Diane Trout (alienghic) wrote,
Diane Trout

An inquiry concerning the design of Adventure Games

As I was feeling sick (and am still sick) I went looking for easy things to deal with on the net and rediscovered interactive fiction.

This got me thinking about the range of adventure games that have been invented and wondering about the trade offs between various designs.

Ranging at the technologically simplest like Zork & Adventure, to any of your latest multimedia extravaganzas like The Longest Journey and Kings Quest the Nth for straight forward puzzle solving games.

Then you have your character building games ranging from wizardry to ultima 7 or 8 or whatever. The final axis is for multiplayer games, which goes from your first text based muds to things like everquest.

I was wondering why the multimedia ones so completely dominated the text based games. Recently I realized that they're still the same kind of game. You enter a world, wander around a bit, pickup stuff, move it elsewhere, and by doing so unlock other parts and then move a plot forward.

Both the graphical and text versions can be used badly. In the graphical ones the problem is running your mouse over the picture to find the "obvious" active hot spot. In text ones it's guess the obfuscated verb.

I realized that wandering tends to be faster in text than in graphical games. In graphical ones you usually end up having to wait for your character to walk from one scene to another. In text you can do things like "n then e then u..."

The types of fiddling bits can change... In "neither nord nor bert could make heads nor tails of it". The entire game was based on word games such as puns and spoonerisms. While in the graphical games you can have puzzles based manipulating colored tiles or other visual clues.

There is however one way that the development of these games differs radically. A single person working in their spare time can write a pure text adventure in a few weeks. It takes a large and well funded team of programmers and artists working for a few years to put together something as complex as everquest.

The real question then is "Does all of that extra expense really make a better game?".

This weekend I ended up playing in a role playing game at a local rpg con. And one of the game masters was really impressive. His acting skills were good and he used music quite effectively to help set the mood.

So incrementally adding bits of visual or sound effects to a game does help add to the setting. Of course what happens if the setting or story isn't particularly deep as in everquest. Does adding sizzle counteract the lack of substance? (as an aside isn't this the problem with many of the current crop of hollywood movies as well?)

Alas I should go to bed and try to avoid staying sick instead of coming up with a conclusion. So if anyone's read this far any opinions on the tradeoffs between ease of development and pretty pictures?

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