Recently, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been playing a lot of adventure games. This is fairly unusual for me — I stopped playing adventure games sometime in the mid nineties when they went out of style.
What brought them back for me, I think, was the new Sam and Max episodic content. They really do a pretty good job of bringing them up to today’s game design standards.
I think the main thing that adventure games of yesteryear had that stopped appealing to me has a lot to do with failing. I don’t just mean dying, because the LucasArts adventure games never had that — just that there were a ton of different ways to get the wrong answer. Sam and Max is much better about that, though a few of the puzzles still give you a little too much rope to hang yourself with (I’m thinking specifically about the Sitcom puzzle in the second one).
If I ever made an adventure game, I think I’d take it from a different angle. Perhaps rather than trying to present the players with a bunch of wrong answers and one right answer, the player can be presented multiple right answers and encouraged to find the one that makes the most sense to them.
Now, and I’m just thinking out loud here, that would mean adventure games would have to have an IMMENSE amount of content to work. So something else would need to be added to slow the player down. Maybe some kind of a minigame or twitch mechanic worked into the adventure game fiction. Sam and Max do that a little bit with their driving sequences and the “Whack a Rat” minigame in the third installment. Indigo Prophecy also had plenty of that with their context-sensitive action mechanics.
Adventure Games also have a ton of things you can click on to get cute little descriptions so that slows the player down a bit, as well. At any rate, it makes me want to think a little more about what that extra content would be.
I’m glad they got rid of most of the worst parts of adventure games. They’ve made it, at least, possible for me to enjoy them again. And that’s all that really matters.