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Old 04-18-2008, 09:17 AM   #1
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Hi Fellow Adventure Gamers,

Let me introduce myself: I am a game developer making adventure games. While I have never posted on these forums, I have been stalking them for the past 2 years (creepy huh?) and have been noting what games people historically like and which they don't!

My current project (which I can't really talk about) is about to end and after that, I want to independently pursue a project which I've been thinking about for years. I have been working out the story which I feel will be very compelling and should really push the envelope in terms of story.

That being said, I haven't put nearly the amount of thought into gameplay as I have into story. While I do have ideas on certain puzzles or situations, I haven't thought more deeply about the core mechanics of this game. That's where I need some help and direction.

I would love to hear back from avid adventure gamers about what they want in a new adventure game. We all know the market for adventure games is small but I feel like the genre needs a new story and some new gameplay to help revive it.

1. How important is the originality of the story to the game? Do people enjoy a more simple story with complex puzzles or do people want a more literary story that demands some "interpretation" from the player? Do you want to play a game that heavily laden with allegory and symbolism? Or do you feel that heavy stories are reserved for books?

2. Do people like the traditional adventure game mechanics of puzzle solving and conversations? What about mini-games? Do people like Indigo Prophecy "simon says" mini-games? Or do people like more in-world games a la the combat system in Dreamfall?

3. How do people feel about viewpoint? Do people like a first person view like Myst or more third person like Gabriel Knight (btw, that's my favorite adventure game of all time). How about controls? Point-and-click or "WASD" FPS-type controls?

4. How about replayability? Is that really important? Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had a cool system that allowed some replayability. Did people enjoy this?

5. What are people's thoughts on incorporating game mechanics that people can return to over and over? For instance, an adventure game could have a game of checkers that needs to be played once to get past a certain point but then could be replayed later for fun.

6. How many people own the Wii? I really think this is a great platform for adventure games.

7. Do people have any ideas on incorporating new types of gameplay into the adventure genre? I am open to any suggestions.

Sorry for the long post! Answers to any or all of questions would be much appreciated. Your answers will help drive my decision on how to start this project so you are playing a big part in all of this.

Thanks!

Salil Apte
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Old 04-18-2008, 09:35 AM   #2
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Hello and welcome. Putting my two cents, somewhat short and simple.

1. How important is the originality of the story to the game? Do people enjoy a more simple story with complex puzzles or do people want a more literary story that demands some "interpretation" from the player? Do you want to play a game that heavily laden with allegory and symbolism? Or do you feel that heavy stories are reserved for books?

Originality is always of course a plus, but it's not necessary in AG - it's all about how well you tell the story. While puzzles are important, I still always been driven by the main story and the atmosphere myself. I'd MUCH rather have a good story with poor puzzles, than a poor story with good puzzles.

So in short : Story > puzzles



2. Do people like the traditional adventure game mechanics of puzzle solving and conversations? What about mini-games? Do people like Indigo Prophecy "simon says" mini-games? Or do people like more in-world games a la the combat system in Dreamfall?

Personally speaking, I dislike these kinds of minigames in adventure games a lot, especially if it's something that can lead to death, failure or something similar.


3. How do people feel about viewpoint? Do people like a first person view like Myst or more third person like Gabriel Knight (btw, that's my favorite adventure game of all time). How about controls? Point-and-click or "WASD" FPS-type controls?

3rd person. I've never got into 1st person games. I can't describe it, but for some reasons games seem a lot more "dead" and boring when 1st person view. I really like to see my environment and character freely.

4. How about replayability? Is that really important? Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had a cool system that allowed some replayability. Did people enjoy this?

Of course this as well is always a plus, but not necessary at all. Most greatest AG's I've played don't have aforementioned replayability value, other than great story.

5. What are people's thoughts on incorporating game mechanics that people can return to over and over? For instance, an adventure game could have a game of checkers that needs to be played once to get past a certain point but then could be replayed later for fun.

Doesn't sound too bad

6. How many people own the Wii? I really think this is a great platform for adventure games.

Don't have one, but probably will one day.

7. Do people have any ideas on incorporating new types of gameplay into the adventure genre? I am open to any suggestions.

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Old 04-18-2008, 10:03 AM   #3
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Well, MikaelS already said how I feel, so no need to repeat it.

I would like to add to #3 though, that I'm a pure Point-and-click woman.
I absolute HATE if I have to use the keyboard for controlling my character.
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Old 04-18-2008, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staufman View Post
That being said, I haven't put nearly the amount of thought into gameplay as I have into story. While I do have ideas on certain puzzles or situations, I haven't thought more deeply about the core mechanics of this game. That's where I need some help and direction.
Bad idea.

There is nothing worse than a game written by committee. Too many cooks spoil the broth and all that.

What you will get from this kind of excercise it 50 different answers, more confusion and an unfocoused development.

Ask yourself those questions first.

1. How important is the originality of the story to YOUR game? How complex do you want to make it without turning off your audience.

2. Do you need mini games in this game or does the rest of the gameplay stand up. What is the reason for putting them in? (time padding, relevance to the story)

3. What viewpoint best tells your story? How is the atmosphere and story affected by 1st vs 3rd person?

4. Can you add in elements that make it replayable? Does the story/game need it?

5. Are you telling a story or making a mini game collection? Do you need aspects that can be replayed? Does it distract from the overall story your trying to tell?

6. How many people own the Wii? (OK that one you probably can ask)

7. Do you have any ideas for new gameplay that you can add in that would enhance what your trying to do here?


------------------------------------------

Do some research on the market. What types of games are we talking about most? Read posts on what we like and don't like in adventures. (There are plenty here on the forum)

Try some general market research with little specifics?

How important do you place these elements:

Story 1 2 3 4 5
Puzzles 1 2 3 4 5
Replayability 1 2 3 4 5

etc etc etc

The specifics of the game should always come from the developer.
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Old 04-18-2008, 02:07 PM   #5
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I will double what Lucien said.

Creating a game by asking people what they want, and trying to give it to them, is a losing proposition. Not only will the answers be contradictory (you have to know that there is every conceivable taste out there), but people are also notoriously bad at accurately reporting their true preferences.

Yes, they may tell you what they THINK they want, but that doesn't mean that they won't play and enjoy something else if it happens to strike them the right way.

You're going to spend a lot of time and energy putting together your game. It's your dream. It comes from your heart. Obviously, you love adventure games. So create an adventure game that YOU will love. If people flock to it, wonderful...you can't get closer to game design nirvana.

If people don't flock to it, you'll still have something that was true to your vision, and you'll learn something valuable. You won't learn nearly as much if you try to design by popular consensus.

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Old 04-18-2008, 06:36 PM   #6
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I will triple what the above two posters said.

That said, would it be at all possible for you to tell us a little more about your story? Because if you really want some public input on gameplay ideas that would best benefit said story, I'd be happy to give it to you.
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Old 04-18-2008, 10:42 PM   #7
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I'll quadruple what the above two posters said. And add two things:

1) If you're passionate about the gameplay, then it will show and the game will be fun. If you try to make the game fit what other people like, the game will suffer.

2) If you find yourself passionate about the story, but just shoehorning gameplay and puzzles into it, maybe it would be better off as a novel or some other kind of storytelling medium other than an interactive one. Just throwing that out there. I've had what I thought were great story ideas and when I sat down to make a game out of them, realized that they were story-stories and not game-stories.
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Old 04-19-2008, 05:44 AM   #8
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Okay, it's true you can't please everyone but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do some research into what people generally like and don't like, as long as you have a clear vision of what you want your game to be and don't compromise on the things that really matter. The best games I have played are the ones where the developers passion shines through, regardless of in game flaws.

Some things, like 1st vs 3rd person and the priority of puzzles vs story vary a lot from person to person so there's always going to be someone who is dissatisfied. I think action sequences, in game games and minigames are more of an issue because they are likely to turn off people that might otherwise love your game. If you include such things, you might consider giving gamers an option to get around them, for people that don't enjoy such things but are drawn into your story. A simple hot key that lets you skip games or combat would suffice.
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Old 04-19-2008, 09:37 AM   #9
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I like a really strong storyline in an adventure...a mystery to solve and if possible a shock ending that isn't expected throughout the game. I prefer point & click, plenty of realistic locations to explore...for example if theres a house I want it to have all rooms including the kitchen! The more activity in a game the better for me...if there are drawers and cupboards I want to open them all! I don't mind mini games and love good puzzles as long as they are relevent to the story. Also lots of usable inventory items! I don't want much eh

ooo and I love a game with a spooky mysterious atmoshere!!
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Old 04-20-2008, 06:07 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by sue3737 View Post
I like a really strong storyline in an adventure...a mystery to solve and if possible a shock ending that isn't expected throughout the game. I prefer point & click, plenty of realistic locations to explore...for example if theres a house I want it to have all rooms including the kitchen! The more activity in a game the better for me...if there are drawers and cupboards I want to open them all! I don't mind mini games and love good puzzles as long as they are relevent to the story. Also lots of usable inventory items! I don't want much eh

ooo and I love a game with a spooky mysterious atmoshere!!
You HAVE played Barrow Hill, haven't you? I love the fact that in that game you can fiddle with the buttons on the toaster, nibble food in the kitchen, put together a puzzle, and other non essential game interactions. Giving the player lots to explore and do really fills out a game world and gives you something to do in those "what do I do now..." moments.
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:15 AM   #11
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1. How important is the originality of the story to the game?
Not very important.

2. Do people like the traditional adventure game mechanics of puzzle solving and conversations?
The most important is the story and characters. Crazy puzzles and combat systems don't add any value to a game.

3. How do people feel about viewpoint?
I prefer third person. It is like interactiong while watching a movie or reading a book.

4. How about replayability? Is that really important?
I never played a game twice.

5. What are people's thoughts on incorporating game mechanics that people can return to over and over?
Anything not related to the story is irrelevant.

6. How many people own the Wii?
Wii is cool, but games are overpriced.
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Old 04-20-2008, 01:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buddi View Post
You HAVE played Barrow Hill, haven't you? I love the fact that in that game you can fiddle with the buttons on the toaster, nibble food in the kitchen, put together a puzzle, and other non essential game interactions. Giving the player lots to explore and do really fills out a game world and gives you something to do in those "what do I do now..." moments.
Hi,
Yes I loved Barrow Hill, the more interaction and exploration in a game for me the better!
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:15 PM   #13
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I admit I've been more of an FPS/RPG gamer through most of my gaming life but have turned to AG's recently, mostly for for more in depth storys. The story in any game IMO, is the most important thing. I don't really care how original, as long as it's interesting with well fleshed out characters.

And while I know I'm in the minority here, I personally would love to see more innovation in the genre. While I didn't care for the "Simon Says" type mini game in Indigo Prophecy (mostly because of the PC controls), it was a step in the right direction. I also liked the idea that it wasn't the standard point and click for movement and not a kill everything that moves type game. For me it was refreshing. There were some serious flaws with Indigo, but I give D. Cage kudos for at least trying something different and it has turned into one of my favorite games.

I'm playing a game called Dead Reefs right now which is totally keyboard driven but TBH, if it was FPS type controls with the mouse for free look I would be in love with the game. So yes, an AG with FPS controls. Great idea.

Replayability? I'd love it!

Of course as I said, I'm sure I'm in the minority here and speaking from a strictly selfish standpoint. But a story driven AG with an FPS control scheme, no killing, logical puzzles. My oh my, I'd be on that like a fly to feces.
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:54 AM   #14
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Like many people here, I think that you should have your own vision about what you'd like to bring to an adventure game. However, since you asked:
1. How important is the originality of the story to the game? Do people enjoy a more simple story with complex puzzles or do people want a more literary story that demands some "interpretation" from the player? Do you want to play a game that heavily laden with allegory and symbolism? Or do you feel that heavy stories are reserved for books?
I don't think that story and puzzles are mutually exclusive. Some of the best games out there have complex stories and lots of challenges - Black Dahlia, Zork Nemesis, GK2 and 3, Myst/Uru, Faust, to name a few. Having said that, I'm the type of gamer that puts puzzles over story as a priority. it's nice when there is a good background story, but I'm just as happy exploring a world on my own with little narrative.
2. Do people like the traditional adventure game mechanics of puzzle solving and conversations? What about mini-games? Do people like Indigo Prophecy "simon says" mini-games? Or do people like more in-world games a la the combat system in Dreamfall? I like traditional puzzles - logic, math , spacial, etc. I hate anything that requires timing and dexterity. For me, adventures are about using your brain, not hand eye coordination. I also find dialogue trees and use every inventory on everyone and thing boring.

3. How do people feel about viewpoint? Do people like a first person view like Myst or more third person like Gabriel Knight (btw, that's my favorite adventure game of all time). How about controls? Point-and-click or "WASD" FPS-type controls? First person is the most immersive for me. I like being in the game. I will not play a game that needs to have keyboard controls.

4. How about replayability? Is that really important? Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis had a cool system that allowed some replayability. Did people enjoy this? Replayability boils down to how much fun the game was the first time around and how much I've forgotten. I would not play a game twice to get a second ending or pathway.

5. What are people's thoughts on incorporating game mechanics that people can return to over and over? For instance, an adventure game could have a game of checkers that needs to be played once to get past a certain point but then could be replayed later for fun. A few games have that feature (AGON). I dislike playing a strategy game against a computer so I'd never do that for fun.

6. How many people own the Wii? I really think this is a great platform for adventure games. I only play PC adventure games. I've never owned a console and likely never will.

7. Do people have any ideas on incorporating new types of gameplay into the adventure genre? I am open to any suggestions.
I'm of the 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' camp.
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Old 04-21-2008, 08:16 PM   #15
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I got bored and decided to post my answers to the above questions on my blog.
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Old 04-22-2008, 10:07 AM   #16
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5. What are people's thoughts on incorporating game mechanics that people can return to over and over?
I don't know about anyone else but I loved starting up 'Return to Ringworld' just to play that card game at the beginning. I'd play it for hours! So if it's unique, then yes!
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Old 04-25-2008, 10:34 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the wonderful replies. My favorite was from sue3737 who said she likes to be able to click on everything in the world -- that sounds exactly like my girlfriend!

I understand some of the posts about how the contradictory opinions of players won't really help me in making choices for the game that I'm making. Nevertheless, I don't like the idea of working in a vacuum. While Indigo Prophecy has some innovative gameplay mechanics for an adventure game, their core game mechanic (Simon Says/Whack-a-mole) gets attacked in just about every review I've read. For me as a developer, I would feel like I didn't do enough research to find out if something was really fun before releasing the game.

In short, I don't intend to use the opinions stated here to drive the game but merely as a way to validate what I'm doing. A simple example is the 1st person/3rd person question. I've always had an affinity to 3rd person games and I also cannot really explain why. My only guess is that I started with 3rd person games and that an adventure game plays out very much like an interactive movie. Because the language of film currently uses 3rd person shots (though I hear the Doom movie had some 1st person sequences), perhaps I am conditioned to watch a story unfold in that way. In any case, it sounds like many people here feel the same way -- that's great!

Thanks again for all the help and keep the suggestions coming. Oh yea, and if you are a 3d artist interested in helping, drop me a line.
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Old 04-25-2008, 11:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by staufman View Post
While Indigo Prophecy has some innovative gameplay mechanics for an adventure game, their core game mechanic (Simon Says/Whack-a-mole) gets attacked in just about every review I've read. For me as a developer, I would feel like I didn't do enough research to find out if something was really fun before releasing the game.
While it's generally good to do your research, you wouldn't really need it to figure out that Simon and Whack-A-Mole have absolutely nothing to do with Indigo Prophecy's core thematic elements. Finding out whether something is "fun" isn't enough; I certainly can have a great time playing the above two minigames on their own, but in the context of a murder mystery, they can get in the way to the point of being absolutely ludicrous. I would think that this is common sense, but I guess some game designers (and even moreso, marketing executives) really do lack it.

Of course, like I think I said earlier, I've never played the game...
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Old 04-25-2008, 12:05 PM   #19
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This is all just coming from my personal opinion and experience

1. I personally don't think an adventure game has to be original to be good. Although originality can make for a great game. Many of the LucasArts classics I consider to be very original. Games like the Agatha Christie games and Sherlock Holmes ( the latter of which I only played "The Awakened") aren't original concepts, but they are still fun to play, and if you were already a fan, then there is that added appeal. About complex plot structures and symbolic meanings in games: well I can't really think of any adventure games that are really complex and hard to figure out the meaning of, off the top of my head. There are certainly games out there which really have a powerful impact on you and are meaningful to you personally. For me games like that are The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, and Grim Fandango. I loved those games for their epic feeling.

2. I like both puzzle solving and talking to characters. Aside from the plot, they are my favorite aspect of adventure games. I don't mind mini-games if they are simple and don't detract from the plot. Example of a mini-game gone wrong: the hacking puzzles in Broken Sword 4. They were difficult, there was too many of them, it did nothing to move the story along, and the worst part was that some of them were timed. By default I prefer if there isn't combat in adventure games, but if there happens to be, at least keep it simple. The combat in Dreamfall, simple as it was, was also terribly made, and like the hacking puzzles of Broken Sword 4, didn't move the plot along.

3. Point of view has never really mattered to me. I play both first and third person games. Control wise I believe point and click mouse control really works best for adventure games. It has worked well all these years. I actually don't mind keyboard control, but point and click works the best.

4. If I go to replay a game it's usually because I really enjoyed it, rather than trying out different alternate paths. I guess I'm too lazy to go and try other paths. They are certainly a good aspect to have as long as there are not too many alternate ways of doing things. Culpa Innata had so many alternate dialouges you could choose with characters, that it would take several replays to get them all. To me, that's just too much. I actually only stuck with the one path every time I played Fate of Atlantis. Although I wasn't aware of the two other paths until a couple years ago. I never played them. Just too lazy I guess.

5. Why do something more than once if you don't have to? I guess if it really is fun, then that is a bonus. I did quite enjoy the Scopa game in Anacapri: The Dream, and Whack-A-Rat from Sam and Max Hit the Road.

6. Yes, I think it is a great platform for adventure games. I've played Zack and Wiki (well at least up to the second to last level). It really utilizes the Wii-Mote in ingenious ways. I find it a lot of fun. There are already adventure game companies planning on porting games to the Wii. For instance, Telltale Games has Sam and Max and the Strong Bad game coming. I would hope that more adventure game companies will catch on to the craze and bring their games to the Wii.

7. I don't have any ideas myself, but sometimes there is a downside to coming up with new ideas in that they may not always work or people may not like them. Even though I'm all for new innovative ways to enhance the adventure game experience, sometimes it's best to stick with what has worked and is popular in the past. For me, nothing compares to the classic games of the 90s.
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Old 04-25-2008, 01:20 PM   #20
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Quote:
Thanks for all the wonderful replies. My favorite was from sue3737 who said she likes to be able to click on everything in the world -- that sounds exactly like my girlfriend!
Hi Staufman,

The reason I say that is because for me playing an adventure game has always been like an escape, it sort of puts you in another world for a few hours so the exploration aspects have always been important ...thats just my humble opinion of course
So any game that has the quality of keeping the player engrossed in another life or mystery is to me the most important element. I am never sure of all the technical terms used sometimes so this is my best description of what I like! About replayability...I have had some games for years that I won't part with and replay from time to time, its not for the reason that if I replay them something different happens or you can change the events its just that they were so addictive and atmospheric first time around I enjoy playing them again.
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