Wadjet Eye Games

Author Topic: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer  (Read 6068 times)

Offline Reubs1

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Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« on: May 27, 2015, 03:43:14 AM »
Hello there! This is my first time here in the forums, so let me get the introductions out of the way. My name is Reuben, and for as long as I can remember, I've played adventure games. I've slain dragons, minotaurs, and evil wizards. I've solved murders, discovered lost alien worlds, and have even told a pirate or two that they fight like a cow. It's all thanks to these games that I can explore and escape into worlds of endless possibilities, and it's the reason I still love this genre of video games to this day. Of course, I've played pretty much every game Wadjet Eye Games has published, and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. But, I have noticed something that has gotten me wondering about these games as a whole, and where they are headed to in the future.

There seems to be a trend now of adventure games being set in either post-apocalyptic or dystopian future themes, particularly in the Wadjet Eye catalog. Gemini Rue, Primordia, Technobabylon, all have this melancholy tone to them. A game with this kind of setting gives the player a sort of survivalist drive to propel them forward, like "I need to find something to salvage or I will not make it!", or "I cannot stand this oppression from government anymore!" Now let me be clear, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. That can actually be pretty fun for a gamer. But now I want to ask... why is it fun?

I think back to the golden age of adventure games, and I remember being awestruck when I went to the Land of the Green Isles in King's Quest VI for the first time. I had such fun being a pirate in the Monkey Island games. It was a more cheery, humourous tone then. And I miss that. I miss the wonderment, the wide-eyed excitement, the mystery of what the next world will be like.

Is it because I was much younger back then, and my child-like outlook on life was not burdened with the worries and stresses of adulthood? Is this reflective on the genre itself, where the fruitful days of Sierra and LucasArts games are past, and now it is struggling to survive amidst the onslaught of repetitive triple-A FPS games? Am I dead wrong and have failed to notice the happier moods of recent games like Deponia and Broken Age?

I don't know if I had thought about these questions in my mind, but after hearing about Wadjet Eye's announcement about Shardlight, which seems to be in a similar setting, I needed to get these thoughts out there, and I want to know if I am the only one who feels this way. No doubt, I will still buy Shardlight and play it on day one. But I can't help getting worried that this kind of dystopian theme will get stale.

Feel free to discuss, disagree, ignore, whatever. I'm just glad that I have a place to post my ramblings and thoughts about the games that I love. It feels good here.

Reuben
« Last Edit: May 27, 2015, 04:17:47 AM by Reubs1 »

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2015, 06:50:03 AM »
Interesting discussion! And one I've thought about a lot. It's no secret that the low-res art style has kind of become our "thing", and there are certain types of environments that are enhanced by that more than others. The pixel art adds a rough, gritty texture to a world that it wouldn't have otherwise. Dystopian games like Gemini Rue and Primordia work really well in that style. By the same token; the bright, sunny world of Golden Wake's Miami  was probably harmed by the pixel art more than helped by it.

So in a nutshell, since we are committed to pixel art, we tend to make the games that suit it best.

Offline Reubs1

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2015, 06:46:03 PM »
Golden Wake was a nice change of pace, but I agree that the art style didn't complement it well. Keep doing what you guys are doing though. Won't stop me from buying your games!

Offline Luke89

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2015, 09:00:44 PM »
I think there's always a way to use the pixelation to advance the tone of the game, whether funny or serious. In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, the art was hand-painted before the inevitable conversion into pixels, and it really stood out. A lot of the backgrounds are very beautiful to look at, even after being pixelated.

The Indy films are action comedies, so LucasArts made Fate of Atlantis an adventure comedy. Sometimes a character's eyes would bug out when startled and it was funny without coming across too cartoonish. This only worked because of the pixelation; it made the animation more subtle. They chose NOT to enlarge the heads of the characters to make the facial expressions more visible (like they had done previously in Maniac Mansion).

You couldn't say Fate of Atlantis was an all serious game and you couldn't say it was an outright comedy. But if they had enlarged the heads, it would have been more cartoony and comedic, and if they hadn't thrown in a few slapstick moments and a lot of witty dialogue, it would have felt much more serious.

Rambling. Point being: I think you can always work the retro graphics to whichever tone you like, if you're smart.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 04:33:04 AM by Luke89 »

Offline sierramindy

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2015, 04:54:32 PM »
I'm going to ramble on for a bit here and start by saying I also recall telling a pirate that he fights like a cow and as for Fate of Atlantis, I played the 3 paths twice each for a total of 6 times and what I remember best is not the pixels or the art, but the ADVENTURE of the game! The fun of finding out what happened next. The joy of something unexpected that suprised me and/or made me laugh. I don't think I'm too old to still get a kick out of games like that.
Just putting in my 25 cents worth, inflation you know.

Offline Reubs1

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2015, 09:30:47 AM »
The fact that there were three different paths in Fate of Atlantis blew my mind when I was a kid. When I first played it, I always played the Team Path, because my young mind stubbornly thought that going without Sophia was the wrong thing to do.

Also, I never knew until I was much older that there were three ways you can get into the theater at the beginning of the game, and that it affected what fortune Sophia tells you after you get Plato's Lost Dialogue, corresponding to which path you would choose. I only knew of two: Fighting Biff, and moving the boxes around to the fire escape. Discovering that you could talk your way in by praising Sophia was so refreshing, and it was strange hearing for the first time Sophia acting all gung-ho about going along with Indy when she reads your fortune. (The other fortunes have her saying, "I'm not smart enough to go..." or "It's too dangerous for me...")

I find delight in discovering these hidden moments that I never experienced in the games that I've played since childhood.

Offline Reubs1

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2016, 07:31:01 AM »
Hello Mr. Gilbert!

Sorry to dredge up this old topic, but literally minutes ago, I watched a YouTube video that reminded me of my original post here so many months ago. The video is about why gamers enjoy post-apocalyptic settings in games like Fallout 4.

I thought you may find it interesting, so here's a link: https://youtu.be/bqxjqi9WKew

Reuben

Offline DaveGilbert

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2016, 01:37:26 PM »
Oh neat! Thanks. :)

Offline crimsoncantata

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Re: Wonderings from a long-time adventure gamer
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 02:30:44 AM »
Just coming across this thread- while there was a certain joy to early adventure games that sometimes seems lacking today, there were plenty of dystopias as well. Just off the the top of my head I can recall classics like Beneath a Steel Sky and Wasteland, Sierra's own Manhunter series, and slightly later hellscapes like Dark Seed or Sanitarium (to say nothing of games drawn from dystopian books - Neuromancer, Snatcher, Circuit's Edge, etc)

There may also be a touch of nostalgia at play. While I do remember being fascinated by Sierra's EGA wonderlands, I also remember dying horribly for things like not having picked up a vital item at the very beginning of the game (Space Quest), walking over a bridge too many times (King's Quest), and opening a door/walking under a chandelier/talking to the wrong person/hassling a parrot/opening a bottle/taking a shower (Colonel's Bequest). Even one of my all time favorite games, Out of this World, is essentially a learn-by-constant-harrowing-death procedural.

But I do think that joy survives, just in different ways. For a time, computing capabilities were so limited that adventure games (and text adventures before them) were the only way for a computer game to really tell a story. But now action-adventure has claimed a lot of that territory. Does Mass Effect, for instance, really have fewer puzzles* or mysteries than The Perils of Rosella? Is there less intrigue and questing in Dragon Age: Inquisition than Quest For Glory: Wages of War? The addition of more actiony elements may move the form away from what many consider 'the classics,' but I don't think that the original virtues have been lost, and especially not when creators like Wadjet Eye keep the early flame alive as well.

As for joy qua joy, I say it's still there too. I'm not as up to date on the latest games as I used to be, but even I find glimmers of it my travels. The chortlesome character humor in Bioware's best efforts, the staggeringly artful plotting of Nintendo's Ghost Trick, and (reaching way back), the television show level of Psychonauts, which is one of the very few videogames levels in which your stated *and actual* goal is to have a nice time. And I keep hearing happy things about Phoenix Wright and Stardew Valley and the like.

The wide-eyed joy you're looking for may be harder to see now that the lil' village of computer gaming has exploded into a bustling metropolis, but I guarantee it's still there to be found.




*It even had the towers of hanoi! How much more classic-gamey can you get?