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Decline Broken Age - Double Fine's Kickstarter Adventure Game

Discussion in 'Adventure Gaming' started by J_C, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Not really "people", just his sycophants here on the Codex. :P

    Too bad he falls hook, line and sinker for the Old Man Murray libel.
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Pyke I generally agree with your post, but I'm going to nitpick two points.

    I think "having to rely" isn't quite right. I think if you asked them, you would get a speech not unlike to the one where the big ad man in the last episode of Mad Men lists off the brands that the heroes are going to get to work on
    Show Spoiler
    when they lose their independent shop
    , culminating in a husky, "Coca Cola." I suspect what TellTale would say is that they are making the most popular adventure games in the world based on the most popular IPs in the world. They would probably end with a husky, "Game of Thrones" or "Avengers." I'm reasonably confident they'll be doing Star Wars games before the year is out. It's not what I would want to do, but I'm fairly sure it's what they want. After all, as between Tim Schafer, Ron Gilbert, and TellTale Games, who got to make the sequels to Monkey Island?

    You're leaving out GOG, iOS, and "other portal" sales from Gemini Rue, for what it's worth. The 230k figure is only Steam (and bundles activated on Steam). Gemini Rue is in the top 20 bestselling adventure games on GOG, so I'd guess there are at least another 60k sales there.

    --EDIT--
    Also, I'm not fully getting the assertion that Broken Age Chapter 2's launch is doing poorly. When the first chapter launched, it peaked at 3,134 simultaneously players; when the second chapter launch, it peaked at 2,897. That seems pretty good retention for an episodic game. (For example, TTG's Game of Thrones game had 6,632 for episode one, then 4,717; Dreamfall Chapters had 1,329 then 1,327, so better retention, but it's still not going up.) Obviously, simultaneous players typically way understates how many people are playing the game. For example, Primordia had sold about 4,000 Steam keys during its launch month (and pre-sales), but peaked at 178 simultaneously players. Is the issue that everyone who bought Chapter 1 already owns Chapter 2?
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015
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  3. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    you called?

    Explain? I'm curious but I'm not well-versed in shitty internet drama
     
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  4. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Very famous article written in 2000 by game reviewer Erik Wolpaw (who would later go on to become the writer for Valve's Portal), basically accusing traditional adventure games of being a crap genre that deserves to die.
     
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  5. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Ah. Yeah, well. I'm one of those guys who like the shitty puzzles in many old adventure games but I still sort of agree with them being shitty. Most great puzzles are ones where the solution makes sense, it's just hard to figure out. Such puzzle design is rare in older adventure games. The satisfaction of overcoming something like the rubber ducky in TLJ is less an "AHA!"-moment and more an "OH WTF LOL"-moment. You persevered through stamina and thoroughness more than by creativity and ingenuity. I think my own attitude is that old adventure games died because of some overstated flaws but by killing them completely we also lost much of what made them great, completely unecessarily. The industry's answer was to reinstate adventure games but just without the puzzles, which is even worse.

    I played through the Wolf Among Us a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the story, but I wish it had some more interactive meat.
     
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  6. felipepepe Prestigious Gentleman Codex's Heretic Patron

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    I never saw the appeal of that article...it nitpicks on shitty puzzles from a few games and goes "thus, all puzzles suck".

    The obvious counter-point are puzzles like the Insult Sword-Fighting in Monkey Island. It's a complex puzzle, but the goal is quite clear and its mechanic is quite obvious. Reply witty remarks with an appropriate witty remark. You do this by fighting other pirates and learning their witty remarks and how they counter yours. When you master of it, the game throws a curve ball, as the Sword Master(tm) uses different remarks, but that can be replied using the ones you already know.

    A fantastic and memorable puzzle, miles ahead of anything in Broken Age or the stupid "Press A when you see A" comatose monkey task of modern adventure games.
     
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  7. Blackthorne Infamous Quests Patron Developer

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    Look, I have sold literally hundreds of my adventure game in my lifetime, and I can tell you they're not dead! Literally HUNDREDS.


    Bt
     
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  8. Pyke The Brotherhood Developer

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    Completely agree with you there man. Sorry - those points weren't well worded or completely thought through. They were just the two first examples I could think of to illustrate my point!
     
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  9. tuluse Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Shadorwun: Hong Kong
    Grunker

    The Longest Journey is in general not a well designed adventure game (though it has it's moments). The key with adventure game puzzles is that they make sense in the context of the world you are exploring—not the real world. Thus as felipepepe said insult sword fighting makes perfect sense on Melee Island. The rubber duck puzzle doesn't make sense in any context.

    Not that there weren't bad puzzles in some great games (In MI itself, I figured out the red herring puzzle only through brute force and another hint would have been appreciated), but LucasArts and Sierra (especially the former imo) had some great puzzle design consistent with the world they were presenting.
     
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  10. Grunker RPG Codex Ghost Patron

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    Codex 2012 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Torment: Tides of Numenera Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Don't necessarily disagree on any particular point. My favourite adventure game is probably Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and that game IMO speaks to both the flaws and strengths of the older games. When best, you really are Dr. Jones finding ancient mysteries via research and puzzle solving and adventure. When worst, you're objectives are a bit unclear and you stumble upon solutions.
     
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  11. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Infinitron tuluse The funny thing is that while I played a decent number of adventure games before reading the OMM article (KQII, KQV, KQVI, QfG, SQI, SQIV, GK1, GK2, MI1, MI2, MI3, Indiana Jones 1 & 2, Zack McKracken, Loom, Dragonsphere, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, TLJ, I'm sure I'm forgetting many), the accusations actually seemed dead on to me. But as you guys point out, when you really look at it, very few adventure game puzzles were outright illogical, OMM just picked glaring examples from games with weak puzzles. Some kind of psychological quirk is at work in making OMM's argument so persuasive, such as: (1) crappy puzzles standing out in our memory much more than great puzzles; (2) logical but not great puzzles almost totally disappearing from our memory; (3) and good puzzles that we couldn't solve or our being mentally repackaged as crap puzzles. I mean, by now it's practically an article of faith even among adventure game fans that "adventure game logic" is/was terrible.

    It may be that what hurt adventure games the most was not horrendously illogical puzzles but the fact that the failure state for being unable to solve a puzzle is (typically) being unable to progress in the game. While I am 100% sure that there is a kind of puzzle-solving skill that a player can develop, the way the player develops it is not like the way the player develops skill in other games -- it's more gradual by far. In Contra, for example, a bad player will be unable to progress past a certain point, so he'll have to keep replaying the first part of the game but he'll get better as a result. As he gets better, he'll get farther. In a cRPG, a weaker player can typically grind his characters' levels up or save scum or just keep hoping for the perfect series of rolls from the RNG. Moreover, those games (and FPS games and RTS games, etc., etc.) typically offer a gradient from flawless playing to barely scraped by, all of which permit progress. But with puzzles in an adventure game, if a player gets stuck and can't, with a little thought, figure out the solution, it's not like he can go improve his skills by playing the start of game again. And he can't level up his character. And, often, there's no "scraping by" alternative path. He'll just be stuck until he gets a FAQ or item-spams (if that's a solution). Same with missing a hotspot or an exit or something.

    As a result, I would suggest that adventure game players often have the experience, "I was stuck in the game, and there was nothing I could do about it until I cheated or solved the puzzle without any use of logic." When a player comes away with that reaction, he doesn't think "the game was challenging" so much as "the game is unfair." With that mindset, it's easy to adopt the OMM argument, even if it is objectively false, because it elegantly and reassuringly explains the player's subjective experience.

    I had various fantasies for how to address these issues in Cloudscape, but I doubt I'll ever put them to practice. QfG is a great example of how to do it, though, albeit in the context of an RPG hybrid.
     
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  12. RPGMaster Savant

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    The problem for DF is they also went several months over schedule for Act 2 putting them back in the red unless sales pick post Act 2 release.
     
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  13. Boleskine Arcane

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    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Athelas Arcane

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    I think the design of adventure game puzzles could benefit from giving the player a set of tools that can be used in a variety of ways. Something like the distaff in Loom.
     
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  15. Western Arcane

    Western
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    Codex 2012 Codex 2014 Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2
    MRY What do you think of adventure games incorporating CYOA elements, along with multiple puzzle solutions and/or failure states that let you continue the game?

    I think it solves some of the problems adventure games have but at the expense of multiplying the workload, particularly if the CYOA elements are more significant than Telltale games.
     
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  16. Bubbles I'm forever blowing

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    Or the robots in Broken Age.
     
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  17. Redlands Arcane

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    It might be an unpopular opinion, but I think the general aim to remove the "illogical" puzzles from adventure games may not necessarily be a good thing in and of itself. I think that there are definite subgenres where having all-logical puzzles works well: the Myst series, since those are mostly based upon "mechanical" puzzles, or a mystery set in more or less the real world, are good examples. But then you have games like Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head Or Tail of It wouldn't work at all in that case, since it's world isn't trying to be immersive; it's just trying to be a very "game-y" place. (That might make it more of a puzzle game, but where adventure games end and puzzles begin is a difficult, separate topic.) Or a game set in a cartoon universe, where "cartoon logic" applies instead. Or, say, the King's Quest games, where clues come from fairy tales and such.

    This is very different to what I (and others) were complaining about earlier with the pH thing. There (if the puzzle is as described, which it might not be and has just been translated poorly from the game) it's actually punishing you for extra knowledge: if you know how pH actually works, then it just breaks your brain when the puzzle (again, if it is as described) goes against that in such a spectacularly awful way; moreover, if you don't then you'll have a worse understanding of what pH is in the real world at the end of the game (and why, if you're going to use existing terms, use them properly or not at all). What I'm talking about is the exact opposite: rewarding the player for having extra knowledge by allowing them to make progress, even if it's with puzzles that aren't explicitly clued within the game, or require you to go outside of the game to figure them out. It's a bit like you and the developer are going head-to-head: both of you can use all the resources at your disposal, and whoever comes out on top is the victor of that battle of wits.

    I guess what's brought this on has been thinking a lot about cryptic crosswords (another thing I enjoy doing sporadically). If you're not familiar, they're much like regular crosswords, only the clues are heavily word-play based (rather than strictly dictionary definition-based like regular crosswords) and that it usually helps to what the "rules" are before you start solving them (otherwise they'll just seem like gobbledygook, although a few are incredibly clever and can be both a "straight" and cryptic clue). However, if you're good at playing around with words and letters, and you have a good command of the language in which it's set, you get rewarded by completing a puzzle containing (hopefully) some very cleverly-constructed clues.

    Another thing that's brought this on is that my husband got me a really great puzzle book for Christmas: it's called Maze by Christopher Manson (apparently there's also a game version of it). It was one of those "Figure it out first and win a prize!" deals. You're given very little direction, and very few specific clues for how to proceed. The whole thing can be incredibly overwhelming when you realize that anything and everything can be a clue. But a lot of the clues/references reward you for having knowledge (or at least, the ability to gain knowledge), and trying to put all of these clues together to figure out how to get through the maze, unlocking all of its mysteries.

    Yet another (which I thought of mid-writing this post) was Dracula's Riddle: I think that's still up on the internet if you wanted to have a look. Again, it required you to put in a lot of effort and be crafty, especially if you wanted to work on it by yourself. But again, I felt like my own thinking improved by playing it and trying to see how damned clever the setters had been.

    Now, this is very different from the cat mustaches and rubber duckies of this world, but I think that the baby's been thrown out with the bathwater, which is why story is now such an overwhelming force in a lot of new adventure/"adventure" games. Granted, maybe I'm just weirdly masochistic (I mean, I do play text adventures by writing my own maps and walkthroughs), but for fuck's sake there needs to be some better middle-ground between people like me and those who claim Myst is hard (which it is... but only if you happen to be deaf, or illiterate, or innumerate) where the latter, who don't want to be genre-savvy or be bothered looking up anything but a walkthrough, get to set the level of difficulty.

    Also, as a separate note, if you like puzzles, I heartily recommend the movie The Last of Sheila. I won't say anything about it to avoid spoilers, but it was written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins based on their own set of games with their friends. You'll even get something out of seeing it twice, because the movie is littered with clues. It also has James Coburn mockingly going "Boo hoo hoo!" at a young Ian McShane. Also Raquel Welch.
     
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  18. talan Learned

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    I finished Act 2 -- I liked it overall.

    Total time according to Steam is 13.1 hours...
     
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  19. Jiggy Boobles Destiny Cleanser Patron

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    :nocountryforshitposters:

    Downloaded part 2 yesterday, I'm curious to see how this turns out.
     
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  20. imweasel Guest

    imweasel
    I just finished Act 2. Afterwards I thought about how great Grim Fandango is in comparison and shed a single manly tear.

    The puzzles were much more challenging in Act 2, which is good. But the setting is still shit, the story is a complete illogical mess, the background story is never really explained, most of the NPCs are boring, some of the puzzles are tedious and at least 3/4 of Act 2 is made up of recycled areas. The game is pure mediocrity, don't buy it unless it is on sale and you have nothing better to play.
     
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  21. RPGMaster Savant

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    Lesbians in a kid's game. Schafter SWJ confirmed.
     
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  22. Lucky Arcane

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    Memoria did something like this with the staff and it worked rather well there. You know what the staff can do and it's not a single use item, so it's always in the back of your head when you're looking at the puzzles. Making of use of reliable, if not always realistic, tools like that for puzzle design could help make puzzle solutions more tangible to the player.
     
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  23. Eyeball Arcane

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    see also: crowbar, in 90% of adventure games.
     
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  24. Lucky Arcane

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    You don’t really need to figure how to best use a crowbar though, so you wouldn’t be able to scale puzzle difficulty to the player getting used to the tools properties.
     
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  25. DosBuster Arcane Patron The Real Fanboy

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    So I liked most of the voice actors and what they brought to the characters, but holy shit, Vella and Shay, (well Shay had a few good moments), fuck man Vella's voice actor in particular sounded like she half-asleep at the recording studio.

    All in all, I enjoyed the game for the $15 I spent on it alongside the documentary, I'd say I got a good deal.

    EDIT: Oh, ok, the story makes more sense now. This theory has been semi-confirmed on the backer forums, essentially, the "final element" thingy is actually player agency. The thing that interlocked Vella and Shay allowing them to solve complex puzzles, was us.
     
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