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Old 07-20-2011, 08:45 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
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I generally agree with the sentiment. I remember re-watching that GK making-of video recently; they're all talking about how adventure games are going to be big, and have stories as compelling as on cable TV etc., and it's sad how none of this ever materialised...

You have to bear in mind, though, that there was a huge push in the direction of more ambitious games in the mid-nineties, with games such as The Last Express, Obsidian, The Pandora Directive, Grim Fandango... And all of these games were commercial disappointments --- which is probably why people stopped making them.

Ultimately, I believe the problem lies in large part with gameplay. Just because there are people who are interested in strong stories with complex characters doesn't mean that they're also interested in playing games, especially adventure games. I'm willing to believe that there's a relatively big fraction of the people who like Tarantino movies that might be interested in playing, say, GTA. But I see no reason why people who like Mad Men would be drawn to adventure games. If I'm watching Don Draper struggling through the news of the death of his only friend and taking it out on Peggy, the last thing I want is to stop in the middle of that to solve some puzzle involving duct tape and a bottle of ketchup! I believe that the intersection of "people who like quality action movies" and "people who might play quality action games" is much larger than the intersection of "people who like quality drama" and "people who might like adventure games", simply because in quality action games the gameplay can actually complement perfectly the story and characters, whereas it generally doesn't in adventures.

(That's why comedic adventures work better. If the whole story is a bit absurd, then you can throw in absurd puzzles as well. And then you have your characters point out that their actions are really contrived, and you get an excuse and a joke all rolled into one!)

An obvious exception is detective stories. Agatha Christie showed in her better books that it is possible to combine strong characters and compelling themes with a gameplay element (figure out who the culprit is from all the clues given to you by the writer). And so in detective adventure games, you can combine the investigation gameplay with the story and characters and the two can work well together. But detective stories are only one genre, and you can get tired of those after a while... But I'm not sure that other types of mature, ambitious stories lend themselves well to adventure games.
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