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Author Topic: What makes a good adventure?  (Read 13949 times)

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Jyujinkai

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What makes a good adventure?
« on: July 21, 2008, 02:51:09 PM »

I am interested in opinions on some game design issues for my project. So i thought i would discuss some thing in here and see what others opinions might be. As far as I know there seams to be only a few variations in adventure games really....

  • Item Combination Puzzles - (eg:- find the tape deck, find the tape, combine, listen, get the clue or a multitude of other types of "find the item and use it"
  • Puzzle Mini-games - (Open the locked box by figuring out the "code / order" of pressing the buttons - or other types of puzzles say "move the jumbled images around to make a painting")
  • Word Puzzles - (decode the parchment to find the clue)
  • Massive story based text (Read the logs of the dead scientists to find the code to unlock the dna fridge)
  • Conversations - Speak to people to unlock more of the game / find the clues
I would be interested in other "devices" of game play that may be explored in adventure games.

Also one of the weird things about adventure games is you often, as the player, have no idea when you start. Say you live in New Orleans, but in fact you do not know where anything is so "find the location" to advance the game. I mean how many adventure games start with a toon waking up with no idea where he is, or starting in a very generic location we can all relate to like an office. Still life for example you play a cop.. but you do not know how to gather evidence at first... OH... ultravilote light will illuminate blood... why did that character forget that?

Game Death had a nice discussion a while back - http://forum.dead-code.org/index.php?topic=2540.0

I am interested in other game devices that could be used in a adventure game sertting.... as I am starting to get stuck for something a bit more interesting after 15+ years of adventures.

My game for example is using a thing we are calling reaction clicking... where set animations sequences run and the user clicks to change the "path" of the scene.. simple example... You stumble while walking across a thin bridge... while unballenced you click.. and stay up and can walk to a new zone on level 2 or fall to level one and continue from there. This is us trying somthing not new.. it has been done many times.. but not done often.

ARE there other ways to navigate a story in a adventure style game besides those listed? -

Thoughts?
« Last Edit: July 21, 2008, 03:19:27 PM by Jyujinkai »
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Dan-D

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2008, 12:41:13 AM »

Quote
ARE there other ways to navigate a story in a adventure style game besides those listed?
I don't know bout that. But all that stuff You just sad is what makes an adventure game. The trick is to balance it well. I personally don't think that this genre can be "improved" in any ways.
But i must say that last "unusual" adventure game for me was Overlocked. They bring shooting, physics and moving camera (y'know with video backgrounds). But it's kind of hard for me to tell if things they made is any good except fresh(if you can call it so).
Anyways I'm trying to say that this genre can't bring something totally new because the whole idea is to listen for dialogs and solving (some times not-that-logical) puzzles. So basically the only thing You can do is to create some unusual mini-games and such.

Quote
My game for example is using a thing we are calling reaction clicking
I'm using something like this in my game too :)

PS
  Thing that bothered me not only in adventure games but in games in general is fluffy dialogs. And that character are mostly reminds me of robots without real emotions. So I'm trying to create characters that everyone will luv :) Like in "dreamfall the longest journey". They seemed really alive to me
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008, 08:49:16 AM »

Since, imo, the most important part of an adventure should be the story itself all those variations you list are just unimportant mediums to advance the story (unless they are part of the story - mechanic puzzles in myst games for example). But that's not the case of most inventory-based adventures. Why should the character be able to pick up every single item just because "hm... I might be able to use it in the future" when you don't have a clue for anything? Or why the character can't answer someone what I think it's obvious? I'd like to see the future of adventures (and that's the answer to the topic question) to be more narrative and that includes less straight forward games since I'd expect the character to be able to make choices and change things (whether those choices are item based, conversation based or whatever it's not important). Probably the best example is the first scene of Fahrenheit where you find almost nothing of what you list and yet the story goes on and the character can make choices that look like they affect the story (although they don't because the rest of the game doesn't allow it). In the end, I'd like every player that plays the same adventure to have a different experience (to some logical level of course) and that's what interactivity should mean.

Quote
Still life for example you play a cop.. but you do not know how to gather evidence at first... OH... ultravilote light will illuminate blood... why did that character forget that?

Those are just designer's "mistakes" that he did on purpose to be able to add 2-3 item based actions to make the game 2 minutes longer. They can only work as examples to what we should avoid.
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 03:50:41 PM »

I totally agree that the story and naritive is the main focus of adventure.. but you need to progress it somehow. The things i am trying to avoid is exactly wat you said.. randomly picking up items that "might be used latter for some unknown reason" sorta thing... I mean when was the last time you walked down the stairs of your flat and said to your self "Hey i might need that fire extinguisher.. better pick it up and put it in my bottomless pocket"

I think we would all like to program a way to have unique game experiences each time you play based on player dicision.. but well, it is hard enough making a set linier path... let alone a non-liniler game where you have teh same experence but can do it in any order.... Having a "system" that branches into unique game play each run of the game would end up with HUGE ammount of work, even entire sections that are nvr seam by the player.

We are looking into a path system, that is non linier but has he same "experience" in each section. Still we are now thinkign (after this thread) to add "dead zones" small side quests that can be unlocked though player choice.. these will then skip parts of the main story sequence ariving at the key game event in a unique way. Still each "path" will be a linier experience each time you take it.....

Not sure how else you could go about this.

PS - The farenheight demo will not install so I can not demo it... how exactly dose it work?

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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008, 06:01:14 PM »

Probably the best example is the first scene of Fahrenheit where you find almost nothing of what you list and yet the story goes on and the character can make choices...

Should we add another option to the list? If only we consider definite flexibility of QTE implementation. O0
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008, 06:46:44 PM »

I said "first scene of Fahrenheit" which doesn't have such events.
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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2008, 08:29:28 AM »

I said "first scene of Fahrenheit" which doesn't have such events.

Could you describe what game mechanics used in the first scene of Fahrenheit to clarify it for all who have not played the game, please? Perhaps it would help to find another option to the list.
(Actually I can't clearly recall myself what was in there - interrogation?)
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2008, 08:38:41 AM »

you can download a demo witch has this scene from the game website.... just google. (ps dosn't work in vista64)
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2008, 08:46:41 AM »

That's a tough one. Jynks have already asked me but it's really difficult for me to describe it. That's why I suggested to play the demo which is this particular scene. Anyway, I'll try. The character kills another man in the toilet of a pub and he is confused and doesn't know what happened or how or why. In the same pub there are other people and a cop drinking a coffee. It doesn't have some special commands at this point and your actions seem to be traditional (for example try to get rid of a knife - the weapon - by throwing it in the garbage bin, or use a mop to clean the blood). But the difference comes from the "why" and in the "interactivity part". You have to try to get rid of the evidence as better as you can because that affects your character mentality (and not because you have to guess what the designer of the game thought) and that means that you'll look like a suspect. And that's the interactive part. You can do plenty of normal actions in the pub and in the toilet that affects your mentality in a good or in a bad way. And most of those actions are not mandatory and they seem to affect the story (how fast or slow they'll get to you - although in the rest of the game they destroy it, it's still valid for the first scene).

EDIT: Another good part of the game is that since you are in a mentally unstable condition (and there is a bar for that) and at some point you are a suspect you have to answer the questions in a normal timeframe. Which means you can't just read the options and choose the best one after 5 minutes. This wouldn't make sense and in a normal world you'd be arrested.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 08:50:53 AM by odnorf »
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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2008, 09:41:43 AM »

Thank You, odnorf.
Yeah I love the way story and timebased mechanics work together in Fahrenheit so I'd try to summarize. (Please correct me)

  • Time restricted versions of all points above in the list. (For example: conversations in which you have to choose line before time runs out)
...
I was going to add
  • Taking (traditional) actions which affect storyline or character attributes.
But it looks like repetition of the list in slightly different way. What do you think?
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2008, 01:52:05 PM »

Those are the least important parts. What I consider import is the multiple different choices and multiple actions that you can do or not do that affects you and the reaction of the others towards you. It's this illusion of freedom that gives you for one scene that nothing is linear and you don't know what will come next. It's the illusion that what you do affects the environment of the game and you are not a scripted character that can do only 2-3 pre-scripted actions. (Too bad they used this scene as a marketing trick - call me demo - and the rest of the game isn't even close to the same gameplay.)
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2008, 02:19:20 PM »

if you have a 64bit system and can not get the Fahrenheit demo to install try this hacked MSI....

Fahrenheit_Demo_installer.zip

thanks @ http://www.planetamd64.com/index.php?showtopic=9928 for the file...

thanks @ LauriPoika for tracking it down.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2008, 02:22:09 PM by Jyujinkai »
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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2008, 10:06:56 AM »

I believe that we talk about slightly different aspects of making adventure. You, odnorf, talk about how to use game mechanics to make adventure good. Me and (I suppose) Jyujinkai too talk about what game mechanics are used in adventures generarely (in good and not so good ones).

Mechanics used in that first scene of Fahrenheit are pretty common. All player can do is Exploration and Item combination (hide knife etc.) But what makes this game outstanding is usage of these "devices". Let me quote your principal of how to use mechanics from the list to make adventure good:
"the multiple different choices and multiple actions that you can do or not do that affects you and the reaction of the others towards you". I agree with that.

Maybe we should add
  • Exploration (Pixel-hunting as a hard version of exploration)
as well thou. :)

It is clear that making multiple choices is hard task for developer (but still important in many cases). That's why it is so rare in games comparing with linear part of them.
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2008, 10:37:23 AM »

@design3d

You are right. Indeed we talk about different things but my posts were just answers to the original topic question "What makes a good adventure?" which covers both aspects ;)
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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2008, 12:38:18 PM »

Right!
So maybe we should have 2 separate lists: devices and principles? (I definitely have got that "list-mania" ::slug)  It could be useful :)

Little bit different (puzzle) point of view on adventure game design was given by Scarpia quite a wile ago. Which personally I like a lot too.
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2008, 12:49:31 PM »

I remember that article by scarpia ages ago. It's really good.

Feel free to create as many lists as you want / can handle ;)
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #16 on: July 25, 2008, 12:53:56 PM »

didn't know that link.. very cool little link.
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fireside

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2008, 05:36:22 AM »

Personally, I think that the puzzles need to be carried on further than they normally are, at least in amateur adventures.  It's all "put the tail on the donkey" kind of things.  It should be more, put the tail on the donkey and the donkey does something, but you have to continue with it, make more changes.  I don't think adventures should be god games, they don't really work well that way and you're just better off making a god game.  I don't think story is everything, either.  If that's the case, write an interactive story, but people expect to play a game and that means doing puzzles in adventures.  If you think puzzles have to perfectly fit the story you're going to write a very boring game, because how much of puzzle can you write that perfectly fits the story?  Write a simulation if you feel that way so you don't make people expect to play a game rather than play with a toy.
If you feel limited then you're not using your imagination.  All the player is asking of you is to give him/her a challenge and a good story.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 05:59:42 AM by fireside »
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design3d

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2008, 08:58:08 AM »

If you feel limited then you're not using your imagination.  All the player is asking of you is to give him/her a challenge and a good story.
True. And we try to find the way to give them what they crave.

I did not quite understand that part about adventures as "god games" thou. I'm aware of such genre mostly in strategy or tycoon games. Or was it just misprint?
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2008, 04:20:32 PM »

i do not understand what you mean by "God Game"
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2008, 05:16:21 PM »

I don't think story is everything, either.  If that's the case, write an interactive story, but people expect to play a game and that means doing puzzles in adventures.

I don't like to limit myself like that. If you think that's the case then write a puzzle game.

If you think puzzles have to perfectly fit the story you're going to write a very boring game, because how much of puzzle can you write that perfectly fits the story?

Or, you can write a game that isn't boring. The possibilities for puzzles that fit the story are endless, if you use your imagination.

All the player is asking of you is to give him/her a challenge and a good story.

Not all players are asking the same thing all the time. Otherwise everything would be really boring. I love challenging adventures but I also love adventures that have no difficulty at all.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 05:24:11 PM by odnorf »
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fireside

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #21 on: July 26, 2008, 05:42:28 PM »

Quote
i do not understand what you mean by "God Game"

God games are games where you are in charge, you control what is happening as opposed to games where the challenges are put before you and you have to overcome them.  Since I don't particularly like them, I can't give many examples, but Civilization is often brought up with that term.

Quote
I don't like to limit myself like that. If you think that's the case then write a puzzle game.

I am, I'm writing an adventure game.  Puzzles have always been the game play for them.

Quote
Or, you can write a game that isn't boring. The possibilities for puzzles that fit the story are endless, if you use your imagination.

Not really.  They are limited to perfect simulations.  Puzzles that are challenging tend to use abstractions.  Take the parking puzzle game that has been cloned a lot.  It's not a real parking lot because that wouldn't be very fun.  It's an abstraction of a parking lot with rules that make it challenging.  If you can provide a challenge and perfectly fit the story, then fine, but I don't see how you can say that puzzles that don't perfectly fit the story are a limitation when you are just banning a segment of puzzles from the game.  Think about these trap games,etc.  Would someone go to all that trouble to put up strange traps to keep intruders out?  Probably not, but the traps are fun in themselves to overcome and we all have the ability to pretend for a while that someone actually designed all these strange traps for the hero to get through.  Stories themselves don't have to be realistic in the least to work.  Fantasies prove that.  I've heard complaints like "Who would put this puzzle to open a door?"  Well, it's a fantasy world, so a character could do anything.  That's why we play these things instead of going out and playing in the yard or something.  We want an imaginary world.



« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 05:58:08 PM by fireside »
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #22 on: July 26, 2008, 06:16:55 PM »

I am, I'm writing an adventure game.  Puzzles have always been the game play for them.

Stories were always in them as well. You claim that stories (interactiv as you called them) are not adventures but puzzle games are.

Not really.  They are limited to perfect simulations.  Puzzles that are challenging tend to use abstractions.  Take the parking puzzle game that has been cloned a lot.  It's not a real parking lot because that wouldn't be very fun.  It's an abstraction of a parking lot with rules that make it challenging.  If you can provide a challenge and perfectly fit the story, then fine, but I don't see how you can say that puzzles that don't perfectly fit the story are a limitation when you are just banning a segment of puzzles from the game.

Never banned anything or said anything similar. You must have misread something.

Stories themselves don't have to be realistic in the least to work.  Fantasies prove that.  I've heard complaints like "Who would put this puzzle to open a door?"  Well, it's a fantasy world, so a character could do anything.  That's why we play these things instead of going out and playing in the yard or something.  We want an imaginary world.

I never wanted realistic stories. But I did say that I'd like to see those "stories" with puzzles that fit their world (and not mine). You can also play adventures for different reasons than to "escape".

EDIT: And to give an example. I like the discworld games because their puzzles perfectly fit the world although at the same time they are far away from anything logical.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 06:27:20 PM by odnorf »
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fireside

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2008, 01:26:52 AM »

Quote
Stories were always in them as well. You claim that stories (interactiv as you called them) are not adventures but puzzle games are.

Yes, an interactive story is not a game.  It's more like a toy.  There are no challenges in it.  You get to choose different paths.  Everyone talks them up but when you play them they are boring.  No cohesion because of all the path choices.

Quote
I never wanted realistic stories. But I did say that I'd like to see those "stories" with puzzles that fit their world (and not mine).

Anything could fit their world.  It's imaginary.  They could easily have puzzles in every door.  Rubics cube lanterns, who knows?  Games were more fun when there was more imagination in the puzzles like insult sword fighting, etc.  Now everyone is scared to death something won't fit the story.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2008, 01:33:28 AM by fireside »
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Jyujinkai

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2008, 02:51:22 AM »

I have to say that the stories are the main focus for me in adventure games. With out a great story and naritive why bother playing imo. I find that to many puzzles or to complex puzzles in fact slow the game play and story down so much that the game becomes dull. Nothing worse than being stuck and wandering about the game world, though zone after zone that you have seen and not advancing at all. I think that puzzles are the way to advance teh story but imo it is a secondary device to the story itself.
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fireside

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2008, 05:17:16 AM »

Quote
I think that puzzles are the way to advance teh story but imo it is a secondary device to the story itself.

I agree.  The puzzles need to be formed around the story and enhance it.  I hate wandering around not knowing what to do, but they also have to be interesting and creative.  You can have too many puzzles or too few.
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2008, 08:53:28 AM »

I agree.  The puzzles need to be formed around the story and enhance it.  I hate wandering around not knowing what to do, but they also have to be interesting and creative.  You can have too many puzzles or too few.

So you first bash what I say and then you agree when someone else says the same?  ???
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2008, 08:58:29 AM »

Yes, an interactive story is not a game.  It's more like a toy.  There are no challenges in it.  You get to choose different paths.  Everyone talks them up but when you play them they are boring.  No cohesion because of all the path choices.

No, they are indeed games (and let's not forget that it's you who start talking about them, I never mentioned them in my previous posts). And of course games should be challenging only the way you want them to be. Other gamers don't exist.

Anything could fit their world.  It's imaginary.  They could easily have puzzles in every door.  Rubics cube lanterns, who knows?  Games were more fun when there was more imagination in the puzzles like insult sword fighting, etc.  Now everyone is scared to death something won't fit the story.

Anything? Like an alien rabbit that eats humans in an FBI story with no supernatural elements? Sword fighting was a brilliant idea which fit the world.
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fireside

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #28 on: July 28, 2008, 03:00:25 PM »

Quote
So you first bash what I say and then you agree when someone else says the same?  Huh

Sounded different when you said it. ;D

Quote
Anything? Like an alien rabbit that eats humans in an FBI story with no supernatural elements? Sword fighting was a brilliant idea which fit the world.

There needs to be continuity in a game, but people tend to take it too far when it comes to puzzles and complain about anything that  they perceive to be slightly out of context.  It's a game.  You don't walk down a street and get in fights with 5000 people either, but people that play those games don't complain because they know it would be boring to walk down the street and not do anything.  Adventure gamers are forever whining about some puzzle that didn't quite fit the story because they are just lazy or want everything to be the way they think it should be.  If the puzzle isn't fun, that's a different story.


« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 03:06:55 PM by fireside »
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odnorf

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Re: What makes a good adventure?
« Reply #29 on: July 28, 2008, 03:14:02 PM »

Adventure gamers are forever whining about some puzzle that didn't quite fit the story because they are just lazy or want everything to be the way they think it should be.

I never whine about games and it's well known among the people that know me that I enjoy all adventures (and most people find this very crazy). ;D But other than that, the only thing I did here is some suggestions that imo can hugely improve some adventures. ::slug
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