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suejak

Broken Age would be better with death

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^Thank you for this detailed post. I understand what you want to say about having to save manually, but I also think a lot of people do not get the same enjoyment out of the act of saving. Right now I am playing King's Quest 1, and yes, manually saving does make me feel more responsible. I started drawing a map on paper, and I am exploring Daventry all by myself. It feels good to me. It's just not something for the masses I guess :/ Just like challenging puzzles.

"Being actor, director and audience" sounds great to me, too. In KQ1 there is no narrative driving the game. You are on your own, all you know is there are three things you need to find. You can go out in whatever way you like, exploring and not being pushed somewhere constantly by people telling you to go somewhere or cutscenes driving the narrative forward. Games like this require a lot more determination by the player, but can then be much more rewarding should you make progress. In the same way, many people hate Zelda 2 for its lack of clear direction, but it's one of my favorite games ever. I guess for certain games you just need to have the right frame of mind to enjoy them, and with my first attempts at Sierra games I didn't have it. Now I think I do.

On the subject of dead ends, I'm not very far into KQI yet, so I'll save my opinion on them for when I experienced the whole game. The example you mentioned with getting a game over screen when you didn't give someone an item sounds OK to me, as long as it's towards the end, you can see it perhaps as the "bad ending" or something.

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Yeah, it's ok that some people don't appreciate that approach, but that doesn't mean they get to call it outdated or bad game design. It's not their cup of tea; they've chosen not to set their mindset to that different way of thinking. It's nice to see someone accepting it for a change. :) It just bothers me that so many consider the LucasArts approach the only worthwhile approach. Makes it hard for people like me to get the games I enjoy.

There are actually multiple endings in KQ6 besides deaths. One requires skipping an entire portion of the game (thus loosing massive points).

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^The Lucas approach reflects the zeitgeist better, I guess. The majority of people don't have the time to invest hours of their precious time into a game without instant gratification (while they do have no problem throwing hours of their days into Flappy or Angry Birds, Cookie Clicker, Farmville, etc.).

Regarding adventure games, even the Lucas style is dying out and replaced with the TellTale one where more and more choices are taken away and replaced with an on-rails adventure game without verbs and two hotspots per room. Instead of classic Lucas and classic Sierra fans getting at each others' throats, we should work together and keep both of the old schools alive, where there was at least one common ground: these games were made for people with an attention span of more than 10 seconds.

That the only way nowadays to make a game is to cater to this largest potential audience is a shame. Even a crowdfunded "niche" game like BA ended up doing it. So it's good I rediscovered Sierra's games now, that'll keep me afloat for a while. If the future doesn't have the games I want to play, at least the past does.

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Indeed. Though, I consider the Telltale approach an extension of the LucasArts philosophy. If LucasArts had kept making adventures they would have been what Telltale is now. And the fact that Telltale is comprised of and founded by ex-LucasArts employees further proves that point. Especially considering they had the freedom to do whatever they wanted. I too would lobby for the return of both old school styles.

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^The Lucas approach reflects the zeitgeist better, I guess. The majority of people don't have the time to invest hours of their precious time into a game without instant gratification (while they do have no problem throwing hours of their days into Flappy or Angry Birds, Cookie Clicker, Farmville, etc.).

Regarding adventure games, even the Lucas style is dying out and replaced with the TellTale one where more and more choices are taken away and replaced with an on-rails adventure game without verbs and two hotspots per room. Instead of classic Lucas and classic Sierra fans getting at each others' throats, we should work together and keep both of the old schools alive, where there was at least one common ground: these games were made for people with an attention span of more than 10 seconds.

That the only way nowadays to make a game is to cater to this largest potential audience is a shame. Even a crowdfunded "niche" game like BA ended up doing it. So it's good I rediscovered Sierra's games now, that'll keep me afloat for a while. If the future doesn't have the games I want to play, at least the past does.

The Lucas style never really outlived the Sierra style either -- indeed, neither style died! The Lucas style lived on in Daedalic, early TellTale, and Book of Unwritten Tales games. The Sierra style lived on in Wadjet Eye, Himalaya Studios, and other studios that were initially just fan projects working on remakes (Quest for Infamy, Heroine's Quest, etc).

The "LucasArts won!" idea is popular but wrong.

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Neither are the same anymore, though. Both are diluted shadows of what they were. Wadjet Eye games aren't near as explorable or interactable as Sierra's games. Not very many intwractabl objects, very few locations to visit, etc. Early Telltale was just as dumbed down as mid to recent Telltale compared to LucasArts. Deponia was done fairly well at least.

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Yeah, they're not as good as the older games, but they retained the conceits of their respective schools.

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Yep! I can't think of one you can't die in. You can die in the Shivah, the Blackwell games (the ones I played), Gemini Rue, and Resonance...

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So I finished King's Quest 1. These are my impressions, and I'm trying to remain spoilerless as far as possible, so bear with me and I hope it all makes sense to a reader:

While I did get stuck multiple times and felt like looking at UHS, I later figured out that I only needed to look something up a single time because I played the game wrong, more or less. King's Quest seems to be about getting to know the world first, exploring it by saving before you do something, doing it, and then remembering that you can do it. And finally once you know where all the treasures are and how to get them, you chain your actions together and just do them.

In my first attempt I didn't do this though, and that lead me to looking up UHS. Instead I played it like I was used to it from the Lucas style: I just did what I could do, saved after I achieved something and restored when I died. Because I didn't use my items and saves strategically, e.g. I used one solution on one puzzle when that puzzle could have been solved with another and I needed the first solution for different puzzle that could only be solved with it or one other solution I haven't found yet, so I was stuck and looked up UHS so I could find the alternate solution, with my initial reaction being "how the **** was I supposed to figure that out?" but then I realized: I wasn't supposed to! As long as I find one of the multiple solutions to each puzzles, I would be fine, I'd just need to sit back for a bit and plan my steps after knowing which solutions work for what.

Interestingly the dying indeed didn't annoy me at all. I had always saved after any important milestone I had reached and furthermore in this particular game, you aren't even losing "progress" because the progress you make most of the time is your memory of what worked and what didn't work. Once you know what to do, you can probably finish the whole game rather quickly, so dying wasn't an annoying penalty, but indeed a punishment for not being careful.

There are definitely many other things wrong with King's Quest*, but I can say for myself, death is not one of those things. Death was well used in this game, didn't get in the way of anything and it made the world feel more "realistic", plus giving you funny messages when you die.

That said, death needs to be handled correctly just like any other gameplay element and not every game would be better with death. In KQ it felt right because the progress is in the mind, not the game data, and there was not that much to do in the first place. I'm not sure how I would feel if everything kills you all the time in a dialog heavy game where you need to re-listen to all the dialog over and over again for example. But my journey is not over yet. King's Quest II etc. are waiting to be conquered and explored.

On a side note, I much enjoyed the liberty presented by a parser instead of a point and click interface. It just makes you feel a lot smarter if you figure a verb+object combination out that way rather than combining all of your verbs with each object you have. Maybe with today's technology, parser based input could be done even more natural and I'd like to see some developer pick it up again (well there's little pink best buds, but I mean an adventure game with puzzles and such).

*like unfair puzzles, that rely on you either finding the alternate solution (the gnome) or in the case of the condor, rely on the player wandering around aimlessly until they randomly stumble upon it and then happen to know the right thing to do, but luckily that was the only puzzle of that kind, and the only one I really had to look up after all.

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Thanks for that overview of your first King'd Quest playthrough! I'll admit, the early Sierra games aren't without problems. A lot of these were ironed out with later games and improved upon. Remember that King's Quest was the very first animated graphic adventure game and as such it was breaking a lot of new ground. The only other things like it previously were text adventures (with static graphics). I still think it did very well for being the first of its kind. There's a reason it became popular :).

I'm curious, you're obviously not playing the P&C AGDI remake, but are you playing the AGI original (with no mouse support) or the Sierra SCI remake (with parser/mouse support and music/sfx)?

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^I played the Sierra SCI remake with mouse support. It's the version that came with the TTG adventure bundle. I'm a bit into KQII by now. With that it became a lot more apparent to me that the KQI version I played was a remake and how much they actually improved :o

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KQ2 is awwwwful.

But I can't really recommend a KQ game before 5 (incidentally the first Sierra game with no parser), though some say 4 is the best. 3 is especially problematic.

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KQII seems pretty random to me from what I saw so far. I expected a medieval/fairytale setting, then suddenly a quite modern looking house with a mailbox? And an antique store that's closed? :o

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Believe it or not, you're playing the games that INSPIRED Maniac Mansion...

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I liked the deaths in Legend of Kyrandia

G8JgHGaiKDM

I think it auto-saved when you got to those scenes, so dying didn't really screw you over at all, it was just funny.

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Thanks for this link. That review resonates with some of my own thoughts.

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KQ3 is an interesting experiment. The villain is at the beginning of the game rather than the end. It's the first KQ to not be a simple 3-part treasure hunt. It really does leave you all on your own to figure out what to do. It also threw people off by seeming to initially not have anything to do with the characters from the other KQ games until the twist about halfway through. It's not without problems, like most early Sierra games, but it's clear that Sierra was always pushing the envelope and raising the bar and they did a lot right. The AGDI remake solves the problems while maintaining what made it special and it's really made me appreciate and love the game. One of the best in the series. But I'm biased as I helped make the remake. :)

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That's fair. I have never made it out of the wizard's house of KQ3 because I'll pick something up and die for it several screens later...

But I think I just fundamentally don't like KQ games, as I've beaten KQ1 but never made it more than an hour into any of the others. Contrast this with every other Sierra series, which I've played to death and know inside and out...

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This. This steam review captures everything that I think went wrong with the game:

http://steamcommunity.com//profiles/76561197998782877/recommended/232790/

Okay, so I've picked out what seem to be his main complaints...

1. "They should have had a game idea ready."

The entire point of the project was to document the making of a game from the very start to finish, to give people a better idea where games come from.

2. "Not hiring a 2nd writer."

Easier said than done.

3. "The idea was too big for the budget."

Sure. And they got more money for a bigger budget.

4. "Making Bagel a human chokepoint."

Things don't always work out in real life. That's just something you have to deal with. Every team needs to find their workflow and sometimes that just takes time.

5. "Changing the scope of the game "because he cant think of a smaller game" and then make it smaller due to budget constrains. The amount of concept art developed for this game is morbid, mostly when you consider how little we got to see implemented."

I don't even know where to begin explaining why implementing all the concept phase ideas is not a smart thing to do.

6. "Priorizing art over gameplay."

As someone who is largely mechanics-oriented, I'm inclined to agree. It's true that DF seems to push creativity above all else, even at the cost of gameplay. Then again, it's their studio and their choice to make.

7. "Being OK with exploiting employees."

DF seems one of the less exploitative places to work for, actually.

8."Forgetting that implementing audio and doing animation tests takes a lot of time." [...] "The quality of the game it´s so sporadic that the beautiful made the ugly look more ugly."

I think the game looks really good and polished.

9. "Leaving the sound team alone."

I'm not even sure what he's on about.

10. "Playtesting and making a simple game simpler."

Agree. Underestimating your audience is not a good idea if your audience consists of adventure game veterans.

11. "Backwards rationalization. Tim did this so many times that I lost count. It goes like this: Tim: "I WANT A". Reality: "You can only get B" Tim: "Now that I think about it, B is much better because..." "

If you can only get B, it's sometimes better to make best of the B instead of trying to keep grabbing the A.

12. "Forgeting to make smart production choices."

Yeah, game development is so easy and simple -- just make good games. I've no idea why everyone isn't doing it.

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what he said:

This. This steam review captures everything that I think went wrong with the game:

http://steamcommunity.com//profiles/76561197998782877/recommended/232790/

Okay, so I've picked out what seem to be his main complaints...

1. "They should have had a game idea ready."

The entire point of the project was to document the making of a game from the very start to finish, to give people a better idea where games come from.

2. "Not hiring a 2nd writer."

Easier said than done.

3. "The idea was too big for the budget."

Sure. And they got more money for a bigger budget.

4. "Making Bagel a human chokepoint."

Things don't always work out in real life. That's just something you have to deal with. Every team needs to find their workflow and sometimes that just takes time.

5. "Changing the scope of the game "because he cant think of a smaller game" and then make it smaller due to budget constrains. The amount of concept art developed for this game is morbid, mostly when you consider how little we got to see implemented."

I don't even know where to begin explaining why implementing all the concept phase ideas is not a smart thing to do.

6. "Priorizing art over gameplay."

As someone who is largely mechanics-oriented, I'm inclined to agree. It's true that DF seems to push creativity above all else, even at the cost of gameplay. Then again, it's their studio and their choice to make.

7. "Being OK with exploiting employees."

DF seems one of the less exploitative places to work for, actually.

8."Forgetting that implementing audio and doing animation tests takes a lot of time." [...] "The quality of the game it´s so sporadic that the beautiful made the ugly look more ugly."

I think the game looks really good and polished.

9. "Leaving the sound team alone."

I'm not even sure what he's on about.

10. "Playtesting and making a simple game simpler."

Agree. Underestimating your audience is not a good idea if your audience consists of adventure game veterans.

11. "Backwards rationalization. Tim did this so many times that I lost count. It goes like this: Tim: "I WANT A". Reality: "You can only get B" Tim: "Now that I think about it, B is much better because..." "

If you can only get B, it's sometimes better to make best of the B instead of trying to keep grabbing the A.

12. "Forgeting to make smart production choices."

Yeah, game development is so easy and simple -- just make good games. I've no idea why everyone isn't doing it.

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Keeping in mind this discussion is all completely subjective and what works for one person won't necessarily work for another:

Although I don't really like the idea of saves being part of the gameplay and would rather keep the strategic aspect of adventure games "in-world", I actually do like the idea of death in Broken Age for narrative reasons. When a character dies in the game, it tells me "this is something that could happen to this character". Rather than taking me out of the story, it reminds me of the stakes, and of the goal that the character has failed to achieve.

Imagine playing a scene where, as Vella, you make a mistake that causes your death. How tragic! She escaped Mog Chothra, putting all her loved ones in jeopardy, only to die anyway. Now I really want her to succeed and put everything right. I'm reminded of her bravery.

Imagine in part two, exploring Shay's spaceship as Vella, only to be met with indifference by your surroundings. Mistakes that would result in nothing but minor inconvenience for Shay are deadly for Vella. The injustice!

Imagine Shay escaping to the real world, having been coddled by his computer mom, suddenly facing jarringly real danger! Imagine him being killed. The tragedy! The irony! This boy has only just begun to truly live, but dies immediately. He's either incredibly brave or incredibly naive. Now I don't want his escape to be in vain. I want him to grow, to reap the benefits of his success.

The reason death was inappropriate for games like Monkey Island was that they had a healthy dose of slapstick, and were overtly comic. I don't see Broken Age that way. There is a fragility at the core of the story, and I think that fragility could have been wonderfully demonstrated with the inclusion of death.

Personally, it wouldn't stop me from exploring and experimenting at all, especially if those things are how you solve the game. Instead, there would be a suspense to this exploration which could not be possible otherwise.

Something like King's Quest VII's death autosave function would work fine for me. Again, the death issue is more about the story for me than the gameplay. Death as a gameplay mechanic seems a bit lurid to me, but the possibility of death as a function of story can be quite moving.

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Just popping in to say no, I still wouldn't like the above described scenario as much. Not to say it wouldn't be interesting in its own way, but it's not the sort of thing that I'd want from this project.

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I guess when your opinion is the popular one you don't need to explain it. ;)

I feel like we already did - I tire of re-explaining, I just wanted to reiterate that none of these new points change my view on the subject.

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