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Incline The Upcoming Adventure Game Incline Thread

Boleskine

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https://www.pcgamer.com/this-sci-fi-adventure-game-was-built-from-handmade-miniature-scenery/

This sci-fi adventure game was built from handmade miniature scenery
By Fraser Brown 6 hours ago

Trüberbrook is coming soon.
uDvXba3Xu2ZzJWrYFvGLKF-320-80.jpg


Trüberbrook is a sci-fi mystery set in '60s Germany but inspired by TV shows like Twin Peaks, X-Files and Stranger Things. We're also promised dinosaurs. Playing as an American scientist and lottery winner on his holiday, you'll be able to explore a German village during the Cold War and somehow get embroiled in a fate-of-the-world crisis.

As a fan of the Broken Sword series, I'm more than happy to once again step into the shoes of a slightly confused American tourist, but the real hook is the scenery. It was all made by hand, each building and object, and then transformed into a digital facsimile using photogrammetry. The technique has been used to create incredibly realistic environments in games like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but in Trüberbrook it's used to bring its tiny sets to life.

You can see the result in the trailer below.



It's even lit using physical lighting. Real lights are used to illuminate the interiors, as well as simulating the weather and time of day. It sounds like a lot of hard work, but looks incredible.

You can see how the lighting changes a scene and get a glimpse of how the sets were built on the Kickstarter page. It was funded back in 2017 in just over a day.

Trüberbrook is due out on Steam and GOG on March 12.
 
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V_K

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Feels a bit of a waste to have all those handcrafted environments and then fill them with rather crude 3D characters. But I guess you do what you can on the budget you have.
 

Arbiter

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Is there really an adventure game renaissance? I hear that Gabriel Knight remake did not sell well several years ago and the game designer abandoned plans to produce remakes of other Sierra classics.
 
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Modron

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There was never an adventure game renaissance because the genre never died as hard as rpgs. That said the peak modern adventure gaming phase was probably 10-15. Kickstarted adventure games were a bit late to the party.
 

MRY

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The Renaissance was predicated on reverential, even compulsive, rediscovery of the wisdom of the Greeks and Romans. Take the obsessive attention to De architectura.

Most modern adventure games look at the classics not with reverence and obsessive attention, but more like a wedding dress worn by a bride-to-be’s grandmother: what a lovely dress, but so dated, no one would ever wear that style today; but if we were to cut off the sleeves, drop the hemline, get ride of the train....

The Renaissance was fueled by genuine geniuses taking as gospel the hard-won wisdom of the past. I view myself as a mediocrity trying his best to ape something he barely understands—but at least I don’t hold the classics in open contempt. I’m like an inbred late Roman senator blustering to his barbarian overlords. Better maybe than inbred late Roman senators groveling to the overlords and mocking the fallen monuments of the Empire. But no da Vinci.
 

ghostdog

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Is there really an adventure game renaissance? I hear that Gabriel Knight remake
Adventure game renaissance and ugly 3d remakes of a beautiful classic game do not go together.

Let's just say that the rotting corpse of adventure gaming has been revived by little indie Dr. Frankensteins and while it's mostly monstrous and stupid, there are some bouts of brilliance here and there.
 

Blackthorne

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Back in 2012 when I, and many others, launched Kickstarters for Adventure games, I admit - I had foolish hopes for an adventure game "renaissance". In that I hoped a rebirth of interest in the genre, and the fanbase coming together to demand and support more games would happen. It didn't quite happen the way I, or others, may have hoped. From some games mediocrity, or to many never even being finished, to lackluster support outside a few dedicated niches... ah, well. I really got caught up in the enthusiasm at the time, and I don't regret it. I mean, I'm still here - 8 years out from that, working on adventure games. Just at a smaller pace and certainly not for any financial gain!

I think a lot of the smaller, more indie games, were better and more successful than a lot of the "big name" devs who held kickstarters to make new games. But for a while there, between 2012-2015, there were a lot of adventure games in dev, and people were excited about it! It's definitely waned, the excitement, but there's still people making them.
 

hello friend

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For my part, the reason I completely lost interest in new adventure game kickstarters is because almost every single dev studio went with easy streamlined puzzles. Puzzles are a big part of the genre, yet most of the new wave of adventure games seemed to be made for the visual novel audience.
 

WallaceChambers

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Most of the games from that initial Kickstarter wave failed to deliver but I like where adventure games are at now. Just last year there was Gibbous, Whispers of a Machine, surprisingly great games like Irony Curtain, games with innovative mechanics like Heaven's Vault. Blacksad: Under The Skin was very good too, despite being absurdly buggy (it's been patched up now).

That's not all the games either (I never got around to playing Sumatra, Detective Di or Observation) and just in that mix there's something for everyone. More challenging games like Irony Curtain, easier ones like Gibbous, C&C adventure games with cool new mechanics like Whispers and Heaven's Vault. Comedy games, dramatic games, detective games, etc.

The big difference is there aren't two genre defining studios that you can look to for all the best releases. To find out about a lot of this stuff you've gotta do a lot more digging. Still, this year we've already had Beautiful Desolation and Luna - The Shadow Dust. Both of which I really enjoyed.
 

V_K

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You know, I'm currently playing the Monkey Island series, and I'm actually not finding them much harder than contemporary games. Most of my troubles come either from games being intentionally obtuse (e.g. finding the fort in MI1, where the game suddenly decides to break its own rules) or overlooking some interactive piece of the scenery ("pixel hunting").
 

WallaceChambers

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The Secret of Monkey Island was never punishingly hard. I think it's extremely well balanced, difficulty wise. Monkey 2 is has a few walkthrough bait spots imo and the final confrontation with LeChuck is frustrating in it's design. But it does have multiple difficulty settings so in a way it's even more forgiving. I was able to complete Curse walk-through free on my first playthrough without much issue. But this is all relative at the end of the day. Some people think being stuck for 10 minutes is intolerable and I've seen LPers get stuck on puzzles in Life Is Strange for 40+ minutes.

But I'm curious to know, how does MI1 break it's own rules with finding the fort? I cant remember that giving me trouble but I also don't remember that part very specifically at all.
 

V_K

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But I'm curious to know, how does MI1 break it's own rules with finding the fort?
Well, not as much rules as expectations. Up to that point (just as well as after it), every visitable location was visible on the map, and if you needed to find some hidden place, like e.g. the treasure or the sword master, that was done in-location, not on the map. So nothing in the game indicates that you can find new locations by exploring the map, but then this is made even more obtuse by having to follow a very specific route to enter the crater.
 

MRY

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You know, I'm currently playing the Monkey Island series, and I'm actually not finding them much harder than contemporary games.
A few thoughts on this:

(1) For someone who can dunk a basketball on a 10-foot rim, dunking on a 7-foot rim doesn't seem much harder than dunking on an 8-foot rim -- you're far enough above the difficulty threshold that the distinction isn't that great. But a sixth grader might be able to dunk on the 7-foot rim (finding it somewhat challenging), while the 8-foot rim is impossibly beyond reach. To him, the difficulty difference is profound. From your perspective, there may not be an appreciable difficulty difference, but that I think there's still actually a pretty significant one.

(2) One thing that is really obvious when you compare Monkey Island to, say, Milkmaid of the Milky Way, is the quantity of items, hotspots, and verbs. So here's a typical scene: protagonist has a couple items, a couple hotspots, and one verb (interact).

MILKMAID%2BOF%2BTHE%2BMILKY%2BWAY%2B10.gif


Similar scene from Broken Age:
Broken_Age_%2528PC%2529_33.jpg


Four times (a pretty full inventory by Broken Age standards), a couple hotspots, a single verb.

Here's a standard Monkey Island scene:
moneky2.gif

A few more hotspots, nine verbs, and probably 16 or so items (we're only seeing part of the inventory).

Now, if you're playing an adventure game in a reasonable way, this doesn't make a huge difference. You wouldn't use the Q-tip on oar lock, or open the banana tree, or give the telescope to the jungle. But if you've internalized that adventure game puzzles are all stupid, there's no point in treating it as anything other than a 20-questions game with the designer, the two scenes radically diverge. In Milkmaid or BA, there are something like 10 possible things you can do in that room. So you can do all 10, and advance. In Monkey Island, you'd can't do that. Occasionally you notice areas where you start guessing items because they take a long time and are frustrating. But otherwise, you're playing purposively. If the two games seem equally difficult, it's because you're effectively solving them -- but to someone who cannot solve puzzles, SMI is insanely difficult, impossible even.

(3) SMI includes a variety of puzzles that are not even really amenable to brute force, but instead require a leap of lateral thinking. Like, realizing that you can follow the shopkeeper to the sword master, or that the dancing instructions are showing which way to go through the maze. That kind of puzzle is generally absent from modern adventure games.

(4) In general, Lucas Arts games were easier than other adventure games of the period.

(5) Overall, people do overstate the difficulty and "illogic" of classic adventure games. I remember being struck by the fact that Pajama Sam had more hotspots, more inventory items, and more complicated puzzles than modern adventure games nominally designed for adults. Many of the classic adventure games were sold to young children. Part of what happens is the adults are remembering challenges they had with games they played as children, which are actually easier than they remember. Part of what happens is that even adults today are less equipped to deal with adventure game puzzles than were children of the 1980s and 1990s. In an interview I did with Jeffrey Klaehn, I gave the following answer to why adventure games declined in terms of commercial signficance, and I think the second paragraph is true as regards perceived difficulty:

As I’ve said in other interviews, I think that in the 1980s and early 1990s, adventure games represented the high water mark of audiovisuals and narratives in PC gaming. For that reason, they were able to attract (and then train) a very broad group of players. Today, adventure games sound and look fine, but they’re not remotely at the level of a Grand Theft Auto or Modern Warfare or Elder Scrolls title. And even adventure game developers have spent the last 20+ years publicly lecturing potential players that adventure games stink from a gameplay standpoint. No surprise that the tent has gotten much smaller as a result.


I also think that, generally, people today don’t grow up tinkering, experimenting, and puzzle-solving the way people did in earlier generations. If you think the Gabriel Knight III mustache puzzle is dumb (of course it is) and arbitrary (sure), consider how ridiculous it was wrangling Sound Blaster IRQs and DMAs and freeing up conventional memory to just run a damn adventure game back then. A person who can change her own oil, unclog her own sink, knock down a wasp nest, and carve a turkey is—I submit—more likely to be able to deal with classic point-and-click puzzles than a person who can’t. The generation that grew up on Apple IIc computers and the generation that grew up on Apple iPhones come to computer games with very different expectations of what it should be like to interact with a machine. If you expect things to largely take care of themselves, and call an expert when they don’t, classic adventure games will feel “wrong,” “unfun,” or overly demanding. But if hard knocks taught you that “masteryover a machine in the sense of “authority” exists only when you possess “mastery” of the machine in the sense of “possession of great skill or technique,” then the demands of classic adventure games feel natural and appropriate.


This cultural shift is not a reason to eschew the defining feature of adventure games. Instead, it’s a clarion call to re-emphasize traditional puzzles. The genius of games is that they can let us partake in things that are impossible for us in real life—and sometimes make those impossible things possible. I’ve watched my own daughters use the eccentric, ridiculous mentality of an adventure game player to discover in real life that the usefulness of a tool is not limited to the use for which it was made, that seemingly insurmountable obstacles sometimes have lateral bypasses, and that there are amazing parts all around us that can be cobbled together into delightful, unexpected wholes. My kids might be better off if they’d learned those lessons in shop classes or by camping in the woods or from fiddling with the transmission on a car, but in the absence of learning by doing in real life, we can all at least develop the aspiration or anticipation of doing in reality by practicing in fantasy.
 
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V_K

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(1) For someone who can dunk a basketball on a 10-foot rim, dunking on a 7-foot rim doesn't seem much harder than dunking on an 8-foot rim -- you're far enough above the difficulty threshold that the distinction isn't that great. But a sixth grader might be able to dunk on the 7-foot rim (finding it somewhat challenging), while the 8-foot rim is impossibly beyond reach. To him, the difficulty difference is profound. From your perspective, there may not be an appreciable difficulty difference, but that I think there's still actually a pretty significant one.
I have no clue what all this basketball stuff means but I think you're overestimating my puzzle-solving capabilities. I got stuck finding socks in Deponia, FFS (I generally fare a lot worse in linear adventures, where you can't go work on something else and return with a fresh mind).
 

V_K

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(2) One thing that is really obvious when you compare Monkey Island to, say, Milkmaid of the Milky Way, is the quantity of items, hotspots, and verbs. So here's a typical scene: protagonist has a couple items, a couple hotspots, and one verb (interact).
It's actually one of things I've been thinking about - how a lot of challenge in older games essentially comes from the lack of QoL features. At the screenshot stage in SMI, half of your inventory is filled with items you have no further use for. Newer games remove the no-more-useful items automatically, rightfully assuming that they just clutter the space. But then it turns out that it lowers the combinatorial limit making puzzles easier to bruteforce. Same goes for distinguishing flavor-only and interactable hotspots or hotspot highlighting - in principle, it's the right thing to do, it does improve the player's experience. But when it's done without considering how it affects gameplay, it leads to a tangible drop in challenge.
 

WallaceChambers

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Very interesting post MRY I agree with a lot of those points, especially 5. It really struck me how overblown the difficulty of classic adventure games is when I went played more of them. Yeah, there are certainly examples that meet the stereotype but there's also many others that are well designed and fair. Fate of Atlantis, for example. This is a sort of myth making within games where a lot of people who perpetuate it actually haven't played the games they're talking about.

I've actually seen LPs and discussions that are exactly what you're talking about in point 2. Where people presume the illogical nature of a game's puzzles and frantically combine everything before even trying to solve it the normal way.

I think another thing that happens is walkthroughs can actually confuse people. A lot of them are actually poorly written and skip steps. I've seen people play with their nose in a walkthrough, miss the in-game signposting and end up confusing themselves. Which leads to them thinking the game is a lot more punishing than it really is.
 

MRY

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"To someone who can lift 100 pounds, the difference between 10 and 20 pounds might not be noticeable..." substitute for basketball.

It doesn't require you to be the god of puzzle solving, only that you are sufficiently above the "difficulty" threshold that things feel easy. For instance, today I don't notice the difficulty gradient on, say, Super Mario World levels until very close to the end -- they're all sufficiently easy for me with an adult's motor skills/foresight that they all just register as "very easy." When I first played the game as a 12 year old or whatever, I remember noticing the difficulty ramp up throughout.

I think something similar is happening here. Monkey Island is easy to you; Primordia is easy to you. But Primordia is objectively easier than Monkey Island, and Milkmaid is easier than Primordia. None of them is especially hard if you are an adult approaching the puzzles purposively. To an entry-level player today, however, the gradient may actually be too steep to climb.

Incidentally, I think we could debate what it means for an adventure game to be "difficult." An adventure game in which a puzzle requires to guess which of 100 cups has a ball under it as they whirl about madly will cause players to get stuck. An adventure game in which you have to find one brown pixel that is a hotspot in a 320x200 background of browns, maroons, and burgundies will cause players to get stuck. So does the spitting puzzle in Monkey Island 2. The last of these seems to me an excellent puzzle and a prime example of what difficulty adds to the player experience. We might say that difficulty is properly defined as the mental effort required when a player processes the available information in an intelligent way and draws an insight from it. But that's a hard thing to quantify.

I would say that a great deal of what players today perceive as difficulty is just not understanding the gameplay. To go back to Nintendo, I remember watching with amusement as an 8 year old when my cousin's boyfriend -- I guess he was 16? -- was completely incapable of grasping (I mean, physically grasping) a controller the right way, and was utterly wrecked by Wizards & Warriors (not the DW Bradley RPG, the NES platformer). He was simply flummoxed at holding a controller, using A to jump, that most things moving on a screen were trying to kill you, that hitting a torch would give you an item, etc. -- all the entry-level "vocabulary" of communicating with a NES platformer. Wizards & Warriors was more in the Castelvania/Ghosts n' Goblins level of difficulty than the forgiving Mario gameplay. But I'm not sure it would've mattered to him. He was so illiterate in NES gaming that he couldn't communicate with W&W at even the most basic level.

Having had the blessing of watching two kids of my own learn to play adventures, I could see them (and help them) cross this initial threshold. That is legitimate challenge, but it's a challenge that we should "tare" out. It doesn't make sense to say that Primordia is challenging because players don't realize that they can examine objects using right click, don't realize that a big part of adventure games is combining item 1 with item 2, don't know to look carefully for items to take in rooms, don't treat suspicious visual elements as presumptively puzzles, etc. That is basic adventure game literacy. We need players to be literate, and I no longer assume that literacy from adventure game players, so Strangeland will likely have some kind of tutorial for neophytes. (One genius of SMB1 is that it taught the illiterate to read without tedious a tutorial, etc.)

Anyway, just rambling here now. But all of this is sort of of a piece -- I think a lot of adventure games now are the equivalent of picture books rather than word books. To trot out another metaphor, to a mature reader, it's no more difficult to read a children's chapter book (say, Encyclopedia Brown) than it is to read a picture book with no words (say, Journey). To a non-reader, the gradient is a cliff -- and so is the gradient between a wordless book and even the most basic words-and-picture kind of book (say, The Pokey Puppy). And to an early reader, there is a highly perceptible incline from Journey -> Pokey Puppy -> Encyclopedia Brown. What I worry is that the illiterate player says, "Adventure games are all roughly the same" and the mature-reader player says, "Adventure games are all roughly the same," and this seeming consensus obscures the real gradient that's there -- Pajama Sam -> Full Throttle -> Monkey Island or whatever.
 

MRY

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Very interesting post MRY I agree with a lot of those points, especially 5. It really struck me how overblown the difficulty of classic adventure games is when I went played more of them. Yeah, there are certainly examples that meet the stereotype but there's also many others that are well designed and fair. Fate of Atlantis, for example. This is a sort of myth making within games where a lot of people who perpetuate it actually haven't played the games they're talking about.

I've actually seen LPs and discussions that are exactly what you're talking about in point 2. Where people presume the illogical nature of a game's puzzles and frantically combine everything before even trying to solve it the normal way.

I think another thing that happens is walkthroughs can actually confuse people. A lot of them are actually poorly written and skip steps. I've seen people play with their nose in a walkthrough, miss the in-game signposting and end up confusing themselves. Which leads to them thinking the game is a lot more punishing than it really is.
Yep, I've seen all of these things. Watching what you describe in the second paragraph in an LP of Primordia was absolute torture. It's a failure on the me, as the designer.
 

toro

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MRY I have a feeling that if you spend less time on codex then you would be able to create another great game :P
 

Alpan

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Grab the Codex by the pussy Pathfinder: Wrath
I think something similar is happening here. Monkey Island is easy to you; Primordia is easy to you. But Primordia is objectively easier than Monkey Island, and Milkmaid is easier than Primordia. None of them is especially hard if you are an adult approaching the puzzles purposively. To an entry-level player today, however, the gradient may actually be too steep to climb.

I agree, but there's one thing I would like to mention with respect to this and your point (2); this is pure conjecture on my part, but I would suggest that the sheer variety of items (and their very colorful representation) in Monkey Island can make it feel more inviting for the player to actually tinker and experiment with stuff compared to Primordia where both the items and their colour palette are more thematically consistent. When the variety itself implies a certain weirdness and out-of-placeness, perhaps it becomes easier for the player to fulfill the designer's same expectation. I wonder if that somehow contributed to people getting stuck in Primordia.
 

MRY

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toro Nah, they draw from different stat pools. Plus, this kind of discussion helps focus my thoughts about game design.

Alpan Could be! Strangeland's items are much more varied, but there are also relatively few A+B type puzzles. To be honest, Strangeland is a pretty easy game; maybe even dumbed down. Imagine how much steeper the decline would be if I followed toro's advice! :)
 

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