That’s not why they died. It is easier than it has ever been to create and release a good computer game. And that’s also the problem. GOG and Valve do not care about the quality of the games that they sell, and in fact Valve flaunted Australian Consumer Law for years by refusing to refund customers who purchased games incompatible with their system. Apple and Google are even worse, and both also openly flaunt the ACL (and probably many, many other laws as well). The most concerning thing of all is that they sell highly-addictive games with in-app purchases.
What has all this got to do with Adventure Games you ask? Well, at best you have a decent company in GOG - but even they do not stand by the quality of the games they sell. They will sell anything, and won’t offer a satisfaction guarantee. In fact their refund policy isn’t even in-line with the ACL - now on the one hand that’s fine if they want to have a policy in-line with Polish law (although I doubt it is), but they have to have a policy for their Australian customers in-line with our law, and probably the same for many other countries. What’s not in line with the ACL you ask, well the fact they say that “If, within 30 days after the purchase of your game, you experience technical problems or game-breaking bugs that prevent you from finishing your game, contact our customer support. They will do their best to help you fix the problem and if, at the end of their attempts to solve the problem your game is still not working, we’ll give you back your money.” But the ACL requires that they guarantee the product for the full length of its expected lifetime - which probably means until the OS’s they were designed for become redundant, and it certainly means for as long as the user has the game installed on the original hardware they used when they purchased the game. Even EU regulation (and therefore Polish law) requires that this guarantee is maintained for the first two years after purchase, and they also have the right to change of mind on all digital purchases for 14 days with the exception that you must not download the digital purchase before asking for a change of mind refund (same link). Also, this is not acceptable either- “We know that, since we’re the Internet’s leading DRM-free gaming platform, our Money Back Guarantee offer here is open to a certain amount of abuse. If you’re being a bad person who’s abusing our trust of you and asking for a whole lot of your games to be refunded and we can’t resolve your problems, we’ll have to stop offering you refunds.” they are within their rights to bar customers who have “abused” their refund policy, but if they continue to sell to their Australian customers they need to guarantee the products they are selling.
So the problem is that we cannot trust the game publishers. They’re as grubby as anything. I like GOG, but I don’t have confidence in their products - I would only buy something I know is going to be worthwhile. We need a publisher like Nintendo that will only publish and sell quality games, but unlike Nintendo will also guarantee the game technically and to satisfaction of their customers. That’s what we need, plain and simple. If such a publisher existed, and they were well-known like GOG and Valve then it would be very very easy for quality game companies to produce and release their games. Without that all consumers have are review sites, and 99% of review sites (speaking generally not just about games) are fraudulent and exist to advertise and make money on commission.
I own the presently empty and unused scumm.net domain name, if someone wants to collaborate in setting up an online platform to sell quality adventure games - I’m all yours. In fact if someone was able to do this and doesn’t want my help but can convince me they can do it I would even prepay for 10 years registration and then give them the domain name for free. In fact I have a great idea on how to set this up, but I would need help especially on the back-end development.
The reason why Thimbleweed Park was successful is because it was backed by well known and loved, and most importantly trusted, game developers. Ron’s name and endorsement made a huge difference.
Without digging too much into the subject: It sounds reasonable that publishing has an effect on the quality of games in some way. On the other side it’s a matter of information and filtering. Do you care about those 1000 awful games as long as you’re properly informed about the one which matters?
In the end, I don’t think that it makes this much of a difference. It’s the lack of great adventures which matters. Therefore I remain with my statement.
It’s easier making some game but it isn’t this much easier making a great game because it still takes resources, talent, dedication and some sort of substance.
Right. But think about when you had a Nintendo console vs Sega/Microsoft/Sony. You knew you were getting a good quality game on Nintendo, they had a higher standard. They took more things into account as well, e.g. long load times were a no-no. And it was easy to tell the good games from the bad ones because Nintendo wouldn’t publish the bad ones, and the other good ones on the compeditor’s systems tended to be “exclusive” to their platforms. Rather easy to tell.
Indeed. Things can go wrong on their side, too. In Germany, THQ distributed every version of Maniac Mansion after the initial disk release with a game breaking bug, ie. you can’t use the mailbox. This is due to their own crack gone wrong. Mailing to the support only directed people to a walkthrough. They also didn’t care about the Monkey Island code wheel, but at least they helped people by mailing them a public link of the image so that they can make their own. They didn’t even ask for prove that you bought the game, which pretty much defeats the purpose.
GOG on the other hand promises money back, if a game doesn’t work. I never made use of that, though, as they do care and make sure the games work.
Also Steam gives money back under certain conditions, and I once made use of it with a game I couldn’t get to run properly.
Of course, if you bought the key elsewhere, you might be out of luck if something goes wrong. Depends on the seller.
Neither did LucasArts back in the day. I think their ethos to help customers with technical problems was a higher priority for them, plus in the 90’s no one had a digital camera nor a fax machine at home (even with a fax machine you’d have to have your receipt you could actually feed through one or go to the bank and print of a bank statement and then redact the other transactions).
Well that’s probably LucasArt’s fault as they most likely supplied it that way. Monkey Island 2 KIXX (English) used a 2-byte patch to monkey2.001 to disable copy protection, I know because I made a patch very very long ago that could convert between the versions (take copy protection off or re-apply it). In fact I can show you-
Interesting. I know of the KIXX Amiga version, which has a much larger patch then this.
THQ patched the executable. Thus the bug never appeared in ScummVM.
I once made an unofficial patch for the German version, which basically restores the original executable and changes the game script instead. Just in case someone still wants to play an affected DOS version on a true DOS PC without ScummVM, here it is: http://www.gratissaugen.de/files/MMFIX.ZIP
I get what you mean but gate keeping is a two sided sword. There might be an increase of quality (although my particular beef with Nintendo is, that I have no interest in the majority of their games.) So, a level of production values, technical expertise and blabla, provides a basis but doesn’t automatically guarantee entertaining content. On the other side all the wonders, a more open platform like itch.io is able to offer, would be gone (unless, you include such a category as well.)
Setting up filters, checking out reviews and playthroughs, can already bring you up to 70% close to the truth. What I like about itch is, that some games can be fully downloaded, without paying for them. Once you enjoy a game, you can pay for it, and if you really like it, add something on top. I pay for content I like, so, this is pretty perfect and gets me 100% close to the truth.
You can also do a quality check by following certain people/devs/studios, like, whilst not every game from Ron Gilbert is great (he’ll hate me forever, first my opinions about sound, now this) but he also has certain principles you can rely on. The rest is like life itself, sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.
Btw. are you an Aussie?
No idea. I started playing point&click adventures with Zak on the Amiga (game design, mouse) and I bought it afterwards, kind of like itch but with additional art. THQ cracked their own version of MM?
Apple’s future is interesting. If they don’t screw it up, they have so many options.
Due to their technological lead on the mobile platform, their audience, already established store, love for design, they could be the first coming up with a fast enough pretty wireless mass market VR device. Something more advanced than the Quest. Before VR 2 happens, wireless, with higher res/fov, more power, and much better tracking/input devices.
“Patched” it and not recompiled it from the source? Jeez no wonder. The MS-DOS cracking programs to remove copy protection always worked fine for me (what was it called again that program with a database of games?) However they did things their own way, the above is patched from the official release, the MI Madness has a launcher that bypasses it entirely, but it also bypasses the “Lite” option as well (but it needed to have a different launcher anyway to save games to the hard disk as the game was on a CD-ROM).
What for Monkey2? Seriously? It’s two freaking bytes because you enter 4 numbers representing a finite number of options. Although if you repeatedly press any key while MI2 is launching it always gives you the same question which means you just needed to remember the one answer (it doesn’t even try to start from a random seed it just cycles from a starting point - one symbol one on side of the code-wheel is removed allowing it to cycle through all combinations except for the removed symbol, eventually). I can’t think of which it is offhand, but you’re free to check. And I figured that puzzle out without ever having to see a recording or anything, I simply noticed the missing symbol as a kid - and it’s rather obvious if you think about it because they cycle through in the same order over and over.
Actually the correct term is “hack” which means to make a literal hack in the code to improve something. But often of course when you make a hack you create an unintended consequence elsewhere.
* says the guy with an iBook and 2 MacBook Pro’s sitting on the desk nearby (bought between 2003 and 2013). But with Apple’s current portfolio (both hard- and software), these will not see any new addition in the foreseeable future.
I am a big fan of Apple. With the wake of iTunes, iPods, iPhones and iPads, with the Mac supplier transitions (Motorola/IBM/Intel, yes I have seen them all, I’m that old) I have noticed that really the only thing I have been a fan of is MacOS. I have had my disagreements with the development of the OS, but still it’s the only system that is an extension of my fingers. Android comes as a good second.
That’s highly subjective, of course, but I would say “absolutely”. OSX 10.4 was very good (and possibly the best version on PowerPC hardware), and then OSX 10.6 marked the peak for me. There were some good technical advances in later versions (I think it was 10.9 that synchronized timers system-wide to allow the CPU to enter deeper sleep states for longer more often), but there was also a lot of bloat, and constant push for the cloud. And since they switched to a yearly release cycle, it seems to me they have a hard time adding worthwhile features or doing bigger improvements under the hood. (Even before, not every version was a “good” one. I went 10.2 -> 10.4 -> 10.6 -> 10.9 -> 10.11 -> 10.13. I likely would still be at 10.9 if (a) it would continue to receive security fixes and (b) I didn’t have a software project I wanted to keep compatible with the newer versions.
In a way, I think they suffer the same issue that Microsoft has with Windows, and from which some open source projects seem to suffer as well: they have something that’s as good as it can get, with most of the features anyone could want, and they can’t just leave it at that. At some point, neither taking stuff away nor adding new stuff will improve matters.