The "three core issues" with TWP and why Ron is wrong

After reading (again) through Ron’s blog, I stumbled (again) over the “Friday Questions #2”. There is one question by uriel about how (more) marketing could influence the success of TWP. In his answer Ron identifies three “core issues” with TWP - and in my opinion he is wrong in every aspect.

I can only speak for the German market and here adventures don’t have a “huge stigma”. The majority of Influencers (especially the press) liked the game, TWP hasn’t just a “Scooby Doo” story (have a look at some Daedalic games!) and I still don’t get it why the Kickstarter campaign wasn’t successful at the end (especially the development blog was a marketing scoop and attracted a lot of people).

But there are two things, Ron hasn’t mentioned and that IMHO prevent the sales going through the roof:

  1. A lot of (younger) players don’t like pixel graphics.

  2. The story is obviously written by nerds for nerds. The game starts with a detective story and some mystery. But the more time you play the more the story becomes a story for (real) nerds - even if you deactivate the in-game jokes. Just think about the whole Thimblecon or the text adventure part.

Now I would like to know what you think. Is Ron right?

I think I partly agree.

Ron´s points:

  1. Yes I talked to german players and the fed up with p´n´c games seems part seems to be partly true. Even if it´s a very good game many people just don´t care anymore.
  2. Yes, I´ve seen many players simply fed up with narrative games. Possibly because there is too much of it these days. I recently read a long article by a gamer who is simply fed up with every single game today having overly long cut scenes all the time, when he simply wants to focus on challenging gameplay. So if you get the feeling that this is all the game is you naturally shy away from it all the more.
  3. I don´t think this is true, but then again they probably would have lost me as as customer had they done that.
  4. Well talk about being too harsh on oneself…

Your points:

  1. Not true. Look at a lot of other retro pixel graphic games in other genres. They´re really successful and there seems to be no end in sight at the moment. Bit of a shame that it has to be adventure gamers of all people who seem to be so superficially preoccoupied with graphics.
  2. Yes, the target audience limits itself during the course of the game. I´m a grumpy male in my 30s who´s not a computer programmer I couldn´t possibly less of an target audience for what the game turned out in the end. I like the atmosphere and the puzzle in the end, though.

Really? Then this is a new phenomenon. The Deadalic games were very famous…

But this is a different thing. Cut scenes “break” the game play. Firewatch for example was very famous…

Yes, I’m aware of that. But there seems to be two -hm- fractions: The one still likes these pixel graphics and the other one won’t touch these games. If for example FTL would have better graphics I am confident that even (much) more players had bought that game.

Same here. But I’m the target audience :wink:

I don´t know the top downview supports the gameplay perfect. Only thing I could imagine would be to have more Starcraft like graphics and sound but still the same kind of angle and gameplay. That´s what made it sucessful and addicting (to many players unlike me whose whole captain´s quarters burn down after four to five stops usually.:grimacing:)

Oh, hello there little girl! :girl:

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You forgot:

  1. It’s not part 7 of some highly popular franchise

Though regarding your point #1, I would think it’s not the pixel graphics per se that may alienate “younger” players, but rather the combination with the old-school interface and controls. Kinda what Ron mentions in his 3rd point.

Perhaps these people think that something that looks '80s also features '80s-style gameplay, with a wacky story, unfair puzzles and plenty of dead ends. OTOH, not sure if modern-looking P&C Adventures fair that much better.

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That’s not necessary (from my experiences). Of course a popular franchise helps, but we have seen several times in the past that new games or series could be very popular too.

I’ve read a lot of comments complaining about the pixel graphics. Some even stated clear that they would play the game but not with pixel graphics.

The sales for a point & click adventure cannot go though the roof, because that’s simply the wrong genre for a blockbuster.

When regarding point & click adventures, I think that there are enough point & click adventures already that

  1. are not pixel graphic, and
  2. do not focus on nerd humor.

So why create yet another one like that.

Also, I think that

  1. pixel graphics is today considered as a form of art rather than bad graphics, and
  2. one of the most successful TV shows, “Big bang theory” is based on nerd humor

What you criticize is exactly what I find great about this game.

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I was surprised by Ron’s response. Overall I think more marketing means more revenue (to a certain point of course). At least that seems to be the case for very big productions, where it’s not unusual to see more money spent on marketing and distribution than on development. But Ron’s points are well taken, this is not a mainstream game so I don’t know if more marketing would have helped.

However in my opinion the kickstarter campaign suffered due to the art they showed. That style it’s not attractive to new gamers. If something closer to what we end up getting in the end was available back then I think the story would have been different…


I don’t think that’s true: TBBT is about anti-heroes (or “losers”) and not nerds. The nerd stuff is used only in mainstream compatible doses (for example to prepare a joke).

Yes, I like that too. But not the mass market.

Yes and no. :slight_smile: I agree with you that the art was not attractive to a lot of gamers. But the Kickstarter collected (much) more money as “needed” - so it was successful. And don’t forget that a lot of people missed the Kickstarter (have a look comments section of the development blog). Even I had a lot of luck that I stumbled over the Kickstarter campaign right in time.

And at least after the release the press used only the new art (including all let’s plays :slight_smile:).

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Yeah, I don’t think it was mainstream nerdy enough…
The biggest film, TV, and book franchises are pretty nerdy, either sci-fi, fantasy or both, but in a mainstream way (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, Avatar, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, etc.)

I think TWP’s genre was both niche and potentially confusing… it was either a detective Twin Peaks type of thing (more cult classic than mainstream) but also hinted at a larger mystery, so the potential buyer was left thinking, “oh it’s a detective game (meh) or something else that they won’t tell me…”
The title doesn’t give you any clues either…

Your average person seems to want aliens, robots, wizards, dinosaurs, pirates, zombies, monsters, magic, spaceships, etc. to get them interested/excited, and you have to make it clear those are involved.

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Going off topic here (oh, who’d have imagined!) but that might be true in the latest seasons. The first seasons, especially the very first, were quite heavy on obscure nerdy references.

By the way, to get back on topic, I think the real problem is the genre. People don’t want to spend time thinking while playing. Even when AGs were popular, they weren’t as popular as other games. In the golden era I was a kid and only two or three of my friends played AGs with me. All other friends were into shoot-em-ups or sports or whatever. So I suppose that’s also true for kids nowadays - most of them prefer to have their reflexes challenged instead of their reasoning.

And adults just don’t have the time to play. A friend of mine, long time adventure game fan, hadn’t purchased TWP for “lack of time to play it”. Which turned out to be 1) an irrational fear - I had the same fear, but found out you can always scrape a bit of time from other stuff and 2) the main reason most of the old AG fans don’t even think of purchasing TWP.


Not “either”. :slight_smile: It is both. And this could be confusing.

Yes, and most press reviews emphasizes that.

I agree with you: If I read in the game description on Steam or Gog that a game is a “puzzle game” I recoil.

But I don’t agree that the players don’t want to think in general. Adventure games are/were so popular because they “wrap” the thinking part into a story. The story makes it “easier” to think. TWP focus from the beginning on puzzle solving (for example you find a lot of objects). But if an adventure “sucks” you slowly into the game, players forget that they are playing an adventure game. Monkey Island did this in a very clever way: In the first few minutes you just have to talk to some people, to explore the world and you know exactly what to do. After that, the story has already advanced in a way that you want to know what is happening next.

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Yes, in comparison to TWP, the story of MI is less abstract. You first want to become a pirate, you fall in love with the governor. Once you officially are a pirate, she is kidnapped by a ghost pirate, so you have to rescue her. It’s a very simple and accessible plot.
In contrast, there are five different playable characters in TWP and each one of them has an individual motivation. I think that this has an inflationary effect on the player’s overall motivation, since the player is not focused on one all-dominant trouble. Furthermore, Ray and Reyes are initially hiding something. This fact makes them appear a bit strange to the player - whereas Guybrush always felt like an open book to me, in a charming way.


Yeah, I think stuff like it being a PnC game, the pixel graphics, etc. are red herrings - I think there are more fundamental selling problems on a more basic level before anyone even gets to those points…

A lot of people just look at a title and a sales image and quickly make up their minds…
“Thimbleweed Park? Couple of detectives? Next.”
Especially when other games have all this other stuff going on in their cover images - orcs, fighting, spaceships, vikings, etc.
Stuff like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc. have people interested before you even know what type of game it is. Even something like Cuphead, the art piques your interest right away.

I remember seeing Grim Fandango in stores when it came out and I did not buy it at the time…
It was because the name didn’t suggest anything to me and the cover image looked like some oddly drawn skeletons, so I just thought “that looks like an odd game, and I don’t want to take a chance on it with my money”.
I didn’t even know it was a PnC adventure game, I never got that far.

But things like King’s Quest, Space Quest, with their names and often with their artwork (Roger Wilco battling aliens), etc. made me interested right away. Same with the Monkey Island games - right there on the covers are pirates, swords, skulls, cannibals, giant monkey heads, zombie pirates, etc.

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I agree… Machinarium sold over 4 million copies -
It’s pretty much just puzzles with a cute story holding it all together.

A lot of the biggest selling PC games are puzzle-based -
Myst, Riven, Blade Runner, Machinarium, Full Throttle, Phantasmagoria, Return to Zork, Life Is Strange…


Which has a gimmick that is so intriguing that you can witness adult males seriously enganging into the ups and downs of a slightly pretentious college girl. That is quite a feat to be honest.


Yes, that’s true.

While playing TWP I often asked myself which character I should play. And in MM I played the most time with Bernard. The Cave was more “balanced” in that aspect: Each character has its own part in the cave and in the other parts the characters have to work together.

@Paul: I agree with you in every aspect. :slight_smile:

The Amanita Design adventures are a good example for accessibility: You don’t have to learn complex controls, the graphics are cute, you have to love the characters and the story starts immediately in a way that you would like to know what has happened (Machinarium) or how the story evolves (Botanicular).

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I think it was also a good move on their part to tell the story in little animations, that way it appealed to people in lots of different countries without having to translate it… it also meant it could be played on a phone/tablet, etc. without the sound on…

I prefer games that do have full voice and dialog, etc. but from a sales perspective I thought that was really smart, to do it all in little animations…

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.-I think it’s a mix of things, the art is one of the issues mostly because it felt like another Maniac Mansion game and since it showed several characters to play with it felt too similar and let’s be honest, Maniac Mansion (1) wasn’t that exciting to play with unless you lived at the period of time of release and most people likes Day of the Tentacle than they do the original MM, so I almost didn’t support the kickstarter for that reason but I loved Deathspank and MI so much and though I should give it support.

And I’m not saying it because it was pixel art, but it had a MM vibe to it that didn’t click, to comparison just look at the fanart work of Gustavo Viselner ( and many people would love to play an adventure game in that style (including myself even though pixel art is not my cup of tea).

.-Another issue could be due to the disappointing release of “Broken Age”, everyone placed a lot of money and high hopes in it and it was such a disappointment that it could have put off people for TWP.

.-And the way too old verbs mechanics, we have evolved into liking much more modern and convenient game play for PnC games that it feels odd going back to the very old ways of playing.