Author Topic: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge  (Read 5211 times)

Ali

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In case anyone is interested, I recently did a let's replay of Monkey Island 2 with Eurogamer's Ellie Gibson.

[embed=560,315]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeQ0E-BO9RI[/embed]

A few commenters are offended by me saying that the SCUMM interface is the worst interface of all time. No one (yet) is offended by me saying Monkey Island is better than Star Wars, which is nice. Tim Shafer saw it and said I was funny, so today has started well.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-03-09-video-lets-replay-monkey-island-2-lechucks-revenge
« Last Edit: 11 Mar 2014, 09:26 by Ali »

Andail

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #1 on: 10 Mar 2014, 10:50 »
Like!

Monsieur OUXX

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #2 on: 11 Mar 2014, 09:12 »
Hey, that's really cool!

About the 9-verb Scumm interface: true.
As you know I'm working on an Indy fan game, and it's taken for granted that the interface should stay that way. One day I woke up and thought "that interface makes no sense, we must change it in our game!" and then immediately after "but that would be ruining the fan game", followed by some confusion (I never shared that personal experience with the other team members, haha!).
There was a (very short) internal debate on our team forum. Anyway, it could be worse: it could be the "switch on/switch off" interface of Maniac Mansion ;)
 

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #3 on: 11 Mar 2014, 09:21 »
Ali I love how you play completely on auto-pilot, while you speak. You don't hesitate for a sec, get in, take the required object from the room, and leave. I wonder how many times you've completed that game! ;-D
 

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #4 on: 11 Mar 2014, 09:29 »
Worst UI of all time? Let me just repost this...

Let me sing the praises of the standard LucasArts UI (I always called it the Scumm Bar, but that seems to be just me), since that's the one I'm more fond of.

OK, so the drawbacks are obvious. It takes up around a third of the screen. It requires moving the mouse back and forth to one corner of the screen any time you want to do something (or learning some not-always-obvious keyboard shortcuts). How often do you ever use Push or Pull? But let's look at the positives!

First of all, it's incredibly intuitive to use. All of the verbs are right there on the screen (well, they took away "walk to" in the later versions, but by that time people were familiar with clicking on any non-hotspot to walk there), and it's obvious that they represent the things you can do. Compare that to, for instance, verb-coins, which are IMPOSSIBLE to use unless you know the secret (the game will simply appear to not respond to anything you try). Try giving a novice gamer an adventure with a LucasArts/style UI versus a verb-coin UI and see which one they find easier.

Secondly, the sentence bar is pure genius. If you're just mousing over things, it shows you the hotspot name, but if you click on a verb, it starts to build a sentence: "Look at ... important-looking-pirates", "Use... rubber chicken with a a pulley in the middle with ... cable" This is a great "fun feature" that encourages exploration and play (and that "Eureka" feeling when you suddenly put the right ideas together), but it also serves as a transition for players coming from a text parser background. ("See? It's just as if you wrote the command yourself")

Thirdly, the inventory is on-screen along with the main game world. This makes the inventory-based gameplay that is the hallmark of LucasArts titles much smoother than it would be with, say, a Sierra interface.

Fourthly, LucasArts put in a bunch of little touches that makes it much more user-friendly. First of all, you have the default action on right-click. Then you have the "cancel-action-while-walking-towards-hotspot-by-clicking-on-something-else" feature (which separates a good LEC-UI clone from a poor one). Then you have the keyboard shortcuts, and the way they still light up the buttons and start building a sentence in the sentence bar. I think that for an experienced player using shortcut keys, the LEC interface is one of the quickest and most efficient there is.

Finally, you have the nice way the interface is darkened out during the cut-scenes, creating a widescreen effect, and the way the dialog options fit in the same space during conversations.

It should also be recognized that LucasArts invented (AFAIK) the idea of hotspot indications on mouseover. And I can personally vouch for the fact that it's remarkably playable even without a mouse, using the keyboard arrows to control the cursor.

So are all of these excellent properties just luck? Was the UI just put together at random by a couple of programmers without any usability considerations and without any thought to design, like Edmundo argues? If you believe that you're on crack. The LucasArts UI, particularly in the form first seen in Monkey Island, was a remarkably elegant design, and a great step forward compared to what had existed prior. It's a little clunky nowadays, and later innovations (like double-click to skip to the next room) improve on it, but it's still a pretty good choice for an adventure game designer, especially one making a game in the same spirit.

Ali

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #5 on: 11 Mar 2014, 09:53 »
Monsieur OUXX: I cheated and read a walkthrough the day before. That game is hard!

Snarky: I called it the SCUMM bar too, I thought everyone did... It is a brilliant, user-friendly innovation AND the worst interface of all time. I agree with everything you (and the angry Eurogamerites) said.

Except the guy who thinks I've "probably never played adventure games with text parser". I've played more text adventures than he's had hot dinners (Assuming he's had <20 hot dinners). I think the text parser is a more elegant and flexible interface than SCUMM. My point is that the interfaces ARE clunky, but with adventure games that doesn't matter so much. We just shouldn't imagine that the games were great because of their clunky interfaces.

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #6 on: 11 Mar 2014, 10:22 »
Good video, makes want to play the game once again. :)

I must say I still like the SCUMM interface, it is almost as straight-forward as the two-click interface, but with the possibility for more verbs. Perhaps for today's standards with widescreen monitors it's not really a good idea to have an interface that reduces the height of the screen even more. But back then the screen layout made perfect sense and looked very good.
Worst interface of all time? Clunky? Not after you've played one of those Tex Murphy games  ;)

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #7 on: 11 Mar 2014, 10:29 »
Definitely prefer it to verbcoin! :P
Only disadvantage is space and mouse movement. And slightly more mouse movement (with keyboard shortcut alternatives) was less cumbersome than verbcoin's click and hold thing.
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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #8 on: 11 Mar 2014, 11:12 »
That was nice to listen to. You two were lovely. :)

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #9 on: 11 Mar 2014, 20:55 »
Quote from: Problem
Worst interface of all time? Clunky? Not after you've played one of those Tex Murphy games

Whaaaat? You obviously didn't play Universe. I think it had DOZENS of weird commands, some of them used once in the entire game:


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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #10 on: 11 Mar 2014, 20:58 »
I agree with Snarky, the (later, pared down) SCUMM Bar is the best adventure game interface, but, and this is a big but, only in a game with good puzzles.

Any time you're forced to try everything with everything you've now got about 9 verbs to try on everything. Hopefully this will discourage you from the brute force attempts and encourage you to think things through, but if the puzzles up to this point have been bad enough that the best course of action is to just power through and try everything on everything the interface quickly becomes a drag.

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Edit: Like Snarky, I learned the shortcuts and the right click trick. Maybe I'd find it worse if I didn't?
« Last Edit: 11 Mar 2014, 21:00 by Esseb »

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #11 on: 11 Mar 2014, 21:10 »
@Gibbler: Oh yes, I forgot about Universe, I played that one on the Amiga. I loved the atmosphere, but I found it to be very hard and pretty unfair at times. And yeah, the interface didn't help ;)

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #12 on: 11 Mar 2014, 21:21 »
Definitely prefer it to verbcoin! :P
Yep. While I prefer interfaces that don't take up so much screen space, at least the Lucas interface is easy to control for the player. Verbcoins are downright horrible to work with.

Ali

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #13 on: 12 Mar 2014, 00:36 »
All right, I admit that the worst interface of all time is either Normality or Return to Zork.


Incidentally: how do verb-coin-haters feel about a verb-coin/context menu in a tablet or other single-click environment?

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #14 on: 12 Mar 2014, 00:44 »
Incidentally: how do verb-coin-haters feel about a verb-coin/context menu in a tablet or other single-click environment?
Still negative. A verb coin is by definition not single-click, and it also obscures the area you're trying to click on. On a tablet, I would either go for a real single-click interface (i.e. one interaction per hotspot, plus inventory items), or put a set of verb icons in the corner of the screen.

Ali

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #15 on: 12 Mar 2014, 01:02 »
But isn't the latter very cumbersome? The player has to move their hand a lot more if they're selecting icons from the corner, rather than tapping and flicking in the direction of an action.

I used to love verb coins, but I've been persuaded of their many drawbacks by people in these esteemed forums. I've also gone back and played Nelly Cootalot and got confused and annoyed at my own interface. That said, we accept the idea of a context menu, so why not a streamlined, semi-transparent verb coin along the same lines? Perhaps one which appeared immediately above the place tapped?

Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #16 on: 12 Mar 2014, 01:07 »
But isn't the latter very cumbersome? The player has to move their hand a lot more if they're selecting icons from the corner, rather than tapping and flicking in the direction of an action.
If it's a tablet or phone, you have your other hand to press the verbs in the corner, not if you're on a computer bound to one mouse.

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #17 on: 12 Mar 2014, 01:09 »
But isn't the latter very cumbersome? The player has to move their hand a lot more if they're selecting icons from the corner, rather than tapping and flicking in the direction of an action.
If it's a tablet or phone, you have your other hand to press the verbs in the corner, not if you're on a computer bound to one mouse.

What if a person is disabled and doesn't have another hand? :P
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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #18 on: 12 Mar 2014, 01:11 »
But isn't the latter very cumbersome? The player has to move their hand a lot more if they're selecting icons from the corner, rather than tapping and flicking in the direction of an action.
With a mouse, it would be. With your hand on a tablet, not so much, and this is still easier than a tap-flick-swipe motion.

Aside from that, the interface shouldn't 'clear' the verb after using it once.

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Re: Let's Replay Monkey Island II: LeChuck's Revenge
« Reply #19 on: 12 Mar 2014, 02:16 »
At least the interfaces of MI1/2 aren't as complicated as older SCUMM games, such as MM1, but still, I agree that they're too complicated. They're trying to convert a text parser into a point and click interface and so they tried to cramp as many verbs into the list as possible and the result was not overall satisfactory. Over time it's simplified more and more and I think the one in DOTT is the best, concerning usability and still offers enough variation on the actions. Also, I'll go for this interface than the Verbcoin, but the problem is, this interface covers up a considerably large area of the screen and later people seemed to prefer games with fullscreen graphics.

Actually I quite like the interface of Normality, while it's a ripoff of Verbcoin, it fits the weirdness of the game very well, and this game's (combination of keyboard + mouse) control is 10000000x better than the stupid mouse control of Under a Killing Moon(even though it's not a bad game in itself).