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Adventure Game Rubric

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This is a first draft of a rubric that I created to score games and determine their “adventure level” I guess you could say. I haven’t figure out the cutoff point, but I’m really trying to create an objective way of determining if a game is an adventure game. I play a lot of adventure games on my Twitch channel and I have found that every source seems to have their own subjective means of determining an adventure game. Feedback is appreciated.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UWlFhwluTRPSIZbAb0Tf30sLXTJtQvSt/view?usp=sharing

     
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Hmm.. Let’s see.

the walking dead:
narrative=3, puzzle=1 (activities relate to the narrative, but can rarely be called puzzles), exploration=1. Total score: 5
pacing=1 or 2 (not sure), progression=2 or 1 (let’s say respectively). Total score: 3
Not an adventure game by either rubric.

Phoenix Wright:
narrative=3, puzzle=1 (presenting’s not much different from item use; 2 won’t be a stretch), exploration=2 (exploration exists outside of court; 1 won’t be a stretch, let’s say respectively). Total score: 6
pacing=3, progression=2 or 3 (let’s go with 2 per below). Total score: 5
An adventure game by both rubrics, though not very much so.

So far so good.

Thoughts:

.) It’s not clear what the alternatives of progression by exploration/dialogue/puzzles are. the “1” option makes me think the alternative’s just combat, which is somewhat redundant given pacing also talking about combat vs non-combat.
Instead, other type of alternative progression might include automatic progression - think VNs (which is why I didn’t want to give phoenix-wright a 3 here).

.) What is “take people outside of story for the sake of a puzzle”? Having to do picrosses every 2 seconds is certainly one example, but does having to solve intricate cat-hair-mustache-style puzzles count? What about gobli+ns style puzzles?

Speaking of goblii*ns, let’s take the second game in the series:
narrative=1 (2 would be too much of a stretch, no?), puzzles=2 or 3 (depending on above point), exploration=2 (several screens per “level”). Total score: 5 or 6, depending on above point.

Eep - looks like gobli{2}ns 2 is an adventure game only if intricate adventure-game-style puzzles are ‘immune’ to “taking people outside of story”.

     
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I think this version of the rubric is clearly not working as I’d hoped, because it is still somewhat subjective to how to apply the scores and the boundary that I put in for each section is arbitrary. I would like to improve this rubric, but, in a way, I think the “experience” of the game (which is clearly subjective) needs to be a part of the rubric. It is almost a “how did this game make you feel?” sort of question.

This rubric could also simply be a data point and not a absolute designation, but that also leads to subjectivity and potential bias, which is what I was trying to avoid.

Speaking to your points, The Walking Dead is clearly an adventure game and if the rubric fails to identify that, it is not working correctly.

I’d say Gobliiins is a tough one to classified because it is a puzzle game with a loose story. I think from the “experience” of the game, people would call it an adventure games because it feels like one.

I think there is better way to do this, but I don’t know what it is.

My thought is to give higher weights to things, like a story is absolutely required for an adventure game to be an adventure game, while puzzles and exploration are kind of hit and miss. Perhaps drilling down to the types of puzzles and the types of exploration would make things more clear. Perhaps my goal to fruitless and I’ll never have something that works 100% of the time because, in the end, what defines an adventure game is based on the experience and therefore is subjective.

     
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Yeah, I’m a noob around here, and when it comes to things like adventure gaming in general.


One thing I would also kind of warn, is weighing the story part a little too much.

The reason I warn against it, is that the earliest of graphical adventures would mostly hint at a story, or just put the story in the manual.

When we look back at the original king’s quest 1, there is in fact a story (albeit borrowed from other fairy tales)  but the story is not the emphasis of the game.  After speaking with the king, it’s pretty clear what you are going to do for the most part. Really the bulk of the game focuses on wandering lost around Daventry, lookin at the beautiful animations and getting killed (at least when I play) or solving painfully obtuse puzzles.

But is King’s Quest 1 and adventure game?  Definitely.

I want to help you out, so let me think on this for a while and come back.  I’m often frustrated by how the gaming industry uses the word adventure game now.  On the PC side, it is still a pretty well recognized genre, but even to this day the console world just struggles with the concept.  It doesn’t help that a lot of games have adventure elements, but are action games, like Zelda.

And as we’ve already touched on, what I like about adventure games is not always what other people prefer in adventure games.  I like to have characters to talk to and interact with, inventory, and some logic puzzles. 

There’s the myst type of game that is all exploring and puzzles.

There’s the telltale games that are mostly characters and choices.


Some adventure games even have action elements like Kings Quest 2015, Dreamfall (the sequel to TLJ), etc

Are these all adventure games?

I’m going to go do some soul searching, and see if I can come back with an answer. 

I think we’ve fallen into socrates damned trap where he tries to get you to define something, and then your stuck there bickering with him until one of us dies or admits to not knowing anything.

     

Occuluncus: No, no.  The eye stays closed!

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tacosalad77 - 11 May 2020 10:44 AM

Speaking to your points, The Walking Dead is clearly an adventure game and if the rubric fails to identify that, it is not working correctly.

I think you made an interesting rubric. The problem perhaps is that people will gladly use it to declare games they don’t like as not meeting the standard. (Twd meets the score for me) It doesn’t have to be a good adventure to be an adventure. Plus we still live in a world where most people equate adventure with action adventure anyway… So it is an up hill battle…

     
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Celebreon - 11 May 2020 10:57 AM

the earliest of graphical adventures would mostly hint at a story, or just put the story in the manual.

I agree with the assessment and having a story that a spelled out in the manual, is still a story. I was playing a game from 1982 called Transylvania and the story is very simple, save the princess from the evil vampire, BUT when you look in the box there is tons and tons of lore and background on the lore and the story. If you just go by the game itself, you miss tons of story and lore and significant amounts of the game itself. So, the box contents and manual contents are part of the game itself.

     
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zane - 11 May 2020 11:14 AM

I think you made an interesting rubric. The problem perhaps is that people will gladly use it to declare games they don’t like as not meeting the standard. (Twd meets the score for me) It doesn’t have to be a good adventure to be an adventure. Plus we still live in a world where most people equate adventure with action adventure anyway… So it is an up hill battle…

That is a problem and the point of any rubric is the take the subjectivity out of the process by defining the standards that justify a particular score. It is also a good point that when you start putting this types of scoring systems into place, people will use them to justify excluding games they don’t want in the genre, or include games they want in, but shouldn’t be. If the rubric is defined enough, it should be easy to spot people using the rubric in ways it should be (scoring things incorrectly), but I think adventure games are inherently subjective in some ways that are really hard to capture on a rubric.

An example game that I find people fighting over is Portal. A game with an obvious story, puzzles that really do relate to the story, and room based exploration to discover what you are supposed to do. That fits the rubric and gives that game at least a 6, but I would say the doesn’t have the “feel” of an adventure games and I think that is what makes people want to exclude it. I don’t think they are wrong to say it doesn’t fit, but it is a barrier to having a true standard as to what an adventure game is.

     
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tacosalad77 - 11 May 2020 11:37 AM
Celebreon - 11 May 2020 10:57 AM

the earliest of graphical adventures would mostly hint at a story, or just put the story in the manual.

I agree with the assessment and having a story that a spelled out in the manual, is still a story. I was playing a game from 1982 called Transylvania and the story is very simple, save the princess from the evil vampire, BUT when you look in the box there is tons and tons of lore and background on the lore and the story. If you just go by the game itself, you miss tons of story and lore and significant amounts of the game itself. So, the box contents and manual contents are part of the game itself.

I’d be hesitant about including the box introduction - back in the days of 8-bit computers and games on cassette, many games had verbose backstories in the boxes - even a simple arcade game might have a fairly in-depth scenario described in the cassette inlay. It gave you something to read while you waited for the game to load!

As to the importance of story: On the one hand story is Adventure games’ biggest appeal for many fans; on the other hand Adventure, the ancestor which gives the genre its name, is pretty much entirely about exploration and puzzles.

     

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