View Full Version : A few words about interface
07/16/2010, 12:48 pm
There is one thing I never could understand, so I thought I'd share my thoughts with the forum to see if anyone agrees.
LucasArts revolutionized adventure games in the late 80ies, with their new ULTRA BRILLIANT interface that let the user "instruct" their characters only by clicking, no typing. Then they took that interface to near perfection in Monkey Island I and II, where the user could enter most commands to the character only through a single click, but still feel that he can really "tell" the character what to do. The one thing I can't understand is: Why did they, and later Telltale, change this winning recipe, and go for all those mediocre interfaces they have deployed later??
I'm writing this after playing the entire Tales of Monkey Island, and started on S&M season 1. We can't properly explore the scene, and instruct our characters anymore, and that feels... at least NOT optimal. Nowadays we just click somewhere on the screen, and hope our characters "get the drift". Though I understand there's usually only one or maybe two things you really can do with each item, it still doesn't feel like a good interface for puzzle-solving and exploration. To make matters worse, in S&M season 1 we can't even combine inventory items, and when we click on a line of text, our character starts improvising around that text and says something... at best similar to what you chose. Are there anyone else here who agrees with me, that MI's interface was far better than what LA and TT has ever done later?
Is this something they do to make it compatible with simpler devices, or is it because they want fullscreen graphics? Or do they actually think this is the better interface? I'd choose the old interface over fullscreen graphics any day.
EDIT: PS! I just want to say to the Telltale crew that I absolutely loooooved Tales of MI, and love Telltale, and this was only meant as contructive criticism... :)
07/16/2010, 01:49 pm
Whilst it is kind of sad to see the old interface go, i think it was a necessity to appeal to a wider audience. Plus, i preffer Curses simple command structure over the originals. You really don't need much more than three verb icons. TTG's structure gets rid of the annoying tedium of trying every item with every other item, using every verb. It drastically reduces the work you have to do, and stops you from going down a wrong thought path, because you used a wrong verb or whatever.
07/16/2010, 01:52 pm
I liked Full Throttles verb options. Not to much and it really worked.
I do miss the whole combine items thing. I'm glad Tales had that.
07/16/2010, 02:20 pm
No, no, no, no no.
The work interface sucks, it's unintuitive, almost as much as text adventures. The ideal version is the Full Throttle system, you click and you get a choice of how to interact. A two button system (left click for use right click for look) is also pretty great. Combining inventory items is good, but some people straight up don't like it.
07/16/2010, 02:29 pm
Combining inventory items is cool, but I think Telltale can manage without it.
And also, do you honestly think it's more convenient? Obviously if there is a character, I don't want to open them, close them, push them, pull them, pick them up, I want to TALK TO THEM. That's a perfectly good example of why I don't want that interface.
07/16/2010, 02:33 pm
I would though, I can't tell you how many times I wanted to use Jurgen on Spiked Couch or Snake
07/16/2010, 04:52 pm
BoneFreak: In Monkey Island, each time you right-click a character, you talk to him. The other options won't hamper you. No extra click. You can also, for instance, "push" a character, that's a perfectly valid move (in real life, that is, or if the game/story allows it). Having the option available opens up for more types of puzzles. I don't mind having the possibility to do things that aren't part of the solution. Not at all. It makes me have to think more consciously about how I think each problem can be solved.
I just don't think click-only is enough. You ask me if I "honestly think it's more convenient"... I'm not so sure of that, I think the most convenient thing would be to have a BIG BUTTON in the middle of the screen, which says "SOLVE PUZZLE". Each time you click it, the character solves one puzzle for you. Convenient or not, I think the old interface gives me more adventure feel. I see an item, and think, WHAT can I do with this? Then I try all things that seem reasonable. In more modern games, all you can do is click it, and let your character decide what to do. You lose some of the feeling that YOU investigate and solve the puzzles. That's just my thoughts about it.
I have never tried Full Throttle. Having just a limited set of actions for each item seems like a reasonable solution. But then again, the available options will of course give some of the solution away. With clever puzzle design, that may not be a problem.
EDIT: BTW, the character can be for instance a monkey or a dog too. These types of characters can both be talked to, and picked up in many adventure games.
07/16/2010, 05:04 pm
patters, you wrote: "The work interface sucks, it's unintuitive, almost as much as text adventures."
By "work interface", do you mean the old LA interface like in MI2? I couldn't disagree more. Intuitive is exactly what it is, and too many modern adv games are not!! On the other hand, I haven't played Full Throttle, so I can't speak of that. The two/three verb varieties I don't like at all. As far as I can recall, MI3 was one of those. I got along with it, but wished it had the MI1/MI2 style.
07/16/2010, 05:49 pm
Balthazar the only point im giving you is the line dialogues being voiced differently. That to me it's annoying, because you click it for the purpose of hearing how funny the character will convey it.
However the verbs had to go, it doesn't mean adventure games are more weaker without it. In fact i believe they have improved from it. No more useless verbs, no more useless tries and reading/hearing "I can't pick that up!" "I can't use that". Think about if Elder Scrolls: Oblivion had open, jump, close, pick up, use, etc? It doesnt make sense. In fact every game should be made like Oblivion, Mass Effect, etc. In the way that action oughta have 1 button instead click, click, click.
Also i'd choose the new interface over the old. Simply because it's more immersible and you feel the environment envelops you. I didnt want to go back to old graphics in Mi1:SE and M2:SE. The remakes make the original look like crap, except in some scenes where its made a close up of facial expression of Guybrush, Elaine and LeChuck face!
07/16/2010, 08:58 pm
I can't believe no one has mentionned this, but what about the fact that the old interface took up half the screen? Maybe I'm just a visual person, but I feel more immersed in a story I can see better.
Although I do miss having random options-- some sort of hybrid between the new and old system might be fun to see. For me, half the fun in point and click adventure games is trying all the things that DON'T work to hear the characters funny commentary, and lots of options with a lot of funny commentary is a great way to go. Like in Space Quest IV where you have the random option to lick things, which, honestly, I don't remember ever serving any practical purpose. It was funny, though!
07/16/2010, 09:28 pm
As a designer, I can tell you one of the reasons I enjoy NOT having to work with the Verb Bar that gives the player several options... Its not having to spend countless hours trying to make 12 or so actions meaningful for every object you can interact with! It seems like a waste of time for the designers, animators, voice actors, and even the players to have to slog through endless variations of "I don't want to do that" and "That's not a good idea". It really slows down the pacing of the story and can get downright frustrating, especially if you are already stuck and every thing you are trying as a player is met with "That's not right".
If you happen to be a really good player, and rarely have to bother with trying to "Open" people or "talk to" banana, then all you are really doing is skipping all that extra work we put in. (And 85% of that stuff is gonna be dull, uninteresting lines anyway).
"So make them interesting" you say? Well, we could do that, but that's a lot of time spent on things most people aren't going to see and aren't moving the story along in any way. We'd much rather put the time and effort into the best bits of the story and gameplay, the stuff that is going to be memorable and, just as important... fun!
Oh my, I have gone on a bit... oh well... insight and all that. (...Perhaps I've been watching too much Dr. Who tonight? Nah!)
07/16/2010, 11:01 pm
It not having to spend countless hours trying to make 12 or so actions meaningful for every object you can interact with! It seems like a waste of time for the designers, animators, voice actors, and ever the players to have to slog through endless variations of "I don't want to do that" and "That's not a good idea".
I was just thinking about this the other day. I like the game being more streamlined, honestly.
07/17/2010, 12:07 am
I don't miss having masses of verbs. One thing that bugged me was having to explicitly Open a door before walking through (you're a smart little adventure game sprite, just figure it out!). Plus it created an almost compulsive need to Close everything that I Opened. :p
My favourite interface is probably left click to Look, right click to interact (Pick Up, Use, Talk etc). For some reason I like hearing the description of the thing I can already see, possibly because then I get to see it from the player character's perspective.
(...Perhaps I've been watching too much Dr. Who tonight? Nah!)
Too much is not enough!
07/17/2010, 03:39 am
Hello my friends! My name is Balthazar, and I am a member of the Telltale Forums new pariah caste.... :) I see that I'm completely alone on this one.
But that makes me curious about another thing. Someone mentioned Full Throttle. As I've said, I haven't played it, but from the posts, it seems you could get a list of only valid actions by clicking each item on the screen? I think that would give me back some of the feeling of beeing in control, and able to properly instruct my character, which is what I liked about the old interface. What does the members of the forum think of such a solution?
07/17/2010, 08:31 am
With the Full Throttle interface, it's been years since I played it, but I think when you clicked on a valid item, you were given options of doing something to that item with your hand, something with your foot, something with your eyes, or something with your mouth. The "something" would be different depending on which item you selected.
What you describe (list of only valid actions) sounds more like Return To Zork. In that interface, when you select an item, you are given a choice of verbs you can apply to that item. They show up in a little diamond picture around the item you selected. Neat interface, and something I've never seen on any other game.
("Want some rye? 'Course you do!")
07/17/2010, 08:45 am
I never really liked point and click that much. Maybe I'm just lazy or perhaps I was born to be a console gamer, but I really preferred the direct control/keyboard interface of Grim Fandango and Escape. I found it much more comfortable to have "P" for pick up, "U" for use, "I" for inventory, and "E/L" for examine/look with none of that tiring clicking the verbs at the bottom of the screen.
Having said that, I also think that Curse had a pretty good combination of clicking and direct control (I just used the keyboard hotkeys, not the verb coin) and Full Throttle was also pretty easy to use without madly clicking all over the screen. :D
07/17/2010, 12:24 pm
I don't know why it happened, but I'm sort of glad it did. Enumerative combinatorics is not a gameplay mechanic.
07/17/2010, 02:26 pm
My ideal situation would be a menu that displays all of the available options with each item so that the option is there for the designer to add some humourous actions. The MI2:SE was a good method I thought.
07/17/2010, 02:55 pm
guitars: That's exactly what I had in mind a few posts above, after I realized I had no support on my initial suggestion.... :)
07/17/2010, 03:04 pm
Combining inventory items is cool, but I think Telltale can manage without it.
What the hell was I doing in Tales of Monkey Island then?
07/17/2010, 03:10 pm
I liked the Curse verb coin: use your eyes, mouth or hand on the thing. I'd probably prefer one or twomore options though.
Left click to look and right click to do all the rest isokay but limiting. You can't talk to someone AND interact with them in another way. You can't pick up an animal AND talk to it. You do whichever the character decides.
I like the old interface but it's true that a lot of verbs rarely if ever get used. I think there are a bit too many of them.
I liked having the inventory on screen at all times though. I definitely miss that.
07/21/2010, 06:14 pm
What the hell was I doing in Tales of Monkey Island then?
I meant that they could make a game and not have combining inventory items. Combining items was most likely put into ToMI so that fans of the classics would be a little more comfortable with the game.
Also, like Darin said, combining items that don't work can end up in extra dialogue as well (and cause the same frustration).
07/23/2010, 09:56 am
Up as far as Sam and Max it always seemed like a logical path of improvement in the interface, the verb bar took up an awful lot of space and never really made that much difference. In the entirety of Monkey Island 2 I can think of only 4 instances where the manner in which you use an item would in any way constitute a puzzle, the rest of the time it's plainly obvious how you should use the bucket when you've said where you want to use it. Even in these instances it's a pretty minimal loss.
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