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The "Death of Adventure Games"

I was a big player of DOOM and Quake and Castle Wolfenstein back then. These games are really fun, but they are not as endearing or as fondly remembered as the adventure games.

There were a couple of things back then that were very puzzling (no pun intended) like as when LA pulled the plug on the Sam and Max sequel based on “some numbers from Europe” when the game was almost completed and the fans eagerly awaited it. Certainly didn’t contribute.

I used to like FPS shooters but I pretty much abandoned them several years ago. The lack of any narrative was the most annoying thing to me and also the fact that they are quite repetitive and somewhat boring. I might still buy the latest Call of Duty because I love WWII games, but that would be a notable exception. I had much more fun with mixed FPS/Adventure games like Half Life and even Uncharted. Right now I mostly play open world games. I do miss the fact there aren’t any more point-and-click adventures, which is why I loved TWP.

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I’m not sure if my logical thinking is because I loved these adventure games when I grew up, or if I loved these adventure games because I was a logical thinker…

I am an Art Director (often marketing advisor), working with big worldwide brands. And I’m also a website coder, today working mostly with WordPress. And doing the actual php/javascript/css coding stuff, not just using Installatron and installing fancy themes (well, I never do that). People who know me say I’m the most engineer-like artist they’ve ever met.

When I was 14 (I think), I said I’d like to create graphics with a computer and code my programs. I remember I was playing Loom when I said that. I learned how to draw imitating the graphics on Lucas’ boxes. No idea how I was steered to website coding, but that might just be due to being interested in computers since my junior years. When I was maybe 15 I managed to translate parts of MI2 to Finnish with my Amiga.

But yeah, I’d say Lucas adventures are the reason I do what I do instead of being a car mechanic or something.


Have you ever taken a look at Alien: Isolation? It’s a game that takes advantage of the desolation and loneliness you mentioned. The most atmospheric 3D game I’ve ever played! It’s not exactly a shooter, but rather a survival/stealth game. You have to hide from antagonists very often (e.g. inside of a locker) or have to distract them. A hand with a gun is only visible as long as you are pressing the button for targeting. Whenever you shoot in this game, you actually act in self-defense. Ammunition is very rare. At the beginning of the game, you don’t even have any weapon. And, thanks to a map, you don’t get lost too easily. I found the game very thrilling. I usually don’t like FPS, but Alien: Isolation is different, and IMHO it’s a must for everyone who likes the Alien movies, especially the first one! You will definitely feel that you’re controlling a character.

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I´m aware of that game and even though I haven´t played it myself, I admit it looks interesting. I wouldn´t consider it a first person shooter though, the current first person jump scare horror thing seems to be an entirely different beast.

I do recall that the '00s were particularly devoid of good P&C adventures, and lately they appear to be a bit on the decline again, but the past years they were anything but a dead genre. Completely overshadowed by more widely popular types of games for sure, but at least for me there was a steady supply of fresh, quality gems. My personal P&C adventure renaissance began in 2010 with the aptly named “A New Beginning”, followed by

  • Resonance (2012)
  • Deponia (2012)
  • Chains of Satinav (2012)
  • Chaos on Deponia (2012)
  • Memoria (2013)
  • Goodbye Deponia (2013)
  • Jack Keane 2 (2013)
  • The Night of the Rabbit (2013)
  • Randal’s Monday (2014)
  • Broken Sword 5 (2014)
  • The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 (2015)
  • Broken Age (2015)
  • Technobabylon (2015)
  • Deponia Doomsday (2016)
  • Shardlight (2016)

There’s definitely more to be had, depending on your particular taste (and maybe I forgot one or two I played), but I definitely bought more P&C Adventures than, say, RPGs during that period.

Edit: I also remember enjoying this series of articles that covered a wide selection of beloved classics of the genre, in 2014. More proof to me that it is not dead, only niche ;-).


Somehow same happened to me.
I started translating games with Amiga, as well as ripping images, sprites, and music with… uhmm… I don’t remember but was a fantastic program, it searched for bitplanes in memory areas…

This is a very interesting topic and I have a couple questions that maybe someone from the team can answer or clarify. If you compare the team who worked on TWP and Monkey Island 1, they are about the same size, and the game took as long to develop… Is that because TWP included developing the engine? I’m not sure about that. I think the reason is that in adventure games a much higher percentage of the time is spent in deciding the story, writing dialogs, polishing puzzles, … And that is not any faster today than 25 years ago.

Other areas of artistic creation like movies have drastically seen the cost of production going down in terms of equipment and how much faster certain processes are… I don’t think it’s the case for adventure games.

Basically, you need to reach the same number of players as 25 years ago in order to keep the business going, because the process is as streamlined as it can be.

As someone said on the blog/twitter or steam I would really love that Terrible Toybox is profitable enough so Ron, Gary and David can keep doing what they love and don’t need to get real jobs :blush: But the market is the market, and I don’t think TWP has exceeded the expectations that the team had… I hope I’m wrong and, as Ron said, the tail is thick and long.

Maybe there’s a niche between TWP and the object finding games, a place where good storytelling and a certain level of frustration of hard puzzles sells like crazy.

[quote=“ChronoShades734, post:3, topic:275, full:true”]
Additionally, Is the consensus of this community that TellTale didn’t do it any favors? The episodic release is a terrible format for games that require any sort of immersion. I haven’t played any recently, but I can’t even recall finishing one single series. Have they bastardized it completely, or am I the minority opinion?
[/quote]I have no problem with the episodic release. If you don’t like to wait for the next episode, you always had the option to wait for the end of the season before you start playing.

“Sam & Max” all seasons, “Tales of Monkey Island” and “Back to the Future”, I would recommend any time.

After that, starting with “Jurassic Park” they massively changed their style. There are barely any puzzles anymore, and you get the most annoying form of quick time events imaginable. Those are no real adventures anymore, imho.


I’d put money on the idea that an abnormal percentage of us fit in this category. We were in on the home computer thing earlier than most because we were a bit more technically inclined than the other kids, adventure games were one of the few things available, and puzzles were just fine with us because we were already dealing with the puzzle of working with command-line driven interfaces. When a modern FPS gamer has problems with his computer, it’s probably an old adventure gamer that is helping him get it straightened out.

At this point most of us have jobs and other responsibilities that provide us with more puzzles than we need. Taking a week (or a month) to solve an adventure game is less interesting than it used to be. I don’t mean that it isn’t fun, it just isn’t the highlight that it used to be. I am absolutely not concerned about adventure games “dying”, and I’m happy that we have a difficult time agreeing what an adventure game even is. It means that game ideas continue to evolve and defy simple categorization.

What will never die is the fact that my daughter’s name is in the phonebook of a Ron freakin’ Gilbert game. I don’t know that I will ever enjoy an old-style adventure game like I used to, but what could cooler than combining your new love with your old love?


Can I say something controversial? I just played 30 mins of the first episode of The Walking Dead and I have to say it’s very good…

It makes me question whether puzzles are really important in a story. You can do a game where you can interact but you don’t have puzzles, you can’t get stuck, you can’t be confused. and it works…

However, Thimbleweed Park is very intuitive and gives a lot of clues for pretty much everything. As such, I don’t think any of the game is particularly hard, and when one gets stuck there’s typically other stuff to be getting on with due to the open design of the game (which is highly commendable).

I’d say that the difficulty of TWP on hard mode is moderate.

Some things are crushingly obvious such as looking at the t-shirt granted to Delores and having it described as precisely the design for the specific tube you need for the factory main entrance. This makes the next step almost excruciatingly simple. They could have just had the following said when looking at the t-shirt: “It’s the T-shirt Uncle Chuck gave me. He must have really loved tubes; there’s a very peculiar and special looking tube design on this T-shirt.”

Or: “… I’ve never seen this tube design before.”

Or something even less obvious.

There are a number of moments in the game like this, but I think it’s a very well balanced game which could have helped us just a smidge less.

[quote=“seguso, post:52, topic:275”]
It makes me question whether puzzles are really important in a story. You can do a game where you can interact but you don’t have puzzles, you can’t get stuck, you can’t be confused. and it works…
[/quote]Yes, those have a story. I agree with that. You might call them interactive movies or visual novels, packed with quick time events. Those are genres which work without puzzles, since they are indeed primarily made to tell a story. I just wouldn’t call them adventure games. That’s all.
I don’t like them. But I’m sure there is a market for that style of game. Telltale wouldn’t have continued making them that way if it weren’t.
And I think, it would have been fair, if Telltale had a big warning about this massive style change on their site.

I also had much more fun playing Doom than the later Telltale games, yet I never stopped playing adventure games as well. So for me, Doom and other popular action games certainly weren’t a reason for any decline in adventure games.

Yes, Telltale games are story games, they are not puzzle games however.
I haven´t played most after the first two Sam & Max Games, so I don´t know for sure, but most people who did say they only simulate interactivty through decisions, but in the end the outcome is almost always more or less the same.
I can´t confirm that myself, though but I heard many were dissapointed in that regard. What they most certainly are not is puzzle games.
The genre got it´s name from the game Collosal Cave Adventure, a text adventure that was the spirtual predecessor to games like Kings Quest which was the inspiration for Maniac Mansion.
All those are puzzle games where you can really move around and interact freely, they were not anything like interactive movies.

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This wouldn’t include adventure games like (the original) Grim Fandango then! :scream:

Or the 1987 spanish precursor of the genre by Paco Menendez and Juan Delcan known as “La abadia del Crimen” based on the novel “The name of the rose” by Umberto Eco.

I’d sign that! It started with Jurassic Park, being a QTE fest.
I enjoyed all the games before, so no need to complain. But I have moved on.

As @seguso mentioned: Puzzles may not be important in a story. I also (sometimes) read books, i.e. stories without puzzles at all. But a good adventure game for me is more something like MI, TWP and Telltale’s older games, but not their new ones.

Alien: Isolation is probably the only AAA (= DRM infested) title I have played since many years (since HL2 I think).

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Reading titles like Jurassic Park and Back to the Future here on this blog always makes me wonder why there has never been any 2D point & click game based on one of those movies. And why does it need to be 3D?

When it comes to Alien, I understand that there would have to be the possibility of dying as a thrilling component due to the horror genre. But, in my opinion, the Nazi fights from the Indy games have proven that even this would be feasible in a 2D point & click game.

BttF: I have no idea, there should be much more point’n’click adventures about it!

Jurassic Park: It’s an action movie with roaring dinosaurs… I don’t think its typical audience cares much for adventure games.

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