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Luhr28skeeter_93Vegetable Party

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Some interesting views about adventure games

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One of my favourite blogs about detective fiction now has reviews of some classic adventure games.

https://grandestgame.wordpress.com/computer-games/

     
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That site has one of the best, most determined defenses of King’s Quest V I’ve seen yet.

And I agree with all of it.

     
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Thanks for the link, I’ve enjoyed reading it, interesting stuff for sure. The Gabriel Knight review was very interesting.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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The most interesting point made is that King’s Quest V is a reworking of the Wizard and the Princess. I’ve already considered Colonel’s Bequest to be a fleshed-out Mystery House, but I hadn’t really connected The Wizard and the Princess and KQV.

Other than that, I remain with my notion of KQV being a terribly designed game.

     
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nothing should change your mind tomimt, even some new interesting views Laughing

totally agree btw

     
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Well, I totally disagree with his (really brief) review of King’s Quest 6 as well as Monkey Island 2 being “the most over-rated adventure game ever”. And I also think KQ5 is a poorly designed adventure. But it’s still an interesting read with some clever remarks.

     

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I don’t suppose any of you might, I dunno, like to mount an actual defense of your argument that “KQV sux” ?? Something that addresses what the article says?

     
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“Is it fun?” is really the only important question when it comes to discussing KQVI. Because the fact is, it’s not nearly as much fun as KQV and is primarily designed for people who complained about that game being “too hard” with too many challenges and too many deaths. In so doing they removed all the excitement of not knowing what’s around the next corner, of being in a large, dangerous world where anything could happen - including dying, including reaching a dead end. These things - danger, choosing wisely, taking responsibility for your actions - are the essence of “adventure” and to strip them away in KQVI leaves us with an empty shell of a game. Is it a good story? Maybe. Is it a good adventure game? No.

     

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I like the blog’s line of argument (in support of KQ5 and Sierra in general) a lot, and have had similar thoughts that weren’t as well articulated. The most interesting thing is KQ5 being on the “easy” side. It’s extremely common for adventure game puzzles to get a bad rep based on almost nothing but word of mouth. It’s been happening since the ‘80s, but more recently you get Cracked.com “5 worst/most ridiculous/hardest puzzles of all time” type articles.

But I’ve solved a lot of the puzzles that get brought up in these cases without hints, and sometimes I consider them downright easy (TLJ duck float, cat mustache, Babel Fish). They often *sound* impossible when you describe them in words (especially if you describe them disingenuously), but if you’re sitting playing the game, there are many environmental/text hints and it’s often quite clear and logical what needs to be done. The author demonstrates this same effect with KQ5.

(Whether or not cat mustache and duck float are “bad” just for having silly tones in semi-serious games is a different discussion. They’re not “difficult”.)

Some of the biggest haters of Sierra games like KQ5 have literally never played it. I have no opinion at the moment, as it’s been probably 20+ years for me and I only ever beat the CD-ROM version, always with walkthroughs rather than trying myself.

I do disagree about MI2 though. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the first one on my recent replay (it’s “good”/well-designed but has always left me cold), 2 is incredible. The hopping back and forth between locations with a massive amount of puzzles to chip away at is what’s it all about.

     
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Here’s my review of King’s Quest 5.
http://bit.ly/3mAovSz

Mind you, I don’t hate the game, I like it. But I still think it is a poorly designed game as a whole. It is quite possible to like a game and find it poorly made at the same time.

     
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Luhr28 - 20 December 2020 06:52 PM

I don’t suppose any of you might, I dunno, like to mount an actual defense of your argument that “KQV sux” ?? Something that addresses what the article says?

I also don’t dislike KQ5 - in fact I think it’s one of the best-looking Sierra games, and I agree about this “all-adventure” feel. But I do find it to be badly written and poorly designed. All its problems have been discussed so many times throughout the years that I didn’t see a point to start over. There is not a single interesting character or puzzle, everything is “flat” and basic, and Cedric is a pain the arse. There is also no “large, dangerous world” - apart from the maze-like desert (which is not fun at all), the game is pretty small and linear, esp. compared to previous entries. Back in the 1990s I got really stuck early in the game because of this cat-mouse “puzzle” and had to abandon KQ5 for many years, and I still don’t buy it - it’s only there to confuse players.

Luhr28 - 20 December 2020 07:00 PM

In so doing they removed all the excitement of not knowing what’s around the next corner, of being in a large, dangerous world where anything could happen - including dying, including reaching a dead end. These things - danger, choosing wisely, taking responsibility for your actions - are the essence of “adventure” and to strip them away in KQVI leaves us with an empty shell of a game.

Have you even played KQ6? Because there are plenty of deaths and dead-ends. There is even a specific character who tries to kill you all the time. You even got to visit the death screen as a playable location at one point. And I also used to be stuck on one particular dead-end for a long time - that brick you are supposed to notice and randomly carry in your pocket before entering the caves. But there are so many good puzzles along the way and things to do, the whole alternative “ending” (in fact about 1/4 of the game) that adds plenty of replayability, memorable characters and overall excellent writing that nobody holds it against the game.

     

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Yes I’ve played it, but a long time ago. What does it say about the writing and the design of the game that I don’t even remember if it has deaths and dead ends?

Regardless, I have nothing against KQVI and even recall enjoying it a lot. It’s just I think KQV is better, and have issues with the prominent view of late that it’s a terrible game and badly design just because you can die and get stuck.

Reading the KQIII review, it makes some very good points about that:

This game may have been single-handedly responsible for LucasArts’ game design policy: “We believe that you buy our games to be entertained, not to be whacked over the head every time you make a mistake.”

Now, great though many of LucasArts’ games were, this has of late been raised to the level of an axiom.  Player deaths and dead ends are out, verboten.  Any game in which the player can die is axiomatically a bad game.  The player can die in a Sierra game, therefore a Sierra game is a bad game.

The problem is that there are two aesthetic approaches here.  LucasArts focuses on the puzzle; as a result, as L.B. Jeffries points out, their approach is primarily cerebral, and most of the games are comedies.

Sierra focuses on the story; as a result, the games range widely in tone and mood, and any technique which involves the player – including his death – is not only legitimate, but effective.  This is, after all, an adventure game, not just an exercise in clever lateral thinking skills.  Deaths may be frustrating, but they also create tension; and tension draws the player into the game.

Would King’s Quest III be as tense if you weren’t racing against the clock, trying to climb up mountain paths and lock up laboratories before the wizard came home from a journey and caught you in the act?  Would you get the same sense of satisfaction at defeating Manannan if he just patted you on the head, and chided you in a fatherly way, rather than blasting you into a thousand smoking pieces of feathery white bone ash?

NO.

     
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Dying in a game is not a bad thing, it all depends on how they are handled. The Sierra way is, in my opinion, the wrong way, as it is more often a punishment, especially if your last save is from a point that makes you play the game again from further back. I like the kind of a dying system, which allows you to retry again from a point before the moment you die, but again, it all depends on how they are implemented. The deaths that are a result of pixel navigation errors, like falling from stairs or a mountain path I count as bad design.

Dead ends are flat out bad design, there’s no excuse to use them. The mazes are a crutch intend as padding. A good maze in a game is a rarity, only a recent example of a good maze I can think of comes from Argonus and Gods of Stone, as it actually is a puzzle instead of a real maze. None of the Sierra mazes I can think of fall into that category.

     

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tomimt - 21 December 2020 02:35 AM

It is quite possible to like a game and find it poorly made at the same time.

I am not sure it is quite true. Sure, it is possible to like flawed games. But shouldn’t a game that just doesn’t have flaws in its design but that is mostly weakly designed feel worse as whole than its parts? In an example -i probably like many individual parts of Larry 2 more than parts from any other Larry games but i wouldn’t say that Larry 2 is a game i like.

     
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you know Garbo, you did hit the greatest example of the matter, LSL2, it was a really fun game even tho it had all its frustrating experience(s). but at its time it was different and must admit I wouldn’t like to play today.

we mustn’t forget when we discuss those old adventures that it was a different era, but I am gonna say it once again as I had said it before, there are AGs that are holding up as most of LucasArts AGs, and there are games like LSL2 that are unplayable today, and we shouldn’t mix up the two of them in one perspective or category, and consider one is bad bc is not holding up, there is much reason that Sierra’s 80s AGs had all those frustrating deaths and dead-ends situations (but that is for another time to discuss).

to demonstrate it better let me tell you if you try to watch Ridley Scott’s Gladiator or Alien today they won’t have the impact they had at their time, no doubt about that, that’s why it is always a lost case to try to make KQIV or LSL2 appeal to anyone.

     
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tomimt - 22 December 2020 06:23 AM

Dying in a game is not a bad thing, it all depends on how they are handled. The Sierra way is, in my opinion, the wrong way, as it is more often a punishment, especially if your last save is from a point that makes you play the game again from further back.

To be fair, they always said “save early, save often”, so if you didn’t save your progress, they aren’t necessarily the ones to blame. The biggest problem with Sierra deaths is that to avoid them you must first go through them. Games like Broken Sword had deaths, but they gave some kind of lead-in to that, so you can kind of expect that, and especially in Broken Sword there was even some reaction time, which at the very least gave time to save game right there.

tomimt - 22 December 2020 06:23 AM

The mazes are a crutch intend as padding. A good maze in a game is a rarity, only a recent example of a good maze I can think of comes from Argonus and Gods of Stone, as it actually is a puzzle instead of a real maze. None of the Sierra mazes I can think of fall into that category.

Guard Duty.
The maze is fun, almost brilliant. I would say it’s one of the best puzzles in the game.

garbo - 22 December 2020 09:09 AM
tomimt - 21 December 2020 02:35 AM

It is quite possible to like a game and find it poorly made at the same time.

I am not sure it is quite true. Sure, it is possible to like flawed games. But shouldn’t a game that just doesn’t have flaws in its design but that is mostly weakly designed feel worse as whole than its parts?

Cyberpunk 2077?
So bad that some versions have been pulled from sale, but yet some people are saying it’s the best game they have ever played.

Advie - 22 December 2020 10:29 AM

to demonstrate it better let me tell you if you try to watch Ridley Scott’s Gladiator or Alien today they won’t have the impact they had at their time, no doubt about that, that’s why it is always a lost case to try to make KQIV or LSL2 appeal to anyone.

“Always ... to anyone” seems a bit exaggerated?
I am sure many people would find those games good even today, with dead-ends and everything. In fact the very few Sierra style parser-based games that are made these days usually get very good reviews, so I believe there’s a niche audience out there who loves that kind of gameplay, but can’t find much to please them from those games that are being made these days.

And Alien is still much better than movies that are made today (and for the record, I have never liked Alien very much).

 

     

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