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adamyedlin

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I'm not. We've had too many short and easy games within the past ten years or so. I'm tired of it. Hard long games need to come back. You casual people have had your time. :P

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I don't understand the argument defending short games because we "don't have time anymore to play them". What in the world were we doing 20 years ago? Nothing? My father worked just as hard as I do today and still found time to play those really long games. I don't buy this new "busy lives" crap today's generation keeps spouting out. I rather believe the issue is one of lack of patience in a much faster paced society than it was 20 years ago.

I actually see those kinds of statements on lots of game forums, and the answer to you is: 20 years ago, we were kids/teenagers. Yes, we were doing nothing. Now we have jobs, families, responsibilities, et cetera. This is true for the majority of gamers; statistically, 20 years ago they were kids with nothing to occupy their time but games & now they're in their 30's and game in their free time.

I wouldn't mind more difficult puzzles, but I do object to the ways people here are asking for it: Please don't make ridiculous & illogical puzzles where I have to use every item on every clickable thing to figure it out. (Absurdity is welcome in the writing/story, not in the puzzle solutions.) Please don't add dozens of frustratingly useless hotspots to every screen/page/area; pixel hunting wasn't fun, and in combination with having to brute force the answer it just makes the whole experience grind to a halt. For the same reason, don't bring back the list of verbs. (Context-aware interactions, for the win!)

I think this game, though narrative-heavy, suffers from the same thing I've noticed in several other modern PnC adventures: I frequently saw that there was a puzzle, and found the solution, before I had any idea why I would do so. SPOILERS AHEAD: Golden eggs are collectible? Great, I'll collect them! ...I have all the eggs, now let me see if I can figure out something to do with them. Same with the bucket of sap. As soon as I talked to the tree I thought, "ooh, I can get some sap!", and I had no trouble working my way through getting the sap, and then I had to stop and wonder, "well now I've got the sap, what the heck is it for?" All through this game & other modern adventure games, the same thing: To my mind the 'puzzle' part is easy, and the narrative falls short of communicating why I'm solving the puzzle. Frequently in these games I'm going through the motions of solving something, wondering, "Why am I doing this? I can see that it's a puzzle, but the character has no reason to believe that solving this puzzle will advance their journey. Everything is backward!"

Much more than making the puzzles in Act II harder, I would love to see Double Fine address this problem of putting puzzles before narrative.

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If you would have read my post more closely you would have discovered that I was not talking about us as kids. I was talking about our parents. Despite popular opinion, it wasn't just kids who played computer games 20 years ago.

I also reject your term of "illogical". Illogical to you, maybe. And yes, some puzzles were ridiculous and illogical (GK3 apparently), but the ones I remember were perfectly logical. They just involved thinking outside the box sometimes or were drawn-out. I appreciate that. Just because it takes weeks to solve doesn't mean it's not fun.

I dislike the term "hotspots" used in adventure games. As if it's an expected feature. "Oh we can't have too many hotspots!" Adventures were all about exploration. The reason there were so man "hotspots" is the same reason that there were so many possible interactions with the parser interface: it gives the illusion of a truly large world where you can't just simply deduce the solution by trial and error because that's not how you're supposed to solve puzzles. The idea is to think of the game world as a logical reality and coming up with solutions in your head as opposed to discovering them by trial and error or by calculating the number of inventory items and hotspots there are and what would make the most sense in that limited list of combinations. It's completely missing the point. What you call illogical and convoluted I call realistic and truly challenging. The number of hotspots in an adventure game should be the furthest thing from the player's mind. Adventure games are not about the mechanics behind the puzzles, it's about solving what's in front of you, interacting with as many things as possible limited only by your imagination of what could work. Being obviously restricted to a set of inventory items or "hotspots" or even dialogue trees is not what adventure puzzles are about. At least not to me.

Adventures have been diluted. In more ways than one. They've been stripped down to a simple skeletal structure that is obvious and predictable as opposed to its much more tangible, meatier, and worthwhile experiences.

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If you would have read my post more closely you would have discovered that I was not talking about us as kids. I was talking about our parents. Despite popular opinion, it wasn't just kids who played computer games 20 years ago.

I understood what you were saying, I was simply explaining why you see this explanation/argument come up on forums, now. People aren't thinking about whether a prior generation of adults had more time for games, they're looking at their own lives and can see that they don't have the time they did 20 years ago. Just as you assume I didn't read what you wrote, and that your view is the only important one, so I must be an idiot for missing it, they are starting from a self-centered point of view and comparing things in their own experience. (At the same time, ignoring 2/3 of my post to make your own points again. See, we're all self-centered, even you!)

I also reject your term of "illogical". Illogical to you, maybe. And yes, some puzzles were ridiculous and illogical (GK3 apparently), but the ones I remember were perfectly logical. They just involved thinking outside the box sometimes or were drawn-out. I appreciate that. Just because it takes weeks to solve doesn't mean it's not fun.

Well, I recently played Machinarium for the first time, and [spoilerS:] at one point I had to throw a dead cat into a broken wind instrument to retrieve a sunflower seedling. If that seems logical to you, I would never want to play a game you designed, read a book your wrote, watch a movie you created, et cetera. It was another situation of putting the puzzles before the narrative, of course: I had the dead cat in my inventory because when I saw the live cat and its environment I thought, "Well, there's a puzzle here about getting that cat down. Better get to it." There was nothing about the broken wind instrument which communicated "go get a cat!" and the only reason I figured it out in the end was brute-forcing every item with every hotspot when I eventually ran out of other things to solve.

This is just one frustrating & recent example. The genre is full of similarly illogical "puzzles". To me, figuring out how to get the cat down was a satisfying puzzle, while figuring out to put the cat in the broken wind instrument was an illogical one—and a case of the narrative failing to drive the puzzles & solutions, to boot.

I dislike the term "hotspots" used in adventure games. As if it's an expected feature. "Oh we can't have too many hotspots!" Adventures were all about exploration. The reason there were so man "hotspots" is the same reason that there were so many possible interactions with the parser interface: it gives the illusion of a truly large world where you can't just simply deduce the solution by trial and error because that's not how you're supposed to solve puzzles. The idea is to think of the game world as a logical reality and coming up with solutions in your head as opposed to discovering them by trial and error or by calculating the number of inventory items and hotspots there are and what would make the most sense in that limited list of combinations. It's completely missing the point. What you call illogical and convoluted I call realistic and truly challenging. The number of hotspots in an adventure game should be the furthest thing from the player's mind. Adventure games are not about the mechanics behind the puzzles, it's about solving what's in front of you, interacting with as many things as possible limited only by your imagination of what could work. Being obviously restricted to a set of inventory items or "hotspots" or even dialogue trees is not what adventure puzzles are about. At least not to me.

Adventures have been diluted. In more ways than one. They've been stripped down to a simple skeletal structure that is obvious and predictable as opposed to its much more tangible, meatier, and worthwhile experiences.

Absolutely, the number of hotspots in the game should be the furthest thing from my mind. I should be immersed in the story and engaged by the puzzles, not bored out of my mind by the sheer number of things to click on. I've also recently been playing the Edna & Harvey games from Daedalic (out of order, but never mind that), and there I can hit spacebar to see all the hotspots—and after about a game and a half of using all four verbs on every hotspot, then every inventory item on every hotspot, half to hear all the clever writing and half because occasionally that's the only way to get all the information needed to solve the puzzles, I reached a point where walking into a new space I'd look around, see a lot of interesting details, then think "Ugh", hit spacebar, see a sea of hotspots, and quit the game. Because it wasn't Edna trying to escape the insane asylum, it was Edna walking into a room and talking to herself for half an hour, then walking into the next room and talking to herself for half an hour and picking up the one loose thing, then walking into the next room and talking to herself to half an hour until she saw the clue that sent us back to the first room for something we wouldn't have known about if we'd skipped the half hour of rambling. Look At. Pick Up. Talk To. Use. [inventory] Look At. Pick Up. Talk To. Use. [inventory]. Over and over, multiplied by the number of hotspots in the room. Not interesting, exhausting. Not immersive; a messy result of an out-dated interface style. (It would have been 4 times less awful with the Broken Age one-click context-aware interface; clicking everything once for an interesting observation seems fine, compared to four times (or more, in older games!).) I think there needs to be a balance between useful-to-story/puzzles and simply-world-building hotspots in a game, and in my opinion the useful hotspots should significantly outweigh the rest.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the old PnC adventures was that, if there was an item I could pick up, I knew there was a good use for it later. There was a use for everything, and by the end I would need to find and use everything. There was nothing extraneous in my inventory. This was glorious, funny, reassuring, and satisfying. If I had something and hadn't used it yet, I knew there were more puzzles ahead. When I was running out of things to use, I knew I was approaching the end of the game/sequence. If I had a puzzle I couldn't solve right away, I knew there was probably something someplace I hadn't discovered yet, and I ought to get back to exploring.

When I was younger, and there was no other option, sure I played parser games. Nowadays, despite my interest in interactive fiction, I refuse to play them. They're even worse than the limited-verb interfaces of the old point-and-click adventures, because you have to guess what verbs to use, and they're frequently programmed to accept a vast array of verbs. Ugh. What a waste of my time. Get on with the story & puzzles, already! Figuring out what exact word to use to satisfy the programmer is *not* the sort of puzzle I want to face. To you, it gives you the illusion of a large and detailed world. And you like that. Fine. To me, it gives me the frustration of an excessive possibility space and often a seemingly endless string of red herrings.

You, on the other hand, might like to look into projects like Versu—procedurally-generated conversation spaces with emergent gameplay giving the possibility of extreme depth and seemingly-limitless possibility for exploring the characters/stories.

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I admit to having to look stuff up a couple of times in each story, but I'm not an old-school adventure fan. I knew about the genre growing up, but I didn't get a chance to get into it until a couple of years ago. This stuff isn't old hat to me yet. I kind of liked how it was...approachable. Not frustratingly hard most of the time, but challenging enough so I really had to try several different things. Even if you know what won't work, though, giving the wrong item to an NPC is fun, because I like hearing what they have to say. I knew Tim programmed in a lot of lines in Psychonauts like that, some of which you couldn't get to without cheating.

It was charming, it made me smile, and I think Act 1 cuts off at a place that leaves you really anticipating more. I liked it. Although the ending did give me an "Oh God, what have I done..." sort of feel. I'm curious to see how this plays out for Shay and Vella now that they're in the situations they're in.

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I understood what you were saying, I was simply explaining why you see this explanation/argument come up on forums, now. People aren't thinking about whether a prior generation of adults had more time for games, they're looking at their own lives and can see that they don't have the time they did 20 years ago. Just as you assume I didn't read what you wrote, and that your view is the only important one, so I must be an idiot for missing it, they are starting from a self-centered point of view and comparing things in their own experience. (At the same time, ignoring 2/3 of my post to make your own points again. See, we're all self-centered, even you!)

Why the hostility? I didn't call you an idiot or say that my view is the only important one. Also, I did read your entire post. I still don't understand why you replied to ME with an explanation that never had anything to do with me. Anyway, it doesn't really matter.

This is just one frustrating & recent example. The genre is full of similarly illogical "puzzles". To me, figuring out how to get the cat down was a satisfying puzzle, while figuring out to put the cat in the broken wind instrument was an illogical one—and a case of the narrative failing to drive the puzzles & solutions, to boot.

Adventures are not all about narrative, at least not by everyone's standards. I've never played Machinarium so I can't really comment on it, and I don't care to read the spoilers as I might play it someday.

Absolutely, the number of hotspots in the game should be the furthest thing from my mind. I should be immersed in the story and engaged by the puzzles, not bored out of my mind by the sheer number of things to click on. I've also recently been playing the Edna & Harvey games from Daedalic (out of order, but never mind that), and there I can hit spacebar to see all the hotspots—and after about a game and a half of using all four verbs on every hotspot, then every inventory item on every hotspot, half to hear all the clever writing and half because occasionally that's the only way to get all the information needed to solve the puzzles, I reached a point where walking into a new space I'd look around, see a lot of interesting details, then think "Ugh", hit spacebar, see a sea of hotspots, and quit the game. Because it wasn't Edna trying to escape the insane asylum, it was Edna walking into a room and talking to herself for half an hour, then walking into the next room and talking to herself for half an hour and picking up the one loose thing, then walking into the next room and talking to herself to half an hour until she saw the clue that sent us back to the first room for something we wouldn't have known about if we'd skipped the half hour of rambling. Look At. Pick Up. Talk To. Use. [inventory] Look At. Pick Up. Talk To. Use. [inventory]. Over and over, multiplied by the number of hotspots in the room. Not interesting, exhausting. Not immersive; a messy result of an out-dated interface style. (It would have been 4 times less awful with the Broken Age one-click context-aware interface; clicking everything once for an interesting observation seems fine, compared to four times (or more, in older games!).) I think there needs to be a balance between useful-to-story/puzzles and simply-world-building hotspots in a game, and in my opinion the useful hotspots should significantly outweigh the rest.

All this just proves my point that you're entirely missing the point and why you shouldn't be focusing on hotspots and the number of possible interactions. You don't HAVE to interact with all those hotspots, you GET to. There's freedom. It's not overwhelming, it's a challenge! Reality doesn't have any hotspots and the number of combinations are infinite when solving problems. This is what adventure games (classic ones) were trying to emulate; a world where anything is possible. People enjoy solving real world problems and are proud of it. This is what adventure games were achieving. Parser games furthered this by providing an insane number of interactions trying to predict what the player might try to type in. You were never supposed to go into an adventure game thinking "oh dear God look at all these objects....these puzzles are going to be insane". You're playing for the wrong reasons. You were supposed to go in thinking "Wow this is a truly expansive world. Look at all this cool stuff! I wonder what I could try! Hmm a puzzle, now what should I do here. Oh! I saw this object back in that other room maybe it can help! Nope not that hmmm...oh this object might combine with this one! And what if I push this...yes! This will work to help that first puzzle!!" That's the excitement that is gone from adventure games now.

Adventures shouldn't be a game of minesweeper where everything in the room needs to be examined, pushed, pulled, opened, closed, interacted with every inventory item, talked to, spit on, kicked, trampled under, or headbanged. Or in other words, every single possible interactive outcome eliminated as the possible solution. That causes you to think of adventure games in a very mechanical and boring way. Of course there are so many things in the world! Of course there are so many "hotspots"! Of course the sheer number of them is overwhelming. But you're not supposed to go in taking account of every single one and ruling them all out. Not everything is meant to help you. And they're not there solely for the sake of misdirection. They are there for expanding the world into a perceived limitless number of possible options. They are every one of them potential tools to advance your journey. Maybe some work maybe some don't. You're looking at the man behind the curtain by trying to figure out the purpose of them all. You're missing the point. I say Bring on the convolution!

One of the things I really enjoyed about the old PnC adventures was that, if there was an item I could pick up, I knew there was a good use for it later. There was a use for everything, and by the end I would need to find and use everything. There was nothing extraneous in my inventory. This was glorious, funny, reassuring, and satisfying. If I had something and hadn't used it yet, I knew there were more puzzles ahead. When I was running out of things to use, I knew I was approaching the end of the game/sequence. If I had a puzzle I couldn't solve right away, I knew there was probably something someplace I hadn't discovered yet, and I ought to get back to exploring.

I disagree. Knowing that everything has a use is no fun at all. It's too easy. Too easy to succeed. Although, I come from the Sierra sect of adventures and I'm used to being able to fail (something else I vehemently fight for).

When I was younger, and there was no other option, sure I played parser games. Nowadays, despite my interest in interactive fiction, I refuse to play them. They're even worse than the limited-verb interfaces of the old point-and-click adventures, because you have to guess what verbs to use, and they're frequently programmed to accept a vast array of verbs. Ugh. What a waste of my time. Get on with the story & puzzles, already! Figuring out what exact word to use to satisfy the programmer is *not* the sort of puzzle I want to face. To you, it gives you the illusion of a large and detailed world. And you like that. Fine. To me, it gives me the frustration of an excessive possibility space and often a seemingly endless string of red herrings.

See? You've missed the point again. The idea is to provide potential limitless possibilities! Stop searching for the programmer's intentions. Look at the world and try to discover a way to solve the problems that arise in it. Stop thinking about the programmer or the designer. Stop looking behind the curtain. Don't just solve the game, experience the world. The very things people like you complain about are the very things that made adventures so fun for me. I don't think that knowing I'm in control of the game world and that I can't fail is fun. I like being at the mercy of it and overcoming it, seemingly to you, against all odds. That's the real joy I miss!

You, on the other hand, might like to look into projects like Versu—procedurally-generated conversation spaces with emergent gameplay giving the possibility of extreme depth and seemingly-limitless possibility for exploring the characters/stories.

I just might. But the only problem is that a human is that it would be very difficult for a coherent story to come about because it's all being generated by a computer. Yes, I do care about story as well as puzzles. I believe they both can work. Story does not take a higher seat. They need balance. A lot of older adventures achieved this just fine, but people aren't happy with it anymore.

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Not that I've "missed the point", but that different people come to experiences with different expectations, pass through them with different perceptions and value judgements, and come out of them with different views and opinions.

You like things one way, I like them another, and that's fine.

The things I'm getting frustrated by in Daedalic games sound like the sort of thing which would be right up your alley—I recommend you give them a shot. Lots of irrelevant things to click on and combine, occasional illogical puzzles, though unfortunately (for you) no death penalty that I've come across so far.

The things which frustrate you (and some others) about Broken Age are things I find to be significant improvements in the genre. Context-aware interaction (rather than a verb list), limits on the proportion of irrelevant clickables, no need to save frequently (or at all) and go back to old saves because of missed opportunities/items, and beautifully implemented high-resolution graphics.

I think we would both agree that the puzzles in Act I were not as challenging as we would have hoped, and that we would like to see more challenging puzzles in Act II. However, I would certainly not like to see artificial challenge (or extended playtime) created through the addition of red herrings, meaningless hotspots, or illogical solutions. As it was, I only got into the pyramid through brute-forcing every possible item on the guards; I do not know how I was supposed to understand the solution before reaching it. I hope there is not more of that sort of "riddle" in Act II.

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Not that I've "missed the point", but that different people come to experiences with different expectations, pass through them with different perceptions and value judgements, and come out of them with different views and opinions.

You like things one way, I like them another, and that's fine.

Absolutely. I'm saying that people like you have had adventures the way you've wanted them for too long. It's our turn to have them back. :P

The things I'm getting frustrated by in Daedalic games sound like the sort of thing which would be right up your alley—I recommend you give them a shot. Lots of irrelevant things to click on and combine, occasional illogical puzzles, though unfortunately (for you) no death penalty that I've come across so far.

The things which frustrate you (and some others) about Broken Age are things I find to be significant improvements in the genre. Context-aware interaction (rather than a verb list), limits on the proportion of irrelevant clickables, no need to save frequently (or at all) and go back to old saves because of missed opportunities/items, and beautifully implemented high-resolution graphics.

I know I've covered all of this so I'm not going to repeat myself for argument's sake, but merely in observation and further understanding of what the disparity of our respective tastes actually means. You're listing the aspects of an adventure game like a laundry list that needs to be checked off. You've figured out the science of it. You've looked behind the curtain. The magic and wonder is gone. Things like "irrelevant clickables", "frequent saves", "context-aware interaction", "illogical puzzles", etc. While I merely refer to all of those things as simply "all the things I can do".

In light of this illuminating personal revelation, I'm not going to be analyzing adventure games anymore. That's not what they were meant to be. I don't want to know that King's Quest I was simply a 3-stage treasure hunt and that accomplishing these three tasks = beat the game. Or that collecting all of the extra treasures in Daventry along the way = full points. All of this should be invisible to the player. I don't want to understand that ***SPOILERS*** Shay's tasks are another 3-part treasure hunt in a non-linear hub setting or that Vella's story is a linear progression through locales that you complete stage-by-stage with a couple loose ends linking them together somewhat. It reduces the experience to a very procedural and mechanical "process of elimination" game. Like solitaire or something. I'd honestly rather be overwhelmed by all the hotspots than have it all figured out.

I think we would both agree that the puzzles in Act I were not as challenging as we would have hoped, and that we would like to see more challenging puzzles in Act II. However, I would certainly not like to see artificial challenge (or extended playtime) created through the addition of red herrings, meaningless hotspots, or illogical solutions. As it was, I only got into the pyramid through brute-forcing every possible item on the guards; I do not know how I was supposed to understand the solution before reaching it. I hope there is not more of that sort of "riddle" in Act II.

I hope there is. :) You see in that instance, there should have been far more objects to interact with or inventory items to hold. Because then you would be forced to solve the riddle with your brain, not cheat out of it with brute force.

To each his own. May the best playing style win.

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I know I've covered all of this so I'm not going to repeat myself for argument's sake, but merely in observation and further understanding of what the disparity of our respective tastes actually means. You're listing the aspects of an adventure game like a laundry list that needs to be checked off. You've figured out the science of it. You've looked behind the curtain. The magic and wonder is gone. Things like "irrelevant clickables", "frequent saves", "context-aware interaction", "illogical puzzles", etc. While I merely refer to all of those things as simply "all the things I can do".

In light of this illuminating personal revelation, I'm not going to be analyzing adventure games anymore. That's not what they were meant to be.

(cut for clarity in my response)

Ah, but this sort of "look behind the curtain" and analysis of how [adventure] games are made is a big part of what we were funding in the Kickstarter. I know that, two years on, a lot of people have revised their memories of what the Kickstarter was about, but the original opening paragraph of the project description was all about "What really happens behind the closed doors of a development studio".

By the time all is said and done, my pledge will have paid for twice as many hours of documentary footage as hours of gameplay—which is roughly what they originally expected & offered. Their original pitch was six to eight months working on a much smaller game (think 1/4 the size of Broken Age, or half of Act I, so 1-2 hours gameplay) and to have monthly documentary episodes (which, at 1/2hr each, is at least 3-4 hours).

"Figuring out the science of it" and "looking behind the curtain" is 2/3 of what I was paying for, when I backed, and 2/3 of what they were offering, when they posted the project.

But I'm glad you figured out that part doesn't make you happy, so you'll know not to look into projects like this in the future... ;)

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They never really dwelt on how they came up with puzzles, though. It was more about what goes into the process of designing a game at Double Fine rather than what goes into designing specifically an adventure game. I don't know about you but I couldn't walk away from this documentary with full knowledge on how to design an adventure game. I don't really agree that's what the documentary was all about. They mentioned a few anecdotes a couple times, but it was more of a passing comment than anything else from what I remember. I loved the documentary. It was very informative, just not in the way of adventure game design specifically from my point of view.

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Not to say that I got what I paid for, but to reiterate what they were offering, and what I wanted from the project. Their insistence on not spoiling the story & puzzles meant that after about 1/3 of the way into the documentary, the episodes' content became almost not-at-all about the game and its direct development. I was much happier with, say, 2012's Amnesia Fortnight videos, which pulled no punches in showing actual development from start to finish.

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