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Should the new King's Quest game have unwinnable states?

posted by thejobloshow on - last edited - Viewed by 6.5K users
I'm a big advocate of death and losing in adventure games. I think if a gamer is given enough warning that what they're about to embark on involves an element of genuine danger it makes for a much more intricate engagement with the game out of sheer glorious TERROR.

The puzzles in some King's Quest games border on the masochistic and I would feel disappointed if there wasn't some attempt to beef up the difficulty in order to genuinely reflect what this series was all about. You were adventuring in strange new worlds where fairy tale and horror had come to life - sometimes the best approach to make sense of this crazy world was to take a stab in the dark. You better grab that item right now or else you might never see it again! Maybe if I write this guy's name backwards i can pass this area. Things like that.

Dead ends are considered the worst possible thing you could do in an adventure game. It was part of the LucasArts manifesto to go against this design flaw, which brought about a flurry of genre defining adventure games that lasted up until Grim Fandango. However, that was never King's Quest's concern. In fact, when they removed unwinnable states in King's Quest VII the game was lambasted by fans for being TOO EASY!

So, why not bring back the dead end? Some of the most popular adventure games today have refined what it means to have an unwinnable state such as Ace Attorney and Ghost Trick. Surely there's a way to reconcile delicious punishment in a modern era of adventuring without throwing away the whole thing!
45 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.
  • MusicallyInspired;740411 said:
    If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.
    I agree with this. Why should adventure game have checkpoints (I don't oppose those, but I just don't think those are necessary, because good player saves often). But I admit that while I play many games in "ironman mode" it doesn't serve much purpose in adventure game unless there are dead ends, because you'll just end up doing the same things again. If we could get rid of that, then I think that a great adventure game could have dead ends, but it also should offer alternative solutions, so you could still save the situation if you didn't pick some object in first scene. But the alternative solution should be more difficult to achieve (and you still could miss it) and you would also miss the chance to get perfect score.
  • The first couple King's Quests come to mind, where there were alternate puzzles for almost anything if you forgot to pick up or do something. However, if you didn't have the alternate inventory items you would still be stuck. Also, the alternate solutions were not favourable and would not grant as many points, and in some cases, cost you some.
  • MusicallyInspired;740411 said:
    If there's a checkpoint then what's the point? I just don't see the big deal with having the danger of starting an entire game again. Again, every genre ever does this. Games are too safe now. They make intense situations meaningless because there's a safety net and it turns a gripping and exciting gaming event into a increasingly frustrating nuisance that you must sit through every time. Sure you can argue manual saves give the same effect, but at least you did the work yourself, knowing that if you didn't the game could have been entirely over.

    The control must be in the hands of the player. That's a truth that works on multiple levels and on multiple arguments. Excessive cutscenes, for example.
    Have you ever had to start a game over because you died? It's not a nice experience. EVER. Especially if you happened to bear near the end of the game. As I was. TWICE.

    The checkpoints can be as far back as you like. Hell, you could even replace them with autosaves made every half an hour or so. But if you're going to punish players just because they didn't have the frame of mind to physically save the game in case they happened to die, then you're still punishing players. That's never cool.

    Yes - checkpoints can remove tension, and they can make certain sections repetitive. But if that's the price I have to pay to avoid starting over or having to lose an hour's worth of progress, then I'm more than happy to pay it.
  • No, it's not a nice experience. But it is absolutely INTEGRAL to the overall enjoyment of a game. Punishing players is WHAT GAMES ARE ALL ABOUT. You have to overcome these obstacles! Overcome what the game throws at you! Against all odds! I hate games that hand themselves over to you on a silver platter. "Oh you died? Well, that's ok. You can still beat me. Here, I'll even give you infinite retries." What's the point in deaths if that's what you get for them?? I mean, what obstacles are even left in games now? They've taken out death and failure, the number one obstacle in any game. Even FPS games are really easy now. No challenge. Just try try again. I don't know about you, but I don't want my challenge in a game to be simply how fast I can run through it, because it's so easy. Or to just be repeating a frustrating and annoying sequence over and over again with no penalties whatsoever. It completely removes the suspense, the edge, and even the immersion.

    It's the same failure in understanding game design that led to Jurassic Park's removing of walking around between scenes because "it's annoying to take the time to walk from place to place when you can just go there with a click". Well, golly gee why don't we just remove all interactiveness in a game then? It's annoying to take the time to actually play through the game, let's just get to the ending and see how it all turns out! You're not really playing the game anymore anyway. You're watching it. And that's all games are becoming now. Cinematic. Gameplay-less. And then after you fail a number of times it starts making things easier for you to make sure you beat it like hints, or dynamic game difficulties, etc. They make you feel at first like you're an amazing gamer and you solved/beat it, but really all you did was follow the signs and follow them down the brightly lit and completely safe path, instead of finding your own way through the dark woods with dangers everywhere, so to speak. Some games even offer you the option of skipping the section if you fail too many times!! It's insane!!

    Are games progressing? No, they're devolving and getting more and more dumbed down to appeal to the LCD, resulting in gaming trash. That's why I appreciate games like Super Meat Boy and Binding of Isaac for pulling no punches and slamming you right in the face with its difficulty. Sure it can make you livid sometimes, but then after you beat it that feeling of satisfaction is like nothing else. Sierra games were the same way, until they added retries.

    I'm sorry, if the price means losing my enjoyment of my game, then I refuse to pay it.
  • The thing is that most people don't like losing and inorder to sell the game to wider audience you'll have to water down the puzzle difficulty and add unlimited continues. These days it's hard to find difficult games and usually most challenging games are those published by indie game makers or small studios who aim for niche market of hardcore gamers.
    MusicallyInspired;740546 said:
    The first couple King's Quests come to mind, where there were alternate puzzles for almost anything if you forgot to pick up or do something. However, if you didn't have the alternate inventory items you would still be stuck. Also, the alternate solutions were not favourable and would not grant as many points, and in some cases, cost you some.
    Hmm, I thought there was something very familiar with it when I came up with the idea. It seems that I'm reinventing the wheel here. :D
  • Look, I agree games are getting too easy. Its been happening for years and it's not something I'm entirely happy about. But those are action games. Action games are all about the action, so replaying sections there is fine, but when you have to replay sections in adventure games, you're going through the same dialogue, the same puzzles... adventure games don't have the same replayability factor as other genres. Adventure games should be about the story and the atmosphere, and in my experience you lose a lot if you have to replay sections, especially if it's not by choice.

    It's clear we're not going to agree on this issue Inspired, so I'll try to leave it there and not push it any more. We're obviously different people with different tastes, and all that.

    I will say one last thing though. In my first post in this thread, I said that a good death sequence can add a great deal to a story, and I stand by that. But in my experience, most possible deaths in games have not been fair, and it's those that seem to have helped form my opinion on the subject. Good deaths, with enough forewarning, aren't necessarily a bad thing. They just seem not to be very prevalent, and it's a shame.
  • Darth Marsden;741071 said:
    ...adventure games don't have the same replayability factor as other genres.
    Exactly why I'd want the experience to last as long as possible rather than have the whole thing over because the game helps me through it so much.
    It's clear we're not going to agree on this issue Inspired, so I'll try to leave it there and not push it any more. We're obviously different people with different tastes, and all that.
    Indeed. I'm not against others' opinions. But when people just flat out say that certain things are just simply and plainly bad game design, that's more than just an opinion.
    I will say one last thing though. In my first post in this thread, I said that a good death sequence can add a great deal to a story, and I stand by that. But in my experience, most possible deaths in games have not been fair, and it's those that seem to have helped form my opinion on the subject. Good deaths, with enough forewarning, aren't necessarily a bad thing. They just seem not to be very prevalent, and it's a shame.
    I agree there's room for more possibilities all around. Including what you've stated. I'm just not against unforseen deaths, because I don't entirely agree that they are truly unforseen. A gaming world, no matter if it's action or adventure, shouldn't be a safe gaming world. At least not everywhere. And if it's not safe, then you should be careful. And most dangers are forseeable.
  • Darth Marsden;741071 said:
    Look, I agree games are getting too easy. Its been happening for years and it's not something I'm entirely happy about. But those are action games. Action games are all about the action, so replaying sections there is fine, but when you have to replay sections in adventure games, you're going through the same dialogue, the same puzzles... adventure games don't have the same replayability factor as other genres. Adventure games should be about the story and the atmosphere, and in my experience you lose a lot if you have to replay sections, especially if it's not by choice.

    It's clear we're not going to agree on this issue Inspired, so I'll try to leave it there and not push it any more. We're obviously different people with different tastes, and all that.

    I will say one last thing though. In my first post in this thread, I said that a good death sequence can add a great deal to a story, and I stand by that. But in my experience, most possible deaths in games have not been fair, and it's those that seem to have helped form my opinion on the subject. Good deaths, with enough forewarning, aren't necessarily a bad thing. They just seem not to be very prevalent, and it's a shame.
    Personally only time I think that the death is completely unfair is when there's action minigame inside adventure game which is annoyingly difficult because of bad controls. Although I occasionally find timed puzzles where you die if you fail somewhat annoying. I like to explore everything and often it takes several retries before I have managed to do that and then I can actually focus on solving the puzzle. Although if timed puzzle is well designed it doesn't annoy that much. Last Express did this extremely well, there were several things happening at the same time on the train and sometimes you had to be in right place at the right time. And sometimes it took plenty of rewinding back the time before you figured out what you were supposed to do, but it was never boring because there was plenty of new things to learn while you explored the train and you often did find plenty of stuff you had missed in your first attempt.
  • I don't know I was pretty avoidant of dieing in tomb raider just because of the connection we had to the character and how brutal the deaths were, plus added with the survivalist theme made me even more concerned. Worse still was when I had to worry about other characters I cared about. Given that was a pretty linear game, it managed to give me a different fear for dieing that I felt was much more emotionally rewarding and less frustrating then starting over.

    This also depends on the length of the game and the different options. In longer games, having to restart may make some not want to unless there are different options and paths. For example, in FML if you die that's game over and you restart but everything is different the next run. In sunless sea when you die you start over but you get a piece of something you left behind which makes it feel like you are still moving forward, but still feel the punishment from dieing, plus you are wiser from you last excursion. In binding of isaac, each time you enter things are randomly generated so no one playthrough is the same, giving you new and exciting moments. Also is a skill game that updates the difficulty any time you male it all the way through, so you are always feeling engaged.

    There are definitely games out there that fit your needs, and I can understand why you want the new kings quest to be just as brutal due to its predecessor, but the style of the game doesn't seem to fit that. It's more of a retelling of the old series and not an exact copy. I find it enjoyable but there are times where I want to go play a more difficult game so I just do it. This one though I'm more engaged by discovering the story and character choices rather than the difficulty.

    There are some games with a hard core mode that might make more sense for the game, a realistic mode. The problem with me is on certain games I get curious if something will kill me so I intentionally in act some deaths.

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