. What makes them unfun is not realizing you could pick a certain item up. Do it automatically, get it over with, allow the player to concentrate on actual gameplay.

    @Pvt._Public said: I disagree with your post. My problem with most adventure games is they are almost always lacking in the Wit, The Dialogue, or the Puzzles.

    That's not really the problem with graphic adventure games in general. They don't, as a genre, lack wit, dialogue or intriguing puzzles. In fact, all adventure games try to integrate these things, it's just that not all of them are successful. That's dependent on the talent of the creators, not something that needs to be altered in standard genre design itself.

    Game Designers tend to focus on the graphics and the gaming engines, but when it comes to the stuff that makes an adventure game come alive, they almost always fall short.

    I assure you the game designers do not focus on the graphics and game engines. It's not in their job description. :p

    *Various stuff about text adventures*

    You didn't really need to write all of this. I said that text adventure games, with a few exceptions, are dead. I didn't say that the design of them has been wiped from gaming, though I'm not overly familiar with the genre (I've played Dungeonman!), I definitely see its influence in graphic adventure games. I suppose other genres have been affected too, though I couldn't pinpoint examples. Whatever. Like I said, text adventures = dead, some of their design principles = alive.

    I've been waiting for about 10 years to see an Adventure game evolve into a Massively Multiplayer Online Adventure Game (MMOAG for short). But it hasn't happened as of yet, and now it may never happen because the console kiddies have largely invaded the MMORPG universe and turned it into something of an (OMG U SUXXORS) fest that drove away the players who could have made an MMOAG highly successful. heh.

    It may never happen because it's not a good idea. Graphic adventure games have been about a linear story and a detailed world. Those are elements of a largely designer-driven title. If you take them online, you lose a lot of what makes them fundamentally graphic adventures. Do you really expect people to contribute precisely to a world and its tale? A MMO only works if it works when people are just plain goofing off. That means it can't be totally reliant on a set story or a specific atmosphere, like graphic adventure games are. It's just a bad all-around idea.

    Of course there are other reasons that only small companies will mess with Adventure Games these days. Mention an "adventure" game to any one of a number of big game developer executives and you'll get to see them spill their coffee and pee their pants when they think about all the red ink that will be produced by such an under-taking. It's quite a stigmata for the bigger houses to get over, so they choose instead to go the tried and true path (which also happens to be the boring path.)

    Boring is subjective. If there's a safe route, it's the route that the largest quantity of people find enjoyable. May be boring to you or me (we are on the site of a moderately obscure graphic adventure game developer), but I guess we're just unlucky.

    Phew.

    The future of all gaming is online though. That's a fact and it's one even the consoles are hip to (as soon as they can figure out to make a successful game with such limited controls.) Sooner or later Adventure games will have to go online too, or their segment is going to continue to dwindle, sadly.

    A fact? Wow. I definitely see online gaming being a huge part of the future. But it's not the entirety, nor the vast majority, and probably not even a third of it. Everyone has the internet and a PC. Online games have been around for a while on the PC. If there was going to be some massive expansion of online gaming in overtaking the business in general, it would have happened by now. But even if you think it's just a little bit late in coming, online gaming doesn't jive with the reason many people play games. A lot of people play games because they offer something that appeals to their competitive or social side. But the single biggest reason people got into games in the first place is escapism. You can go into this epic world, and have a blast being someone else. That's why I love games like Metroid, Grim Fandango, Zelda and Final Fantasy, and would burn down the developer that tried to take them online. (Technically Final Fantasy was brought online, but nobody really loved the game for the same reasons, did they?). There are always going to be jerks. Even non-jerks will break the escapism part of the game, with something as innocuous as a discussion about new movies. Or the player will simply do something goofy, like jump repeatedly. Point is, the lack of designer control renders the escapism part, the reason I and many others play games, impossible. There's also something to be said about precisely constructed design, rather than letting clumsy players mess it all up. Most times, I'd rather my game experience be done by the professionals.

    So unless you have some revolutionary new idea that will allow all players to contribute to a design that is more professional than what an experienced game designer can do, and can get every single player to play their role and have fun with it, online gaming isn't going to out and out replace offline gaming.


    Imagine just briefly an Adventure game that you and your friend (or friends) hook up over the internet with. Instead of you or them playing all three characters by yourselves, you're playing one character and they are playing the other character in real time. Doing puzzles that require both of you. Using in game walkie's (In game voice) to communicate with each other. Maybe even pausing your own screen so you can switch over to follow you're buddy's progress while they head through a particularly hard puzzle.

    Okay, let me imagine it:

    "Seriously guys, shut up about the pizza. I'm trying to get lost in a delightfully comic experience here!"

    "No, I do not think that the revelation that the world is on the brink of destruction needed a fart noise."

    "Maybe if we used widget x with object y... There we go! Great teamwork people-I-know-in-real-life-and-therefore-remind-me-that-this-is-just-a-game! We've saved the world! Why do I feel so indifferent?"

    I'm not liking where my imagination is leading me.



    And if you have no friends or want to do all three by yourself? Classic mode. hehe.

    Sure, I'll take that. But it's not as if that really appeases me. Why couldn't those resources spent on the useless online mode have been dedicated to the real game?

    I've heard it time and time again, that adventure games can't be done as multiplayer games. I know they can, if someone would bother to try.

    I know they can't, because the effect of being lost in a world would be lost. That's why designers haven't tried it. They realized the fallacies of online gaming would fundamentally undermine what graphic adventure games are all about.



    It's been a while since I've read a post that I've disagreed with more.

    @Pvt._Public said: Aw man, that's already been done? There I thought I had an original idea. I need to start developing faster, so at least something is still fresh when I release it :eek: Anyway, interesting points of views here though :)

    Seriously dude, it's rare to have a completely original idea. I've tried. Came up with some concepts that were really off-the-wall, and I'm pretty sure that on the whole, nobody else has come up with a rhythm-action game in a 1984-esque world focusing on a deaf, musical genius who embarks on a metaphysical journey to the heart of mankind through dance. Or a game that alternates between gameplay that attaches specific emotions to lyrics as the characters sing out their lines, and gameplay that uses the touch screen without you looking at it so that you can add or subtract specific thoughts from your patient's psyche, all the while telling a fourth wall bending tale of mankind's sin and inherently flawed creations. These are original concepts, and I doubt that anyone's come up with the same thing. But if you broke them down into their individual ideas, you'd probably find ideas that have been done elsewhere or have at least been suggested. It's not overly difficult to come up with an original concept (meaning a collection of individual ideas formed into a cohesive whole), but coming up with truly original ideas is nearly impossible. I have fairly left-field ideas, but I still come across people who are saying similar things. That's just the way human creativity works. It's not what you can think up, it's how you can combine them.

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