The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:16 pm

BBP wrote:Did we ever have a favourite Sierra death poll?


I am sure that had to be one of the polls Datadog did! (Where is he lately?)

adeyke wrote:That is a good point. Deaths, and the save/load issue, in other genres do still have some of the same problems as those in adventure games.
I suppose one difference is that adventure games are so much more focused on the story, so the discontinuities are more jarring there. RPGs often have some separation: first story stuff, then a skill-testing part, then more story stuff. If it's like that, having to redo the skill-testing part wouldn't affect the story part.


Well, I think part of it goes back to the limitations of gaming back then. I think if Adventure games lacked death - they would be too easy. Because you could literally go anywhere and try anything without fear of consequence. "You pick up a bottle of T3000 Vogarian Poison - strong enough to kill the largest of Vogarians! And those beasts are ten times your size, Roger!"
>drink poison
"What a bad idea! You think better of it since you're not Vogarian!"

There are games that do just that.

And that's fine. But I'd also punish the player for doing something that's clearly stupid. :)

adeyke wrote:There is something to be said for RPGs having a difficulty level setting, where turning it all the way down makes the fights so easy that a player will never die, and they can instead focus on the story.


I usually leave RPGs on the "standard" setting to do the original play through, and play the game "as it was intended to be played." But there's some games, that are large (like Dragon Age), that on the second or third play through, I put it all the way on EASY, because all I am doing is looking for things I missed, or just trying out another class to build.

adeyke wrote:Okay, then. Here's a similar list of things that would all be part of the game instead of external to it:
1. Suppose that, throughout the game, every few minutes there's a chance that the player is randomly struck by lightning and dies. This can't be avoided, but loading the game means that next time, they might get lucky and get a bit further before they die again.


Have you played GOLD RUSH? While it's not lightning, death can RANDOMLY find you.

And I _still_ love GOLD RUSH.

adeyke wrote:2. Suppose that the player is constantly given decisions (which item to pick up, which door to enter, which path to take), all but one of which is always lethal. No hints are given to the correct solution. Instead, the player just has to try an option and die, until they manage to get the right one. In the final playthrough, having memorized the full solution, the player will manage to make the right decisions each time.


This sounds like LEGENDS OF KYRANDIA BOOK 1 and the caves. :-)

Which I admit, the caves drove me insane - and it was a lot of save and reload - but it didn't make me enjoy the game any less! It actually made me break out a piece of paper and MAP the entire caves. :-)

adeyke wrote:3. Suppose that, at the start of the game, the player is given a choice of nondescript keys, of which they can only take one (and must take one to proceed). They can't change their mind later. Towards the end of the game, they're presented with a door that can only be opened with the correct key.


Well I already said I agree with you that dead ends absolutely suck. Because the player is in a position that they can't do anything BUT restore because of something they missed. I will always agree that dead ends were just poor designs.

adeyke wrote:4. Suppose that the game requires the player to fill a tub with water from a distant lake. The process involves filling a cup, traversing many screens, and emptying the cup, then repeating this over the course of an hour.


I can't think of what game puzzle you might be referencing for this one?

adeyke wrote:5. Suppose a game had a parser that only understood complete sentences, capitalization and punctuation included. Instead of "look desk", the player would have to type "Look at the desk."


Well, once you understood that, and if it was in the manuals, then I'd be all for it. I'd actually ENCOURAGE it really, as it not only allows you to play a game, it also teaches you, your kids, a foreigner, proper English.

adeyke wrote:I'm going to take a stand and say that all of those would be really bad. If someone is designing a game that has any of the above, they should stop. And if someone released a game like that, people shouldn't buy or play it. I don't at all think it's a good idea to just shrug and say that whatever choices the designer makes are equally valid and that strongly stating an opinion about it is automatically arrogant.


At least you don't sound arrogant and call it a Bill of Rights. :)

I think it's all in how you present your views - when they differ. Like I have taken nothing you said as remotely arrogant. But when I read the article linked originally, almost immediately I picked up a very snobbish, arrogant vibe.

adeyke wrote:And despite the name, it's not like it has any force of law behind it. You can violate those "rights" if you want; the result is just that it'll be a bad game. So complaining about the name or the implied arrogance behind it seems like a rather superficial issue.


Not really. We put power into words.

If someone called you a "Mother F&*ker." The implication is you go around having sexual intercourse with mothers. Or, it's an insult. Whether it's true or not (either statement), you're bound to take offense to it, because of the power and meaning of the words.

And to make it less personal, if you over heard two people you didn't know, calling an over weight, innocent woman "A fat slut" you're probably going to be offended based on their judgement, even if you don't know any of the people personally involved.

Because the power behind the words.

The Bill of Rights has a very powerful meaning, because of American History, and what the Bill of Rights actually represents.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby adeyke » Wed Aug 26, 2015 7:56 pm

I wasn't referencing any particular games, though I can think of some games that have some versions of some of those flaws. I was just making up ideas that were clear and extreme violations of one or more things in the Bill of Player's Rights. If you think that most of those are really okay, I think we're at an impasse. While I've enjoyed the discussion, your position is still utterly incomprehensible to me.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:11 pm

adeyke wrote:I wasn't referencing any particular games, though I can think of some games that have some versions of some of those flaws. I was just making up ideas that were clear and extreme violations of one or more things in the Bill of Player's Rights. If you think that most of those are really okay, I think we're at an impasse. While I've enjoyed the discussion, your position is still utterly incomprehensible to me.


I am pretty weird (that's a given!)

I think a lot of it has to do with these are the games I grew up on. So nostalgia aside, this was the "norm" for me - so I don't see much in it being "wrong" (other than dead ends, and the very occasional puzzle that was pretty outlandish). So I think it's a matter of time difference. There's probably things that people did a long time ago, that people today would think is utterly inhumane. The world has changed drastically, and I think it changes our views. I remember, when I was a kid, for example - my parents putting our pet German Sheppard dog chained to a tree in the backyard was normal. Now? I couldn't even imagine doing that with my dog (as anyone who knows me, knows!) So I think there's just a sense of "this is just how it was when I grew up" - so it's easier to accept, perhaps?

Like people who are just getting into MMOs who play World of Warcraft, if they had to suddenly play the original EverQuest (it's been updated and made easy these days) - but if it was original rules, no way would these World of Warcraft players accept EverQuest, they'd have their own Bill of Rights, along the lines of:

1. When I die, I respawn with all my weapons and equipment.
2. I do not take a massive hit to XP that requires me to try and find and pay a Cleric for their resurrection services.
3. I should not be able to drown in the water; if there's water, my character should not be able to swim, or if they do have the common sense to breathe air and stay above water.

and so on and so on.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby MusicallyInspired » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:46 pm

I have issue with some of that list you've described, adeyke, but instead of hitting on them point by point I'll just say that I can't stand death retries even less than I can stand lack of deaths. I don't think that the "player just wants to experience the story" is a good enough excuse. If the game is not centered solely around story then I'm sorry but the game isn't for you. It wasn't designed to just enjoy the story. It was designed to experience all the dangers that come WITH the story. First hand. Not just witnessing it as an observer. That's what I loved about adventure games. Not even just that it was all about thought-provoking, head-scratching, and even hair-pulling puzzles (which is part of what I value over story in adventures). It's that the game plops you right in the middle of the story by experiencing everything the character is experiencing, but with a tad more realism to it than a mere observer could experience. If there's danger you can actually die and fail in your quest, whatever it may be. And if you didn't save then you're just as much at fault because I believe saving is part of the gameplay. If you don't have to actively do something about death then you're just not being proactive. This isn't a tourist sight show. If you die you die, so take the proper precautions. Save your game! I'm even ok with certain checkpoint autosaves for the most part, as long as they don't take place IMMEDIATELY before any danger occurs. You can still lose progress that way. And guess what, it's your own fault.

I'm a big proponent of deaths in adventure games. It was a part of why the genre was so exciting (note- WAS). Many adventure games are no longer exciting because there is no danger anywhere. Even Deponia (the difficult puzzles of which I thoroughly enjoy) has no danger and therefore is not exciting. Monkey Island's finale (either 1 or 2) didn't feel epic because you couldn't fail. It was more funny than anything. Now, you could say that that's what Monkey Island was all about anyway and not danger, but I think the game would have been stronger if LeChuck COULD kill you with the voodoo doll at the end of MI2 rather than just glitching out and sending you to another room. I would have been WAY more tensed up in that sequence. Luckily Fate of Atlantis didn't have this problem. That ending felt epic and guess why...you could die (and lose all your progress if you hadn't saved)! Think of all the best story-culminating points of Sierra's adventures and why they were so effective. The showdown at the end of KQ6, or KQ5 for that matter. The ending areas of SQ4 or SQ5. The sword battle at the end of Camelot (though that's more arcade than anything). They were all frustrating and difficult to some degree but the payoff was fantastic. I mean, it's the end of the game...it's SUPPOSED to be difficult and frustrating! If you weren't able to fail it wouldn't be as impacting. You can't fake that feeling with retries or the inability to fail in some other way like a lack of deaths. It makes it that much more exciting. If you get too frustrated with it, set it down and come back later.

I think the notion of people wanting to be able to accomplish something here and now may be a factor too. There's nothing wrong with putting a game down for a day and coming back afresh. Now we've made games so easy that you can finish it in one sitting. The only reason it FEELS difficult is because maybe we're not used to the gameplay any more, but more importantly we've just finished going through the whole game in one sitting and we're starting to wear out and lose patience which makes you more frustrated. People who have problems with the end of Broken Age (a game which was great, but the ending of which wasn't dangerous at all) or something, for instance, must have really worn themselves out by playing through the entire game in one sitting because it's not that difficult at all (or tense). Just the fact that you cannot fail and there's a perpetual danger going on in a loop all around you takes all the worry and intensity right out of the scene for me. Think of how much more exciting it would be if you were on a time limit, or could do the wrong thing, or could fail miserably in some other way. That puts YOU into the action, not just the character. In that case, I believe deaths actually increase the effectiveness of the story in a way that writing alone and cutscenes just cannot do. That's why we play games rather than read books and watch movies!
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Thu Aug 27, 2015 2:04 pm

MusicallyInspired wrote:I have issue with some of that list you've described, adeyke, but instead of hitting on them point by point I'll just say that I can't stand death retries even less than I can stand lack of deaths.


(Snipping a lot of well written text!)

Well, you know that I side with you already! But I wonder how cool it might have been to have an "option" to disable deaths. Say, for example, a family playing King's Quest with their kids, might not want to have the main characters die; but they might want to show their kids how to type and read, by using a fun game full of fairly tales. This would have also allowed people who just want to play the game, and not suffer deaths, to enjoy it (and perhaps do the "You died here!" and then do the instant retry from right before that death). Granted, it's too late now - but in hindsight, that option might have been kind of nice for folks.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby adeyke » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:21 pm

Your perspective is completely alien to me, aa I suspect mine is to you.

I think I've discussed probably already said enough about my view of adventure game deaths in the past, and I don't think we have any chance of changing each other's minds, so I'll just just give the summary. This my opinion, and I already know you disagree with what I'll say.
  • Unfair deaths are just terrible. If the player dies from something they couldn't reasonably expect would actually be lethal, the death is bad story telling and bad gameplay. Ditto for deaths that are somehow necessary to win the game (e.g. by revealing information).
  • If, however, the player can reasonably expect that an action would be lethal, and thus avoids taking that action, they don't actually see the death scene. So for the skilled player, those death scenes might as well not be there (and whatever experience-enhancing effects those supposedly have will be lost). The fear of death is more important than the possibility of death. Characters in films and literature are often put into peril, making the viewer/reader anxious for their safety, and those scenes work even if that person already intellectually knows the character will survive.
  • If the death comes from inaction rather than action, that would mean that the player has limited time to make their move. However, in practice, if they're able to either rewind or load a manual save game, they can retry as often as necessary and thus have unlimited time. I don't think there's a fundamental difference between encountering LeChuck, getting zapped to a different screen, and retrying, and encountering LeChuck, loading the game, and retrying. Both would be initially tense but ultimately just annoying. A better solution would be for the player to just not encounter that loop so often (which may require reworking the whole puzzle), such that the tension is still there when the player manages to solve it.
  • Neither having to constantly F5 nor having to replay a section the player just did and can thus repeat without thinking is enjoyable gameplay. Also, depending on how much I have to replay, it might be rather annoying, but that annoyance doesn't really equate the life I'm supposedly risking.
  • I don't think saving should be part of playing adventure games. It's not something the character is doing or that's happening in the world (which is why being accused of cheating for saving/loading while gambling in Codename: Iceman feels like such a violation). It's not the character who's bracing themselves for danger; it's the player. Also, if you've recently saved the game, the fear of death is minimized, even though the character is in just as much danger.
  • In addition to the question "How does this affect the player's experience?", another essential question for a game designer to keep asking themselves is "What am I testing the player on?". For adventure games, I think this should ideally be critical thinking, logic, creativity, and things like that. If the answer is instead "how frequently the player remembers to hit F5", I think that's a problem.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby MusicallyInspired » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:42 pm

An interesting view, though not new to me. And you're right, I don't agree with much of it. The point I strive to make, however, is that an adventure can be many things. The LA style is obviously popular and there is a market for that. But Sierra was also just as popular. There's room for both styles in this world and I just want to see more of Sierra's style. Sierra's games aren't perfect, obviously. There were mistakes and oversights but on the whole I think they improved (to a point) over time with each title. Those improvements hadn't much to do with overcoming bad game design so much as making the game more advanced from its simplistic beginnings. Now we're seeing a reversal of this, where adventures are becoming simplistic and streamlined again. And I believe much of that is not only due to simplistic puzzle design but the removal of key game features like deaths and failures.

There's room for both and too many are treating Sierra's style as antiquated and "incorrect" while LA's is considered golden and untouchable. There was a time when both camps were equal. It just so happens that they no longer are and people are rewriting history to claim that Sierra NEVER had good game design at all. This is simply untrue and I will continually fight this false accusation and campaign for Sierra-esque adventure designs again until we see them return. Which may never happen. But that's the kind of adventure I like to play and I just wonder...why can't we have both?
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Collector » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:19 pm

MusicallyInspired wrote:There's room for both and too many are treating Sierra's style as antiquated and "incorrect" while LA's is considered golden and untouchable. There was a time when both camps were equal. It just so happens that they no longer are and people are rewriting history to claim that Sierra NEVER had good game design at all. This is simply untrue and I will continually fight this false accusation and campaign for Sierra-esque adventure designs again until we see them return. Which may never happen. But that's the kind of adventure I like to play and I just wonder...why can't we have both?

This.

You will find that many LA fans look down at their noses at Sierra games because of the death scenes and insist that the LA way is the only way, while most Sierra fans enjoyed both. That "my way or the highway" attitude is a bit much to take. If you do not like deaths, then fine, don't buy or play such games. But it is presumptuous to declare that any other way that you do not approve of is wrong and should not be allowed.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby adeyke » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:08 pm

I wouldn't put it in terms of "Sierra style" vs "LA style". Even among Sierra games, there's a lot of variation in how these issues are treated.The labels also seem to indicate a dichotomy, when there's really a wide spectrum. Even if we're just talking about deaths and dead ends, someone could like death but not dead ends, fair deaths but not unfair deaths, any sort of death but only if they can rewind, the possibility of dead ends but not ones they'll likely accidentally encounter, etc. And if the terms refer to more than just death and dead ends, then I don't even know what they mean.

I wouldn't mind if there were more games of the type that appeal to you. They then probably wouldn't appeal to me as much, but not every game is made for everyone. To me, however, "why aren't there there more new adventure games with deaths, dead ends, and only manual saves?" sounds a lot like "why aren't there more new FPSs designed for only keyboard controls?". And I'll bet there are actually also people asking for those.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:53 pm

adeyke wrote:Your perspective is completely alien to me, aa I suspect mine is to you.


I think it's time we let him on it. We're all actually aliens here ... from the planet Andromeda. Perhaps you have heard of it?
(Come on! That's kind of funny!) :)

adeyke wrote:Unfair deaths are just terrible.
If the player dies from something they couldn't reasonably expect would actually be lethal, the death is bad story telling and bad gameplay.


I can see how this would bug people. A prime example I used was picking up the metal thing in Space Quest 3, in the junk yard. The last thing you think is going to happen is that you're going to slit your wrist on the metal.

While it did not bug me, I can see how someone who is playing, and not used to it - might be turned off by the idea. You'd think (I am guessing) that the person would either be told, "You can't lift that" or "You don't need that" the way you are if you try and take other things not important to the game.

adeyke wrote:If, however, the player can reasonably expect that an action would be lethal, and thus avoids taking that action, they don't actually see the death scene. So for the skilled player, those death scenes might as well not be there (and whatever experience-enhancing effects those supposedly have will be lost). The fear of death is more important than the possibility of death. Characters in films and literature are often put into peril, making the viewer/reader anxious for their safety, and those scenes work even if that person already intellectually knows the character will survive.


See - I think this is where I see a difference in our views. Hear me out here!

So, while I love adventure games for the stories they provide - granted, older games had a thin veil of story, there was at least some semblance of a story there! Now, for me, when I played - as I said, I enjoyed the stories - but I played it as a game - so I expected challenges (and potential death) - because games simply had that! You could almost think of these games, if you want to make them into a story or movie - as first drafts - the writer will put their characters through something, and decide to change in a rewrite - effectively doing a "Restore" from a previous "Save" :)

adeyke wrote:If the death comes from inaction rather than action, that would mean that the player has limited time to make their move.


So an example of this might be the Medusa thing in King's Quest 2?
How else could that have been done? Needing to have a quick reflex once you had the mirror (and face the right way) - granted, this is something you can't know until you have died, so it goes to the player learns how to beat the puzzle after their death.
I guess, they could have had Medusa only move so far (half way through the screen) and prompt the player, "Be careful, Graham! That's Medusa! Her gaze will turn you to stone if you get any closer!"
That, I suppose, would give the player the time they need to pull out the mirror and use it without directly facing death, unless they walk up closer to Medusa or something?

adeyke wrote:I don't think saving should be part of playing adventure games.


Er, so how would you quit the game though?

adeyke wrote:It's not something the character is doing or that's happening in the world (which is why being accused of cheating for saving/loading while gambling in Codename: Iceman feels like such a violation).


I think just about anyone who has played Codename: Iceman will tell you how much they hate this limited save/restore part of the game. :)

adeyke wrote:In addition to the question "How does this affect the player's experience?", another essential question for a game designer to keep asking themselves is "What am I testing the player on?". For adventure games, I think this should ideally be critical thinking, logic, creativity, and things like that. If the answer is instead "how frequently the player remembers to hit F5", I think that's a problem.


I see where you're going with this; but I just think when you say "Adventure" - it goes hand in hand with "danger" - because is it really an adventure if you're not out there exploring and potentially in danger? Otherwise, it's just a walk out in the park, not an adventure through some woods. :)
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:54 pm

MusicallyInspired wrote:There's room for both and too many are treating Sierra's style as antiquated and "incorrect" while LA's is considered golden and untouchable. There was a time when both camps were equal. It just so happens that they no longer are and people are rewriting history to claim that Sierra NEVER had good game design at all. This is simply untrue and I will continually fight this false accusation and campaign for Sierra-esque adventure designs again until we see them return. Which may never happen. But that's the kind of adventure I like to play and I just wonder...why can't we have both?


People are Gamesist. (New word - racists towards games!) :)
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:56 pm

Collector wrote:You will find that many LA fans look down at their noses at Sierra games because of the death scenes and insist that the LA way is the only way, while most Sierra fans enjoyed both. That "my way or the highway" attitude is a bit much to take. If you do not like deaths, then fine, don't buy or play such games. But it is presumptuous to declare that any other way that you do not approve of is wrong and should not be allowed.


You know what's funny? And I will probably get fried for this - I have never played a LucasArts/LucasGames game like Secret of Monkey Island and such... only their Star Wars stuff.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby MusicallyInspired » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:19 pm

Heh, well I'm going to pull a complete 180 and tell you that you really should play them. They are all excellent.

To me, however, "why aren't there there more new adventure games with deaths, dead ends, and only manual saves?" sounds a lot like "why aren't there more new FPSs designed for only keyboard controls?"


I have to say I completely disagree with this comparison. I don't consider that similar at all. Game interfaces are a totally different ball game from game features. A more appropriate comparison would be "why aren't there more FPS's with save slots and quick saves and not just checkpoint-only with one player slot and no manual saves?" And there are PLENTY of people who want that. Luckily they're still being made, but it's getting rarer.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby adeyke » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:04 am

Tawmis wrote:
adeyke wrote:If, however, the player can reasonably expect that an action would be lethal, and thus avoids taking that action, they don't actually see the death scene. So for the skilled player, those death scenes might as well not be there (and whatever experience-enhancing effects those supposedly have will be lost). The fear of death is more important than the possibility of death. Characters in films and literature are often put into peril, making the viewer/reader anxious for their safety, and those scenes work even if that person already intellectually knows the character will survive.


See - I think this is where I see a difference in our views. Hear me out here!

So, while I love adventure games for the stories they provide - granted, older games had a thin veil of story, there was at least some semblance of a story there! Now, for me, when I played - as I said, I enjoyed the stories - but I played it as a game - so I expected challenges (and potential death) - because games simply had that! You could almost think of these games, if you want to make them into a story or movie - as first drafts - the writer will put their characters through something, and decide to change in a rewrite - effectively doing a "Restore" from a previous "Save" :)


That's an interesting perspective, viewing the playing of an adventure game as the process of writing a story.

I don't think it really fits, though. The main issue with that interpretation is that the saving/loading is the only case where you have extradiegetic powers, where you somehow control the story itself. The rest of it is all diegetic: you're just a character inside the story. You're directly controlling that character, taking only the actions available to that character, and both the challenges you're presented with and the criteria by which you're judged are about character's progress in their quest, rather than the quality of the resulting story.

That's actually an interesting game idea, though. Imagine a game where you do actually control the story. You'd be in control of all the characters and the events, and you'd be scored on the pacing, whether the characters' actions match their motivation, how well the conclusion matches the setup, whether there are any plot holes, etc. That game would be completely different from adventure games, though.

adeyke wrote:If the death comes from inaction rather than action, that would mean that the player has limited time to make their move.


So an example of this might be the Medusa thing in King's Quest 2?
How else could that have been done? Needing to have a quick reflex once you had the mirror (and face the right way) - granted, this is something you can't know until you have died, so it goes to the player learns how to beat the puzzle after their death.
I guess, they could have had Medusa only move so far (half way through the screen) and prompt the player, "Be careful, Graham! That's Medusa! Her gaze will turn you to stone if you get any closer!"
That, I suppose, would give the player the time they need to pull out the mirror and use it without directly facing death, unless they walk up closer to Medusa or something?


The point I was making in that bullet is that, if the goal is to force the player to find the solution quickly, because there's some sort of time pressure, then killing them after the timer is up doesn't necessarily fulfill that goal, since they can keep resetting the timer by loading the game.

I don't like the idea of me giving alternatives to particular existing puzzles. It's legitimate to point out a problem without having a solution, and that criticism wouldn't become less valid if a proposed solution ends up being rubbish. Also, in some cases, it might be necessary to rethink a whole system rather than change just one puzzle. If I'm pressed, though:

There's currently no need to actually kill Medusa. That's just done to make exploring the desert and getting the required items there safer. So one alternative would just be to just have the character automatically run away when Medusa gets too close. The player would then still be unable to explore the desert while she's alive. And with the right music and animation, the player could still be get the impression that they only barely escaped. That illusion would be shattered if the player just keeps running into the desert to try to get the items before Medusa appears, so maybe the game could just prevent the player from subsequently entering the desert without a way to defeat the Medusa.

What you suggested could also work. (It's in KQ3 with Alexander Gwydion, not KQ2 with Graham, though.)

Early in the discussion, I brought up the idea of a contract between the game and player. Most of this discussion has been about what it means for the game to uphold its end. I guess here it's worth bringing back up the player's end: they'll give the game their time and attention and take it seriously. I think that's relevant for these timed situations. If the player encounters a situation where it really feels like they're about to die unless they act quickly (which may mean running away), but they instead say "I don't think I'm in actual danger and will instead just stand here doing nothing", then they're breaking the contract and the game is no longer obligated to give them a compelling story.

adeyke wrote:I don't think saving should be part of playing adventure games.


Er, so how would you quit the game though?


I mean manual saving here. The game should still save the game when you quit and let you pick up where you left off in the next session.

adeyke wrote:In addition to the question "How does this affect the player's experience?", another essential question for a game designer to keep asking themselves is "What am I testing the player on?". For adventure games, I think this should ideally be critical thinking, logic, creativity, and things like that. If the answer is instead "how frequently the player remembers to hit F5", I think that's a problem.


I see where you're going with this; but I just think when you say "Adventure" - it goes hand in hand with "danger" - because is it really an adventure if you're not out there exploring and potentially in danger? Otherwise, it's just a walk out in the park, not an adventure through some woods. :)


Are you saying that because they're called "adventure games", they should contain the traits of an "adventure" (the English noun)? I don't think that's a useful argument to make. The genre is actually just named after the first game in it, Adventure (the one about the Colossal Cave). So saying that adventure games have to be about adventure (and the danger that entails) would be sort of like saying that roguelike games should all somehow be similar to a dishonest or unprincipled person (i.e. a "rogue").

Actually defining what an adventure game is is difficult, but the basic idea is about how the player interacts with the world. And within that genre, there are any number of stories that can be told. Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, for example, often aren't about going on any sort of adventure, but they're still adventure games.

But even if we restrict our view to "adventure games about adventures", there are still many ways they can work. A game can be epic, challenging, and full of exploration without any danger. And it can seem dangerous without the actual possibility of death. But suppose you decide that the game should have the actual possibility of death and that "ability to escape actually deadly situation" is one of the things you want to test the player on. Even in that case, you should still be careful that you aren't instead testing them on their frequency of pressing F5. It's not enough to just have a vision of how the game will be played and what it'll be about; you have to consider (and test) how it'll actually be played.

(Also, if there was playing a Sierra that was literally just about a walk out in the park, I'm pretty sure you'd be able to accidentally fall into a body of water and drown :p ).

MusicallyInspired wrote:
To me, however, "why aren't there there more new adventure games with deaths, dead ends, and only manual saves?" sounds a lot like "why aren't there more new FPSs designed for only keyboard controls?"


I have to say I completely disagree with this comparison. I don't consider that similar at all. Game interfaces are a totally different ball game from game features. A more appropriate comparison would be "why aren't there more FPS's with save slots and quick saves and not just checkpoint-only with one player slot and no manual saves?" And there are PLENTY of people who want that. Luckily they're still being made, but it's getting rarer.


It's not directly analogous, but the general idea is that genre evolve, that when one game hits upon a great feature, that then becomes a standard, and features of early games that ended up not actually being good are discarded. And it can often be amazing that was seems obvious now wasn't actually thought of in earlier games. That sort of evolution makes it easy to jump into a new game from a familiar genre but often makes older games feel unplayable by comparison (TV Tropes' Pennyfarthing Effect page is about some of this). And for me, personally, the death and dead ends are among those features that it's good that the genre has moved on from.

You are right, though, that there's a difference between the interface and the underlying game. I guess that modern FPSs designed for only keyboard controls would be more directly analogous (in my own opinion, I hasten to add) to modern adventure games designed with a "click on the verb, then click on the object" interface instead of a verb coin + keyboard shortcuts or (even better) just a contextual click interface. But that's probably tangential enough to the rest of this discussion that it would need its own thread. And I think I already know that you completely disagree with me there, as well.
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Re: The 14 Deadly Sins of Graphic-Adventure Design

Postby Tawmis » Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:36 pm

adeyke wrote:
Tawmis wrote:See - I think this is where I see a difference in our views. Hear me out here!
So, while I love adventure games for the stories they provide - granted, older games had a thin veil of story, there was at least some semblance of a story there! Now, for me, when I played - as I said, I enjoyed the stories - but I played it as a game - so I expected challenges (and potential death) - because games simply had that! You could almost think of these games, if you want to make them into a story or movie - as first drafts - the writer will put their characters through something, and decide to change in a rewrite - effectively doing a "Restore" from a previous "Save" :)

That's an interesting perspective, viewing the playing of an adventure game as the process of writing a story.
I don't think it really fits, though.


See, to me, it does. Have you ever read any Choose Your Own Adventure or Endless Quest books? In these books, you control the character in the story - and take action. For example, you might read one called "A King's Quest" in which the character, Graham, is going on a quest. You get to a part where it says, "If you want to cross the bridge, turn to page 80. If you want to turn back around, go to page 60."

You decide to try and cross the bridge, and turn to page 80, and read how a troll leaps over the bridge and devours you! Your quest is over! (Granted a lot of people book mark the page before - so that they can go back and make the other, more healthy choice!) It's just like Save/Restore. :)

adeyke wrote:What you suggested could also work. (It's in KQ3 with Alexander Gwydion, not KQ2 with Graham, though.)


You are quite right! And I should have known that, having just recently played King's Quest 3.

adeyke wrote:Are you saying that because they're called "adventure games", they should contain the traits of an "adventure" (the English noun)? I don't think that's a useful argument to make. The genre is actually just named after the first game in it, Adventure (the one about the Colossal Cave). So saying that adventure games have to be about adventure (and the danger that entails) would be sort of like saying that roguelike games should all somehow be similar to a dishonest or unprincipled person.


I didn't even know the name came from the game "Adventure" - I assumed it was an "Adventure" game, because you're taking the character on an adventure, whether it's an adventure through Lost Wages (LSL), Daventry (King's Quest), Lytonn (Police Quest), New Orleans (Gabriel Knight), etc.

adeyke wrote:Actually defining what an adventure game is is difficult, but the basic idea is about how the player interacts with the world. And within that genre, there are any number of stories that can be told. Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry, for example, often aren't about going on any sort of adventure, but they're still adventure games.


See, I guess this is where we don't see eye to eye! I would say every time Sonny Bonds gets in the car, he's going on an adventure - because there's going to be trouble at every corner, as an officer of the law. And for Larry, he's traveling in a new he's not familiar with - that's pretty much an adventure.

adeyke wrote:But even if we restrict our view to "adventure games about adventures", there are still many ways they can work. A game can be epic, challenging, and full of exploration without any danger. And it can seem dangerous without the actual possibility of death. But suppose you decide that the game should have the actual possibility of death and that "ability to escape actually deadly situation" is one of the things you want to test the player on. Even in that case, you should still be careful that you aren't instead testing them on their frequency of pressing F5. It's not enough to just have a vision of how the game will be played and what it'll be about; you have to consider (and test) how it'll actually be played.


See, most deaths to me - are logical (as far as adventure games go). Not all of them, of course. There are some related to "arcade sequence" (not surprising, as arcade games and arcade halls were big in the 80's that these games like Space Quest would inject arcade sequences). There's a few unsuspecting deaths (like the one I keep saying, the metal thing in Space Quest 3), but over all - the death portions are not that surprising when they come. Space Quest when that tasmanian devil thing comes through the wall - if you walk up to it without throwing the rubic's cube, you die. As you should, as that's a part of the puzzle of passing it, and thus, not too far out there to think they'd put a death sequence there if you don't do the right thing.

adeyke wrote:(Also, if there was playing a Sierra that was literally just about a walk out in the park, I'm pretty sure you'd be able to accidentally fall into a body of water and drown :p ).


Not if I type "swim" really quick, then I just read water! :lol:
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