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What SHOULD be changed for the new KQ?

posted by gamingafter40 on - last edited - Viewed by 1K users

There has been a lot of good discussion here about what makes King's Quest King's Quest, and what old-school styles and design elements we'd like to see retained. With that in mind, what are some things we feel SHOULD be changed for a new King's Quest? And what are some risks the new designers should be willing to take?

These are strictly my own opinions:

I for one would like to see more personality -- I never felt like I knew who Sir/King Graham really was as a person. Who is this man who apologizes for disturbing insects, yet pushes old women into ovens without thinking twice about it? Is he a wise and effective ruler, or in over his head?

I'd like to see a few conversation puzzles, along with traditional give-the-right-thing-to-the-right-character KQ interactions. There are always colorful characters in the KQ universe, and monologues don't tell us very much about them.

I'm also happy to let navigation challenges fade away -- spending twenty minutes gingerly edging around the poisonous thorns in KQ II (because I didn't find the better alternate solution, I know!) was not an experience I'm anxious to repeat. If we must have physical movement puzzles, let them be like climbing the aerie cliff in KQ VI, where it's more a matter of timing and planning a route than pixel-level maneuvering.

I'd like to see "background" elements that are transformable conceal themselves better -- this shouldn't be a problem now, but the VGA palette subdivision provided unintended hints in a few of the old games.

And I'd like to get rid of the absolute dead-ends the old games were prone to -- I realize this may be seen as dumbing-down by many, but I would argue that forced backtracking does not create play value either. I'm very happy to realize I must have missed something after beating my head against a puzzle -- but I'd like an opportunity to find my way back to where I can correct it, without having to replay what I've already done!

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  • @Jennifer said: Telltale have said they still plan to make games in several adventure game styles (adventure game (ala Sam & Max and Monkey Island)...

    Where? Citation?

  • I want death at every possible turn.

    I am dead serious. Each death should be logical and avoidable, but ONLY if the player has thoroughly explored and observed his surroundings. Deaths should be telegraphed or foreshadowed by careful use of the LOOK icon (as opposed to the WALK or HAND icons) for interaction with all parts of the environment. Of course, this would require the game to actually HAVE multiple modes of interaction, which I strongly doubt Telltale will ever do, because they don't make adventure games.

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    Jennifer Moderator

    @thom-22 said: Where? Citation?

    http://www.telltalegames.com/forums/showpost.php?p=568652&postcount=161

    @thom-22 said: I think this is a good idea and you can expect us to provide more info about the type of game. I know on Sam and Max 2 we tried to communicate difficulty through a five star system.

    As far as breakdown of gametype would you expect us to put BTTF and JP in the same category or would you separate the two. I would say Sam and Max is an adventure game, BTTF is an easy adventure (EZ) or casual adventure and JP is a cinematic adventure. Would that make sense to everyone

  • Sorry, but all that says is their games can be broken down in different type categories, and it might imply they'll continue to make games in more than one category. But there is no way you can twist that statement to mean that they plan to make games in any particular category, ie. in the classic adventure game style like Sam & Max.

    Got anything else?

  • The only speculative argument I can make, with no real details yet known about the upcoming King's Quest, is the same one that's been stated before -- Telltale HAS preserved traditional adventure gameplay in the two series it has released to date that are derived from existing adventure games. Its games based on other properties have varied considerably -- the Bone and Strong Bad titles were traditional adventure games, BTTF was a more casual adventure game, and Jurassic Park and Law & Order were different sorts of experiences using similar technology. (As a rule of thumb, for purposes of this discussion I'm thinking of a game as an "adventure game" if it has an inventory and some degree of unstructured player freedom to explore and try things.)

    I think a lot of the negative speculation about King's Quest is driven by the differences between the humor/character-driven Lucasarts style, which Telltale has largely carried on, and the more puzzle/map-driven Sierra style.

    KQ VII was the closest thing we've seen to a hybrid of the two approaches, and for better or worse it's the best predictor I can point to at this writing. It's episodic in structure (although there's some ability to return to the settings of previous episodes to retrieve needed items), deaths do not force re-playing from a save, its heroines have a sense of humor and personality, and we do get to know some of the characters beyond their puzzle-positing jobs.

    As I've said before, I am optimistic that Telltale will treat King's Quest with the same respect it has treated its other licenses. King's Quest has a lot of history behind it, and Telltale knows that nostalgia is the primary sales driver for this title. I predict the discussion as more details become known is likely to be about WHICH KQ/Sierra influences are most prominent in the design -- not about how nobody expected the new King's Quest to be set up as a first-person shooter or a hidden-object game.

    And it's not like all the new The Walking Dead fans who haven't really played an adventure game before are going to be saying, "Oh, man! I can't wait for KING'S QUEST!" They're more likely to be wondering what this incredibly generic title could possibly mean. "So, like, there's a king? And he goes on a quest? Is this the Sir Thomas Malory license?"

  • From my perspective 'Walking Dead' sounds like a pretty generic title... That's like a term for 'undead', in hundreds of movies from the 60's maybe a little before...

    Fables? That sounds pretty generic too, since there are like at least three games already with that name or similar, and aren't even connected to the same franchises!

    There is the Fable which is an old adventure game from 1996, and then there are the unrelated three Fable rpg games (that form a trilogy)!

    I suspect its all just a matter of how close a fan is to a series... For it to feel 'nongeneric' to them.

    I think, if we had been anothers group of fans shoes, and King's Quest had come first, that the fans of the other series might be making similar complaints about their preferred series not coming out 'fast enough', or not getting enough 'informatin' about them!

    KQ VII was the closest thing we've seen to a hybrid of the two approaches, and for better or worse it's the best predictor I can point to at this writing. It's episodic in structure (although there's some ability to return to the settings of previous episodes to retrieve needed items), deaths do not force re-playing from a save, its heroines have a sense of humor and personality, and we do get to know some of the characters beyond their puzzle-positing jobs.

    Many KQ fans are hoping that its better than KQ7, and not as critically panned than that game was... Also it wouldnt' hurt to have puzzles that are a bit more complicated than the generally more simplified 'fetch-quest' style that that game offered. That is to say that almost every puzzle in KQ7 revolved about learning what you needed to find either visually on screen or from the mouth of a character, and then giving it to the character who lost it (you saw him lose it), or asked for it. These unfortunately make up 90% of the item puzzles in Telltale games as well... Nothing particurarly complicated (other than perhaps in Tales of Monkey Island that allowed for some inventory manipulation style puzzles).

  • I always recall Sierra's research that indicated a fairly small percentage of its customers actually ever FINISHED their games. Telltale's model, especially on platforms that sell individual episodes, probably does get pushed towards ease more often than not. For creative as well as commercial reasons -- after all, no designer wants to feel like all the hard work on a story's dramatic finale won't actually be seen by a substantial chunk of the audience. A player who gets frustrated and gives up is not likely to return, and if that player is altogether new to adventure games then we're all poorer for it.

    On the other hand, we all have different pain thresholds for difficulty and the types of puzzles that annoy us, so it's very hard to create something that provides the "right" level of challenge for everyone. I tend to get stuck on my own bad assumptions -- I think I've already looked in a cabinet or explored a path when in fact I've missed it altogether -- so a subtle verbal or visual reminder or hint is often much appreciated.

    Maybe one path to a better future could rely on the idea that different types of adventurers also have different expectations about what constitutes "victory" -- there are ways to let a casual player experience the whole story by stumbling through it, and reward more serious players for finding better solutions to the puzzles as was done in the early KQ games. (The bronze/silver/gold medal system in Jurassic Park was a simple but effective way to do this -- you need to meet a minimum standard, but needn't master every scene to progress. But that's easier to measure in a QTE context.)

    The art of interactive entertainment needs to keep evolving -- I just finished playing Roberta Williams' "Mystery House" for the first time last night, and was disappointed (SPOILERS!) that I was not penalized or admonished for stabbing Joe the Gravedigger myself and stealing his shovel, which was wholly unnecessary as it turned out, instead of letting the villain take care of him and maintaining the moral high ground. On the other hand, I couldn't just run off with the jewels and claim victory, I had to find the gun and shoot Daisy myself to be declared a WIZARD GURU. :) Notify the media! ROBERTA WILLIAMS FORCES YOU TO KILL PEOPLE!

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    Jennifer Moderator

    @thom-22 said: Sorry, but all that says is their games can be broken down in different type categories, and it might imply they'll continue to make games in more than one category. But there is no way you can twist that statement to mean that they plan to make games in any particular category, ie. in the classic adventure game style like Sam & Max.

    Got anything else?


    It shows that they know that they know that Sam & Max and Monkey Island are in a different category than Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and The Walking Dead.

    As I said, they know that King's Quest is an adventure game.

    They're doing EZ adventures and cinematic adventures based on movie and TV licenses (which they have always done: see CSI), but as I said in another thread all of their licenses based on adventure game properties (or a license that already had an adventure game) have been handled respectfully. Also note that they have never released an adventure game license in one of their casual categories.

    Even Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse was an adventure game, and that was made in 2010, the same year that the first episode of Back to the Future episode 1 came out. It had standard inventory puzzles as well as puzzles based on Max's new-found and re-found psychic powers. It also had a much more challenging difficulty than Telltale's EZ adventures or cinematic adventures, and it's difficulty got more challenging as the season went on, like their other adventure games.

    They know that their adventure games are different than their casual games. They released an adventure game in the same year as a casual game (which shows they haven't abandoned adventure games), and they haven't screwed up an adventure game license yet.

    Their track record shows that they handle their adventure game licenses differently than their movie and TV licenses (as evidenced by CSI vs. Sam & Max and Monkey Island). They have always been respectful to the other adventure games in whatever series they are licensing. They haven't done anything to show that this still isn't true.

  • @gamingafter40 said: The only speculative argument I can make, with no real details yet known about the upcoming King's Quest, is the same one that's been stated before -- Telltale HAS preserved traditional adventure gameplay in the two series it has released to date that are derived from existing adventure games.

    @gamingafter40 said: They're doing EZ adventures and cinematic adventures based on movie and TV licenses (which they have always done: see CSI), but as I said in another thread all of their licenses based on adventure game properties (or a license that already had an adventure game) have been handled respectfully. Also note that they have never released an adventure game license in one of their casual categories.

    I've heard of all of this before. :rolleyes: Long-winded "defenses" that are nothing more than generalities about what Telltale has done in the past.

    Rewind back to the time between The Devil's Playhouse and BTTF, their first "EZ" adventure. If you had said BTTF would follow a pattern established by previous games, you would have been wrong! You have absolutely no way of knowing that the pattern you're describing will hold.

    It's simply not an answer to the things Telltale has repeatedly been saying in interviews and elsewhere about their game design philosophy. They didn't say, "we don't think walking around is important for how we want to do our Jurassic Park game in particular"; they said, "Walking around is boring." Period.

    If Telltale plans to keep making classic-style adventure games (when the license calls for it), they could have said so at any time, but they haven't. Why not? How easy would it have been to add one measly little sentence to their answers to KQ-related interview questions that reaches out to and reassures KQ's fanbase? The "they'll follow the pattern" non-defense I repeatedly hear from Telltale's sycophants proxies simply does not compensate for Telltale's deafening silence.

    @gamingafter40 said: They have always been respectful to the other adventure games in whatever series they are licensing. They haven't done anything to show that this still isn't true.

    I don't agree with that. Or at least I don't think being merely "respectful" (which is really too vague for useful analysis) is an adequate measure of how successful they are in adapting a license. Telltale has on occasion done what they wanted to do, regardless of whether it fit with the property or not. There were a number of aspects of Tales that I found to be quite un-Monkey Island-like. The Devil's Playhouse had a significantly different tone and style of humor than the previous seasons. And Jurassic Park was a complete abomination against that franchise.

    @gamingafter40 said: I think a lot of the negative speculation about King's Quest is driven by the differences between the humor/character-driven Lucasarts style, which Telltale has largely carried on, and the more puzzle/map-driven Sierra style.

    That's only a tip of the iceberg, and I don't even agree that your characterizations capture the differences between Lucasarts and Sierra styles that I find important. I don't find the characters in Sierra games any less prominent or important in defining the Sierra style than they are in Lucasarts games, and I don't find Lucasarts games any less "puzzle-driven" than Sierra games. (Whatever the hell all this "driven" business means anyway; when I play a game, I do my own driving thank you very much.)

    @gamingafter40 said: Even Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse was an adventure game, and ... it's difficulty got more challenging as the season went on, like their other adventure games.

    I don't agree with that. Episode 2 was the only episode I found to have any kind of complexity that makes for challenging gameplay. AFAIC, the trend toward EZ adventures -- and more importantly, de-emphasis of gameplay in favor of flashy, cinematic content delivery for passive player consumption -- began with The Devil's Playhouse, not a movie/TV license.

  • I suppose it could be worse. I just heard of a recent adventure game/series (I do not remember the name at all) that allows you to skip its puzzles altogether if it's too hard for the player. :O Apparently the harder difficulties don't allow this, but still. Talk about missing the point.

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