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Author Topic: Pushing the boundaries of the genre  (Read 2733 times)

hedgefield

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Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« on: 06 Feb 2011, 22:32 »
Hey all,

I want to ask you guys for help.

See, I'm currently starting my graduation project at game design college, and together with a friend we are planning to put together an adventure game. I think we have a pretty good story already and we both love adventure games to death and are quite proficient with AGS, but the problem is that we are doing the Masters programme, so it's not enough to just deliver a polished game, we have to do something innovative with it, something that has never been done before and really adds something to the genre. (no pressure!)

So we've been thinking on this, and we have a couple of ideas, but we're afraid they're not strong enough. They may be things we've rarely seen in adventure games, or at least not in AGS games, but for this project we really need something convincing, so even people who are not adventure game connaisseurs will sit up and take notice.

Barefoot already started a good thread on what our preferences are for great adventure games, but there we're discussing the things already on the table, the tools we already have in our belts. I would love to discuss with you guys ways we could push the genre forward, really come up with something new, something we could turn into a module for others to use aswell. Something that fundamentally alters the way we interact with adventure games. A way to put adventure games back on the map!

So my question to you is this:

what would be a feature you have always wanted to see in an adventure game, but have rarely/never encountered (yet)?

And I don't mean things like 'a three-legged clown' or 'a dance verb', I'm talking entire systems, things that affect the way you control or experience adventure games.


For starters, here are a few things we were thinking of:

- a dialog engine that frees you from standing still and talking stiffly, where you can walk around and mess with stuff during the conversation, where you can involve other NPC's in the conversation or even just walk away.

- a game where [jackbauer] events occur.. in realtime. [/jackbauer] (although arguably The Last Express already did that)

- with the renaissance of the genre on the iPhone, we're seeing a lot of 'classic' adventure games, but what about multitouch? What about the accelerometer? GPS even? The potential for all-new type puzzles is enormous. (only problem is AGS does not run on iPhone (yet)!)

- my friend is an interaction designer, so he is very interested in finding a new way to control the game, besides mouse or keyboard. Again, this could tie into the touchscreen thing.

- iPhone games are typically games you play for a brief time while you are out and about. Adventure games take time and often a lot of reading to get invested in. How could we adapt storytelling to better fit into a pickup-and-play model? Should we even try?


What do you guys think?

Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #1 on: 06 Feb 2011, 23:59 »
Hmm, well breaking/bending the limitations of adventure games like making puzzles with a lot of solutions, endless dialog options etc. are basically limited to not so much software as much as time it takes to make, so either avoid that completly or try something new.

Or maybe something simple like connecting Kinect body movement and speech recognition.
Or while we're on camera recognition, why not make the player actually use stuff, like say you need to photograph a crime scene, the way you preform that action is by using a flash aimed at the pc camera. Open a jar by getting a jar and opening it. Getting a key by showing a key pointed at the camera. Looking up clues in real books at the library etc.

p.s. I don't really like jackbauer-ish/Last express "real time", playing adventure games usually you have to abosrb the story, figure things out and when the whole game is timed it just ruins it for me (I don't actually mind fairly timed puzzles - note Grim fandango and the elevator and forklift puzzle which actually later had a patch to slow the elevator down). Especially with such a visually and setting interesting game such as LE. If there was an option to not make the game real time, it'd probably be one of my favourite games.
« Last Edit: 07 Feb 2011, 15:45 by anian »
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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #2 on: 07 Feb 2011, 03:38 »
Or maybe something simple like connecting Kinect body movement and speech recognition.
Or while we're on camera recognition, why not make the player actually use stuff, like say you need to photograph a crime scene, the way you preform that action is by using a flash aimed at the pc camera. Open a jar by getting a jar and opening it. Getting a key by showing a key pointed at the camera. Looking up clues in real books at the library etc.

Something like Nintendo's Wii system where different Wiimote motions result in different interactions would be cool, but still a stretch for two students without much of a budget.

I once toyed with the idea of using AGS as a social science research tool.  The idea was to create the city's downtown as an AGS world, and then let the player roam around it while recording their impressions of each sub-area using some sort of Fear-o-meter.  This could generate a nice neat dataset and save the logistical hassle of recruiting volunteers to go downtown with an interviewer.  Never panned out in the end, though.

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #3 on: 07 Feb 2011, 06:02 »
when I was a kid playing adventure games and before the internet was around I always imagined the towns in adventure games having real people in them, also playing the game somewhere else in the world, and you could interact with them using the same interfaces as with npc's - except that they are real people. So I guess it would be World of Warcraft, but in a 2d adventure game setting.

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #4 on: 07 Feb 2011, 11:47 »
(deleted)
« Last Edit: 28 May 2017, 11:41 by (deleted) »

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #5 on: 07 Feb 2011, 14:19 »
- a dialog engine that frees you from standing still and talking stiffly, where you can walk around and mess with stuff during the conversation, where you can involve other NPC's in the conversation or even just walk away.

Yes, you could change the way dialogues work. Something that tends to be a bit unrealistic is the fact that speech is repeated when you choose similar responses. In actual conversations when you ask something over and over the person will just slap you in the face. Also when you are somewhere with a party, in real situations people will just call to each other what they see, what they think about their surroundings. An adventure game with a different approach for dialogue would certainly be interesting.

- a game where [jackbauer] events occur.. in realtime. [/jackbauer] (although arguably The Last Express already did that)

Adventure games often have a distorted timeline, time will only go by when the player progresses in the story, this is actually a very comfortable approach. That way you can still create the illusion something happened while the player was gone, or make things happen at real time when the player is in the same room. If you mess with timers you have to make sure the player still has time perception; that sounds as a very difficult thing but might be interesting. Personally not a big fan of it though.

- with the renaissance of the genre on the iPhone, we're seeing a lot of 'classic' adventure games, but what about multitouch? What about the accelerometer? GPS even? The potential for all-new type puzzles is enormous. (only problem is AGS does not run on iPhone (yet)!)

As for adventure games, I don't really have an idea how to use those interfaces. It tends to end up with creating a gimmicky user interface that does about the same as the usual UI, but do prove me wrong!

- my friend is an interaction designer, so he is very interested in finding a new way to control the game, besides mouse or keyboard. Again, this could tie into the touchscreen thing.

If you're looking for alternative input methods, you should check out the joystick/game controller plugin.

- iPhone games are typically games you play for a brief time while you are out and about. Adventure games take time and often a lot of reading to get invested in. How could we adapt storytelling to better fit into a pickup-and-play model? Should we even try?

No, if you'd ask me. I see adventure games as the most natural way of making a story interactive. A story needs a level of immersion that can not be created instantaneously (for me at least). If you try to make an adventure based on the pickup-and-play model, you end up with a puzzle game.
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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #6 on: 07 Feb 2011, 15:08 »
Sorry, but I won't be giving away my own brilliant ideas for innovation, as I'm working on using them for a game. ;)

However, I'd advise you to think carefully through if the innovative game you'll set out to make will be fun and accessible enough for the player and easy enough to construct. Usually, the limitations that we see in games are there for a reason. Games like The Last Express and Discworld Noir, or even Return to Mysterious Island have found smart ways to minimize challenges their innovations created for design, and that's the reason they are still remembered so fondly and not only as being different.
« Last Edit: 07 Feb 2011, 16:57 by Ascovel »

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #7 on: 07 Feb 2011, 17:01 »
what would be a feature you have always wanted to see in an adventure game, but have rarely/never encountered (yet)?
A feature that is regrettably under-used, in my opinion, is true character switching. The best example of this is the classic Maniac Mansion.

hedgefield

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #8 on: 07 Feb 2011, 19:58 »
Thanks for the responses guys, you've raised some interesting points so far.

@anian/Baron - I like real-world tie-ins, I try to include them in my games whenever possible. Things like existing locations, a historical fact or otherwise, it makes the narrative feel more authentic. Actually doing ARG type stuff would be a step further. I loved the way In Memoriam handled it, sending players across the internet to find answers to riddles. Or Majestic sending you creepy text messages. Though I'm not sure the Kinect or Wii would be the most suitable for that right now. But people usually carry their iphones around anyway, and with things like barcode scanners and that insane Wordlens app you could really do some interesting things. It might lower the threshold for getting people out of the house at least.

@hofmeier - That race game is total win. And I also like your idea of the infant dialog. I once had an idea for a puzzle where you have to communicate with an NPC across the room using only hand signals. Different languages or speech impairments could make for some interesting gameplay.

@Wyz - I love the idea of persistence. Having an effect on the world around you is crucial to create a sense of place, time and progress. At one point we tossed around the idea of linking the game's time of day to the computer clock. But you are right, time makes many things a lot more difficult.

I think maybe the dialog engine has the most potential right now. Not just shoving the Mass Effect system in there but really trying to figure out what makes conversations realistic, and try to translate that into the game.

@Ascovel - I hear that, I don't want to insert some hamfisted innovation for the sake of innovation, if we do something it has to make sense (and indeed preferrably not cause us a truckload of work).

@Radiant - You're right, multiple playable characters is a rarity. Maybe because of all the extra animation work that goes into an extra character? But if you do it there are certainly possibilities for cool coop-style puzzles. Especially if you could control both at the same time - something that also starts to go towards @cosmicr's multiplayer idea (which would be really cool, yes).

It's true that we are kinda limited by the time we have, the lack of budget and the limitations of AGS, but if the idea is potent enough I think we can get away with only writing a thesis about it, maybe backed up by a few prototypes, alongside the 'standard' adventure game we are planning to build.

Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #9 on: 13 Feb 2011, 04:01 »
Honestly, I think you'd have enough on your plate just implementing one of your ideas into a completed and highly polished game.  They're all pretty good ideas, so if you had to pick just one, I think having dialogue and action at the same time would be pretty damned innovative.  Also something that other developers would pick up on, so you'd be making a major contribution to the adventure design community.  :)

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Re: Pushing the boundaries of the genre
« Reply #10 on: 13 Feb 2011, 13:47 »
There was a big thread somewhere around here about an online multiplayer adventure.
Nobody's done anything like that as far as I know, and I think it's doable (maybe doesn't fit your game, though).

Another idea is using speech recognition as the interface instead of a parser.