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Josh Mandel and Telltale

posted by BagginsKQ on - last edited - Viewed by 926 users

What if it turns out that Josh Mandel has a contract to work on the new King's Quest games for Telltale?

What would people think?

Edit: mispelled Telltale in the topic title, can someone fix that?

39 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • While I do think they will probably be able to capture the appropriate tone of the characters and story, I don't think Telltale's game is going to "feel like" a King's Quest game. I absolutely DO NOT believe they will be able to capture the gameplay that most people associate with the King's Quest series. Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island worked so well because the gameplay really wasn't all that different than the Lucasarts classics. As a result those games, especially Tales, really FELT like what fans expected of a Sam & Max or Monkey Island game. In order for Telltale to create a King's Quest game that has that "magic" feel to it that you describe--that FEELS like King's Quest--they are going to have to essentially re-invent the way they make point and click adventure games. And the likelihood of that happening is just really damn low. That alone is enough for them not to deserve any benefit of the doubt. Right now, all they're getting from me is just plain old doubt.

  • @Lambonius said: While I do think they will probably be able to capture the appropriate tone of the characters and story, I don't think Telltale's game is going to "feel like" a King's Quest game. I absolutely DO NOT believe they will be able to capture the gameplay that most people associate with the King's Quest series. Sam & Max and Tales of Monkey Island worked so well because the gameplay really wasn't all that different than the Lucasarts classics. As a result those games, especially Tales, really FELT like what fans expected of a Sam & Max or Monkey Island game. In order for Telltale to create a King's Quest game that has that "magic" feel to it that you describe--that FEELS like King's Quest--they are going to have to essentially re-invent the way they make point and click adventure games. And the likelihood of that happening is just really damn low. That alone is enough for them not to deserve any benefit of the doubt. Right now, all they're getting from me is just plain old doubt.

    Here's the thing: When I say the "feel" of the game, I mean, for me the "tone" and the atmosphere are what makes the magic. The atmosphere, tone, setting, etc--That's what makes the "feel" of the game for me. Not so much the gameplay, because like I said, games 1-4 have rather different gameplay mechanics from 5-6--They are much more complex, much less accessible than 5 and 6; 7 and 8 have very different gameplay mechanics from the others--Yet all have the same tone, atmosphere, feel, the same sort of "You're in a magic world of wonders" sort of feel to them. Even KQ8, as different as it is, has that same sort of "KQ magic" that VERY few other games have captured. For me it's not about how the game is presented in gameplay as it is in characters, world, story, etc.

    Consider TSL--In terms of gameplay it is a PERFECT modernization of the classic KQ5-6 style. It has the classic Sierra gameplay style of KQ5-6, but with a modern twist to it. But at the same time, the tone and feel of the game, the atmosphere, the entire package is very different than any KQ game--More an emphasis on grittiness and the backgrounds/emotions of the characters, etc, more grey morality--And that's why for some it doesn't FEEL like a KQ game should, despite having the gameplay style of the most beloved games. I'm not against the game anymore because I feel the fans can make any interpretation of the series that they want at this point, so to Cesar, Katie and others, please don't take my use of TSL as an attack on the game--I'm just using it as an example of "gameplay vs. tone" in terms of creating the atmosphere of a KQ game.

    IMO, the way TT does things is a natural evolution for the adventure genre. Sierra themselves were moving in a similar direction with games like Phantasmagoria and KQ7. It's proven to be a viable way, as well, in terms of the revival of the genre. I have little doubt that had Roberta stayed at the helm of the KQ series past 1998, it would've taken a very similar trajectory as TT's games. Not exactly the same of course--but something along similar lines. That's why I accept such a change in gameplay.

    The story of the adventure genre, at least, KQ's contribution to the genre, is a story of it being increasingly "dumbed down". The introduction of fully animated graphics with KQ1 came at the expense of harder puzzles and more intricate stories found in the text adventures, and some reviews noted this at the time--that it wasn't a game for "more experienced adventurers" but instead a game better suited for novices to the genre. A more accessible adventure game. Not only that, but the introduction of graphics dumbed down the world of an adventure game for the player when you consider it. With a text adventure, you were given a little bit of a description of the setting and your surroundings--And the rest was left for you to fill in with your imagination. With the introduction of graphics, this was taken away for the most part. The world was no longer one you could imagine, but a world presented in front of you in great detail--And the narrator filled in FOR YOU whatever details were more minute visually.

    Then with SCI, it was dumbed down a bit further--in KQ1SCI, rather than typing "Look", all you had to do was right click and a description of your surroundings or of an object was given to you.

    Then came KQ5-6 and the gameplay was VERY dumbed down, to make it more accessible for the growing range of computer owners. Instead of having to toy with the Parser, type and figure your way around, you had icons which could provide the functions of the Parser. You had a clearly designated walking path pre-set for your character, removing the ability to fully explore the world as you could in KQ1-4. The world was made smaller in terms of where you could explore (of course the game worlds of KQ5-6 had more screens, but you couldn't go EVERYWHERE as you could in earlier in games), the gameplay was rendered more linear, and the number of interactive areas declined--Consider the number of places in KQ5 where you get the infamous red X if you click your eyes or hand on it. People complained at the time too about it dumbing down the genre.

    In KQ7, this continued even further, again to make the game more accessible due to changing demographics amidst complaints from some that the interface of KQ5-6 was "clunky". The several icons of KQ5-6 were thus narrowed down to a single do-all cursor. The puzzles were simplified. The narrator was eliminated and thus almost all interaction with the world in the traditional adventure sense (having your surroundings described for you, how an object feels, etc etc) was removed. More linearity, more emphasis on character-character interactions rather than character-object interactions, etc. I don't see KQ7 as being all THAT different from a TT game, actually.

    KQ8 was much the same as KQ7 in terms of core gameplay (forgetting for a moment the RPG and action elements)--one cursor does all, etc. But you could do much more in terms of the world--a fully 3D world totally free for your exploration with Connor acting at times as a sort of narrator, describing objects if you clicked on them; Less linear gameplay in some ways, freer exploration. But again--at it's core--it was simple gameplay, less traditional puzzles, etc.

    That's why I don't object to this game as much as some do. I see the sort of games TT makes as an evolution--the way the genre was moving before it "died"--to a more cinematic sort of feel. Within the framework TT which works in, there is room to make things more interactive, etc. But it's not that far from where KQ7--in many people's eyes the last "true" KQ game--was headed.

  • Some call that devolution. That's why it died.

  • 9 Paragraphs condensed into 8 words, Nice :D

  • @MusicallyInspired said: Some call that devolution. That's why it died.

    I disagree--The genre was evolving, but the fan base was stuck on the 1990 VGA point and click model and didn't really want to accept anything different, despite several different kinds of offerings. Myst style gameplay wasn't really accepted; Phantasmagoria style gameplay was only tolerated for a brief time; trying to mix the adventure genre with other genres ala KQ8 was despised. I think at times that the biggest threat to the survival and evolution of the adventure game genre are adventure game fans.

    What are the biggest hits in the KQ fandom? Fan games that keep the KQ5/6 format and either retain or expand upon the tone of KQ6. Even beyond that, look at the games that fan studios have developed on their own, their original properties--All have the Sierra sort of interface or Sierra circa 1990 style artwork. I think the sense of nostalgia and love for a very certain period of adventure games' development has inhibited adventure game evolution.

    As I pointed out, the adventure genre, as per KQ/Sierra, was heading more and more in the direction of moviegames.

    The adventure genre never truly "died"; However, the fanbase and thus potential sale threshold for adventure games is far outshined by other genres such as action and RPGs. The core fanbase of adventure gamers has never left--The sale numbers are still the same as they were in 1990. Selling 500,000 copies of a game in 1990 was a massive hit--And that is about how much KQ5 sold, and about how much a good adventure game today would sell. But that's peanuts compared to say 3 or 4 million for an action game or an RTS or a Sim sort of game.

    The adventure gamer was either someone who first had a computer when most others didn't--Basically, "geeks", or someone who had the patience to spend hours doing this or that puzzle. The majority of modern gamers don't want to spend hours solving a puzzle; most gamers want to be able to kill in the games they play. Modern gamers want instant gratification; Adventure Games don't give you that. The genre didn't "die" because any specific change; It didn't die at all, but was simply eclipsed by games which were in the end cheaper to produce and which made more, because of the change in the demographics of gamers.

    As Roberta herself said once:

    Back when I got started, which sounds like ancient history, back then the demographics of people who were into computer games, was totally different, in my opinion, then they are today. Back then, computers were more expensive, which made them more exclusive to people who were maybe at a certain income level, or education level. So the people that played computer games 15 years ago were that type of person. They probably didn't watch television as much, and the instant gratification era hadn't quite grown the way it has lately. I think in the last 5 or 6 years, the demographics have really changed, now this is my opinion, because computers are less expensive so more people can afford them. More "average" people now feel they should own one. There's also the influence of the game consoles as well. So most of these people have gotten used to shoot-em' up kind of games on the consoles. Now they want to get that kind of experience on their computers.

    Does this mean that the original crowd still isn't there? Probably not, however, there are much fewer of them. And the numbers for a good selling computer game are much harder to reach now. Something that sold 300,000 copies then, would be a lame selling game today. The other side of it is that adventure games, to do them right, probably have some of the highest production costs around. It doesn't appear that in today's world, that our demographics will change anytime soon. Now I do think that there is some hope on the internet. It's my feeling that a lot of people who were in love with their computers, are now hanging out online.

  • King's Quest did die. Officially. The last two official games weren't near as popular as the first six. You can disagree all you like, but the general consensus is that after KQ6, Sierra really dropped the ball with King's Quest. At least from what I've seen. Sierra upped the ante while dumbing down the interface, yes. Regardless, the series went downhill no matter which way you want to twist it. And not because any group of fans were stuck in the past with a certain visual style. No way. There were fans that disliked the SCI1 approach altogether and wanted to keep the parser and EGA graphics. These people were calling P&C and 256 colours evil. Rather, I believe it was because they dumbed down too much of the game mechanics. But even with as much as KQ was dumbed down interface-wise, its focus was never on story so much as gameplay. Always. Puzzles were at the forefront of the games' presentations. Every time. Even MOE with all its combat had puzzles.

  • I disagree--The genre was evolving, but the fan base was stuck on the 1990 VGA point and click model and didn't really want to accept anything different, despite several different kinds of offerings

    I'm not sure there ever was a 'monolithic' fan base (or any 'consensus')... Almost every 'new' game was drawing in new fans, and splitting others from the 'flock'.

    I had several friends who were big KQ fans back when they were first released, that don't care about KQ now, because they moved onto newer games and IPs as technology advanced... Those included some that just 'grew out of' gaming in general, developed different interests. Still those are anecdotal and not necessarily the 'rule'....

    The last two official games weren't near as popular as the first six.

    Actually, the last two sold more than any previous game in the series except maybe KQ5, KQ5 was said to have seriously outsold KQ6, KQ5 initially sold 500,000 copies and was the bestselling computer game for the next five years after its release (1995?) (so apparently even beat initial sells of KQ6 and KQ7). Roberta once said in an interview that KQ8 sold double the previous two games, and apparently KQ7 sold double of KQ6... A couple of years later Sierra, under Vivendi was even going to make KQ9... What killed KQ really was that Sierra died itself... It lingering death killed Space Quest 7 and several other classic adventure games at the time (and over the following years)...

    So keep in mind, if sells were any indication, even when KQ6 was released, the fandom may have already been halved or more, less than when compared to when KQ5 was released, and its initial sells... In anycase we have data from Sierra itself (though not specific numbers for each game), in which they state KQ6 was less successful than KQ5, and possibly even the later games (although arguebly it received better general reviews than KQ5, and KQ7!).

    KQ7 had possibly the worst reviews, but it was more successful than KQ6 in sales... KQ8 was more successful than KQ7 in sales apparently, and even Grim Fandango (if Roberta is to be believed), and most professional reviews considered it average to excellent...

    KQ1 remake was largely hated by the fans on its release, and didn't sell many copies at all. Most people received copies through later released KQ collections. Though now there are many fans (new?) that like it...

    As for the fans? And popularity? Again that's hard to tell, because many of the oldest KQ fans were already moving away from KQ and aventure games in general into new genres... What was left was a 'niche' crowd, who wanted classic adventures to continue on. When the rest of the industry knew they just couldn't compete in the new market.

    But seriously, I doubt anyone is going to find honest statistical data out there that would break down history of the 'fans' who they were, where they came from, demographics etc...

    Infact I wouldn't be surprised if we are actually the minority, the elite, the most devoted of the fandom! A special breed!

  • @Anakin Skywalker said: Roberta once defined what she feels constitutes a KQ game:

    The components that make a King's Quest are (in my mind, anyway and since I am the creator of the series, I guess that holds some weight): A land, or lands, of high fantasy; fantasy creatures from myth, legends, and/or fairytales both good and bad; situations to be found in those same types of stories; a "quest" type story; a calamity in the land with one "hero" to "save the kingdom"; a story of the "good" hero against the "evil" bad guy; a story that everyone can relate to, i.e., a "reason" for having the hero go out and risk his or her life for "saving the kingdom"; interesting worlds to explore; high interactivity; interesting characters; great animation; great visuals and music. Within that general framework, I feel that I can have some "leeway" to accomplish those tasks.

    I stand by her definition.

    If you discount gameplay as you've said you do, then, no, you're not really standing by the whole statement. The lack of exploration and interactivity in Telltale's recent offerings (not to mention that these things were not really strong points in TT's earlier good adventures) is exactly why I'm skeptical of their ability/desire to make a KQ game that does justice to Roberta's vision in the originals.

    "Interesting worlds to explore" is not at all how I would describe BTTF (and maybe it wasn't important for that property), but in Jurassic Park there was no exploration of the gameworld at all. You were basically "exploring" the (excruciatingly boring) characters through dialogs. Do you have a Roberta quote about KQ/adventure games that is consistent with that?

    @Anakin Skywalker said: IMO, the way TT does things is a natural evolution for the adventure genre. Sierra themselves were moving in a similar direction with games like Phantasmagoria and KQ7. It's proven to be a viable way, as well, in terms of the revival of the genre. I have little doubt that had Roberta stayed at the helm of the KQ series past 1998, it would've taken a very similar trajectory as TT's games. Not exactly the same of course--but something along similar lines. That's why I accept such a change in gameplay.

    TT's "evolution" for the adventure genre is no more or less "natural" than any other. All you're saying is that you like that particular style (lots of people do; I've never denied that) but your Roberta-based justification just doesn't wash. I think it's more reasonable to view the streamlined interface of KQ7 as an anomaly. Did Sierra adopt that widely around the time or afterward? GK3 (which I recently played and thoroughly enjoyed) had even more modes of interaction than a standard KQ and Love for Sail brought back (partially) a text parser!

    Moreover, despite the interface KQ7 did not deviate from Sierra's emphasis on large, open areas the player is meant to explore on their own terms. And you've conveniently left out the fact that KQ7 was not the last game: I believe Mask of Eternity, and it's genre shift, was due in part to Roberta's desire to take exploration and interactivity to a whole new level. She was not going in the same direction as TT -- the idea that shrinking the gameworld into an invisible-walled corridor with nothing but dialogs, mundane tasks, and an occasional self-contained puzzle is either "natural" or would have been sanctioned by Roberta is ludicrous.

    Let me finally add that I have nothing against cinematic-ness. Most games and game-types have become more cinematic over time and AFAIC that's a good thing; I would cite it as a "positive" about Telltale's earlier games. It's TT's determination to provide a cinematic experience at the expense of providing a satisfying gaming experience -- the total subjugation of gameplay to content delivery -- that I loathe. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Roberta, no matter how much she said about wanting games to be more cinematic, would have ever taken such an extreme approach.

  • And as usual, thom-22 wins the thread.

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    exo

    I was about to post something very similiar.

    Anakin - you repeatedly say that King's Quest can be "anything", and then you proceed to list a multitude of things you believe it has been.

    For me, and me alone, the number one defining characteristic is a large, interesting, dynamic world and a long quest leading through it. All the core KQ games (1-6) have one time characters that come and go, random happenstances, and "dangerous" areas (whether it is a graveyard at night, Manannan's room, or just a spiral staircase you have to climb).

    And just as Thom-22 has mentioned, that is the antithesis of a TT game.

    I recently played through the first Episode of BttF.... The environments were extremely bland and boring. The town square, where you spend so much time very slowly walking around, has no life to it what so ever. Its flat, the polygons are extremely simple and not interesting at all to look at, there are no dynamic events, and the color palate is boring.

    Even "dynamic" scenes like holding into a fast moving car and trying to free Doc quickly reveal themselves to be a simple screen with 3 positions you can slide to, and like 2 objects to interact with.

    I also played the first episode of the Walking Dead when it was released, and while they did a much better job of creating atmosphere for the game, it still could be broken down into a formula of:
    Main room
    1 or 2 small offshoot rooms
    Move between them trying to find something usable
    Talk to everyone repeatedly
    Use one of 3 items you can pick up to solve puzzle

    The only addition to The Walking Dead games were the choices... however I am getting the impression that the choices don't make that big of a difference in the end.... Ultimately there is no "right" choice, and considering anyone can beat the game no matter what choices they made... it turns it into more of a "Well, I saved so and so, so they are still in the party and the other guy is dead". Or, 'I trusted so-and-so, so now this other guy doesn't trust me'. Does any of that actually affect the gameplay at all? Not really. In the end, no matter what choice the user makes, we all know they will end up going through the same environments as the guy who made the other choice. TT isn't going to program an entirely different set of events and places for the guy who made choice A, rather choice A and B will lead to the same next stop with different reactions from the survivors. So the one thing that makes the Walking Dead universe intense (the moral quandries), appears to be a simple illusion of choice in the game.

    What I do not want is 'the illusion' of a large interesting world to explore. I do not want a town square from BttF that is boring, bland, and serves only to slow me down from walking from location to location. I do not want KQ to be an experience that I simply watch and get to hit a button every so often, like the QTE's in JP and Walking Dead. I do not want the game to present me with inconsequential choices that don't change anything but the supporting cast.

    What I do want is a large, detailed, world full of interesting characters, dynamic events, and clever puzzles. What I want, is nostalgia. There a ton of other adventure games I can play if I don't want a KQ game. And with the current resurgences of adventure games, I can find beautiful detailed worlds like in the Whispered World or I can find humor in Tim Schafer's work. I play KQ for what KQ was.

    If the game isn't going to be traditional King's Quest, then honestly, they are just using the license to try and get sales with no repsect what-so-ever for the fans of the series.

    Why even bother using the license if they are going to shoehorn it into what could have been Sam and Max at the Renaissance Fair?

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