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DCast wrote:

As far as level of writing and maturity… Well, it’s trickier to show a “level of writing” when you have a complex visual element going on as oppose to game being just writing. Text adventures are based on that, so if they fail that part, then there’s very little left to the game. When it comes to graphic adventures, I think it transcends from level of writing to level of storytelling. While there are plenty of developers that prefer to build their game around a different element - strong puzzles/visuals/atmosphere and pay less attention to the writing (and there are people who prefer to play them as well), there are still plenty of mature, well-written graphic adventures out there. When it comes to writing, they just simply have less in quantity, but it doesn’t mean they lose quality. I’d argue it’s a lot harder to demonstrate high quality level of writing when the visual component is also present, because you can no longer just write a descriptive paragraph or give your character endless lines of dialogue, you have to show what you want to say through picture, using less words and, therefore, make every line/screen count. This is something games have in common with cinema that also have to employ interesting shots to express mood or feelings without an ability to throw a a mini-essay on the screen.

I really enjoyed this paragraph, particularly the section in bold. I think this is one area where the older Lucas and Sierra games really have a leg up on most modern adventure games. I’m playing through Laura Bow and the Dagger of Amon Ra at the moment, and I am relishing every line of narrative exposition and dialogue (well, maybe some of the historical descriptions in the museum are more than I bargained for, but they are still well written and entertaining in their own right). I am clicking on everything I see, because I don’t just want to see it, I want to know more about it, I want to read about it. When the writing is poor or dry, I end up speed reading most dialogue and clicking through a description as soon as I realize it’s not important to finishing the game. But when the writing is good, when it’s rich and chock full of flavor and character, I *bask* in it.
Laura Bow could absolutely have been done as a text adventure. It also could have been done as a graphic adventure with Daedalic level (is the horse dead yet?) writing. In either case, the game would have been at best passably entertaining. At the moment, I am not just passably entertained, I am deeply immersed, enjoying every moment, and mildly distracted all day by the prospect of diving back into it!
The same thing could be said about games like Full Throttle, Monkey Island, King’s Quest 6, Gabriel Knight 1, Conquest of the Longbow…and so many other classics. 
Some stories are better told as movies, some as books, and some as games. Likewise, some adventure games are better told as text only, and some are better told as a mix of graphic and text. And some stories, like Machinarium and Ico, are more effective with just graphics!

It’s not either/or. Part of the greatness of any given piece of art or game lies in the artist’s ability to identify the most effective medium to express what he perceives as the most effective means of expressing what he wishes to express. I’m not sure A Mind Forever Voyaging would work as a graphic adventure, just like Syberia wouldn’t work as a text adventure.

Also, I don’t think the distinction has been made yet in this thread between Interactive Fiction and Text Adventures. You could say that all text adventures are interactive fiction, but not the other way around. In any case, the same principles apply: Choosing the right medium for the job.

 

     

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Baron_Blubba - 20 April 2021 01:21 PM

Also, I don’t think the distinction has been made yet in this thread between Interactive Fiction and Text Adventures. You could say that all text adventures are interactive fiction, but not the other way around.

Interactive fiction is the worst genre definition ever, at least if it’s being used to describe what would better be defined as text adventures.

Almost every computer game with a narrative is interactive fiction, but not every computer game is a text adventure.
And the whole thing about visual novels… according to some those aren’t interactive fiction just because they have some pictures.

The only very small, thin chance that I would give to “interactive fiction” as a genre name is for those interactive narratives which really don’t have any winning conditions (compared to playing through an adventure with all its puzzles).

Of course most of them are probably kinetic visual novels if they have any pictures or even ASCII graphics actually, but because some stories aren’t “visual” at all, then I suppose you could call them interactive fiction.

If a game has even a single puzzle, I would call it text adventure instead.

     
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GateKeeper - 20 April 2021 02:54 PM
Baron_Blubba - 20 April 2021 01:21 PM

Also, I don’t think the distinction has been made yet in this thread between Interactive Fiction and Text Adventures. You could say that all text adventures are interactive fiction, but not the other way around.

Interactive fiction is the worst genre definition ever, at least if it’s being used to describe what would better be defined as text adventures.

Almost every computer game with a narrative is interactive fiction, but not every computer game is a text adventure.
And the whole thing about visual novels… according to some those aren’t interactive fiction just because they have some pictures.

The only very small, thin chance that I would give to “interactive fiction” as a genre name is for those interactive narratives which really don’t have any winning conditions (compared to playing through an adventure with all its puzzles).

Of course most of them are probably kinetic visual novels if they have any pictures or even ASCII graphics actually, but because some stories aren’t “visual” at all, then I suppose you could call them interactive fiction.

If a game has even a single puzzle, I would call it text adventure instead.

I agree with most of this, but probably wouldn’t be as severe with the definitions. Some games with ‘a single puzzle’ I would still call IF’s or VN’s. What qualifies as a puzzle? I play many games these days that purport to have puzzles, but really just ask the user to follow simple instructions or perform the inevitable and obvious. In Dreamfall, for example, the most challenging ‘puzzle’ you’ll encounter in the entire game is probably the installation process. And that’s not a knock on the install wizard, it was really easy. But so was Dreamfall (and so many other modern adventure games).

     

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Text adventures are not defined by their content. Whether they have puzzles or not is irrelevant. The ancient Zork games had puzzles but no story to speak of; an influential game like Photopia is all story without a single puzzle. Both are text adventures because all the interaction takes place through a parser which responds to natural language input from the player.

As far as I’m concerned, the term interactive fiction is interchangeable. I think it was Infocom who started describing their games as interactive fiction in the early ‘80s and it caught on. But it could be argued that for instance twine games (hyperlinks, no text input) belong in the category interactive fiction.

     

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Baron_Blubba - 20 April 2021 01:21 PM

Some stories are better told as movies, some as books, and some as games. Likewise, some adventure games are better told as text only, and some are better told as a mix of graphic and text. And some stories, like Machinarium and Ico, are more effective with just graphics!

It’s not either/or. Part of the greatness of any given piece of art or game lies in the artist’s ability to identify the most effective medium to express what he perceives as the most effective means of expressing what he wishes to express. I’m not sure A Mind Forever Voyaging would work as a graphic adventure, just like Syberia wouldn’t work as a text adventure.

I think that’s a great way to put it. The more I think about particular works I enjoy (across all the mediums), the less I can see them being just as epic with a different approach. Not saying they wouldn’t be good, just probably not quite as gripping. For instance, big part of Syberia’s charm is the mostly empty locations that bring a certain mood to Kate’s journey - seeing them was a HUGE part of the game’s atmosphere.

     
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Vegetable Party - 20 April 2021 10:26 AM

I’m not just trying to be facetious, the analogy still works: there are graphic adventure games that really make you think and feel, by way of well-thought-out puzzles and plots, interesting themes, dilemmas, etc. There are text adventures that remain very surface level throughout. But it’s quite possible that you’re right: I’ve never heard of a beer cellar, for example. Really good wine has it’s own playing field.

Just because it’s more finicky to store doesn’t mean it’s better tasting than beer Smile Speaking as the drinker of neither, by the way, (well, I do enjoy an occasional glass of prosecco or champaigne). I’d say fine wines are better compared to the rest of the wines, and cheap beers to the craft ones. They are vastly different. Talking about the world of alcohol overall though, can definitely encompass those two (and others) together, but in that case - it would be more of a “I prefer wine” and “I like whiskey” and “Beer is my go-to” as oppose to saying that well-aged whiskey is better than a 2 buck chuck, or compare vodka to pinot noir…

Vegetable Party - 20 April 2021 10:26 AM

And finally, a thought that is actually my own: text adventures tend to be created for the sole purpose of making something interesting. From what I can tell, most of them are free. It’s an accessible medium for creative writers. The whole procedure of developing graphics, sounds, music and code is a huge undertaking. It’s quite a lot of effort to make something high quality, with some length and depth. This means that a game often requires a) collaboration and b) large investments from it’s creator(s). It’s hard to do that for free, so unsurprisingly, it’s a more commercial sub-genre of adventure games. Since AG’s don’t have a huge audience to begin with, they tend to be tailored more towards broad appeal. They tend to cater more to nostalgia and popular trends in media. Again, there are a lot of creative people with good ideas working on graphic adventure games. Free doesn’t mean good and commercial doesn’t automatically mean schlocky. I’s not a black-and-white situation, but I think it does matter.

That’s actually a great pragmatic point on the matter. While I was answering more in the meta sense, this is a sound reason for answering the question why are text adventures mostly niche as far as creating them goes.

     
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DCast - 20 April 2021 09:25 PM
Baron_Blubba - 20 April 2021 01:21 PM

Some stories are better told as movies, some as books, and some as games. Likewise, some adventure games are better told as text only, and some are better told as a mix of graphic and text. And some stories, like Machinarium and Ico, are more effective with just graphics!

It’s not either/or. Part of the greatness of any given piece of art or game lies in the artist’s ability to identify the most effective medium to express what he perceives as the most effective means of expressing what he wishes to express. I’m not sure A Mind Forever Voyaging would work as a graphic adventure, just like Syberia wouldn’t work as a text adventure.

I think that’s a great way to put it. The more I think about particular works I enjoy (across all the mediums), the less I can see them being just as epic with a different approach. Not saying they wouldn’t be good, just probably not quite as gripping. For instance, big part of Syberia’s charm is the mostly empty locations that bring a certain mood to Kate’s journey - seeing them was a HUGE part of the game’s atmosphere.

Well, of course. That’s because you’re thinking of that particular experience. It doesn’t mean that if Syberia had come out as a text adventure instead you wouldn’t be thinking ‘man, weren’t those lush and vivid descriptions of the landscape amazing? I can’t imagine this game ever working as a graphic adventure.’

     
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cyfoyjvx - 20 April 2021 09:56 PM

Well, of course. That’s because you’re thinking of that particular experience. It doesn’t mean that if Syberia had come out as a text adventure instead you wouldn’t be thinking ‘man, weren’t those lush and vivid descriptions of the landscape amazing? I can’t imagine this game ever working as a graphic adventure.’

I can see your point here. I suppose, if I close my eyes and imagine Syberia with all its empty locations and almost no points to even examine in a text adventure it’d be (possibly) still interesting, however, visuals by Benoit Sokal make it an unforgettable journey. In that (and many other instances) I love the fact that the creator shows me what he had in mind as oppose to describing it and making me conjure up my own picture.

Actually, maybe that’s also another part of graphic adventures worth considering - when the developers, in a way, say “this is how I’m seeing the world and I want you to see it through my eyes”. It all depends on what/how they want to tell the story. Say, this random phrase: “I was in hell. The fire was burning all around me, and the demons at the pits were working overtime to keep it in full power”. Written in a text version, I’m sure, everyone will have their own mental picture of this scene - their own hell. Shown through graphics, the developers tell you exactly what he saw, and instead of having your own image, you’re marvel at his interpretation of it. Even if the writer would go in depth about demon’s description - my “small, hunched look”, “thick, glistening black horns” and “bright red, sweltering skin” would always be different from the writer’s. If we were to draw something based on those descriptions, it would, most likely, end up nothing alike. It would apply even more if the beings/landscapes/architecture described would be seriously complex. We just finished playing Keepsake, and I feel like even if there were massive paragraphs describing Dragovale Academy (whether they’d be interesting to get through is an entirely different matter), but I’d NEVER come up with the castle I visited in-game, and that castle was extraordinary gorgeous an a true feat of magical architecture - I’m glad I got see it and not just imagine it. I think it depends on what the goal of the game creator is, and I think both ways have their value.

As a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever thought “I wonder what this graphic adventure would look like in pure text, where I could have made up my own island, my own castle, my own kingdom” etc. However, after almost every text adventure I played, I did have a thought about what it would look like on the screen and how’d my mental image differ from the one of the creator’s… Did we see the same dock? Same space station? Same fantasy world? I can supply my own images to the story just fine, but I’ll always be curious about what the person who wrote the story “saw” if he/she were to close their eyes while they were telling it to me. It’s a foray into another person’s inner world, if you will, which will always be a fascinating concept to me. I can imagine hell, but if you were talking to me about it - I’d be very curious at how YOU see it, and how it differs from my version.

This is pure conjecture, but I’m wondering now, just for fun, which famous graphic adventures would do splendidly as text ones and which ones wouldn’t.

 

     
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I have a day off! This means I have time for <strike>my other responsibilities</strike> typing way too much in threads like this.

Regarding names for genres of games.. most of them are pretty weird. This could be because video games are such a recent phenomenon. Some are named after their non-computerized-predecessors and others are just kind of freestyled by developers and journalists.

I get the name RPG, I understand how it applies to games like D&D, but many games have you playing a role. DOOM puts you in the shoes of a space marine, Sim City makes you a mayor/patron god.

Some adventure games hardly have a sense of adventure, while nearly every Super Mario game has you exploring different worlds and doing all sorts of outdoors activities.

My favourite weird and slightly nonsensical genre name: the immersive sim. The immersion is obviously going to come from a simulated experience. And many games try to immerse the player.

I guess interactive fiction is more or less on the same level. Other people’s thoughts on this are definitely more relevant than mine, I got into this genre quite recently.

DCast - 20 April 2021 11:34 PM

This is pure conjecture, but I’m wondering now, just for fun, which famous graphic adventures would do splendidly as text ones and which ones wouldn’t.

I’d love a King’s Quest V text adventure that gives us the inner monologue of King Graham. This could be more like Baron_Blubba’s interpretation (he’s humouring himself and the world around him, playing into the absurdity) or mine (he’s emotionally shallow and mostly cares about the rush of adventure).

     

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DCast - 20 April 2021 11:34 PM

We just finished playing Keepsake, and I feel like even if there were massive paragraphs describing Dragovale Academy (whether they’d be interesting to get through is an entirely different matter), but I’d NEVER come up with the castle I visited in-game, and that castle was extraordinary gorgeous an a true feat of magical architecture - I’m glad I got see it and not just imagine it. I think it depends on what the goal of the game creator is, and I think both ways have their value.

Interestingly enough, I’ve also played Keepsake, years ago. And what I get coming to mind when I think of Dragonvale Academy is not “an extraordinary gorgeous and a true feat of magical architecture” but “rather generic mix of hotel foyer and Disneyland that looks like no student has ever traversed its halls”.

Which I’m sure says more about me than the images.

     
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Luhr28 - 21 April 2021 07:18 AM

Interestingly enough, I’ve also played Keepsake, years ago. And what I get coming to mind when I think of Dragonvale Academy is not “an extraordinary gorgeous and a true feat of magical architecture” but “rather generic mix of hotel foyer and Disneyland that looks like no student has ever traversed its halls”.

Which I’m sure says more about me than the images.


Says that people have different views on many subjects and it’s great! No one has to like the same things.

I found the academy spectacular, also, once you get to the second part of the game with the portal movement - you get precariously placed staircases with the views from hundreds feet from above and this EXTRA cool passage
that goes on the outside of the tower horizontally (hello, magic!).

The dragons (everything from full-size replicas to mosaics and tapestries) all over the place make it even more majestic. I WISH Disneyland had something as cool - it might have somewhat justified exuberant prices for their tickets.

I’m definitely glad I got to “see” all of that in game. Maybe, text version of it would be more to your liking.

     
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Vegetable Party - 21 April 2021 06:13 AM

I’d love a King’s Quest V text adventure that gives us the inner monologue of King Graham. This could be more like Baron_Blubba’s interpretation (he’s humouring himself and the world around him, playing into the absurdity) or mine (he’s emotionally shallow and mostly cares about the rush of adventure).

There’s almost a palpable urge to give this game a try ASAP, with all the talk and praise it’s been given.

     
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DCast - 21 April 2021 08:10 AM
Luhr28 - 21 April 2021 07:18 AM

Interestingly enough, I’ve also played Keepsake, years ago. And what I get coming to mind when I think of Dragonvale Academy is not “an extraordinary gorgeous and a true feat of magical architecture” but “rather generic mix of hotel foyer and Disneyland that looks like no student has ever traversed its halls”.

Which I’m sure says more about me than the images.


Says that people have different views on many subjects and it’s great! No one has to like the same things.

I found the academy spectacular, also, once you get to the second part of the game with the portal movement - you get precariously placed staircases with the views from hundreds feet from above and this EXTRA cool passage
that goes on the outside of the tower horizontally (hello, magic!).

The dragons (everything from full-size replicas to mosaics and tapestries) all over the place make it even more majestic. I WISH Disneyland had something as cool - it might have somewhat justified exuberant prices for their tickets.

I’m definitely glad I got to “see” all of that in game. Maybe, text version of it would be more to your liking.

Yeah, I’m not really sure what my point was. Maybe that you seem to be saying that seeing images of Dragonvale somehow makes it more “real”, while neither of us can agree on what exactly Dragonvale is? I mean, we both can say it has dragon replicas, but not whether they are majestic or tacky. To do that without involving personal opinions a game usually needs narration (words).

     
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Luhr28 - 21 April 2021 09:06 AM

Yeah, I’m not really sure what my point was. Maybe that you seem to be saying that seeing images of Dragonvale somehow makes it more “real”, while neither of us can agree on what exactly Dragonvale is? I mean, we both can say it has dragon replicas, but not whether they are majestic or tacky. To do that without involving personal opinions a game usually needs narration (words).


What I’m (hopefully seem to be) saying is that I found what I have seen of Dragonvale to be marvelous. I’m glad there was a graphic presentation of that, as if I were to just read text about it instead - I wouldn’t have conjure up something as grand.
I find how other people see things fascinating.

It also allows us to talk about it. You call it tacky, I call it majestic, but we are definitely talking about the same place. This wouldn’t flow so well if we all had our own academy in our mind. With text adventures you can hardly discuss a place and an impact it made on you with anyone, because another person most likely had a different (maybe drastically so) version of it.

And I think discussions like this are just fun,really. If you read through the playthrough we just had, people posted stuff along the lines of “my favorite view” of the academy, all the time. And you could have been saying that you find that view cheap or unimpressive… And that’s one of the reasons CPTs are entertaining. Visuals are just another element to discuss with fellow adventurers, along with puzzles, story and everything else.

This is very subjective, of course. I’m not saying seeing Dragonvale made it more real, in general. I’m saying seeing it made ME very impressed with the world someone else created. I make up my own picture while reading all the time, so it’s pretty cool to see what another persons is showing me.

Am I to understand with your last sentence that you’d prefer to not involve personal opinion in talking about stuff like that? (It finds it way everywhere, by the way, even when there’s narration (words) exclusively).
I think personal opinion is precisely what makes it fun! I like the fact that we see the same castle differently, makes me pause and try to see it from your side as well, ponder on why someone finds something I find epic - tacky, open my eyes to a different opinions. This is the most interesting stuff for me in any discussions, and in talking about games in particular.

     
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@Dcast: Agreed!

I’m in the final room of Spider and Web.. I think. I’m pretty confused.

“Shut down for logic adjustment.” - quite apt!

     

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