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#1 thecatamites

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 06:28 PM

Pal J Chastain wrote a blog about adventure games!! http://mu-foundation...ac-mansion.html It's a good read!!

I wrote a comment which I will paste below because im too lazy to rewrite my thoughts. It doesn't make sense unless you've read the original piece, though, and it's also pretty long.

I'd say that the shift from a list of specialised verb commands to having the specialised interactions embodied in inventory items was accompanied by a simultaneous movement in these games away from focusing on "player agency" taking place within a gameworld and more towards focusing on abstract representations of those gameworlds themselves.

I don't think I've played a Myst game in the last ten years (myst...) but I kind of remember the structure of it being: find these isolated reactive elements spread out over some location. Observe how you can engage with them and look for patterns, similarities, possible connections between these reactive spots. From these connections, build up a picture of the world you're in. Extrapolate these fragments of reactivity and information into a wider cohesive whole, typically one with an embedded narrative inside. Most of the later adventure games I've played follow pretty much this structure. I'm actually not sure how important it is that this cohesive whole being hinting at does not actually exist outside of rigidly constructed simulations. It still seems to me an approach with some potential as a sort of compromise between implementing Hard Reactivity (text roguelikes 4 life) and just click-to-unlock-new-content-bloc. Get around the problem of trying to >PULL STEREO without having to implement new content by making it clear from the outset that you're dealing with abstracted exploratory gestures more so than actions with a real-world equivalent, that you're poking at these things from outside rather than in.

More traditional later adventure games kind of go the same route by having all the structural relationships of a gameworld cached inside inventory puzzles. I'd say part of the frustration of this comes from the fact that it's still kind of masquerading as actual events and narrative that you can take part in, when really it's so formalised as to bear only the vaguest resemblance to anything resembling life. These people will wait forever inside their isolated rooms, waiting for you to provoke or terrorize them into activity with some arbitrarily "signficant" collectible items so that you can progress into the next location and repeat the process. I haven't played any of the Myst games in a long time (myst...) so I might be giving them too much credit but I guess I would see a potential in the idea of adventure games which push even further towards abstraction and externality (did they even have "usable" inventory items in that series, the last remnants of the curated verb list?) rather than narratives of even a flexible, multiheaded kind. I'd say that the primary thing seperating even superlinear adventure games from just being content-delivery-systems is the sense of actively probing the limits of the world in order to gradually build up a picture of the whole which is more than the sum of its parts.

Anyway, I am rambling wildly by this point but would definitely agree that even this approach would tend more towards the Maniac Mansion mode of a relatively smaller selection of objects with widespread and multifaceted uses and responses rather than rigidly specific, prescribed uses and ways of progression.



So paraphrasing / extrapolating from this I guess part of what I find interesting about adventure games is the movement away from "player agency" in the form of controlling characters in a narrative and towards a more abstract exploration of a gameworld which just happens to have a narrative embedded in it. In a way I think something similar even happened if you look at the development of the Player Character in adventure games, from a straightforward "you" in text adventures and the likes of Mystery House to sort of blank, vagely-defined surrogate characters like Roger Wilco to characters with more developed motives and personalities. There's a shift here from the idea of playing as someone, with the ensuing parser and verb representations of what "you" want to do, to a more vague and abstract representation of what you're doing as you try to guide these wilful, self-contained little computer people through the gameworld as you test the limits of your agency and get a sense of some wider structure from that. So while there's definitely a lot of room to move in the direction of more reactive and manipulable worlds, there are still some things which I think could be valuable about the way adventure games sort of look at narratives and worlds from the outside rather than trying to let you Live The Game or whatever.

idk this is a long post.


TOPIC SUMMARY: PLEASE POST YOUR FAVOURITE MYST

#2 thecatamites

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 07:11 PM

Natural language" here meaning "brutal cave-man imperatives."


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#3 Pilsen

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 09:27 PM

could you further paraphrase/extrpolate that paraphrased/extrapolated comment of yours. It's too long and I have short attention span, also the sun is about to rise now..

#4 Pilsen

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 09:29 PM

ow i didn't realize j chastain wrote that, i seem to remember him from around here. guess i'll have to read some of those articles now.

#5 dicko

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Posted 02 December 2011 - 10:01 PM

i had the idea of an adventure game with such a limited interactivity that you are presented with one verb, and the game is about how the environment and characters within all react to this single verb they're presented with

i'll give this a proper read when i'm more awake but j chastain is a Good Man to write about games so i'm sure this'll be good

#6 J Chastain

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:12 AM

So paraphrasing / extrapolating from this I guess part of what I find interesting about adventure games is the movement away from "player agency" in the form of controlling characters in a narrative and towards a more abstract exploration of a gameworld which just happens to have a narrative embedded in it. In a way I think something similar even happened if you look at the development of the Player Character in adventure games, from a straightforward "you" in text adventures and the likes of Mystery House to sort of blank, vagely-defined surrogate characters like Roger Wilco to characters with more developed motives and personalities. There's a shift here from the idea of playing as someone, with the ensuing parser and verb representations of what "you" want to do, to a more vague and abstract representation of what you're doing as you try to guide these wilful, self-contained little computer people through the gameworld as you test the limits of your agency and get a sense of some wider structure from that. So while there's definitely a lot of room to move in the direction of more reactive and manipulable worlds, there are still some things which I think could be valuable about the way adventure games sort of look at narratives and worlds from the outside rather than trying to let you Live The Game or whatever.

In which case you might be better off finding a way for the player to interact with the world other than directly controlling a character. The alternative is using the character purely as an instrument for acting upon the world and I think that gets harder the more detailed your world is, the broader the range of actions the character can take within it. "Indirect control" of the characters/situation could be anything. The first thing that comes to mind is the disembodied force the player usually acts as in a sim; I guess an example closer to what we think of as "adventure games" would be something like Pac-Man 2 or Wonder Project J--interacting with the environment or interacting with the character but not embodying the character. How many adventure games sort of openly acknowledge that you're this invisible entity giving the little dude orders but don't otherwise change their design or do anything with that conceit?


These seem like ideas that are far more doable than "fixing" the parser or the verb list.

#7 dada

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:17 AM

the one thing i don't like about adventure games is why do they have to be point and click? why even have the scumm or scumm-derivative interfaces at all? maybe it's just me and because i grew up with console games only, but imo not being able to directly control your character takes you out of the game and adds to the detachment/lack of immersion that much more. wouldn't it be easier to just kinda do what, say, the zelda games (64 in particular) do and have you walk around with the dpad/analog/arrow keys and just have a generic 'action' button that changes depending on what you're standing next to (eg. you're standing next to a person, the blue icon says 'talk'; you then stand next to a jar, the blue icon changes to 'lift')? not only does it feel more interactive, but it also does away with only being able to use a few limited verbs and allows you the freedom to have as many different verbs as you desire/need since none of that stuff really clogs up the gui anymore.

If you like them games you should try Normality. I have a download if you want. http://www.mobygames...ity/screenshots


#8 J Chastain

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:20 AM

the one thing i don't like about adventure games is why do they have to be point and click? why even have the scumm or scumm-derivative interfaces at all? maybe it's just me and because i grew up with console games only, but imo not being able to directly control your character takes you out of the game and adds to the detachment/lack of immersion that much more. wouldn't it be easier to just kinda do what, say, the zelda games (64 in particular) do and have you walk around with the dpad/analog/arrow keys and just have a generic 'action' button that changes depending on what you're standing next to (eg. you're standing next to a person, the blue icon says 'talk'; you then stand next to a jar, the blue icon changes to 'lift')? not only does it feel more interactive, but it also does away with only being able to use a few limited verbs and allows you the freedom to have as many different verbs as you desire/need since none of that stuff really clogs up the gui anymore.

Grim Fandango was like that. It felt like it was designed for a console release but it never got one.

i had the idea of an adventure game with such a limited interactivity that you are presented with one verb, and the game is about how the environment and characters within all react to this single verb they're presented with

i'll give this a proper read when i'm more awake but j chastain is a Good Man to write about games so i'm sure this'll be good

Make a game where you play as a rattlesnake crawling through town to get back to its den. Either head straight back or BITE the townspeople. When you finally settle in for the night, you get a Fallout-style epilogue that details who lived, who succumbed to rattlesnake bites, and how the balance of power shifted as a result.

#9 gargonherd

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:39 AM

i haven't played myst in at least a decade (and i was pretty young so it seemed strange anyway) but to that end the whole thing seems even more disconnected and surreal. the little bit i remember it felt like a series of postcards or photos loosely connected by general monuments and landmarks. i always think of noir films or something where there is a series of photos that illustrate the mystery to be solved- slowly uncovering facts and characters portrayed gives new meaning to the whole story. it begins to form connections between images and so on. however in the case of myst-like games it is done literally where they are actually directly connected rooms or areas.


i think that would be a neat concept for a game like that though. you have a stack of images at the beginning of the game and those are the only clues to solve the mysteries. as the world develops and things change they are put into new contexts and you have to delve into these details and correlate the ideas between them.


another possibility would be to actually have the whole game be a series of photos that have no obvious connection. you are in a small room that is locked and there is no obvious way out. however you start with a set of tools to examine the photos and uncover details that help you understand what the common traits in certain photos are. somehow this could reveal the pass code. i really have no idea where i'm going with all this but my point is there are a lot of possibilities with the "photo gallery" theme. games have always felt like assisted dreaming in a way and these sort of adventure games give a glimpse into really tiny and abstract sections of their respective worlds through that method.

#10 thecatamites

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:54 AM

my television still has teletext! it's used for weather and programme listings. you navigate through it by entering three digits and then watch the screen slowly cycle to the associated page.

Monkey Island 4 had sort of consolesque controls too, same with "Alone In The Dark" for DOS. I think there are a few 2d games that had kind of hybrid things where you'd need to be within a certain distance of an object to klik it ("That [RUSTED PIPE] is too far away. . ."). Maybe one reason could be that all these games use fixed camera perspectives where it's a lot easier to position objects etc to be visible and consequently using arrows to move around feels sorta cumbersome and disorienting.


Getting rid of a central character for the player's actions to center on sounds like a logical step! I guess you could move further into abstract systems via "simulation" elements where you directly tinker with the world. Another possibility, weirdly, is something like Night Trap or that uh one FMV game where you control security cameras for a small town that was infiltrated by bodysnatcher aliens or something. I didn't play these games so IDK if they did anything exciting with the interface, but Night Trap at least put the gap between the player and world first and foremost, where you just get to use this rigid and systematic setup of "traps" to engage with characters who are all following their own little routines.

i am sorta unsettled that this theoretical direction seems to adapt so readily to fmv-heavy 90s games which were long since dismissed from a game design perspective, a return of the repressed...

#11 thecatamites

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:58 AM

i haven't played myst in at least a decade (and i was pretty young so it seemed strange anyway) but to that end the whole thing seems even more disconnected and surreal. the little bit i remember it felt like a series of postcards or photos loosely connected by general monuments and landmarks. i always think of noir films or something where there is a series of photos that illustrate the mystery to be solved- slowly uncovering facts and characters portrayed gives new meaning to the whole story. it begins to form connections between images and so on. however in the case of myst-like games it is done literally where they are actually directly connected rooms or areas.


i think that would be a neat concept for a game like that though. you have a stack of images at the beginning of the game and those are the only clues to solve the mysteries. as the world develops and things change they are put into new contexts and you have to delve into these details and correlate the ideas between them.


another possibility would be to actually have the whole game be a series of photos that have no obvious connection. you are in a small room that is locked and there is no obvious way out. however you start with a set of tools to examine the photos and uncover details that help you understand what the common traits in certain photos are. somehow this could reveal the pass code. i really have no idea where i'm going with all this but my point is there are a lot of possibilities with the "photo gallery" theme. games have always felt like assisted dreaming in a way and these sort of adventure games give a glimpse into really tiny and abstract sections of their respective worlds through that method.


im finally getting playstation emulation set up on my computer so i'll be able to check for myself but this sorta reminded me of that LSD game where you constantly cycle through this randomly-generated(?) set of vaguely interactive, self-contained areas and then presumably build up a narrative or aesthetic response based on this generated set.


also making an asinine tangent here but on subject of photos did anyone play that Blade Runner adventure game where iirc you were able to take photos at your will and then magnify and examine them for clues via your special in-game computer

#12 gargonherd

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 04:27 AM


im finally getting playstation emulation set up on my computer so i'll be able to check for myself but this sorta reminded me of that LSD game where you constantly cycle through this randomly-generated(?) set of vaguely interactive, self-contained areas and then presumably build up a narrative or aesthetic response based on this generated set.


also making an asinine tangent here but on subject of photos did anyone play that Blade Runner adventure game where iirc you were able to take photos at your will and then magnify and examine them for clues via your special in-game computer



yeah LSD is similar actually! dynamic planes of existence changing upon multiple encounters. you should check out Osamu Sato's other games too. he did a myst-like game called "Eastern Mind" where you must die and reincarnate as various things to retrieve your original soul deep within the soul-eating island of tong-nou. the island is a disembodied green head. he did another myst-like but it was a japan-only release for macintosh computers called "foursight". it was a pain to set up mac os 7 emulation correctly but the little i have played of it was great. lots of esoteric trinkets and odd machinery working as an occult unit.


i have never even seen that blade runner game. i really need to check that out because it's a seperate story from what i can tell? i suppose it's unrelated but still i think that's neat. a photo save system would be something to experiment i'm thinking. every time you take a photo of a room that specific area stays at that point. if you leave without taking a photo it reverts to the original position. that would probably make for some pointlessly convoluted scenarios though unless done really well but the way time works in game worlds hasn't been experimented with enough.


in response to your previous post i would like to say the fmv/multimedia cd-rom era of games was great. the removal of player identity and positioning the player as a mediator as opposed to an actor always seemed like a clever technique but i guess it was overlooked since it only was used for stuff like night trap and double switch.

#13 rudy the red-beaked reindeer

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:06 AM

i haven't played myst in at least a decade (and i was pretty young so it seemed strange anyway) but to that end the whole thing seems even more disconnected and surreal. the little bit i remember it felt like a series of postcards or photos loosely connected by general monuments and landmarks. i always think of noir films or something where there is a series of photos that illustrate the mystery to be solved- slowly uncovering facts and characters portrayed gives new meaning to the whole story. it begins to form connections between images and so on. however in the case of myst-like games it is done literally where they are actually directly connected rooms or areas.


i think that would be a neat concept for a game like that though. you have a stack of images at the beginning of the game and those are the only clues to solve the mysteries. as the world develops and things change they are put into new contexts and you have to delve into these details and correlate the ideas between them.


another possibility would be to actually have the whole game be a series of photos that have no obvious connection. you are in a small room that is locked and there is no obvious way out. however you start with a set of tools to examine the photos and uncover details that help you understand what the common traits in certain photos are. somehow this could reveal the pass code. i really have no idea where i'm going with all this but my point is there are a lot of possibilities with the "photo gallery" theme. games have always felt like assisted dreaming in a way and these sort of adventure games give a glimpse into really tiny and abstract sections of their respective worlds through that method.

control the characters and objects inside the photos to figure out what happened leading up to the events depicted & slowly uncover a disorienting mystery as the game blurs the line between photo and interface


I think this idea of removing a central controllable character is really interesting as a concept and I'm afraid I don't have anything to add to that conversation, but I personally am more drawn to controlling characters with verb commands or an interface like puppets (I don't know the jargon). though I agree there's probably benefit in making a cognizant distillation of each separate concept, like in the photo thing gargon mentioned. the colonel's bequest, for instance, really muddies the concept even though I really enjoyed that game for some reason

is there a ludum dare over christmas break? let's all make adventure games.

#14 J Chastain

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 06:45 AM

is there a ludum dare over christmas break? let's all make adventure games.

LD22 is DEC 16-19

#15 dicko

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 09:06 AM

i forgot about that

roll up roll up


i would love to play an earlchip adventure game

#16 thecatamites

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 02:15 PM

is there a ludum dare over christmas break? let's all make adventure games.


Yes!!!


also i guess another tangent from adventure games, but on the subject of games actively toying with the player/gameworld divide: Moon: Remix RPG Adventure

After pulling what appears to be a serious all-nighter on Fake Moon (with over 20 hours logged into it), our hero is ordered to bed by his angered mother, right as he's about to kill the final boss. Not wishing to incur the wrath of an angry parent, he obediently turns off the GameStation and the TV, and trots over to his bed... but what's this? The TV has turned itself back on! And when our hero gets up to investigate, he finds himself being pulled in... into the world of Moon!

Things inside this "Moon World" are quite a bit different than they appeared in the game, however. Everything looks more vivid, more real. The townsfolk, though disproportionate and super-deformed, look distinct and unique, and bear a much greater resemblance to the speech portraits from Fake Moon than their earlier character sprites did. As the boy gathers his bearings, the hero of Fake Moon limps by to enter the castle, struggling under the weight of his own obscenely long sword and outrageously heavy armor. Your character attempts to speak with the townsfolk and find out what's happening, but they seem aware only that someone or something is talking to them. They can't see you, and they can't hear your words. You're... not of their world.


Whole review is great, the game in general sounds like a pretty great / sharp critique on obsessive numbers-going-up RPGs as well as an attempt to actually realise alternative solutions. Throw out combat entirely, replace with the need to explore the world and understand inhabitants.

for the record apparantly you only start to interact directly with the inhabitants once you start impersonating the dead son of an old lady, which seems like another reference to player-agency-being-mediated-through-symbolic-fictions or something

As Love-de-Lic's first game, Moon actually started a trend in voice-acting that's carried over to every subsequent game they've made, without fail. The best way to describe it, really, is to say that the characters' voices sound like chewed-up cassette tape recordings -- but that sounds rather negative, when the actual effect is something quite distinctive, unique, and amusing. Basically, it seems like each character's voice-actor (who may have been hired for the job, but could just as well have been taken from an old radio recording or something) has one or two spoken sentences that have little or nothing to do with Moon, and indeed are often in foreign languages that the majority of Moon's players would never be able to understand anyway. These lines of dialogue are then chopped to pieces, and rearranged in a random order, each time that character "speaks." This makes it a bit different from simple gibberish, since you can occasionally pick out individual words or phrases (be they in English, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, or any other language), and it does give each character a distinctive voice, even if the actual content of what he/she says is complete nonsense.


Unfortunately it doesn't look like there's an english translation patch :( this is a shame because by all accounts it seems like one of the few rpgs or games in general with actual engaging ideas behind it!!

http://hardcoregamin...c/lovedelic.htm hg101 entry for the publishers
http://vgboy.dabomst.../other/moon.htm a scene-by-scene english description of the game
http://www.romhackin...ic,13260.0.html translation project which appears to be still very active and fairly recent!!

i might still end up playing it and reading along with the english description, anyway, since it sounds interesting / relevant. if anyone has a gamecube then there's apparantly an english sequel called Chibi Robo by the same people

#17 J Chastain

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 05:42 PM

Oh fuck, I didn't know about that trans project. I want to play the Love-de-Lic games, they sound like a precedent we never saw for a lot of RPG Maker-type games that've been done in the last 10 years--stuff that's interested in the basic way you move around and interact with the world in a JRPG but tries to ditch the combat and the Dragon Quest drive to "build a better slot machine."

Dudes from L-d-L split and kept making stuff in that vein with companies like Vanpool, Skip, Punchline. Most of it didn't come out in English. Pretty bogus that this kind of stuff was going on in the Japanese industry from the mid-90s to the early 00s and the only hint we really got of it was Earthbound, as though that was a one-off.

This guy's uploaded entire playthroughs of Moon, UFO, LOL, Chulip, Giftpia, Endonesia. LOL is apparently mostly textless, so you could try to find a disc image and run it in a Dreamcast emulator (or on a Dreamcast.)

#18 Ragnar

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 10:39 PM

i haven't played myst in at least a decade (and i was pretty young so it seemed strange anyway) but to that end the whole thing seems even more disconnected and surreal. the little bit i remember it felt like a series of postcards or photos loosely connected by general monuments and landmarks. i always think of noir films or something where there is a series of photos that illustrate the mystery to be solved- slowly uncovering facts and characters portrayed gives new meaning to the whole story. it begins to form connections between images and so on. however in the case of myst-like games it is done literally where they are actually directly connected rooms or areas.


i think that would be a neat concept for a game like that though. you have a stack of images at the beginning of the game and those are the only clues to solve the mysteries. as the world develops and things change they are put into new contexts and you have to delve into these details and correlate the ideas between them.


another possibility would be to actually have the whole game be a series of photos that have no obvious connection. you are in a small room that is locked and there is no obvious way out. however you start with a set of tools to examine the photos and uncover details that help you understand what the common traits in certain photos are. somehow this could reveal the pass code. i really have no idea where i'm going with all this but my point is there are a lot of possibilities with the "photo gallery" theme. games have always felt like assisted dreaming in a way and these sort of adventure games give a glimpse into really tiny and abstract sections of their respective worlds through that method.


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#19 gambody

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 10:16 AM

Hello! i'm new here! and i like video games! i have many figures from different games and i love my collection, my precious...



#20 jjjj

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Posted 19 August 2016 - 10:49 AM

thanks for letting us know






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