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Exploration or story?

posted by Lambonius on - last edited - Viewed by 614 users

Telltale's games have always been strictly story driven, sometimes to their detriment. A great story can draw you in and really make you care about the characters, but at the same time, the strict linearity of many story-driven games (Telltale's games are VERY guilty of this) almost completely destroys the sense of exploration and discovery that was such an important part of classic adventure games.

So...which is more important to you for a Sierra-style adventure game? A strong story? Or the sense of exploration and discovery that comes with being able to wander a vast area, looking and interacting with the landscape and objects as you see fit? Or do you think a game can realistically do both?

What approach should Telltale take if they want to capture the "feel" of King's Quest?

50 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • @Radogol said: http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-road-show-jurassic-park/17-3818/

    Wow. Looks like they REALLY dumbed the gameplay down. No more walking?

    Graphics are fantastic, however. Too bad that's not all that matters.

  • [quote="Joe Pinney"]We have some sort of problem-solving, puzzle-solving...this is the nature of the story. The nature of Jurassic Park is very immediate, it's not a 'Super Brainiac' uh, brain teaser, Rube Goldberg, adventure-game type of experience, but there are obstacles that you need to overcome."[/quote]

    ...Okay, see, they just need to drop the part where they pretend "look at thing" is puzzle-solving. And like obstacles are some sort of afterthought. And that adventure games are bad things. And that puzzle complexity, when it follows a logical line of thought, is still bad for being too hard. And they need to drop the thing where they have dropped exploration.

    But if they just drop the pretending that looking at three available things in a confined space that you're not even allowed to move about in is puzzle-solving, then at least they'll be honest. I mean, they'll still be calling it a "game", which is iffy at best...but that's an industry-wide problem.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Wow. Looks like they REALLY dumbed the gameplay down. No more walking?

    Graphics are fantastic, however. Too bad that's not all that matters.

    That was my reaction exactly. And if you could stand to watch the thing long enough, some of the statements made by the TTG designers are rather disturbing, from the standpoint of a long-time adventure game fan who cares about gameplay, exploration and puzzle-solving.

    "We don't want players to have to worry about pixel hunting."
    "We wanted to basically shortcut the sort of walking around; it's not the most fun part."
    "The hope is that no one is really ever gonna get completely stuck."
    "We're trying to shoot this as if it was a movie and less like a video game."

    I understand that Jurassic Park is a movie license and we shouldn't have expected hard-core adventure gameplay in this particular game. That's fine. The problem is that the de-emphasis of solid gameplay -- the adoption of the philosophy represented in the quotes above -- started before Back to the Future and JP. It is clearly present in the last Sam & Max series, for instance. Sam & Max. Not a movie.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Wow. Looks like they REALLY dumbed the gameplay down. No more walking?

    Graphics are fantastic, however. Too bad that's not all that matters.

    That is indeed what it looks like. But the point I was making is that it's different than what their 'normal' style of game is. The way I see it the gameplay is built around the kind of story they want to tell and what feels right for the source material. I can't see them doing the same kind of gameplay style with King's Quest.

    Just because it's different doesn't mean it's bad and it shows that Telltale are willing to experiment. Hell, Puzzle Agent was an experimental gameplay type for them as well.

  • @Rather Dashing said: ...Okay, see, they just need to drop the part where they pretend "look at thing" is puzzle-solving. And like obstacles are some sort of afterthought. And that adventure games are bad things. And that puzzle complexity, when it follows a logical line of thought, is still bad for being too hard. And they need to drop the thing where they have dropped exploration.

    The puzzle presented in the video is simple, but not quite as simple as just "look at thing." The order in which you look at the things is important. Jess has to honk the horn so that the Triceratops lifts up its head. While its head is lifted she needs to turn on the headlights so that they shine directly in its eyes, momentarily blinding and distracting it. While it's distracted, Harding needs to move the branch back into the pen. He can't move the branch while it's still eating, and turning on the lights while its head is down won't distract it. It's a very simple puzzle, but it's still a puzzle. It requires an understanding of how the elements in the environment logically relate to each other.

  • Wow. What an abomination. Calling that crap an adventure game is an insult to the genre. Can Telltale just admit that they don't make adventure games anymore?

    I agree whole-heartedly with Rather Dashing and others. Being presented with an extremely limited number of options in a confined space that you aren't allowed to explore is neither puzzle-solving nor adventuring. It's trial and error separating movie clips. And it won't even take you that long to get through.

    Also, am I hearing things, or did they say they were shooting for a 1.5 to 2 hour "experience?"

    Disgusting. King's Quest is doomed.

  • @Lambonius said: Wow. What an abomination. Calling that crap an adventure game is an insult to the genre.

    Hasn't Telltale gone on record as saying JP wouldn't be an adventure game?

    Whether or not I like what they're doing with JP, it IS something different from their usual style, at least in small ways, so it gives me the faint hope that this is the start of more variety in style for Telltale projects. Which gives me the even fainter hope that KQ may be their playground to experiment with a Sierra style.

    Yes, that hope is VERY faint, but it exists.

  • @thom-22 said: That was my reaction exactly. And if you could stand to watch the thing long enough,...

    I didn't actually :). I was too sickened to continue.

    "We don't want players to have to worry about pixel hunting."
    "We wanted to basically shortcut the sort of walking around; it's not the most fun part."
    "The hope is that no one is really ever gonna get completely stuck."
    "We're trying to shoot this as if it was a movie and less like a video game."

    My goodness...that's awful. That's abysmal. That's...inexplicable.

    I understand that Jurassic Park is a movie license and we shouldn't have expected hard-core adventure gameplay in this particular game. That's fine. The problem is that the de-emphasis of solid gameplay -- the adoption of the philosophy represented in the quotes above -- started before Back to the Future and JP. It is clearly present in the last Sam & Max series, for instance. Sam & Max. Not a movie.

    Exactly. I noticed this about S&M3. So, my fears were proven correct. There was a lot of big talk about Jurassic Park being different from any Telltale game previously released, but all I see is the same interface, same puzzle design, and same design philosophy as all the other games plus the apparent ability to die. Oooooooo. Edgy, Telltale. You're really taking risks now.

    @thom-22 said: That is indeed what it looks like. But the point I was making is that it's different than what their 'normal' style of game is. The way I see it the gameplay is built around the kind of story they want to tell and what feels right for the source material. I can't see them doing the same kind of gameplay style with King's Quest.

    Just because it's different doesn't mean it's bad and it shows that Telltale are willing to experiment. Hell, Puzzle Agent was an experimental gameplay type for them as well.

    Did you not read the quotes above?? They're taking this cinematic gaming experience too far. There's a point where it's not even worth playing if it's not a game. Like I said, it just looks like to me that they have the exact same game they've ever done (dumbed down even more than BTTF, dear goodness what a concept!) and just dressed it up differently with realistic graphics, alternate controls, and an alternate GUI. That's not experimental. That's not different at all. It's the same exact thing. Except easier.

    @thom-22 said: The puzzle presented in the video is simple, but not quite as simple as just "look at thing." The order in which you look at the things is important. Jess has to honk the horn so that the Triceratops lifts up its head. While its head is lifted she needs to turn on the headlights so that they shine directly in its eyes, momentarily blinding and distracting it. While it's distracted, Harding needs to move the branch back into the pen. He can't move the branch while it's still eating, and turning on the lights while its head is down won't distract it. It's a very simple puzzle, but it's still a puzzle. It requires an understanding of how the elements in the environment logically relate to each other.

    The order in which you look at things? That's not a puzzle. That's what Sierra haters call a "typical Sierra guess-the-designer's-thought-process" puzzle.

    @thom-22 said: Hasn't Telltale gone on record as saying JP wouldn't be an adventure game?

    No. They just said it would be a little different than what "our fans would expect from us." So far it looks the same to me. Just dumbed down to the lowest possible common denominator, even moreso than BTTF, which I didn't think was possible even for Telltale. Now, certainly, all bets are off in accordance to their game design philosophy. I just flat out don't agree with it at all.

    Whether or not I like what they're doing with JP, it IS something different from their usual style, at least in small ways, so it gives me the faint hope that this is the start of more variety in style for Telltale projects. Which gives me the even fainter hope that KQ may be their playground to experiment with a Sierra style.

    Yes, that hope is VERY faint, but it exists.

    Again, you can dress and pretty it up all you want but it's the same exact Telltale business model underneath it all. Granted, that's not proven yet, but it certainly isn't disproven yet either. Even by that video. If anything it all but gives me even more cause for worry.

  • @MusicallyInspired said: The order in which you look at things? That's not a puzzle. That's what Sierra haters call a "typical Sierra guess-the-designer's-thought-process" puzzle.

    It's not just guessing an arbitrary thought process, though. It makes sense. You're presented with an obstacle, and you have to manipulate the environment in order to get past it. There's a Triceratops in the road. You need to move it out of the way. You might be able to lure it back into its pen with the branch it's eating, but you can't grab it while it's actually eating it, so you have to distract it by messing with the other objects in the scene. It's like the trap-the-hand-in-tar puzzle from the end of Launch of the Screaming Narwhal, or the get-Skunkape-to-slip-in-the-mole-sweat puzzle from the end of the Penal Zone.

  • And I still don't get why people are so upset about the not being about to walk around thing. The ability to choose where exactly on the screen you want your character to stand has rarely* been important to the actual gameplay of an adventure game. Unless you have a lot of puzzles that involve standing on switches or hiding behind objects or navigating precarious walkways, it's really not that necessary. The JP game is going to be more like an Infocom or a Legend Entertainment game in this respect. All that matters is that you're in a room and you can interact with the visible objects in that room. It doesn't matter where exactly you are within the room. And this isn't the first time Telltale's done this: Puzzle Agent was like that too. Did anyone complain about not being about to move around in Puzzle Agent?

    *Edit: Bringing things slightly more on topic: I do think the ability to walk around is important to the King's Quest series, because navigating precarious walkways has always been part of the gameplay. And both KQV and KQVI had puzzles that involved hiding behind onscreen objects. My point was that the ability to walk around is not necessarily an integral part of the adventure genre as a whole. But King's Quest should definitely have it.

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