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Adventure game - puzzles = Click-thru story

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That's the problem, we do not live in the Grim Fandango era anymore. We have easy access to walkthroughs and a lot of the modern adventure games come with a progressive hint system. There's not that "fear" of gamers stuck for hours anymore.

A good point, although I personally feel very dissatisfied if I have to go look at a walkthrough to get the answer to a puzzle. I would have preferred more complex puzzles with an intelligent hint system, but that's not the solution they used for Broken Age. I imagine there must have been some rationale for not implementing hints, and that's a question I'd like to see addressed in a future episode of the documentary.

I think the main problem people are having is that in Broken Age, Double Fine has removed a lot of the artificial difficulty of adventure games. There is no pixel hunting or many of the other frustrating tropes of classic adventure games. By increasing usability have they made the game too easy? Should they increase the obfuscation of the puzzles to make it more "classic"? And even if they did would that be what people really wanted? I'm very interested to see what they do next.

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I imagine there must have been some rationale for not implementing hints, and that's a question I'd like to see addressed in a future episode of the documentary.

Well, they did include hints in the dialogues. But they come too easy. As long as I keep asking everybody everything, I stumble upon hints before I even discover the matching puzzle. If the dialogue evolved more, I would be fine with hints implemented mostly through dialogues.

What I really miss is being able to examine the world and the characters more freely/extensively and to get commentaries about those things from the perspective of Shay/Vella. It helps to see the world through their eyes and to understand the steps to solving a puzzle better.

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I should correct my phrasing. There are hints, but there is no hinting system. The hints are not optimized to the point where the player only receives them when they are stuck. I agree that the hint system could take the form of dialogues, but those dialogues should only be available when the player needs them.

I'd agree that the flavor text felt mostly impersonal and that there was seemingly a dearth of things to examine. My main problem is that I would sometimes solve puzzles by accident, which is something I haven't experienced in an adventure game before.

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I have to agree. It is very 'hand holdy' as someone else said. The Shay side of it was so bad and sooo obvious and boring I simply went back to the Vella side which seemed to have a better story lines and decent puzzles. I am very disappointed by the Shay side of the game. Where is the adventure? It is painfully obvious what is happening and I wish I had the option to choose to do something different. Or at some point have his side of the story explained better like Vella's was. At least with her I get what I am trying to do. The first part of Shay's game I felt like beating my head against the wall. It was more animation then game.

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It might be a little too easy, but not ridiculously so. As for everyone complaining about the game length, buy in for this game was 15 dollars, I think that's a pretty darned good deal for a 6-8 hour adventure.

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... not to mention, as people have said, that the obscurity and counter-intuitive nature of the puzzles of old school adventure games is probably a major part of what caused them to die out.

Right. You couldn't make them nowadays.

But that, as I understood, was exactly the reason Tim went to KS, wasn't it? He wanted to make an "old school" adventure game. I think even those exact words popped up. So yeah, I agree with the people before me. There should be weird, strange, bizarre puzzles that make you give up for half a day while you mull over the problem in your head. After all, the new, softer, stream-lined version of adventure games is something I can still buy today elsewhere.

Yeahh... it wasn't exactly communicated like that. The word 'old school' certainly was used, but then again, "do we even need puzzles?" was a question that was actually debated in the design phase. But the suggestion was absolutely there.

Those twenty years ago, Tim was REALLY good at that kind of puzzle design. And my expectation was that it would be an absolute given that whatever quarrels I'd have with the budget, the graphics or the release schedule, this would be the one secure area where everything would be great.

What seems to have happened now is that Double Fine has telltalized the adventure game. But the episodic story game is the latter's specialty and needs no copycats. And yet Broken Age seems to have turned out a 'story game', and to boot it's episodic as well. :(

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Have to agree with the OP. I haven't finished Act 1, but the puzzles (i wouldn't even call them that) are way too easy. Love the artstyle and sound though.

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The puzzle might be on the easy side but I definitely don't want a game you can't complete without a walkthrough guide or by trial and error combining everything in the inventory with everything else in the inventory and world.

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I would have liked a "look at" button. That's all. I don't need "push" "pick up" "open" "taste" et al options. Just "look". I like to look.

And obviously there actually being lots more things to "look at" or interact with too would be nice. Many of the screens were quite sparse. They could have done with being a bit busier.

The whole one-click-does-all thing...doesn't really work for me. There is such a thing as too simple, and I think they erred in this regard.

I still loved it, and will happily accept more of the same. But especially with puzzles this simple, "looking" is one of those traditional old-school adventure elements I think could have helped a lot.

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The story is fully comparable to any of the old adventures, the charm as well. The difficulty is actually not much lower than Full Throttle, it just streamlines some of the really dumb things about Full Throttle puzzle design. However, grimd fandango Monkey Island and Dott was indeed a lot more elaborate in puzzle design. With that said, this was a very enjoyable experience to me, that still required me to actually think.

I did remember Tim say that Act 2 ramps up the difficulty.

I mean I'M a person who even liked Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and some of the puzzle difficulty is psychotic, because the themes were exciting, I do like my difficulty. However, I was mostly lost in the world of this game, and I didn't get upset over it.

EDIT: I'm starting to read a bunch of really dumb suggestions in the comments now. Reducing the art budget doesn't automatically increase the design quality because omg more money. The actual quality of design is exceptional, because it feels natural and quite satisfying to run through the world and the events, you do feel involved. It was a conscious decision to go this way not any other way, which does sadden me.

ALSO ALSO, the midi soundtracks and "bad graphics" of the old Lucas games weren't cheap, and even when they were, they were worth a lot more than what they paid for them. Lucas games have exceptional art and music that we almost NEVER get these days, some of the highest quality stuff, in this department this game definitely delivered, thinking that doing that would've been cheap is completely insane. Hell pixel art is probably *more* expensive at this point, since digital painting pipelines are a lot more streamlined.

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I'd like to add my own curmudgeonly voice into the mix saying it was too easy. I audibly groaned every time someone gave me an item just by asking. "No! don't do that! make me work for it! make me figure out what I need to convince or trick them.

Like, I never got that classic "ah-ha!" moment where I sat back had to think about the problem, maybe even took a nap or went for a walk only to come back to the problem and figure it out and for a second, feel like the smartest guy in the world.

And for people saying that it might be too hard, within MINUTES of the game being out, people were on the forums asking for help, they could not wait a single second to try and figure it out on their own. And that's fine, my point is that the people who just want the story without puzzles have FAQs and forums and guides.

They didn't have that back with DOTT.

So yeah, good puzzles were a core part of the old school adventure game I thought was missing. Like a real fundamental part that just was not there. I'm not one of these people that wants like 12 verbs either, just some puzzles that let me exploit the world created in the interesting and innovative ways. I'm glad Broken Age exists but... Maybe I got my hopes up, maybe adventure games as they were are gone forever.

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I completely agree that it actually went AGAINST my grognard adventure-gamer instincts how often I got items by asking. It really felt like all you had to do was click the right dialogue option to get items most of the time.

"Can I have your ladder?"

"Sure!"

(near-literal quote)

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However, I think there is a measurable difference in the quality of story and puzzle creativity with this game, and Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, and Full Throttle. Have you played any of those? I was hoping for a game as difficult, and a story as layered, as those games had.

I think Broken Age's story holds up in comparison to earlier adventures, and in some ways surpasses them (play to the end of part 1 before you judge the story). But I do agree that there could have been more, somewhat more challenging puzzles.

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I completely agree that it actually went AGAINST my grognard adventure-gamer instincts how often I got items by asking. It really felt like all you had to do was click the right dialogue option to get items most of the time.

"Can I have your ladder?"

"Sure!"

(near-literal quote)

Hmm you're right. That definitely should have been a longer puzzle. That could have turned into a 3-stage fetch quest easily at least.

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Or like the Dead Eye God pyramid... SPOILERS...

SPOILERS

SPOILERS

...where they ask you a riddle, and everyone at that point of the game already has the solution to the riddle in their inventory. I understand that part of the joke is that it's a trivial riddle, but it would have been even funnier if the player had to bend over backwards to get this item, and yet it was actually just a trivial thing to the guards.

Really low-quality puzzle design for such a beautiful game.

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EDIT: I'm starting to read a bunch of really dumb suggestions in the comments now. Reducing the art budget doesn't automatically increase the design quality because omg more money.

I suggested reducing the art budget to increase the writing / story / puzzle design quality. You don't think this is feasible?

ALSO ALSO, the midi soundtracks and "bad graphics" of the old Lucas games weren't cheap, and even when they were, they were worth a lot more than what they paid for them. Lucas games have exceptional art and music that we almost NEVER get these days, some of the highest quality stuff, in this department this game definitely delivered, thinking that doing that would've been cheap is completely insane. Hell pixel art is probably *more* expensive at this point, since digital painting pipelines are a lot more streamlined.

Re: pixel art more expensive than digital painting found in Broken Age. This is absolutely not true. I don't want to follow this line too far, because without hard budget numbers we are both speculating. But one of their interns from Germany made a classic-Lucas pixel adventure game as a job application - did you get a chance to play it? There used to be a cheap, classic-Lucas pixeled adventure game on Double Fine's website, which consisted of helping Tim get ready to deliver a speech. Can't find it now. But I guarantee you the art budget for that free project doesn't even approach the art budget for even one scene in Broken Age. The graphics look visually stunning in Broken Age for a reason: the team spent time and effort to make a beautifully looking game.

And as for midi music. If you think hiring an orchestra is cheaper than hiring a guy to make midi music, I think you are arguing to be contrarian.

After playing Broken Age, I felt the game looked and sounded beautiful, with great voice acting. But the story was thin and the puzzles were non-existent. I still stand by my intuition that, when the game was being project managed, money allocated toward art and the other atmospherics could have been spent on story & puzzle design. I also want to emphasize that I'm not harping on this to be negative about this project. I love that the whole project was open for the documentary. I've been involved in several large projects, and I like to think critically about processes that make project management more successful. Which is probably of little interest to most people, but there it is.

EDIT: Found the game with Tim. Cheap graphics, midi sound. http://www.doublefine.com/games/host_master Frankly I would have been happier with this look of a game, with an engaging story and harder puzzles.

EDIT 2: Found the intern game. http://rickrocket.de/df/ Better graphics than the Tim game above. And still, no way the time spent on the art for these scenes is comparable to what was done with Broken Age.

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I still thought the game was pretty cool, but I did find the puzzle to be very easy, especially in Shay's segment. I got a tiny bit stuck on a thing or two in Vella's, but not even once in Shay's.

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2 1/2 hours to get thru Vella's level. I spent more time walking from point to point and talking to characters than I did actually thinking about what I needed to do.

The visuals are amazing. Bagel's art and style is so unique, that the game leaps off the screen. But that should be icing on the cake. Without any real puzzles in the game, Double Fine left out the cake, and there's just a bunch of icing.

I would have much rather had an 8-bit pixelated game with a compelling story and interesting, hard puzzles. Seems like the majority of the budget, time, and effort went to the art department. Pretty disappointing. I don't regret donating, and I'm glad to be a part of the Adventure game renaissance. Because of Double Fine, a new Tex Murphy adventure game was funded, as well as another Longest Journey game. But after playing the first half of this game, I hope those other games I donated to don't spend so much on art, and instead make games that make me think.

Yes this was my only grief with the game. The puzzles are simply too easy. :(

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I think a lot of people playing these games are not facturing in one critical part and that is their age. A lot of us got into adventure games a quite a young age, at least I did. Then most of those games were crazy hard (for me at least) not being a native english speaker getting anywhere in monkey island was a real feat! But I guess if monkey island came out now I would be much quicker in getting it.

That said I am really wondering how a 14 year old would appreciate this game, thinking of scope.

Btw I really like the game, it brought back a lot of good memories but more than that I think it is really a good and compelling story, can't wait for Act II!

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I think a lot of people playing these games are not facturing in one critical part and that is their age. A lot of us got into adventure games a quite a young age, at least I did. Then most of those games were crazy hard (for me at least) not being a native english speaker getting anywhere in monkey island was a real feat! But I guess if monkey island came out now I would be much quicker in getting it.

That said I am really wondering how a 14 year old would appreciate this game, thinking of scope.

Btw I really like the game, it brought back a lot of good memories but more than that I think it is really a good and compelling story, can't wait for Act II!

I think that is a fair point actually. But also something that can be tested quite easily. How long does an old school adventure take someone now, but only for those playing it for the first time? eg someone who never played one particular game when younger.

And

Is the time taken for an adult to finish broken age significantly lower for an adult than a child?

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It does compare with other new adventure games in length

my steam tells me

Broken Sword 5 pt 1

6.3 hrs on record

Broken Age Act I

4.0 hrs on record

Also keep in mind they are only pt 1s of the games, even in the older adventure games the difficulty goes up from act to act.

In my opinion of these 2 Broken Age would come out the winner (luckily it's not a fight) mostly because of art, originallity, compellingness, humor and the fuzzy feeling I got inside (and of course the totally awesome documentary)

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But the point is to compare the length to an old school adventure, not a new one.

Length doesn't really bother me anyway. If the puzzles were more difficult the length would have taken care of itself. Turn it off, go to sleep and try again tomorrow etc.

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But the point is to compare the length to an old school adventure, not a new one.

Length doesn't really bother me anyway. If the puzzles were more difficult the length would have taken care of itself. Turn it off, go to sleep and try again tomorrow etc.

It feels like they were trying to avoid the "got stuck" "google the solution" rationale. The turn it off, go to sleep, try again mentality isn't around that much any more :D

Btw I think it's to soon to complain about difficulty we're only halfway.

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It feels like they were trying to avoid the "got stuck" "google the solution" rationale. The turn it off, go to sleep, try again mentality isn't around that much any more :D

Btw I think it's to soon to complain about difficulty we're only halfway.

Yes it isnt around that much any more. But that's why the idea of an 'Old school' adventure resonated so much.

Good point about being halfway, the thing is there is the possibility that the whole thing is so easy because mareck and or some unknown actor in violas world is pulling the strings - and only now the challenge begins!

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Yeah, in light of how this game is proceeding so far, I probably wouldn't back another Double Fine adventure. I was hoping for a more challenging game like the classics. Not something that would appease the masses. I'm happy with it and I would probably have bought this if I didn't back it, but the point was to show that there is still a market for old-style adventure games. Not just to get the idea for one off the ground and try to tempt the entire gamer demographic with it. I also wouldn't back it because it probably wouldn't need it. There'll be enough people who'll want to go back for another go. If this hypothetical second adventure gets funded, is released, and it looks good I might throw down the money for it. But my point in backing this was for something more like the classics. If that's not going to happen next time, then I can sit that one out.

That said, we still have Act II to go so not making any hard judgments until we at least get that.

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SirComeStandChill, I take your point that what I'm expressing is an opinion and reasonable minds will differ.

However, I think there is a measurable difference in the quality of story and puzzle creativity with this game, and Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion, Grim Fandango, and Full Throttle. Have you played any of those? I was hoping for a game as difficult, and a story as layered, as those games had. Do you think Broken Age Act 1 is comparable to them? I'd be interested to hear what you think. I stand by my intuition that more money (as a %) was spent on art, music, and voice talent in Broken Age than in those other games, and I think the story and puzzles suffered as a result.

I will caveat this with the acknowledgement I haven't played Shay's level yet. I'll update the thread when I've finished the game tomorrow.

I definitely think the story holds up with those mentioned. Maybe not Grim Fandango, but definitely with the others. The dialogue, themes, characters and humor were all top notch in my opinion. I loved the game and I look forward to the second half. But, as with most others, I did find it a little too easy. The only part that I got stuck on was the guy hanging from the branch. The art, music and writing make up for it though.

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not being a native english speaker getting anywhere in monkey island was a real feat!

Hah, that reminds me. When I played Monkey Island, I only had a very basic grasp of English, and didn't understand any of the wordplays in the sword fights. So I wrote down all prompts, and by trial-and-error, found the corresponding answers. In the end, I had written down pages of prompts and their correct answers. Only to find out that when you get to the sword master, they're all different, and you have to do all of them all over again!

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