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The illusion of adventure games star developers?

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‘what did the hell happen to most if not every star developer of the 90s?’

In the entertainment business whether an actor, director or singer we assume when one reaches the icon status of such elites they move on with this status from one company to the other and go on for years, but with our beloved genre we all have noticed that they mostly all of them fell down easily once their companies had shut down, which makes me wonder if all those star names developers weren’t more than what their companies had offered?

But why if we looked at Rand & Robyn Miller we find that they kinda sustained their status maybe bc they own what they developed? so..
it might be a case of copyright, an excuse for all those developers that their glory has been stolen and kept away from them? I wonder if this enough to shut down one’s talent, and why haven’t they been recruited by any of the companies that carried on the adventure gaming in the start of this century?

Even when all those adventure icons were given a 2nd chance with the Kickstarter phenomenon what did they accomplish? a mere resemblance of their old products that didn’t show but a dull vision of their early glory when all were waiting for them to show their resilience after all those years.


P.S: I am only wondering here; don’t try to shut me, i am not stating facts or even an opinion, I am just wondering if anyone here, in general, have lost their belief in a certain developer of their childhood, or there is nothing that can take their credits away of what they had presented us back then..

 

     
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Every artist has their golden period. Creative arts require a lot of inspiration to produce something great. Acting I see as more performance based than creative, so it’s easier to be a star across a lifetime, but in music, it’s rare to not go into a decline at some stage.

That said, I’m all for someone hiring Steve Meretzky or Bob Bates to work on a game. There’s a dearth of talented writers in the modern scene.

     
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Does Kid A make Ok Computer and The Bends lesser albums. No Radiohead just went in a direction I no longer was interested in.

Same thing happens to most creative people.

Not every idea is a hit, but it shouldn’t make their highs any less of a high.

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
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Grue22 - 22 August 2020 09:21 AM

That said, I’m all for someone hiring Steve Meretzky or Bob Bates to work on a game. There’s a dearth of talented writers in the modern scene.

And Brian Moriarty. Storyteller par excellence. Jonathan Blow put one of his great but old lectures in The Witness. That was the last time I saw his name anywhere.

PS: Haven’t seen Steve Meretzky since he appeared in the trailer of Bob Bates’ text adventure Thaumistry.

     

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Advie - 22 August 2020 08:56 AM

It might be a case of copyright, an excuse for all those developers that their glory has been stolen and kept away from them? I wonder if this enough to shut down one’s talent, and why haven’t they been recruited by any of the companies that carried on the adventure gaming in the start of this century?

Sometimes it is copyright. If you only make one series that’s really really really popular, and someone else copyrights it, where does that leave you?

Advie - 22 August 2020 08:56 AM

Even when all those adventure icons were given a 2nd chance with the Kickstarter phenomenon what did they accomplish? a mere resemblance of their old products that didn’t show but a dull vision of their early glory when all were waiting for them to show their resilience after all those years.

I’m not sure which games you’re talking about. Every Kickstarter game I’ve donated to has been pretty much what I expected (except for the one that didn’t work).
But there are problems developers have now that they didn’t have back in the 1990’s. For one thing, when they were working for other companies, someone else was managing the company and they didn’t have to worry about that side of things. If a game is your creation and you want it to be the best it can be, and “feature creep” threatens to delay the release of the game, it may not be as easy to say, “No, we can’t do that. At this point we need to focus on getting it done.”

Then there’s the idea that everything has to be the highest possible resolution graphics, where that wasn’t a concern in the 1980’s or 1990’s. That takes up resources that might be better spent elsewhere. But it’s a lot easier to focus on technical things than creative ones, so the creative side tends to get neglected. You can estimate how long it will take to create visuals, but you can’t estimate how long it will take to write and/or design part of a game.

Advie - 22 August 2020 08:56 AM

I am just wondering if anyone here, in general, have lost their belief in a certain developer of their childhood, or there is nothing that can take their credits away of what they had presented us back then.

Can’t it be both?
If I don’t buy another game from a certain developer, it’s more likely to be because of what games they’ve done recently than what games they did 20 years ago.

My taste in games is not the same as it was 20 years ago.
For one thing, I don’t have as much patience.
—not as much patience to sit through boring dialogues.
—not as much patience to wait while the game takes control away.
Another thing is that I don’t want the exact same game I already played, or a remake/retelling of it.

     
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crabapple - 22 August 2020 10:30 AM
Advie - 22 August 2020 08:56 AM

Even when all those adventure icons were given a 2nd chance with the Kickstarter phenomenon what did they accomplish? a mere resemblance of their old products that didn’t show but a dull vision of their early glory when all were waiting for them to show their resilience after all those years.

I’m not sure which games you’re talking about. Every Kickstarter game I’ve donated to has been pretty much what I expected (except for the one that didn’t work).

Double Fine adventure turned out to be something completely different than what they were originally talking about. Admittedly, they were talking more about documenting the process of creating a game and all that rather than the game itself, but most players and backers didn’t get what they expected. Whether their expectations were unrealistic, can be discussed.

The Coles needed two Kickstarter campaigns to complete their game (which in itself is against Kickstarter rules, AFAIK), and the finished product is reported to be lacking many features that backers were waiting, like full voice acting and all that.

Two Guys from Andromeda are running almost a decade late and so far the game is reported to be a buggy pre-alpha level mess. There are reports that comedy-wise it’s more or less on Space Quest level, so there’s that.

Jane Jensen was trying to get funding for a game studio rather than a game (which again, AFAIK, is against Kickstarter rules), and the game that came out was disappointing to most players in many ways. The second game that was promised, never happened, so technically speaking she didn’t fulfill what was promised, even though that Gabriel Knight remake may just barely qualify as the second game, if someone was to take the case to court or whatever.

Al Lowe/Paul Trowe with yet another Softporn Adventure/LSL remake. I guess it’s more or less neutral conclusion, because it was what was expected (the drama with changing developers and all that aside), but many backers ended up realising that they didn’t really want to see that same game one more time. The overall score goes negative with all the things that happened, not directly related to the game itself, but all the other B.S. that happened. Including, but not limited to, backers never getting a DRM-free key of the game.

Ron Gilbert is probably the best “star developer” to deliver exactly what was wanted. Or Charles Cecil with Broken Sword, although BS5 is in many ways too casual to be exactly the repeat of formula of BS1-2, whereas Thimbleweed Park is generally considered to a perfect repeat of his LucasArts formula - so much so that some players dislike the game just because of that.

So going by that, there would be only one game where the result was exactly spot on what backers hoped for. All the others are lacking in some ways to a varying degree.

Of course, if the motivation for backing is simply “I want to see my favourite developer to release another game”, then I suppose most projects match that, even SpaceVenture is beginning to.

     
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My favourite star developer is most definitely Jane Jensen story teller extraordinaire!

Advie - 22 August 2020 08:56 AM

‘what did the hell happen to most if not every star developer of the 90s?’

 

Jane Jensen tried but the fan base weren’t open to new concepts - Gray Matter & then Moebius the latter I’m guessing on a far smaller budget.

I think the smaller budget is a key thing along with the advent of on-line opportunities to post ‘your’game’ which is great but not so much for ‘quality control’ Laughing

Ultimately, I don’t think the games pay anymore - I saw a post earlier somewhere of someone complaining about paying £5.00 for a 2 hour game.

 

     

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chrissie - 22 August 2020 02:14 PM

Jane Jensen tried but the fan base weren’t open to new concepts - Gray Matter & then Moebius the latter I’m guessing on a far smaller budget.

...and both of those games had the same issue, despite that Gray Matter “looked” better.
If there’s anything worse than having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-over-and-over-again, it’s
having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-that-you-don’t-like-over-and-over-again.

I realize that Jane probably had to scale back her vision of what Moebius was going to look like when she had to use Phoenix Online. But she needed to design better puzzles that could work with the Phoenix game engine.

     
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crabapple - 22 August 2020 05:36 PM

I realize that Jane probably had to scale back her vision of what Moebius was going to look like when she had to use Phoenix Online. But she needed to design better puzzles that could work with the Phoenix game engine.

Moebius is based on Unity engine, so the engine isn’t the limitation there.

The same year that Moebius was released, for instance Tesla Effect was also released using the same engine, and nobody is complaining about that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unity_games

     
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Karlok - 22 August 2020 10:24 AM

And Brian Moriarty. Storyteller par excellence. Jonathan Blow put one of his great but old lectures in The Witness. That was the last time I saw his name anywhere.

Yes indeed. Here’s part of that lecture.

The name of the power that moves you is not important.

What is important is that you are moved.

Awe is the foundation of religion.

No other motivation can free you from the limits of personal achievement.

Nothing else can teach you the Art of Flight.

Computer games are barely forty years old.

Only a few words in our basic vocabulary have been established.

A whole dictionary is waiting to be coined.

The slate is clean.

Someday soon, perhaps even in our lifetime, a game design will appear that will flash across our culture like lightning.

It will be easy to recognize.

It will be generous, giddy with exuberant inventiveness.

Scholars will pick it apart for decades, perhaps centuries.

It will be something wonderful.

Something terrifying.

Something awe-full.

That was almost 20 years ago. I imagine him still awaiting that awe-full lightning flash.

     

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Thanks for posting that, Grue.

Your quote motivated me to search youtube for more Moriarty and I found this, which I hadn’t seen before:

Brian Moriarty: I Saw What I Did There. About his lecture in The Witness, the game itself, Jonathan Blow, Trinity, and fingers pointing to the moon. I love Moriarty’s talks so much because they are both funny and moving. This one is no exception.

Somewhere Jonathan Blow had hidden my exhortation Not To Hide Things!

I think he spent 280 hours on The Witness.

     
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crabapple - 22 August 2020 05:36 PM
chrissie - 22 August 2020 02:14 PM

Jane Jensen tried but the fan base weren’t open to new concepts - Gray Matter & then Moebius the latter I’m guessing on a far smaller budget.

...and both of those games had the same issue, despite that Gray Matter “looked” better.
If there’s anything worse than having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-over-and-over-again, it’s
having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-that-you-don’t-like-over-and-over-again.

I realize that Jane probably had to scale back her vision of what Moebius was going to look like when she had to use Phoenix Online. But she needed to design better puzzles that could work with the Phoenix game engine.

I have to agree with you about the overuse of particular puzzles in both games.
As much as I loved other aspects & didn’t mind the magic tricks in Gray Matter & the analysis in Moebius I found them to be too formulaic & not actually clever enough to be repeated throughout. A good magician can perform many tricks so there could have been a greater variety & in Moebius different approaches to the analysis.
I don’t have a problem with Phoenix Online but weren’t they based in India? So relatively cheap which gets back to cost being a major factor with ‘star developers’ used to far larger budgets? 


     

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chrissie - 23 August 2020 07:21 AM
crabapple - 22 August 2020 05:36 PM
chrissie - 22 August 2020 02:14 PM

Jane Jensen tried but the fan base weren’t open to new concepts - Gray Matter & then Moebius the latter I’m guessing on a far smaller budget.

...and both of those games had the same issue, despite that Gray Matter “looked” better.
If there’s anything worse than having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-over-and-over-again, it’s
having-to-do-the-same-puzzle-that-you-don’t-like-over-and-over-again.

I realize that Jane probably had to scale back her vision of what Moebius was going to look like when she had to use Phoenix Online. But she needed to design better puzzles that could work with the Phoenix game engine.

I have to agree with you about the overuse of particular puzzles in both games.
As much as I loved other aspects & didn’t mind the magic tricks in Gray Matter & the analysis in Moebius I found them to be too formulaic & not actually clever enough to be repeated throughout. A good magician can perform many tricks so there could have been a greater variety & in Moebius different approaches to the analysis.
I don’t have a problem with Phoenix Online but weren’t they based in India? So relatively cheap which gets back to cost being a major factor with ‘star developers’ used to far larger budgets? 


Could you be more specific? Well produced graphics and music and music takes money, most of us agree on that point. No one complained about the graphics and music in Moebius and Gray Matter. It was the story and puzzles and creative deficit in those areas which people didn’t like so much. Jane Jensen might claim she would have created better puzzles, better stories with an extra couple of million dollars, and I would still ask her how. In my experience, possessing a bunch of green-colored pieces of paper never had the power to magically inspire creativity in my own creative endeavors, so either she knows something the rest of us don’t, or…

     
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I agree that a large budget can’t buy creativity. But I have to disagree that the stories weren’t good - it was obvious to me that in both cases JJ had done a lot of research but from where I’m standing the depth of the subjects went over the heads of the majority of players as it veered away from the more familiar myth based stuff of the Gabriel Knight games - in particular I think the characters in Moebius were completely misunderstood. 

The weakness, for me, in both Gray Matter & Moebius were the magic tricks & analysis respectively.  I think, as they were,  the puzzles worked okay but only on a one-off basis rather than being repeated.
Why JJ chose to repeat them I would guess that as she was involved in the Casual game market ‘sold herself out’ by trying to appeal to that market ? ...or possibly a younger generation of players?
My impression is (rightly or wrongly) that PO just did the bidding of JJ rather than having any other creative input in the case of Moebius.
One of the advantages of having a larger budget is perhaps being able to outsource say for ‘puzzle makers’?

I would only agree on the creative deficit in the repeating puzzles to conclude.

I’m now curious about your creative endeavours Vehelon?  Smile 

     
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who is that Jonathan Blow in the adventure gaming scene anyway, is there something ami missing, didn’t he only make that game The Witness, what else is his connection to the genre?

crabapple - 22 August 2020 10:30 AM

Can’t it be both?
If I don’t buy another game from a certain developer, it’s more likely to be because of what games they’ve done recently than what games they did 20 years ago.

I don’t think you are having a legit point here, bc when i lose believe in a developer; and let us say, AL Lowe, just, for instance, it’s maybe’ bc he blew a chance of making a new LSL, or any new remake of the other 6 parts, or even if he had to do the first, he should not just go following a kid/Trowe’s ideas n fool dreams, but even tho All this i wont forget about all the love he gave me when I was a kid and how it affected me and my life (at least as starting of a chain of consequences), and then not just outta appreciation or acknowledgment i am sure i will find my self giving him the curiosity and interest to see any new project he d announce.

 

My taste in games is not the same as it was 20 years ago.

me too

not as much patience to sit through boring dialogues.

i don’t mind dialogues but the tediousness created by bad puzzles, NO way! i have talked years ago about this and i can give up on any adventure (while i am deep at it) bc of this, clearly bc i push myself away of hints as much as i can.

not as much patience to wait while the game takes control away.

sorry what do you mean? i can’t get my head around what exactly you mean by ‘takes control away’.

I don’t want the exact same game I already played or a remake/retelling of it.

if this remake/retiling is in a fancy dress for an 80s/90s game, i would love it.


Also i really would love a retelling in the way of Hollywood’s movies remakes, for all the changes, challenges even risks they hold, for the dev and the fan, but again it doesn’t mean to go tackle with Total Recall (movie) or to try to remake Riven or TLJ (however fancy this could be).. but maybe LSL2, PQ2, yeah, Loom in 3D, imagine, Mean Streets in 3D.

GateKeeper - 22 August 2020 11:58 AM
crabapple - 22 August 2020 10:30 AM

I’m not sure which games you’re talking about. Every Kickstarter game I’ve donated to has been pretty much what I expected (except for the one that didn’t work).

Double Fine adventure turned out to be something completely different than what they were originally talking about. Admittedly, they were talking more about documenting the process of creating a game and all that rather than the game itself, but most players and backers didn’t get what they expected. Whether their expectations were unrealistic, can be discussed.

The Coles needed two Kickstarter campaigns to complete their game (which in itself is against Kickstarter rules, AFAIK), and the finished product is reported to be lacking many features that backers were waiting, like full voice acting and all that.

Two Guys from Andromeda are running almost a decade late and so far the game is reported to be a buggy pre-alpha level mess. There are reports that comedy-wise it’s more or less on Space Quest level, so there’s that.

Jane Jensen was trying to get funding for a game studio rather than a game (which again, AFAIK, is against Kickstarter rules), and the game that came out was disappointing to most players in many ways. The second game that was promised, never happened, so technically speaking she didn’t fulfill what was promised, even though that Gabriel Knight remake may just barely qualify as the second game if someone was to take the case to court or whatever.

Al Lowe/Paul Trowe with yet another Softporn Adventure/LSL remake. I guess it’s more or less neutral conclusion because it was what was expected (the drama with changing developers and all that aside), but many backers ended up realising that they didn’t really want to see that same game one more time. The overall score goes negative with all the things that happened, not directly related to the game itself, but all the other B.S. that happened. Including, but not limited to, backers never getting a DRM-free key of the game.

Ron Gilbert is probably the best “star developer” to deliver exactly what was wanted. Or Charles Cecil with Broken Sword, although BS5 is in many ways too casual to be exactly the repeat of the formula of BS1-2, whereas Thimbleweed Park is generally considered to a perfect repeat of his LucasArts formula - so much so that some players dislike the game just because of that.

So going by that, there would be only one game where the result was exactly spot on what backers hoped for. All the others are lacking in some ways to a varying degree.

Of course, if the motivation for backing is simply “I want to see my favourite developer to release another game”, then I suppose most projects match that, even SpaceVenture is beginning to.

much better than how I would have said, and accurate; not forgetting any of the KS games or needed detail of how they were of a downgrade to their old games or selves.

     
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how funny to see this, not in LOL way, but it would have been if Brain accepted, and a career-ending story as well. front page.

Add: no need to quote Chrissie and crabapple (again) but i only read the previous posts now (as my latter post only came thru a few mins ago tho it was written many hours before)

i may mean to ask if anyone played Beyond Steel Sky, and i am asking because your thoughts about GM and Moebius, (which i agree with) but you will find that receptiveness of the same puzzle can be fun!
i can ask another question more but not until i am sure any of you played it, or its gonna be a waste Smile

     

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