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King's Quest NEEDS to have deaths.

posted by David J Prokopetz on - last edited - Viewed by 1.6K users

There needs to be at least one way to trigger an elaborate and utterly arbitrary death cutscene on every single screen.

Am I wrong? :D

(Bonus points if the narrator mocks your corpse with cheesy wordplay afterwards.)

94 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @doom saber said: Not as overrated as Roberta Williams. ;P

    Ha! I will agree with that. ;) Although I'd call it about equal.

  • @doom saber said: Not as overrated as Roberta Williams. ;P

    I am pretty sure we wouldn't be sitting here discussing King's Quest if she would not exist.
    It would be the same if I said: "Ron Gilbert is overrated. Curse was far better than anything he had his paws in".

    Now I need to wash my brain with soap. Even thinking something like that makes me feel dirty.

  • I think KQ 1-5 are incredible. 6 is really good, but I can always tell the difference in style between it and its predecessors. I still love it, and recognize that it is the most balanced and well-received of all the games, but I still like the earlier ones better, and 5 best of all. So maybe I do love Roberta's style. But I hated what KQ7 became, and I was not a huge fan of KQ8 (I enjoyed it, but didn't understand it as a continuation of the series.)

  • @JuntMonkey said: Why are you diametrically opposed to anyone other than Scott Murphy working on a Space Quest game, but are fine with Josh Mandel rather than Roberta Williams for King's Quest?

    Roberta has said in the past that Josh Mandel is the one other person that truly understands King's Quest. And he's proved it. He's a great game designer. He designed King's Quest I SCI and rewrote all the dialogue and a couple of the puzzles. It was fantastic. I trust him with King's Quest.

    Space Quest, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. Space Quest is very easy to miss the mark on what it's all about. Only Scott Murphy truly knows how to grasp the Space Quest and Roger Wilco concept. Even Josh Mandel (who designed Space Quest 6) didn't catch it quite right.\

    I'm not coming from the viewpoint that whoever created the franchise should be the ones handling it, rather I'm coming from the viewpoint of who does the franchise best.

    And Jane Jensen didn't design anything to do with KQ, as far as I know. She was a co-writer for KQ6, but she did not design it. I'd rather she keep her overdramatic fingers out of the KQ lead game designer's pie.

  • Jane had equal co-designer credit with Roberta on King's Quest VI and the sole credit for text and dialogue.

  • @doom saber said: Not as overrated as Roberta Williams. ;P


    This. I respect Roberta Williams for creating the entire damn graphic adventure genre in the first place. But I have serious issues with her game design style, which quite often delighted in being needlessly cruel to players.

    Let's elaborate:

    -Dead ends. I hope you grabbed that pie at the beginning of the game, or you can't kill the yeti. Want to go back and get it? Too bad, you'll die if you try!

    -Ridiculous (and quite easy) ways to die. Death itself is not necessarily bad; but stupid, arbitrary, easy-to-find death most certainly is. I should not die because I fell into a two-foot-deep stream.

    Roberta LOVED this trope. Witness the absurd number of spiral staircases and twisty paths, all of which it was stupidly easy to fall from and die, in KQ2 through KQ4. And the arrow-key control mechanism only made it worse.

    -Complete puzzle illogic. Should you kill the snake with your sword? No, otherwise you'll miss out on an item key to survival later in the game. Instead throw a bridle at it so that it magically and totally unexpectedly transforms into a winged horse!

    (And don't get me started on the pie and the yeti again.)

    -Get it right the first time or die/get locked into unwinnable limbo. I hope you haven't crossed that rickety bridge in KQ2 even one more time than you need to! Or you die! And in KQ4, you need to dig up five graves in a cemetery, and can dig up ONLY five graves before the shovel breaks. Dug up a wrong grave by mistake? Unwinnable game!

    (And it occurs again in KQ4. You have Cupid's bow and two arrows. You need each arrow to hit a target, one early in the game, one much later. Waste an arrow while hitting the first target and you're screwed--but you won't know it until much later.)

    -Random encounters that kill you/make the game unwinnable. A constant fear in KQ1 through KQ5 is that you might suddenly walk onto a screen and be killed by a randomly appearing monster. The only solution is to save often and reload when it appears, hoping it won't show up next time.

    KQ1's random dwarf encounters (which robbed you of a crucial treasure, making the game unwinnable); KQ4's random instant-death troll caves; and KQ5's sneaking around in Mordack's castle (where if the cat randomly appeared, you'd be inevitably killed a few screens later) were particularly egregious in this regard.

    I credit Jane Jensen with removing many of these terrible design flaws from KQ6. She may not be the best adventure game creator ever (as some would have you believe), but she's miles more merciful as a designer than Roberta Williams ever was. Personally, I don't think we need to bring Roberta back.

    And for those of you doubting how much influence Jensen had on KQ6: apparently she wrote most of the story while Roberta was on a two-month holiday in France. Roberta wasn't altogether satisfied with Jensen's dark take on the KQ6 Realm of the Dead, which is why she did something entirely different in Mask of Eternity.

  • I don't think Telltale needs to keep the Sierra tradition of just randomly killing off the character for no good reason or because your reflexes aren't good enough. Likewise, you shouldn't get into a situation where you did the wrong thing near the beginning of the game, which you discover hours into the game, and now you have to restore to some really early save point, and replay everything in the middle again. That's not fun. It's just annoying.

    Not to say the characters should never die. Sam & Max 302 got this right, where the characters could die, but it just immediately and automatically went back to the point before you made the bad decision. You can even have a few decisions between the bad one and the death scene if you want. Just don't make us play the whole blasted thing again.

  • A very intelligent poster said this on another board, which I thought were very good points about what made the series great.


    What was always important, for me, was:

    1) There be a sense of wonder, of innocence, of fun--An escape from reality, but a positive one. Neither overly dark, nor overly cheery; Neither overly loose nor tightly constricted. Each game bordered on those various areas. Personally for all it's flaws, KQ5 is my favorite; I feel it's the best game not because it has the best woven plot, or the most logical puzzles, or for length--But because it, it is the game which lies the firmest within those boundaries

    2) It has to have exciting, intriquieing, beautiful lands; Lands which induce not only wonder, but mystery--You should wish you could visit Serenia, or the Green Islands. You want to be able to go up that closed off alleyway, even though you can't, you should want to be able to see who lives in that Mountain Town (KQ5) even though you can never explore it. A KQ game should never give you all the answers about where you are, or let you explore every nook and cranny; In fact, ideally, a KQ game leaves a lot of things open and ambiguous, which makes you want more.

    3) It should have interesting and wonderful characters, and even awesome and somewhat likable (in the "Man who love you to hate" sort of way) villains.It's characters should be alien, yet familiar; the words they say neither too cryptic nor too plain. The dialogue should be very casual--Like KQV--neither pendantic and clinical (like KQ6 and TSL) nor overly simple (like KQ1-KQ3).

    4) There should be a gentle mix of a lot of different elements. An ideal KQ game is a blend of adventure, awe, humor, spooky moments, tense moments, moments of triumph, and moments of defeat and sadness--A good mix of them all. A KQ game shouldn't explore the feelings of the characters too deeply, for in many ways YOU are the character. Graham is still Graham, of course, with pre-written attributes, but you're stepping into his boots for a day. We don't need to hear about Graham's psychological state or his inner monologue.

    5) It should never take itself too seriously. KQ games never did take themselves too seriously; their titles, to begin with, were cheesy puns; There are many genuinely goofball moments, and some subtle breaking of the 4th wall is a good addition to the game. It doesn't quite go into the genre of a fantasy game parody, but it's not SERIOUS either. This tongue-in-cheek element is more important, I think, than many realize.

    6) There MUST be a narrator. The narrator is the guiding voice or simply someone who helps you learn more about the world you're in. A narrator should not be sharky, nor overlong in his/her descriptions. The descriptions should be to the point, neither overly short and thus bland, but nor overly long and uninteresting. We don't need to hear about the 400 year history of a vase you look at.

    7) A reliance on, or influence of, fairy tales, folklore, legends, mythology, and fantastic creatures and beasts, with some elements of more modern literature also thrown in to the mix. Characters out of fairy tales and myth should make an appearance and may even be of some importance to the plot (Pan in KQ4; the Roc in KQ5; the Minotaur in KQ6, the Fates in KQ7). But it should also have very original fantasy elements as well (such as the Winged Ones; The Sense Gnomes, etc)

    8 ) No violence in the traditional sense. There can be fight scenes (ala the swordfight in KQ6), and there can even be murder, but only of major foes/villains and only handled in a bloodless way. For example, pushing the Bridge Troll off the Bridge using the Goat, and pushing Dahlia into her own cauldron in KQ1, the dragon in KQ3, Lolotte in KQ4; the Yeti and Mordack in KQ5; The Minotaur and Alhazred in KQ6; the Bridge Troll and Malicia in KQ7. Most of these cases resulted in the death of said villain, but it was handled in a tasteful and clever manner, usually relying on some intellectual trickery to dispatch them; Their deaths were neither bloody, nor gratuitous, nor gory.

    9) Death. You must be allowed to die, even for stupid reasons. This be handled in an easy way---as in KQ7, allowing you to start right where you died regardless of saving--or in the more old fashioned, harder way.

    The other issues--funny death sequences, excruciatingly hard puzzles, or dead ends--They're bonuses IMO. I don't see them as overly important, simply bonuses. Puzzles are important, mind you, but they need not be incredibly hard or lead to dead ends. They should however be based on myth or fable, or have a silly sort of solution (Pie in the Face is fine)

  • @doom saber said: Not as overrated as Roberta Williams. ;P

    How can you not like Roberta? Anyone who is on the cover of Softporn Adventure and Mixed up Mothergoose is pretty much a superhero.

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  • [quote]But I have serious issues with her game design style, which quite often delighted in being needlessly cruel to players.[/quote]

    Many of the elements that are now considered to be terrible gameplay conventions (random deaths, events that make the game unwinnable, etc.) were necessary at the time to make the games bigger and (ironically) more fun. When designers had very little to work with technology-wise (not much space, low screen resolutions, simplistic graphics), those were conventions that made the games longer and harder. I don't like them anymore, but I don't think their very existence proves that anyone who used them back in the day was a bad designer.

    The AGI King's Quest I can be solved in about 15 minutes if you know what you're doing. Including elements like death, dead ends, and hideously unfair puzzles (Rumpelstiltskin anyone?) turned a relatively small game into one that took people months to figure out.

    Also, Roberta didn't exactly invent these conventions. The text adventures that came before King's Quest used them, too. You can't fault her for designing the type of experience the audience at the time expected and that she herself had experienced in games she'd played and enjoyed.

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