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Edutainment/historical adventures: on the decline?

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Are historical, edutainment games set in the real world becoming less common? I get it - people love ancient curses, aliens, time-travel, talking cartoon bunnies and mad scientists. Sure, these elements were always around going back to the 80s, but at the same time there were also “pure” titles without them, games like: Ecoquest, Conquest of the Longbow, Gold Rush, Oregon Trail, the historical Cryo games, Chemicus and Physicus, Riddle of the Sphinx, Legend of Lotus Spring, Spycraft, Byzantine: The Betrayal, Qin: Tomb of The Middle Kingdom, 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery… the list goes on.

And while there are titles like Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders and Sumatra: Fate of Yandi, they’re hardly big budget. Edutainment/historical titles like Cryo’s used to sell a lot, and research tells me they sold in the hundreds of thousands. Not any more it seems. Daedalic’s Pillars of the Earth practically put them out of business.

Is the real world really that boring? Developers put huge amount of energy to inventing super-complicated scenarios full of supernatural events, when to me the real world is far more interesting. Even Sherlock Holmes has succumbed to this trend, with several recent SH games with the occult as the theme. It seems we can’t even get a realistic detective game these days without it having a “twist” like ghosts (Blackwell) or steampunk worlds(Lamplight City).

The historical, somewhat educational games were always my favorite adventure sub-genre: games which taught me something as well as being fun and challenging. The real-world setting was something I could relate to, unlike anthropomorphic animals and heroic superpowers which I found dull in comparison. Even Police Quest was great because I learnt a lot and it was made by experts, not just programmers. I really hope for a resurgence - not just of the small number of indie titles we’re getting, but of budgets big enough to have specialized research teams, rather than graphic designers/programmers controlling everything.

What’s your opinion on this sub-genre and why do you think it’s dying/dead? Any recent recommendations I’ve missed?

     
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Vehelon - 20 December 2019 10:30 PM

Is the real world really that boring? Developers put huge amount of energy to inventing super-complicated scenarios full of supernatural events, when to me the real world is far more interesting..
What’s your opinion on this sub-genre and why do you think it’s dying/dead? Any recent recommendations I’ve missed?

 

More the market is dominated by comics culture bandwagon effect will grow,agree
that real world is more interesting but scripting it much more harder.
I recommend Disco Elysium, although labeled as rpg there is no combat and script work is divine.

 

 

     

“The universe is a dream dreamed by a single dreamer where all the dream characters dream too.”

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The real life is mostly boring, if you think it from the gaming perspective. There are games like train driving simulators, but those are a real niche, and for obvious reasons. If you try to make an adventure game from real life, it’s incredibly difficult, unless you spice things up. Think about Broken Sword - leave out templars, secret societies, cults, and unrealistic adventure looting, and you won’t have much of a game anymore.

Having said that, there are some adventure games which really try to have some realism or education in them. But even games like Das Telekommando, which one might expect to be reality-based, spice things up plotwise (not to mention the title!).
http://www.mobygames.com/game/amiga/das-telekommando-kehrt-zurck

Anyway, as a recommendation, a game that (AFAIK) tries to be somewhat historically accurate (and I haven’t played it yet so I can’t say for sure) and is relatively recent, there’s The Travels of Marco Polo.
http://store.steampowered.com/app/366670/The_Travels_of_Marco_Polo/

Have you tried that yet? Then again, one can seriously question whether Marco Polo actually did solve slider puzzles during his travels, but perhaps we can only speculate that as those details of his adventures have been lost in history…  Tongue

     

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GateKeeper - 21 December 2019 09:53 AM

The real life is mostly boring, if you think it from the gaming perspective. There are games like train driving simulators, but those are a real niche, and for obvious reasons. If you try to make an adventure game from real life, it’s incredibly difficult, unless you spice things up. Think about Broken Sword - leave out templars, secret societies, cults, and unrealistic adventure looting, and you won’t have much of a game anymore.


Yeah. “Spicing things up” is totally desirable, whether it’s a game, book or movie: I’m sure all of us would prefer to explore an ancient Egyptian pyramid rather than the house of Mr. Joe who lives down the road. That’s more to do with what’s interesting to us and less to do with real life.

I think Broken Sword is somewhere in the middle. They aren’t edutainment but there’s nothing supernatural that I can recall, and you can learn quite a lot about the templars and certain aspects of history from them. Even if there is a lot that is made up they are mostly based in fact, which I think is what the thread is about.

Just like the murders in a Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes story didn’t actually happen - the point is, they could have happened in our world.

 

     

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Vehelon - 20 December 2019 10:30 PM

Any recent recommendations I’ve missed?

There was a game from 2012 called “Lost Chronicles of Zerzura” which seemed more realistic than fantasy
https://adventuregamers.com/articles/view/23404

 

     

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Yes, I’ve played Zerzura. Very good game, well worth playing.

     

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Check out Odyssey - The Next Generation Science Game. Pretty fun 3D game about astronomy wit Myst-like puzzles.

Also, Gabriel Knight 2 has a whole lot of historical content on Ludwig II and Wagner. Sure the other GK games have historical aspects but the stuff in 2 is really deep and very interesting, with the game built from real world photographs.

     
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mjoe - 27 December 2019 08:05 PM

Check out Odyssey - The Next Generation Science Game. Pretty fun 3D game about astronomy wit Myst-like puzzles.

I remember keeping track of this game during development, thought it looked amazing. I totally forgot about it, thanks for the reminder Thumbs Up

Also, Gabriel Knight 2 has a whole lot of historical content on Ludwig II and Wagner. Sure the other GK games have historical aspects but the stuff in 2 is really deep and very interesting, with the game built from real world photographs.

Well, yeah..great game, but the vampire/supernatural stuff kinda puts it out of the historical category. Considering the type of games mentioned in the OP…

     

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There’s also “Tales”. It isn’t really historical, but it offers a nice journey through some of the world’s oldest tales and novels.

     

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