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Old 11-12-2007, 06:02 AM   #1
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Default Action games with AG elements: commercial failures?

I just finished Beyond Good and Evil, and loved the introduction of many AG features in an action game. The same happened to me with Psychonauts. Well, it seems these two games have other things in common: being commercial failures; at least according to
wikipedia (some other old friend on the list, by the way.) Could this mean action players dislike adventure elements? I know the opposite is true in many cases...
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Old 11-12-2007, 08:32 AM   #2
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Half Life and Deus Ex seemed to do OK.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:07 PM   #3
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Half Life and Deus Ex seemed to do OK.
I knew Deus Ex had many adventure elements (it sold "modestly" according to wikipedia), but I thought Half Life (ok, that was a best seller) was mainly point'n'shoot.
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:30 PM   #4
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In terms of gameplay sure, but it owes a lot to adventures in terms of character and storytelling in my opinion. A lot of its narrative is implied rather than stated explicitly, especially in the second game. But really nearly all action games these days have followed in the footsteps of adventures in terms of integrating storytelling into gameplay.
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Old 11-12-2007, 03:31 PM   #5
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Penumbra would back this assumption.
The developers went nearly out of business and had to cut down the planned trilogy to a, hm, dulogy.
Outcast sold not too poor, but for the quality and coverage it wasn't too great either.
An action game with major adventure elements doesn't seem to be a good compromise to attract fans of both genres.
It seems that the one side doesn't want to think, and the other one doesn't want to react fast and precise.
I like the middle course, though. Not necessarily shooting much. I'm mostly motivated to play for the game world and/or story and I would like to see less militaristic themes. But I am for reflex-based challenges.
They don't fit well in pre-rendered adventure games, though. Mostly they feel like tacked-on mini-games then.
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Old 11-12-2007, 06:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Periglo View Post
I just finished Beyond Good and Evil, and loved the introduction of many AG features in an action game. The same happened to me with Psychonauts. Well, it seems these two games have other things in common: being commercial failures; at least according to
wikipedia (some other old friend on the list, by the way.) Could this mean action players dislike adventure elements? I know the opposite is true in many cases...
I remember reading that BG&E was mis-marketed and released at one of the worst times in the year (immediately eclipsed by other high profile games in the media and stores). Now that I think about it this game was HORRIBLY marketed - that is, there was really never a truly aggressive campaign to pimp it. It was actually a critical success, the reviewers loved it, and the scant number of gamers savvy enough to know about it to buy it loved it. For a while there was a huge buzz over whether a sequel was in the works.

Either of these things could easily happen to many a game (and has), a sure way to ruin its chances of succeeding in this otherwise overcrowded market.

As for Psychonauts, I'll venture to state that it's akin to caviar - it's an acquired taste. It was a very decent enough platformer and was surprisingly deep. However, it was too weird for most people, with its very dark psychological humour and subversive pop culture references. It challenged you on certain levels that could make you feel uncomfortable. You get it or you don't.

I don't think it's that action players dislike adventure elements. Many of them, myself included, actually grew up on adventure games, so it's no problem for us. Many times it has to do with how a game is marketed, to whom, and whether that market is large enough to justify the game. Other times it may just be bad timing, the zeitgeist preventing a certain 'flavour' of game from being understood and appreciated.
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Old 11-13-2007, 12:52 AM   #7
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For a while there was a huge buzz over whether a sequel was in the works.
Actually, a google search reveals some intense rumors right now, about the second part being developed even as we type! Mr. Ancel would also be leading it.
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As for Psychonauts, I'll venture to state that it's akin to caviar - it's an acquired taste.
Yes, you may be right about that. I absolutely loved it, but it may be quite disturbing to some, in a special way.
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Old 11-13-2007, 01:48 AM   #8
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Click this image to see what the gameplay looks like.


Have you played Portal? You could say it's a sort of distillation of requisite adventure game elements (without many of the sometimes silly frills that come with typical adventure games) combined with classic action (jumping, timed challenges, precision). At a glance it looks like a pure puzzle game but it does have a strong underlying motivating narrative which, like Ninja Dodo brought up, is often implied. In this case it's a series of one way dialogs with the A.I. ("And there will be cake."), and 'tableaus' you discover through exploring the gameworld ("The cake is a lie...").

Portal is being hailed as a critical success (despite its brevity) for its design and wit, but I think its commercial impact has more to do with its being a part of an awesome package in The Orange Box (Half-Life 2, HL2: Ep. 1, HL2: Ep. 2, Team Fortress 2, and Portal).
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Old 11-13-2007, 02:03 AM   #9
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Beyond Good & Evil didn't incorporate features from adventure games, it just imitated what The Legend of Zelda had been doing for years. The Legend of Zelda is very popular. BG&E was just unpopular because the marketing didn't have a good hook. (I've always said they should have emphasized that it was from the creator of Rayman.)

One quality that BG&E and Psychonauts share is that they both take place in very weird cartoony settings. Not everyone likes that.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:11 AM   #10
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One quality that BG&E and Psychonauts share is that they both take place in very weird cartoony settings. Not everyone likes that.
Not everyone likes very mundane realistic settings. Your point is?
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:58 AM   #11
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That maybe it's the style, rather than the format, that made the games unsuccessful. That's all.
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Old 11-15-2007, 01:36 PM   #12
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The style would be a matter of personal preference, naturally. Highly successful games featured a great variety of styles as well as gameplay, so I'm thinking style is merely one element in the logistics to figure in.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:40 PM   #13
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Not everyone likes very mundane realistic settings. Your point is?
But fans of FPS games in large part seem to prefer more realistic looking games.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:33 AM   #14
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One quality that BG&E and Psychonauts share is that they both take place in very weird cartoony settings. Not everyone likes that.
I wouldn't call BG&E weird. Psychonauts, that's another story. Naive at times, definitely weird some others.
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:05 AM   #15
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I wouldn't call BG&E weird.
Um, it's got animal-people hybrids.
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:49 AM   #16
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Talking animals? Yes, the single most popular cliche of the animation industry couldn't possibly appeal to anyone...
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Old 11-17-2007, 08:33 AM   #17
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Hm. Point taken.
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Old 11-17-2007, 09:18 AM   #18
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I think a lot of these games failed more because of non-existent marketing and maybe being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Possibly also the fact that playing small portions of them in isolation doesn't convey the awesomeness that is either. Never played the demo of Psychonauts but I remember being pretty underwhelmed by the BG&E demo, same for Little Big Adventure incidentally. Just thought: Eh, could be an alright game... Upon playing the game proper both turned out to be beyond excellent.

Maybe games in general need to work more on being fun to play at the most basic level. A lot of titles you have to suffer through iffy mechanics and other obstacles to get to the entertainment. That's not good enough. Really good games don't just have the depth that keeps you playing, they have the core gameplay that gets you playing and they have the sense to convey it immediately.
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Old 11-17-2007, 11:23 AM   #19
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...I remember being pretty underwhelmed by the BG&E demo...
Really? Huh. When I played the demo, it was a revelation. The way it went from one type of gameplay to another in the name of story inspired me so much, it changed the way I wrote music. But I guess that's not the sort of thing that gets most people interested.
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Old 11-17-2007, 01:16 PM   #20
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Maybe we played different demos. I played one on a disc for the PS2 that I think came with a magazine. They let you take a picture of one thing and do some stealth as I recall. Then the credits played... Didn't showcase any of the story or characters or even began to approach the breadth of gameplay that is the full game, which I later played on PC.
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