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Anyone else miss multiple choices?

posted by Zamot on - last edited - Viewed by 425 users

I think Telltale has done an excellent job keeping the spirit of adventure gaming alive, staying true to the old 90's style and at the same time bringing in new stuff. However, there's one thing I miss when comparing to the old LucasArts classics: Multiple choices.

When the player interacts with the objects there's only one thing to do; click on it and see what happens. I miss being able to look at a person before talking to them, looking at an object before picking it up etc. It gives the player more freedom, gives descriptions of the environment and adds content to the game. My favorite adventure game interface is the hand/eye/mouth-style that's used in CMI and Full Throttle. One mouse button for look and the other for talk/use/pick up/whatever works pretty good too.

I know the Telltale team knows their game making and that some of them worked on the old LucasArts classics so I'm pretty sure they didn't just forget about multiple choices, more likely excluded them for a reason. Actually I'm a little curious what that reason might be.

Also note that I'm not complaining, it's just a thought I felt like sharing. So what do you other Telltale fans think about this?

19 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • Have always been a fan of multiple choices. While a 9-12 verb interface such as the old Lucas classics had certainly gives a lot of possibilities, a 3 or 2 verb interface should work better for today's market.

    The CMI verb coin was apparently so intuitive that after CMI for a while every adventure I played used that. Then came other games which used the "left click/right click" interface, which is fine too. Right click to look, left click to do. Or, if you want to keep it simple take a look at the interface for MI2:SE. Only relevant verbs are shown when you click on something, so whatever you choose, at least it gives you a hint about the item you're interacting with or a funny line.

    The essence of an adventure game was for me always to figure out a world which you don't understand yet. As such, you should be able to find out things about the world by examining things in the world and interacting in different ways, and not just magically have the character do the right thing.

    I already posted this comparison in a thread a while ago but in a discussion about choices I feel it's appropriate to bring this example again:
    Imagine you play Super Mario Bros., but it doesn't matter from which side you touch the enemy, you always survive and the enemy is always dead. After all, you do not *want* to die from the interaction with the enemy, but there is a reason why it's designed in a way that you HAVE a choice, of jumping ON it or running INTO it, because it's a game, and not an office program.

  • @Guinea said: Or, if you want to keep it simple take a look at the interface for MI2:SE. Only relevant verbs are shown when you click on something, so whatever you choose, at least it gives you a hint about the item you're interacting with or a funny line.

    Yes! This is a great example. It's a means to simplify an overly-complicated menu system, while retaining all the real options that were given. There's no reason that a context sensitive action menu couldn't work wonders for Telltale Games. In MI2:SE the action menu shows only the original verbs that are useful (or funny), but in a new game it could be taken further so that any action could potentially be part of the options. Click on something, and a menu of options pops-up, specific to that object or person. Clear options when you want them, but no dead-ends when it's obviously pointless to talk to a brick wall.

    I think that such a menu could really aid in puzzle creation and puzzle solving, as well as offering opportunity for humor.

  • @figmentPez said: context sensitive

    sorry couldn't help it! XD

    But seriously I think games need more choice these days.
    Most of the options you seem to get usually lead to the same thing. (or something very similar...)

  • The thing with multiple choices is that it takes time to make them right. And time = budget (for different reasons, especially true for the newer games where it's not enough to just write some text). And even the old games didn't get it always right. For example the 'look' option. I almost NEVER used it in MI2 because Guybrush would almost always say 'Nice *the thing I'm looking at*', I don't need THAT feedback while looking at an item.

    The thing is, whatever the player tries to do, it needs to give him feedback, at least 90% of the time. The generic lines like 'It won't budge', 'I can't reach it', 'Nice something', 'I can't pick that up' - they don't give any feedback at all. And, let's face it, old games are FILLED with generic lines like those, generic lines that halt the player, don't give him any information he could find useful and it may also mislead him on a couple of occasions. Add it to the fact that most all games still had single puzzle solutions (this is why I liked Sierra's adventures; for all their possible bad aspects, they had lots of alternate puzzle solutions which didn't force only one way of thinking), and it doesn't feel right.

    I'm not against multiple contextual actions, but I don't want multiple actions for the sake of having multiple actions, and if having to choose between single-action type of gameplay (but well designed ones; for example, TellTale's S&Ms and Tales of Monkey Island had many wonderful puzzles. And no multiple actions) and multiple actions which give no feedback and mostly ruin the experience than enhance it (as is with most adventure games with multiple action choices) and add nothing but frustration and artificial difficulty, I will choose the first one.

  • @Farlander said: The thing with multiple choices is that it takes time to make them right. And time = budget (for different reasons, especially true for the newer games where it's not enough to just write some text).

    Yep, that's probably one reason for Telltale not to use it.

    @Farlander said: And even the old games didn't get it always right. For example the 'look' option. I almost NEVER used it in MI2 because Guybrush would almost always say 'Nice *the thing I'm looking at*', I don't need THAT feedback while looking at an item.

    I don't really mind a generic line now and then, as long as some of them are specific. MI2 had enough to satisfy me.

    @Farlander said: The thing is, whatever the player tries to do, it needs to give him feedback, at least 90% of the time. The generic lines like 'It won't budge', 'I can't reach it', 'Nice something', 'I can't pick that up' - they don't give any feedback at all.

    But you still had the choice of trying to pick it up or push it. It adds freedom for the player to try more things. To me it's a bit too simple when the game chooses the action for me. The 'Nice something' is a bit lazy I guess unless it's a door or a rock.

    When it comes to feedback, I can highly recommend The Whispered World. They must have spent a lot of time in the recording studio. An awesome game in every other aspect too, I might add.

  • But you still had the choice of trying to pick it up or push it. It adds freedom for the player to try more things. To me it's a bit too simple when the game chooses the action for me. The 'Nice something' is a bit lazy I guess unless it's a door or a rock.

    The thing is, to me at least, feedback is very important. To me, the choice of picking up and pushing is not enough. The thing is, when faced with generic lines which player hears over and over, that feels like going through all the possible actions even if the player doesn't. And that's frustrating. The simple (well, simple in the sense that it's 'easier to say than to do') solution of adding unique feedback for each action is enough to make it feel less frustrating. Instead of 'I can't pick it up' say 'It's too heavy to pick up' (at the least, that is, though that is kind of a crappy variant too, I just use it as an example. Better say something what a character would say, and if it's some kind of an integral part of an important puzzle, maybe hear a bit of the character's thoughts on the matter). The ideal solution, though, would be to show the character TRYING to pick up only for player to see that he can't actually do it.

    Even if there is only ONE possible course of actions (like, pick up won't work, pull won't work, or any other command won't work, but push will), the matter of feedback (generic text, unique text, animation or unique text PLUS animation) is VERY important in maintaining the feel of exploration instead of adding just frustration.

    The most ideal solution, though, is to add different puzzle solutions depending on what the player character is doing with items - but that, again, needs even more time (and more budget) than just doing a single puzzle solution giving normal feedback.

  • Oh, I thought this thread was about multiple choice exams. I hate essay questions.

  • Giving 3 options should be enough. Additional lines (gags?), things to do and not the push/pull stuff mentioned above.

    And who doesn't love trying to lick or talk to inanimate objects? :p

  • @Zamot said: The 'Nice something' is a bit lazy I guess unless it's a door or a rock.

    I cannot forget Rincewind's comment on his room's door: 'Aha! Portarius Exitus! Or, the common doorway. I'm not a wizard for nothing, you know.'
    I indeed liked the verb coin the most, but the system which was used on LeChuck's Revenge special edition sounds fantastic to me.
    However, I thought that this thread was about multiple choices which actually effect the story. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is a classic example, but my favourites are small things, such us how to get rid of the dragon and the giant in King's Quest, or the many multiple options in the endgame of King's Quest II+ Romancing the Stones. These add replayability and help the player identify and feel like s/he has more influence on the character. And of course, I am not talking about King's Quest V, in which there were multiple options of which only one did not lead to a dead-end.

  • I suppose the problem with multiple choices, both in the sense of verbs/commands and in the sense of influencing the story (e.g. alternate ways to solve a puzzle) were a lot easier to make with older games.

    Take a TTgame where every click on something doesn't just trigger a line, no, it triggers a cutscene. Obviously, that takes resources to make. I miss the days of old when gamers were satisfied with simply getting a line of dialogue.

    In an old game it was quite easy for the developer to add such lines I imagine. It was just "oh hey I have an idea, so I just let Guybrush say that line here, instead of the default message", or "I have an idea for a puzzle so, let's put that item here and just let him take it with the default item-pickup animation".

    But in a modern game, you must say "oh hey I have an idea, so I need to tell the animation guys that they need to animate Sam doing that, need to talk to the voice acting department to get the line recorded, need to inform the artists that they need to draw/model something that's required for it and THEN maybe the line doesn't come across the way I had it in mind after all and we need to cut it out."

    So yeah, in a way I can understand why modern games try to have as few choices as possible. It's presentation over gameplay, otherwise your game won't succeed on the market. I mean, who except for a couple of real fans would still play an adventure game without voices, or without everything animated, or even a text adventure without animation or graphics at all?

    However, a good puzzle isn't defined by the amount of choices per item you can make, especially if most of them would be useless anyway. I'm still convinced that an "interact + look" interface would be a lot more helpful to players than a hint system, which needs resources too.

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