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A few words about interface

posted by Balthazar on - last edited - Viewed by 148 users

There is one thing I never could understand, so I thought I'd share my thoughts with the forum to see if anyone agrees.

LucasArts revolutionized adventure games in the late 80ies, with their new ULTRA BRILLIANT interface that let the user "instruct" their characters only by clicking, no typing. Then they took that interface to near perfection in Monkey Island I and II, where the user could enter most commands to the character only through a single click, but still feel that he can really "tell" the character what to do. The one thing I can't understand is: Why did they, and later Telltale, change this winning recipe, and go for all those mediocre interfaces they have deployed later??

I'm writing this after playing the entire Tales of Monkey Island, and started on S&M season 1. We can't properly explore the scene, and instruct our characters anymore, and that feels... at least NOT optimal. Nowadays we just click somewhere on the screen, and hope our characters "get the drift". Though I understand there's usually only one or maybe two things you really can do with each item, it still doesn't feel like a good interface for puzzle-solving and exploration. To make matters worse, in S&M season 1 we can't even combine inventory items, and when we click on a line of text, our character starts improvising around that text and says something... at best similar to what you chose. Are there anyone else here who agrees with me, that MI's interface was far better than what LA and TT has ever done later?

Is this something they do to make it compatible with simpler devices, or is it because they want fullscreen graphics? Or do they actually think this is the better interface? I'd choose the old interface over fullscreen graphics any day.

EDIT: PS! I just want to say to the Telltale crew that I absolutely loooooved Tales of MI, and love Telltale, and this was only meant as contructive criticism... :)

22 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Whilst it is kind of sad to see the old interface go, i think it was a necessity to appeal to a wider audience. Plus, i preffer Curses simple command structure over the originals. You really don't need much more than three verb icons. TTG's structure gets rid of the annoying tedium of trying every item with every other item, using every verb. It drastically reduces the work you have to do, and stops you from going down a wrong thought path, because you used a wrong verb or whatever.

  • I liked Full Throttles verb options. Not to much and it really worked.

    I do miss the whole combine items thing. I'm glad Tales had that.

  • No, no, no, no no.

    The work interface sucks, it's unintuitive, almost as much as text adventures. The ideal version is the Full Throttle system, you click and you get a choice of how to interact. A two button system (left click for use right click for look) is also pretty great. Combining inventory items is good, but some people straight up don't like it.

  • Combining inventory items is cool, but I think Telltale can manage without it.

    And also, do you honestly think it's more convenient? Obviously if there is a character, I don't want to open them, close them, push them, pull them, pick them up, I want to TALK TO THEM. That's a perfectly good example of why I don't want that interface.

  • I would though, I can't tell you how many times I wanted to use Jurgen on Spiked Couch or Snake

  • BoneFreak: In Monkey Island, each time you right-click a character, you talk to him. The other options won't hamper you. No extra click. You can also, for instance, "push" a character, that's a perfectly valid move (in real life, that is, or if the game/story allows it). Having the option available opens up for more types of puzzles. I don't mind having the possibility to do things that aren't part of the solution. Not at all. It makes me have to think more consciously about how I think each problem can be solved.

    I just don't think click-only is enough. You ask me if I "honestly think it's more convenient"... I'm not so sure of that, I think the most convenient thing would be to have a BIG BUTTON in the middle of the screen, which says "SOLVE PUZZLE". Each time you click it, the character solves one puzzle for you. Convenient or not, I think the old interface gives me more adventure feel. I see an item, and think, WHAT can I do with this? Then I try all things that seem reasonable. In more modern games, all you can do is click it, and let your character decide what to do. You lose some of the feeling that YOU investigate and solve the puzzles. That's just my thoughts about it.

    I have never tried Full Throttle. Having just a limited set of actions for each item seems like a reasonable solution. But then again, the available options will of course give some of the solution away. With clever puzzle design, that may not be a problem.

    EDIT: BTW, the character can be for instance a monkey or a dog too. These types of characters can both be talked to, and picked up in many adventure games.

  • patters, you wrote: "The work interface sucks, it's unintuitive, almost as much as text adventures."

    By "work interface", do you mean the old LA interface like in MI2? I couldn't disagree more. Intuitive is exactly what it is, and too many modern adv games are not!! On the other hand, I haven't played Full Throttle, so I can't speak of that. The two/three verb varieties I don't like at all. As far as I can recall, MI3 was one of those. I got along with it, but wished it had the MI1/MI2 style.

  • Balthazar the only point im giving you is the line dialogues being voiced differently. That to me it's annoying, because you click it for the purpose of hearing how funny the character will convey it.

    However the verbs had to go, it doesn't mean adventure games are more weaker without it. In fact i believe they have improved from it. No more useless verbs, no more useless tries and reading/hearing "I can't pick that up!" "I can't use that". Think about if Elder Scrolls: Oblivion had open, jump, close, pick up, use, etc? It doesnt make sense. In fact every game should be made like Oblivion, Mass Effect, etc. In the way that action oughta have 1 button instead click, click, click.

    Also i'd choose the new interface over the old. Simply because it's more immersible and you feel the environment envelops you. I didnt want to go back to old graphics in Mi1:SE and M2:SE. The remakes make the original look like crap, except in some scenes where its made a close up of facial expression of Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck face!

  • I can't believe no one has mentionned this, but what about the fact that the old interface took up half the screen? Maybe I'm just a visual person, but I feel more immersed in a story I can see better.

    Although I do miss having random options-- some sort of hybrid between the new and old system might be fun to see. For me, half the fun in point and click adventure games is trying all the things that DON'T work to hear the characters funny commentary, and lots of options with a lot of funny commentary is a great way to go. Like in Space Quest IV where you have the random option to lick things, which, honestly, I don't remember ever serving any practical purpose. It was funny, though!

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    MarkDarin Telltale Staff

    As a designer, I can tell you one of the reasons I enjoy NOT having to work with the Verb Bar that gives the player several options... Its not having to spend countless hours trying to make 12 or so actions meaningful for every object you can interact with! It seems like a waste of time for the designers, animators, voice actors, and even the players to have to slog through endless variations of "I don't want to do that" and "That's not a good idea". It really slows down the pacing of the story and can get downright frustrating, especially if you are already stuck and every thing you are trying as a player is met with "That's not right".

    If you happen to be a really good player, and rarely have to bother with trying to "Open" people or "talk to" banana, then all you are really doing is skipping all that extra work we put in. (And 85% of that stuff is gonna be dull, uninteresting lines anyway).

    "So make them interesting" you say? Well, we could do that, but that's a lot of time spent on things most people aren't going to see and aren't moving the story along in any way. We'd much rather put the time and effort into the best bits of the story and gameplay, the stuff that is going to be memorable and, just as important... fun!

    Oh my, I have gone on a bit... oh well... insight and all that. (...Perhaps I've been watching too much Dr. Who tonight? Nah!)

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