May 10, 2010

Adventure Games: A Dying Breed?


Yes­ter­day I had the joy to sit down and play The Longest Jour­ney by fun­com games.  While the game is dat­ed and old by almost every stan­dard I find myself unable to step away form the game.  I start­ed the game ear­ly in the morn­ing and before I knew it the sun was set­ting.  Why would a game that’s over 10 years old with dat­ed graph­ics hold our atten­tion so much?  Adven­ture, sto­ry and amaz­ing voice act­ing all help con­tribute to the amaz­ing world which is “The Longest Jour­ney”.  This got me to think­ing how­ev­er, when was the last time the gam­ing world saw a good adven­ture game?  Are adven­ture games a thing of the past?
The last time the world saw an adven­ture game of any impor­tance was Myst 5: End Of Ages.  Since then there has­n’t been a sin­gle well made adven­ture game released to date and that was almost 5 years ago.   While there have been oth­er adven­ture games made, they are gen­er­al­ly under­fund­ed, poor­ly pro­duced with lit­tle effort put into the puz­zles, visu­als and char­ac­ters behind them.  Why have their been  no adven­ture games over the past 5 years?
It  could be said that peo­ples inter­ests have changed quite a bit from the mid 90’s to the new mil­len­ni­um where most of the great adven­ture games were made.  With games such as Bad Com­pa­ny II and MW2 peo­ple want to get into quick action, kill kill kill, rinse and repeat.   Peo­ple, today, as a vast major­i­ty prob­a­bly would not have the patience to sit down, and play an adven­ture game.  Adven­ture games, unlike their FPS, RTS, and RPG counter parts are quite slow and require think­ing, puz­zle solv­ing and in some cas­es like Myst require note tak­ing.  Yes this means and Pen and Paper.  If you have played Riv­en, and played through, you would remem­ber quite clear­ly hav­ing to learn part of the D’ni alpha­bet. 
One big thing that has changed over the last 10 years  is the change from PC to con­sole gam­ing.  Dur­ing the mid 90’s to even as close as 5 years ago the major­i­ty of gam­ing was pre­dom­i­nant­ly on the PC.  Due to the require­ments of adven­ture game that are most­ly point and click.  It’s extreme­ly hard to devel­op one that has­n’t been dumb­ed down for a con­sole.  Devel­op­ing a title, as such, would be extreme­ly hard and near impos­si­ble.  Sim­i­lar attempts have been made with titles such as Sybe­ria but were fair­ly unsuc­cess­ful.  That all tak­en into account would it make sense to devel­op a title for a plat­form that has been harmed with poor sales, pira­cy and chang­ing con­sumer inter­ests?
Adven­ture games bring some­thing to the table like no oth­er game does… curios­i­ty.  Whats behind that door?  What hap­pens when I flip this lever?  What hap­pens if I light this lamp?  All these things help dri­ve the play­er to progress the game and move deep­er into the sto­ry.  Anoth­er thing that adven­ture games have gen­er­al­ly brought to the table is amaz­ing graph­ics.  It could be argued, that pre ren­dered images are a thing of the past they are noth­ing to be scoffed at.  Pre Ren­dered games can be just as beau­ti­ful if not more so then true 3d games.  How­ev­er, with the recent advance­ment in graph­ics tech­nolo­gies and Direct X 11 an adven­ture game in full 3d might be pos­si­ble.  The last game to try using a full 3d envi­ron­ment was Myst 5: End Of Ages.  While the game did look pret­ty at the time it felt as if the game was lack­ing.  While it was nice to be able to “freely” explore the world in full 3d it lacked a lot of the detail and liv­ing beau­ty that the pre­vi­ous titles such as Myst III: Exile and Myst IV: Rev­e­la­tion did. 
While an adven­ture title will most like­ly nev­er have the same impact that Myst did.  We believe that a good one could def­i­nite­ly be suc­cess­ful on the PC plat­form bar­ing some fias­co involv­ing DRM.  What would it take to make it suc­cess­ful?  First and fore­most it has to have a good sto­ry.  One of the things that Myst games have done so well over the years is have a com­pelling sto­ry to dri­ve the game.  Sec­ond­ly the game has to have believ­able char­ac­ters.  This is one thing that the good adven­ture games have typ­i­cal­ly had down.  Whether they you live actors or just com­pelling voice act­ing.  Final­ly but just as impor­tant is well engi­neered puz­zles.  This is some­thing that a lot of games fail at.  In some cas­es they want you to look for some so obscure that you would only find it on acci­dent or it is so bla­tant­ly easy that it was­n’t worth the time to solve the puz­zle.  With the recent “revival” of PC gam­ing we may see some new titles in the adven­ture genre.  Microbes Sybe­ria III is expect­ed to be released this year.  If this title is a suc­cess we could see a small revival in the adven­ture genre.

15 comments

  1. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 12:36 am

    I have great hopes for Sybe­ria III. I’m real­ly hop­ing that this game cap­tures what the last two did. I am a huge fan of the Sybe­ria series as it was the last series to real­ly take the adven­ture genre seri­ous­ly and make a full attempt at it.

    Reply
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  3. Hippie - May 10, 2010 8:17 am

    Man Ive nev­er even heard of Myst before, I real­ly need to catch up on my adven­ture games. They are a nice change from FPS though the good old days of kings quest and mon­key island.

    Reply
  4. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 8:44 am

    You know there are a cou­ple oth­er Lucasarts adven­ture games i nev­er played. Grim Fan­dan­go and Mon­key Island. I know I could get shot for not play­ing those but I just nev­er did. I thought they looked weird.
    You NEED to play Myst. Myst is bar none the best set of adven­ture games ever. Riv­en — Rev­e­la­tions or Myst II — Myst IV are my favorites. Best pre­ren­dered scenes and they used live actors for the entire game so it real­ly gave a great sense of imm­re­sion. Do try them out. You can get the entire myst series I think for 19 dol­lars a best buy.

    Reply
  5. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 9:32 am

    Oh Hip­pie we have forums now. You can access them by click­ing the forums link at the top of the page!

    Reply
  6. Hippie - May 10, 2010 9:35 am

    I dont have best buy where I live, but ill have a look around for it. The videos on youtube of it look quite inter­est­ing.
    I loved the look of the orig­i­nal mon­key island, the pix­el style made it only fun­nier for some rea­son.

    Reply
  7. Hippie - May 10, 2010 9:47 am

    Sweet ill check it out.

    Reply
  8. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 10:06 am

    Games are more expen­sive in AUS aren’t they. I hear you actu­al­ly have prob­lems get­ting A. Unedit­ed B. Fair­ly priced games and hard­ware in Aus­tralia.

    Reply
  9. Hippie - May 10, 2010 8:23 pm

    Yeah we dont have a R18 rat­ing for games, which is ridicu­lous but I think its being talked about with the guys who can change it, so I hope we get one soon.
    Also the price of pc games here is around $70–100 but con­sole games are a bit more, thats why I buy most games from steam when they are at US prices.
    Im not to sure on hard­ware, but I think with more expen­sive stuff like video cards its about $100 more.

    Reply
  10. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 8:44 pm

    So you real­ly do get the JIP when it comes to games and hard­ware. I had a friend from Hol­land who was say­ing that he was spend­ing 500 dol­lars more on his sys­tem hav­ing to buy from the U.K. I don’t under­stand why the prices are any dif­fer­ent. Well I do it’s cor­po­rate greed but all the same there is no rea­son­ing behind it.

    Reply
  11. Nalates Urriah - May 10, 2010 9:04 pm

    Cor­po­rate greed… it’s a free mar­ket, I sus­pect its more like­ly the VAT.
    What­ev­er, the Myst game Ages Beyond Myst, pre­quel to End of Ages, is back online and its free to play.
    http://mystonline.com/play/

    Reply
  12. thsoundman - May 10, 2010 10:04 pm

    VAT? Yes I have heard of the free ver­sion of myst that you can play. Isn’t that host­ed by a third par­ty and not my CYAN itself? Cor­rect me if I am wrong. Also on a total­ly unre­lat­ed top­ic. How do you add a pic to your post if you are not a mem­ber. Wel­come to the site btw! I hope you like it here.

    Reply
  13. T8 - May 11, 2010 8:09 am

    not to be rude, but this con­ver­sa­tion would be bet­ter placed on the forums. All the arti­cles from here are also post­ed to the forums. If you want a faster paced, deep­er dis­cus­sion please hit up the forums.

    Reply
  14. Jerahevin Kerr - May 12, 2010 9:02 am

    http://www.adventuregamestudio.com
    Free pro­gram to cre­ate your own adven­ture games and some Real­ly Awe­some ones to play!! I go here all the time to find new and inter­est­ing games to play.

    Reply
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