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Adventure Gaming, Console Style

posted by TelltaleGames Telltale Staff on - last edited - Viewed by 349 users
Before this blog properly begins, I must state that what follows is my own meandering and is not in any way reflective of anything Telltale has planned for the future. To be honest, the future here is hidden behind thick velvety curtains in Dan's office and only the excessively foolhardy or extremely stealthy would risk Dan's wrath by trying to take a peek. I am neither of these, so I am content to instead make wild and usually inaccurate prognostications.

I am shamed to admit that I have trouble with PC games. The trouble in question is simply that I haven't the patience to sit in front of a computer on my spare time for the hours necessary to become engrossed in a deep gaming experience. My couch is far more hospitable and my television screen far more spacious. I played Shadows of the Colossus on my PS2 for four hours straight Saturday night without even blinking. True, my eyes were a bit sore at the end of it, but had I attempted the same on my PC not only would I have had to blink, but my eyes would have been strained and watering, my neck craned painfully, my lower back aching and my legs wrenched in torturous cramps.

Sad to say, as much as I enjoy a good adventure game this species only seems to show its story-driven puzzle-laden face on PC monitors. This becomes a major obstacle to my actually sitting down and playing said games.

There seem to be two major assumptions as to why consoles are not teeming with adventure-gamey goodness. The first is that the entire population of console players is made up of hollering Neanderthals that require a gazillion thrills a second to stay interested and would rather jump up and down rambunctiously and trash talk their friends while playing Madden 2010* than read a good book. Or comic book. Or cry at a movie. Or play a "thinking person's"� game. And the second is that the interface does a terrible job of supporting traditional adventure game gameplay.

Well, I'm here to climb a fairly high mountain (acrophobia prevents me from climbing any higher) and loudly proclaim that both of these assumptions are unequivocally absurd.

While there are many hollering Neanderthals who play console games, there are many calmer folk who enjoy a quiet game they can take their time with. Take one popular series where the gameplay revolves around deep stories, exploration, solving simple puzzles, collecting widgets, turn-based action sequences and playing mini-games. People line up for miles whenever a new game in the series comes out, and there is a whole genre of games similar to them. The gaming press calls them "RPGs"�. I call them adventure games with monsters (or, if you prefer, AGWMs).

On a side note, anyone who thinks that hollering Neanderthals are exclusive to console gamers has never player an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Realm of Puerile Gamers).

The interface argument might at first glance seem to have more teeth. Pointing and clicking seems so simple and elegant a solution to the activities that one wants to be able to accomplish in an adventure game. I myself struggled with Escape from Monkey Island on the PS2. The interface wasn't terrible, but it was enough of a stumbling block that I eventually threw up my arms in despair and returned to the friendly comfort of Animal Crossing. And then there was Grim Fandango's console-like interface which gave me splitting migraines. (I enjoy complaining about Grim Fandango. It makes Kevin uncomfortable.)

But that was then! I have not yet played Indigo Prophecy on PS2 or X-Box, but I have read very positive things about the interface. It sounds as though deep thought was given to developing an interface that would play smoothly on a console. The Nintendo DS's touch screen capability has already attracted a couple of adventure game titles. And peeping over the horizon are the golden rays of possibility in the form of a slim, jaunty rectangle.

Witness the capabilities of the Controller for the Nintendo Revolution. By waving around the remote-control like stick, the player can control movement on screen as a conductor might conduct a symphony. Instant point and click! Combine that with the optional plug in analog controller and now we can enjoy the console-given freedom of moving our character through the world sans clicking while at the SAME TIME selecting on-screen objects with the control stick to look at, operate, etc. And for you way-back old-schoolers (you know who you are) imagine the possibility of mapping an action to a button, or a direction on the directional pad. Now you can very simply switch between touching, listening, licking and sneezing on objects to your heart's content!

The new generation consoles also will finally all be online. The X-Box 360 already has a selection of titles available that can be downloaded and played on the console. Some of these are classic casual games like Bejeweled. This suggests intriguing possibilities of developers being able to finally create games for the console market that don't have to worm their way through traditional channels. This makes these games much more likely to be made and delivered to your hot little hands.

PC gamers may shudder in fear, but I eagerly await the day I can finally sink back into my comfy couch, put my feet up, and immerse myself in a great new adventure. Could the recent developments in consoles finally offer the resounding "NO"� to the grating question "are adventure games dead"�? The answer may be hidden behind the thick velvety curtains in Dan's office, but that is not for you or I to know. Instead we will just have to crane our necks at our monitors and wait.

*By the way: there is nothing wrong with occasionally trash talking your buddies over a friendly game of Madden, so long as your rambunctious jumping does not result in damaged springs or stained upholstery.

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