You can complicate the coin interface (like MI3 and Full Throttle did in some ways). That would be cheating in this study. Or in other words: To be able to compare the verb and the coin interface both has to be as simple as possible.
… the player has just to click on the object (the player must not hold down the left button) and he must be able to identify the actions (the coin must not be a weird drawing).
Ok, so I played the games in the following order: Hit the Road, TWP, Zak. (And before Hit the Road, I played Series 1 and 2 of Telltale Sam & Max.)
Here’s what I can remember about my experiences with the three interfaces.
#1: Hit the Road
I was naive enough to think that I could play the game without reading the manual. Yep, that’s how much I’m used to in-game tutorials. So I didn’t get very far at first, until I found out how to switch between all the action icons.
Reading about them was one thing, but it was another thing entirely to get accustomed to using them. Even later, sometimes I would find myself trying to use the “Pick Up” icon (which goes from an open hand to a clenched fist), when I really wanted to “Use” an item instead (squashing a green squishy thing in a fist - that icon looked really strange to me). I spent a lot of time cycling between the icons as well, because I chose to use one key instead of learning all the different ones for the different actions.
I played this on the Switch, using just the touch screen controls. It didn’t take me long to get used to these. Tap verb, tap object - makes sense. Double-tap for most useful action - no getting stuck at doors! Hold finger on screen to see hotspots - I think I did that a lot for some reason, but nowadays I would feel more confident with finding the interactive objects without having to check.
I might have had a few problems with the interface, but I can’t remember anything right now.
So. Many. Verbs. Sometimes (especially when I first started playing) I would end up losing focus and just staring blankly at the list of verbs. Despite having played TWP (though actually… I might have had this problem with that game as well), I had to remind myself that I needed to focus on the verbs in order to make any progress. It sounds weird, but I grew up with games (platforming etc) where you all you need is arrow buttons to move, and a few other buttons that generally do one action each.
I had quite a few problems with the interface, all the way through the game. Not being able to walk around if you’ve clicked a verb other than “Walk To”. Not being able to walk through closed doors just by clicking on them. Having to click the object twice (or the completed sentence) in order to carry out the action.
~ ~ ~
So yeah, I found the Zak interface the hardest to get used to, TWP the easiest, and Hit the Road was somewhere in between.
I want to share my experience in playing Deponia yesterday. It had a stupid tutorial which you couldn’t skip, in which the coin interface was explained by the characters breaking not only the fourth wall, but all the other ones too. Really annoying after 10 seconds and more importantly, it took me around 10 minutes before I could really start playing something that should be so intuitive per construction.
(Which actually it isn’t, as you need to click an object to get the coin and then select the action by clicking the corresponding mouse button - so two clicks to even just look at something)
Funny, my order and experience was fairly similar. However, you should’ve made life easier on yourself by using the keyboard to quickly toggle around between actions like walk and what is in Zak.
In my case you can replace your examples with something like:
Maniac Mansion (same as Zak)
One thing MI3 does very right is that, unlike far too many games, the actions are always in the same place. Iirc in DotT Remastered they f*cking move around. There are also desktop launchers based on the circle concept:
For the record, I gave up on Gemini Rue because I found the UX too obnoxious. I can’t recall if Primordia had a similar interface but that one I played pretty much straight through in two days without the UI getting in my way.
I also couldn’t really manage to get interested in A Tale of Two Brothers. It looks nice, sure… anyway, I forget what the interface was like there. It’s just that the start of the game was boring to me.
You mean “Brothers: a tale of two sons”?
You should definitely give that another try!
It really requires a game controller to play. The beginning (first half hour or hour) is pretty boring, but in total, the game really is worth playing until the end!
MI1*, MI2*, Loom*, Fate*, Last Crusade* (Amiga, unsure about order but definitly MI1 before MI2)
DOTT***, Sam & Max Hit The Road***, The Dig (Win95)
Grim Fandango (WinNT)
*Cracked Version included in a disc box I got from my cousin (along with the C64 itself)
**Pirated copies we got from a friend of the family along with photocopied versions of the codewheels
***Ten Adventures box set I got for christmas
to 5. Day of the Tentacle, Sam & Max Hit the Road, Indy 4 - Fate of Atlantis** (DOS/Win95?)
to 9. MI, MI2, The Dig, Full throttle*** (Win95/98)
Curse of Monkey Island (Win98)
Grim Fandango (Win98)
Escape from MI (PC)
Indy3 - Last Crusade (PC)
* not 100% sure though… I remember reading a review of Zak before getting the game but also being excited that it was a sequel to MM, so most likely I played a little bit of MM before.
**: The Lucasarts Archives vol.1
***: The Lucasarys Archives vol.3