So You Want To/Write an Adventure Game

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How-To Guide

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Adventure games have a long history, one marked by many great works, though tempered by some shit, but, today, they are on the verge of death. We tropers should not let the genre die, we should encourage the renewal of this interesting forgotten style of game.

Writing is an essential aspect of the genre, as these games do not have action. Most of the best adventure games had detailed, well-written descriptions for every object, and a wide variety of unnecessary action. Your motto should combine The Dev Team Thinks of Everything, and Have a Nice Death. Gamers will search for every possible option, and they should be rewarded for their curiosity with humorous results, including numerous amusing deaths.

Half of the fun in an adventure game derives from finding all the ways to die. Sierra--in its glory days--and Infocom, two of the defining adventure game companies, filled their games with amusing deaths. One of the best moments in the Space Quest series was when the player could stick his face, or arm into a pit of acid, with the logical results. Lucasarts is the exception that proves the rule. Dying, however, is not the same as making the game Unwinnable.

Unwinnable, though a common trope in this type of game, is to be avoided. Players hate the frustration of finding that they are fucked because of some minor mistake made hours earlier, and though many of the best games have such scenarios, that does not make the trope any less frustrating. Careful puzzle design avoids such problems.

Item-manipulation puzzles, which were standard before the days of Full Motion Video, are best: Myst-style mechanical puzzles tend to be tedious, and repetitive, and the older games that rarely used them tended to be much better than later games. An occasional Moon Logic Puzzle is acceptable, as adventure gamers think laterally, and enjoy exploring every possible option. Unsuccessful attempts to solve puzzles should be met with amusing responses, and deaths.

Best examples:

King's Quest 6, Leisure Suit Larry 1, 2, 3, 6, Space Quest 1, 3, 4, 5, Police Quest 1, 2, 3, Perdition's Flames, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, Zork, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max Hit The Road, Full Throttle, The Dig, I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Legend of Kyrandia 3: Malcolm's Revenge.

Worst examples:

Limbo of the Lost, King's Quest 3, Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller, Myst, Legend of Kyrandia 1, 2, Kronolog: The Nazi Paradox, Dreamweb.