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How to make an episodic KQ feel vast, expansive, and explorable

posted by Lambonius on - last edited - Viewed by 763 users

So...what do you guys think the best way to approach this problem would be?

The small, contained, constantly reused environments are one of the primary weaknesses of Telltale's games, and the main reason I have so much trouble getting into their Sam & Max games (though Season 3 remedied this issue pretty well.) BttF is so far the absolutely most atrocious example of this feature making the game bland and boring. It worked alright with Tales of Monkey Island because of island hopping nature of a standard Monkey Island game, but I just can't see this approach working with King's Quest--at least not without significantly diverging from the "feel" of a traditional King's Quest game.

TSL has taken the episodic approach, but even their excuse for the lack of the ability to explore the entire game world is pretty contrived. However, I DO like the fact that once an area is open to you, it remains open, so that each episode has a larger area to explore than the last. This approach works alright in TSL partly because of the island nature of its setting. I couldn't see exploring the land of Daventry, for example, working nearly as well with the same type of contrived "you can't go here yet" limitations, though.

So what can Telltale do to marry the episodic game format with the freedom of exploration and large environments that are characteristic of most King's Quest games?

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

22 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • A solution that might work for telltale and for fans would be to have a large map that can be reused from episode to episode, but what's there and where you are able to go might change. A King's Quest game wouldn't have "you can't go there yet" , it would just kill you if you tried to go someplace you shouldn't. Even in the old KQ games there were some areas that became inaccessible over time (falling bridges, sinking boats, etc). Of course, there's also the possibility of the mini-realms from KQVII, which was itself broken into episodic chapters, being a decent route for TT to take.

  • Oh, wow. I actually forgot about this issue. I do hope they make it quite more explorable than their usual games. King's Quest doesn't have to be humongous, but it shouldn't ever feel contained. I wonder how many different screens the average KQ game has. 40+ or so (disregarding ocean screens, or the desert/labyrinth in KQ5)?

  • I like the idea of deaths that keep you from exploring certain areas until a solution can be obtained to get past them later in the game. Kinda like the POISonous snake that kept you from the mountains in KQ5. They could go the route of KQ2+ and have certain shops that weren't open yet (like the antique shop) which could be adequately explained based on the time of day. That way, there'd be places that you'd eventually be able to get to once you were able to acquire a certain item from the shop once it opened.

    I think it's really important for the sense of scope of the adventure not to have the small contained areas like Hill Valley Square or Sam and Max's block. The map absolutely must be LARGE, even if they reuse certain areas. The screens should all be unique though--nothing like the recycled forest backgrounds from Tales of Monkey Island.

    If they block off certain areas early on, they should go the route of KQ7, where once areas of the world opened up to you, they remained open. In later chapters of KQ7, you could still walk all the way back through the rest of the world if you wanted to--back to the very beginning in the desert. There wasn't really anything to do in those old places, but it still added to the feeling of the world being vast and explorable.

    A great way to expand on that approach would be to have new situations and puzzles pop up in some of those older areas that rewarded the backtracking. On the other hand, a reliance on backtracking could end up be more of a negative than a positive, and could ultimately lead to the the feeling that areas were being reused just so that Telltale didn't have to go to the effort of creating a larger world to explore. It'd definitely be a fine line.

  • I think the main thing is having the areas interconnected so it feels like you're moving organically from one to the next and not just warping from place to place.

  • @joek86 said: I think the main thing is having the areas interconnected so it feels like you're moving organically from one to the next and not just warping from place to place.

    Yeah, good point. In BttF when you go from Doc's driveway to old Edna Strickland's apartment, it'd have been nice to have been able to actually traverse some of the town.

  • @joek86 said: I think the main thing is having the areas interconnected so it feels like you're moving organically from one to the next and not just warping from place to place.

    I agree with you to a point, but I also see Telltale's reasons for not building an environment just for the sake of walking space. In most KQ games, just about every screen has a purpose other than just padding out the world.

  • @doggans said: In most KQ games, just about every screen has a purpose other than just padding out the world.

    Well, that's not necessarily true, especially in the first four games. There's a lot of wandering in KQ4 for example. But that's part of the fun.

    On the other hand, I agree that empty areas where you couldn't do anything really wouldn't be great in a standard Telltale game. But that's why Telltale should focus on making the world a lot more interactive. In a game like BttF, where there are only a few hotspots on each screen, empty areas would be a big problem (heck, even the screens where you do stuff FEEL empty because of the lack of interactivity.) But in a KQ world with storybook narrations and a multitude of hotspots, the wandering areas could be a lot more interesting.

    Btw, I enjoyed your review of TSL and KQ3 Redux! (That was you, right?)

  • @Lambonius said: Well, that's not necessarily true, especially in the first four games. There's a lot of wandering in KQ4 for example. But that's part of the fun.

    Maybe my mind's just glossing over the screens without any purpose. I will say that some of the screens have redundant purposes (ie, several screens in KQ2 where the fairy might show up.

    @Lambonius said: But that's why Telltale should focus on making the world a lot more interactive. In a game like BttF, where there are only a few hotspots on each screen, empty areas would be a big problem (heck, even the screens where you do stuff FEEL empty because of the lack of interactivity.) But in a KQ world with storybook narrations and a multitude of hotspots, the wandering areas could be a lot more interesting.

    Agreed! I think adding more interactivity is a better solution than removing areas. (Maybe not better from a space/budget standpoint, but certainly a better gaming experience!)

    @Lambonius said: Btw, I enjoyed your review of TSL and KQ3 Redux!

    Hey, thanks! :)

  • TOMI felt pretty big in terms of exploration. The jungle always felt like a maze (of course, the jungle WAS a maze) but it goes to show that you can build, say, a Daventry forest in the same way.

    Of course, I don't want the game to feel so huge that it ends up becoming a pile of filler where I spent more time walking than enjoying the game. KQ6 kept its world tightly knit, and simply made the game feel bigger through the use of scenery and perspective.

  • Assuming for the moment that the environments will not be radically bigger than in earlier Telltale titles, we can take comfort in the fact that this makes it more likely they will be very rich and explorable to the smallest detail. Of course, I hope this will be the case in any event, whatever the scope of the environments.

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