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What you'd like to see in TTG's Kings Quest (merged threads)

posted by Anakin Skywalker on - last edited - Viewed by 672 users

I've noticed in KQ games--ESPECIALLY KQ5--you get a lot of interesting things, both in the art and story, which are never explained but nonetheless entice. For example, look at the shot of the Roc carrying off Graham:
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Note in the foreground there is a primitive village. It's there and it's made clear, yet we never learn anything about it, or visit it. It's just there to entice the eyes and get you wondering.

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Or this snowy vista. Endless miles of snow lay beyond, perhaps kingdoms of ice and caves among the mountains in the distance--but we don't know. We aren't told. It's just there.

Then you have some of the characters. We never learn much about Mordack, but he comes off as a very powerful, dark, evil fellow right out of a pulp fantasy story. We don't know all that much about him, but we can see he's clearly obsessed with the occult, with snakes, and with some kind of cult (note his Satanic looking altar in the last photo ). None of this is explained to us, but that makes it all the more interesting.
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Or, look at these scenes when Graham is in the boat.
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Dozens of rocky islands are seen far off in the horizon, but we never visit them, and we're never told anything about them. And it leads the mind to wonder--what IS on those islands? What creature or people reside there? Your mind can run wild with speculation.

I think that a TT King's Quest game should have little things like this--places we can't explore that are just at the edge of the screen, far away places that tantalize the imagination, interesting characters who we don't learn the whole story of--Because it allows you to have things left up to your own imagination, to dream up your own stories and backstories about these characters and locations.

It leaves you hungrier for more--and such things have sustained the fan community for years. For example, single, cryptic message about something called the Black Cloak Society kept fans' imaginations fired for nearly 20 years, without us ever being told much of anything about this society other than it's name. Less is more in King's Quest, and in KQ, all of these lands, and characters are left purposely unexplained, and are never returned to, never explored in full, and it serves a good purpose:

It entices you, the same way a scantily clad woman is enticing and intriguing to the eye without revealing everything; It makes your mind wonder, and lights your imagination up. If you're told everything about a character or, are allowed to explore every crevice of a land, you lose the ability to imagine and dream yourself, and you become less an active participant in this wild, alien fantasy world and more a mere observer with everything about it being spoonfed to you.

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  • 3927735890_ec109bfd8e_z.jpg?zz=1

    The limitations of older systems lent themselves to some amazingly tantalizing concept that were never further explored. This one shot, Tree Top Town from Donkey Kong Country, has held my imagination for two decades since I first passed through it. You never meet its inhabitants or wander into their houses, but it just sparks the imagination.

  • Excellent point here, however, I would like to qualify it, as far as my own preferences are concerned, by specifying that the areas we do get to visit and explore should be open to extensive poking around and examination. Everything on the screen should be possible to interact with in some way, even if it just a LOOK comment.

    I feel the same should apply to the sight of a distant village in the horizon. If the player character refused to even acknowledge it (like most of the environments in many of the Lucasfilm/LucasArts games), it would render it insubstantial to us. I think this was implicit in the original post, or at least that is how I interpreted it.

    But as stated in the original post, it would kill the imaginative engagement if everything was hermetically sealed with exposition or mere explanation, which is why in this example it would be better to have the player character willing to comment on the village in the horizon, but at least somewhat unfamiliar with it. Then we would share his curiosity.

    So my personal modification of the wish would be, "Less is more; too much is less; too little is nothing."

  • I think if there's one thing we can expect from Telltale, it's hinting at locations that we can't explore. :P

  • I really liked reading your post Anakin. What you described is one of the reasons why King's Quest V is my favorite game ever. That winter scene (second picture) is breathtaking. I always fantasized about what was back there. One year I went to Alaska with my family for vacation and there was one particular location we visited that looked just like that... I had the best time imagining that I was actually in Serenia haha.

  • @Simo Sakari Aaltonen said: Excellent point here, however, I would like to qualify it, as far as my own preferences are concerned, by specifying that the areas we do get to visit and explore should be open to extensive poking around and examination. Everything on the screen should be possible to interact with in some way, even if it just a LOOK comment.

    I feel the same should apply to the sight of a distant village in the horizon. If the player character refused to even acknowledge it (like most of the environments in many of the Lucasfilm/LucasArts games), it would render it insubstantial to us. I think this was implicit in the original post, or at least that is how I interpreted it.

    But as stated in the original post, it would kill the imaginative engagement if everything was hermetically sealed with exposition or mere explanation, which is why in this example it would be better to have the player character willing to comment on the village in the horizon, but at least somewhat unfamiliar with it. Then we would share his curiosity.

    So my personal modification of the wish would be, "Less is more; too much is less; too little is nothing."



    Simo, I couldn't have said it better myself!

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Agreed.



    I agree with you as well.
    This "Less is more" visual principle is a key to any KQ game. KQ7 and 8 sadly lacked the evocative and inciting descriptions of such locations --but even in those games, there were intriguing places you couldn't go, even if they weren't described.

  • Yeah, TTG have a tendency of feeling boxed in or small in scope. I know it's hard in episodic 3D games but they could at least fake it.

  • We'll just have Graham wandering around the same town for five episodes with an invisible barrier keeping him from walking out the front gate.

  • Anakin, you have hit the nail on the head. This is the Mystery Box Theory, which is discussed on Ted by Bryan Singer. It's the same when you read a book, you are forced to use your imagination, thereby creating a strong connection between you and the story/world, and it's the single most probable reason why most of us actually enjoy the game in the first place and have good memories of it.

    I find that real time 3D adventure worlds fail to pull this off because of the strange angles and less details that can be created. There's something odd in digital paintings/digital drawings in that there is some mystery between the pixels. I am arguing this point in another thread, as an artist myself and an adventure game maker, I WAS finding it increasingly frustrating that adventure games were using 3D engines, its only in the past year or 2 I have been seeing a LOT more 2D backgrounds (it can be 3D modeled, but prerendered with Photoshop touch up) coming out and they look really enticing.

    When I heard TT was doing KQ, I freaked, because I knew immediately that TT would use their 3D engine, thus, frankly, destroying part of what makes KQ so memorable, and I had to come here and flood the KQ forum :) hoping TT see the light.

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