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

posted by Lambonius on - last edited - Viewed by 666 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
  • One thing they can do, and probably will do is forgo a central-hub area that appears in every episode of some seasons (if you don't know what this is think Sam and Max's street). The central-hub is something they used to do a lot with their older games but since ToMI they've kind of abandoned it and I say for the better. They still reuse locations (like Flotsom Island) but they are no-longer forcing the same locations and the same characters into every episode of a given season.

    Although maybe they're bringing the idea back in BttF with the Hill Valley courthouse square. At any rate if Telltale want to make KQ feel vast, expansive, and explorable one thing they can do is scrap the central-hub.

  • @Woodsyblue said: Although maybe they're bringing the idea back in BttF with the Hill Valley courthouse square.

    Yes, but that could be a reflection of the movies more than anything else.

  • @doggans said: Yes, but that could be a reflection of the movies more than anything else.

    True...but what works in a movie may not work in an adventure game (and vice versa.)

    Plus, even in the movies we saw a LOT of other locations. In 1955 Hill Valley in the first movie, for example, we saw: the square, the diner, a gas station, several parts of the high school, Lorraine's street, Lorraine's house, George's street, George's house, Doc's house & garage, etc. etc. etc.

    By comparison, in BttF episode 1, in 1930s Hill Valley, we basically get the Square, the Soup Kitchen, the street outside Arty's apartment, the road outside of town...and that's it. Am I forgetting anything? And the episode has about the same playtime as watching the whole first movie. Even places in the square that were relevant to the plot (the jail, the courthouse, etc.) were viewed from outside in the square, even when Marty was going inside them. Lame.

    Oh, I forgot Emmett's room in his father's house. But of course we are warped straight there...there's no sense of the world being interconnected, no sense of distance, etc. I just can't help but see this as a huge flaw in presentation of the game.

  • @Datadog said: 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.

    I was thinking the same thing. I think the TOMI jungle proves they could easily make a large KQI-IV-style forested environment made up of smaller interconnected forest scenes.

  • Looking at past King's Quests, it seems possible to build an open world that you can gradually open up and close off with each passing episode. You just need a home area to build the quest around, and the home area could always be a 3x3 layout of the kingdom you're exploring, where new areas interchangeably become available depending on the five episode story arc.

    For instance, if other KQ games were done episodically:

    KQ1: Home area is Daventry, and over five episodes you could interchangeably visit the Gingerbread House, the Dragon's Den, the Giant in the Clouds, the Leprechaun's Cave, and Daventry Castle.

    KQ2: Kolyma w/ Riding Hood's Home, Neptune's Palace, Pegasus' Cliffs, Dracula's Castle, and the Tower.

    KQ4: Tamir, w/ The Ocean, the Ogre's House, The Haunted Mansion, The Troll Cave, and Lolotte's Castle.

    KQ5: Serenia, w/ The Desert, the Witch's Forest, Ice-Bella's Mountains, Harpy's Island, and Mordack's Castle.

    KQ3, KQ6, and KQ7 have way too many locations to be done in the same 5-episode style, but the possibilities of making an episode KQ explorable is still there.

  • I think having a style like KQ7 may work whereas they revisit the same location twice, but with different characters

  • I would say deaths that prevent you from going where you aren't supposed to go yet.

    Essentially, you'd have an unsolvable puzzles in the way of the places they don't want you to go. The way past would appear until whatever episode it is they actually want you to go through.

  • I posted in another thread just now which touches on this in a way. To keep that feeling of expansiveness I beleive there needs to be an open world with many areas. But that one area can lead to another area (a future episode) once you've solved all the puzzles in the first area. Many screens with the feeling of "Finally I get to see what's beyond this one barrier!" were huge in King's Quest. It was a journey. Getting past the snake in KQ5 AT LAST was a huge feeling of excitement for me. Which led to more areas and more obstacles, characters, and puzzles to explore and overcome before reaching the final goal.

  • A map like in Quest for Glory 3, and QFG5 wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea. As long as you can travel between areas like in those games.

  • @Valiento said: A map like in Quest for Glory 3, and QFG5 wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea. As long as you can travel between areas like in those games.

    I always disliked the large overworld map in those games, especially QFG3, since there were so few places to actually go on it. If the map had a lot of locations, I would be fine with it though.

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