2017 Aggie Awards – Readers’ Choice poll

Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice
Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice

List time!

Everyone loves “best of” debates, so it’s time once again for you, the adventure community, to chime in with your opinion on the top games of the past calendar year.

You’ve seen our final nominees, so you’ll know where we’re heading when the Aggie Awards presentation arrives later this month. But these are certainly NOT your only choices, oh no. You now have the challenge of going through the same monster list of games released in 2017 to decide for yourselves which are the cream of the crop. Think it’ll be easy? Think again! There are nearly 140 adventures to choose from!

Even with that staggering number, no doubt there will be the usual murmurs about what isn’t included. Hopefully by now you understand our criteria, but to recap: no unfinished episodic serials, no ports, remakes or rereleases, and no game that does not meet AG’s definition of “adventure” as a game that focuses on puzzle-solving within a narrative framework. So yes, that may mean some of your favourite puzzle-free adventure-like games may not be eligible. But c’mon, 138 games is enough choice for anyone.

As usual, the poll operates largely on the honour system: one vote per person, no ballot stuffing. We will keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but rarely do we encounter such problems, so clearly we’re on the same page already. This is how it works best – in fact, this is the ONLY way it works – so once again let’s do it right and make sure only the most deserving winners are rewarded.

Most categories have a (looooong) drop-down menu of games to choose from. You are NOT required to vote in every category. Anywhere you wish to abstain, simply leave the list set to its no answer default. There are two write-in categories, and for these we require both the game title and the character or concept you’re nominating for their respective rewards. If you just submit Thimbleweed Park for Best Character, we won’t know if you’re a fan of the gruff Special Agent Ray, the foul-mouthed Ransome the clown, or even the costumed Pigeon Brothers plumbers. So please, specify!

After much deliberation, we once again brought back the always-controversial Best Non-Traditional and Best Traditional Adventure categories, and we’ve separated the eligible games into their respective categories already. (This is the ONLY editorializing we’ve done to the polling process, giving you full control over the rest.) We know the lines between these two categories are blurry at best, almost indistinguishable at worst, and you can surely make a case for why a particular game should be in the other category. It's anything but an exact science. But to argue over the issue is to lose sight of what’s important: that we recognize BOTH the games that try something a little different, and those that refine the tried-and-true formula we all know and love. Every game will be eligible for ONE of them, so nothing will be overlooked.

But enough of the preamble! Time for you to make your voices heard. And we cannot stress how important it is. With so many games to choose from, each and every vote is crucial. Some categories have literally been won by a single extra ballot in previous years!

Voting will be open for one full week, ending Monday, February 19th. Winners will be unveiled in our final Aggie Awards presentation over the course of three days from Wednesday, February 21st to Friday, February 23rd. 

One of the core components of any adventure, the game’s narrative must engage the player’s interest and imagination. Entertaining in its own right, a good story also immerses the player in a believable game world and serves as motivation to overcome the challenges presented. While often accompanied by quality writing, the plot is a distinct feature that may or may not be ably supported by the actual dialogue – if in fact it has dialogue at all.
Arguably the hardest genre to write well, comedy done right has the ability both to amuse and uplift, finding humour in the ordinary and laughter in the unexpected. Often dismissed for not being “serious writing” (oh, the irony!), comedy has long been a beloved adventure staple and deserves appropriate recognition.
If comedy lifts the soul, then drama explores and challenges it. Though sometimes misrepresented as dry and boring or overly theatrical, a gripping drama simply engages players on a deeper emotional level. Quality writing is essential in maintaining the player’s connection to the characters, game world, and the story unfolding.
Gabriel Knight... April Ryan... Guybrush Threepwood. These names roll off the tongue of any adventure gamer as a testament to the importance of compelling protagonists in an adventure. But just as important are the villains, sidekicks, and significant supporting characters, which are often the juiciest parts. This category recognizes those who have made the most memorable contribution, regardless of role.
Puzzles are an integral aspect of adventure gameplay, but not the only one. Good pacing, rich exploration, and variety of activities are all factors in player enjoyment as well, all suitably integrated into the storyline. The best games seek the right balance of these elements for the most rewarding gameplay experience, whatever the approach.
A somewhat ambiguous category meant to highlight any unusual, distinctive element. A creative concept can run the gamut from unique story premise to clever game mechanics, from stylistic choice to technical innovation. For the purpose of this award, it doesn’t even need to have been successfully implemented, as it’s the idea itself that deserves the acknowledgement in a genre renowned for its conservative approach. (Note: VR is a shared evolution among many new adventures, so that alone does not constitute an individual game concept.)
Adventures can transport us to memorable places we’ve never been before, including those we never even imagined. Or perhaps to locales inspired by real-world locations, but never quite like this, making them feel fresh and new and awe-inspiring all over again. In these games, the setting is like an integral character of its own, inseparable from the story taking place within its borders.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this category speaks volumes. Regardless of style, this award recognizes games that are not only visually attractive but stylistically distinctive. One look at a screenshot should elicit not only jaw-dropping admiration, but intuitive recognition of the game to which it belongs. This award includes both game world and character design, but not cinematics.
From “bustling” city streets that look deserted to clouds that never move, animation is rarely the genre’s strong suit, often the victim of budget constraints. But richly animated adventures add so much to player immersion that any game that goes the extra mile in this area is deserving of appreciation. This category includes in-game character and ambient animations, plus cinematic cutscenes.
As a complementary element playing in the background, often a game’s music is noticeable only when it becomes intrusive, but a strong score and attention to timing can add so much to the ambience. Dramatic escalations can heighten tension at just the right moments, while a catchy theme song can make a soundtrack truly memorable, and an in-game number even more so. Whatever its particular strengths, the game that excels musically deserves its accolades, even if its impact is subtle.
Often under-valued by publishers but never by gamers, good acting can enhance a player’s investment in characters as surely as poor acting can ruin it. With so much international localization, voice-overs can be difficult to skillfully oversee, but any game benefits greatly from proper direction and believable acting. Live acting, meanwhile, adds an entirely new realistic dynamic, but the added realism makes it that much harder to pull off successfully. This category refers to the overall quality of performances in a game, not to individual characters.
As with animation, sound effects are frequently given short shrift in adventures, but effective use of audio adds a vital layer of moody ambience. You may not be able to put your finger on the reason, but some games make you feel like you’re really there, and often the atmospheric sounds have drawn you in subconsciously.
For a genre that’s remained largely unchanged for decades, it’s actually got a rich history of experimental titles that push the creative envelope in unique, memorable ways. They don’t “evolve” or “redefine” adventures, but rather expand our understanding of what an adventure can be with their bold vision. Purists may resist, but this award honours those games that stretch beyond traditional genre conventions to offer something completely new, or at least present the familiar in imaginative new ways.

Note: The winner of your Best Adventure Aggie should also win either Best Non-Traditional or Best Traditional adventure. These categories are not intended solely for runner-ups to the grand prize.
Why mess with a good thing? While innovative adventures provide a welcome breath of fresh air, the lifeblood of the genre continues to be the many games that closely adhere to the comfortable, tried-and-true design formulas. Full of inventory and/or logic puzzles, memorable character dialogue, epic storylines and immersive exploration, they may not have changed much since Monkey Island and Myst – or even the original Zork for some – but they’re no less enjoyable when done well.
This is it! From these choices will emerge the crème de la crème of adventures: the one and only winner of the highly-coveted Reader’s Choice Aggie Award as Adventure of the Year for 2017!

Comments

Houie
Feb 12, 2018

I get a fatal PHP error when I try to submit.

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to a member function num_rows() on boolean in /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/act.forms.php:465 Stack trace: #0 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/mod.forms.php(1211): Forms_ACT->form_submission() #1 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/libraries/Actions.php(218): Forms->ACT_form_submission() #2 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/libraries/Core.php(581): EE_Actions->__construct(true, Object(Closure)) #3 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/controllers/ee.php(64): EE_Core->generate_action(true) #4 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/codeigniter/system/core/CodeIgniter.php(329): EE->index() #5 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/index.php(188): require_once(’/bigdisk/docs/P…’) #6 {main} thrown in /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/act.forms.php on line 465

CaliMonk CaliMonk
Feb 13, 2018

Ok thats pretty bad… very sorry this happend to you!

I’ll try and see if I can find whats causing it. A guess, did you use a lot it text in the open input fields? My guess is its related to that (obviously we did test this).

Could you retry but for instance leave out the open field and for instance email that to me or Jack? Not ideal but at least we can process your input then.

Currently I’m on a short holiday (skiing), so bit hard to quickly fix (middle of a mountain now). Will try and fix later today when I’m near a laptop!

Houie
Feb 13, 2018

No prob! Leaving both open fields blank still doesn’t help though - same error. I tried on both Chrome and IE. I’ll wait until you or another dev looks at it when you’re back. Smile

CaliMonk CaliMonk
Feb 13, 2018

Hmm, could you email me your submission? One field is apparently giving problems (use .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)).

I’ve already seen more then a 100 successful submissions so think its a specific selection that might be it

CaliMonk CaliMonk
Feb 13, 2018

I believe this is now fixed. Apologies for the inconvenience!

Ivo

My Dune My Dune
Feb 13, 2018

What happend to Best Independent Adventure?

Jackal Jackal
Feb 13, 2018

Haven’t had that category for years, because there’s really no need for it anymore. Truth is, 95% of all adventure games are indies now. Even the ones that have “publishers” are still largely self-financed and independent, just with a bit of help on the testing and marketing (and sometimes voice-over) end.

Houie
Feb 13, 2018

Thanks, CaliMonk! It works! Might I guess it is to do with an index being out of bounds, perhaps allocation size was too small? One or more of my selections was for the last entry, haha. Smile

SoccerDude SoccerDude
Feb 14, 2018

Hey Calimonk, just something minor but both best setting and best concept have the same descriptions. The description under “best setting” is that of “the best concept”.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 14, 2018

Whoops! Good catch, SoccerDude. Fixed.

Mr Underhill Mr Underhill
Feb 14, 2018

2017 had some great games!

angelus_04
Feb 16, 2018

I got a fatal error when I tried to submit

Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to a member function row() on boolean in /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/act.forms.php:466 Stack trace: #0 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/mod.forms.php(1211): Forms_ACT->form_submission() #1 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/libraries/Actions.php(218): Forms->ACT_form_submission() #2 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/libraries/Core.php(581): EE_Actions->__construct(true, Object(Closure)) #3 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/controllers/ee.php(64): EE_Core->generate_action(true) #4 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/codeigniter/system/core/CodeIgniter.php(329): EE->index() #5 /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/index.php(188): require_once(’/bigdisk/docs/P…’) #6 {main} thrown in /bigdisk/docs/PHP/adventuregamers.com/ee-internals/expressionengine/third_party/forms/act.forms.php on line 466

CaliMonk CaliMonk
Feb 16, 2018

Thanks for reporting, sorry to hear you ran into this! This appears to be a new issue, which I’m trying to reproduce so I can fix.

We hardly ever run these forms (once a year almost), thats why issues are now popping up as we migrated server midyear.

Again, apologies!

CaliMonk CaliMonk
Feb 16, 2018

I’ve made changes to the code involved, I think this is now resolved.

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