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posted by RAnthonyMahan on - last edited - Viewed by 433 users

As I'm sure you all know, the style of the old Sierra adventures like King's Quest is drastically different from the "Exploration shouldn't be punished" philosophy employed by LucasArts (and later Telltale). The slightest step out of line can easily kill you, or even worse, render the game unwinnable, usually with the game's narrator making snarky jokes about your suffering.

I'm not trying to be another one of those complainers going "Telltale can't make a proper King's Quest game because they've never done something like that before!" Instead my question is...how do you want the game to be done? Would you like a return to full-on Sierra sadism, or for Telltale to stick with the friendly approach they've always used so far?

I'd personally like if there can be a little bit of both. Don't get me wrong, I want this game to be frustratingly hard, but stuff like unwinnable situations are just too much. And in the era of auto-saving, I think death should be treated the same way as in The Tomb of Sammun-Mak: you're immediately taken back to where you were before.

What do you think?

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  • @Lambonius said: Ooh, yeah. That would explain it--I never played the FMV games. ;) It makes sense that they wouldn't have narrators though, considering the movie-like format, as opposed to the more storybook/fairytale format of the KQ games.


    True, though there is also the 3D Gabriel Knight 3 and Torin's Passage (from Al Lowe, done in the same style as KQVII). :)

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Someone mentioned a good point early up in that in LucasArts games you can't really interact with EVERYTHING, only what the game lets you. This makes you think a little lazier. In a Sierra game you can interact with pretty much anything. That might seem like a bit much for some people, but back in the day this was normal and paramount. I really was a huge interactive world where absolutely anything could happen, for all you know, and interacting with every object didn't mean that that object was necessarily important to the game in any way. But this forced you to look and try to interact with anything you see out of blind curiosity. And if you did this consistently enough in a game you'd find everything you need to continue without being forced into a dead end situation later on.

    This! God, how I miss this in adventure games!

  • I voted for middle ground. I'd like to see some of the staples of a KQ game, such as the narrator, deaths etc...I think the ability to retry after any death would be a great feature. I also would be OK with losing the dead ends. Maybe a two tier difficulty would be a good idea :).

  • I don't mind death sequences. You can just reload. I DO mind dead ends. That's nonsense.

  • Things about Sierra games I like, and want to see come back in the new KQ:

    -The narrator who describes everything you look at/do/etc. The narrator-based style of object description always differentiated Sierra games from those of LucasArts, which had the protagonist describe everything he sees out loud to an empty room. Plus, the narration increased the storybook, fairy-tale feel. I'd love to see Telltale's KQ have a narrator.

    -The ability to look at (if not interact with) EVERYTHING. I love that in Sierra games, you had the option to look at every single pixel on screen. If there wasn't any specific object that you'd clicked on, you'd get a description of the overall environment. This was cool and increased immersiveness.

    -The range of atmosphere, setting, and tone in Sierra's various games. I remain impressed by how Sierra managed to put out a wide variety of games, each with its own style and tone. Some titles were humorous, some were serious, others were both at once; and certain games were adult-oriented, while other Sierra works were clearly family games.

    King's Quest, despite the whimsical nature of certain puzzles throughout the series, generally took itself seriously as a fantasy game, and it also sought to be family-friendly.

    In contrast, Space Quest was a sarcastic, snarky parody of science fiction with a decidedly un-prestigious hero. Quest for Glory was an adventure-RPG hybrid that told the epic tale of a hero's rise over five adventures in a sprawling fantasy world; yet it was also packed with wacky characters, barrages of puns, and an ever-present sense of humor. Gabriel Knight was a dramatic and mature horror/mystery tale set in 1990s New Orleans. Leisure Suit Larry was an unabashedly adult adventure game whose hero's goal is to get laid. I could go on.

    For any new King's Quest, the storyline should capture the tone Sierra instilled in this particular series: that is, it should be relatively serious and dramatic in nature. In particular, KQ6 pulled this off very well. There are small individual moments of levity (e.g. the puns on the Isle of Wonder) but crucially important bits, including a journey to the Realm of the Dead and the final confrontation with the villain, are full of drama played straight.

    Telltale games, like LucasArts games, are generally more consistently humorous than Sierra titles. This needs to be dialed down in a King's Quest game. Fortunately, if Jurassic Park is any indication, Telltale is already trying to break its design molds and come up with games that vary markedly in tone, much as Sierra did.

    -The ability to die. This is something that, for all of LucasArts' railing against it, isn't necessarily bad at all. If done well, and not gratuitously, it can increase the feeling of tension in a dramatic situation (see LucasArts' Fate of Atlantis). Or, it can provide comedy gold, as in Space Quest (though I don't think this style of death would be appropriate for KQ).

    Later Sierra games, like KQ7 and SQ6, allowed you to revive yourself immediately after you died, in a "second chance" option. This is very similar to The Tomb of Sammun-Mak, which always resurrects you right after you've died. I'm struck by how Telltale here unwittingly managed to follow Sierra's lead, so I think they can pull it off again for KQ.

    Things about Sierra games I don't like, and don't want to see return:

    -Dead Ends. We don't need to bring these back. Death is one thing, dead ends are quite another. Sierra's dead ends were often particularly cruel to the player.

    King's Quest V, for instance, has a point where main character Graham, while exploring the snowy mountains, gets hungry. He is carrying a leg of lamb and a pie. (At least he is if the player solved every puzzle in the valley below, before entering the mountains. If the player didn't get these items, he'll die of hunger. And after a certain point, which comes before Graham gets hungry, return to the valley becomes impossible.)

    If he eats the pie, he'll satisfy his hunger, but he'll die later on because he needs the pie to kill a Yeti (!). He should instead eat the leg of lamb, because he eats only half of it and saves the rest. There is no way to figure out the proper solution except by eating either item, which gives you a 50% chance of creating an unwinnable state.

    And of course, Graham later meets a starving eagle (soon before he encounters the Yeti). The solution is to give the eagle your remaining lamb meat; if he doesn't, Graham will much later be killed by a monster the eagle would otherwise save him from. Again, he can give the eagle the pie instead and continue playing, only to die at the Yeti's hand not long afterward. There is no clue not to do this; players find out only by hitting a dead end.

  • @ATMachine said: ATMachine's lengthy post.


    I completely agree with all of this. Very well said and explained. If Telltale could capture the majority of these elements in their KQ game, AND give the player a significant puzzle challenge, they'll have struck gold.

    The one thing I would slightly disagree with is that the tone of a KQ game should be dramatic and serious. The game are light-hearted more than they are dark, for sure. In general they take themselves seriously within their own plots, but they are nothing like the Gabriel Knight series for example. Even the story in The Silver Lining is much darker than the usual tone of the old games (to its detriment, in my opinion.) The correct balance of seriousness, drama, high fantasy, fairytales, and whimsical humor is a delicate mixture that MUST be done right in order for the game to feel like King's Quest.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: So the winged ones brought you down to the bottom of the mountain and you just went back up again?

    Yep. We weren't always the brightest of children. :P

    @MusicallyInspired said: And personally, I would have scoured everything I was able to pick up or every puzzle I could possible solve before going into a an area I can't get out of again. That's the nature of a good adventure game.

    That's the thing--we thought we HAD gotten everything it was possible to get before entering the labyrinth, and we kept dying at the "If only Alexander could've seen what was coming" room. Originally we were thinking there was a way to salvage some leftover invisible ink, but then we finally realized we needed the hole in the wall. So we tried every random item we could on the hole, and only found the right solution to the puzzle by accident. To this day, we still refer to puzzles we solve through luck, trial, and error instead of actual thought as a "Flute on the Flowers". :P

  • @Lambonius said: I completely agree with all of this. Very well said and explained. If Telltale could capture the majority of these elements in their KQ game, AND give the player a significant puzzle challenge, they'll have struck gold.

    The one thing I would slightly disagree with is that the tone of a KQ game should be dramatic and serious. The game are light-hearted more than they are dark, for sure. In general they take themselves seriously within their own plots, but they are nothing like the Gabriel Knight series for example. Even the story in The Silver Lining is much darker than the usual tone of the old games (to its detriment, in my opinion.) The correct balance of seriousness, drama, high fantasy, fairytales, and whimsical humor is a delicate mixture that MUST be done right in order for the game to feel like King's Quest.


    The early KQ games in particular had much more light-hearted story material. KQ1 and KQ2 are very "light" in tone, being not much more than a series of puzzles based on fairy tales and mythology. From KQ3 onward we began to see more dramatic, character-based storylines. I do have a preference for the relatively serious storyline of KQ6, my personal favorite, which I suppose influenced my above post.

    You're right, though, that comparing KQ and GK is apples and oranges. Even KQ6, the most dramatic of the lot, worked within the traditional KQ fairytale motifs by including a spin on Beauty and the Beast. Moreover, KQ strove to be an all-ages title. In practice, this amounted to a certain idealism of story and character: heroes are pure of heart, maidens are chaste, and villains always get their comeuppance. Gabriel Knight is a far darker, more adult title.

  • Exploration! There was nothing I liked better to do at the start of a King's Quest game than to wander the wide, green landscape and see all the puzzles I'd solve later. As an episodic adventure, it may have to be more limited in this regard, but hopefully they won't get so caught up with the storytelling that they don't give the player some freedom.

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