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Adventure game - puzzles = Click-thru story

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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.

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i personally felt that alot of the puzzles were very challenging, and I liked the story so far. I don't think I had a hard time because I'm dumb, I just think people think and process information in different ways. As for the story, whether you found it well written or not is completely subjective to your taste in writing and themes.

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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.

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i figure act 1 was more a warm up or introduction for newbies and act 2 is where they'll bust out the serious brainteasers.

though even act 2 is like act 1 in terms of difficulty i wouldn't mind too much. it kind of reminds me of portal in that it puts up just enough resistance to be fun but not so much to ever be frustrating (in my experience).

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The puzzles were definitely easy. I took 3 hours to get through the entire game, and that was stopping to examine every object and explore every dialogue tree, so I wasn't skimming through the experience. I was hoping for more challenge. At least towards the end. There was only one moment where I became somewhat stuck and that was in the final moments of Vella's arc. But I quickly discovered the answer. Through my time-honoured tried and true tradition of obsessively exploring every possible nook and cranny, I discovered almost every object that I required before I actually needed to use it. I do hope that Act 2 has more challenging puzzles, but I did expect that things would be easier to appeal to a somewhat wider audience. That said, it wasn't TellTale stupid easy. I think it was a perfect in between, if there can actually be one.

But please, Double Fine, please please make at least your next adventure more challenging and longer if Act 2 will not be. I never expected it here, which is why I'm not extremely disappointed, but I do long for it....please...

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Adventure games aren't solely about puzzles, but obviously they're the actual game mechanic. If you were expecting old fashioned, Sierra-style adventure game puzzles, I think you are (a) crazy and (b) seriously looking at the past with rose-colored goggles. Remember that adventure games died in part due to the emergence of twitchy shooters and RPGs that dominated video game industry for over a decade, but also because they ended up with puzzles so obscure that you essentially had to have an absolutely twisted mind in order to solve those things.

One might recall at the height of the absurdity, Gabriel Knight 3 had a puzzle requiring you to make a disguise using cat hair as a mustache and maple syrup to attach it to you.. even though the person you are trying to disguise yourself as didn't actually have a mustache. Old Man Murray had a pretty classic rundown of this: http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/77.html

And, of course, King's Quest (along with other early Sierra games) would murder you in thousands of different ways for no discernible reason and allow you to get stuck and unable to complete the game because you failed to retrieve an item two screens from the beginning - and of course, that area is now inaccessible to you. This was, of course, was done to expand the amount of time you'd spend playing a game despite minimal actual content (the original King's Quest can be beaten in under 15 minutes if you know the solution) as well as generate healthy revenues for Sierra via their 900 number tip line.

So, are the puzzles in Broken Age too easy? Maybe. If you're an experienced adventure gamer and you actually solved Gabriel Knight 3's mustache puzzle, you probably didn't find anything in Broken Age very difficult. I found some of the puzzles to be rather clever (the starmap puzzle), a few that were based on happening to spot a clickable object (the stool puzzle), and a few that served as dead easy introductory puzzles.

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It's a faster-paced version of the adventure game. Faster pace needs easier/more streamlined puzzles. It will probably appeal to a wider audience.

I hope they beef it up in part 2. The whole getting stuck/overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to do thing is probably outdated, though.

(screams in pillow)

I agree - as an adventure game noob (relatively), I found this much more enjoyable than some of the old classics - namely, Monkey Island. That game was definitely funny, and maybe my brain just doesn't work the "adventure game" kind of way, but I couldn't get through it, it was just too tough for me too early on, and I gave up and am missing out on a great experience. So I think at least act 1 did have to play it soft to not beat up the average player too much. Remember, a lot of people who supported this game are longtime adventure game fans who have a knack for puzzles, a lot of younger players out there these days didn't grow up with those.

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I disagree. I believe adventure games are all about puzzles and story together. Yes together. Perfectly balanced. Too many games are not and spend too much time on story. The story in this game is great. I wish the puzzles were better. But not everyone likes hard puzzles anymore and that's a shame. But do honestly believe that a good adventure spends as much time on puzzles as it does story. Otherwise it's just not an adventure.

What I hope this game DOES do is introduce the concept of adventure gaming slowly to newcomers who can learn to grasp it more easily and then continue on to the meat and potatoes of adventure gaming! It's what I was expecting Telltale to do, but they just got worse not better. Hopefully Double Fine doesn't make the same mistake, if not with Act 2, with a (hopefully) second adventure game.

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Welp,

I wouldn't compare Broken Age to Sierra games, as Tim Shafer wasn't a part of those. He was involved in Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion 2, and Ron Gilbert was involved in Monkey Island. Those are the games I mentioned above. I think of Shafer as a director. If the Coen brothers went on Kickstarter to make a movie, I'd expect a Coen brother movie, not a Michael Bay movie because Coen movies don't sell. And I thought the premise of the whole Kickstarter was to reach out to Adventure game fans to make a classic game form that publishers won't fund ... not make a neutered game that would be more commercial. So I don't really buy the premise of your argument.

If you were to compare Broken Age to the games I did mention, how do you think it would stand up?

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I agree with that notion. This was Kickstarted by probably mostly classic adventure fans. I just hope Act 2 caters to those people a little more...

Please, give us that "one really hard puzzle" you were talking about on the Steam game features list! I will be happy with just one!

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Welp,

I wouldn't compare Broken Age to Sierra games, as Tim Shafer wasn't a part of those. He was involved in Grim Fandango, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion 2, and Ron Gilbert was involved in Monkey Island. Those are the games I mentioned above. I think of Shafer as a director. If the Coen brothers went on Kickstarter to make a movie, I'd expect a Coen brother movie, not a Michael Bay movie because Coen movies don't sell. And I thought the premise of the whole Kickstarter was to reach out to Adventure game fans to make a classic game form that publishers won't fund ... not make a neutered game that would be more commercial. So I don't really buy the premise of your argument.

If you were to compare Broken Age to the games I did mention, how do you think it would stand up?

I mention Sierra games because they're a prime example of the twisted "adventure game logic" that the genre became famous for. Grim Fandango had better designed puzzles than any Sierra game, but it was also a much easier game than most other adventure games of its time.

I enjoyed Grim Fandango (although, and I admit this with shame, I was unable to ever actually finish the game. I've attempted three times and each time my game save has mysteriously corrupted before I reached the end) but it, like other games of its time, utilized some of the bizarre logic that only made sense in a video game. If anything, you likely find Broken Age easy because unlike its friends from the 90s, the game is actually fair and doesn't require outrageous leaps to find the solution.

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I have to agree with the OP. the puzzels were simple... really simple (at least in Shay's half, Ive not played Vella's yet). The only time I got stuck was because Id missed an item in a room and I knew id missed one so I just had to go and find it.

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To be clear, I'd have preferred a 40-hour game, with the most obtuse puzzles possible. Hell, I think for the amount of dialogue lines and animation frames in this you could make a couple Monkey Island games - but the pacing/narrative relation to the puzzles is an entirely different thing in this new game. It strikes some kind of balance, but it still moves faster.

Except that sort of game is impossible considering the budget and the scope of what they had to work with, 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. Even though I felt that the puzzles in Act 1 were somewhat easy, I don't want to have to have to make a completely unnecessary cat hair mustache in order for a game to feel 'difficult'.

Also, while you can feel what you want about the game, bear in mind that Grim Fandango and such probably had larger budgets than Broken Age - I know Grim definitely did - and that 8 - 10 hours (total playthrough time, both acts) is pretty standard for indie adventure games. And if it was a click through story, it would be a visual novel, which, considering the amount of posts asking for help and the fact that the main mechanic is puzzle based, Broken Age definitely isn't.

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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.

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Nah the reason they went to Kickstarter was because they wanted to make a documentary about making a game. The game was an afterthought.

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Except that sort of game is impossible considering the budget and the scope of what they had to work with, 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. Even though I felt that the puzzles in Act 1 were somewhat easy, I don't want to have to have to make a completely unnecessary cat hair mustache in order for a game to feel 'difficult'.

I'd disagree with the claim more than vehemently and that nonsensical satiric article gets posted around too much. If you want to look at why Adventure games "died" you'd be a lot better served to look at the rise and popularity of the console market at that point (especially the PS2) and the pressure this put on Adventure developers by publishers to have everything 3D and possibly Multiplatform resulting in games like Simon the Sorcerer 3D, Broken Sword 3(D) or Monkey Island 4 and several similar ones that largely ended up alienating their "core market" and not reaching the "action gamer/console market": http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/6621/

If you want another likely cause look at the popularity of Myst and similar and the pressure this caused on Adventure game makers to reach similar numbers and do similar design. Nowadays they seem to at least get the format and art style right but fail the design part, since the same thing seems to be happening as back then, but the culprit has changed to be the elusive and sought-after so-called "casual/mobile gamer".

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That said, it wasn't TellTale stupid easy. I think it was a perfect in between, if there can actually be one.

I think that sam & max had better puzzles, and depending on the season, more creative ones.

Broken Age doesn't has so many hotspots, inventory items or actual layered puzzles in my opinion. And I felt the dialogue was always trying to give you a explicit hint, that made it even tiresome. Very hand holding.

This approach has been alredy done in games like syberia.

I guess less hotspots is for the tablet/mobile audience that can't pixelhunt as well as people with a mouse.

I also found the writing sub-par compared to other Schafer games, even compared to low budget AGS games. I really liked the game for half of it, the second half when the production values rubbed off, it felt a little boring.

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If story was not compelling for you, then I would say that this game is not aimed for you. This game is very similar to visual novel gameplay instead of actually hard puzzle game.

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Wasnt this game supposed to be by adventure fans to Adventure fans?

Wasnt the whole point of kickstarter to bypass publishers who would demand easy and watered down games for a larger audience?

What is the point of funding niche game genres through kickstarter if you are going to "streamline" the game for people that never played adventure games JUST LIKE A PUBLISHER WOULD!

Im very disappointed with what was delivered here, i was promised a classic adventure game and got delivered a click to advance story.

Shame on you double fine, shame on you for not delivering what you promised to adventure fans even 2 years and 3 million dollars after what you asked for

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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.

This is Exactly the feeling I was hoping for, the giving up of the puzzle just to try the next day when your brain goes: how about this?. and that AHA! moment when you get the puzzle. Love the Art, love the music, i have not finished Vella side but on Shay side puzzles were too easy. Voice acting was also superb!.

Come one Tim.. hit us with the twisted labyrinth that your mind can create :).

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If you watch the Double Fine GDC Next talk, Tim talks about his methodology for coming up with puzzles for Broken Age and how he didn't want the puzzles to be a repeat of Grim Fandango's because so many people came up and told him they loved the game but they weren't able to finish it because they got stuck on a puzzle. I think the relative simplicity of the puzzles in Act 1 is a result of Tim and the people at Double Fine wanting to make sure everyone can experience the entire game. As people have commented, whether an individual feels the puzzles are too simple or not is a matter of personal opinion. I believe the design of the first act is meant to encourage players so they feel like they can get through the story before introducing more complicated puzzles in Act 2. Whether this bears out or not remains to be seen, but I prefer to stay hopeful.

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If you watch the Double Fine GDC Next talk, Tim talks about his methodology for coming up with puzzles for Broken Age and how he didn't want the puzzles to be a repeat of Grim Fandango's because so many people came up and told him they loved the game but they weren't able to finish it because they got stuck on a puzzle. I think the relative simplicity of the puzzles in Act 1 is a result of Tim and the people at Double Fine wanting to make sure everyone can experience the entire game. As people have commented, whether an individual feels the puzzles are too simple or not is a matter of personal opinion. I believe the design of the first act is meant to encourage players so they feel like they can get through the story before introducing more complicated puzzles in Act 2. Whether this bears out or not remains to be seen, but I prefer to stay hopeful.

I watched that too and maybe the things they identified as bugs (hey why aren't they clicking on that toaster) may have been a feature.

Act 2 will be harder? Yes, and krusty is coming to camp!

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I just finished Shay's story. Wow, that was so short, and those weren't interesting puzzles. The only time I felt this game had a great premise was at the final sequence. It's as if I was playing a prelude to the game, and it's about to start. Or this is Act I in a 3 part game (not 2 part).

Is there a budget breakdown of how much each department got? I'd be curious to know what was spent on the art, the voice acting, and the music, vs. what was spent on the writing and story development. I would have cut out the fancy-shmancy art and brand name celebrity voice actors (unless they performed for voice acting market rates), even the orchestra, and spent more on developing the story and complexity of the puzzles. My impression from watching a few episodes was that Bagel started out as a consultant, and then said he wanted a bigger role, and the art seemed to take up a lot of project management resources. If they settled on midi sound files and Monkey Island graphics, you think they could have done a bit more with over $2 million dollars? ($2.2 mil was their ultimate budget after fees & rewards).

What I like about this Kickstarter is it opened up the creative process with the documentary. I never watched all the episodes, but I got the impression that Shafer was doing all the story creation. For a post-mortem, I wonder if other games were created this way. Very rarely in modern media does one person create a complete story -- TV, movies, and games all have at least a small team of people providing input, with a leader making most of the creative choices.

This is a lot of speculation; I don't know why this game turned out different than my expectations (classic point & click Adventure reminiscent of the greats that Shafer has worked on) but I respect the opinion some have voiced that my expectations were unrealistic. Based on the pitch, and what was delivered, I don't think I would contribute to another DoubleFine Adventure game Kickstarter, or certainly not the $100 I gave. I do have a lot of respect for the team and the work they do. Not going to hammer much more on what I think are the negatives, but still hoping Act 2 delivers something more.

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If you watch the Double Fine GDC Next talk, Tim talks about his methodology for coming up with puzzles for Broken Age and how he didn't want the puzzles to be a repeat of Grim Fandango's because so many people came up and told him they loved the game but they weren't able to finish it because they got stuck on a puzzle. I think the relative simplicity of the puzzles in Act 1 is a result of Tim and the people at Double Fine wanting to make sure everyone can experience the entire game.

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.

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