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discussion about modernizing/popularizing adventure games

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Of course Steam isn’t everything, but does represent 75% of the PC market and point and click adventures do sell best on PC, although there is potential on consoles like the Switch and Mobile.

I’ve actually read comments from developers say that publishing on mobile saved them from bankruptcy

The Switch and the PS4 I would also publish on because they don’t have the glut of adventure games that the PC does.

So, I would not by any means use Steam figures for total sales. There is also GOG and Epic as well and selling directly from their home website.

The Switch is a huge success with a high percentage of women owners. The percentage of women playing adventures games is higher than say, FPS games.

This is the genre we’re most familiar with and unfortunately has the weakest future

Point and clicks are very fun to play on tablets because you touch and drag, works great. And with apple selling over 85 million tablets alone - mobile is a huge market.

Also, just when you think 2D point and click is dead, along come games like Kathy Rain, Whispers of a Machine and Gemini Rue to name a few that you just fall in love with. The main advantage they have is they are pretty easy to create so they are indie friendly and if the budget is low enough can make some money.

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

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Adv_Lvr - 20 February 2021 09:34 PM

Of course Steam isn’t everything, but does represent 75% of the PC market and point and click adventures do sell best on PC, although there is potential on consoles like the Switch and Mobile.

I’ve actually read comments from developers say that publishing on mobile saved them from bankruptcy

The Switch and the PS4 I would also publish on because they don’t have the glut of adventure games that the PC does.

I did hear that adventure games were seeing some success on the Switch eshop at the start of its lifecycle. I think it’s a bit more difficult to stand out now that the eShop is pretty crowded. I’m not sure how things would work on PS4, but I suppose it could be a good choice for games with direct control.

Adv_Lvr - 20 February 2021 09:34 PM

So, I would not by any means use Steam figures for total sales. There is also GOG and Epic as well and selling directly from their home website.

The Switch is a huge success with a high percentage of women owners. The percentage of women playing adventures games is higher than say, FPS games.

Yes definitely, I have a Switch too and I’m super happy that it’s able to reach a wider audience beyond men 18-45. Look at how well Animal Crossing did last year and the lead designer is a woman. I really hope that we get more games designed with women in mind, because the market potential is large there and I know that adventure games have a much better gender split than a lot of other genres, and those kinds of games are closer to my taste.

Adv_Lvr - 20 February 2021 09:34 PM

This is the genre we’re most familiar with and unfortunately has the weakest future

Point and clicks are very fun to play on tablets because you touch and drag, works great. And with apple selling over 85 million tablets alone - mobile is a huge market.

Also, just when you think 2D point and click is dead, along come games like Kathy Rain, Whispers of a Machine and Gemini Rue to name a few that you just fall in love with. The main advantage they have is they are pretty easy to create so they are indie friendly and if the budget is low enough can make some money.

Heart

 

I’m not a big mobile person, but my assumption was that most successful games on mobile were free to play and relied on microtransactions which are hard to implement in an adventure game.

I never subscribed to the belief that adventure games were dead, just not embraced by major publishers. I love all those games too and I’m happy that they found some amount of success. Take Kathy Rain for example. It had a rough start: Why the publisher of adventure game Kathy Rain doesn’t mind that it’s a failure, but now after many bundles and I think even being given away for free they’re releasing a director’s cut later this year. So yeah it’s definitely not all doom and gloom, I’m sure we’ll be getting great point and click adventure games released each year for years to come.

     
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Thank you for your thoughts! Very quick reaction: so glad someone mentioned AI!

I’ve been thinking about text adventures and their potential a lot. I’ve mentioned this idea in another thread: a tabletop RPG-style scenario, purely focused on story, characters and puzzles. Rooms, items, one or more goals, one or more players and a set of obstacles that the players can approach however they like.

AI has been a huge boon for other genres, but seems difficult to implement in adventure games. If an AI could work like a DM, that would be a game changer.

Just a quick response for now, you’ve given me a lot to think about!

     
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I think computer generating at least parts of the story could be a new, welcome innovation.

Like solving murder mysteries is fun, but if you get stuck, you just check a walkthrough to see what objects to pick up and who to talk to, where and when.

If the computer randomised things just a little bit, it might make the whole thing feel more dynamic, especially when replaying.

I am actually surprised how little this has been used in adventure games, even though the earliest attempt (that I can recall) to do something towards that was in The Detective Game (1984) where NPCs were walking around the mansion and kept locking and unlocking doors. Shenmue (1999) took that to another level with simulated 24 hour rhythm in the game world. I guess you could also mention The Last Express (1997). The Colonel’s Bequest (1989) had something that might be a remote cousin to that.

But even in those games none of the puzzles had any real randomisation. I don’t know if that would make much difference to the genre popularity overall, but at least for genre fans who have played thousands of adventure games something like that would be a little bit different, even if the game mechanics otherwise remained the same.

Can you imagine a game where any NPC could be the murderer, possibly even the protagonist himself, and the previous playthrough wouldn’t mean much in the next playthrough?

     

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GateKeeper - 21 February 2021 06:42 AM

I think computer generating at least parts of the story could be a new, welcome innovation.

I’d hate to see that happen, it would completely ruin the story.

I am actually surprised how little this has been used in adventure games, even though the earliest attempt (that I can recall) to do something towards that was in The Detective Game (1984) where NPCs were walking around the mansion and kept locking and unlocking doors.

Level9 text adventures, like Knight Orc and Ingrid’s Back, had randomised NPCs. I also remember random monsters appearing in the early King’s Quest games.

I guess you could also mention The Last Express (1997).

No, TLE uses real-time but there’s nothing randomised in the game. 

But even in those games none of the puzzles had any real randomisation. I don’t know if that would make much difference to the genre popularity overall, but at least for genre fans who have played thousands of adventure games something like that would be a little bit different, even if the game mechanics otherwise remained the same.

IMO the number of genre fans who have played thousands of adventure games can be counted on one hand. Well, maybe on two hands and two feet.

Can you imagine a game where any NPC could be the murderer, possibly even the protagonist himself, and the previous playthrough wouldn’t mean much in the next playthrough?

Yes, I can. Been there, done that. Not for me, thank you.

I know I’ve said this before, so I’ll keep it short. The adventure genre is always evolving and expanding. Whether we like it or not. I don’t care for the recent surge in platform puzzlers and games which require a lot of dexterity, but that’s just me. Games like The Vanishing of Etan Carter, Murdered Soul Suspects, Fahrenheit, Edith Finch, Return of the Obra Dinn, Outer Wilds, The Walking Dead, The Sexy Brutale, Kentucky Route Zero, There Is No Game, Orwell, are played by lots of people who don’t think in terms of adventure games. They are the ones that make those games possible, not the few adventure fans left. See twitch and youtube. But unless they were genre fans to begin with they are not interested in classic adventures like Broken Sword.

     
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There’s an old adventure game called Murder on the Zinderneuf that used randomization. It’s a murder mystery, taking place on a zeppelin. You choose a detective among eight candidates, each with their own strengths and weaknesses and go on solving a murder of a random passenger. The killer is randomized as well each time you start a new game.

So, randomization in adventure games can be done, but it just a question of on what scale. Zindernauf isn’t a long game as such, given its limited scope because of the location. The randomized aspects of the game do give it some longevity though. The game was originally released in 1983, so it would be interesting to see a modern take on something similar.

     
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I would also say the game Blade Runner does something like that for the game by randomizing who is a human and who is a replicant

     

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I think randomising adventure games may not all be positive. Sure randomisation can lead to some unique experiences, but it can also lead to far more duds if done badly. Also I think it takes away from the “shared experience” aspect of games, that you can talk to friends about.

Extrapolating this - A curated experience in general I find much more enjoyable, as most of the flaws and edges have been polished out. Take a standard movie vs the ability to see the entire set in VR, or like watching a play. The standard movie can really tweak everything to deliver the optimal experience.

Randomisation does add to replayability though.

AI as a layer between say a text parser or microphone that gets converted into game controls, that seems like a much better application.

One thing about attracting new players - I think a lot of people would enjoy the games if they actually tried them. They are just much harder to market, to get people to have a go. Maybe you could create a gateway via schools and education (a la Carmen Sandiego?). Or maybe some sort of blinded experience - you get sent a random game a week, and throw in a few adventure games.

     

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I really don’t get what would be the appeal of adding randomisation, other than replayability, but I don’t see replayability as an imperative for every game. Randomisation would take a lot away from the story - in this example of a random murderer, there wouldn’t be any characterisation or clues in the story to indicate who the murderer is, what their motives would be, etc. I don’t see how being able to play a worse game more times makes it better. But maybe I’m being narrow-minded as to what the implications on narrative would actually be

     
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In the case of a randomize murder/murderer, you obviously need to write stuff that ties in together even when chosen randomly. You invent different motives, methods of murder and evidence, which can be used to link to the chose murderer and victim. Randomizing doesn’t mean drawing all out from the hat, it means randomising some elements, which then use defined elements specific to those random choices.

Obviously, it does require some extra writing and thinking about how you want to connect things. So while it would take some extra work, it still is something that could be used to create coherent narratives.

     
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tomimt - 22 February 2021 11:15 AM

In the case of a randomize murder/murderer, you obviously need to write stuff that ties in together even when chosen randomly. You invent different motives, methods of murder and evidence, which can be used to link to the chose murderer and victim. Randomizing doesn’t mean drawing all out from the hat, it means randomising some elements, which then use defined elements specific to those random choices.

Obviously, it does require some extra writing and thinking about how you want to connect things. So while it would take some extra work, it still is something that could be used to create coherent narratives.

Still not sure I see the point. Developers seem to have trouble creating just one coherent quality storyline, so the demand to make numerous extra puzzles, dialogues and plot devices would just dilute whatever quality is already there.

If there’s a murderer in the game, then I already don’t know who it is when I’ve just started a game. I don’t need a dozen alternative murderers just to have the joy of knowing the game is randomized and oh-so innovative. I’d encourage devs to use the best material they’ve got. But then, I’m someone who plays a game once and then moves on - I know there are others who are into replays but for me, there’s far too much repetition to slog through with just one randomized element to justify a replay.

This also applies to choice-based games. I wonder how many of those I’ve played and experienced the lesser quality paths and outcomes, and deemed the game to be poor - when another pathway might have had me celebrating it as a masterpiece and emotional rollercoaster.

(I don’t know what the reception would have been like if Shakespeare released a version of Romeo & Juliet where the two lovers decide to be just friends, nothing else much happens and they don’t die at the end, but I somehow doubt it would have been repturous.)

     
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Luhr28 - 22 February 2021 07:53 PM
tomimt - 22 February 2021 11:15 AM

In the case of a randomize murder/murderer, you obviously need to write stuff that ties in together even when chosen randomly. You invent different motives, methods of murder and evidence, which can be used to link to the chose murderer and victim. Randomizing doesn’t mean drawing all out from the hat, it means randomising some elements, which then use defined elements specific to those random choices.

Obviously, it does require some extra writing and thinking about how you want to connect things. So while it would take some extra work, it still is something that could be used to create coherent narratives.

Still not sure I see the point. Developers seem to have trouble creating just one coherent quality storyline, so the demand to make numerous extra puzzles, dialogues and plot devices would just dilute whatever quality is already there.

You are thinking the whole thing backwards.
It’s not like someone would make a game first, and then start adding alternative paths afterwards. (OK, there are some games that have DLCs with that idea, but generally speaking that’s not what happens.) The developers would have to incorporate that thinking into game design from the very early stages.

Have you played Blade Runner? And Late Shift? They manage to have multiple storylines that make replaying the game more rewarding.

I suppose you never read/played choose your own adventure books either? Going from those to computer games seems like a step back in terms of interactivity, as crazy as it sounds like.

Luhr28 - 22 February 2021 07:53 PM

(I don’t know what the reception would have been like if Shakespeare released a version of Romeo & Juliet where the two lovers decide to be just friends, nothing else much happens and they don’t die at the end, but I somehow doubt it would have been repturous.)

It really depends on how it would be done. If it’s just changing the ending of the play, then perhaps it’s pointless. But to make that analogy work, imagine if the audiences of the Globe Theatre wouldn’t have known the exact outcome. Which of the character dies, or many? None of them die and it’s a happy ending?

I’m not saying that everything must have multiple choices, I am among the very few people who would even speak for kinetic visual novel kind of story-telling. But saying that having choices automatically spoils everything is a bit ridiculous. Because games are the kind of art form where the audience can affect the outcome, I see it worthwhile to have some works that go for that goal.

You still have the option of watching a stage play of Romeo & Juliet, in case whatever game lets you down.

     
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GateKeeper - 23 February 2021 03:44 AM
Luhr28 - 22 February 2021 07:53 PM
tomimt - 22 February 2021 11:15 AM

In the case of a randomize murder/murderer, you obviously need to write stuff that ties in together even when chosen randomly. You invent different motives, methods of murder and evidence, which can be used to link to the chose murderer and victim. Randomizing doesn’t mean drawing all out from the hat, it means randomising some elements, which then use defined elements specific to those random choices.

Obviously, it does require some extra writing and thinking about how you want to connect things. So while it would take some extra work, it still is something that could be used to create coherent narratives.

Still not sure I see the point. Developers seem to have trouble creating just one coherent quality storyline, so the demand to make numerous extra puzzles, dialogues and plot devices would just dilute whatever quality is already there.

You are thinking the whole thing backwards.
It’s not like someone would make a game first, and then start adding alternative paths afterwards. (OK, there are some games that have DLCs with that idea, but generally speaking that’s not what happens.) The developers would have to incorporate that thinking into game design from the very early stages.

Have you played Blade Runner? And Late Shift? They manage to have multiple storylines that make replaying the game more rewarding.

I suppose you never read/played choose your own adventure books either? Going from those to computer games seems like a step back in terms of interactivity, as crazy as it sounds like.

Yes, I read CYOA books back in school. The difference with those is that it takes a few seconds to trace my decision back and make a different choice. I didn’t go back to the start of the book and reread everything all over again. An adventure game requires you to do that, and for this adventurer, it’s downright boring.

As for Late Shift, that’s also a very short game. It’s probably the most tolerable format for the multiple paths idea. I still only played it once and might have watched a few alternate endings on youtube. Also, a thriller story is just about the only genre it would work with, because of how mindless it is. It doesn’t mean anything. The adrenaline of the ride is what counts. That’s why any ending or path is just about as good as another.

I understand that developers incorporate the multiple paths into the design, but in the end, if there is one “better” pathway (and I haven’t played a game where there wasn’t) it still amounts to watering down the game with inferior material.

 

Luhr28 - 22 February 2021 07:53 PM

(I don’t know what the reception would have been like if Shakespeare released a version of Romeo & Juliet where the two lovers decide to be just friends, nothing else much happens and they don’t die at the end, but I somehow doubt it would have been repturous.)

It really depends on how it would be done. If it’s just changing the ending of the play, then perhaps it’s pointless. But to make that analogy work, imagine if the audiences of the Globe Theatre wouldn’t have known the exact outcome. Which of the character dies, or many? None of them die and it’s a happy ending?

If that’s something that gets you excited, who am I to complain? I’m sure old Bill just rolled a dice to figure out who was gonna die in the play anyway. It’s not like it matters or anything.

 

     
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The first Clock Tower for SNES did a great job at randomising things: you saw different people killed differently, you found their bodies at different places, as well as inventory items. You could also never tell where and when you’d encounter the maniac - which was the main scare factor. All of this, in turn, opened various parts of the story and led to one of the 8 endings. Of course, the number of characters was limited and the villain was obvious from the start, but the game still stimulated you to replay it and reveal all the content.

     

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Even Adventure for the Atari 2600 had some randomness to it, every time you played, they would move items and monsters around to different places to keep the game interesting. That was one popular game, everyone I knew who had an Atari system had a copy.

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

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