Experienced Points: King’s Quest and the Reboot of an Entire Genre

By Shamus
on Aug 10, 2015
Filed under:
Column

My column this week talks about how hard it is to reboot something like King’s Quest, which is a game mostly defined by its adherence to tradition. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m complaining that King’s Quest didn’t abandon its established style and chase after every new trend. I actually find its dedication to its core fans to be admirable, even if I wasn’t one of those fans.

We’ll talk about this more on the Diecast this week, which will hopefully go up tomorrow.

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20209Feeling chatty? There are 49 comments.

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  1. Andy_Panthro says:

    As a long-time Sierra fan, I feel that they get unjustly maligned for killing off the player character. Just because a game doesn’t kill the PC, doesn’t mean that it’s automatically better or will have better puzzles.

    You’re quite right that the trial-and-error is what gave the games their longevity, you can finish a lot of the early ones in less than an hour if you know what you’re doing. The deaths often worked at their best when they were used to give the player little hints as to what they did wrong.

    Of course the Sierra adventures weren’t without bad puzzles (or just bad games), but I’ll always love that they brought us games like Space Quest and Quest for Glory, and I’ll always regard them as just different to Lucasarts rather than worse. (although my personal favourite adventure game would probably be Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, which has it’s own infamous “monkey wrench” puzzle)

    • Felblood says:

      It’s not so much the idea of death itself that is a problem for me.

      The many silly ways you can die are part of the content in a Quest game after all. There’s a spooky attic where you can die by cranking a possessed jack-in-the-box. You couldn’t do that joke in a game without some sort of death mechanic.

      (EDIT: There was a popular playstyle that saved at the start of each screen and immediately started interacting with every possible object, so as to not miss out on any funny deaths.)

      My problem is that the death mechanics sucked hard, and they didn’t improve at all until KQ7, when it was too little, too late. They added the ability to reload from the start of the screen on death, the ability to fast forward through talky cutscenes, if you had to replay a section, and most importantly a chapter system, which ensured there was a maximum distance you could get into the game, before discovering you had missed an essential item. This last greatly reduced the amount of old saves a player needed to manage, because anything from before the latest chapter was safe and stress-free to discard.

      All that fussing with a library of staggered saves broke both the flow of game-play and the player’s immersion, long after the science of game design had discovered both of these concepts existed. –but by then a vocal contingent of fans who considered that goofy meta-game to be the best part of the game had crowded out more moderate voices in the fandom, and this save fussing was made a saint in the canon of Hardcore Adventure Gaming. Any attempt to dump this clunky, archaic distraction would get your game lambasted in the BBS newsgroups of the day, and kill your chance at turning a profit on your already ballooning art budget.

      Shamus isn’t joking about this being the Call of Duty of it’s time. Lavish art budgets producing ever shorter games for an ever shrinking pool of insular traditionalists.

      • Atle says:

        That was the most whiny page I’ve read in a long long time. :)

        Most of these complaints are about missing something, and having to reload the game from a previous point and search for what was missed. I don’t really see that as a problem. The whole (sub) genre is about exploring everything, searching for things and combining/using them to solve problems. If reloading a game to search for something missed is a problem, then I think it’s a case of wrong genre for that person. Usually you don’t have to go far back either, only to the last major location.

        I’ve played many (10 +) of the Sierra adventure games. The only thing I ever found a bit too cruel was the kissing alien in space quest 2. But even that was fun, and a mistake done only once. Also, watching a friend play it later and walking into the same trap absolutely made up for it.

        The key point here is this: These games are not about running through the locations, but spending time in each and exploring the thoroughly. If you move on and have forgotten something, you have to go back and spend some more time. Sometimes going back means loading a previous same game.

        This is not unlike writing a document, making a few different saves in the progress, in case you accidentally delete something (or the file becomes corrupted) and need to go back and fetch it later.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Writing a document is not a fun thing,so it should not be applied to a video game.

          Also,difficulties up to tough on that page can be considered fair.Nasty and cruel are definitely not.Especially for those games that have timers in this genre that is,as you said,about slow exploration.

          • Atle says:

            The not fun part about writing a document is the writing, not the saving a copy once in a while in case you need to go back and check a previous version.

            And that is what most of the items on the page requires;
            1. Save the game now and then.
            2. Explore and find out you’re missing something.
            3. Take a step back in the story to search for the missing item. This is done by loading a previous save game.

            The point is: Going back in the story to search for something you missed is part of the genre. If that is not something the player enjoys, the player has chosen a game in the wrong genre.

            This can be compared to playing a tournament in a sports game. If you miss a couple of games you might have to start the tournament over (or load a previous game). That’s part of the genre, and if that’s not the players idea of a fun challenge, the player should shouldn’t play this particular game or genre.

            Losing a couple of matches in a tournament game, missing a couple of items in a Sierra game, doesn’t mean you become irreversibly stuck, or that the game is “unwinnable by design”. It means you have to go back and retry a part of the game, playing a part of it again. You may have to start the tournament over, or load a previous save game.

            Personally I like that much more than the autosaved “nothing has any real consequence, just try that very last bit one more time” approach many of the games use today.

            I’ve enjoyed a lot of the Sierra adventure games. As a kid I spent a lot of my own hard earned news paper delivery money on them. I never became irreversibly stuck, but won them all in the end.

            • Blackbird71 says:

              “Take a step back in the story to search for the missing item. This is done by loading a previous save game.

              The point is: Going back in the story to search for something you missed is part of the genre.”

              Not for any logical, rational, justifiable, or just plain good reason.

              The problem with this mechanic is that it relies on the player making frequent saves, as the player doesn’t know what is coming or where anything might be missed, any moment could bring destruction. If you failed to make a recent enough save, you will be forced to repeat lengthy portions of the game. This isn’t fun, it’s punishment. It’s taking the challenge out of the game itself and putting it into the meta-game: how often can you save, and how many saves can you store and organize?

              If these games offered a way to go back and search for the missed steps without having to reload an earlier save, then that would be a different matter. But forcing reloads for unknowingly missing something and punishing the player for playing the game the way it is supposed to be played (exploration resulting in death) do not improve a game’s value. Rather, these are the points that detracted from the games and made them less than they could have been.

              • Atle says:

                Lots and lots of games requires you to play parts of the game again and again for different reasons.

                If you don’t think it’s a fun mechanic to go back and search for the missing pieces, then the game is not for you. That is okay.

                But for me and many many others, the games were a lot of fun.

                “If these games offered a way to go back and search for the missed steps without having to reload an earlier save, then that would be a different matter.”

                Why?

                Assume you enter the dessert without a water bottle. The Sierra way would have you die in some funny way. Then you load a previous game, search for the bottle, but you missed something else and dies in another funny way.

                Instead you would have the user almost die, then whip out his teleporting wand and … OK, my example is silly. But I don’t know if there is a non silly way to be able to go back without having to load a previous game?

                A solution to the “problem” of having to load a previous save game could be a plot driven door? For example, the sheriff tells you you are not allowed to enter the dessert without a water bottle.

                The point is, all the silly deaths and mistakes are a huge part of the fun mechanics of this particular sub genre. A solution to this would remove what many think is a fun part of the game.

                There could be a “go back to beginning of chapter N” quick button, using auto saves at the beginning of each chapter. But then you would have to do everything in that chapter over, which would be even less fun for those who hate to go back and do stuff over.

                I think the save game approach is the best. It is a very simple mechanic. It works for all stories. It allows for the user to make lots of mistakes and die in funny and unforeseen ways. It gives the user control of the checkpoints (which is what a saved game is).

                Personally I think the problem with save games is not the real problem. I think the real problem is that the game genre itself is not fitting for everyone (which is okay). Then those people want a fix that they think would work for them, but probably wouldn’t because that was not the real problem anyway. And in the process it would make the game less suitable for those of us who love the genre as it is, with all the silly deaths, and all the loading of previous games in order to look for what we missed, so we can progress in the story one step at a time. Each small step, each puzzle solved, each silly death, bringing its own reward.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Making save scumming integral to the gameplay is shitty design.You can make it funny,sure,but it still remains shitty.Also,as Shamoose pointed out,monkey island managed to be as funny(or funnier)without ever forcing you to reload because you werent psychic.That proves there are better ways around the problem you describe.

                  Not to mention that you ignore a big chunk of frustration in sierra games that were the timed puzzles that never told you how much time you had,or worse that they were timed at all.

  2. Crimson Dragoon says:

    I’m not sure The Longest Journey is the best example of an adventure game that get’s rid of the “Moon-Logic Puzzles.” For example, early in the game you have to get a key off of a subway rail (despite having no need of the key at that point). To do so you must:
    1. Return to your home and look at the machine controlling your water pressure.
    2. Use your ring to fix a broken wire, powering up the machine.
    3. This allows you to take a clamp that was previously preventing a leak.
    4. Now look out your window and see an inflatable duck ring on the story below.
    5. Throw breadcrumbs on it, attracting a seagull, who will puncture the duck, causing it to float away.
    6. Grab a clothesline while your there.
    7. Find the duck in another area and re-inflate it.
    8. Wrap the duck around the clothesline and clamp.
    9. Back at the subway, use this device to get the key by deflating the duck, which closes the clamp around the key.
    10. Take the key, which, again, you have no idea at this point what its for.

    • Shamus says:

      Yeah, it has plenty of terrible moments. But as a matter of degrees, I found it FAR better than any of the Quest games.

      • Benjamin Hilton says:

        I agree there were actually a few times that the answer was completely intuitive, and I was left there thinking “Wow that actually made sense.”

        • Thomas says:

          I always use the puzzle chain as the worst example of TLJ (and it continues even further and gets more absurd before its complete) and someone always says it’s satire of adventure game moon logic. I can never tell if they’re being sarcastic or not, because the golden rule of videogame satire should be “Knowing that you’re making me do things which suck to do on purpose doesn’t stop make them suck less to do”

          But actually, after that puzzle the game really does begin straighten itself out into something much better. It even reaches a peak with that puzzle involving learning another species language which combines puzzling with fantastic worldbuilding.

          (And the Dreamfall became completely about content and the brilliant Dreamfall: Chapters is hitting a middle ground so far with almost minigame puzzles spacing out the content)

          • Abnaxis says:

            It’s funny, I never saw it as moon logic when I originally played it, because I just did most of the steps as I ran into them.

            (1-3) I mean, of course I’m going to fix the water system, April’s friends don’t have running water! What’s-her-face is mucking around in canal goop! The clamp was just bonus.

            (4-5) “Ooooh look at the ducky!” I’m pretty sure April said those words exactly, drawing my attention and desire to the duck. Since the game had well-trained me by that point to experiment with my inventory whenever I found something I wanted, I dropped the crumbs in short order. I missed the clothesline by that point.

            (7-8) The duck doesn’t just appear randomly in a different area. You follow it across the canals. Again, shiny toy. Want.

            Also, you don’t have to combine the duck, line, and clamp in any particular order. IIRC, the game tells you right in the manual (not to mention your very first “puzzle” with the dragon-scale funnel) to start combining crap in your inventory if you get stuck, so I combined the clamp and the duck. Interacting with the resulting contraption showed how the device worked.

            (6,9-10) Again, shiny flashy key in the corner with sparks flying out from it. The duck contraption was clearly needed to grab it (April would try but not quite reach it) so I started scouring everyplace for the piece I missed. I remember it taking a good while but eventually I found the clothesline and got the key I didn’t need (I don’t think it tells you it’s even a key before you pick it up? It’s just some object on the tracks? It’s been too long). I got it not because I needed it but because it’s shiny and I’m a habitual hoarder in games.
            _____________________________________________________

            I would admit from a purely logical standpoint the puzzle is goofy, but I feel the game telegraphed every piece of it if you approached the game in a certain way–i.e. picked up everything not nailed down, just in case you need it later/as a side effect of helping someone out.

            It’s like the maps in L4D–if you think about the path the characters take in any of the campaigns, they make very little sense. As Shamus pointed out, you enter sewers through a building at the top of a hill with no roads around it.

            However, L4D gets away with it because the level design guides players to where they need to go. Or, at least that’s what I’ve been told–I always got hopelessly lost until I played the maps fifty times. Hell, I still get lost sometimes after 300 hrs. I think I’m oblivious to the Valve level-design voodoo.

            I think the “bad” TLJ puzzles worked the same way. I muddled through to nonsensical solutions not because the moon logic 100% made sense, but because I picked up on the cues and followed them. As someone who gets lost in Valve games I understand the frustration, but I offer this as an explanation for why someone might defend that key puzzle.

            • Benjamin Hilton says:

              This is exactly what happened to me. If you take a step back it may seem crazy, but in game it is just a natural progression of events that i really didn’t get stuck on at all.

          • DeadlyDark says:

            Dreamfall Chapters puzzles feels a bit too easy for my taste*. But considering the need to traverse through big spaces a lot (just like in Dreamfall TLJ), it’s kinda makes sense… Well, I would prefer to have both harder puzzles and ability to fast-travel to key points of the map. Or just some rooms with good puzzles.

            Well, I love puzzles in adventure games. And these adventure games-interactive movie hybrids that doesn’t feature them (Fahrenheit, TWD, TWOU, in bit lesser extend LiS) feels… Hollow, I guess. I mean, I do want to do something meaningful, not just passive watch and from time to time click dialog options. And puzzle as a gameplay mechanic is a great thing. Though, I must admit, many times it’s just use item on item, so I love when adventure games explore or invent other puzzles mechanics: dialog puzzles (insult swordfighting), change the state of main character (helium Guybrash in CotMI), right timing (one puzzle I liked in Chapters**), etc.

            *Except that bit with picture hunting in the beginning of the Book 3. Two pictures was impossible to find without guide.

            **Where you must talk to advertising bot to place him the way guard wouldn’t see you entering sewers That was smart bit.

    • Decius says:

      The good part was that there was no way to enter an unwinnable sitaution; a few of the puzzles were insane troll logic, but you could follow adventure game logic and grab everything and get through it all.

  3. Corsair says:

    The Quest for Glory games, oddly, never had any of the ‘bizarre puzzle with improbable solution’ problem, although that may be because they were far more RPG than Adventure game.

    • Orillion says:

      Yeah, I never experienced the things that other people hated about adventure games, and didn’t understand why people didn’t like Sierra, because the only adventure games I played as a kid were Quest for Glory 1-4 and the Gabriel Knights. Granted QFG2 had some really unintuitive stuff mixed in, but it wasn’t anything terrible.

      Oh yeah, and I played Myst at one point. But honestly the obtuseness was the only way to make that atmosphere work and that was far more important than the actual gameplay, strangely enough.

    • Hal says:

      I played QFG with a player’s guide, so if there were terrible puzzles, they sort of sailed by me.

      That said, I definitely remember QFG3 having a sort of problem like this, in the sense that it was possible to miss puzzle elements entirely. Several parts of the game were reliant on random encounters in the jungle, such as crafting your staff if you were a wizard.

  4. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

    After so many years without a KQ game, I got into the VGA remakes (I have the originals, and they run more-or-less fine on dosbox, but the sound is atrocious -anyone happen to know how to make sound in dosbox not suck?).

    Anyway, the VGA remakes of 1-3 played up the Black Cloak society and created some interesting thematic ideas that tie all the games together. A similar thing was planned for KQ4, which died and has been revived as a 3D remake (about which I’m not sure how I feel, aesthetically -also, not looking forward to climbing the mountain… We’ll see when they finish it).

    And those ideas developed in the remakes played into the development of “The Silver Lining” -something of an unofficial KQ9. Heck, they even managed to integrate KQ8 in a non-infuriating way. And they may even finish it eventually.

    So at this point, I have quite an established KQ canon in my mind, which I bet was ignored entirely by the Odd Gentlemen. For which I do not in any way blame them. But it makes me a little hesitant to jump into a game that I really liked, but in which I have a decidedly unusual relationship. Snapping back to actual canon might hurt.

    • Orillion says:

      http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Sound
      I’m guessing you would want to go down to the AdLib section and try those settings. I can’t speak from experience, but AdLib is what most people had so it’s probably the best way to make it sound “right.”

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Yes…

        The missing point -I mean the point I left out -is that Kings Quest, in addition to being cutting edge graphically was also cutting edge in sound. The first couple games were among the first to use soundblaster cards, and KQ4 used Roland cards.

        I have a modern sound card in my machine, and I would like to be able to use it.

        https://youtu.be/Zj4gx-ORIfo

        But yes, at worst, if I can at least get the AdLib sound to not sound like claws on a chalkboard, I think that would be acceptable.

        • DrMcCoy says:

          To be fair, the MT-32 is not an internal card, it’s an external sound module you connect via MIDI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_MT-32

          And while it was meant as a relatively cheap consumer product, it was still rather expensive in comparison to internal cards. According to the Videogame Music Preservation Foundation Wiki, while you got an internal card for $150 to $250, the MT-32 was $550. I personally knew no one who had that thing. It was kind of like the Gravis Ultrasound: a mythical beast you hear people rave about, but that you never ever see in the wild.

          EDIT: And I still remember my first “sound card”: a simple DAC connected via the printer port, the Disney Sound Sound / Covox Speech Thing. Not bought, though, but hand-soldered by my father. Lemmings supported it, and I listened to tracker modules with it using ModPlay. :)

      • John says:

        Sound in DOSBox can be a funny, fiddly beast. I find that if you’re having problems, you most likely need to (a) find out which cards the game supports, (b) find out which cards DOSBox can emulate, (c) pick one of the cards that the game and DOSBox have in common, and then (d) edit the DOSBox config file and use the game’s internal menu or setup program so that both the game and DOSBox are on the same page.

        I usually set up my DOS games to use a Soundblaster 16, which was the de facto standard for sound in the era of VGA graphics and is also the sort-of-default for DOSBox. I never have to edit sound settings in DOSBox when I’m running games on my desktop box. My netbook, on the other hand has some kind of half-assed soundcard that apparently can’t do MIDI and causes me no end of trouble–but that doesn’t sound like your problem.

    • Cinebeast says:

      Same here. Most of my interest in the series is based in the VGA remakes. I haven’t looked into this new game, but I seriously doubt it adheres to what happened in those games.

      Plus, there’s the issue of the Odd Gentlemen themselves — from what I’ve heard, they don’t sound like the kind of developers I want to support.

  5. Incunabulum says:

    So, I’m just going to point out that even though this article is fairly short, I just spent twenty minutes in the first paragraph. first, watching a Zero Punctuation video, then reading (*re*-reading) an old EXperienced Points article, then following the links in *that* article to other articles.

    No real point here, except to note that in an article about a reboot of nostalgia, I got caught up in a trip down memory lane and still haven’t gotten to the text below the article’s first picture.

  6. Joakim says:

    I thought it was funny that you listed Syndicate as an unsuccessful reboot of the series and Wolfenstein: The New Order as a successful one, given that the studio behind the latter was formed by the people who left the studio behind the former when development of Syndicate was started.

  7. Edward Emanuel says:

    Quest For Glory is also getting a remake/reboot:
    http://hero-u.com/

  8. Abnaxis says:

    Every time I see someone talk about King’s Quest, I get my hopes up thinking they’re talking about HeroQuest, a board game I played the shit out of when I was single digits.

    I could have sworn we had a computer version of it that was….less than 8-bit, but for the life of me I can’t find it. Alas, if Google hasn’t even heard of it, I’m doomed to be continually disappointed when I see “Quest” games that have nothing to do with my own personal childhood.

    EDIT: Y’know…I was planning on going home next weekend, and I think my folks still have an original boxed copy of Lemmings in a closet somewhere on 5.25 floppies….maybe I can find my old HeroQuest game, if it actually existed anywhere but my addled young mind.

    • ehlijen says:

      There was a Heroquest computer game, you are not alone in remembering it. It had the dwarf, elf, fighter and mage running through dungeons, rolling blocks and skulls on the dice to fight etc

      But I’m not sure how google couldn’t find it since this exists:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EWI6Aih6kE

      • Abnaxis says:

        The problem is, that’s not the game I remember. It has too many colors, for one thing.

        What I remember definitely had CGA graphics. I think it must have been some form of RPG (I remember choosing a class at the start of the game, your usual thief/fighter/wizard or something like that) that I called “HeroQuest” because that was the only dungeon-crawler-type game like that I’d ever played.

        The PC game itself was impenetrable to me at the time. I think it came with one of those keyboard ciphers that told you which keystrokes corresponded to what action, and that was too much for me to process.

    • Aitch says:

      Just had to say it made me smile to be reminded of Hero Quest and hear of someone else that actually enjoyed it too.

      I’ve only heard it brought up maybe a couple of times in passing, and never in a favorable light. Kind of like someone making fun of one of your favorite childhood cartoons because they saw an episode once when they were like 19 and then mocked the plot for being too predictable.

      It really was great though, for a certain age and time. I was too young to have any friends that could wrap their heads around something like D&D, not to mention they were still passing around pamphlets on how it would cause instant satanic group murder / suicides if anyone even saw dice with more than six sides.

      And it had a lot to it, for what it was. Customizable dungeons, neat figurines, characters with basic stats, items, spell cards… It beat the hell out of any board games I’d ever seen at least.

      Still, I’ve up until now only heard it given a lame rap. Kind of a situation like Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, another game I was into that seemed to be similarly maligned.

      It was great fun though, cause I guess I would have been like 8 at the time? And having to hear people bash on it in favor of D&D or FF VII? Yeah, spending an hour on character creation after spending a hundred bucks to memorize rules manuals and trying to get a group of friends together willing to do the same and have them imagine up a plausible adventure, then be able to play it for hours at a time on multiple occasions? At that age? Or playing through something like a 60 hour video game with seemingly no directions on where to go or what to do, complex stats, pages of obtuse equipment and endless nonsense dialogue? Not the best Saturday afternoon for a little kid, you know?

      Still tho, I ended up getting into them when I was older, and I have games like Hero Quest and Mystic Quest to thank for it. They made a great stepping stone introduction for both varieties of RPG. Kind of a shame they don’t seem remembered by many, or the ones that do remember them in a bad light. Also kinda glad I was the right age at the right time to catch them at their best.

      Never knew there was a PC version of Hero quest, tho. Now you’ll have me on the same hunt for artifacts trying to see what it was all about heh.

      • Hal says:

        Mystic Quest was a scaled back, “starter” JRPG. I think it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because it bore the Final Fantasy name but was a very different sort of game to what came before it; consider that it was the next Final Fantasy game for the SNES after FFIV (or FF2, as it was at the time.)

        It was a reasonably enjoyable game, but I think a lot of people disliked it for what it wasn’t, rather than what it was.

      • Abnaxis says:

        Well, I enjoyed HeroQuest, but I absolutely tortured my aunt, who was my beleaguered GM.

        As I said above, I have no idea if the video game I remember was actually HeroQuest. At that young age I probably had it wired in my brain that fantasy RPG=HeroQuest. I never got far into it–I would select a class and then sit in the opening area because the interface was too arcane for me. Which is funny, because I think the board game rules were a “learn how to read” carrot for me, and I had no problem picking them up.

        Also, it seems like the only CGA games preserved online are the historically significant/notable ones, like King’s Quest. I remember a bunch of games I haven’t been able to find through Google, and whatever the heck that RPG was is one of them.

        On a side note, looking at lists of old CGA games really takes me back. Oh Bubble Bobble, you come from a bygone era…

        EDIT: So I found a youtube video of Bubble Bobble.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izjfOqWsP6o

        OH MY GOSH how can I remember that soundtrack so well and yet not remember it as the horrendous auditory torture that it was?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          A video?Pffft,Ive played it both back when I was a kid on my commodore 64,and later via an emulator.

          And what the hell is with that butchered soundtrack?It should sound like this:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O49OgQ_kogw

          • Abnaxis says:

            For the record, the video I posted is actually the version I played as a child. We didn’t have none of those pre-fabbed C64 children’s toys in my house–it was custom-built IBM-PCs all the way.

            It was my grandfather’s computer, and it opened many great ways to while away my childhood. Golf, Bubble Bobble, some-random-RPG-I-can’t-remember, Tetris, and Googol Math FTW.

        • Atle says:

          I had that song as my phone ring tone many years ago. And I played the game on my Amiga, which had a lot better sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNfQBaS03M0

        • Zak McKracken says:

          greeaaat, I can’t even see the embedded video but I just remembered the soundrack, and now I have it in my head. Thanks!

          Also, the C-64 was just waay better in graphics and sound those days. Have been watching a few videos of old-timey games lately, and I never knew just how bad some of the PC versions were. Even from today’s perspective, the differences are gigantic.

    • Zekiel says:

      +1 for HeroQuest nostalgia.

      If you’re interested there is an iOS game called Dark Quest which is blatent rip-off of HeroQuest. It’s quite entertaining.

  9. Daimbert says:

    A player in 1988 might be willing to slam their heads against a particularly egregious puzzle for days on end, when they don’t have easy access to other games and no way to get the solution. But by the late 90s we had both Google and Gamestop, and by the 2000’s we had GameFAQs and Steam. There was simply no incentive to put up with a game that was asking you to ignore the two dozen reasonable solutions to your current problem and painstakingly guess the one idiotic solution the designer envisioned.

    I think that the players in 1988 weren’t any more willing to slam their heads against the puzzle, but that then they didn’t have the option to do anything else, as the adventure games were, aside from the puzzle difficulty, often really good and interesting games that you wanted to play, and there wasn’t an option to work around those puzzles. As they got more and more contrived — and not in a deliberately funny way — people were more likely to just quit the game than keep going … and probably wouldn’t buy the sequel because of that. Adding FAQs really helps, because it allows you to bang your head against the wall only as long as you want to, and then get past it and move on. So that OUGHT to have made adventure games more appealing, not less (and I’m a prime example of someone who likes and plays adventure games when I know I can read a FAQ if I get stuck). But for now, I think the gameplay is a little dated and needs to be upgraded a bit, but I don’t see FAQs as HURTING adventure games as the solutions got more and more contrived, but instead only helping.

  10. Pyradox says:

    It’s kind of damning that you wrote an entire article about resurrecting the adventure game genre, and Broken Age, a game designed to do exactly that thing didn’t warrant a mention.

    That’s strange because humour, character and storytelling are what (I hear) people remembered the old Lucasarts games for. Those are things that are right in Double Fine’s wheelhouse, so you’d think that it would be easy for them to make a modern adventure game focusing on those things – you could focus most of your puzzles on character interactions and dialogue, and use a core cast of characters to drive the plot that get fully explored by the end of the story.

    And yet, they promised an old-school adventure game, so they brought along all the baggage of nonsense item puzzles and moon logic with them. They had serious voice talent, who barely got used, and individual characters have no motivations or capabilities of their own, just standing around, feeling artificial and incidental.

    I haven’t played them beyond some of Grim Fandango, but it seems to me that the old Lucasarts games are fondly remembered in spite of the genre, not because of it. Everyone, including Double Fine seem to have confused exceptional examples of a flawed genre with the existence of an actually good genre, and the results are poorer for it.

  11. Zak McKracken says:

    I don’t agree completely with the notion that the King’s Quest games were “the biggest name”, at least not where I’m from.

    Weeell, as my alias might suggest, I’m very firmly in the Lucasarts camp, but really, I didn’t even really know about the Sierra adventures until after I finished Day of the Tentacle. So at least in my personal universe, the Kings Quest games barely existed.

    I did like Space Quest V though, I didn’t mind the frequent deaths and silly puzzles as much as the “find the pixel” type of challenges in some parts.

  12. Hal says:

    I don’t know if I’d call it a reboot, but I greatly enjoyed the homage that was Peasant’s Quest.

    Actually, I think Strong Bad’s Cool Game(s) for Attractive People were a great return to form on these, very entertaining.

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