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A few words about interface

posted by Balthazar on - last edited - Viewed by 428 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
  • @MarkDarin said: It 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 ever the players to have to slog through endless variations of "I don't want to do that" and "That's not a good idea".

    I was just thinking about this the other day. I like the game being more streamlined, honestly.

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    puzzlebox Telltale Staff

    I don't miss having masses of verbs. One thing that bugged me was having to explicitly Open a door before walking through (you're a smart little adventure game sprite, just figure it out!). Plus it created an almost compulsive need to Close everything that I Opened. :p

    My favourite interface is probably left click to Look, right click to interact (Pick Up, Use, Talk etc). For some reason I like hearing the description of the thing I can already see, possibly because then I get to see it from the player character's perspective.

    @MarkDarin said: (...Perhaps I've been watching too much Dr. Who tonight? Nah!)

    Too much is not enough!

  • Hello my friends! My name is Balthazar, and I am a member of the Telltale Forums new pariah caste.... :) I see that I'm completely alone on this one.

    But that makes me curious about another thing. Someone mentioned Full Throttle. As I've said, I haven't played it, but from the posts, it seems you could get a list of only valid actions by clicking each item on the screen? I think that would give me back some of the feeling of beeing in control, and able to properly instruct my character, which is what I liked about the old interface. What does the members of the forum think of such a solution?

  • With the Full Throttle interface, it's been years since I played it, but I think when you clicked on a valid item, you were given options of doing something to that item with your hand, something with your foot, something with your eyes, or something with your mouth. The "something" would be different depending on which item you selected.

    What you describe (list of only valid actions) sounds more like Return To Zork. In that interface, when you select an item, you are given a choice of verbs you can apply to that item. They show up in a little diamond picture around the item you selected. Neat interface, and something I've never seen on any other game.

    ("Want some rye? 'Course you do!")

  • I never really liked point and click that much. Maybe I'm just lazy or perhaps I was born to be a console gamer, but I really preferred the direct control/keyboard interface of Grim Fandango and Escape. I found it much more comfortable to have "P" for pick up, "U" for use, "I" for inventory, and "E/L" for examine/look with none of that tiring clicking the verbs at the bottom of the screen.

    Having said that, I also think that Curse had a pretty good combination of clicking and direct control (I just used the keyboard hotkeys, not the verb coin) and Full Throttle was also pretty easy to use without madly clicking all over the screen. :D

  • I don't know why it happened, but I'm sort of glad it did. Enumerative combinatorics is not a gameplay mechanic.

  • My ideal situation would be a menu that displays all of the available options with each item so that the option is there for the designer to add some humourous actions. The MI2:SE was a good method I thought.

  • guitars: That's exactly what I had in mind a few posts above, after I realized I had no support on my initial suggestion.... :)

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

    What the hell was I doing in Tales of Monkey Island then?

  • I liked the Curse verb coin: use your eyes, mouth or hand on the thing. I'd probably prefer one or twomore options though.
    Left click to look and right click to do all the rest isokay but limiting. You can't talk to someone AND interact with them in another way. You can't pick up an animal AND talk to it. You do whichever the character decides.

    I like the old interface but it's true that a lot of verbs rarely if ever get used. I think there are a bit too many of them.
    I liked having the inventory on screen at all times though. I definitely miss that.

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