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Question: What makes adventure games fun?


melkathi

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I'd like some feet-back on something I have been wondering about:

What makes adventure games fun to you?

 

Personally I enjoyed quite a few point and click adventures for the story, art, humour.

I enjoyed Wolf Among Us for the story but was biased as I used to read the comics.

More texty old adventure game I really enjoyed Eric the Unready for the writing and humour.

What never really seems to come up when I think back at games is the puzzles. 

How important a part are they?

How verbose can a game be? Is there a limit to when you feel the Dev should stop trying to be an author and remember to be a Dev?

Is there a reason point and click adventures tend to only have one solution to each problem?

Anything else you can think of?

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I remember a lot of puzzles from the olden days just because I really had to work to solve them, as there was not internet of things. I remember getting killed by a snake in King's Quest V on my way to the mountains, and having to call a hint line, where they told me I had to get some item from earlier in the game. 

I remember trying to match punchlines to the swordmaster in Monkey Island. That was probably my favorite puzzle ever.

But I've really lost my love for the genre. I've tried a few over the recent years, and they do not capture my imagination the way they used to. I don't know why.  

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For me, puzzle design is more important in a straight up puzzle game (think The Witness or Magnum Opus) than in a point n click adventure. That said, I want at least some challenge in the puzzle. Ideally the puzzle is challenging while also logical. If I can't have both then I would skew toward the more challenging puzzles with moon logic rather than the simple puzzles with sound logic, but I grew up on Sierra On-Line adventures, so I'm conditioned to moon logic. There's nothing worse than a childishly easy puzzle, that's a straight up insult to me.

 

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*takes notes*

Thanks guys.

I found Runaway 2 to be a the game that most annoyed me. It had one *puzzle* that was *solved* by leaving and re-entering a screen seven times, and talking to the same character seven times, always getting the same reply until the seventh time he'd get a new line. It was the worst design I have seen - not a matter of bad logic, but just waiting for players to have clicked everything so many times in frustration.

 

Edited by melkathi

Unobtrusively informing you about my new ebook (which you should feel free to read and shower with praise).

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I had lots of fun with them back in the day before the internet and all that jazz.  I really enjoyed the art and the puzzle solving.

Unfortunately though, with all the latest technological advances, they've kind of lost their magic to me, they seem sort of like relics now gameplay wise and not really interesting anymore.  I don't feel much nostalgia for them.

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I love a good adventure game just as much as a good RPG. I enjoy the puzzles and the feeling of accomplishment when I've solved one of them. I also like the story telling. Every combat centric game needs a story that justifies the aforementioned combat. Adventure games are free of that. There are murder mysteries, thrillers, playable cartoons, treasure hunts, haunted houses, and even serious stories. The Kyte trilogy for example focuses on a family with an alcoholic father. Each part tells the story from the point of view of a different family member. Try that in an RPG or FPS.

Also, not all games are like the old Sierra or Lucas Arts titles anymore. In the upcoming adventure game Scene Investigators, you play a detective in training and have to solve the cases of rebuilt crime scenes. All guidance you get are a few questions you need to answer for each case, using only the clues you find at the scene and your own intellect. The game doesn't do any of the required thinking for you at all.

Or think of games like Heavy Rain, Life is Strange, or What Remains of Edith Finch. Those are adventure games, too. The genre is still undefeated when it comes to story telling, and if it's just because of it's range.

(Though RPGs are a very close second)

 

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I think story and well developed characters are more important in adventure games than in other genres. Obviously, quality writing is a plus in any genre, but other types of games can make up for poor writing with engaging gameplay more so than adventure games, where the gameplay mainly consists of talk to the person, collect the thing, combine the thing with the other thing to make a new thing, and use the thing on a part of the environment. An engaging story and interesting characters will make or break an adventure game where, for example, an action RPG can make up for weak storytelling with really well crafted combat.

Edited by Keyrock

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5 hours ago, ComradeYellow said:

I had lots of fun with them back in the day before the internet and all that jazz.  I really enjoyed the art and the puzzle solving.

Unfortunately though, with all the latest technological advances, they've kind of lost their magic to me, they seem sort of like relics now gameplay wise and not really interesting anymore.  I don't feel much nostalgia for them.

Whoops, you might have forgotten to check your character notes before you posted this. You are supposed to be an idealistic young communist heading off to college.

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It being like a good book, interesting characters  and an interesting setting.  Quality of the puzzles matters a close second.  After all these years playing I'm okay with moon logic puzzles.

7 hours ago, melkathi said:

I found Runaway 2 to be a the game that most annoyed me. It had one *puzzle* that was *solved* by leaving and re-entering a screen seven times, and talking to the same character seven times, always getting the same reply until the seventh time he'd get a new line. It was the worst design I have seen - not a matter of bad logic, but just waiting for players to have clicked everything so many times in frustration.

The third game pretended the second didn't exist, no ? Hah.

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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Point&Click is one of those genres I don't see much reason to return to.

In short - IMO the appeal of them was characters and story. Like RPGs they were far beyond found anything in other genres, and unlike RPGs they looked great (for their time). I like a good puzzle, but good puzzles are far and few inbetween in those titles. So while I enjoyed quite a few point&clicks, I would rather play Psychonauts then, lets say Monkey Ireland Island. 

Never got into Telltale's stuff.

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I liked adventure games a long time ago before point and click.  I dislike point and click adventure games because they feel boring to me.  It's always a click hunt and puzzles that are solved just by clicking on the thing enough times.

Granted, I think the last adventure game I played was King's Quest VII (that was the first point and click one, right?)

Edited by Vaeliorin
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The writing mostly. There's a few I've played for fun puzzles, but they're a shocking minority. Like The Room games. Or Obra Dinn. Great puzzles! End of list.

But Monkey Island, various Telltale narrative adventures, and the like. It's always plot, characters, or being funny. I played through a great couple of games called Puzzle Agent. Telltale before Walking Dead, like a Canadian Professor Layton. Puzzle's right in the name! I don't remember a single puzzle. But the game was funny and charming.

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On 8/21/2021 at 8:36 PM, melkathi said:

I'd like some feet-back on something I have been wondering about:

What makes adventure games fun to you?

 

Personally I enjoyed quite a few point and click adventures for the story, art, humour.

I enjoyed Wolf Among Us for the story but was biased as I used to read the comics.

More texty old adventure game I really enjoyed Eric the Unready for the writing and humour.

What never really seems to come up when I think back at games is the puzzles. 

How important a part are they?

How verbose can a game be? Is there a limit to when you feel the Dev should stop trying to be an author and remember to be a Dev?

Is there a reason point and click adventures tend to only have one solution to each problem?

Anything else you can think of?

I started my fantastic and exciting gaming career with Adventure games back in 1990 where I experienced first time Kings Quest 1 ....I was absolutely blown away by the concepts and design. I played the game on an EGA 16 bit PC  and it was just brilliant with how you had to type certain questions to get results

I like Adventure games because they allow me to explore a world that is about problem solving as opposed to normal RPG mechanics

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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It's an interesting question... and surprisingly difficult to answer 🤔

 

I never really "dug" point and click adventure games, especially the hunt the obscure pixel kind. But I've loved both graphical and text based adventure games. Not the puzzles, but the world building I suppose.

My first love was some of the old text based Infocom games (Zork I-III) from the early 80's. Yes, they were built around logic (and in some cases not so logic) puzzles, but the world building of the Underground Empire and the legends of Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive were just so intriguing, I always kept persevering with the puzzles to get a few snippets more of backstory when progressing.

Eaten by a Grue: A Brief History of Zork | Mental Floss

Later they started adding some basic, often procedurally generated graphics and less text to read. Maybe to make them more appealing or more accessible, I don't know. But two games I remember was "The Dallas Quest" which was actually based on the characters and setting of an old TV series. So many people back then loved "JR" aka JR Ewing, one of the most charismatic TV villains on screen.

The Dallas Quest - Commodore 64 - Artwork - In Game

The other was a typical fantasy based game called "Twin Kingdom Valley". The story was great at the time and the world felt alive as it had "NPC's" and events happening independent of your actions (I know now, they weren't but at the time, it felt like it)

But, the game that eventually changed my gamer life was a hybrid like the above (text based adventure with procedurally generated images) was a game by a published called Melbourne House. Its name was "The Hobbit"

I played the game quite a bit at first, but got stuck at the same point in every play through. Friggin goblin caves just kept killing me. I managed to get that lazy oaf Thorin to pick me up and carry me on his shoulders, but what little light I had would eventually falter and I would die horribly in the dark (No Grues though, those were a Zork thing). Gandalf would always ruin things by taking the map out of my pocket and respond to requests for returning it with a "No."... I so hated the guy at the time. Oh yeah, in the middle of all my trouble, Thorin would suddenly plunk his lazy dwarven butt on the ground and start singing about gold. I wanted to strangle him!

 

Anyway, I eventually got my problem solved because the game box didn't come with only the casette tape with the game, it also came with a (English) paperback version of the book "The Hobbit". After much hair pulling and teeth gnashing, I eventually read the book. It showed me what I had been doing wrong. Needed to go elsewhere first, trick a trio of trolls into staying out when the sun rose, turned them to stone and then loot the sword "Sting" from their cave. The sword glows in the dark when goblins are near. Yup, problem solved, doesn't run out of light in the goblin kings caves and I could steal a ring and a few other things and be on my merry way.

 

Exhibiting The Hobbit: A tale of memories and microcomputers | Kinephanos

My all time favourite game though is hard to classify. It's part adventure, part rpg, part strategy game and I will always consider its designer, Mike Singleton, as one of the all time underrated geniuses. Him, Bell & Braben (Elite) and Jeff Minter (of Llamasoft fame) were influential characters for me in the 80's (yes, long before the Internet). The game "Lords of Midnight" just had everything. Backstory and lore, huge and immersive world, winning strategies to be worked out (you could win the game in a couple of different ways), and a game that managed to convey it all through its interface (part text and character description, part procedurally generated 3D world graphics)

Lords of Midnight - C64-Wiki

 

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Would be funny to make a text parser game these days.  Reason I learned to type as well as I can is mostly Police Quest.

Why has elegance found so little following? Elegance has the disadvantage that hard work is needed to achieve it and a good education to appreciate it. - Edsger Wybe Dijkstra

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3 hours ago, Gorth said:

It's an interesting question... and surprisingly difficult to answer 🤔

 

I never really "dug" point and click adventure games, especially the hunt the obscure pixel kind. But I've loved both graphical and text based adventure games. Not the puzzles, but the world building I suppose.

My first love was some of the old text based Infocom games (Zork I-III) from the early 80's. Yes, they were built around logic (and in some cases not so logic) puzzles, but the world building of the Underground Empire and the legends of Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive were just so intriguing, I always kept persevering with the puzzles to get a few snippets more of backstory when progressing.

Eaten by a Grue: A Brief History of Zork | Mental Floss

Later they started adding some basic, often procedurally generated graphics and less text to read. Maybe to make them more appealing or more accessible, I don't know. But two games I remember was "The Dallas Quest" which was actually based on the characters and setting of an old TV series. So many people back then loved "JR" aka JR Ewing, one of the most charismatic TV villains on screen.

The Dallas Quest - Commodore 64 - Artwork - In Game

The other was a typical fantasy based game called "Twin Kingdom Valley". The story was great at the time and the world felt alive as it had "NPC's" and events happening independent of your actions (I know now, they weren't but at the time, it felt like it)

But, the game that eventually changed my gamer life was a hybrid like the above (text based adventure with procedurally generated images) was a game by a published called Melbourne House. Its name was "The Hobbit"

I played the game quite a bit at first, but got stuck at the same point in every play through. Friggin goblin caves just kept killing me. I managed to get that lazy oaf Thorin to pick me up and carry me on his shoulders, but what little light I had would eventually falter and I would die horribly in the dark (No Grues though, those were a Zork thing). Gandalf would always ruin things by taking the map out of my pocket and respond to requests for returning it with a "No."... I so hated the guy at the time. Oh yeah, in the middle of all my trouble, Thorin would suddenly plunk his lazy dwarven butt on the ground and start singing about gold. I wanted to strangle him!

 

Anyway, I eventually got my problem solved because the game box didn't come with only the casette tape with the game, it also came with a (English) paperback version of the book "The Hobbit". After much hair pulling and teeth gnashing, I eventually read the book. It showed me what I had been doing wrong. Needed to go elsewhere first, trick a trio of trolls into staying out when the sun rose, turned them to stone and then loot the sword "Sting" from their cave. The sword glows in the dark when goblins are near. Yup, problem solved, doesn't run out of light in the goblin kings caves and I could steal a ring and a few other things and be on my merry way.

 

Exhibiting The Hobbit: A tale of memories and microcomputers | Kinephanos

My all time favourite game though is hard to classify. It's part adventure, part rpg, part strategy game and I will always consider its designer, Mike Singleton, as one of the all time underrated geniuses. Him, Bell & Braben (Elite) and Jeff Minter (of Llamasoft fame) were influential characters for me in the 80's (yes, long before the Internet). The game "Lords of Midnight" just had everything. Backstory and lore, huge and immersive world, winning strategies to be worked out (you could win the game in a couple of different ways), and a game that managed to convey it all through its interface (part text and character description, part procedurally generated 3D world graphics)

Lords of Midnight - C64-Wiki

 

Great post, very interesting choices you made with games. I remembered you said that you learnt English, or it helped you,  to read the book that helped with that puzzle. Its a classic example of a book directly  assisting with an old game .....you must have been  excited when you solved it :thumbsup:

"Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”

John Milton 

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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