Author Topic: How do genres evolve?  (Read 2762 times)

LimpingFish

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #20 on: 07 May 2020, 00:47 »
Interesting, in that I thought it was generally agreed that the controls and UI of Grim Fandango were notoriously poor.

Well, I did say they were far from perfect. But then so where the controls in Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, and generally most other pre-rendered, fixed-angle, third-person games of the day. Whether this is down to inherent flaws or bad implementation is also ripe for debate. Regardless, and looking at it from this point in time, I personally would prefer to play a game with those controls, over the typical SCUMM interface. As to your point, Grim Fandango's controls are certainly frowned upon by adventure fans, and that's part of the larger argument here, I suppose, but perhaps I over stated their appeal.

As for interacting with the UI, one point that stands out to me is how Manny draws the players attention to points of interest, negating the need for the hovering cursor technique of earlier games, and, in my view, changing how we interact with the world...for the better. Though I agree the pocket inventory isn't the best (certainly not from a browsing point of view), I don't think it's worse than any inventory that overloads the player with items. Of course, this could be alleviated by having less items, but that brings us back to the argument of what key elements make an adventure game.

But direct control of a character is a huge boon for a sense of exploration, and I loved moving around the spaces looking for interactive things.

This. Without a doubt, I find it more immersive when I have direct control over a character. Doubly so, when I'm in a world like GF's.

I'd like to talk about Syberia for a bit, because, through multiple ports, it manages to brush on many of my points. Syberia on the PC hews closest to a traditional adventure (though it implements both the running and the head-turning object highlighting system of Grim Fandango, it still relies on text labels and occasional cursor hovering, but we'll look past that for now), insomuch as we point-and-click our way through it. But it also has the pre-rendered backgrounds of GF, which require the player to traverse the Z-axis, as well as the X and Y, something I always find weird doing with a tradional point-and-click interface, but that may just be me.

Syberia on the Playstation 3, while technically an inferior port, implements direct control, and, when I played through it, I found it more suited to the world I was expected to explore. Again, this may just be me. It certainly didn't lessen the feeling that I was playing an adventure game, though it did provide a different experience.

As a side note, Syberia on the Nintendo DS, an absolute mess of a port, removes the players ability to run, and I challenge anyone to argue that this doesn't completely kill the pacing of any exploration the player is expected to do.

I feel like we're trying to have two separate discussions at the same time: one about the state of the genre today, and one about what people think of the adventure games of the 90s...

You might be right. But, thinking about it, the adventure genre is probably (one of) the only genre(s) where our appreciation of the past has so much influence on how we view the present. Maybe that's why the question of evolution is somewhat moot. We are (or were) so attached to the past, that we simply can't see the proverbial forest. Maybe that's why I find myself being so critical these days.

Or maybe I'm wrong. It doesn't matter, really. I've loved adventure games, and I love adventure games. But I find myself more likely to argue against the idea that some form of ultimate purity exists in the genre. It doesn't, and, I guess, it shouldn't.

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #21 on: 07 May 2020, 14:16 »
Yeah, reading through this thread, I do feel a bit confused about what people consider to be traditional gameplay mechanics or classic point and clicks. I've never really felt the need to define those for myself, is there some sort of consensus? When I look at 90s adventures then a lot of them seem quite varied in terms of design philosophy and user interface. For example, is Loom a traditional point and click game, how about Legend of Kyrandia or Beneath a Steel Sky? Are obtuse puzzles, inventory and mouse-driven interface the shared attributes?

For me personally, it seems that there have been noticeable improvements in modern adventures, especially in terms of puzzle logic and certain small mechanical tweaks. I mean, isn't pixel hunting and screen scanning a thing of the past? Don't most games these days have hotspot indicators, similarly how other genres added stuff like map markers, witcher senses etc.

Speaking of other genres, then there's plenty of fan bases that cling to older games and mechanics. Point and clicks are not alone in this. There's groups of people who still consider Super Mario 64 the best 3d platformer or enjoy original Doom more than modern shooters, there's Super Metroid, Chrono Trigger, Symphony of the Night. Also, have MMO's or RTS games made any huge strides as a genre in recent decades?

Yes, many indie devs try to emulate the retro experience or create something similar to old games, but probably because that's what they love developing and there's sufficient demand for it. And it's all fine, there's room for all sorts of games. Calling them knock-offs seems a little unfair. Sure, there certainly are a bunch, but I feel that many of the modern games have actually refined the formula with either some quality of life improvements or added/removed mechanics. Nothing wrong with building upon a solid foundation and learning from history.

Not that I have anything against evolving or innovating, as I said there's room for all, and I'm really eager to hear ideas and opinions about the genre going forward and things I could test out or experiment with in my future games. I think the influence that the hardcore purist crowd supposedly has over the genre is overstated, seems like a vocal minority thing and I don't think many developers care about those voices.

As for AGS games, I also don't see much point in criticizing amateurs making games as a hobby, often for the first time, for not necessarily being in the vanguard of design; any more than in criticizing teenage girls for imitating manga artists. Of course, the more experienced and dedicated designers, particularly the professionals and semi-professionals, are a different matter.
I can admit that I've never made a complete, well-planned and thoroughly designed game, because all of them are made with game jam time constrictions and their main purpose has been to test out some technical aspects, explore the engine capabilities or simply practice pixel art. It's a fun hobby and I honestly don't feel the urge to start pushing the whole genre forward, I simply try to focus on things that matter to me. If we as a community should want more variety or modern takes in our games, the first step would probably be to release different easy to use templates that allow to explore and use new mechanics.

Seconding Snarky with Grim Fandango here. Played it for the first time a few years ago and compared to some older Lucasarts games the controls and interface seemed like a step backwards to me. In addition to the issues mentioned, I sometimes also had trouble identifying the exit points and was stuck because I didn't know there was a "hidden" area around the corner, but I guess that's more of a design problem than game mechanic. I know that a lot of people like direct control over the character, but I definitely prefer the mouse for navigating the 2d adventure space. I actually enjoy games that can be fully played with a mouse only, it leaves my other hand free for other, erm... activites.

We should also remember that the now ubiquitous dual analogue stick control system wasn't immediately welcomed by critics or players.
As someone who's never owned a modern console, the few times I've tried to use a controller with analogue sticks, it felt like the most unintuitive and uncomfortable thing, there's a learning curve for sure. But I'm also a weirdo who draws and animates with a laptop touchpad, so I don't really judge people's choice of input devices  :-D

Ali

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #22 on: 07 May 2020, 16:56 »
I agree about the fact that there was never a coherent mechanic across all adventure games. I think that's what I object to - the idea that there ever was a definable golden age. (It should be obvious from my signature that I'm not against conventional adventure games that don't push the genre forwards at all.)

But I'm a member of a few facebook groups dedicated to point and clicks, and whenever people ask for recommendations, the responses are always 30 year-old games. When a newer game is mentioned, someone complains that it's 3D and 3D games are ugly, or it's not REALLY a point and click. I find it disheartening, because those were the conversations we were having here in 2003 when I joined - and there really weren't tons of good adventure games getting published.
« Last Edit: 07 May 2020, 17:22 by Ali »

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #23 on: 08 May 2020, 21:06 »
Thanks, Ali, for clarifying who you were talking about — because it's not an attitude I really see around anywhere. But I find most Facebook groups really tedious, even when it's about something I'm interested in, so I'm probably missing that whole scene.

But direct control of a character is a huge boon for a sense of exploration, and I loved moving around the spaces looking for interactive things.

This. Without a doubt, I find it more immersive when I have direct control over a character. Doubly so, when I'm in a world like GF's.

I like direct control just fine in many games. Is it a universally superior form of interaction (even just for immersion) that all adventure games should adopt? I remain entirely unconvinced of that. As I wrote lo these many years ago:

To me, this again comes down to a question of what's fun (I think I've talked about this before as the "Fun Principle": games should be fun). If moving around is fun in your game, then having the player move the character around manually (whether WASD or whatever) is probably a good idea. There are many games that build a lot of their fun from the task of moving (let's just take Prince of Persia as an example).  But if moving around is not fun (and I think that applies to games like Grim Fandango and Dreamfall, for example), then requiring the player to manually move the character around is just a tedious chore.

I would be interested to hear more specific examples of outdated "mechanics" in point-and-clicks.

However… I want to take a step back.

Let me propose a theory (or really just some impressions and musings based on a few interviews/articles and a handful of games): the problem with traditional point-and-click adventures, if there is one, isn't that there's something fundamentally wrong or outdated about the UI or with puzzle-based gameplay or whatever we mean by the "mechanics." The problem is that a lot of point-and-click adventure game designers don't really care about gameplay or about puzzle design. They care about the story, and the gameplay is just a means to that end. Therefore it's designed half-heartedly and on autopilot, out of obligation. Even a lot of game design tutorials emphasize that the narrative has to come first, that you shouldn't start with a puzzle idea and then look for ways to "shoehorn" it in.

If a game comes about because a designer has some story idea they're really excited by, and then they just go "Gameplay? It's a point-and-click adventure, so the controls and presentation should be just like every other game in the genre; and because it seems you have to keep the player involved somehow (more's the pity!), I guess we must come up with some puzzles, so let's throw in some inconveniences that block players' progress and copy the solution patterns from other games we've played" — is it any wonder if the result is not inspiring?

I propose that the answer is not to condemn the established gameplay mechanics as a whole, but to put gameplay first, as something that needs to be designed deliberately and with creative inspiration. For any adventure game made with ambition, there should be a reason to be excited to play that particular game (rather than any other), not just experience the story — which you could do by watching a walkthrough video. And yes, that can mean starting from a puzzle idea or an idea for a gameplay mechanic, and then inventing a story to justify it.

For example, Lamplight City has a clear reason to exist that is grounded in gameplay design: "a detective adventure where it is OK to fail." Vince Twelve is another designer who always seems pretty motivated by gameplay ideas as much as by story. We've already talked about Unavowed.

That doesn't mean designers have to reinvent the wheel every time, or that they should throw out all the genre conventions just because they are conventions… Nor follow them just because they are conventions!

Ali

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #24 on: 08 May 2020, 23:37 »
That's an excellent point. Insult Sword fighting is a brilliant, funny, mini-game-cum-puzzle (not happy with that phrase, but here we are) that players can approach in an almost RPG-ish fashion. Whatever 'gameplay' is, it's a solid example and a large portion of MI's story is built around it.

On the other hand, I'm playing the Riddle of Master Lu for the first time now. And it's got lovingly produced artwork, surprisingly intelligent writing and actually good acting. I've heard the puzzles described as "very hard". The reality is, they're incredibly stupid.  They're exactly the arbitrary and meaningless obstacles you're talking about. Fly back to New York to steal your employees turtle, then fly to Danzig to make the turtle ring a bell in a tomb. Don't they have Turtles in Germany? Don't they have other things that could ring bells? They're trying to do Tintin, but Tintin is smart and resourceful, not a freewheeling maniac. The gameplay is bad because undermines the character and the story that the devs cared about.

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #25 on: 09 May 2020, 01:28 »
If I can address that point you highlighted from 2013, Snarky, I would probably say that none of these early games are particularly fun to move around in. I have always played, and continue to play, Sierra games, for instance, with the cursor keys, because the combination of ill-defined walkable regions and appalling path-finding made traversing anything, other than an obstacle-less flat surface, a mind-bending chore. Not that you are, but I can't see anyone defending the default-play style of these games as anything other than excruciating to modern senses. Your earlier point -

And while some point-and-click adventure games have annoyingly slow walkspeeds and pointlessly large distances to cross, at least you only have to click once at where you want them to go, not guide them step by tedious step.

 - I can only attribute to some degree of rose tint, because none (excuse the hyperbole) of these games ever behaved in such a co-operational way in my experience! Maybe it improved from DOTT on-wards, but otherwise rarely did a character in these games end up where I expected them to, with a single click.

Does this make them inherently flawed? I don't think I'd argue for that, no.

But then, I don't think we should be arguing in absolutes, to be honest. While I expressed my (admittedly minor) disdain with how a lot of these games play today, I don't believe it's because of fundamental design faults. Maybe failures in execution, or due to the constraints of technical limitations, but certainly not in conception. At least not wholly in conception. ¬¬

The problem is that a lot of point-and-click adventure game designers don't really care about gameplay or about puzzle design. They care about the story, and the gameplay is just a means to that end. Therefore it's designed half-heartedly and on autopilot, out of obligation. Even a lot of game design tutorials emphasize that the narrative has to come first, that you shouldn't start with a puzzle idea and then look for ways to "shoehorn" it in.

If a game comes about because a designer has some story idea they're really excited by, and then they just go "Gameplay? It's a point-and-click adventure, so the controls and presentation should be just like every other game in the genre; and because it seems you have to keep the player involved somehow (more's the pity!), I guess we must come up with some puzzles, so let's throw in some inconveniences that block players' progress and copy the solution patterns from other games we've played" — is it any wonder if the result is not inspiring?

I completely agree. And if I can be somewhat reductionist, it kind of leaves us with a two-handed answer to the question "Why didn't adventure games evolve?". Hand one: Because there was nothing to evolve. Developers simply found new ways to present their narratives. Hand two: The audience didn't want them to evolve. Adventure fans are nothing if not nostalgic.
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #26 on: 09 May 2020, 06:09 »
Fly back to New York to steal your employees turtle, then fly to Danzig to make the turtle ring a bell in a tomb. Don't they have Turtles in Germany? Don't they have other things that could ring bells?

Aww, I really enjoyed Riddle of Master Lu. And I think the game does have a cool little twist to the gameplay, by adding the dimension of collecting exhibits for the Odditorium.

But yeah, this is a good example of a tired genre convention that I agree we're better off without. Because it's not just TROML. It's Fate of Atlantis, it's Sins of the Fathers, it's Broken Sword. All games where you need to carry some specific piece of random rubbish from one corner of the globe to another, when a local substitute would be easily available and would have worked just as well.

My impression is that it's less common in modern adventures, though I'm sure it still occurs.

If I can address that point you highlighted from 2013, Snarky, I would probably say that none of these early games are particularly fun to move around in.

Rarely. And if some mechanic isn't fun in itself, at least it should be as streamlined and transparent as possible. I would argue point-and-click (as long as it's easy to access the "walk" mode) is more streamlined than direct control.

- I can only attribute to some degree of rose tint, because none (excuse the hyperbole) of these games ever behaved in such a co-operational way in my experience! Maybe it improved from DOTT on-wards, but otherwise rarely did a character in these games end up where I expected them to, with a single click.

Umm, wow.
That is miles away from my experience. Occasionally characters might not take the path I would have expected (and this could certainly be problematic in Sierra games where the path is sometimes strewn with deadly obstacles), but it was rare that they didn't go where I wanted them to. Things like unclear room edges/exits were much more prevalent in my experience.

I completely agree. And if I can be somewhat reductionist, it kind of leaves us with a two-handed answer to the question "Why didn't adventure games evolve?". Hand one: Because there was nothing to evolve. Developers simply found new ways to present their narratives. Hand two: The audience didn't want them to evolve. Adventure fans are nothing if not nostalgic.

If you're going off my argument here, I'm not sure where fans/the audience come into it.

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #27 on: 09 May 2020, 13:34 »
I completely agree. And if I can be somewhat reductionist, it kind of leaves us with a two-handed answer to the question "Why didn't adventure games evolve?". Hand one: Because there was nothing to evolve. Developers simply found new ways to present their narratives. Hand two: The audience didn't want them to evolve. Adventure fans are nothing if not nostalgic.

If you're going off my argument here, I'm not sure where fans/the audience come into it.

I guess that was a reflection on my gripe about us fans? Just to be clear, I don't think the fans are actually influencing developers to make bad adventure games (except possibly, in some small way, via Kickstarters). I mean that as long as our definitions are narrow and deliberately skewed in favour of the 90s, we're stuck. In reality, I think the genre has evolved - loads - but that isn't always acknowledged.

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #28 on: 11 May 2020, 00:52 »
Occasionally characters might not take the path I would have expected (and this could certainly be problematic in Sierra games where the path is sometimes strewn with deadly obstacles), but it was rare that they didn't go where I wanted them to. Things like unclear room edges/exits were much more prevalent in my experience.

It wasn't just a case of them not ending up where you wanted them, it was the designers of some games being insistent on the player character being in just the right spot before allowing a interaction to complete. Future Wars, by Delphine, is probably one of the worst offenders in this regards. I can't open a door because I'm two pixels left or right of the hotspot. It's simply inexcusable to make the player continuously inch towards the correct placement on screen, and not just move the character automatically. "Come a little closer!". No, script some damn path-finding you lazy sods! This isn't a play mechanic that's aged badly, is just terrible design. Seriously, I challenge anyone to play Future Wars, which is not necessarily a bad game - just one crippled by crappy design -, and not feel instant frustration.

Again, this is not an inherent fault with the classic point-and-click interface, just a bad design choice, and it varied from game to game. The history of the point-and-click interface is littered with bad design choices, from character speed, to path-finding, to room layout, etc. So much so, that it's difficult to separate developer incompetence from fundamental flaws (if any actually exist).

Is the point-and-click interface is fine, as long as all the bullshit is jettisoned and everything is designed well? I can't really argue with that. It's also an argument that can be made for any control system or interface. Which basically leaves us with our personal preference.

I will say that the Animation Arts' UI, used in the Secret Files games, is an example of what I would consider a good implementation of a "modern" point-and-click interface. A lot of things are automated (including the aforementioned player speed and path-finding), and interactions are contextual. The games themselves are rather bland, but I can't really fault how they play.

If you're going off my argument here, I'm not sure where fans/the audience come into it.

Well, your description of a hypothetical lazy developer seemed to imply that innovation wasn't needed as the audience liked the thing over and over again. Apologies if I misread that. My point still stands, though; (some very vocal) adventure fans like their adventure games to be of a very specific flavour, and are quick to reject games that don't adhere to their tastes. Maybe it didn't have much impact on the direction adventure games took, but I think it certainly had an effect on the how we use the descriptive term "Adventure Game", and our need to add caveats when applying it.

In reality, I think the genre has evolved - loads - but that isn't always acknowledged.

Sure, when we don't insist on the aforementioned narrow definition, we see lots off interesting new approaches to adventure games. But if we want to talk about the evolution of the point-and-click adventure game (of a very particular ilk), which is what most of these debates eventually seem to boil down to, we'll find ourselves arguing in circles.

Because, and to elaborate on what I said earlier, maybe these point-and-click games couldn't evolve, and could only be refined. Maybe, once you remove all the (alleged) faults and bottlenecks from the point-and-click interface, you're simply left with...a better point-and-click interface, which I'll gladly accept.

Evolution means change, and change isn't want the people who ask this question actually want. The should really be asking "Why did these games stop being made?"

Tastes changed (a whole other debate!). Publishers decided adventure games were done, and studios stopped developing them.

Evolution be damned.
« Last Edit: 11 May 2020, 00:56 by LimpingFish »
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #29 on: 14 May 2020, 10:44 »
I'm not sure for how long this debate will go on being fun, but I've had this response sitting around half-finished for a couple of days, so might as well post it.

Future Wars, by Delphine, is probably one of the worst offenders in this regards. I can't open a door because I'm two pixels left or right of the hotspot. It's simply inexcusable to make the player continuously inch towards the correct placement on screen, and not just move the character automatically. "Come a little closer!". No, script some damn path-finding you lazy sods! This isn't a play mechanic that's aged badly, is just terrible design. Seriously, I challenge anyone to play Future Wars, which is not necessarily a bad game - just one crippled by crappy design -, and not feel instant frustration.

Oh sorry. I didn't realize that when discussing "classic point-and-click mechanics," what we were talking about was the 1989 game Future Wars by French developer Delphine.  ;)

Again, this is not an inherent fault with the classic point-and-click interface, just a bad design choice, and it varied from game to game. The history of the point-and-click interface is littered with bad design choices, from character speed, to path-finding, to room layout, etc. So much so, that it's difficult to separate developer incompetence from fundamental flaws (if any actually exist).

Isn't it logically the other way around? If all games were exactly the same, it wouldn't be possible to tell whether the whole paradigm was fundamentally flawed or they'd just made some bad design choices. Having variation lets us distinguish those things. Flaws specific to certain games/choices, like those in Future Wars, are clearly not general problems of point-and-click adventures since other games that made different choices don't suffer from them. But if we look at the best examples, we can see what the "fundamental flaws" of the mechanics are, if any.

Is the point-and-click interface is fine, as long as all the bullshit is jettisoned and everything is designed well? I can't really argue with that. It's also an argument that can be made for any control system or interface. Which basically leaves us with our personal preference.

I don't know that I believe that argument can be made for any control system or interface (depending on how much work we're willing to let "everything is designed well" do).

But even if we grant that: Aren't you now conceding the entire argument? If it's just a matter of personal preference, there is no basis for calling the classic mechanic "outdated"; just not to your personal taste.

Sure, when we don't insist on the aforementioned narrow definition, we see lots off interesting new approaches to adventure games. But if we want to talk about the evolution of the point-and-click adventure game (of a very particular ilk), which is what most of these debates eventually seem to boil down to, we'll find ourselves arguing in circles.

Because, and to elaborate on what I said earlier, maybe these point-and-click games couldn't evolve, and could only be refined. Maybe, once you remove all the (alleged) faults and bottlenecks from the point-and-click interface, you're simply left with...a better point-and-click interface, which I'll gladly accept.

I'm honestly having a hard time following the logic of this argument. It seems like the biggest concrete criticism you've made of the classic adventure game paradigm is that they're not direct control. And, well, the point-and-click UI is not direct control. Certainly many modern adventure games do use direct control, but it doesn't seem possible for point-and-click games to "evolve" into direct control and remain point-and-click games. So if you're restricting the scope of discussion to only point-and-click games and interrogating them to see if they've "evolved" into some other UI, that's clearly begging the question.

But I'm also mystified with the insistence that the fundamental control scheme must change. Have 2D platformers changed their basic control scheme in… oh, nearly forty years, or has it just been "refined"? There is quite a lot of UI variation within point-and-click UIs, and arguably more evolution, from the verb-coin/two-button/one-button control style to inventory controls to dialog control to camera style to how to get feedback on the world.

Evolution means change, and change isn't want the people who ask this question actually want.

Asking what question? What people? Do you mean Babar?

The should really be asking "Why did these games stop being made?"

Tastes changed (a whole other debate!). Publishers decided adventure games were done, and studios stopped developing them.

I tend to find the decades-long obsession with this question rather tedious. Talk about adventure gamers being backwards-looking!

Of course, first of all, adventure games never stopped being made.

But adventure games ranking as one of the most prominent genres on PC was clearly historically contingent: they were able to take advantage of some of the PC hardware capabilities more effectively (and less hampered by its limitations) than other genres, in ways that were impressive for the time. (Myst and the whole FMV sub-genre making use of CD-ROM is the obvious example.) When that was no longer the case, and the genre struggled to incorporate new developments (3D graphics, online gaming, console versions of most AAA releases), it fell from that position, and many of the studios that had been built on that either collapsed or pivoted.

And yeah, that led to a drought of major/successful/good adventure games, but only from about 1999 (though there were some holdovers from the 90s boom that came out that year, including The Longest Journey, Gabriel Knight 3 and Discworld Noir) to about 2004. And even in that fallow period you had games like Syberia, some solid Nancy Drew titles, Samorost, and players managing to convince themselves that Runaway was a good game.

Ever since the comeback (on a more suitable, modest scale), the genre/industry has been pretty stable—aside from the breakout success of The Walking Dead. That's sixteen years, longer than the whole period between King's Quest I and Grim Fandango!

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #30 on: 15 May 2020, 00:27 »
I'm not sure for how long this debate will go on being fun...

Well, I seemed to have killed the thread...not sure why, though. :-D

Oh sorry. I didn't realize that when discussing "classic point-and-click mechanics," what we were talking about was the 1989 game Future Wars by French developer Delphine.  ;)

Which why I said "one of the the worst offenders", while holding it up as an example of the kind of poor execution that can highlight some possible design pitfalls when using a traditional (or derivative of) point-and-click interface. Of course, certain UIs are obviously better than others, and I'm not saying point-and-click is crap because X game is crap. But in my opinion, most point-and-click interfaces share the same DNA, and should be considered when discussing the "genre", regardless of proliferation or age. Perhaps you find that too wide of a net to cast, or unfair, but it's just the way I look at it.

I don't know that I believe that argument can be made for any control system or interface (depending on how much work we're willing to let "everything is designed well" do).

Then we just disagree on this point. But, I'd like to add a "within reason" to my original point, as I'm not going to argue that a control system that requires you to kick a small dog against your keyboard is anything other than a bad interface. :)

But even if we grant that: Aren't you now conceding the entire argument? If it's just a matter of personal preference, there is no basis for calling the classic mechanic "outdated"; just not to your personal taste.

Well, my argument was never wholly based on the point-and-click interface being universally redundant, and I made it clear that various points of my argument where indeed just personal opinions and preferences. Having said that, I do believe that there is no place for certain aspects of these interfaces in modern game design except for nostalgia's sake. I don't think I can add anything else to that point without repeating myself.

It seems like the biggest concrete criticism you've made of the classic adventure game paradigm is that they're not direct control. And, well, the point-and-click UI is not direct control.

No, I said that direct control could make more sense, in certain cases, and that it was a personal preference of mine. And I gave examples of those titles I though played better with direct control. I never argued that direct-control was universally better (at least, I don't think I did), or that we should apply that argument to all adventure games throughout history.

Of course, first of all, adventure games never stopped being made.

In so much as they stopped being commercially viable for industry leaders, to the point that they ceased to make them. Yes, developers were trying new things with FMV (much of Sierra's later output, for example), but these were, I think, even more prone to creative/design bottlenecks and hampered by the limitations of format. I'd also argue against these being attempts to evolve the genre (not that you were), and more of an attempt to plug the holes in a sinking ship. Regardless, adventures fell out of favor. This wasn't down to lack of (or even a need for) evolution (and I don't think I previously argued that it was), but to changing market tastes. Of course, as you say, they didn't disappear entirely, but they certainly became more niche and far less likely to trouble the top of the sales charts. At least, until the mid 2000s or so.

-and the genre struggled to incorporate new developments...

I don't know if they struggled, or if the desire to fund them just wasn't there, seeing as the sales weren't. We have 3D adventures today that cope perfectly well with point-and-click, though, so we can't argue (again, not that you were) any incompatibilities between traditional point-and-click values and modern game technology.

At this point, I'll admit to possibly tripping over my own arguments as this thread has wore on, so I'll sum up with these points (opinions):

I believe that modern point-and-click adventure games adhere to certain mechanics out of nostalgia rather than efficient design. I believe that any "evolution" (if required) of the point-and-click adventure (which means different things to different people), may negate a large portion of what some may consider essential elements of the genre. And I believe that optimum refined examples of the point-and-click interface currently exist (and serve their purpose perfectly well), which I admit to preferring over classic or traditional examples, and which I see as the best path forward for future point-and-click adventure development.

But I also believe that some fans conflate "point-and-click" and "adventure" to a detrimental degree, and that some games would indeed be better not being point-and-click.

And that's it, I suppose. :)
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #31 on: 15 May 2020, 07:00 »
I think I flatly disagree with your analysis of what happened in the late nineties/turn of the millennium. You seem to argue that people lost interest because the genre had gone stale, and that this led to less investment which caused it to fall behind technologically. I believe it had nothing to do with the genre being "stale" (apart perhaps from a backlash against FMV games), and all to do with technology.

As for 3D, there's obviously been huge progress: just because we can do something today doesn't mean it could be done (design or technology-wise) in 1999–2000. Look at games like Gabriel Knight 3, Escape from Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer 3D. One thing they have in common: they are hideously ugly and awkward (and were considered so even at the time), because of 3D.

But again, I don't find that part of the discussion very interesting.

I believe that modern point-and-click adventure games adhere to certain mechanics out of nostalgia rather than efficient design.

Like what?

I believe that any "evolution" (if required) of the point-and-click adventure (which means different things to different people), may negate a large portion of what some may consider essential elements of the genre.

Such as?

And I believe that optimum refined examples of the point-and-click interface currently exist (and serve their purpose perfectly well), which I admit to preferring over classic or traditional examples

For example?

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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #32 on: 16 May 2020, 01:58 »
I think I flatly disagree with your analysis of what happened in the late nineties/turn of the millennium.

That's absolutely fine. It's just my take on it.

Gaming tastes changed, publishers stopped green-lighting adventures, developers who specialized in adventures either made fewer of them, which lesser budgets, or tried migrating to other genres. I don't think we disagree much on that.

As for 3D, there's obviously been huge progress: just because we can do something today doesn't mean it could be done (design or technology-wise) in 1999–2000. Look at games like Gabriel Knight 3, Escape from Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer 3D. One thing they have in common: they are hideously ugly and awkward (and were considered so even at the time), because of 3D.

Those 3D adventures that you mention, though, with possibly the exception of Escape from Monkey Island (which is not nearly as much of a disaster as those other two), which were produced at a time when the (traditional) adventure was (supposedly) dead, and when publishers would have been eyeing other genres and technologies, I feel strengthen my argument, seeing as the reasons they probably turned out so badly was down to budget constraints and developer incompetence, rather than an inability for that tech to work as intended.

The three titles you mentioned were released in 1999, 2000, and 2002, a post-Half Life world. The Playstation 2 (!) launched right in the middle of this period. 3D tech was at a perfectly acceptable level during this time. So to argue that, while we have fine 3D adventures today, the technology was somehow against them being good back then (if this is indeed what you're arguing) isn't something I can get behind. Design doesn't even come into it, I feel, as the modern 3D adventures I consider "good" do nothing spectacular in that department.

In fact, if we look beyond the PC (and the English speaking world), we see plenty of 3D adventures, sometimes even incorporating a point-and-click interface, coming out of Japan during this period (and even earlier). Playstation 1 games such as Flower, Sun, and Rain, The Silver Case, Mizzurna Falls, Aconcagua, the Twilight Syndrome series, and the Clock Tower series, just to name a few, are all recognizably adventure games (Clock Tower's Playstation sequels, like the original SNES title, sport point-and-click interfaces and inventory puzzles, as does Acongagua). And while nobody could claim the Playstation was cutting edge technology (it was what it was), and while these games may visually look as bad, if not worse, than the titles you mentioned, it has little bearing (to me) on  their ability to entertain or on their developers ability to make a worthwhile game.

The only reason the games you mentioned were bad, in my eyes, was largely down to budget (impacted by lack of sales and changing tastes) or ineptitude (with maybe a dash of developer reluctance).

But again, I don't find that part of the discussion very interesting.

That's unfortunate, as I find it fascinating, and an important part of the debate. Fair enough, though.

I believe that modern point-and-click adventure games adhere to certain mechanics out of nostalgia rather than efficient design.

Like what?

Well...I could say most of them, but that's a bit silly. Specific examples? I don't know...the last Broken Sword game? Moebius: Empire Rising? Any kickstarted adventure game that promised it was bringing back the feel of "the classics!"? And one that did it on purpose: Thimbleweed Park. Even titles I consider perfectly fine otherwise!

Whether this is a bad thing is, of course, down to the individual.

I believe that any "evolution" (if required) of the point-and-click adventure (which means different things to different people), may negate a large portion of what some may consider essential elements of the genre.

Such as?

Can I say the pointing and the clicking? :-D Seriously, though, I did say "may" negate, rather than "will", but everything that you would consider a "classic" adventure game to possess; from the limited interactions with a (usually) static enviroment, to the interface itself. That maybe to evolve you would be left with no other choice than to destroy. Feel free to disagree, as I don't expect everybody to see it this way, nor do I claim that it's how things should be. Just one possibility.

And I believe that optimum refined examples of the point-and-click interface currently exist (and serve their purpose perfectly well), which I admit to preferring over classic or traditional examples

For example?

As I said earlier, anything by Adventure Arts, for example, plays perfectly well, using a UI I consider closest to what I would desire in a modern take on traditional point-and-click interface. They manage to incorporate largely traditional inventory/environment puzzles, and familiar dialog systems, but within a streamlined experience. Having said that, they also play much like Syberia, which is almost twenty years old...

Maybe they're not so "modern". :-\

I think of anything post-Syberia as modern, a game that came out in 2002. Make of that what you will. It either means I'm way out of touch, or that I feel that certain point-and-click design templates have remained largely static for almost two decades.
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #33 on: 16 May 2020, 08:30 »
I believe that modern point-and-click adventure games adhere to certain mechanics out of nostalgia rather than efficient design.

Like what?

Well...I could say most of them, but that's a bit silly. Specific examples? I don't know...the last Broken Sword game? Moebius: Empire Rising? Any kickstarted adventure game that promised it was bringing back the feel of "the classics!"? And one that did it on purpose: Thimbleweed Park. Even titles I consider perfectly fine otherwise!

Whether this is a bad thing is, of course, down to the individual.

I was more looking for specific mechanics, but some game examples is a good starting point, certainly. I do think (based on second-hand impression: I've only played Thimbleweed Park and possibly some of the kickstarted games) that most of the games in that list are more backwards-looking than the average contemporary point-and-clicker:


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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #34 on: 16 May 2020, 16:42 »
Not sure a "best of" list would be fair as examples of average contemporary point & clickers, but even so, it's a bit telling that most of the best of Adventuregamers are rated average to mixed (metacritic critical and steam user scores), and they're mostly just as backward looking (unless you meant something else than "traditional point & click adventure game" by that).

I'm not sure I'm explaining my point very clearly. I guess I could say that it feels odd to me that there's this very particular strain of adventure games that have remained mechanically and structurally unchanged since the early 90s, and that strain makes up a significant portion of "adventure games" as a whole.
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #35 on: 16 May 2020, 19:56 »
Why is it strage? If players still want to play those kind of games? Would you not make them? Specially if you also like them?
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #36 on: 18 May 2020, 08:41 »
I don't know why some people think it's strange.
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Re: How do genres evolve?
« Reply #37 on: 18 May 2020, 15:17 »
I'm not sure I'm explaining my point very clearly. I guess I could say that it feels odd to me that there's this very particular strain of adventure games that have remained mechanically and structurally unchanged since the early 90s, and that strain makes up a significant portion of "adventure games" as a whole.
Because there's an audience for them.
And the only reason they appear to make up a significant portion of adventure games as a whole to you, is because you're a part of that audience.
In actual reality, they make up quite a small portion. That's like saying old fashioned Doom mods make up the majority of the FPS genre. Which you would probably think if you really got into the Doom mod scene (it's very active).
Trust me, things always seem more popular when you're part of the group that's really into it.