On Adventure Games

by Darius Kazemi on April 13, 2005

in Uncategorized

First, a bit of exciting news for adventure game fans: the demo for Psychonauts is available! The game goes on sale April 20th. Tim Schafer has never let me down–Grim Fandango and Full Throttle are two of my favorite games of all time. This is his first game since Fandango, so I am very excited to see what he’s been working on in the intervening 6 or so years.

Tim has moved to the action-adventure model for this new game. I think it’s the right direction to go. It’s no secret that pure point-and-click adventure games don’t sell like they did in 1994. Some blame this on lack of appropriate marketing, blaming the industry for killing the genre. But I think the industry is not promoting these kinds of games for a reason: people don’t like point-and-click adventures very much. For one thing, these games lack a strong feedback loop. Typically you spend 20 minutes clicking on random things before figuring out the puzzle and being “rewarded” with plot advancement. In the best cases, like the first three Monkey Island games, this can be incredibly amusing since everything you click on contains a hilarious joke. But in most cases, this is incredibly tedious. Almost always, no feedback = gaming disaster.

This is why I thought Full Throttle worked so well. A lot of people hate the fact that it was so easy, but that’s exactly why I liked it. The puzzles were easy enough that you only had to click on things for 2 minutes before figuring out the puzzle and getting a movie. The feedback loop was tighter.

All this points to the general brokenness of the classic adventure game. I am really excited to see what Tim Schafer will bring to the now-boring action-platformer.


solipsistnation April 13, 2005 at 3:24 pm

Dunno if you’ve seen the site, but here’s some commentary on the current state of adventure games:


They also have a good Thief retrospective/review from before Thief 3 came out…


Jeremiah Chaplin April 14, 2005 at 1:09 pm

So feedback serves as a wonderful I/O model for gaming. After all, the player inputs into the state of the game, the game deals with the input, then applies the necessary changes and presents the gamespace to the player again. The combination gives you this wonderful shifting model which makes the player feel like the world is reacting to him.

My questions is, are there other ways to create that same kind of shifting world that a gamespace needs without feedback? Just something to chew on.

Craig Perko April 15, 2005 at 6:39 pm

I can’t get it to work. Sob.

Jeremiah: the key isn’t the shifting world. It’s the INTERACTION with the shifting world.

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