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How important do you think a narrator is?

posted by caeska on - last edited - Viewed by 3.9K users
There are a couple of things I'd really like to see carried over from the previous King's Quest point & click games. Firstly, a narrator like there's been in KQ5, KQ6 and the fan-project The Silver Lining. A narrator just adds that much more feeling to the game, and I for one would be very disappointed if the Telltale game doesn't have a narrator.

Secondly, something I think is equally important is additional ways to interact with objects in the game world. The Sierra model has always had changeable icons for looking, touching and talking, while the Telltale adventure games do not have this feature. In the Telltale games you click on something, and the character will do whatever he's scripted to do, whether it's talking or picking something up or commenting on it.

Adventure games need to have the ability to just examine something, and in the King's Quest franchise this is especially important.
There should be the traditional "hand, eye, talk" icons and a narrator with a wide array of voice-acted lines to make the game world feel a bit more three-dimensional, or it just won't do justice to the King's Quest genre at all.

So I'm curious, what are other people's views on this? How do you feel about the TT games so far only having a mouse-pointer that doesn't change into for example an examine-icon?
And is a narrator something you guys will be expecting?
49 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • What I disliked was having an audible narrator describe objects visible onscreen -- these popup blurbs never felt like they flowed when read aloud, and they were usually much quicker to scan in text form. "An old lamp hangs on the line." "Another old lamp waits for a customer." "This old lamp is a fine-looking antique." "A rusty lamp looks just heavy enough to KILL ME NOW."

    The point of narration I think is to get you immersed in the story, which they did splendidly in KQ6 in particular. Narration can't be bland, generic or unimaginative. The narrator in KQ6 does a great job of describing the important objects which are needed to advance the story, but he also describes unimportant objects in a way I think is entertaining.

    For example if you look at a rock on the Isle of Crowns: "Rocks abound on this mystical island."
    Or if you try to talk to a rock: "The rocks remain silent, as they have been for ages untold."

    The seriousness and objectivity with which the narrator says these things always makes me smile :)
    John Bell in the KQ redux games is also a dear favorite of mine, some of his comments are questionable but he never really broke the fourth wall.
    A narrator in a KQ game has to be detached from the actual story, only recounting the events that take place in the game without being involved in the story itself.
  • I'd say, 'extra bits of fluff' type text, like looking at lanterns or rocks, etc. Is there for color, and its optional. A player who doesn't like it, isn't forced to look at it if they don't want to...

    If you were to look at say Tolkien for instance, he offered similar kind of descriptive bits in his books describing the scenery, the history behind the scenery, the travel time betwen landmarks, etc!

    Where as that stuff is harder to skip in a book, in a literary style adventure game, you aren't forced to look at the 'fluff' if you don't want to.
    A narrator in a KQ game has to be detached from the actual story, only recounting the events that take place in the game without being involved in the story itself.

    However, that's not to say that the narrator won't include easter eggs in their descriptions. That 'break the fourth wall' so to speak... As was the case in some of the early KQ1-3 and somewhat 4, were the narrator would sometimes address the player, and make nods to Mr. Ed, Half Dome, the Colonel, the Sierra development team, etc. Keeping in mind in those games the narrator tended to present the narration as if he was talking to "you", the player, "you", also being the character played in the game, be that Graham or Gwydion. The narrator would give 'your' thoughts on a situation (but they were actually Grahams or Gwydion's thoughts, etc... I think they refer to this style as 2nd-person narrative.

    Even in KQ6, you have the reference to Talking Bear in California. The couple of examples where Alexander notes the player, if you intentionally fall of the lower parts of the Cliff of Logic, or addresses the narrator in the tutorial option. In KQ4-5 the narrative primarily switched to a 3rd-person narrative style.

    But in most cases in KQ, the narrator is detached, and neither acknowledge each other.

    KQ7 and KQ8 utilized more 1st-person narrative in places (when a player comments on some element in his surroundings), but to say they have actual narrative is misleading.
  • There was a slow and fitful transition from the text adventure to the modern graphic adventure -- in text adventures, the player was usually referred to as "you" or the game presented itself as "I" with the player puppeteering. But both of these were essentially first-person experiences -- the player was told what he/she was seeing and experiencing. The early graphic adventures were similar -- locations were illustrated but the player was usually not directly depicted.

    King's Quest introduced a different perspective -- the player's character was now visible onscreen, and the player was a bit detached; for example, we could see the character die beyond the point where awareness would have ceased, and we could sometimes see things in an inaccessible area that the character might not be able to see.

    It took a while for the ramifications of this perspective shift to get worked out -- the "you" and first-person narration in general gradually gave way to a more cinematic mode where the characters are being manipulated by the player, sometimes with a certain amount of awareness and fourth-wall breaking. ("I don't think that's a good idea"-type phrasing, for example, seems to be directed at the player by the character, or perhaps the character's own mind as driven by the player.)

    I think it's a natural offshoot of this to put the "narration" description into the characters' mouths instead, and use traditional narration to set the stage as is done in the first Bone game.
  • I don't find anything "natural" about making a King's Quest game gutted of so much of what gave the originals charm and distinction. We don't need another generic, standardized adventure game like we've been getting for years. We've lost so much variety -- in look and feel, storytelling and gameplay style -- since the Golden Age of the 1990s. And it's become clear to me from this very forum that adventure players have brought it on themselves, wanting every game hammered down to look like all the others. Suggesting Bone as a model for the revival of the original graphic adventure franchise? It's no wonder the genre is in the state it's in.
  • Yep. In "fixing" (by pruning) all the mechanics that made people pull their hair out we've destroyed what these games actually meant to us without even knowing it. Were they all ever smart design decisions to begin with? Maybe some of them weren't, but it doesn't matter. What ended up being became the meat and potatoes of the best of the adventure games back then.
  • LOL, using Bone, the game unfinished game series as an example... Eh, I don't think they'll ever finish it...
  • I was just referring to the use of standard narration to set the stage in the Director's Cut version of Bone: Out From Boneville, not suggesting it as a model for the KQ revival. I don't think any other Telltale games use a narrator in that kind of traditional mold; the Voodoo Lady in TOMI is more presentational in her approach, and is seen onscreen.
  • I think Telltale's KQ's game could be greatly enhanced by a narrator. There are long gaps between episodes and a narrator could really help keep the player up to speed in the later episodes. Also, a good narrator can really set the tone for this type of game.
  • We know that the narrator:
    1) a woman (because she is married to a man, and this is 1890)
    2) probably middle class (“mere ordinary people”)
    3) has a husband named John. All of this is actually pretty aggressively anonymous: the narrator has no name and is married to a guy who might as well have no name, since “John” doesn’t really give us any clues about who he is or where he might be from.
  • Huh?

    I suppose the narrator in KQ4 was Roberta Williams, at least partially. When you close down it shows her picture, asking if you want to continue to play or not.

    KQ5 and 6 are clearly male.
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