Can verbs be removed?

I am curious of the general opinion on this.

Do you think that verbs can be removed without breaking the game experience in a significant way?

Personally I can’t imagine Monkey 1 or 2 without verbs. I think verbs play an important role not only in puzzle quality but also in immersiveness. But I can’t totally explain why.

EDIT: I am interested in comments like : “no, without verbs we would lose this puzzle in this game, and this puzzle is too good to lose” or “this puzzle could be redesigned like this, and we would not lose it”.

EDIT: examples:

  1. push wardrobe (to find a safe hidden behind it). the most obvious usage for the wardrobe is “open”, but “push” still makes sense on it. How do you redesign this without verbs? Even if you can, the question is: can you always redesign such puzzles to work with a single “interact” verb?

  2. hide inside wardrobe. Again, the most obvious usage is “open”, but “hide inside” makes sense.

  3. push person (while she is on the ledge). Most obvious usage is “talk to”, but “push” makes sense.

  4. walk through window. The most obvious usage is “open”, but “walk through” makes sense. (Broken Sword gives this puzzles away)

  5. shake tree (to make a coconut fall down). the most obvious usage is “climb” or “cut”, but “shake” makes sense.


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When you say removing the verbs, how would the game work?

I’ve always really liked the way text input (correct terminology?) games work, probably from lots of Space Quest playing as a kid. When I started playing games like MI it took me a while to get to grips with the verb UI. I don’t know if that’s because I wasn’t used to it. I still find it a bit fiddly/arduous but I suppose it’s a more concise way of telling the character what to do, as there aren’t as many variables - and it was sometimes frustrating playing text input games where using the slightly wrong word led to much dejection.

Well, there was a conversation about the matter on the blog (only Nor could find it in a reasonable time).
As I said back then, since the screen is totally drawn, once you’ve mastered the keyboard shortcuts, as long as you use a keyboard, you could have the verbs disappear from the screen in TWP too.
Anyway this is just what you see: gameplay mechanics remain unaltered.
In this specific case, if it affects the experience of the game or not, it depends on your familiarity with keyboard shortcuts.

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you just click, and the game decides what happens: pick up, push, open, use, climb, hit, jump, kick, smell, listen, or whatever. (but you may have a separate button to look at stuff, and you can combine inventory objects with location objects or people)

Oh I see. I think I’d find that a bit too passive, as it would take away the challenge of having to work out what to do with the object. Like you say, it’d be less immersive as the game would be doing the work for you.

I’d like to read that conversation.

It is interesting to remove the verbs from the screen via keyboard shortcuts. However, maybe this only works if you always get visual feedback. You can do it for jump, but not for open… or maybe you can.

another possibility is to have popup verbs. there are various versions of this: from the coin in Monkey3 / Full throttle to the context-sensitive verbs in Beneath a Steel Sky. But this is not to “remove” verbs. (well, actually switching to context-sensitive verbs is a kind of removal, and the coin does remove pickup and push and open)

What if the player is using a device that has no physical keyboard?

I like the usual coin: it is both desktop and mobile-friendly.

Why you should remove verbs? It’s a trademark, it’s like removing batman suit to bruce wayne when is out in the dark catching criminals… you could right click verbs at cursor position but it wouldn’t be the same. Interfaces are cool, also the pointer and other stuff like that :slight_smile:

Q: Can verbs be removed?

A: Just get your self trapped in the Mindbender…ouch, why are you throwing stuff at me?!!

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I want to understand if Ron can sell more the next time, without making a crappy game.

Oh well, let’s check the archives…hmmm…
It wasn’t the Gdc '16 post, nor a podcast post, nor Ui changes… (Nor, can you hear me? Help!)
Oh, yes, I’ve found, they are
Check the comments. And thanks to the spirit of Nor.

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Thank you. It seems we are all Italians here :slight_smile:

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Siamo un nutrito gruppo, sì…

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If I do another adventure game, I will do it without verbs, I have a new idea that will revolutionize the point-and-click adventure… or be a complete piece of shit. You don’t know until you try.


I trust you genious mind!

BTW, I liked (and currently like) the verb interface, because it’s immediate to understand.

There is at least one person I know who has never played an adventure game before (he’s born in the year 2000) and has found Thimbleweed Park easy to learn. And he likes it a lot!

It’s curious to observe him while he does the schematic process for everything, even to open doors. He doesn’t like to right-click on the door, he prefers to click on OPEN, then on DOOR.

Verb removing is something hidden objects games do. I find it dull.

We need to differentiate between two different things when talking about verbs:
How the player logically interacts with the game (e.g. two verbs: use and look at),
and the implementation of an UI (e.g. verb grid, verb coin, single touch/click only etc.).

The UI can often be changed without really affecting the game mechanics, e.g.:

  • TWP uses a verb grid (i.e. always visible verb buttons in grid layout).
  • It could be easily replaced with a verb coin (i.e. verb buttons in circle layout, shown on demand; like MI3).
  • Or you could use keys/buttons to cycle through verbs (like Sam&Max).
  • Or it could be a text parser

You also need to have a mixture because you want to support different inputs, sometimes at the same time. E.g. you could use keyboard keys (allows many verbs) and also controller buttons (9 verbs would be too much) to directly select verbs. But you would still need an alternative for touch interfaces (which normally means an onscreen UI when having more than one verb).

Then there are additional features of such interfaces like only showing verbs depending on the context, having default verbs etc.

Note: Don’t forget that for a typical adventure game often another important mechanic is handling of inventory.
And switching characters. Never forget switching characters.

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I’ve also looked up other comment threads:


What would we do without you? :+1::+1::+1: