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Return To Monkey Island - MI2 sequel from Ron Gilbert

negator2vc

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Add to that I read faster than the VAs talk (I guess as does anyone) and I get too bored waiting for them to say what I've already read and just skip it anyway.
This is why I utterly despise the full voice acting trend in RPGs.

Games like Pillars of Eternity 2 and Divinity Original Sin 2 which have a LOT of text (and a lot of filler text) with full voice acting... ugh. Having a few lines voiced like Baldur's Gate or a few characters like Fallout was perfect. But full VA? Gotta switch that shit off.
Even Disco Elysium, which used to do it like Baldur's Gate with only a few voiced snippets, changed to full voice acting later in the extended edition patch. Because fuck you, I guess.
Not to mention less player's choices with full VA
And no more easy post release patches if those patches change some of the game texts.
I totaly agree that the Fallout way is the best way if you want to have voices
 

Darkozric

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Veni, vidi, vici - I came, I promoted, I'm off



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Boleskine

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https://www.escapistmagazine.com/monkey-island-and-the-complicated-art-of-puzzles-extra-punctuation/

In my recent review of Return to Monkey Island I drew a comparison between its puzzle design and that of Monkey Island 2, its predecessor. Those of you who saw my previous Extra Punctuation about point and click adventure games will recall that when we talk about puzzles in such games we usually mean inventory puzzles, and very frequently these tend to be a bit insipid. You pick up object A and use it to resolve situation B, at its worst it just boils down to a linear sequence of finding keys or key equivalents to put in locks or lock equivalents.

The survival horror genre in particular is lousy with this sort of puzzle design. Even my horror game waifu Silent Hill 2 is guilty of it. The objective is usually to explore every room that’s currently accessible, find all the random pickups lying around in them, then figure out where to put them all like you’re looking for the right-shaped holes to fit your collection of pegs, and it’s frequently instantly obvious what you’re supposed to do once you’ve got all the pieces laid out. This is very boring puzzle design. Survival horror gets away with it because it’s also got survival and horror. The inventory puzzles are really just a framework, an excuse to get you moving from room to room so the game can have more opportunities to fling zombies at your head.

And badly designed adventure games don’t realise they need to have something on top of the framework to really engage the interest. In my review I cited an example of a puzzle from Return to Monkey Island in which we must win an eating contest by getting some hot pepper and then putting it on our opponent’s dish. The pepper is the key and the dish is the lock. Baseline shit. Yawn-o-rama. I contrasted that with a puzzle in Monkey Island 2 where you have to win a spitting contest. You need to puzzle your way around creating a green drink to enhance your phlegm, distracting the crowd to move the finish line back and only spitting when you see a scarf blowing in the wind. It’s a lot more than just a key in a lock. It’s several different keys for a lock that doesn’t have corporeal form half the time.

But I noticed one or two comments on the video referencing that whole spitting contest sequence and replying along the lines of “Shyeah, adventure game moon logic, am I right? No wonder no one likes them anymore.” No. Shut up. That’s GOOD adventure game design. That’s the kind of stuff I want, and that Return to Monkey Island – and most nouveau adventure games, thinking about it – can’t seem to replicate. I went off the point and click genre because that sort of clever, intricate puzzle design with integrated humour and storytelling was more the exception than the rule.

Yes, a lot of old adventure games had a moon logic problem. That was the other common issue besides pegs in holes puzzle design. Being too obscure rather than too simplistic. This is the point where a lot of internet games media veterans will bring up Old Man Murray’s classic article about what killed adventure games. In which writer Erik Wolpaw – who incidentally would go on to work on Psychonauts and the Portal games, trivia fans – describes a puzzle from the adventure game Gabriel Knight 3. In which the protagonist must go through a very roundabout process to acquire some cat hair to use as a false moustache in order to pass as someone in a photograph, but also the photograph doesn’t have a moustache, so he has to draw one on with a pen. The article concludes with the wonderful line “Who killed Adventure Games? I think it should be pretty clear at this point that Adventure Games committed suicide.”

Fair enough, it’s a terrible puzzle. But it’s not the intricacy of the process that makes it bad, it’s the fact that it’s fucking mental. No reasonable person would intuit that they needed a false moustache to pass as someone who doesn’t have a moustache. And even if they did, most sane people would then maybe cut off a bit of their own hair to use, not torment a passing blameless moggy.

The key word here is intuit. The end goal of any puzzle game is to make the player feel clever for figuring it out. It can’t be IMPOSSIBLE to figure out, neither can it be so obvious we don’t feel clever. You have to walk a fine line. So let’s go back to that Monkey 2 spitting contest puzzle and break it down. We’ve established it’s intricate, but could one reasonably intuit the solution?

Figuring out to spit when the wind is blowing is the simplest of the necessary deductions, there’s even a conversation you can overhear at a party elsewhere on the island that drops the hint that the wind is a factor. So that’s a tick.

What about the part where you have to drink a green drink to make your spit thicker? Earlier in the game, we witness another character order a green drink at the bar and then spit on the wall. And the camera weirdly focusses on the spitball as it travels across the room to signal that it’s important, weird though that seems at the time. So that seed is planted. But then it turns out there’s no green drink on the menu. Only a blue drink, a yellow drink and a red drink. The solution is to mix blue and yellow together to make green. I’d say the fact that the three available drinks are obviously the three primary colours would be enough of a hint that colour mixing is the solution. And then if you try the green drink Guybrush says “Oh my goodness my spit is now thick” just to hammer it home. Two ticks.

The last part is distracting the crowd with a horn so you can move the flags back a bit. This is probably the least intuitive part but bits of it are logical. You buy the horn in the store and immediately outside the store is a dude with a cannon whose job is to fire the cannon when the mail boat arrives. What’s the first thing you do when you buy a new toy? You try it out! So you blow the horn outside the store, the dude thinks it’s the mail boat and fires the cannon.

The next bit is the less intuitive part. You’re supposed to go one room to the right where the spitting contest is and blow the horn there. The dude hears it from the other room and fires the cannon, distracting the crowd and allowing you to move the finish line. This is the part that took me a long time to figure out as a kid, because I didn’t think it would work. ‘Cos you’re doing it right in front of the crowd. If I was in that crowd I’d be more interested in the weirdo blowing the horn right next to me than the distant cannon fire I’ve heard like three times today.

Still, it’s no cat hair moustache. Call it a partial tick. In summary, there’s enough common sense and clue drops in play to make it possible to intuit for the most part while still being obscure enough that one would feel clever for figuring it out. So it is a good puzzle, shut up. But the catharsis, the satisfaction of outwitting the game, is not the only purpose of intricacy in puzzle design.

What I didn’t mention is that before you can order the blue and yellow drinks you have to show the bartender ID. To get one, you have to go to a library on another island and give some information, and whatever information you pick from the dialog menu the bartender comments upon in a fun little comedy callback. The same library ties into several other puzzles in the game and has a weirdly huge selection of books you can take out, a lot of which have unique dialogue if you read them. The dude with the cannon is a unique character with dialogue and the fact that an elderly man who can barely see or hear is in charge of spotting the mail boat tells us something about the lax attitude of the island’s authorities. When Guybrush blows the horn he makes a funny face where his cheeks bulge and his eyes go crossed. And after he moves the finish line back he gives the camera a cheeky smile.

All of this is the true purpose of the intricacy in the puzzle design of the Monkey Island games. All the little bits and pieces of the process provide more little gaps into which jokes, funny touches and worldbuilding moments can be inserted. By the same principle that crinkle cut chips have more flavour because they have more surface area. But it’s more than flavour – the characters, the story, the jokes, these are what Monkey Island has where survival horror games have survival and horror. This is what the puzzle framework is supposed to be supporting.

And that’s why it’s disappointing that an equivalent situation in Return To Monkey Island is just a case of find the one thing to use in the one place. It was a missed opportunity not just for clever design, but for delivering story and mood and laughs. Sure, you can convey all of that in other places, like in dialog trees with characters, but I never have much patience for conversations in video games, for standing in one place reciting from a list of prepared statements when I’d rather feel like I’m achieving something. People always talk about storytelling and gameplay like they’re separate things, and argue over which is more important, but that’s missing the point: the most potent medium for storytelling IS the gameplay. Because that’s the bit we have to engage with and pay attention to.

Silent Hill 2, for all the lameness of its inventory puzzling, understood the principle of using it to express the narrative. At one point you need to fish something out of a hole in the ground with a hook on the end of a line. They could’ve just had you get a ball of string from a shelf and use that for the line, but they didn’t. You have to use a human hair that you find in a box locked with five different locking mechanisms, in a room that belonged to a grief-stricken man who’d lost his daughter. So a simple key hunt becomes a story in itself that reinforces the game’s emotional tone.

Well, anyway. I don’t even know who I’m talking to right now. Certainly not the developers of Return to Monkey Island, who made it perfectly clear in the ending to that game that they absolutely don’t give a shit. And the time to have a conversation about how to fix adventure games was about thirty years ago when I still gave a shit. So I guess I’m just talking for the usual reasons: because it makes me feel clever, and if it looks like I’m working my wife won’t tell me to do the washing up.
 

RobotSquirrel

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How in the fuck have games devolved so much? Rhetorical question.
I'll still answer it, in the 80s and 90s games were developed by people from multiple backgrounds (not just video games) who had only just gotten their qualifications. People back then were very very intelligent because they had to be in order to work in this industry and supposedly it paid a lot better back then than it does now so the industry attracted a lot of highly skilled people.

Fast forward to today, the industry prefers to run things like startups, they like to hire students because students will work for bugger all pay, most of these student's qualifications are questionable at best and they've only ever done video game work academically, they lack the external experiences that are necessary to survive long term as a game developer, the talent is purely throw away, churn it out for a profit and discard. If you look at the credits for RtMI about 50% would classify as new student talent, they're all fresh-blooded. The rest are tired veterans trying to reclaim some lost glory.

One problem with students is that they haven't learned through the trial and error of the industry like the old veterans had to, they didn't just arrive at their hit IP, for every Doom, there is a Dangerous Dave that preceded it.

And then there's the fact that most developers would rather make political statements then just focus on their damn game.
 

Tavar

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RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In
How in the fuck have games devolved so much? Rhetorical question.
I'll still answer it, in the 80s and 90s games were developed by people from multiple backgrounds (not just video games) who had only just gotten their qualifications. People back then were very very intelligent because they had to be in order to work in this industry and supposedly it paid a lot better back then than it does now so the industry attracted a lot of highly skilled people.

Fast forward to today, the industry prefers to run things like startups, they like to hire students because students will work for bugger all pay, most of these student's qualifications are questionable at best and they've only ever done video game work academically, they lack the external experiences that are necessary to survive long term as a game developer, the talent is purely throw away, churn it out for a profit and discard. If you look at the credits for RtMI about 50% would classify as new student talent, they're all fresh-blooded. The rest are tired veterans trying to reclaim some lost glory.

One problem with students is that they haven't learned through the trial and error of the industry like the old veterans had to, they didn't just arrive at their hit IP, for every Doom, there is a Dangerous Dave that preceded it.

And then there's the fact that most developers would rather make political statements then just focus on their damn game.
Good post. I'd like to add that the insane churn in the games industry is a big problem as well as you have constant brain drain. The game industry is infamous for low pay and long hours (the latter mostly due to terrible planning and project management) and there are only so many crunches you can take part in before you start looking for greener pastures. After all, you can earn more money for less work as a regular software developer in a "boring" tech firm. There are not many veterans of the 90s and 00s still left in the industry and it shows. To make things worse even if the new blood picks up the necessary skills over time, they will also probably quit sooner rather than later, so we are stuck in any infinite low skill loop.

It also doesn't help that a lot of people in the industry want to make movies rather than games (I blame naughty dog for this shit).
 
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Cyberarmy

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Divinity: Original Sin 2
So...
I played this one against my better judgement....

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the game...


Edit: Vomit looking art style is the least of games problems but game is really hard to look at most of the time. Game looks like a trip from corrupted LSD.
 

Star Citizen

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Yeah also gave it a shot and couldn't get past the game's writing and the tone of the characters. I'm still going to try push a lil further in but as said above, the horrid artstyle is the least of the game's problems.
 

negator2vc

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If you just wanted to give this crap a shot you could have watched the first 10 min of a walkthrough video (and then watch the last 10 min for the so called ending and be glad you didn't pay anything for this horseshit).
The moment you bought it you became part of the Gilbert's problem!
 

Duraframe300

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Dec 21, 2010
Messages
6,395

"Hey guys, the game you are playing is - wait for it - just a game! It's not real! None of it actually happened! It's all just in someone's examination!" is never a satisfying setup. We know. When I play a game, read a book, or watch a movie, I am aware that the story is fictional. I don't need the author to be all clever and tell me "YOOOO IT'S NOT REAL BRO I'M JUST TELLING A STORY!!!!"
It's shit-tier bottom of the barrel writing. A cheap cop-out midwit writers who aren't smart enough to write a good conclusion fall back on, pretending to be clever while they're actually just retarded.
What kind of magician would, during his magic trick, start yelling "The trick is here! Look, here! I'm doing this and this in order to make it look like it works!"? An incredibly clever magician, or a magician who knows even too well that he's far too clumsy to successfully disguise his trick?
Nobody. But you can play with the idea of it:

 

negator2vc

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No wonder the game's art style is crap
One look at the art director face is all it takes to understand the reason!

Until now I have only heard his name and seen his art style,
now I have seen his crazy face and I have nightmares!
 

Darkozric

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Messages
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Codex brother-a-renos, I'm re-posting this from the GOG thread so no one misses the good news. Return to *beeping* Monkey Island is here! DRM-free!

It places the series Ron Gilbert's fat *beeping" back in the franchise’s director’s chair for the first time in 30 *beeping* years!

Grab your *beeping* copy from GOG: https://af.gog.com/en/game/return_to_monkey_island?as=1649904300, and write a *beeping* review, it helps a lot!

Try to be kind. While uncle-a-who Ron is a well known attention *beeping*, he's also sensitive as a snowflake and a *beeping* butthurt to the mega!

We surely don't want to upset our beloved uncle-a-who and make him quit the *beeping* Twitter-a-reno permanently (again).

Can't wait to read your *beeping* reviews, mine will be under the name of your beloved *beeping* clown.



P.S - If it helps, I can re-post the shit uncensored.
 

Darkozric

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Edgy
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Messages
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Shiieeet! I didn't know that the dark magic of pixelization is considered pixel art. I can now follow my dream to be a pixel artist, be afraid Ferrari!


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