Favorite adventure game interface style

We’ll just have to wait for a neural interface, then :wink:

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Interesting. You are afraid of people missing jokes.

But I wonder… what you say implies that Sierra games are flawed. I mean, there is no mouseover there. And they are full of jokes. And nobody seemed to consider it a problem.

recently I played freddy pharkas. If I wanted jokes, I just clicked around everywhere. I did not feel this as a problem…

Well, that specific case is a joke, and I feel jokes are important, but even in serious games, things like that help building an immersion.

And… Sierra games ARE flawed :stuck_out_tongue: or did you uncheck “annoying in-jokes”? I never liked the text interface - mostly because I’m not a native English speaker, so I had a very hard time playing them when I was a kid, but even now - having to guess what to do or what a bunch of pixels are breaks the immersion I’m always talking about. You don’t feel anymore like you’re part of the game, but you’re now a user of a dumb machine that doesn’t understand what you want to do.

And even if you know what those pixels are, you get betrayed by the interface itself. I was trying to get the 100% ending in Laura Bow and I couldn’t advance at all until I found out that “look bin” and “look into bin” are two beeping different interactions. A system that taught you to minimize what you write because prepositions and articles could confuse the parser, suddenly NEEDS a preposition to make you do something.

If this isn’t flawed, I don’t know what is.

ok but what I meant is: the later Sierra games (the point&click ones), are they flawed because they don’t have mouseover?

I feel like you’re using a strawman argument against me. I never said “mouseover is vital”. I said it is important, but it is important mostly to show what you can interact with or not. The last Sierra game I played was Larry 7, and you had some kind of mouseover - that is, the cursor changed when on a hotspot.

If you DON’T have a means of telling the player “you can use this thing”, like in mobile games without hotspot highlighting, then you can’t resort on single click. That’s what I’m saying.

Against? wait, I am just chatting. I am not trying to contradict you or prove you wrong. sorry if it looked like i did.

Sorry, sometimes it’s difficult to me to convey the correct tone of what I want to say. I’m not saying we are at war or something :stuck_out_tongue: I’m not upset or anything. Would “on me” have been better?

The thing is, I feel you misinterpreted my point - or you focused on something secondary to derive a conclusion.

Anyway, I don’t want to convince you my solution is “better”, because it’s a matter of tastes. But since I’m quite passionate about game design and I spent some time trying to figure out what would have been the best interface for my own game, I like to discuss :smiley:

Either way, if a game is fun and well-designed I don’t care about the interface, unless it’s really awful. I played some single-touch games and I liked them nonetheless. It’s just that old-school games make me want to explore way more than those single-touch games did.

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Awww, memories… do you remember from which game comes this image?

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Beneath A Steel Sky.


For P’n’C adventures: Text verb interface.

The worst mistake for me in coin interfaces, is that they in most games are context sensitive. So for a given item, it reveals to you IE. that you can push, but not pull the item.

Beside from that I must admit I don’t really know why. Text verbs just gives me the best experience. Only other interface I would rank up with it, is Looms music interface.

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Looks at exit…

“Hey! Who’s been messing with this? It was an entrance when I came in!”

If the primary function is useless, leave it out and make “look at” the primary function. The point of adventure games is to solve puzzles while enjoying a great story, not to be frustrated to death.

What you’re advocating is bad user interface design in order to add artificial complexity in areas that are not even remotely connected to any reason anyone would have to pick up a game.

are you saying that being able (for example) to cut a lemon into slices is a bad thing unless it is needed to advance the story?

I’m not jrial, but: Yes, exactly. The puzzles in an adventure game should be there to push the story further.

ok, but cutting the lemon is not a puzzle. are you saying that the only actions that should be allowed are actions that advance the story?

Generally speaking, yes.

Exceptions can be made for “red herring” objects whose ineffectiveness becomes a running gag. Or objects which seem to have an obvious function, but result in a hilarious event when attempting to use them.

For example, I wouldn’t mind the following puzzle: I am standing outside a house, which I need to enter. I look in the flowerpot, and there’s the key. When attempting to use the key on the door, a little peek hole slides open and the inhabitant asks me what the hell I think I’m doing trying to break into their home. This startles my character and causes him to fumble and drop the key into the sewers or somewhere equally inaccessible, forcing me to think of an alternative way to gain entry.

Of course, it must be made perfectly clear that the goal is not to retrieve the key, so that the player will think of secondary solutions:

  • Perhaps the goal now becomes obtaining a ladder which can be leaned against the open window at the side of the house?
  • Perhaps the trick lies in persuading the inhabitant to grant you entry? Maybe through a humorous dialogue where you trick them? But it could also be disclosed that the inhabitant is paranoid for some reason and you have to somehow dispel their paranoia (e.g. by removing the source).
  • Perhaps you need to push over the scarecrow in the field behind the house and then hide behind some bushes. Now the inhabitant will see birds descending on his crops, at which point he will run out of the house to straighten the scarecrow, allowing you to slip in through the open door.

There’s nothing wrong with the “primary obvious solution doesn’t work, find another way” type of puzzles. Especially in humorous adventure games, where the failure is an opportunity to sneak in a nice gag.

However, an object that is just there to be used in an obvious manner, which has no connection at all to the plot, and which doesn’t serve a comedic purpose, has no place in an adventure game because it merely causes information overload. You want the player to focus on solving your puzzles, not on figuring out which objects serve a purpose and which ones are simply window dressing.

A recurring theme I see in your posts across many threads, is that you seem to have this idea stuck in your head that you are at odds with your player. That the relationship between you and the player must be one of hostility and mutual distrust. That your goal as a game developer is to put as many roadblocks in your player’s path as possible, so that they have a harder time not only figuring out the puzzles, but enjoying the game even. I wonder why you believe such a game would sell in the first place, and why you have such difficulty envisioning a positive relationship with your player where you provide them with a product that brings them amusement and joy, rather than trying to make their life as miserable as possible.

jrial, I think the problem is that you are starting from a false premise: you seem to believe that, if something is not needed to advance the story, then it is a red herring, or at any rate a hindrance. I believe this premise to be wrong. The quickest way to explain the reason would be to play Ultima 7. If you do, it will be clear that, even if something does not advance the story, it can have an important function: to make the world feel more real, and to increase immersion. Sometimes interaction is an end in itself, not a means. We should clearly distinguish between interaction and puzzles: they are not the same thing. And even “information overload”, to some extent, can be necessary to make you feel you are in a world.

So, yes, if you start from the false premise that “not needed for the story” implies “red herring” or “hindrance”, I understand why you had the impression that I wanted to make the player’s life miserable. But it is not so. The idea is to increase immersion.

This is a complete different genre. You are comparing two different things.

An adventure game is about a) the story and b) the puzzles. The more possibilities, objects and informations you add, the more difficult will it be for the player to identify and solve the puzzles and thus push the story forward. You can of course add alternative solutions. But these solutions are still focused on the (main) puzzles and the story.

In Ultima and other role playing games the additional elements are there for a reason: For example if you are baking bread, you can sell the bread and then buy better armor. So these elements aren’t there only to increase the immersion. They are there for a reason.

What you are thinking of is a “world simulator”. And that’s not a classic adventure game, it’s more a role playing game or something like Minecraft. Have you played for example Else Heart.Break()? This adventure game gives you a lot of freedom (it simulates a whole city). But as a player you are “lost” at certain points. You don’t know exactly what to do next.

Only if he plays by mindlessly trying everything. If he plays by following the story, by only doing what it makes sense to do in the current context, and only going where it makes sense to go in the current context, if in other words he behaves like a normal human being, I don’t see why he could have problems going forward.

Unless, of course, the game is not well written and expects you to do things that your character does not have reason to do. But this is a design flaw in the first place. (Edit: at least for games with many interactable objects.)

Interesting but in Ultima 7 you can do a lot of things that do not help becoming stronger. You can sleep, sit down, climb on top of stuff, switch lights on and off, slaughter animals, you can grow crops, build wooden swords, prepare your meals, and a lot more. Also you can meet characters that are not needed to advance the story or to become stronger. These things are not there “for a reason” in the sense that you mean. And at any rate, I think Ultima 7 would still work perfectly without any fighting or enemies or stats.

Looks fantastic, I will try it when I have time.

I have read various of your comments in various threads, and I’ve come to find that when it comes to game design, my views are the complete opposite of yours on every single level. No, I definitely do not think that this is a false premise. Some distraction is allowed, but a good game is tight, focused, and does not disrespect its players by wasting their time with random nonsense that does not bring any reward whatsoever. If you want that, and there are valid reasons for wanting that kind of gameplay, you play a sandbox game rather than a graphical adventure.

Drinking a glass of water does not advance the plot, does not lead to comedic situations, so it only takes up time and offers zero reward in return. If it’s just the one glass, or a few, there’s not much of a problem. I didn’t find the drinking fountains in TWP to be problematic, and from where I am in the game they sure don’t seem to serve the plot. But if you start littering your world to the point where the ratio of useless to useful objects becomes too great, you’re just wasting your own time designing all that stuff in, just so you can then waste someone else’s time when they decide to pick up your game. This is a situation in which both you and the player lose.

Which is an RPG. Which adventure games are not. What’s next? Putting in accurate HOTAS controls and a realistic physics-based flight simulator, with its own set of controls that only make sense in the 10 minute part where you’re actually flying, for that one scene where you need to steal a cropduster?

Which, again, is stuff that applies to RPGs, sandbox games, 3D shooters to some extent, and probably some other genres I forgot. But not to adventure games. Adventure games are about story and puzzles, not simulating a realistic sandbox world.

To give an example from another thread: when the player starts randomly clicking around because they feel stuck (and you proposed doing away with mouseover object highlighting), you want to “solve” this by having the game detect it, display a message on the screen telling the player this is not how to play the game, accompanied by a 20 second countdown during which the player is unable to interact with the game world. How does this nonsense create realism, immersion? And there are countless other examples where you propose the idea of actively fighting your players so that they would play the game the way you want it to be played, or needlessly complicating the UI, adding unnecessary distractions, … In fact, it’s a recurring theme with you to constantly fight your players, throw up roadblocks, make their tasks harder without good reason. So yes, I think “making the player’s life miserable” is a pretty accurate description of your general attitude towards game design.

Whenever you feel you have to actively oppose your players, it means you screwed up somewhere in the game design. The proper response is to analyse your design, perhaps ask advice from someone who’s more experienced and who can explain it to you in a way you understand (because despite our best efforts, we seem to be getting nowhere), but it’s not, never punishing the players for your shortcomings as a game designer.

Then why do you need the additional content? If the player ignores the additional stuff, you are wasting your time putting the objects in the game. And if the player notice all the other objects and possibilities he will be confused as jrial pointed out already (what is the water for? why do I have to bake the bread? Do I have to combine the sword with the door? …)

I haven’t played Ultima 7 - but similar role playing games. In these games you could just build a wooden sword and throw it away. But you could use it. And that is the point: The crafted objects are part of the game concept. Sleeping, turning the lights on and all the other actions are useful in a particular case - am I right?

No. :slight_smile: The elements in a game are there for a reason. The developer has included and adjusted all these elements carefully to form the whole game (ok, in most cases :)).

If you remove the fighting in a role playing game you end up with a boring game, because you removed the challenge. In the best case you will get something like Minecraft - but that’s a complete different game!

Another example: You can remove all puzzles from TWP. The story would be still there. But would it still be fun to play TWP?