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Finished Broken Age? Discuss here! (Including Spoilers)

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Guys, I played Monkey 2 again (remastered) a couple of years ago and I thought it was great still. Maybe it is just because I knew I liked it, but... you know.

Also Full Throttle, great game, great story, similar production values to Broken Age at the time (voice acting, art...) I remember one not-fun puzzle: the bunnies thing. Maybe there were a couple more, but, man, did I like that game. So much I used to play it yearly until the CD stopped working.

Yeah, there are pretty bad puzzles the earlier you go (infuriating Sierra-like "if you screw this puzzle you won't be able to progress at all forever, you are stuck or dead"), but I don't think Broken Age is a match to any of the great adventures of the past in the sense of puzzle fun or story - and just to be clear, my top rated point and clicks are from Tim.

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The elephant in the corner (from my perspective) is that at the time, the crowdfunding campaign was vague enough to land somewhere near being All Things To All People. We knew nothing about the game or what it would become, and that allowed people with vastly conflicting perspectives and tastes to get onboard with the hope that their expectations would be met.

Now that there's a game here, one that's solid, real and less open to interpretation about what it is/isn't like, some people are going to be (fairly) disappointed, some (fairly) overjoyed, and some (equally fairly) spread across the middle. Broken Age doesn't need to be everybody's perfect game. That's not really possible, and even if it were, it'd be a massive red herring to chase. Like any game, it's OK to like it. It's OK to not like it.

Having backed the game during its crowdfunding period or supported it afterward, we all feel varying levels of personal investment, which can lead some people to feel like their own expectations should have been met, and maybe that's not quite so fair.

In the pitch, we were offered the opportunity to give some input into the game, and whilst that wasn't quite as much as I'd been hoping for, it was definitely given. Beyond that though, the thing we paid money for was for Double Fine to have the opportunity to use their own skills and judgment to create a game.

They did that, and that they did it is awesome :)

FWIW, I loved the hell out of the wiring puzzles (they were probably the most enjoyable puzzles in the entire game for me) and I loved the knot puzzle, but I also loved the bunnies puzzle in Full Throttle. There were plenty of bits in Broken Age that I didn't specifically enjoy and a couple of bits that I felt could have been better, and I'm pretty confident that those bits were probably specifically loved/appreciated by other people. It's easy to use an outside perspective to see room for subjective improvement, but that goes for any title. When arriving at my own opinions, I found it hard to see value in holding Broken Age to higher standards than I'd hold other games.

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I think nostalgia goggles affect people more than they realize. Nothing can ever live up to the things you loved when you were twelve. I think that's just how the human brain works.

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Guys, I played Monkey 2 again (remastered) a couple of years ago and I thought it was great still. Maybe it is just because I knew I liked it, but... you know.

Of course you did. I did too. But you're used to the logic in that game now. Most people don't even think about the monkey wrench in it anymore, just accept it. No one thinks about the backtracking over the maps on the pixelhunting to find things on them and in the locations. When the vodoo doll sequence comes in the end, most people just think it's fun to see it again, and now how annoying that part can be. And the ending doesn't suprise anyone anymore.

Full Throttle is probably the one old adventure title I can't say anything about though, because I haven't played it in a very long time. Outside the art, music and the characters, I remember very little from it.

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I think nostalgia goggles affect people more than they realize. Nothing can ever live up to the things you loved when you were twelve. I think that's just how the human brain works.

Damn, I knew I should have had sex and taken heroine when I was twelve.

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Hard doesn't mean obtuse. Those robot rewirings were so bad I almost stoped playing - and they were not even hard, they were just very boring and repetitive. Also a few bad puzzles are ok, but act 2 has so many of them (timing puzzles, brute force puzzles, backtracking 100 screens the whole time, puzzle that needed telepathic link between characters...) when I finished a puzzle I didn't feel smarter, I just felt bored and wishing it would improve or be over soon..

I've heard the point several times the wiring puzzle was boring and repetitive, but . . . I really don't understand it. I felt like it was very straightforward and easy to solve. The only real problem I had with it was that the initial wiring pattern was hidden in that photograph (and at least Shay tells us the solution is back on the ship). Beyond that, the way to solve it was:

1) Have items: photo, hexipal, charging station, wire.

2) Try wired hexipal in charging station. See patterns. Rewire one more time to get rest of nodes. Write it down.

3) Wire hexipal according to photo.

4) Put in charging station.

The second pattern is just wiring up the next pattern from the log book. The puzzle is how to use the hexipal.

The third pattern needs a little guess work, but the puzzle is really where to use the hexipal.

Perhaps I'm biased because I initially thought it was going to be a complex environmental puzzle (there is a blue version of one of the symbols outside the control room on the ship--so of course the puzzle must be finding the symbols in the ship and figuring out how they are related! Of course. Oops) . . .

However, this makes me curious about where people ran into trouble because I can see how there would be two distinct sticking points. How long did it take you (meaning anyone, not just serjay) to figure out the actual logic of the wiring puzzle versus finding that first pattern in the photograph? Most of my time was spent finding the pattern and I did find that frustrating. Once I did that, it was maybe three minutes tops to solve the rest of the puzzle.

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I think nostalgia goggles affect people more than they realize. Nothing can ever live up to the things you loved when you were twelve. I think that's just how the human brain works.

Maybe but it doesn't live up to Gemini Rue, Resonance or Primordia either, recent (classic-like) adventure games I only played a year or two ago.

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I think nostalgia goggles affect people more than they realize. Nothing can ever live up to the things you loved when you were twelve. I think that's just how the human brain works.

Maybe but it doesn't live up to Gemini Rue, Resonance or Primordia either, recent (classic-like) adventure games I only played a year or two ago.

I haven't played Resonance or Primordia yet (I have them wishlisted), but I started Gemini Rue... I don't really like it so far. I'm hoping it gets more interesting but its approach to storytelling----or at least its approach to BEGINNING a story----is not very good. I also don't like the shooting mini-game, but that's just personal taste. Even so, I give it points there for creativity.

I think the most recent games I have played that are 10/10 in terms of both story and classic point-and-click gameplay would be the Blackwell series. Most point-and-click games these days I have to play in spurts. I played the entire Blackwell series back-to-back in a single weekend. So. Damn. Good. I need more of that in my life.

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I think nostalgia goggles affect people more than they realize. Nothing can ever live up to the things you loved when you were twelve. I think that's just how the human brain works.

Maybe but it doesn't live up to Gemini Rue, Resonance or Primordia either, recent (classic-like) adventure games I only played a year or two ago.

I don't understand the big deal about Gemini Rue either. I found it incredibly dull, especially playing the prisoner character. There's something about wandering through multiple identical grey featureless rooms, corridors, elevators and airlocks- many of which are completely unnecessary- that just doesn't do it for me. I got bored and stopped playing but I do occasionally wonder if there's some pay-off later in the game that makes all that worthwhile.

At least Broken Age's somewhat annoying retreading was through attractively designed rooms.

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I played an beat Gemini Rue, and I thought it was nice, but other then it being in the same genre, it's not really comparable to either the classic adventure games or Broken Age in terms of content or playstyle.

It plays it safe, little player agency and always moving forward, and does it a really descent way, but I can't remember a single a character or puzzle from it, despite it not being that long ago since I played it.

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However, this makes me curious about where people ran into trouble because I can see how there would be two distinct sticking points. How long did it take you (meaning anyone, not just serjay) to figure out the actual logic of the wiring puzzle versus finding that first pattern in the photograph? Most of my time was spent finding the pattern and I did find that frustrating. Once I did that, it was maybe three minutes tops to solve the rest of the puzzle.

It took me no time at all to find the pattern, though probably I was just lucky. I got the hint that I had to look on the ship so switched to Vella. I reckoned the pattern was likely to be in the junk room but as Vella was outside the control room I thought I'd try there first. Saw the pattern and switched back to Shay.

The hardest part was that as I had no idea I was going to need to do multiple wiring puzzles I never wrote down the mapping from pins to symbols so there was a bit more trial and error than there should have been until I got it right. (In fact the only thing I wrote down during the entire game was the return to last location tune).

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I played an beat Gemini Rue, and I thought it was nice, but other then it being in the same genre, it's not really comparable to either the classic adventure games or Broken Age in terms of content or playstyle.

It plays it safe, little player agency and always moving forward, and does it a really descent way, but I can't remember a single a character or puzzle from it, despite it not being that long ago since I played it.

EXACTLY.

Gemini Rue has a sort of "click to advance to the next scene" sort of approach. From what I've played, there are puzzles, but they aren't particularly clever or interesting. The way the story is structured maximizes the forgetability of the characters instead of maximizing their memorableness. I mean, I won't pretend to be Kid Genius when it comes to writing, but a key element of storytelling is answering two questions: 1) What information do I tell the reader, 2) When do I tell that to them. Gemini Rue seems to answer that question as follows: 1) Almost nothing. 2) Maybe later.

This sort of deliberate crypticness and confusion works sometimes in movies (c.f. Pulp Fiction), but you have to be one hell of a writer/director to pull off a stunt like that, and I don't know that it can really work in games like it can in movies. Because if you try that and it DOESN'T work, what you end up with is a cast of characters that the audience doesn't really understand or know anything about, doing a bunch of things for mysterious reasons. Who wants to read a story about an undefined character doing things for unknown reasons? It might as well be a 100 page description of a mute named Bob walking around his apartment doing things. Watering the plant. Eating a bowl of cereal. Looking out the window. Petting the cat. When you don't concede enough information to the audience, it's just a sequence of one thing after another. That, so far, is my number one beef with Gemini Rue. I just want to know why I should care, but Gemini Rue doesn't tell me.

It will probably get better. (Hopefully.) But this is definitely a problem with its beginning. Does not make me want to play more.

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This sort of deliberate crypticness and confusion works sometimes in movies (c.f. Pulp Fiction), but you have to be one hell of a writer/director to pull off a stunt like that, and I don't know that it can really work in games like it can in movies. Because if you try that and it DOESN'T work, what you end up with is a cast of characters that the audience doesn't really understand or know anything about, doing a bunch of things for mysterious reasons... When you don't concede enough information to the audience, it's just a sequence of one thing after another.

Funnily enough that was the major problem with Broken Age Act 1 as well in my opinion.

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This sort of deliberate crypticness and confusion works sometimes in movies (c.f. Pulp Fiction), but you have to be one hell of a writer/director to pull off a stunt like that, and I don't know that it can really work in games like it can in movies. Because if you try that and it DOESN'T work, what you end up with is a cast of characters that the audience doesn't really understand or know anything about, doing a bunch of things for mysterious reasons... When you don't concede enough information to the audience, it's just a sequence of one thing after another.

Funnily enough that was the major problem with Broken Age Act 1 as well in my opinion.

Nah, here's the difference:

Broken Age:

--Tells you why the protagonists are here (e.g. they live here)

--Tells you what is happening to the protagonists here (sacrifice ritual, tedious everyday life)

--Tells you the characters' desires/motivations (nix the sacrifice, escape the boredom)

--Tells you who the other characters are and how they relate to the protagonists (mom, dad, sister, gramps, etc)

--Tells you what the other characters feel and desire (pro-sacrifice, anti-sacrifice, complacent, zealous, innocent, etc)

--Tells you the basic "lore" / concept behind Sugar Bunting and the Bossa Nostra settings.

--Introduces conflict that disrupts everyday events (maiden feast, Marek)

--Introduces new goals for protagonists after the disruption (find a way to fight the mog, help Marek while remaining undetected)

Gemini Rue:

--Tells you the protagonist is here to "make the pickup" (you don't know what that means)

--The guards/police here are hostile to you, and context implies you are avoiding them. It isn't explained why.

--Your character's motivation is... uh... to "make the pickup" (whatever that means) and to not get detected (because reasons)

--Does not at all tell you who the other characters are or how they relate to the protagonist. Seems to avoid it deliberately.

--Does not tell you anything about other characters' motivations or desires. Seems to avoid it deliberately.

--Implies that there IS some kind of lore to this world / setting, but doesn't give it to you.

--Conflict involves the mysteriously hostile guards coming and shooting at you for mysterious reasons.

--You fail to make the pickup. It is revealed that "the pickup" is your brother. You don't know why. Your new goal is to pick him up somewhere else. You still don't know why you're picking him up.

--After that, you are transitioned to a different character, in a different location, where all of the above is repeated all over again.

--Result: You go a very long time at the beginning of this game without having any idea who these people are, how they are related to each other, what they are doing, or why they are doing it. That can be good for a moment of intrigue, but Gemini Rue's first couple of areas adamantly insist on telling you nothing, continuously, for a very long time.

That's the whole point. Broken Age's beginning tells a story like you tell a story, i.e. by telling you the things you need to know to orient yourself in this place and its happenings. Gemini Rue deliberately goes all in medias res and withholds vital information in an attempt to create an air of mystery and intrigue around what you're seeing, but in trying to create intrigue by withholding information, they withhold TOO MUCH information (i.e. almost all of it), and so the beginning of the story doesn't really have much of a story to tell, because... well... it doesn't tell you anything.

Maybe it gets better, like a book that doesn't get good until 100 pages in. All I'm saying is that the beginning withholds too much. The same cannot be said of Broken Age.

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Ok, to me the setup of both Shay and Vella's stories were very flimsy and just as "because reasons" as Gemini Rue.

*Welcome to the game. You're about to be sacrificed to a monster and we're feeling pretty warm and fuzzy about it. Please help us find a knife so that we can all eat cake before offering you up to be killed. Umm, why? Because! That's what happens in this world! We cheerfully sacrifice our children to monsters! Ok, why don't we fight it? Because! Umm... Cake!

Wait what is this monster? It's a monster! It comes from beyond the Plague Dam! What's a Plague Dam? Oh, just roll with it willya? We'll explain it all in Act 2!*

Ok sure it tells you stuff I guess... It's just that none of the stuff has any weight to it because it doesn't mean anything and no-one seems to care about any of it. The story tells you that they tried to fight off the Mogs which ok, that's interesting, there's a history there. Except that's immediately cancelled out by the fact that they're actually HAPPY to be bakers, and they're basically happy that their daughter is about to be eaten by the monster. So in the end it's more like "You're going to be sacrificed to a monster because... well just because we do that here".

On top of that, why should we the player care? All we know about Vella at this point is that she likes to sleep under trees, she lives in a town where people really like cake and we're playing as her. The sum total of her personality is "I'm kinda not that chuffed about getting eaten by a monster, but I'll go along with it I guess". In most games, we do things to keep our character alive. In Broken Age the very first thing we do (as Vella) is find a way to get ourselves in a situation that the characters all believe will end in our death. The only reason we as players have for doing that is because "its a game, this will make sense later!".

Then we go over to Shay, whose initial tasks are intentionally meaningless, repetitive and boring. Finally when Marek shows up there is a bit of intrigue, but then he asks you to 'rescue' those space creatures. Why? Because! That's what you have to do at this point in the game! We'll explain it in Act 2!

Compare the beginning of either of Broken Age's stories with the beginning of either Full Throttle or Grim Fandango and it clearly just lacks anything like the hook of those classics.

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Both Broken Age and Gemini Rue does share the same kind of "flimsiness" in their story archs, and I think that's perfectly fine. The difference, and the point where I think Broken Age shines, is that it fills the locations, the puzzles, characters, and the dialogue - mandatory and optional - with details and clues to the what has happened, what's happening and what the meaning is to everything. In Gemini Rue, you pretty much only get those details through the mandatory dialogues. And that makes the game much thinner.

And just to be clear, I'm not trying to trash Gemini Rue, because it's a nice adventure game, that was pretty fun to play, and something I would have been proud of if I had worked on it. But I would argue that what Double Fine did with Broken Age was to show what's been missing in the genre in so many games the last 10-15 years.

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--Tells you the protagonist is here to "make the pickup" (you don't know what that means)

It's definitely explained at the beginning that you're on Barracus to find and aid Matthias, who's left the Boryokudan syndicate (something we come to learn that Azreal himself was able to successfully do).

--The guards/police here are hostile to you, and context implies you are avoiding them. It isn't explained why.

My memory is that it's stated super early on that Azriel used to be an assassin for the syndicate and that's why nobody likes him.

--Your character's motivation is... uh... to "make the pickup" (whatever that means) and to not get detected (because reasons)

Azriel's motivation is to help his friend Matthias, without stirring up more trouble with a crime syndicate. He hopes that Matthias has also helped his brother Daniel escape. Feels pretty clear/relatable. Is "make the pickup" even used in the game?

--Does not at all tell you who the other characters are or how they relate to the protagonist. Seems to avoid it deliberately.

Matthias is explicitly described as being an existing contact and former war companion of Azriel's. Kane is framed from the beginning as being Azriel's long time companion and pilot - they've clearly worked together for a long time.

--Does not tell you anything about other characters' motivations or desires. Seems to avoid it deliberately.

It's been a while since I played, but I'm pretty sure that Azriel's motivation is all about saving his brother and getting clear of the entire mess (political backstory for the game's worlds is alluded to, but I don't think that needed to be gone into too deeply). Sayuri's motivations are discovered as you play, but since you meet her part-way through the game, learning who she is as you go is important.

--Implies that there IS some kind of lore to this world / setting, but doesn't give it to you.

No less so than Broken Age with its talk of Steel Bunting, etc.. IMO it's better to leave these things to the player's imagination so long as the context of the current climate is given (which it is).

--After that, you are transitioned to a different character, in a different location, where all of the above is repeated all over again.

Again, this stuff is pretty spelled out. Delta 6 is the subject of forced brain wiping (as seen in the game's introduction) and is in some kind of correctional/training facility. He's bullied, comes to learn that the guards are overbearing, that the other "patients" are unhappy, and attempts to break out with some of them. The sterile environment and standoffishness of most of the characters that Delta 6 interacts with supports the plot and atmosphere.

Maybe it gets better, like a book that doesn't get good until 100 pages in. All I'm saying is that the beginning withholds too much. The same cannot be said of Broken Age.

When was the last time you played it?

I think it does a better job of setting context and framing backstory than you've described. To me, Broken Age feels like it has a bit less back story for general backstory stuff (do Meriloft, and Shellmound have histories like Steel Bunting? What are those villages' relationships to each other? What exactly is the relationship between the Thrush and the Lorunians aside from being in charge for some reason? Shellmound seems to have an elected leader, but how did Harm'ny take control of Meriloft - everybody seems to talk about arriving there after him. How did Levina end up in charge of Sugar Bunting and why doesn't there seem to be direct Thrush presence in any of the other villages? Is the arcade that Gus goes to in Meriloft? etc. etc. etc.). I don't feel like that really detracts from Broken Age though.

Character attitudes seem to be better exposed from the outset in Broken Age, but I don't think that kind of thing would work in Gemini Rue - having characters talk about their emotions and desires to a stranger as soon as they meet him would kinda work against the hard boiled sci-fi noir dystopia vibe that that game has going for it, and that's one of the reasons why the games aren't *really* comparable, as Cecil says. They touch on very different themes and have very different styles of plot presentation.

Gemini Rue was the first game we played for Game Club after Greg handed it over to the community. I hadn't played it previously, but I really enjoyed it and consider it to be a masterful work of interactive storytelling, and doubly so for being primarily one person's work.

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I agree with Cheeseness. If we're talking about what makes a work of art successful, I think it's only fair to judge the work in the proper context, what it's going for. Gemini Rue was totally designed and substantially produced by one kid by himself from when he was a senior in high school to a junior in college, before Wadget Eye took over to finish programming, art, and VO. The genius of Joshua Nuernberger was to avoid the hubris of many first-time designers and design a game small enough that he could actually finish it. To do that and still keep a good game, he went for minimalism and a noir tone to suggest a larger world than you get to visit. Not everyone likes that kind of thing, but plenty of people (myself included) got immersed from the get go and enjoyed the game for what it is. I personally can't get into other popular Wadget Eye games like Resonance or Primordia, though, so your mileage may vary with these low budget games.

Broken Age was made by a team with a vastly larger budget, so they had the resources to tell a very different story. Comparing the two to me seem a bit like comparing a house by Frank Lloyd Wright to the Taj Mahal or Versailles. It's just tough to objectively compare things made on such different scales. I think they were both successful given their respective resources and goals.

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I was under the impression that he had essentially finished it on his own before getting support from Wadjet Eye (I didn't think they did any programming at all), and [del]so far as I'm aware, he did all the artwork himself.[/del] Apparently he did get some assistance with the character portraits.

From the chat log when Joshua Nuernberger joined us for Game Club:

(05:21:11 AM) Cheeseness-laptop: TheJBurger: At what stage did Wadjeteye become involved?

(05:21:47 AM) TheJBurger: they became involved in 2010 after we showed the game at a couple of game conventions

(05:21:50 AM) TheJBurger: namely GDC, and E3

...

(05:22:10 AM) Mimness: Was the game complete at that point?

(05:22:19 AM) TheJBurger: the game was mostly complete at that point, minus the voice acting

(05:53:39 AM) Tonjevic: did you do all the art?

...

(05:54:09 AM) TheJBurger: except the character portraits. those were done by ian schlaepfer (also known for his apprentice series, done in AGS as well)

...

(05:54:20 AM) TheJBurger: there are old versions of the portraits that i did, but those arent in the game anymore

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I want to emphasize again that I have only played the BEGINNING of Gemini Rue, so I am in no way criticizing the entire work. I played the beginning a few weeks ago, only up through the first Delta 6 segment.

My criticism is that the beginning of the story either doesn't divulge enough information about who the characters are / what is going on, or what information IS shared is so decontextualized that it just doesn't feel like it means a whole lot. (Extra Credits has previously made this assertion

, and I think justly so.)

Cheese may be correct in that I just didn't catch (or remember) what information was shared. It could very well be that it just wasn't appealing or meaningful to me so none of it was sticking.

No story can tell you EVERYTHING, all at once, right at the beginning. So there is always necessarily going to be some information that the beginning does not give you. So you could theoretically claim that any story's beginning is "flimsy" on the details. If a story tries to front-load all of the information, it will commit some other sin, e.g. wall-o-text, twenty-minute-info-dump, etc.

So when beginning a story, you can only share this tiny X amount of information, so which bits of information do you choose to share? And in what way do you choose to share it? How do you contextualize it so that it feels like it means something (i.e. avoid the Skyrim opening problem)?

I simply think Broken Age---although it also omits a lot of information as all beginnings necessarily do---made better writing choices for the beginning.

Again, this is only the very beginning of Gemini Rue, and only the story setup, that I'm talking about. I'm not trying to say the entire game sucks or anything like that.

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I might have to replay Gemini Rue, because I don't want to be unfair to it, but right now I have to check screenshots to try and remember what happened. I recall it as the puzzles being too simplistic, to linear in it's structure and that the scenes were underutilized, but I won't argue with anyone that might remember it better then me.

But I feel that it's a game that's a bit compromised.

But that's the story of the genre for me, when it comes to how I enjoy the games.

Even my favorite ones, the ones I recommend to everyone have their flaws.

*Syberia - Great game, awful 3D character models.

*Gray Matter - Great game, awful 3D character models.

*Sam&Max;: The Devil's Playhouse - Great game, a bit simplistic puzzles and some questionable character design.

*Tales of Monkey Island - Fantastic episodes between 3-5, ok first one, weak second. Some questionable character design.

*Kentucky Route Zero - Ok, it's not a favorite one, but one of the more interesting ones. Interesting writing, but really questionable gameplay.

I think Broken Age is the first one in a long time where all aspects have gotten the same kind of attention. Story, characters, dialogues, scenes, puzzles. You might argue that scenes were reused, but they were really fully utilized.

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I will repeat that I liked the story but will insist that it could be better. I believe the fact that writing started along with the development of the game negatively affected the result. At some point the art must be locked and no more scenes should be added because the game must be released. This I believe deprived us of some more action in the futuristic city.

We saw far to little of the city and I did feel that I wanted to see more. This made the ending looked rushed. It could be intentional but it doesn't seem that way. I don't know what the practice is, but I assume that a game writer will have an idea of the story from beginning to end before development starts. Does anyone know whether this is indeed a common practice?

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Dear oh dear Act two for me was terrible... Constant backtracking (desperately needs a Monkey Island map to navigate to locals more quickly. No deepening or extension of the characters that made you care for them in any way (or any of the people)... Puzzles struck me as tired. They were tougher this time... but only in that sigh really way and not wow that was so clever way you always hope for in a good adventure game.

I think the other factor was that almost everything was a retread in the locals and people you are interacting with so it all felt incredibly tiresome. It all adds up to an adventure game where in act two I was literally having no fun playing it.

Still one thing I will say is the art work, voice acting was phenomenal throughout... If only the puzzles, story and character development was up to the same level as the beauty of the game.

In summary as a work of art it is wonderful if shallow experience... as a fun adventure game particularly in act two I found it sorely lacking.

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No story can tell you EVERYTHING, all at once, right at the beginning. So there is always necessarily going to be some information that the beginning does not give you. So you could theoretically claim that any story's beginning is "flimsy" on the details. If a story tries to front-load all of the information, it will commit some other sin, e.g. wall-o-text, twenty-minute-info-dump, etc.

So when beginning a story, you can only share this tiny X amount of information, so which bits of information do you choose to share? And in what way do you choose to share it? How do you contextualize it so that it feels like it means something (i.e. avoid the Skyrim opening problem)?

I simply think Broken Age---although it also omits a lot of information as all beginnings necessarily do---made better writing choices for the beginning.

Once again, look at either Full Throttle or Grim Fandango. Both games start their stories very well without feeling either flimsy or like info-dumps. They do that by introducing us to their characters, giving us a feel for who they are, what they want and what their dilemma is in the story. We are given clear problems to solve with our heroes and we are enticed to discover more about their world.

Before you've pointed at or clicked a single thing in Full Throttle you already know who the good guys are and you want to be one, because they're badass. You know who the bad guy is, you know you don't like him and you've got 4-5 reasons why you want to stop him even though you don't know exactly what he's up to.

You've got other tantalizing questions in your mind like "Who is this Maureen woman he mentions and why is she trouble?". We get drawn into the story and we're motivated to play.

For me, Broken Age really doesn't set any of these things up very well at all and it results in a muddled experience. For example, who are the bad guys in either story?

In Shay's story, I guess it's Marek but he's the most likeable and interesting character you meet, plus he actually solves Shay's (and the player's) problem of being bored so he's not someone we're opposed to at all. Come to think of it, I can't remember Marek ever actually doing anything particularly bad in the entire game, apart from lock us in a room and talk about a vague eugenics program we never see in action.

For Vella it's supposed to be Mog Chothra, but almost every character you meet seems to like Mog Chothra, so it's confusing. Plus when MC finally appears it's a floating grey blob with no apparent sentient thought. It's no more a villain than a dog eating out of a dog bowl. So the adventure we're invited to go on is 'stop this creature eating things'. Wouldn't it be more compelling as a teenage girl character to stop the adults in the story from happily feeding their teenage daughters to a monster, since they are the ones choosing to do that, or at least find out why they're doing it?

Neither story really has any compelling antagonist to inspire us to do anything for the entire first act. Gemini Rue does this a little bit better in my opinion because it has that mind-wipe scene at the start to show us that something sinister is going on which directly impacts one of our characters.

We don't need to know everything at the start of the story, but we do need to have a reason to actually embark on the story. Tim talks about this quite clearly himself in this article: http://www.gamestudies.org/0301/pearce/

I enjoyed playing Broken Age, but as a story it was a shambles.

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In Shay's story, I guess it's Marek but he's the most likeable and interesting character you meet, plus he actually solves Shay's (and the player's) problem of being bored so he's not someone we're opposed to at all. Come to think of it, I can't remember Marek ever actually doing anything particularly bad in the entire game, apart from lock us in a room and talk about a vague eugenics program we never see in action.

Shay isn't opposed to him because he needs him, but I'm not sure how they could made it more obvious that's something up with Marek, other then by hanging a "Something's up with this guy!" sign around his neck. Which they kinda did by dressing him up as a wolf.

He talks Shay into the opportunity to help, but is obviously just using him to reach his own goal, where he either can't use both of the ships controls himself, or just isn't comfortable doing it since he want's to get out of each location as soon as possible.

For Vella it's supposed to be Mog Chothra, but almost every character you meet seems to like Mog Chothra, so it's confusing. Plus when MC finally appears it's a floating grey blob with no apparent sentient thought. It's no more a villain than a dog eating out of a dog bowl. So the adventure we're invited to go on is 'stop this creature eating things'. Wouldn't it be more compelling as a teenage girl character to stop the adults in the story from happily feeding their teenage daughters to a monster, since they are the ones choosing to do that, or at least find out why they're doing it?

Confusing? No one's actually liking it, it's just that they have been thought that it's the way things are. Already in Vella's first scene, you have both clear objections and doubt/hesitation from her family. Those who give the impression to like it are the maidens, who obviously have been taught from birth that it's an honour and learnt to question it, and Marshal Dune and Levina, who seemingly put the interest of the towns above all else.

I think that the details you're asking for are there in the game.

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Well, I kinda disagree with Choppa again (especially since man-vs-man is not the only conflict type), but I'm not gonna harp on about it forever. It's just video games. I feel like Cecil and I are kinda on the same page (I feel the same about the other adventure games you mentioned---especially agree about Kentucky Route Zero), so at least one person kinda sorta gets where I'm coming from. Good enough for me.

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I thought the gameplay in KR0 was nice. The balance of multiple choice text, stylised driving and point and click movement feels like it's functional and in some places specifically enjoyable, but complimenting/enhancing rather than distracting from the presentation of the story (which is what adventure games are meant to be about, right? Gameplay that supports/progresses the story).

For Vella it's supposed to be Mog Chothra, but almost every character you meet seems to like Mog Chothra, so it's confusing. Plus when MC finally appears it's a floating grey blob with no apparent sentient thought. It's no more a villain than a dog eating out of a dog bowl. So the adventure we're invited to go on is 'stop this creature eating things'. Wouldn't it be more compelling as a teenage girl character to stop the adults in the story from happily feeding their teenage daughters to a monster, since they are the ones choosing to do that, or at least find out why they're doing it?

To me, it feels like Shay and Vella aren't meant to be super rational - they're kids who're finding their own sense of agency and independence at an age where most of us made our own fair share of poor decisions. Vella (like Shay, I suppose, but Vella's motivations are a little more grounded) is totally fixed on her goal. She's not really focused on paying attention to the people around her - if they don't want to help with her mission to break with tradition and destroy Mog Chothra, then she isn't interested in engaging with them beyond what she needs to get past the hurdles she faces.

Personally, I would've loved to have seen her have some accountability for her actions (something few adventure game protagonists have to deal with) as a coming-of-age thing that shows her growth into a more mature person, but at the same time I kinda like that she stays true to her character in the end when she unleashes her aggression on Mareki.

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I thought the gameplay in KR0 was nice. The balance of multiple choice text, stylised driving and point and click movement feels like it's functional and in some places specifically enjoyable, but complimenting/enhancing rather than distracting from the presentation of the story (which is what adventure games are meant to be about, right? Gameplay that supports/progresses the story).

I still haven't finished KR0. I've only done 3 or 4 episodes. But I do like the strange, mysterious, dream-like atmosphere and story that it has very much. And the driving part is pretty cool. My memory is kinda vague on the dialogues at this point, but I remember them being well-written and interesting. As for the gameplay, though, I remember it being sort of simplistic "click-through" gameplay/puzzles, and I agree with Cecil that the Gemini Rue gameplay (excluding the shootout mini-games) kinda feels that way a little too. (Acknowledging again that I have played only the first two segments.)

I agree that gameplay should compliment/support the story instead of being kinda jammed in there just to have some, but at the same time, if the gameplay isn't engaging, then it feels like it's in there just so it is still technically a game (instead of, say, a visual novel) or that the gameplay is reduced to provide as frictionless an environment to the story/pacing as possible. And once you start reducing gameplay to create a frictionless environment for story, you are inching toward The Telltale Method. (Not to say that is an absolutely bad thing, but it is fairly not what some of us want from this style of game.) Probably some people are gonna be more cool with that than others, though.

Blackwell really set a new high bar for me in this department. Story and characters are 10/10, but it still manages to have real point-and-click puzzles that test your problem solving. But solving those problems is an exercise in reinforcing the story and making it better rather than a distraction from the story or a way to merely relieve "dialogue fatigue". The puzzles are as much the story as the dialogue is. For example, in a lot of point-and-clicks, the puzzle is a sort of "how do I get out of this room" type situation. It is a problem you weren't thinking about until 3 seconds ago. Then you solve it. Then you never think about it again. Blackwell does this cool thing where the solution to the first puzzle you solve turns out to be the solution to puzzles that occur WAY later, but with a slight twist on the way the solution worked last time. And best of all, the way information gather from NPCs is used to contemplate leads and solve problems makes paying attention to dialogue part of the gameplay, whereas in most point-and-clicks you could theoretically just click through the dialogue and just do the puzzles, and it wouldn't matter at all. (So much for story and gameplay supporting each other.) The idea that you learn a solution or skill and then keep applying it to new situations is a tried-and-true rule of good gameplay in every other genre, and yet point-and-clicks seem to disregard that whole notion and stick to doing one-off problems in a way that no other genre does. So when Blackwell kinda did that, it really got my attention and made it feel more gamey.

Broken Age kinda does that a little bit, too, with puzzles that are kind of recurring where you have to do a thing that was sorta similar to last time but slightly different (e.g., space weaver puzzles, teleporter puzzles, re-using the whipped cream nozzle, new application of the cereal-dispensing arm, new application of Vella's death ray, etc). I feel like adventure games feel like they kinda HAVE TO do the one-off thing to be a *real* adventure game, but if they could hit that gameplay note of re-applying learned knowledge more often, that would be just amazing.

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I thought the gameplay in KR0 was nice. The balance of multiple choice text, stylised driving and point and click movement feels like it's functional and in some places specifically enjoyable, but complimenting/enhancing rather than distracting from the presentation of the story (which is what adventure games are meant to be about, right? Gameplay that supports/progresses the story).

The gameplay should support the story, but it has to meaningful gameplay that doesn't compromise player agency.

I never felt that the walking, the interactions and the driving in Kentucky actually added anything useful in the game. For me, that gameplay felt like a compromise, that it was there not because that it was meaningful interactions, but because games need interactions in some form. It was like in Swords&Sorcery; - click here to proceed. And when a game gives me that feeling, then I start to question why it can't just play that part itself.? It there is only one thing available to do, why do I have to do it?

I do like multiple choice dialogues, but most things between where annoyances more then fun gameplay.

Valiant Hearts is another similiar game. Exceptional art, great emotional story, and pretty lame gameplay. Always just one way forward, one simple puzzle at a time. Click here to proceed.

The more controlled I am, and the more handholding I'm forced to accept, the less interested I get in a game. That's why I felt Broken Age was a game made for me, it focused on the aspects of adventure games where most other games in the genre continues to disappoint me.

I'm aware that I might not fully have understood Kentucky Route Zero, that I missed vital aspects of it, but the feeling I have now, is that if Kentucky Route Zero and Swords&Sorcery; are the way forward for adventure games, then I'm not really that interested anymore. They're not the kind of games that got me hooked on the genre. It has to be more then that.

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Finally finished it last night! I loved the second half of the game. For some reason, I felt a lot more immersed in the world the second time around, and enjoyed the game a lot more. I do think that the more complicated puzzles had a lot to do with that. Having to take notes, getting frustrated, and then getting that "eureka" moment when I finally figured out how to do the wiring puzzle was pretty great. I'm trying to get my fiance to play through now (with help from me), but after she saw my notes, and I explained what I had to do to figure out the wire puzzle, she looked at me like I was a crazy person, and went back to playing Hay Day. This is most definitely not her type of game.

But I loved it!

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