Monday, 6 February 2012

Poll Results / 1987 Adventure Game Discussion

The two weeks are up and the “What games should The Adventure Gamer play?” poll is closed. I have to admit that I was pretty surprised at the results, and the options I thought people might go for didn’t even get a look-in. For example, I was pretty sure beforehand that Option 2 would be the one that people would go for, given that it gave the readers some control over what games go on the list without having to create a whole new one. It eventually ran in a distant third!

What games should The Adventure Gamer play?
1. The Wikipedia Notable Graphic Adventure Games list seems good to me – 5 votes (4%)
2. The Wikipedia list with some additions as voted by this knowledgable community – 29 votes (23%)
3. We should all get together and make our own list – 3 votes (2%)
4. Whatever games he wants to. It's his blog! – 47 votes (38%)
5. The lazy bastard should play every adventure game ever made! – 37 votes (30%)

I was getting a bit concerned at the halfway mark when “The lazy bastard should play every adventure game ever made!” was streaking away to a healthy lead. At the time I was trying to come up with positives such as “well they must like what I’m doing if they want me blog about every game”, but in reality there was no way I would ever be able to go through with it. There are simply too many games and many of them are not available to purchase or download, so I was happy when it started to drop off. Noticeably it dropped away and “Whatever games he wants to” overtook it, right after the announced hiatus of The CRPG Addict blog. I can only assume that people started thinking about the realities of what I’m doing, and that making the project unachievable will always lead to an early failure. I obviously plan to see this through to completion, but making it impossible will just lead to frustration and loss of enjoyment.


Friday, January 20, 2012: The day you all started caring about my sanity

Anyway, the most telling fact that I took from the poll is that only 4% of people think the Wikipedia list is good enough, so I’ve decided to follow it less strictly. This is how I intend to approach things from now on:

At the beginning of every year (not the current year, the year the games were made), I will write a post that includes the games on the Wikipedia list for that year. I will comment about which ones I intend to play and why, and I’ll also add any others that I feel have been left off. You guys can then tell me your thoughts regarding my selections and make some suggestions of your own, but at the end of the day, I’m going to play the games I want to (that’s what the readers voted for after all). With the completion of Uninvited, I’ve finished all the games on the list from 1986, so it’s time to look at 1987.

On the Wikipedia List
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Maniac Mansion
Mortville Manor
Police Quest: In the Pursuit of the Death Angel
Shadowgate
Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge

The Sierra and LucasArts entries are obvious, so there’s no point discussing them. As much as I fear it after playing through Uninvited, I'm determined to play through Shadowgate as well, so that leaves only Mortville Manor as questionable. I’ve personally never heard of it before and it has no votes at all on Moby Games (compared with over a hundred for Maniac Mansion), but from what I’ve read about it, it seems to have some features that are new to the adventure genre. I’ve also found a working DOSBox version, so I see no reason not to play it.


From what I've read, Mortville Manor actually does seem to belong on the Notable Graphic Adventure Game list.

Not on the Wikipedia List
I can’t find any other 1987 graphic adventure games that I feel need to be played. The only other popular one is Roberta Williams' Mixed-Up Mother Goose, but that was aimed at toddlers and would surely be of little interest to Adventure Gamer readers (tell me if that’s one you were really looking forward to). Anyone got anything else they’d like to bring to the table, or do those six games look the goods?


Is anyone out there eagerly waiting for me to find the mixed up rhyme pieces and return them to their owners?

30 comments:

  1. This is similar to what I have planned, and I'm actually working on the post at the moment. I hope to have as much feedback as you get. Working in a vacuum doesn't help when trying to improve.

    As a final note, I suggest you get one of your kids to play through Mixed-up Mother Goose with just a thumbs up or down. :D

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  2. Well you have at least three readers! Amy K., Canageek and I. I saw your post this morning about the corrupt save file. Losing a save file in an adventure game is no big deal. It doesn't take very long to get up to wherever you were once you know what to do. RPGs on the other hand!!! I hope it doesn't screw up on you again or your first game could turn into a nightmare.

    Somehow I don't think my two year old girl would get very far on Mixed-Up Mother Goose. I do read her the nursery rhymes that it's based on though, so perhaps one day...

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  3. ...I think I played Mixed Up Mother Goose actually, back in the early 90s. I can't remember it in the same way I do Fatty Bear or Putt-Putt, but the name and opening REALLY look familiar.

    I wouldn't worry too much about increasing the size of your task. You are already 3.27% of the way through your list. Only 10 adventure games seem to have come out in 2010, so you are playing them far faster then they are writing them. Very roughly you are doing 3.6 games a month (Counting you as having done 2.5 months, though it is actually less then that). On the other hand, at your current rate it will take you about 8.9 years to play every game on the list. Hmm, that is a lot. Still a lot less then the CRPG Addicts goal at least. I'd be fine with you skipping ones for kids, like Fatty Bear and Putt-Putt goes to the moon.

    Actually, I'm just starting Zenic's blog: I'm currently going through CRPG Revisiting old classics, but I'm finding the writing style isn't meshing with me, despite the fact I am much more familiar with the genre then Adventure Games. I think I'll stop reading that one though and move to The RPG Consoler, since the writing looks to be more my speed.

    Finally: You wanted advice on drawing readers in? Responding to comments like this really draws me in. The Addict was quite good at this whenever he got back from his breaks, and you seem to be pretty good at it as well. Doubly so thank people for advice: That score thing you have is great, but I think it would help if I saw you giving out the point as I read through the comments.

    The audience participation aspect is another big one: The way people have been helping you is cool, and I think this blog has a lot more potential for it, since this blog is all puzzle solving. I do suggest ROT13 as a standard for spoilers since there are lots of tools for it, firefox plugins and such.

    Anyway, good job! Here is to many more great games.

    --Canageek

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    1. If Putt-Putt was adventure games, then I need to change an answer in my What's Your Story. I played at least two of them.

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    2. At least Putt-Putt goes to the Moon is. I can't speak to any other ones. You click to move, solve puzzles with inventory items, and so on.

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  4. Oh, What other list are you looking at adding? How many games are on it? I'd be interested in doing the math and seeing how much longer it would take you.

    I had some other ideas on how you could structure your blog:
    Why don't you play every game, but let yourself quite after 1 hour if you aren't having fun? 6 hours is a *long* time, and you've been beating most games in around that long. This way we would get a post on every game, you would find fun games you'd miss otherwise (Which was one of the reasons The Addict started his blog) but you wouldn't be shackled to bad games like The Addict was at times.

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  5. This is by far the most useful post I've received since starting the blog. 10 points to Canageek! :)

    While we're on this topic, I've been trying to figure out how to handle exactly what you're talking about. I'm certain there's a way to make hint-giving fun and rewarding for the readers, but I don't want to over-complicate things. I was thinking about maybe having companions for each game (they could even play through it at the same time if they wanted to), and only those selected companions can give me hints on how to proceed. This would make people feel involved and keep coming back to the blog, but maybe stopping other people from giving hints may actually alienate them.

    There's a cool way to do this, but I haven't nailed it yet. :)

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  6. I don't think you need anything so formal: Just encorage people to play along. You've gotten me to redownload Beneath a Steel Sky, only to find that I'd lost my old save file from 5 years ago, so I guess I'm starting again. Just encourage people to play along in your first post, post up guidelines asking people to use ROT13, and link to a legal place to buy or download the game (GoG.com has some for free: ScummVM has more-- They don't have to play the same *version* as you, just the same *game*-- They can play the fun remakes and such.)

    Also, are you going to do a postmortum for Uninvited? I did really like hearing about all the stuff the Addict missed, though I could be the only one. Of course, you'd have to keep my earlier suggestion about remakes in mind if you did that.

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  7. Haha...you'll soon learn that I'm an extremely thorough person and I'd hate to miss out on playing a good or important game. Before I started the blog, I went through several sites and wrote down the following:

    1. Every PC graphic adventure game that has over 20 user votes on Moby Games. This meant going into over 4000 games to find out whether they were released for PC and a true adventure game (ie. not a hybrid such as action adventure), and also to exclude any games listed as interactive fiction.

    2. Every PC adventure game that has over 20 reviews on Game Rankings.

    3. Every game on the Wikipedia Notable Graphic Adventure Game list.

    The first two combined seemed to make a pretty thorough list on their own, as old games on Moby Games tend to have lots of votes whereas only new games on Game Rankings have lots of critical reviews. When I combined those two lists with the Wikipedia one and removed duplicates, I ended up with 348 games.

    Considering the list is likely to grow while I'm playing, that was just too many to contemplate, which is why I eventually stuck with the Wikipedia list. Now I'm realising that trying to set the list from the get go is not a good idea, and it might be better to remove the full list from the blog and focus on every year as it comes up. It creates a bit of mystery around what's around the corner as a bonus.

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  8. I'm about to start working on the Uninvited - Final Rating post. I just wanted to get this discussion underway as it might affect which game I play next.

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  9. Alright, not sure what I was doing before. At 3.6 games a month (Very low, as you only did a few days in your first month, and are not nearly half way through this month) it will take you 6.13 years to play every game on the wikipedia list, assuming you don't take any breaks. Now if we round up to 4 games a month, assuming that you can't find copies of some, can't get some to run, start to get a firmer grasp on CRPG logic and can beat them faster, you will only take 5.5 years.

    Doing the same with the longer list nets you 7.8 and 7 years respectively.

    I hope I'm not putting you off by doing this-- I've been vaguely worried that I drove off the Addict by posting these numbers on his blog, as he did one of his big breaks right after I did that.

    I wouldn't worry about finishing: By the time you finish this year another game will come out that will have to be added to the list. Even assuming that you get faster at them and average 10 games a month on your short list, catch up to current time...what do you do? End the blog? Review the games as they come out? Go back and do text adventures?

    I think what you need to look at is how much fun you get out of the blog: Play each one enough to decide if it is fun, report on it, get fan opinions, move on. It sound like a lot of people here have played the old games, and really, I think people will enjoy reading about these old gems more then a game that came out last week that we can find on any review site.

    So sure, play whatever games you want: I'm just making the suggestion that the journey is more important then the goal, so why not have a crazily long list we can all goggle at and add things to? No matter where you go, you are there.

    Oh that said: Limbo of the Lost, that horrid, pirated drek, isn't on your list. It needs to be so we can watch you lose your lunch to its horrid interface, sounds, animation, stolen graphics, and senseless puzzles. Even if only for an hour before you move on. :D

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  10. Very well said Canageek. If it's not fun, then it's not worth doing. We don't want another burnout to happen.

    I've never played Mixed-Up Mother Goose, but now I'm suddenly interested and feel the need to play it.

    So, what's the next poll going to be? How about we vote on which Maniac Mansion characters you will play with?

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  11. I was trying to come up with another poll, but you might have done it for me Chumazik.

    I've never played Maniac Mansion so you'll have to explain how it works. Will I get to choose what character I play and the game will be different depending on that choice?

    If that is the case, will I need to play them all through to really experience it or are they all fairly similar. Don't give too much away obviously.

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  12. Yeah, that sounds like a good poll. There are 10 characters, and you get to pick 3 to play with. I'd say list all 10, allow people to pick more than one choice, and go with the top 3. Each character has a talent that leads to a win condition (except 1), so yes you'll miss out on some of the story no matter what group you pick, but that's part of the fun and replay.

    Thanks for the advice Canageek, a lot of what you said applies to me as well, and I'm glad you've said it. Honestly I've done calculations like that and have estimated 30 hours per game, 10 hours per week, 800 games, gives me 46 years not counting all the games released during that time. I'll get as far as I can, and it'll be fun.

    A lot of games are 50+ hours plus replay value, so as I get through the years, I expect progress to get slower. The goal here isn't getting through the list though, it's the blog and sharing my thoughts and experiences.

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  13. Weird, I could have sworn it was 10...

    Here's a handy list, so that you don't need to look into any walkthroughs or anything:

    Dave
    Bernard
    Syd
    Razor
    Wendy
    Michael
    Jeff

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  14. I replayed Maniac Mansion about a year ago, so my memories are somewhat clear, but a bit hazy.

    You must choose Dave and two others.

    Two of the characters are musicians, I think it's Razor and Syd. They follow the same path. With Wendy and Michael, one is a Journalist and one is a photographer, I think they also have a similar path. The others, I'm not sure about, especially the "surfer dude" who I could never figure out a specific goal for.

    Interestingly the only character to make it to the sequel "Day of the Tentacle" was Bernard, and not the main character Dave. It makes sense considering Dave has no personality at all, and was very forgettable.

    There are only minor story differences depending on which characters you choose. I wouldn't bother replaying the whole game to see, but it will be fun to see which story line you choose to pursue.

    I'm really looking forward to the next two games. I consider Leisure Suit Larry and Maniac Mansion to be the beginning of my interest in Adventure Games. As someone who really liked CRPG's, it was refreshing to play a new style of game that was not about statistics, combat and strategy, but rather about characters, story, dialogue, and locations.

    I have a feeling that these two games will be the highest rated yet. Which one will come out ahead, I can't wait to see.

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    1. I am not sure whether these count as mere minor story differences, but Maniac Mansion has three (or four) alternative endings, one of which is possible with any characters, while another is possible only with Bernard and a third is possible only with Wendy (plus there's a fourth ending which combines Bernard's and Wendy's special endings). Otherwise, the difference between the characters is mostly about how to solve some puzzles.

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  15. Checking the list I see that the Horrorsoft´s Elvira games from the early 90's are missing - this may be because they´re commonly referring as RPGs, but in reality they´re bonafide point & click adventures with some light RPG elements sprinkled over. Think Uninvited (tons of objects, initial freedom of exploration with unlockable areas, frequent deaths) but with the horror&gore aspect dialed up to 11 and some actual combat. I seem to remember they were quite well received by the specialized media. I never went far with any of them - they were pretty tough.

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    1. I've never played them, but came across them during my research period mentioned above. They do seem to be considered RPG/Adventure crossovers, but I guess we can discuss their merits when we get there.

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  16. And oh, an ad-hoc message board with proper spoiler tags would be so good for us playing along, not to mention a great tribute to these old classics we're still visiting in 2012... :-)

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    1. You don't need spoiler tags, as I've been saying. Back in the days of Usenet there was no markup, so people used simple scripts to encode everything. The upside of ROT13 vs tags is that ROT13 will work just as well on a text only browser or screen reader as it will on a modern client. Also it doesn't depend on anything; you can encode and decode it by hand if you have to, and pretty quickly too. I like having comments directly under each article, as they when you come along latter and read it you can see what was going on at the time.

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    2. Yeah, it was just a thought, although I do wish I could see all comments threaded for a given game instead of having them split across several posts...

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    3. .....You all thought I was a geek in a can, didn't you?

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  17. I like the idea of a yearly list of games, because that way the whole endeavour seems far more manageable. Plus, it adds a possibility to compete in trying to guess which of the games of the year will have the highest PISSED -rating. I have a hunch that Maniac Mansion will beat the round this year, as the Sierra games of the year add technically very little new to previous Sierra games (well, perhaps some variety to the plots) and the Shadowgate probably isn't among the top contenders of the year. Mortville Manor is a question mark, though.

    And feel free to discard the Mother Goose - it wouldn't probably take long, but it also wouldn't be fair to judge a children's game with the same criteria as regular adventure games (well, you have actually PISSED the Black Cauldron, which was marketed as a children's game, but that's a bit more complex than Mother Goose).

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  18. Shadowgate must have SOMETHING going for it, given the number of times it has been ported or had sequels released on Nintendo systems.

    However Manic Mansion is generally considered one of the all time classic Graphic Adventures, so I wouldn't be surprised if it cleans up.

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  19. Seeing as how Mortville Manor has no notoriety, I'd say it passes by as an average game. I think it will prove interesting as a historic note (much like Tass Times), but it seems more of a stepping stone towards greater things.

    Maniac Mansion gets my vote as highest rated of 1987, although I remember it being very difficult and never finished it myself. I only played it when I was very young though, so maybe it was my difficulty to understand it that prevented me from finishing.

    Aside from Shadowgate and Maniac Mansion, I haven't played the others. I do hope Trickster enjoys Shadowgate. It's my favorite of the Macventure games. Also, I'm not sure how it's left off the Wikipedia list, but Déjà Vu has a sequel (Déjà Vu II: Lost in Las Vegas - 1990).

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  20. @Zenic: Deja Vu II was actually developed in 1988, so that will come up soon enough. That's an example of a game that will likely be added to the list come that year's discussion post.

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  21. Oh, I thought you were going off the DOS release year. Sorry to jump ahead in either case. I'm sure you've got things covered. ;)

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  22. The Wikipedia list goes off original release year, which is why Deja Vu appears as 1985 instead of 1987 and Maniac Mansion appears as 1987 instead of 1988.

    I think I'll continue to do it that way although it doesn't take long for the DOS releases to come out in the year of development in almost every instance.

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  23. I am very partial to Mortville Manor, the reason for it being probably a mix of chauvinism and nostalgia.
    I think it was the first game ever to use voice synthesis, it sounded funny but was kind of a breakthrough.
    But I don't think it would be such a great idea to play it for this blog, as it can be very long: unfolding the story involves tons of dialogues, but characters move within the mansion so you have to "map" who is where at what time...
    On the other hand, winning the game doesn't require you to know the whole story, so you might want to give it a try.

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