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The current state of adventure games

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rincewind, Oct 7, 2007.

  1. Rincewind

    Rincewind

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  2. taumel

    taumel

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    Nope...

    To me adventure games are more compareable to books. Revolution, whatever that means, i don't need it for enjoying a good adventure. What i prefer instead is a good story, interesting characters, challenging but logical puzzles and good dialogues. This all presented with gfx and sfx which don't get on your nerves and that's it. It doesn't need more but actually that's already very hard to do.

    The golden LucasArts era brought real gems to life and after years of nothing more than rubbish and after that uninspired average games it's improving significantly the last one to two years. Ankh 1+2, Jack Keane, Sam&Max Season 1 for instance are all adventures which you can rate in a 7-8 region and this is a much better quality than the years before.

    Adventures are selling well again and so hopefully the budgets for the developers increase as well and maybe within another one or two years we might see a real 9 again.

    There are a lot of adventures going to be released within the next 12 months. Amongst others this year we'll see Ankh3 and Sam&Max Season2 or in the beginning of 2008 we'll see Bill Tiller's A Vampyre Story for instance.

    site -> http://www.vampyrestory-game.com/cms/news.htm
    video -> http://www.avampyrestory-game.com/downloadsavampyrestory_trailer_international.wmv

    Budgets aren't this big as they were to LucasArts times and this really is a significant factor also for the quality which was lacking so many years but as i already wrote things are definately improving on different fronts and who knows at some point even LucasArts might reenter the scene. Either they do it on their own or work together with some veterans. And even if they were acting like jerks with their mono culture, i at least would trust them on beeing able to produce a good MI.

    To me adventures are still the most enjoyable game genre beside of simple stuff like tetris, retro gaming and a few shooters and a handful of roleplaying games. A good book is always welcome and so is a good adventure game. It's about what's inside. It has to make click inside your head. Contrary especially to MMOs i don't experience them as a waste of time.
     
  3. StarManta

    StarManta

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    For once I agree with Taumel. If you're playing adventure games for innovating gameplay, you're in the wrong genre. Adventure games are all about story.
     
  4. Lallander

    Lallander

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    Check out Hotel Dusk for the Nintendo DS. One of the more interesting adventure games I have played in a while.
     
  5. benblo

    benblo

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    I don't think adventure games innovation are contradictory.

    Many people limit adventure games to point'n'clicks, and true, innovation in that particular field is hard.
    The golden era of Monkey Island co showed that story humour were enough to make a big hit, even a cult game that'll stay in gaming history. And if you want to do a clone of that, yeah probably all you need is a good story and a funny writer, I'd even say you badly need it because that golden era is over, and people can't be bothered anymore by anything less than top-notch.

    But for example with Day of the Tentacle (my personal favorite, over MI2), the extra element of having 3 characters that could interact over time-travel was I think innovative; not revolutionary, sure, but it added to gameplay and served the story too.

    And I also loved Gabriel Knight 3... well, all 3 episodes in fact, but the 3d one added a lot to the feeling that's you're really investigating, creating the book while you're reading it.
    The fact that you were in real 3D, sometimes in real-time, sneaking around to catch some conversations, was very revolutionary IMO and hasn't been exploited enough since this game.
    Also branching allowed you to do some events or not, collect some particular bit of info that would help you later, or miss it and find another way.
    Of course it was clumsy, a lot of the investigation tools were little more than toys that could become boring after a while, but it was the first to try that too, and it hasn't been reproduced much since so I think it could become a lot better balanced and efficient, and in the end enjoyable.

    Another game that had nice ideas (but poor graphics, probably low budget) was Discworld Noir (classic 2D point'n'click). The principle was a private-detective-enigma game, and I liked the clue notebook, which allowed you to ask the right questions to the right person, instead of the premade list of topics that you just click through till you reach the end (games that do that are like DVDs that would ask you to hit "next" after every sentence :evil: ).
    There too, it was clumsy, probably too new, and underexploited; I guess the developers were afraid to make the clue list so big that the player would feel lost, so it was possible (but tedious) to go to the process of wasting every option to squeeze out the info you needed from the character.
    But man, when you did get it and asked just the right question to the right guy, the feeling of accomplishment, of participating to the investigation, was just awesome!

    Also I agree that the genre could profit from the next-gen wave, physics could be used, like the puzzles in Tomb Raider Legend.
    Wiimote-like controllers could lead to new options for puzzles too, instead of point'n'click it could become touch'n'interact. Imagine opening a drawer full of real physic objects, and then being able to rummage inside with both hands, actually searching for the clue instead of clicking it. The possibilities are endless!


    So... I do think the genre could most certainly resurface and be renewed. My perfect game would basically be:
    • the new Gabriel Knight, with its unique atmosphere and steel-solid scenario (no denying that the book HAS to be real good)
    • the storyline AND puzzles would make heavy use of branching, so that you don't have to have your brain connected the writer's to finish the game without a walkthrough
    • the engine would be pseudo-real-time 3D (maybe with a Splinter Cell touch), physics-able
    • I'd love to see a sort of clue tree, that would allow me to connect the dots myself, plus extra tools that you really require you to think and interact yourself. Like the map puzzles in GK3, where you draw lines on the computer to find the certain place and then go there using a GPS: brilliant!!
      I just hate it when I finally figured a puzzle and I go to the right place, preparing to get the right item from my inventory, and then bam a cut-scene starts and all is done automatically... I could have just understood nothing and wandered around aimlessly and I would have won anyway: yuck! Again, if I want that, I'll get a DVD.
    • possibly all this could be seen inside a giant MMO-like world; instead of discovering a clue and getting a new dot on the map, hell you just go there, using a GPS or a taxi or whatever! But, I'll admit, it would probably be a lot more difficult to make that part work and still be enjoyable: maybe for step 2 of the revolution ;) !
     
  6. taumel

    taumel

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    Ohoh that's quite the opposite what i would like to see in an adventure, some mischmasch game sold to me as an adventure. Mostly these are the worst as they are disspointing for those who expect adventures as well as they are dissapointing for the others who expect more a tomb raider. A game has to be extremely well designed to get both parts done well and even then, i would prefer seeing the ressources spent on the adventure side.

    By the way different characters were already used in Maniac Mansion and dealing more with ideas than with objects was something they did in Brian Moriarty's first version of The DIG.

    Anyway if things like 3d or a physics engine is useful simply depends on the puzzle design and how you implement it. Both ways are valid and at least the animation route is more predictable if you want to use it for just more than eye candy but obviously you could design puzzles which suit physics but what's the difference to designing a non physics puzzle? I would more see this as another interesting puzzle option but for sure not something which increases the value of a puzzle just out of the box.

    If you don't like cut scenes i guess you're totally wrong in at least point&click adventures because that's a big part of the rewarding system, viewing a cut scene, entering a new scene, ongoing story, ...

    Branching or alternative solutions also sound very nice but in practice they turn out to be a drag because you have to make the decision to a) either spending your ressources on alternative ways or b) just on one story line which has more quality and/or is longer. The second option is the better investment for most of the people (unless we don't have a real adventure AI) because it's the better gaming experience going through one longer and better story once instead of playing through a shorter or less quality one several times. Beside of this it's also harder to design this properly if you don't want this just to be a every eigth puzzle has a second option thing.

    MMOs and adventures are so contrary. It's the soul of an adventure to transport a unique experience to a gamer and put you right into the middle of all this. You can't do this properly in a MMO yet. Most of the MMOs are trying to enhance exactly this situation. I for sure don't want some freaks to pop into my adventure and mess things up.

    It could work with smaller groups or were you lead a larger group by several masters like you would it on a life rolplaying event for instance. If the chemistry works this could work out but what have you gained for the larger ressource investment over providing a traditional adventure?

    I really could imagine that it's fun doing this on a 2 person basis for instance if the communication between these persons is solved perfectly. But again in the end i enjoy reading a book on my own too.

    Most of your suggestions seem to build on an unlimited time and ressource basis and therefore sound quite unrealistic unless you are a big publisher. Just take a look at how long it already takes those who are good in this job to get a good adventure done so that the development is funded and there is a meaningful return of investment.

    I would prefer much more quality in the fields i've written in my posting before instead of some asserted enhancements. Gamers are honouring this too as you can see in the sales. I could imagine introducing The DIG's idea system or making a two person adventure (who'll play if you're alone?) as interesting ideas but again you also could work on just doing a better puzzle instead. And by the way in the point&click sector there always have been slight enhancements from game to game and this will continue once we're back in a more solid market.
     
  7. benblo

    benblo

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    Hey, just because we don't like the same types of games doesn't mean one is wrong and the other right... so be careful when you keep using "you're wrong" and "that's the worst" and such.

    I said from the start that to me point'n'click aren't the only adventure games there are. For example GK3 takes a basis of point'n'click, but with 3D you also move, rotate, etc, and that changes the gameplay greatly.
    So of course, if you go more in a direction than another, some will appreciate it and some will be disappointed: that's true of just about everything in life.

    I played the Dig back when it came out (even bought it, which, as a teenager, was quite rare), so I don't know if it was the first version or what, but apart from the fact that the conversation topics were icons instead of text (as in Sam'n'Max), I didn't find it much different from the others LucasArts. In fact, as much as I enjoyed the sci-fi atmosphere, I found the gameplay a bit dull, probably because it was the same recipe but without the nonsense fun LucasArts was so good with.

    I also think of using physics just as an extra option, that IMO allows more freedom than just yes-or-no clicking logic. By no means do I want to see a physics-based adventure game, just as Tomb Raider doesn't rely on it or even advertise it much, it just enhances the gameplay in a discreet and natural way. I don't consider it an adventure game BTW if that's what you thought, I just think some ideas can cross genres.

    I also never said I don't like cutscenes, of course they're the candy we all love! (Aaah, the days when a 2 second animated sprite was enough to reward us of 3 hours of puzzles and clicking everywhere on the screen.)
    It's just than when I have the tools in my hand, I want to use them and see them connect -isn't your signature "i can't use these 2 things together"?... so you know the thrill of getting a "I can use them" ;).
    The worst recent example I can remember is Runaway 2, where you have to deal with these military types for ages and when FINALLY you're done, all you have to do is... show up.

    As for branching, I've heard it before, it costs more, sure, just as creating a huge free world environment costs more than creating a few closed levels. And you don't like having the choice... well, I do, so what can I say? If I want to play the game again, I can try different. Or, having several ways to solve a puzzle saves me hitting the walkthrough when the writer has twisted logic.
    Of course it has to be used wisely, and it has been used crappily in the past (having 3 alternate endings isn't branching IMO)... doesn't mean the concept isn't viable.

    Same with MMO, I wasn't clear about that, I don't mean like playing with tons of users, more like having this open environment; I agree it raises a billion questions as to how to make it right, but it doesn't mean it can't work, just that the crossover hasn't been made yet.
    But in the principle, a non-computer RPG is just storytelling: what's more adventure-like than this??

    Anyway, all this was purely theoretical, I never said anything as to the resources it would mean and the money it would take, and sure it would probably require a big editor. I would just be interested to play the end-result!
    If you still love your good ole games the way they were, you're certainly in no shortage. And if you don't like big editors, the amateur scene is huge.


    I could go on, but in the end it all comes down to this: just because one recipe works, doesn't mean it's not interesting to experiment, try fusions and alternative routes. You'd like to see the resources spent on scenario/puzzle... I'd like to see them spent on trying to find a new balance, making all these quite-but-not-there-yet ideas finally work.

    .... boy do we love to talk about our adventure games :p !!!! ...
     
  8. taumel

    taumel

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    Indeed we do... ;O)

    Brian's version was never released so i strongly doubt that you've played it. If i remember correctly there was a recent interview with Bill Tiller were he also talks about the idea idea a bit.

    -> http://www.adventuregamers.com/article/id,813/

    Beside of this i obviously have to disagree as i think The DIG is the best adventure they ever came up with due to different aspects.

    I named TombRaider as an representative were some adventure elements meets mainstream fps.

    Okay then i've misunderstood you with the cut scenes but then it's just a matter of balancing. The less casual the more likely you'll enjoy it. Runaway is a perfect example for the low to average serie of games which they've released since some time. I've seen to many of those. I'm so glad that there now do exist better ones again.

    Well, as for branching i just doesn't pay out unless you build your game just on that and advertise it as hell.

    And as in a real life RPG more isn't just better. Depending on the crowd and the size it pretty soon get'S it's own dynamic and you still need this unique experience to make it working. 1 superman in a story works but not 34.

    I've found out that often those games are the best which concetrate on a few aspects and give some depth and passion to them and that most of the crossovers just suck. I'm a happy camper if a get a new quality adventure game in a 9 range.

    Maybe next year, who knows... :O)
     
  9. defmech

    defmech

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    To throw in my own 2c: I'm waiting for an adventure game that takes the combat out of games like Zelda and Beyond Good and Evil and replaces it with really rich, interactive environments and a great story. I love exploring, finding new places and unraveling an epic plot, but don't always want to worry about health or fighting another monster when I'm on my way to a clue. I also don't want to give up the third dimension and what it allows.

    To use BGAE as an example, they did a fantastic job with sets and backgrounds, hinting at a huge, thriving world around you. However, they only let you explore a tiny portion of it. Every time I play it, I can't help but wonder what's on the other side of a wall or what's down that street they don't let you get to. I want to go to all of those places and talk to people to get hints on quests. I want to open all of those false doors that don't lead anywhere and see what could be behind them. Once someone comes out with a game that lets me do all that, I'll probably buy two. Until then, I guess I'll just have to fall back on my imagination.

    The game Penumbra Overture has some features like this. It's a horror/suspense FPS, but much of the interaction is done in a physical way. Like in your example, in order to open a drawer, you have to click on it with the mouse and pull back. It's worth checking out and they have a demo for OSX.
     
  10. Rincewind

    Rincewind

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    Well, most of the ideas I would've defended have already been defended. I'll just reiterate that what infuriates me the most in adventure games is their aim towards hardcore adventure gamers. It'd be nice to say have two solutions for SOME puzzles. Besides in some games like Syberia, the way the graphics are portrayed is actually something that hurts gameplay, because not always it's obvious where you can go to access a new area. I got stuck to such a "puzzle", until I accidentally bumped into that new area. This wouldn't be a problem with a camera system that was in Gabriel Knight 3.

    After giving some thought, in a way it's not required to do everything with 3D or physics, because in the end, you can either have a character either do it somehow compared to Tomb Raider or you can very well point 'n click through anything. Still it doesn't mean I like point 'n click-gameplay, because it brings such problems like those areas you might not realize you can access, too small items that get lost in the pre-rendered backround and all around feel you're watching a movie. I really enjoyed Call of Cthulhu: Dark corners of the Earth, because it portrays everything in first person and you play it like a shooter. Unfortunately it also turns into a shooter later on. But still it feels like I am the person doing all the adventuring and not someone else.

    There are realistic and arcade style racing games as well as shooters, so why there can't be different kinds of adventure games? It doesn't hurt having a broader audience for a genre that's so incredibly cool. Just as long as developers could find a new balance instead of going to one extreme or the other.

    I just bought Dreamfall and it has been considered as one of the better adventure games for a long time. Sure it's more like action adventure, but so was Full Throttle, for example. I'll see how awesome Dreamfall is :D
     
  11. benblo

    benblo

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    Ouch, you guys are gonna make taumel cry ;) !

    I liked Beyond Good Evil a lot too, I think it's a great example of new ideas you can bring into the genre, but overall it was way to "platformy" to my taste to qualify as a "real" adventure game.

    I did play the Penumbra demo (don't remember where I found it, is it a Torque game by any chance?), I think it's a great start, but the minute I had to use weapons I couldn't help but think this was sliding off the wrong track. I too don't wanna have a health bar, ammo, or a money system, etc.
    In the same way, I didn't even bother trying Call of Cthulhu because it seemed like a disguised FPS. Maybe when I want to play an FPS, but an intelligent one, I'll try it? After all as I said, I did enjoy BGAE, but more as an intelligent platform game; it'll never be as dear to my heart as a Day of the Tentacle.


    To me a good adventure game really has to be based on a point'n'click principle: pure story-telling. Then I could see elements of BGAE, Tomb Raider, even RPG maybe, with physics, wiimotes, all added to the base not to create a mashups but only as a way to a) tell a better and more lively story and b) make the user interaction richer and its actions/possibilities more fluid.


    To Rincewind (BTW nice nick, did you play the Discworld series?) : of course you can do all these things with point'n'click actions, but you could also do it with word processing 20 years ago.
    That's often was bothers me with point'n'clicks, after a while clicking away becomes dull, especially if the story or the puzzles aren't that good, it just reveals the flaws of the genre. Sometimes having to chain commands like "use this with this" doesn't quite work with some type of puzzle, and it becomes too artificial, you can just see the strings of the storyteller/puppeteer. Or even in some extreme situation, some things can't be represented by any verb or inventory item, so all is left to do is let the user show up at the right time and you can't have him interact at all.

    I remember a decade-old interview of (I think) Roberta Williams about King Quest 9-that-never-was. They were talking about making it in 3D, and had this example where a chain commanding a door would be hidden inside a tree.
    In a classic p'n'c, you'd have to have a clicking zone over that tree. So maybe the user would have to talk to someone before, to know about the chain, and then the clicking zone would appear. Or maybe they could make the zone ultra small so that the user has to know about it, but you end up with pixel-fighting.
    So what they proposed to do was for the user to be able to control the character's hand, reach inside the hole, and grab the chain. Of course, it was hell to implement, even making a 3D p'n'c was new and unexplored at the time, so I think it's no surprise the game never came out. (For these same reasons, I also think GK3 did exceptionally well at the time.)

    But the idea has haunted me ever since, and I think the new elements we have at our disposal nowadays is the answer to these new interactions, to get rid of all that artificiality.
    That would surely lead to new never-though-before types of puzzles, and possibly save the genre from agony.

    Of course, it would piss off hard-core adventurers, that are attached to past glory and don't want things to change for tradition's sake. The Syberia example in the article that originated this thread is astounding. I like both Syberias for their atmosphere, but other than that I'm not that fan of all Myst-likes: too much puzzle, not enough story and interaction.
    But hey, the hard-cores will continue making their games, and someone can make new ones, and everybody's happy in his own sub-genre :p !
     
  12. taumel

    taumel

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    No not really.. :O)

    I just can't follow you guys as todays adventures are't made for a hardcore audience at all, due to the market and limited budgets. Some might appear this way but that's mostly because they lack the quality in the puzzle/game design and so they get unlogic and so hard to play.

    I also can't see the flaws you're speaking of with point&click as again this is only due to how you design the interface and the puzzles. How much time and money do you have making this a smooth and flexible experience.
     
  13. Rincewind

    Rincewind

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    Take a look at these games. These are the ones I'm talking about. Many of them have as much animation as Myst-games, so maybe there isn't as much story or interesting characters to follow, but a helluva lot of mind-boggling puzzles. You've glanced at the more user friendly adventure games, which I'd also like to do, if I'd have a PC. Great to know they're selling and being succesful.

    Syberia and Still Life are perfect examples of games that were incredibly difficult, but the developers of both titles were flooded with complaints that it was too easy.

    And I complain about point 'n click-mechanics, because nobody dares to do anything different. Sure it gets the job done, but could some other mechanic make it more interesting/entertaining? I've got tired of FPS-games, because I've been playing way too many of them. It doesn't stop me from dreaming about playing Metroid Prime 3 on the Wii, because how the game plays is something totally new to me.
     
  14. taumel

    taumel

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    Aehm this is a long list with very different adventures so i don't know of which one you're talking about. Anyway obviously i prefer playing those adventures which i enjoy but be asured i also took at the others as well. One of the reasons which makes an adventure a bad beside of story, characters, blabla, are badly designed puzzles. You can make a adventure difficult either by designing a puzzle to be a hard one or if you just do it badly.

    Mostly they are hard because of the second reason. It simply takes time and good ideas implementing good puzzles. They should concentrate much more on what's the soul of an adventure instead but hey maybe marketing loves more render settings. Most of the adventures out there are rubbish. Like in other genres only a minority is good...

    It's funny as for Sam&Max for instance people were also complaining that everything was way to easy, including me. From episode to episode they've made it a bit harder whilst still beeing logical. Now they've really implemented my suggestion doing a simple but effective hint system which is built on talking to Max. So if you want it harder, you do not talk to him about specific issues and if you need any help he's given comments which should lead you into the right direction. This was relatively easy to implement, fits natural into the adventure and so is good solution for everyone. Still it took time to implement that. You know, thinking out the hints, dubbing, eventually animation work.

    As for the point&click i've already said what i think about it. There are so many options you could use this, that's not the problem. It's about how you use it.
     
  15. ryos

    ryos

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    Zack and Wiki on the Wii is purported to use the motion controls very well and looks like an extremely promising, innovative adventure game. IGN thinks everyone should buy it.
     
  16. taumel

    taumel

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    Hmm, i've just watched three videos and what i like are the background gfx. As for the rest i don't think that i'm the target audience for a pokemon like jump&run adventure.

    No conversations, the camera movements too hectic, the riddles looked like not this interesting and from the videos it seems that it isn't this easy hitting the sensitive areas, there always was quite some slow-in-movement before they clicked. What i also liked was that you can obtain tools by some movement excercises with the controller but i suspect you shouldn't use this too much.
     
  17. benblo

    benblo

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    Looks promising!
    I'm not too sure this is my perfect game yet, I'm afraid they're too much action/platform, plus puzzle-solving doesn't necessarily mean adventure to me: will it be a succession of puzzles or a whole scenario?
    As to the wiimote, the idea I had in my head was more to use it seamlessly, and not in predefinite actions. Telling your player "push/pull the wiimote back forth to saw this", is a bit like adding a verb in a classic p'n'c. Just another way to do the same in the end.

    But it'll probably still be a great fun, we're getting a wii here to prepare for the unity SDK, I think I'll get this game... for inspiration :wink:
     
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