Sunday, 6 April 2014

Game 42: King's Quest Remake - Final Rating

This is going to be tough. There are a couple of reasons why giving a rating to this game will be a struggle. Firstly, I’d played King’s Quest within the last three years prior to playing this time around, meaning I recalled exactly what to do in the vast majority of instances. It’s hard to judge how solvable puzzles are or how frustrating the interface is when you’re breezing through on memory. The second reason is that this is a remake. Judging a story now that was originally developed when the adventure genre was in its infancy is perhaps unfair, and the increase in technology doesn’t necessarily equate to a high score in that category since it needs to be compared with other games released around the same time. Oh well, I’ll just take each category as it comes and see where we end up!

Puzzles and Solvability
As mentioned above, it’s really hard to judge how difficult the game actually is, since I already knew the solutions to the puzzles going in. I can see many cases where changes have been made to the dialogue, graphics, and even the environment, to make puzzles that were once stupidly difficult easier. Are they now “fair”? I can’t know for sure. The Rumpelstiltskin riddle is a perfect example of this. Originally the player not only had to guess who the old man with the walking cane was, they were then expected to reverse the letters of the alphabet (a=z, b=y etc.) and type his name that way. In the remake, the player has much greater chance of figuring out who the man is, since he’s sitting next to a spinning wheel that has clearly turned straw into gold. The game will then accept his name merely backwards rather than reverse-alphabetized, making the whole thing reasonably solvable. Would I have solved this unassisted if I’d approached it for the first time? Perhaps, but I guess we’ll never know. One definite positive when discussing puzzles in the game is the large amount of alternate solutions. Quite a few puzzles can be solved in three or more different ways. For example, the dragon can be dealt with by throwing water at it, using the invisibility ring, being protected by the Fairy Godmother, or throwing a dagger at it. In typical Roberta Williams fashion, it’s generally the least violent approach that receives the most amount of points. Giving the player this sort of choice is praiseworthy, although it does result in a whole variety of items having no use whatsoever. The original got 6, but that was much more to do with its place in history than anything else. While things have been improved here, I can't go higher than a 5.
Rating: 5


Would you know who this man is?

Interface and Inventory
With the significant jump in technology, I was actually pretty surprised to find that the movement issues of the original had found their way back into the remake. Whenever I was required to climb anything, such as the beanstalk, I found myself dying over and over, and forced to resort to saving and restoring to get through within a reasonable amount of time. Eventually one of the readers informed me that using the mouse, which obviously wasn’t available in the original, makes things much easier, and from there on in I was fine. It also took a while to figure out that the movement detection was based on Sir Graham’s hands while climbing, which didn’t feel completely intuitive. While it’s difficult for me to fully judge the parser (since I generally knew what to type and when), what I saw was pretty impressive. Someone posted a YouTube video that displays the huge amount of things the player can type while still receiving a proper parser response, and this rings true to my experience. I received very clear and concise descriptions of surroundings and items, and custom responses to pretty much all my commands. Finally there’s the inventory, which was as good as you might expect, with detailed descriptions and attractive visual representations. It even plays a role in the solving of one puzzle in that you can clearly see the word FILL inside the bowl just by looking at the item in the inventory. All up the interface was pretty good, and if it wasn’t for the slightly clunky movement, I might have gone higher than the below rating.
Rating: 5


Maybe they were going for realism? After all, it can't be easy climbing a beanstalk!

Story and Setting
Back when King’s Quest was made, stories were more setups than full-scale plots. The small amount of disk space available meant that dialogue and narration always had to take a backseat to graphics and code. By 1990 that had well and truly changed, with games such as Loom placing as much importance on story as anything else. In this (more) modern environment the King’s Quest remake seems a bit primitive. The player is quickly informed that they need to find three treasures to gain control of the kingdom and then sent on their way. Things wrap up just as quickly at the end, with the King dying the moment the hero returns. It’s true that the dialogue has been greatly expanded upon in a couple of key sections, but that merely pads out what remains a simple and cliché tale.  All that was missing was a damsel in distress, but that would be resolved in the sequel soon enough (which never got remade after this game’s failure to sell). As for the setting, well Daventry is a fitting place for puzzles based on fairy tales and myths. Once again it’s all pretty cliché, with a predominately grassy land filled with forests, magic items and monsters, but that’s excusable in this instance. The original got a 4, but we've come a long way since then.
Rating: 3


Pretty much the entire story is made up of the intro and the outro.

Sound and Graphics
Alright, this is where you would expect the remake to be miles ahead of the original. If you put them side by side, then there’s no question that it is, but if I compare the remake to other games released around the same time, it’s less impressive. There’s nothing particularly wrong with the visuals, and now that I know that Jerry Shaw and co. were given the mandate to reproduce the original as much as possible, it has to be said that they did a fine job. However, there are much more impressive examples of the SCI0 engine being put to good use, including games released a year prior, such as Hero’s Quest and The Colonel’s Bequest. The main issue lies with the colour scheme (which is incessantly green) and the lack of variety in the environments. Still, it’s nice to be confronted by a dragon that actually looks like a dragon, unlike in the original. The animation isn’t too bad (the King falls to the ground at the end in a very convincing way), and the various animals that scurry and flutter around look pretty nice, so I won’t be too harsh. As for the sound, there’s no doubt that a great deal of effort was put into thematically linking the music into what was occurring in the game. I can’t say any of it was particularly memorable though, and my pet hate of wandering around in complete silence occurred more often than I would like. The use of digitized sound effects was a nice touch, but these sounds pop up rarely, and so can't play a large role in the result of this category. If the game had taken the best technology the industry could offer in 1984, and transitioned it to the best technology 1990 had to offer, I would have been forced to give it at least the same 5 I gave the original. As it is, I was a bit underwhelmed.
Rating: 4


Just a little reminder of how far we've come!


Now that's a dragon!

Environment and Atmosphere
As mentioned above, the developers’ mandate was to replicate the experience of the first game while adding a new coat of paint. They succeeded in that task, with a very similar look and feel throughout. It should come as no surprise though that this decision resulted in a lot of the original’s flaws being replicated in the remake. The environment becomes very samey after a while, with the vast majority of screens being grassy fields with a few “natural” details such as rocks, trees and rivers. There are a few darker, shadow drenched screens, but they were more filler than anything else, with little of note occurring there. As with the original, the regular random occurrences are annoying and stupid. I really thought the ability to walk on and off screens to make creatures appear and disappear would have been replaced by some other more realistic system. Unfortunately it came back with a vengeance, and actually caused me some drama. The dwarf appearing and stealing game-critical items was nasty, but I also had a fair bit of trouble figuring out how to find the third and final treasure due to the eagle only appearing randomly. It was fine that the eagle only appeared after I’d collected the first two items, but the fact I had to visit the cave screen multiple times before he arrived was unreasonable. Other things that I feel make for a strange and unmoving atmosphere were the numerous trinkets and treasures just left all over the place in an apparently struggling realm and creatures simply disappearing in a flash of light when they are no longer required. Still, the did ok with what they had to play with.
Rating: 5


It all starts to look a bit like this after a while.

Dialogue and Acting
There’s not much to say for this category. I’ve already covered off how much more dialogue there is while discussing the story, and talked about the huge amount of responses you can get from the parser while covering the interface. All that’s left is to talk about the actual quality of the writing, which is pretty much as you would expect in a King’s Quest game of this era. The descriptions get straight to the point (“You have encountered an old stone well in the middle of the woods”) and the little dialogue there is at least attempts to endow the inhabitants of Daventry with some character (“Gimme somethin’ valuable and maybe, JUST maybe, I’ll letcha cross dis bridge.”). There’s no doubt the dialogue expansion gives certain scenes a bit more gravitas, particularly the woodcutter expressing his wife’s plight, but there’s more silliness than effective drama on offer throughout the game. All up the word adequate is probably the best one to use, and I'll go with the same score I gave the original.
Rating: 4


I'm sure my experience caused me to miss innumerable eye-rollingly corny yet strangely entertaining death quotes though.

So that's 5 + 5 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 4, which equals 26, divided by 60 comes to 43 when rounded down. Hmmm, that feels low, but I'm not compelled to increase my individual scores. The original got 48 though! I guess this shows how much I'm taking into account when a game is released, which is why it's so important that I get the release dates as accurate as possible. I'm going to use my discretionary point to raise the score to a 44, for the simple reason that I probably didn't enjoy the game anywhere near as much as I would have had I gone in with no prior experience.


Did anyone pick 44? As is usually the case, someone nailed it! Congratulations TBD! He's won himself a copy of The Secret of Monkey Island, as donated by our amazing sponsor, Lars-Erik. His reasoning was spot on too: "I'll go with a 44. In my opinion, most other games were much more complex and interesting by 1990 so if time of release is taken into account it won't fare as well as the original did." Isn't that what I just said?!

55 CAPs for Lars-Erik
Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games
Research Award – 10 CAPs – For helping me figure out when certain 1991 games were released
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam

35 CAPs for Laukku
Expertise Award – 20 CAPs – For informing me of all the alternate puzzle solutions
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with me and finishing the game.
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam

30 CAPs for Ilmari
Dark Seed Award – 20 CAPs – For solving my Dark Seed riddle
Billy Goat Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me of the original billy goat tale

20 CAPs for Corey Cole
Industry Insight Award – 20 CAPs – For giving us priceless insight into the industry

20 CAPs for Jerry Shaw
Industry Insight Award – 20 CAPs – For giving us priceless insight into the industry

20 CAPs for TBD
Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs - For correctly predicting what score I would give the game.
Riddle of Awesome Award – 10 CAPs – For making a great riddle that trumped anything I’ve done.

20 CAPs for Aperama
Research Award – 10 CAPs – For helping me figure out when certain 1991 games were released
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with me and finishing the game.

20 CAPs for Canageek
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on Steam
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam

10 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game sale on Steam
Bitterness Award – 5 CAPs – He’ll get over me not playing The Scoop one day

10 CAPs for Novacek
Use the Frickin Mouse Award – 10 CAPs – For informing me that I really need to get with the times.

10 CAPs for Andy_Panthro
True Companion Award – 10 CAPs – For playing along with me and finishing the game.

10 CAPs for Rowan Lipkovits
Drawa Tebahpla – 10 CAPs – For reminding me just how nasty the original Rumpelstiltskin riddle was

5 CAPs for Charles
Samara Award – 5 CAPs – For spotting my Ring reference

38 comments:

  1. Ouch, that's kind of a low score, isn't it? Your reasoning is sound though, so I won't complain.

    I guess I view it as an enjoyable improvement over the original, but it's certainly antiquated by comparison to your next game (which might just pick up top spot for a little while).

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    1. Yep, disappointed in the score too. I think it's aged far better than the likes of Future Wars or KQ5.

      What I find strange is that he listed mostly positives for the puzzles, but then went "nope, can't make it any higher than 5" for vague reasons. I guess the eagle is kinda lame railroading and there exist a couple of dead ends, but the solutions are more varied and require more sophisticated interactions (for example, you have to *show* the carrot to the goat instead of giving it) than most modern Point&Click "use everything on everything" games.

      And I completely disagree with the memorability of the music. But that's a matter of taste I guess. (There's also some bird chirping while wandering the lands in MT-32 mode, filling some of the silence, but I'm not much of a fan of the MT-32 music in this game as the brass instruments sound like someone playing a comb to me. :-P )

      Well, that only means that the next game is going to get an even higher score by comparison, and is not going to be topped until at least Monkey Island 2.

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    2. The AGDI (formerly Tierra) remake was much the same in terms of content, so I wonder what score that will get, even further removed from the original. There's also the official remakes of QFG1 and SQ1. Tricky times for Trickster.

      I would have expected Secret of Monkey Island to get a very high score no matter where it was placed during this year, so I doubt there will be much comparison to this KQ. Not sure how long it will sit at the top (or near enough), there are a few challengers in the next couple of years, but Monkey Island 2 is fantastic and my favourite Lucasarts game, so I hope that does well.

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    3. And also the official remakes for LSL 1 and PQ1. Of course, these all added the point and click interface and VGA graphics, which might change the balance (I think remake of PQ1 was probably the best of them all).

      I suspect Quest for Glory 2 will also be a contender for the top place, considering the series is one of Trickster's all time favourites.

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  2. that would be resolved in the sequel soon enough (which never got remade after this game’s failure to sell)

    Not by Sierra, but it's worth noting that some fans successfully mounted an effort to, initially, get the KQ1 remake up to KQ5 aesthetic standards, and then went on to give the same treatment to KQ2 and 3 (as well as Quest for Glory 2!), fleshing out weak spots in the respective games as they went. http://www.agdinteractive.com/games/kq2/

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    1. One of the best features of the AGDI KQ2 remake was how they did justice to a character from KQ5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMDbLtx4Rr8

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  3. I think 5 is a perfectly decent score for puzzles, and an expected one for a quality Sierra game. In addition to very early games, only some of the Lucasfilm classics, Hero's Quest and Manhunters have received better scores for puzzles. And considering just 1990, no game has yet got any better puzzle score (Loom and Conquest of Camelot are good company).

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    1. The puzzles in Loom were hardly complex or challenging though, especially when compared to Conquest of Camelot. I liked Loom for it's art style and writing far more than I did for it's puzzles.

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  4. I'll admit that my high-ish score was mostly a reflection of three things: the beanstalk was easier (though still perhaps hard, the mouse makes it way easier), the Rumplestiltskin puzzle is slightly more logical... And you played it after an absolute lemon. :)

    On to the likely runner up for game of the year. (I'd put QFG2 ludicrously high in my books.) That said, there is an opportunity to play along with the remade version - you can toggle old graphics, then turn off voice. Only problem is the music would probably be of a better quality, if I'm not mistaken.

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    1. Regarding QFG2, I think it was one of the first adventure game with day limits, amirite? I'm not sure if it is possible to be dead-ended because you could not get the items required to "do something" when you're supposed to do so on a certain day, as it has been quite some time since I last played it.

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    2. I've played and replayed that game so many times it's amazing I never grew sick of it.

      I believe that there are no true dead ends, as the game will give you a game over message if you don't do things in time. I know this to be true in one case... And you're now making me want to see the other thing that pops into mind as a potential issue (Lbh pna'g yrnir Funcrve jvgubhg gur Xnggn cva. V qba'g guvax lbh pna trg cnfg qnl 3 jvgubhg univat chepunfrq GUR EVTUG Fnhehf. Ohg V'z guvaxvat gung vs lbh qvqa'g cnff JVG nf n zntvp hfre, lbh zvtug npghnyyl or noyr gb qrnq raq lbhefrys. Zvaq, lbh zvtug or noyr gb jvfu sbe gur fcryy. Nyfb qnttref sbe n guvrs. Xrrc lbh thlf vasbezrq jura V arkg trg na ubhe be gjb?)

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  5. I think Trickster is just a lot more jaded then he was when he played it the first time. At that time he was just getting into vintage adventure games, hadn't played many, and KQ1 felt pretty good. Now he he played the best of the best and the worst of the worst and has a much more finely calibrated sense of scale, so his early measurements would probably be a lot different if he was playing them now.

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  6. Yay, I won.

    But I already own Secret of Monkey Island - so it's riddle time.

    Whoever can guess wins gets a Secret of Monkey Island (or the ability to re-gift it themselves.)

    I'll make this one easier than the last riddle I did. :)

    Who am I?

    An American taking vacation in France
    Searching hard for a killer to find new romance
    I've had some fist fights
    Dealt with Temple Knights
    Broken into a room just to search some guy's pants

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    1. Tnoevry Xavtug 3: Oybbq bs gur Fnperq, Oybbq bs gur Qnzarq

      Delete
    2. But I don't want the game, I just want to actually win one of these riddles for ones. I also don't know HOW I knew this was the game, but I instantly recognized the first and second last lines, and then used Wikipedia to find out which game in the series it was.

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    3. Sorry Canageek, I'm pretty sure the game in question is a completely different one (a masterpiece nonetheless, can't wait Trickster to get to it.) V svavfurq gur yngrfg frdhry'f svefg unys lrfgreqnl, pna'g jnvg sbe gur frpbaq cneg gung'f pbzvat "fbba".

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    4. Oebxra Fjbeq: Funqbj bs gur Grzcynef nxn Pvepyr bs Oybbq.

      Delete
    5. Really? Damn: Tnoevry sbyybjf gur xvqanccref gb gur zlfgrevbhf Serapu ivyyntr bs Eraarf-yr-Puâgrnh. Tnoevry'f neeviny pbvapvqrf jvgu gung bs n gbhe tebhc; fhccbfrqyl nyy va gbja uhagvat sbe n yrtraqnel ybpny gernfher yvaxrq gb gur Xavtugf Grzcyne, gur Pngunef naq fhccbfrqyl pbaarpgrq gb gur Ubyl Tenvy.

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    6. Yep. Laukku and Novacek were right. Sorry Canageek.

      Novacek wins the prize! I assume Laukku deliberately didn't name the game due to already having Monkey Island .

      And Laukku, I'm actually currently replaying the series in preparation for the latest too - I've deliberately not played the first part so I could do it this way.

      Vagrerfgvat ubj zhpu TX3 svgf gur pyhrf gbb gubhtu.

      Ur vf va Senapr, ur qbrf frnepu fbzrbar'f cnagf, ur qrnyf jvgu Grzcyne Xavtugf naq, cbffvoyl trgf va svfg svtugf (abg fher rvgure jnl ba gung bar)

      Ohg grpuavpnyyl, ur'f abg gnxvat inpngvba - ur'f npghnyyl qbvat n wbo - gubhtu ur qbrf cergraq gb or n gbhevfg fb gung bar zbfgyl svgf gbb.

      Ur'f nyfb frnepuvat sbe n xvqanccre, abg n xvyyre. Ohg ntnva, gurer znl or n xvyyre nebhaq va gur tnzr fb...

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    7. Nterrq jvgu rirelguvat rkprcg sbe gur svfg svtugf. V ybbxrq ng vg, rkpynvzrq gung gur nafjre jnf oebxra fjbeq, naq ernyvmrq V nyernql unq Zbaxrl Vfynaq naljnlf. Gur cebcre pyhr sbe Oebxra Fjbeq jbhyq or "FGHCVQ SERNXVAT TBNG CHMMYR" naq sbe TX3 vg'q or "jrnevat n png unve zbhfgnpur sbe n Uneyrl"...

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    8. Actually, when I played it recently I played the Director's Cut and... gur tbng chmmyr jnf irel rnfl. V erzrzorerq gung chmmyr jryy, nf V hfhnyyl qb sbe chmmyrf gung gnxr ntrf sbe zr gb fbyir. Crbcyr jub bayl cynl gur Qverpgbe'f phg jba'g unir gur tbng chmmyr avtugznerf gung gubfr bs hf jub cynlrq gur bevtvany jvyy unir. V'z abg fher vs gung'f n tbbq be n onq guvat.

      Delete
    9. Despite reading through from beginning to end now, this is legitimately the first time I knew the answer in advance of reading the ROT13 comments.

      Often I would decode the answer and think 'that makes sense' to myself, but this one I spotted right away. It's certainly a superb game

      Delete
  7. That's like saying 'the Rumplestiltskin puzzle from KQ1 was easy the second time around! I might have stabbed my eyes out with a pencil and engraved the solution into my eyelids from the pain it caused the first time around, but this time around it seemed easy!"

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    1. Gur tbng chmmyr jnf npghnyyl fvtavsvpnagyl fvzcyvsvrq sbe gur Qverpgbe'f phg - gurer vf ab cerpvfr gvzvat arrqrq naq rira jvgubhg xabjvat jung gb qb lbh'q rnfvyl fghzoyr hcba gur fbyhgvba whfg ol pyvpxvat ba gur fvatyr ubgfcbg ba gur fperra, juvpu vzzrqvngryl erfhygf va gur tbng trggvat pnhtug.

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    2. Lbh'er xvqqvat! Gur ragver vffhr jvgu vg jnf gung gurer jrer ab bgure yvxr chmmyrf orsber be nsgre, fb lbh jrera'g rkcrpgvat vg gb jbex... Qrsvavgryl n cyhf gura!

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    3. (Trickster note: this spoily discussion of Broken Sword)

      Lbh xabj n chmmyr vf onq jura vg unf na ragver Jvxvcrqvn negvpyr jevggra nobhg vg...

      uggcf://ra.jvxvcrqvn.bet/jvxv/Gur_Tbng_Chmmyr

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    4. I never had a lot of trouble with this one personally, I saw the solution pretty quickly, but it took a few tries for me to get it exactly right.

      It's annoying that the game doesn't give you a hint you're on the right path for trying and failing though

      Delete
  8. See, I don't get why old games get away with having poor stories. Poe was writing damn fine things in the early 19th century. Lovecraft in the 1920s and 1930s. Andre Norten was publishing at the same time as this. Good writing has been around a very, very long time. Also the concept of making it interactive was around by this; Portal: A Dataspace Retrieval came out in 1988. Heck, there were books ABOUT computer games coming out at this time.

    So yeah, writing is the one thing that I don't give much slack for due to time. Graphics of course get better with time, and we've learned a hell of a lot about user interfaces (Though, we keep UNlearning this just as fast as designers try and make things more immersive. (Freaking DOOM let me overlay a map onto the screen on my Dad's 386 with 8 mb of RAM, spread over 8 1 MB chips, what is your excuse? I'm sorry, WHY can't I hold shift and select multiple things from this inventory to transfer to my other character? Windows has had that since at least Win 95, you are perhaps familar with the concept? Next week I'll show you what windows lets you do with a group of items and the control key, and you can give me more excuses. Oh, I'm sorry, why can I only have one inventory open at once? Freaking Castle of the Winds had that in 1991, why are you making me juggle things? Ahem).

    But anyway, graphics, sound, UI are all unquestionably better with each passing year. Voice acting also improves. However, the three things that don't get that excuse are sound design (Some of the best music composed for games happened right at the start, due to Nintendo getting their hands on Koji Kondo in 1984), control responsiveness (Mario had this figured out before I was born; I hit a key, something happens NOW.), and writing (We've been putting words on a page since at least Mesopotamian times. I'm not SAYING your game should be as good as the Epic of Gilgamesh, but damn, if I have to read one more bad plot about saving a female hostage I'm going to break into a game company and tie them up Clockwork Orange style and make them watch all of Feminist Frequency, followed by a collection of selected science fiction, detective and horror audiobooks.)

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    1. At least the story is fairly minimal in this case and stays out of the way. I'd rather have no story than a bad one.

      Also, in the days of floppies and cartridges you had so little space that even text took relatively much of it. There's many cases where translators of Japanese SNES games had to cut the dialogue to a fraction, so it could all still fit in when reworded in English.

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    2. Seeing that 1 single letter already takes up 1 bit of memory, I doubt you could have too much space for text that could be used to have more codes to empower the game engine.

      Game designers then were thinking of how to make games that are more game-y and less visual-novel like, with their limitations.

      As stated by Laukku, Nintendo did this by squashing everything that even remotely resemble a plot into their little flimsy and glossy instruction booklets. Just take a look at Kid Icarus' manual, for instance: http://www.vnotesonline.com/img_art/Kid_Icarus_Manual.pdf

      No NPC in the game is going to tell you anything about monsters. You just RTFM. No "Mentors" are going to walk you through a tutorial. You just RTFM. And no, there will definitely be no lengthy and elaborate intros with custcenes to tell you WTF is going on. Again, you just RTFM.

      The first console game ever that did an elaborate intro (because no PC game is going to do this during that era) is Ninja Ryukenden aka Ninja Gaiden: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rkaiKYEkDQ

      The importance of having a really great intro to entice players into slotting money into the arcade machines was pioneered by Soul Edge: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApsSVNP3wIc

      Before that, it was all about showing a demonstration of gameplay with a huge "INSERT COIN" text blinking over the screen without any semblance of a storyline.

      I blame Soul Edge for making every game on the market trying to dell themselves as RPGs (but are nothing like that) because of their rock-solid characters, colorful history-backed plot and big fat titties. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xo4i64_taki-soul-edge-bouncing_na

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    3. Yeah, Kenny? We are on the era of 3.5" floppy disks, that is 1.44 MB of data per disk, and I don't remember games ever coming on one disk. 1.44 MB doesn't seem like much, but in terms of text that is tons and tons. Grabbing a random novel that I could get on Project Gutenburg, the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is about 574,475 characters long, or 0.548 MB. So, you can add ALL THE TEXT YOU WANT for the price of ONE floppy disk, and have enough space left over to hide the entire dev teams names.

      The 1.5 MB floppy disk came out in 1986, and we are at 1990. The amount of space text takes up is no longer an issue and hasn't been for a while. Portal also came out in 1986 and it was literally a full novella.

      Console games had to cram everything into a tiny package as they were super outdated by this point; the NES came out in Japan in 1983, and was outdated then. Most cartridges had the amount of memory on them measured in kilobytes as I recall.

      Also 1 letter = 1 byte in ASCII or ANSI, not 1 bit (1 byte = 8 bits = 2 nibbles). However, if you were really desperate you could compress the text then decode it. You'd need to have enough ram available to do this, and your load times would suck, but a even a very inefficient decompression program (Replace the most common word with $1, the second most with $2, etc. Even if you only replace 'the' you save a byte each time.) Your load times would be *abysmal* but people dealt with that back then.

      Also: My high school computers didn't work right with USB drives, as we were still on Windows XP, and the disk image they used didn't have USB drivers installed by default, and to do that you needed admin privileges. So I had to keep all my documents on floppy disks, and let me tell you, I could fit a lot of essays on a floppy, and that is as a fancy word doc with formatting and such.

      Also: Sort stories are, you know, short. I feel those are a much better fit for games. You've got only a couple of settings, a handful of characters and one big plot twist in most of them. Perfect for a game outline, and you can the text for a dozen of them or more on a floppy disk.

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    4. How about this for a solution? Programmers were not be default writers, ergo, they would most likely not have had the skills required for decent plotting. Contracting decent writers was costly, so in many cases all gaming companies could come up was a) rubbish or b) no plot to speak of. When the sales of games have grew enough, gaming companies got enough money to actually hire good writers.

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    5. Except we've already seen the involvement of Michael a Stackpole, Orsen Scott Card, and a few other professional writers.

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    6. ALSO, who was behind the VERY FIRST adventure game on this blog?

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    7. Michael Stackpole? Now you are thinking of CRPG Addict’s blog. Furthermore, the fact that you could think of so few examples and that the games where the writers were involved had more complex plots just verifies my suggestion.

      Also, coming back to the question of floppies. Sure, one floppy could hold lot of text, but we are speaking of GRAPHIC adventures here – one floppy cannot hold much graphics + text (consider that text adventures did have more complex plots at the time, but were by 1990 almost a commercial dead end, especially those with no pictures).

      As for the possibility of many floppies, well, this was done when the graphics and plots expanded, but there were limits as to how much floppies you could cram into a game. Swapping disks every now and then was pure hell, so the more a game had disks, the less you could endure it (especially if you had a machine with no hard drive). The case was different, if you had a hard drive, where you could install the game, but even then – well, let’s just say that they were quite a bit smaller those days (and quite a lot of us PC players were still youngsters and had to share hard disk space with dad’s Lotus, which was the reason why the computer was actually bought in the first place). Of course, it all started to change really fast in 1990s when hard disk drives got bigger and CD-Roms became a viable option.

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    8. Nope, Stackpole was behind Neuromancer, which we've been through. Also he's coming up wiith Star Trek: 25th Anniversary and Star Trek: Judgement Rites, which are both adventure games. However, there is a point here, because his novels didn't come out until AFTER he had done game design for some years.

      I don't think there's a single reason for a somewhat lacking big story in early adventure games, but actually many reasons.

      For one, the problem with space. Games of this era already have content being cut due to the small footprint of the tech. Should the creators then remove additional puzzles and areas to fit more story in? Remember, LucasFilm operated with a 5-floppy-limit per game due to the pain of disk swapping and the increased risk of bad disks the more you had to use for a single game.

      Secondly, adventure games in this period wasn't the gold mine you would expect. The first adventure game that we know sold into the millions was The 7th Guest from 1993. Day of the Tentacle from the same year had a budget of $600,000, but sold only around 80,000 copies on release. Hiring a professional writer to create a big background story that wouldn't necessarily improve sales at all wouldn't be the first item on the list of need-to-haves.

      Additionally, at this time people got less and less interested in reading page after page of text. That meant you had to accompany it with graphics, or music, or turn it into cutscenes. These do take up a lot of space. Infocom as you know did focus on story and not graphics, and ended up tanking by the last half of 1980's. That meant taking a huge risk if you went the route with too much story and text and not enough gameplay and fancy graphics.

      That being said, I don't think many of these games are suffering from it. Would The Secret of Monkey Island be much better if you had 50 pages of intro text to read? Would Space Quest 3 be hugely improved by an elaborate backstory? I'm thinking no.

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    9. I don't get why you keep associating story with pages of text. The story should be told via the puzzles. "To get our trust you must steal the foobar of baz from the globspleens" later on you meet the globspleens and see from the art they are an exploited underclass, and there is a bit of text about how that was their religious relic, and then you do more puzzles to steal it back, while seeing the opulance of the people you were trying to trade with.

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