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Old 07-06-2011, 01:24 PM   #1
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Default Most important persons in the genre

Hello! My name is Roger (who could guess?) and I'm new here. Couldn't find a presentation-thread so I'll go right ahead and ask you who you consider to be the most important persons for the adventure game genre. The names I can come up with are (and they probably reflect my favorite games):

Roberta & Ken Williams (Sierra, King's Quest)

Al Lowe (Leisure suit Larry)

Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer & Dave Grossman (Monkey Island, SCUMM, Maniac Mansion etc.)

Corey & Lori Ann Cole (Quest for Glory)

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Old 07-06-2011, 02:01 PM   #2
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Me.

And My Monkey.
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Old 07-06-2011, 02:02 PM   #3
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I think it would be important to mention Rand and Robyn Miller. Regardless of whether one personally likes or dislikes Myst, it would be difficult to argue against the idea that the game set a new tone for the genre, influenced the intersection of game software and new technology, and inspired a huge army of imitators during the 1990s and early 2000s. Not everyone loves Myst, but it was influential.

I also think Jane Jensen is important, because I think that her work - particularly the Gabriel Knight series - has really influenced how stories are told in games, emphasized quality plot and characterization, and demonstrated the importance of a deep and engrossing virtual world.

I would also give a mention to Jonathan Boakes, who was among the first (although far from the only one) to demonstrate that independent games could achieve both critical and popular success. As fewer and fewer titles are being produced for PC by the big-name developers, particularly in the adventure genre, I think that the rise of these indie developers really points to what the future of the genre will be.
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Old 07-06-2011, 02:05 PM   #4
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Speaking of which, i've just watched an interview with Al Lowe, who is speaking about Larry history and other things. What a great guy!


It's hard to separate "most important" from favorite game designers so let me mention some of those who created my favorite games

Monkey Island crew, and not just mentioned trio but designers of later installments as well, who had a tough job of keeping the same level of quality, and that especially goes for "Curse" with a totally different design style. Speaking of LucasArts, i've gotta mention my favorite composer - Clint Bajakian.

Sierra, of course, especially Jane Jensen and Roberta Williams.

Presto Studios designers, Ragnar Tornquist, Jordan Mechner... and many others. Out of "new generation" i like what Deck13 or Daedalic is doing.
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Old 07-06-2011, 02:19 PM   #5
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But seriously, these days I'd put it down to those keeping things interesting currently - Dvorský, Boakes, The Nyqvists, The Brutons...

IndieEuros, mostly, it appears.
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Old 07-06-2011, 03:10 PM   #6
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Thinking about it more, I would add Benoit Sokal/White Birds. Sokal brought a unique artistic sensibility to the genre, and emphasized beauty and whimsy in a way that many players found very captivating. Syberia seemed to invigorate the adventure scene, and its popularity among adventure fans pointed out clearly that third person games are not dead. Unfortunately, Sokal's work also demonstrates that a beautiful game can still fail if it's not playable - that poor conceptualization, incoherent or lackluster story, and lack of quality control can sink even a great idea.

So I think Sokal was important both for his successes, and sadly for him, for his failures.
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:54 PM   #7
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I agree with Annacat, I believe Rand Miller and Jonathan Boakes really helped define the genre, and although there were others of course, those two were revolutionaries. And of course Roberta Williams.
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Old 07-06-2011, 10:01 PM   #8
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How about Ragnar Tørnquist?
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:28 PM   #9
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The most important people in the history of adventure gaming are obviously Will Crowther and Don Woods whose Colossal Cave Adventure started the genre and defined conventions that are still upheld 35 years later. Ultimately, the best definition for an adventure game is simply "a game that plays like Adventure" (to which you may add: "hence the name, duh!").

Ken and Roberta Williams are also very important. Not for their contributions to redefining the gameplay conventions (they did basically nothing on that front) but for striving for many years (1) to make the genre more popular to a general audience rather than just programmers / computer-oriented people and (2) to change the style and feel of the games from book-like to movie-like.

With The Secret of Monkey Island, Ron Gilbert, Dave Grossman and Tim Schaffer invented what we now call the "traditional point-and-click adventure game". The conventions they introduced (everything mouse controlled, no action/arcade sequences, no deaths, no dead-ends...) are still followed today by games such as Gray Matter, Lost Horizon, etc. These conventions were the sign of a tremendously important conceptual revolution. Older adventure games still played like pen-and-paper RPGs, with the game designer being the game master: the storyteller that gives life to the world, but also the player's adversary. A Colossal Cave-type (or Roberta Williams-type) adventure game was a battle of wits between the designer and the player, and the designer was expected to give a fight --- which included goading the player into making mistakes. With Monkey Island, it's not a battle anymore, and the designer becomes a benevolent entity, encouraging the player to enjoy the world and the characters without fear. This of course created a very tricky problem: if the game is not a battle of wits anymore, then why bother with devious puzzles, or even puzzles at all? Yet, without puzzles, what gameplay is left to these games? Twenty years on, we're still looking for a satisfying answer to that question.

Two important types of answers were offered over the years. People like Jane Jensen, Ragnar Tørnquist and Benoit Sokal (all three indifferent puzzle designers) showed that adventure games could be used to tell a serious and compelling story with strong characters and themes. Rand and Robyn Miller, on the other hand, understood that exploration of the world could be a reward in and of itself, and reason enough to play the game. (Those who think that Myst is all about the puzzles clearly don't get these games. Myst is first and foremost, as the original game's tagline said, "the surrealistic adventure that will become your world".)

Finally, I'm tempted to add Dave Grossman and the people at Telltale to this list. While Sierra and LucasArts modelled their games after movies, Telltale are bringing them closer to TV series. A 40-hour action game might have as much plot as a 2-hour movie and gameplay in between, but adventure games tend to have the rich exploration of the world and characters that you'd find in a long-running TV show. I believe that embracing the style, construction and conventions of TV shows rather than movies can be an important change for adventures, and, I believe, a very healthy one. Whether that model will be as influential to the genre as the ones cited previously, or will just peter out remains, of course, to be seen.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:43 AM   #10
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I'll add Charles Cecil to the list.

Wrote (some may say helped pioneer - although that may be stretching it a bit!) text adventures in the early 80's before setting up Revolution in the early 90's who are responsible for Lure of the Temptress, BASS and the Broken Sword series. During this time they were probably Europe's biggest adventure game developer.
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Old 07-07-2011, 03:39 AM   #11
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Since his last few works have been pretty influential, I'll throw in David Cage for Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, though I wouldn't rate him near some of the other names that have been brought up as of right now. Might change in the future though.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:09 AM   #12
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I think Marc Blank and Dave Lebling of Zork and Infocom fame are the most important persons in this topic. Their games defined the genre and many rules that adventure games have been following up to this day.

And, of course, everyone forgets Frédérick Raynal, who defined both action/adventure and survival horror genre with Alone in the Dark and Little Big Adventure.
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Old 07-07-2011, 07:43 AM   #13
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I'd like to add Dave Gilbert to the list.
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Old 07-12-2011, 05:34 AM   #14
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To Kurufinwe's excellent list, I would add two guys called Chris Jones.

The first of them is the man behind Tex Murphy (along with Aaron Conners), who created the definitive FMV interactive movies and laid the groundwork for a lot of the comedy/drama games that would dominate the late nineties and turn of the century (Grim Fandango, The Longest Journey etc.).

The other Chris Jones, CJ, has never made an adventure game himself, but he created the Adventure Game Studio engine and editor, which made it much easier for non-professionals and non-programmers to make adventure games, leading to a boom in homebrew adventures. Without him, no one would probably have heard of Tierra/AGDI/Himalaya Studios, Yahtzee, Wadjet Eye Games, Gemini Rue, Ben & Dan/Zombie Cow/Size Five Games and many others.
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