Editorial: How to save adventure games

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Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by Collector » Fri Feb 19, 2016 8:22 pm

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Rath Darkblade
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Re: Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by Rath Darkblade » Sat Feb 20, 2016 2:18 am

:( Alas. It is an interesting article, but when I get to the end of the first page, the link to the 2nd page is b0rken. ;)

From what I can see, it is interesting. But it is confusing, because the writer comes across as a whiny kid: "Adventure games suck! RPGs suck even more, because you just run around and hit things with swords and pull levers!" :P

But then he starts saying that some adventure games have brilliant ideas (e.g. A Mind Forever Voyaging). So... is this guy saying that adventure games suck, or that they don't suck? :roll: *scratches head*

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Re: Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by Tawmis » Sun Feb 21, 2016 8:51 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote::( Alas. It is an interesting article, but when I get to the end of the first page, the link to the 2nd page is b0rken. ;)
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http://www.pcgamer.com/dont-quit-how-to ... 25/#page-2
http://www.pcgamer.com/dont-quit-how-to ... 25/#page-3

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Re: Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by BBP » Mon Feb 22, 2016 4:13 am

I still need to write mine... Can you poke me with a stick occasionally?

Author lost me with the first line. Read it all the way through - he indeed implies that there never was a good adventure game. Tsk.
Like with the other articles I wish he'd focus on other people's opinions instead of his own. Calling GK3 underwhelming is deserving a smack in the butt.

A lot of things have changed in twenty years - I'll never know now where I got the patience from to play and fail GoldRush! as many times as I did. I've never completed it to this day. Any time I start a fresh game and pledge myself not to resort to a walkthrough I end up using one.
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Re: Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by adeyke » Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:11 pm

Rath Darkblade wrote::( Alas. It is an interesting article, but when I get to the end of the first page, the link to the 2nd page is b0rken. ;)

From what I can see, it is interesting. But it is confusing, because the writer comes across as a whiny kid: "Adventure games suck! RPGs suck even more, because you just run around and hit things with swords and pull levers!" :P

But then he starts saying that some adventure games have brilliant ideas (e.g. A Mind Forever Voyaging). So... is this guy saying that adventure games suck, or that they don't suck? :roll: *scratches head*
That seems like unreasonably black-and-white thinking. If someone says something critical of adventure games, that doesn't mean they can't also have their redeeming features, and if someone says they like adventure games, that doesn't mean they have to think they're perfect in every way. Add to that the changing contexts of games in general and the issue of potential vs. actual implementation and there's room for a lot of nuance.

The article is over four years old, so it can't take into consideration some of the more recent developments in the genre. I think it's in a much better place now than it was a those years ago.

I suppose the main point of the article is this: earlier adventure games were very innovative, a lot of those innovations are now just part of games in general rather than adventure games in particular, and a lot of adventure games just stick to the framework instead of innovating further. Bearing in mind that there are exceptions to these generalizations, I think I largely agree. The big innovation for adventure games is that you could really roleplay a character within a virtual world and do whatever that character would do, rather than being given a limited scenario with only a small set of possible actions. Nowadays, a lot of non-adventure games also give you that sort of experience. The many technological advancements that adventure games spearheaded are now also very common. What this means is that, a lot of times, what defines an adventure game is either sticking to that old, established adventure game framework (point-and-click with look/talk/interact/inventory) or just lacking elements that would make it belong to a different genre (i.e. if it doesn't have action and combat, it's an adventure game by default).

I again stress that there are exceptions, and that it isn't as bleak as that makes it sound.

The article also makes a good point about flow and the pacing of adventure games. Here, too, I'd have to agree. When an adventure game works right, it's wonderful. I recently played some more adventure games and I just couldn't put them down until I finished. It occurs to me now, though, that this is because I never got stuck (with one exception, which did drop my engagement when it happened. Solving a puzzle is interesting, as is actively exploring potential leads to that puzzle. Just wandering around entirely lost, however, isn't. I also definitely see the pacing issues. If the player becomes convinced that it's worth interacting with every hotspot, then every time they get to a new screen, there's a pause in the story and instead just a whole lot of explanatory text. Ditto for conversations. There are ways to make those engaging, but usually in adventure games they mean spending the next minutes just listening to and reading text.

There's also a point about "puzzles" vs. "problems", but I don't find that distinction meaningful. The idea is that a "puzzle" is where you figure out the designer's solution while a "problem" is where you find your own. However, barring something like a physics engine, every potential solution is necessarily going to be something the designer thought of first. And the puzzles are never made with an intentional "guess what the designer is thinking" aspect; that's just the accidental result of the designer underestimating the gap between their own knowledge/intuition and that of the players. I think it's more just about good puzzle design vs. bad puzzle design and that if something seems likee it would be a solution, then it either should be a solution, or there should be a good in-universe reason why it isn't one. I realize, however, that doing this for every potential solution to every puzzle would be a challenge, especially if the intended gameplay and narrative are to be maintained.

Finally, there was a point about consequences. I agree in principle that giving different approaches give different consequences further into the game would be interesting. However, it's also dangerous. If the consequences are too small, the player might lose the illusion of choice. If they're too big, the player might conclude that thtere's just a right choice and a wrong choice. The game would need to have multiple different but equally satisfying narratives depending on the choices made. Doing that well would be challenging. It's the usual dilemma: the more freedom the player has, the harder it is to craft a coherent narrative.

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Re: Editorial: How to save adventure games

Post by Datadog » Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:33 pm

I'm in the frame of mind that adventure games don't need saving. Much like platformers and 8-bit RPGs, the tools to make them are available for any indie developer to inexpensively make them in the comfort of their own home and sell them on Steam for reasonable prices. With hundreds of indie titles and the odd big-budget title here and there, the genre is doing pretty well.
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