Monday, 20 January 2014

Game 39: Earthrise - Final Rating

Earthrise: A Guild Investigation was much better than I expected it to be. The screenshots I'd seen prior to playing suggested a very low quality game that would likely be buggy and simplistic. That didn't turn out to be the case at all, and overall I'd have to say that I enjoyed the experience quite a bit. Despite all this positivity, there's no doubt the game is flawed, and the PISSED rating system will undoubtedly punish it accordingly. Let's see how much...

Puzzles and Solvability
For the most part, the puzzles in Earthrise were of a decent, if perhaps a bit easy, standard. While I solved little in the first couple of hours of play, I uncovered a vast amount of obstacles that I knew I would need to pass at some point. Usually that meant finding the right item in another location within the base, but I certainly had to put a lot of thought into the game to gain access to the many sections within the base. I was required to read notes very carefully, figure out how to keep Eric the bee alive, and more importantly, to keep myself from dying in a very dangerous environment. While I was worried that there would be, there was never an item that I couldn’t either easily see on screen or locate through general room descriptions, which is a big tick in a game like this one. Sadly, there was one puzzle that completely screwed me towards the end of the game. Looking back at it, it wasn’t so much what the puzzle required me to do (although that was a bit difficult), but more the parser responses and general narration suggestions that made it next to impossible. Even when I knew what I was supposed to do, I still really struggled to get my character to do it, which isn’t really acceptable. The parser is about to take a beating in the next category, so I won’t be too harsh here.
Rating: 4


Oh OK. Well at least now I know that I'm absolutely, positively not supposed to fire my laser through this door! Right?

Interface and Inventory
Right, this is where the game will have to be punished. I normally focus on two distinct aspects for the interface, being movement and parser. Neither was great in Earthrise, but before I talk about those, I should mention that I faced a couple of bugs while playing, including getting stuck behind furniture and finding ways to increase my score infinitely. Ignoring these, I guess movement was handled adequately in the game, but there's no way to avoid using the word clunky. Using ladders was challenging and walking through doors was more of a precise science than it should have been, but I generally made it from A to B and back again with little trouble. Fortunately, the creators were wise enough not to create any time-limited sequences or action scenes, as I really don’t think the engine would have coped. Oh yeah, and I had to be standing in exactly the right spot to be able to look at most items, which was annoying to say the least. The shitty parser is probably the biggest criticism I have with Earthrise though. I was put off trying correct actions by badly worded or misleading stock answers. I stopped trusting the parser pretty early on, which is just as well, as often asking a question a different way would get an opposite answer to the one I originally received. The huge difficulties I had destroying the control panel in the inner security office was by far the worst example, but by no means the only one. Finally there’s the inventory, which was really just a basic list. I wasn’t able to select anything in it, so looking at and using items was conducted purely through the parser.
Rating: 3


Pretty much every time I tried to get onto the ladder I accidentally moved to the screen below.

Story and Setting
There has already been, and will likely continue to be, quite a bit of negativity in this post. So why did I still really enjoy playing Earthrise? There was something quite compelling about it, and I think the story and setting played a huge role in that. In a way the story follows similar lines to those found in the System Shock series, with the player entering an environment in space where some sort of destructive event has taken place. The rest of the game is spent figuring out what has occurred and trying to set things right. System Shock (and in particular the sequel) did it much, much better of course, but it works pretty well in Earthrise too. I was really excited to find out what was waiting for me in each section of the base, and trying to piece together what had occurred on Solus was genuinely captivating. I really would have liked to find out more about the missing scientists, particularly as I discovered they were hidden away the whole time I was there! The few notes I read in the Research Laboratory were there for specific reasons, but I would have preferred to find other documents around the base to really flesh out events. At the end of the day, it was probably the setting that I liked more than the story itself, which really involved nothing more than scouring the base trying to find everything I needed to get the engine up and running.
Rating: 5


I guess it would have been nice to be given the backstory in-game too, but that's perhaps unfair for a game of this time.

Sound and Graphics
There was very little sound in Earthrise, limited to an awful opening tune and minimal beeps throughout. It was pretty disappointing for a game released in 1990, and while the visuals were of a higher standard, they too were well below the expected for the time. That being said, the creators clearly knew what they wanted in their environments, and the details are at times quite impressive. For example, when the pod leaves Solus and makes its way back to the shuttle, the player can clearly see the variations in thrust required to accelerate, decelerate, change direction, descend, slow the descent etc. Unfortunately, this “realism” was almost completely negated by the poor quality visuals. The colour selection was painful to look at, the creature drawings laughable, and the animation resembled anything but accurate motion. It’s a shame really, and I found myself wondering often how much better the game would be with more impressive technology. The truth is, with the right visuals, sound and interface, Earthrise might have been a classic, since it got a lot else right. Probably the only aspect that I feel wasn’t affected by the crappy graphics were the death scenes, which remained fun and humorous despite their goriness. I’m not sure that would have been the case had the visuals not had such a cartoonish style.
Rating: 3


The graphics guy perhaps misinterpreted the instruction to draw a "horrible monster"!

Environment and Atmosphere
The environment on Solus at first appeared quite limited, with a sparsely populated surface area. It quickly expanded beneath the surface to the point where I was quite stunned by just how big it was! I mapped out the whole asteroid in Excel, and I have to say it all fit together in a very satisfying way. It shows how much effort was put into planning for the game, even if the result rarely reached that level of professionalism. I know it’s purely science fiction, but the various locations were in line with what one might expect to see on a real base of this type. Living Quarters, Engine Room, Recreation Room, Research Laboratory etc. The atmosphere created by this environment and the reasons for being there were really very strong, but I do think it failed to make the most of it by falling short in the visual and audio departments. If I’d heard background sounds that hinted at potential danger nearby, and then ran into convincing and truly threatening creatures within the sections and adjoining tunnels, the experience might have been an incredible one. As it was, the silence offered nothing and the visuals were often cartoonish (particularly the creatures). On the plus side, the humor was surprisingly effective, with some very memorable death scenes that were both shocking and hilarious.
Rating: 6


There were no shortage of environmental surprises in store for me too!

Dialogue and Acting
There were no NPCs in Earthrise if I exclude the various alien creatures found both on the surface of Solus and stalking the tunnels within the base. I had no conversations with anyone, so traditional dialogue played little role (there were a few notes left in the base that were written by scientists but that’s about it). There was however a lot of descriptive text, and while it served its purpose well enough, it wasn’t really given any distinctive character. At times it was mocking (clearly inspired by Space Quest), and there were smatterings of humour included for those special moments where death came swiftly and violently, but otherwise the narrative was purposefully yet unobtrusively descriptive. I noticed a few grammatical issues, but it wasn’t much worse than the run of the mill Sierra adventure games of preceding years. I did find it humorous that the writer regularly excused himself from producing convincing scientific explanations by blaming the character’s intellectual abilities. Comments like “you start to wish you had paid more attention in your biochem classes at the academy” and “you begin to feel like you’re a little out of your league” popped up whenever things started to get technical. Was it lazy or clever...maybe both?!
Rating: 4


The descriptions were not particularly pleasant to read, but they achieved what they set out to do.

Well that's 4 + 3 + 5 + 3 + 6 + 4 which equals 25, divided by 60 = 41.66666, which is 42 when rounded up. That leaves Earthrise tied with Black Cauldron and one behind Neuromancer. I definitely enjoyed Earthrise more than both of those games, so I'm going to use my discretionary point to raise it to a 43. That's certainly higher than I expected prior to playing, but I feel it's justified.


Did anyone predict 43? No, but Ilmari predicted the "actual" score of 42! Ilmari played the game before making that prediction, so I'm happy that he too was able to look past the obvious flaws to find a decent and entertaining game beneath. Well done Ilmari, you've won the King's Quest Collection from Steam. I have a feeling you might already have the games included, but I'll leave it up to you as to what you want to do with it if that's the case.

130 CAPs for Lars-Erik
Sponsor Award - 20 CAPs - For sponsoring the blog with free games
Treasure Hunter Award – 20 CAPs – For finding and sending me the game manual!
Request for Assistance Award – 20 CAPs – For giving me the hints and spoiler I needed to progress
D-Fend Reloaded Award – 10 CAPs – For telling me the latest version fixes my loading issue
Bee Oxygen Consumption Award – 10 CAPs – For overanalysing the death of poor Eric
Greedo Caption Contest – 10 CAPs – For proving that Han shot first
Missing Points Award – 10 CAPs – For figuring out what I missed
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing an adventure game sale on GOG
Eric Half-A-Bee Award – 5 CAPs – For figuring out what the creators were referencing with Eric
Conspiracy Award – 5 CAPs – For conspiring in the malevolent torture of Tricky
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing an adventure game sale on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing a new adventure game on GOG

70 CAPs for Ilmari
Freddy Pharkas Award – 30 CAPs – For solving my Freddy Pharkas riddle
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game with me and completing it
Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – For predicting the score I would give the game
Minor Request for Assistance Award – 10 CAPs – For giving me additional hints and spoiler

51 CAPs for Canageek
Bee Oxygen Consumption Award – 10 CAPs – For overanalysing the death of poor Eric
Porno Caption Contest Award – 10 CAPs – Bow chika wow wow
Alien Muppet Award – 5 CAPs – For deciphering my Ridley Scott / Jim Henson crossover reference
THX-1138 Award – 5 CAPs – OK, it might have been obvious, but he got it
Tears in Rain Award – 5 CAPs – For recognizing my Blade Runner reference
Man Formerly Known as Prince Award – 5 CAPs – For picking my Purple Rain reference
Conspiracy Award – 5 CAPs – For conspiring in the malevolent torture of Tricky
Tool Time Award – 5 CAPs – For picking my Home Improvement reference
Captain Obvious Award – 1 CAP – For finding my ridiculously obvious Star Trek reference

25 CAPs for Zenic Reverie
True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – For playing the game with me and completing it
Conspiracy Award – 5 CAPs – For conspiring in the malevolent torture of Tricky

20 CAPs for Cush1978
Treasure Hunter Award – 10 CAPs – For finding a boxed version of the game for sale with the manual
Roger Wilco Caption Contest – 10 CAPs – For a very nice Roger Wilco reference

10 CAPs for Charles
Poltergeist Award – 5 CAPs – For figuring out my Poltergeist reference
Wanton Destruction Award – 5 CAPs – For figuring out my Sam & Max reference

10 CAPs for TBD
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing an adventure game sale on GOG
Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – For announcing an adventure game sale on GOG

10 CAPs for Rowan Lipkovits
CompuServe Award – 10 CAPs – For explaining the strange code that appeared in the game

5 CAPs for Kenny McCormick
Conspiracy Award – 5 CAPs – For conspiring in the malevolent torture of Tricky

53 comments:

  1. I knew people were betting way too low! (Anyone out there interested to create a remake for Earthrise?)

    Since I don't really need the King's Quest collection, I'll make it a contest. Let's keep it a simple guessing game this time. As the next game involves temporal affairs and it's just been 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, I'll award the collection to first person who guesses my favourite Doctor.

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    1. Based on the first hour I wanted to lower my score, but by the end it was actually enjoyable. Kind of the opposite of my experience with Circuit's Edge, which will get my full attention this week.

      There's more than one Doctor?

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    2. Technically Doctor is the same guy all along, but once in a while he regenerates (changes his appearance and personality). So we speak of First, Second etc. Doctors (and because this is a time travel show, different Doctors can even meet one another).

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    3. Tom Baker? (he's one of the more popular ones, and was the fourth to play the Doctor)

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    4. Seeing as my favourite Doctor (Tom Baker) is taken, I'm going to choose my equal second favourite (with David Tennant) and go with Patrick Troughton.

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    5. Hmm, Eccleston? I doubt you would have set a contest if it was obvious, and nobody apart from me seemed to like him as the Doctor. Sometimes darker can be better.

      Also, Earthrise was a joy to read about, despite having never heard of it. Thanks Trick.

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    6. Bleaghhh, no you're not alone. Eccleston is my choice, although to be fair I haven't seen that many episodes after his tenure as the Tenth Doctor.

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    7. Eccleston is my favorite as well, although I've only seen episodes of Doctor Who that had him. First I've heard of this changing Doctor thing, probably will happen in a couple episodes as I took a peek ahead and saw it changes soon.

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    8. Eccleston was fantastic, and Tennant very much so as well. Unfortunately I have to confess not seeing the Doctors of yesteryear, so I can't really guess on which one you favor. My instinct tells me it's from those your answer will be found.

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    9. Well, Tennent and Eccleston were my favourites, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess the fifth doctor, as a lot of people overlook him due to him following Baker, but he has a sort of cult following (and is apparently David Tennent's favourite)

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    10. All right, let's see if anyone got the right answer:

      Andy Panthro: Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) - brilliant actor and one of my favourite Doctors for sure (who wouldn't love an Evil One who eats babies), but still not my ultimate choice, especially as he didn't have the guts to wipe out Daleks permanently, when he could have.

      Draconius: Second Doctor (Patrick Troughton) - I like him even better than Fourth (and Troughton's great comedian), always running around with his cuddle partner Jamie, and who wouldn't enjoy eating shepherd in a pie. Still, his era definitely lacked any great master plan, so I am not betting on him.

      Bleaghhh: Ninth Doctor (Ecclestone) - definitely my favourite from the modern era, because who wouldn't like his Doctor with a dark edge. A bit lacking on the essential goofiness of harmless appearing exterior, though, so no vote from me.

      TBD: Fifth Doctor (Peter Davison) - Probably one of my least favourite, just too goody-goody for my taste, and always letting the companions control him, instead of being the master manipulator, as it should be.

      Aperama: Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) - Very competent actor also and the character shows a believable "Human Nature" (although copied from more preferable source, I'd say), but as Lars-Erik guessed, the answer lies in the classics.

      So, no one got it right yet, still couple options to try. I might point out I am looking for the best Doctor, which was not necessarily played by the best TV actor (there's been Who in audio and print also). Tea's getting cold somewhere, so try again!

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    11. You missed my guess, by the way.

      Huh, perhaps I should have stuck with Rowan Atkinson after all!

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    12. Canageek: Yea, you guessed after I'd started to write and I forgot to refresh. First Doctor (Hartnell) is probably something like seventh on my list - a bit too grandfatherly to my taste, although he has that devious streak and taste for occasional fisticuffs.

      Rowan Atkinson - Not really official Doctor, so not included in the competition, but it was a fun episode.

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    14. 2nd guess time: Jon Pertwee. An underrated classic doctor (in my opinion anyway), and very different in style compared to his predecessors.

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    15. Andy Panthro: No Ace this time either! I think I like Third Doctor least, a little bit too dandy for me, bragging about his friendship with Chairman Mao.

      It's getting close! And I thought I dropped some obvious hints over there. Soon I'll have to ferret my pants, if no one guesses this...

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    16. I'm pretty sure I know the answer, despite not ever really having watched the show. Come on people! ;)

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    17. Well, given that you like dark Doctors, and implied it isn't one of the series leads, I'll guess Michael Jayston or John Hurt, as both played evil versions of the Doctor.

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    18. Sylvester McCoy? Really? He'd be second last on my list. Go figure, right?

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    19. Canageek: Valeyard and War Doctor - Hey, there's limit to darkness ;) So, no.

      Aperama: Seventh Doctor - And we have a winner! Kinq's Quest collection found its owner!

      Like I said, Sylvester Mccoy might not be the best actor (although I think he's not that bad and I love his Scottish accent), but all in all, when considering series, books and audios, Seventh is the character that intrigued me most (and got me most pissed to BBC for cutting his era short).

      Machiavellian is an often used adjective, which accounts for the hints for dark edge and manipulativeness. As for other hints, there's reference to (Cartmel) master plan and novel "Human nature" (google if you are interested); his very last lines in series spoke of tea getting cold, Ace was his companion (let's all forget Mel); and Mccoy apparently had a comedy act where he put ferrets down his trousers. And the most obvious hint of them all: "First Doctor is probably something like seventh on my list " - you can't get more explicit than that.

      And I must also tell how excited I was, when the first Hobbit came to film theaters: "Who on Earth is that animal loving hippy? Tom Bombadil? No, it's THE DOCTOR!!!!!!!".

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  2. Oooh. A contest!

    I preferred the Peter Davison years (probably due to my age at the time) so I'll guess him.

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    1. Curses, you already guessed the Fifth Doctor.

      Um, hum, errr. 4,5,9 and 10 are all taken. I'm going to go with William Hartnell, the First Doctor. All the ones I really like are taken, so lets try something more rare. I was thinking Rowan Atkinson, but that might be a bit too rare.

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  3. If it's not Baker, I'd guess Tennant.

    This game really didn't look enjoyable, the whole way through. I'm guessing this is why it's largely unknown - games with glaring issues that look awesome like Codename: ICEMAN were all bought before they were loathed - and have the fog of age to seem decent. Earthrise looks poorly to begin with for a game of its age, and seems to speed up late after dragging on early, making it just seem like unsaveable crap!

    Still, glad you did enjoy it overall.

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  4. As a side note, I've just noticed that all the posts here, including mine, are from the future! Silly Auzzies, always showing off.

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    1. Quickly! What's the winning number of this week's Lotto?!

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    2. 11, it was definitely 11. That's how lottery numbers work right?

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  5. CAP Leaderboard Updated!

    Lars-Erik has cracked a 1000!

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    1. Pop a champagne!

      I didn't know CAPs are given for Torment (https://torment.inxile-entertainment.com/)!

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    2. Wooo! Drinks are on me, mates!

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    3. Wow, congrats. I'm a distant, distant third now. I need to hunt sales more I guess.

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  6. 43? I had expected a lot lower in the beginning, but now I almost feel that's low-balling it. Seems it's been growing on me through your postings, Trickster. Well done!

    It's sad to think how good this game could have been with just a few tweaks. A new graphics designer and some work on the parser, and it might have been a classic.

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  7. I like the fact that it is trying to be more serious in plot, even if the writing style doesn't really lend itself to that. I still wonder what it was about early adventure games that led to such silliness, that you don't' see as much in other genres; even today, Broken Age seems to be quite silly at times, though being crazy dark also seems to be an option. It is too bad, as a lot of genres that don't work well with violence would work super well as adventure games (Espionage, cyberthiller, a lot of science fiction (Though we seem to be seeing more of this), detective (We've seen this one a fair bit actually, Deja vu for example), and so on. Heck, I'd love to see a thief game similar to the Chronicles of Siala by Alexy Pehov, since the first half of the third book is basically a theif using hits wits and inventory to work his way through a death trap filled dungeon.

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    1. Well... we're having Circuit's Edge (ongoing), Heart of China (goddamn awesome), Rise of the Dragon (pretty meh...) and a few others coming up. Also, don't forget that the 1st entry of this blog is definitely not wacky silly.

      This trend of goofball humor stems basically from Sierra, LucasArts and Legend; who, I concur, are the triumvirate of major publishers for that dominated the adventure scene back then.

      Today, we have a lot to thank this genre for, if you are into any games that are based on horror survival (a far cry from being silly).

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    2. Yeah, I agree that we see the genre branch out. I think this predates those companies though, going back to text adventures; Zork had a lot of silly things in it, didn't it?

      I'm wondering if the method of puzzle solving lends itself to that style of humour, where being silly lets you get away with making things a bit more nonsensical?

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    3. Yes, Zork was pretty silly, as were most of the early text adventures. But I think it reflects more the time than the genre. Back in the early days, games of most other genres had no plot to speak of, beyond the crude "kill the bad guy". Some CRPGs had serious enough plots, but even they had to often use manuals to actually give the story.

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    4. Actually, I'd counter that a great deal, if not most of the early Infocom adventures were serious in tone. Off the top of my head: Deadline, Infidel, the Enchanter trilogy, Cutthroats, Border Zone, Moonmist, A Mind Forever Voyaging, The Lurking Horror, Trinity, etc. Some of them included occasional instances of humor but it wasn't of the "silly" brand favored by the adventure greats such as Lucasarts or Sierra.

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    5. Yes, I know Infocom had quite developed plots. I was speaking more of the general text adventure scene at the beginning of 1980s, which was dominated by likes of Scott Adams text adventures - minimal parser, rudimentary plot, often nothing more than a treasure hunt, full of silly and absurd puzzles.

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    6. Ah yes, if we go back that early I would suggest that parser and memory limitations are indeed a factor in the prevalence of simpler stuff. Still, simple does not equate silly, and I think Canageek's long-standing hangup is mainly with silly humor in more modern adventures.

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    7. Yes, I was just trying to answer Canageek's speculation whether silliness of adventure games predates Sierra and perhaps goes to the very beginnings of the genre. I'd say there was definitely a streak of silliness in the very first text adventures, even if the games were simple and otherwise lacked all plot. Even original Adventure had silly lines referencing Monty Python sketches or interactions like this:

      KILL DRAGON: With what? Your bare hands?
      YES: Congratulations! You have just vanquished a dragon with your bare hands! (Unbelievable, isn't it?)

      Other early text adventures had loads of such more or less fun jokes (Zork being prime example, because it often seems like a parody of Adventure). So yeah, silliness has been with adventuring a long time and it certainly didn't begin with Space Quest.

      I still don't think it's something inherent with the puzzle solving, as Canageek suggested. At the very beginning, I think, it was just a matter of programmers not being interested of plotting, but of technical challenges and making devious puzzles - these were not stories, but games or programs, so why not use also some silly moments to lighten up the mood. I suppose you can see similar trend in some of the earliest CRPGs (just think of Ultima 2), so it's not just adventure games that suffered from it (and outside these two genres were there lot of plots at the beginning of 1980s?).

      I might suggest that small numbers of serious adventure games in the late 1980s could be explained by lack of buyers for such games. Infocom ruled text adventure scene, but even for them the real profits came from Zork and Hitchhiker's, both really silly games and mostly just puzzle fests. People weren't apparently ready to pay for any serious stuff. A game like Infidel was hated, just because the game has an unlikable protagonist and because it has an "unhappy" ending where the player character gets his just desserts. I'd wager Sierra faced similar concerns in the period 1984-1989, when it ruled the graphic adventure markets - Space Quest and Larry sold well and got more and more sequels, but no such luck for Gold Rush or Codename Iceman.

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    8. Of course silliness in adventure games predates Sierra, but not all adventure games were silly. I was addressing Canageek's question by pointing out the folly of using Zork as a measuring stick. Those Infocom examples I gave are proof that there were plenty of "serious" options available in the market as well. In fact, the adventure genre at that time was positively mature compared to other genres. It wasn't until Sierra / Lucas arrived and kickstarted the graphical adventure that outright farce became such a commercial success, but then still you had titles like the Manhunter games, the Police Quests or The Dig.

      I'm not counting the "silliness" inherent to early entries like Scott Adams' adventures, because I actually think that kind of playfulness applies to any early titles in any genre. Other than that, we'd have to precisely define "silly".

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    9. About killing dragons with your bare hands? Totally doable in Skyrim with the right skills.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxkdss4f86I

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    10. Yeah, it could just be my Dad liked silly text adventures, or that the freinds he got most of his games from did. I just remember some very silly manuals when going through my Dad's C64 box, that contrasted with the very awesome Ultima and The Magic Candle manuals (I still vote for TMC as the best manual of all time.) Some of it was done really well, like there was one about a thief that had a special interview on the thieves guild by correspondent A. Nonymous, and a character who talked about the "Egyptian Hat Dance" (You lie on a bed, put a hat on the bedpost, then drink until the hat dances).

      But yeah, while I like Monty Python's better sketches if you are doing humour I do think Blackadder was far funnier overall. Perhaps not as funny as Monty Python's best, but on average far better.

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    11. Charles: I think we are arguing on the same side here. I was originally just flabbergasted that Canageek attempted to prove something by comparing Zork with modern games of other genres. To me, that sounded like comparing Krazy Kat with Wire and on that basis saying that comics are more juvenile than TV series. Zork is a really early game and first versions on the mainframe do date back to the time of Scott Adams games, so it cannot really be compared even with later Infocom games - like you said, the silliness in them was just part of the hilarity of the pioneering days.

      Still, I have to contest that outright farce wasn't a commercial success before Sierra. Have you seen the Infocom Sales Figures from the early 1980s? Until 1984 their biggest hit for each year was Zork, then in 1985 it was beaten by Hitchhiker's and in 1986 Leather Goddesses - seems like the audience wanted their laughs, even if there were more serious titles on offer. Here's a link to the actual paper:

      http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2008/09/great_scott_infocoms_alltime_s.php

      Canageek: That might have been Guild of Thieves from Magnetic Scrolls. If you haven't seen Infocom manuals, you might want to check this site:

      http://infodoc.plover.net/manuals/

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    12. Ilmari: No worries, you'll see I indeed agree with basically all you wrote; I was mainly questioning the notion that most pre-graphics adventure games were uniformly "silly". Thanks for the link! :-)

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    13. Ilmari Jauhiainen: That sounds right. I do know there were also serious games, as I recall my Dad has a copy of the Fahrenheit 451 game.

      Remember, I don't know release dates, I just have a big pile of manuals I've read and what I've seen on Trickster's blog. I also recall a lot of those games having really cool covers, the manual would have some epic= fantasy quest, and then the play example would involve a battery, a credit card and a drake or something like that.

      Basically, one of you needs to sit down and play all of them on The Text Adventure Addict and resolve this.

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    15. (Ouch... don't know what happened to my last post. Blogger spitted out a jumbled mess of repeated paragraphs. I was too painful to see, I had to delete it out of its misery. A shortened version follows)

      Canageek: that'll be one of my retirement projects :-D

      I will reiterate that IMO the one thing to keep in mind at all times when revisiting and evaluating classics of yesteryear is Context. Revisionism is fashionable because it's easy; anyone can laugh from behind their 00's glasses at the way things were back then. Many of these products were immersed in or informed by the zeitgeist of the 80s, when the word "silly" associated with "fun" was often the whole point of a repurposed subversiness expressed through music, books, movies, clothing, and of course attitude. I'm not directing this particularly at you, Canageek, but from the first time I read one of your complaints about about silliness in old games, I wondered if you wouldn't have similar problems with "The Lost Boys" or "Fright Night" - to cite just two commercial hits from the era- insofar as their status as vampire movies.

      (Not saying these expressions were all good or not ridiculous. But when I see someone mocking shoulder pads and big hair bands, I point them to modern drop crotch pants and the latest teenybopper hit, and tell them to get off my lawn XD)

      Add to all this an exhilarating new technology that provided curious minds an almost limitless array of new worlds to create and explore; the fact that most titles were handcrafted by a couple of guys (spelunking pals Crowthers & Woods come to mind) and gaming wasn't Big Business as it is today, and a good dose of light-heartedness on the part of producers and consumers feels quite natural.

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    16. Quite possibly that is my view. I'm more familiar with books from back then, which are often very serious (Late 80s was a lot of the cyberpunk stuff), and even the movies I've seen from back then tended to take themselves seriously even when they perhaps shouldn't (Escape from New York, Die Hard, Tron). The one exception I can think of was Escape from LA, which was kind of painful at times (The surfing sequence for example).

      I think you might be right, in that the silliness comes mostly from a few companies (Sierra, Lucasarts) and the writers at them having a certain sense of humour, and then other people copy them, injecting imitations of that type of humour into there games. You see a similar thing today; Gears of War becomes huge using a very gritty brown and grey pallet, as does Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. All of a sudden a ton of games are using that pallet and art style. Before that, someone managed to do bloom well, and all of a sudden a ton of games featured heavily washed out art. Heck, look how many games have been using 2D/paper as a feature after Paper Mario and that Kirby game managed to do it.

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    17. Charles: Could we kickstart you to an early retirement? ;)

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    18. Oh don't tempt me Ilmari! :-D

      @Canageek: wasn't that Kirby game the one made with yarn instead of paper? That is one charming little game.

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    19. Yep. I hear it is quite good.

      By the way, I have a Nintendo 3DS now, if anyone has friend codes >.>

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