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Old 05-21-2010, 04:17 AM   #1
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Default What's so good about adventure games?

Hi all,

new member today.

I am involved in designing a new sort of game and would appreciate some genuine advice, if that's ok.

What sort of games are best liked? are text-graphics games still in vogue?

If an adventure game was designed using point n clik graphics plus text, what would make it a really good experience?

It's been a long time since I used that sort of game, but I think my ideas have some good potential

Thanks all

Mikee
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:14 AM   #2
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Hi mikee.

I think the question you ask is what this whole site is about. So I guess you'll find plenty of individual answers if you just browse through these forums. There might even be one or two things two or three people can agree on
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Old 05-21-2010, 06:25 AM   #3
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I don't think it really matters what type of adventure game you make, the most important things are that it's written well and has thoughtful, well-designed puzzles.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:19 AM   #4
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I don't think it really matters what type of adventure game you make, the most important things are that it's written well and has thoughtful, well-designed puzzles.
I agree. Minus the puzzles
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Old 05-21-2010, 12:36 PM   #5
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I don't think it really matters what type of adventure game you make, the most important things are that it's written well and has thoughtful, well-designed puzzles.
Yeah. A gripping/intriguing story with well integrated puzzles is what make adventure games good.
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Old 05-21-2010, 01:18 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ADan View Post
Hi mikee.

I think the question you ask is what this whole site is about. So I guess you'll find plenty of individual answers if you just browse through these forums. There might even be one or two things two or three people can agree on

Thanks for that feedback and rapid response everyone. I will check it all out. I have downloaded much stuff from this site for late reading offline, so I hope to find it inreresting

I hope first and foremost to write a stonking manual. The manual has many examples, so the adventurer to be gets loads of practice. A great deal of the puzzles and riddles are intensely intricate, and require much patient thought. I am worried that I might have made the thing far too difficult though.

Anyway, thanks again everyone.

cheers Mikee

Last edited by mikee; 05-21-2010 at 01:30 PM. Reason: adjustment to sentences
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:10 PM   #7
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I don't think it really matters what type of adventure game you make, the most important things are that it's written well and has thoughtful, well-designed puzzles.
And a cozy interface.
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Old 05-21-2010, 09:30 PM   #8
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And a cozy interface.
A good interface won't make a game, but a bad one can break it.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:54 PM   #9
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I don't think it really matters what type of adventure game you make, the most important things are that it's written well and has thoughtful, well-designed puzzles.
You summed it up. But I'll also add it should have good environment and graphics. The surroundings/locations where the game is taking place is very important.
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Old 05-22-2010, 03:36 AM   #10
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Graphics are in my opinion (and I believe quite a few agree) quite so-so. I mean, it's more about the art direction than the graphics themselves. The graphics don't need to be top-notch to be appealing (and especially for the game to be appealing), but if they're plain ugly it'll take away from the experience. For example, people still play games with really old graphics and love them (and people make indie games with retro graphics) - but if you just slap on some MS Paint blobs in random colors in monotonous rooms then of course most will not want to play the game.

Kinda like what Collector said about the interface (which is very true, BTW): good graphics won't make the game, but bad ones can break it. And good graphics aren't necessarily graphics with the most recent technology but such that look good with the resources you've got.

Approximately

Other things: Basically what the others said sums it up in a nutshell. I'll try to express my opinions though in slightly more detail. Basically you need to keep a nice rhythm/tempo/dynamics going in the game. You need to consider how long a player can listen to dialogue (especially without having the option for choosing topics (the illusion of interactivity, you might say) - I'm not saying it can't be long, there just needs to be a reasong and something to keep the player wanting to listen to it), the puzzles need to vary so that it's not always pick up object A and B in random places and combine them to make object C and then use them on hotspot D, nor should they always be minigames or something (and here you need to be careful that the game is not just a collection of minigames, they should make sense (so that it's not like a reaction test to open a door, or playing Frogger to make an explosive etc.)) - and importantly they shouldn't always be "oh no, I need to solve this to move forward" but there should be more "mundane" things to "solve" too (take a look at Gabriel Knights for great examples on this).

Actually, I'd avoid both cases of puzzles as much as possible (not so that there can't be any of either, but so that it doesn't feel like that's the majority of the puzzles). They're so overused that it doesn't take much to make the game feel old.

Also, in my opinion there needs to be a balance in interactivity - not just the important things but also not so that every pixel is a different hotspot. The world needs to be illustrated but not crammed (or the opposite when you often feel quite alone (and hotspots can sometimes offer advice when you're stuck). Again, Gabriel Knights

Last edited by UPtimist; 05-22-2010 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 05-22-2010, 05:01 AM   #11
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A great deal of the puzzles and riddles are intensely intricate, and require much patient thought. I am worried that I might have made the thing far too difficult though.

Anyway, thanks again everyone.

cheers Mikee

I'm sure there's a few gamers on here, (particularly those that love the most difficult games like rhem/riven/myst), who would jump at the chance to test out a small section of your game to give you feedback on your puzzles if you were able to create a demo. Would that be a possibility?
 
Old 05-23-2010, 03:14 PM   #12
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I agree. Minus the puzzles
No, lots and lots and lots of puzzles. No sliders though.
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:13 AM   #13
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No, lots and lots and lots of puzzles. No sliders though.
I'm with you on sliding puzzles *shudder*
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:20 AM   #14
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For me there are much better mediums for storytelling than computer games. They cant really hope to compete with literature (prose, comics etc) or drama (film, plays etc) on that front.

I generally dislike games that are just a play-through story. I don't think the Godfather would be a better story if it was interspersed with inventory puzzles, nor would James Joyce read better if it was required to solve a lever puzzle after every other page.

The big advantage of computer GAMES (that word is all-important) is their ability to present an interactive, changeable world.

It is this aspect of exploration and adventure that brought me to the games personally. This is why I primarily love 1st Person games, preferaby with an anonymous or little defined character (so that i can easilly interject myself into their place), although i also enjoy third person games a lot too, as long as the emphasis is on exploring interesting environments and the feeling that i am having a wonderful adventure that I couldn't have in real life (Syberia would be a good example). This can be a fantastical, Science Fiction, horrific, historical, real world, even an erotic setting, anything, so long as I get that sense of adventure and exploration.

Now, this doesn't mean that i consider the writing to be unimportant - far from it. It is very important. But i like to see that writing talent applied to world building, the architect's creativity, rather than the bard's. Riven is the perfect example of a brilliantly written game to me. The story is there but it is in service to the goal of creating a marvellous vehicle for adventure for the player, rather than as a vehicle for the marvellous ego of a computer programmer who fancies himself a 'serious author'. The creativity of the writer in that game goes into creating a brilliantly cohesive world that remains logical despite it's fantastical nature, where everything that the player sees is relevant to the workings of the game world and in which the game world can become much bigger than it really is by putting in enough creative detail to allow the player to discern so much more that is going on 'behind the scenes'. There's more to the writer's art than plotting.

Graphics are very important to me too, though in an aesthetic sense, rather than a technical one. I want the environments I Explore to be visually compelling and evocative. Poorly rendered environments put me off immensly. I don't really want to imagine the setting for myself; that isn't making proper use of the medium. That isn't through lack of imagination on my part; i write myself and consider myself a creative individual. My own imagination is more than capable of rendering interesting landscapes and characters, something I enjoy doing when i read or write prose (that is one of the strong points of that medium in that it stimulates the reader's own imagination). That is only interfered with when confronted with poor or unimaginative graphics in a game because my freedom to imagine it for myself is taken away and the 'imaginings' that are given to me instead, by the creator of the game are poor. I want to see the wonderful visual creation of a talented graphical artist. But this shouldn't be mistaken for a demand for cutting edge graphics. Much of the greatest art of all time has been created with coloured pigment on stone or canvas or pen on paper. Fantastic imagery can be created with primitive graphics tools - it all depends upon the talent of the artist, not the technology they are working with. A tool has never been invented that can mimic true artistic creativity.

So it is this overall world-building that I love in adventure games, when talented artists, writers and game designers come together to create a compelling and arresting world which i can wander through and enjoy great adventures within.
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Old 05-24-2010, 04:08 PM   #15
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For me there are much better mediums for storytelling than computer games. They cant really hope to compete with literature (prose, comics etc) or drama (film, plays etc) on that front.

I generally dislike games that are just a play-through story. I don't think the Godfather would be a better story if it was interspersed with inventory puzzles, nor would James Joyce read better if it was required to solve a lever puzzle after every other page.
What would you say are examples of games that are what you consider to be "just a play-through" story? I'm trying to think of what some may be myself but can't really... Heavy Rain maybe? Anyways,

I do see where you're coming from but can't help but disagree on some aspects of it. I wholeheartedly agree on what you write with environment and setting, but what I think is something that hasn't even come close to being realised at it's full potential is storytelling in games. I not only think that games can be as good a medium for storytelling as literature or film, I think they have the potential to be better in some degrees. But I don't think we've seen that potential (yet).

You mention Syberia - is that not an engrossing story to you? It was a huge story to me as a player, and the involvement of Kate as a playable character through this great narrative was synonymous with driving that narrative forward. Numerous others I can think of, Beneath A Steel Sky, Broken Sword, Full Throttle, The Dig, etc etc, they all operate in similar ways which is guiding the protagonist through the narrative and revealing it through the gameplay. Are these not all strong narratives? Another interesting note to these too is that, as narratives, I don't believe they would be suited to being films or books, as some books aren't meant to be films, and some films not meant to be books/games etc. They are most definately their own form of storytelling in my opinion.

EDIT: Spielberg was going to do The Dig as a tv feature and has since stated he would still consider making it as a film! Is that not enough story for you? I mention this only because I think The Dig specifically has one of the best adventure stories that I've experienced
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Old 05-24-2010, 04:18 PM   #16
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I think RPG is #1 when it comes to storytelling,
that’s why it’s called “role playing”, because player can immerse themselves in the story & the world of the game.

while point & click adventure probably come close in 2nd , it’s more like an interactive storybook to me.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:58 AM   #17
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What would you say are examples of games that are what you consider to be "just a play-through" story? I'm trying to think of what some may be myself but can't really... Heavy Rain maybe?
People I going to say Dreamfall, so I'll go and be the first to say it, at least. Not that I dislike it, I love it in fact. And, I don't mind games that feel like "play-through stories" (aka interactive movies, more or less) as long as the story is good. Ah, other example: Fahrenheit (also, a good story, except the imho ending).

About RPG: it is true their storytelling is often superior these days (I am playing lots of these lately, for this reason). But, I don't think there is anything intrinsic to the RPG genre that confers them an advantage over AGs. BTW, the "role" word comes from the roles players assume in traditional, board, RPGs.
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:04 AM   #18
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I agree with Sughly, storytelling is a key aspect of adventure games to me. Even though the stories may not be Booker Prize winners, I still love the experience. I think there is more potential for story in adventures
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:19 AM   #19
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What would you say are examples of games that are what you consider to be "just a play-through" story? I'm trying to think of what some may be myself but can't really... Heavy Rain maybe? Anyways,

I do see where you're coming from but can't help but disagree on some aspects of it. I wholeheartedly agree on what you write with environment and setting, but what I think is something that hasn't even come close to being realised at it's full potential is storytelling in games. I not only think that games can be as good a medium for storytelling as literature or film, I think they have the potential to be better in some degrees. But I don't think we've seen that potential (yet).

You mention Syberia - is that not an engrossing story to you? It was a huge story to me as a player, and the involvement of Kate as a playable character through this great narrative was synonymous with driving that narrative forward. Numerous others I can think of, Beneath A Steel Sky, Broken Sword, Full Throttle, The Dig, etc etc, they all operate in similar ways which is guiding the protagonist through the narrative and revealing it through the gameplay. Are these not all strong narratives? Another interesting note to these too is that, as narratives, I don't believe they would be suited to being films or books, as some books aren't meant to be films, and some films not meant to be books/games etc. They are most definately their own form of storytelling in my opinion.

EDIT: Spielberg was going to do The Dig as a tv feature and has since stated he would still consider making it as a film! Is that not enough story for you? I mention this only because I think The Dig specifically has one of the best adventure stories that I've experienced


You make some good points.

When i say a 'play-through story' I guess I am reffering to entirely linear games, wherein the player travels a completely prescribed route in a prescribed way. This is fine in a game that prioritizes the puzzle aspects (Machinarium for example, which i thought was brilliant) but when a game operates in this way whilst prioritizing story (ie masses of dialogue, cutscenes etc) then to my eyes it is comparable to a piece of extremely limited animation that you have to stop watching every five minutes to do a Sudoku puzzle.

Now, i know that there are fans of this type of game and I don't mean to come across sounding dogmatic about this - that is their taste and it differs from mine and that's fine. I'm just putting across a different perspective on what I think is great in the genre.

Interesting that you mention the Dig, as i just recently played it for the first time. The concepts were passable but it would be a fairly generic movie - as evidenced by the fact that, as you point out, it was originally intended as just that! The story-telling isn't bad in a lot of Adventure Games but neither would the stories be anything more than average films or novels (sure, there may be the occasional exception). But those films and novels are not encumbered by the need to also be a satisfying game.

Yes, i did enjoy Syberia a lot but then that was written and conceived by a graphic novelist, which kind of proves my point. And even then I didn't really care about the character of Kate Walker; I enjoyed the fantastic journey and the concepts. Again, it's that aspect of 'wow, what a great adventure that would be', rather than trying to emphathize with the character and their situation as you would do in a piece of literature.

It's just my personal opinion but I think that AGs must primarilly be games, with the story in service to the gameplay experience.

I emphasized exploration when talking about what i like to see but of course that exploration is ultimately hollow if there is no purpose to it. Story is important but I think it should be functional storytelling. I've sometimes played games where the author / designer seemed to believe that they were creating a great work of fiction rather than a game (the Longest Jorney for example).

Im a huge fan of Jonathan Boakes' games but every one of them has had a highly dissapointing ending, from a story perspective. But it doesn't really bother me too much because the story was never really my primary interest in the games; the appeal was the fantastic environments and the atmosphere of the game, wandering round an old, abndoned station and hotel. The story's there just to give all of that purpose and to give some logic to the gameplay.

Bricks are an inherantly better material for building than pebbles. A film or book is an inherantly better medium for telling a complex story than a computer game. I'm not putting games down, just suggesting that they concentrate on exploiting their advantages (interactivity, in-depth world building) rather than those things that could be achieved much more easilly in another medium. Sure, the talent of the individual creator plays a big part but it would take real genius to tell a story on a par with the best drama and literature in the games medium and geniuses are very rare.
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Old 06-20-2010, 06:28 PM   #20
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For me personally, a sense of discovery is the most important thing an adventure game can offer. I don't care what the game subject is, really; almost anything can be interesting as long as the story's world is true to itself and open to the player's exploration. I like to find information by examining things and talking to people. I like to figure out how the game world works -- this can include puzzles that make sense, or that at the least have rules worth figuring out; even mapping a maze can be fun in that sense.

I would rather learn things for myself and figure out what's going on in the story bit by bit than have a character step in and explain it in a non-interactive way. Let the truth dawn on me, and surprise me, and you've got me absorbed.

(This applies to almost any sort of game -- text, graphics, even an action game can be a lot more engrossing if I have to figure things out as I go.)
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