Friday 30 March 2012

Weekly Poll Discussion

Last week’s poll really split opinion and once again didn’t end up at all the way I expected it to. It just goes to show that you should never assume you know how people think and feel, especially when you’ve never physically met any of them (something the Internet brings about very regularly). The question was “which movie series would you like to see made into an adventure game?” and the results, in ranked order, are below:

Harry Potter                         9 votes (19%)
Planet of the Apes                8 votes (17%)
Star Wars                            7 votes (14%)
Lord of the Rings                  6 votes (12%)
Toy Story                             6 votes (12%)
The Godfather                      5 votes (10%)
Pirates of the Caribbean        3 votes (6%)
The Chronicles of Narnia       1 vote (2%)
X-Men                                  1 vote (2%)

I kind of assumed that it would be a battle between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and while they were both very much in the running, it was Harry Potter that took the title. My first thought was that perhaps the readers of The Adventure Gamer are younger than I thought, but after realising that’s not really relevant (I’m a fan of the series after all and I’m 34), I came to the conclusion that the Harry Potter series would actually lend itself to the adventure genre extremely well indeed. It has its fair share of action, but the majority of the storyline is driven along by mystery, which the heroes work through using logic and investigatory techniques rather than brute force or physical prowess. I can very easily imagine a Day of the Tentacle style game where the player needs to use all three characters’ talents to progress. The world that J.K. Rowling created would give a developer endless gadgets, spells, characters and lore to pull from too!

Interestingly, a lot of the Harry Potter games look like adventures but are labelled action. Has anyone played one?

What was even more surprising though was Planet of the Apes coming in second. It was the last series I added to the list and I wondered whether anyone would choose it, but eight people clearly think it could work. As for me, well I’m just a sucker for anything Lord of the Rings related, and I’d love the chance to play an adventure game in Middle Earth, even if it was just to experience the environments and characters brought to life in that format. One can dream!

If you haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes yet, I highly recommend it!

This week’s question is less fun I’m afraid, but it’s something I wanted to ask you all to make sure I’ve got a good feel for what you want The Adventure Gamer to be like into the future. I started thinking about it after my Shadowgate – Demon of the Fall post, which was very long and detailed. I pretty much described everything that happened during my ninety minute session along with all the thought processes I went through on the way. This is in stark contrast to how my early posts were which didn’t go into much detail at all, and were much more focussed on game mechanics than puzzles and story. So...what do you guys enjoy? Long and detailed, short and to the point, or somewhere in between? I’d love to hear any feedback anyone might have in the comments of this post too (or sent to my email).

Hopefully I’ll have the next Shadowgate post up tomorrow. I haven’t had much time to play in the last couple of days.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Game 14: Shadowgate - Demon of the Fall

Journal Entry 2: “As harrowing as this place is, I am making good progress and overcoming many obstacles. I have uncovered new sections to the castle, defeated strange creatures, and discovered parchments that shed some light on the difficult task ahead of me. The main parchment states “Five to find, three are one. One gives access, the bladed sun. The silver orb, to banish below. The staff of ages to vanquish the foe. Joining two, the golden thorn. The last to invoke, the platinum horn.” It is my belief that the five items it speaks of are gems of different colours, three of which I found behind the waterfall near the lake. I have now used two of them; one in the cave to lower the wall and receive the parchment, and the second in the pedestal room to retrieve a crystal sphere. The sphere has been extremely valuable to me, freezing the lake so I could collect the key from the skeleton and then allowing me to defeat a fire drake that stood guard behind the mirror door (which the key opened). My confidence has risen with these victories and I long to continue with this quest I once considered futile.”

Hmmm...I can take the sturdy looking bridge or the rickety one surrounded by skulls. Oh I just don't know!

I’m very pleased to say that my ninety minute session last night was a very productive one! I’ll admit straight away that I did not achieve all my success without playing the reader assistance card, but that wasn’t entirely my fault. Many of you left me hints, ranging from pure guesses (what would this blog be without Canageek’s enthusiasm) to straight out spoilers. I have not yet deciphered all of the hints as I don’t want to ruin anything for myself, but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Bobbyloathesyou left me a few unsubtle intimations regarding the waterfall. While I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to use ROT13 when providing hints or spoilers, I’m not going to be too harsh on the offender in this instance because in all likelihood, I never would have found the bag of gems behind the waterfall if it were not for his varied and humorous attempts to inform me of the beauty and tranquillity that one can experience when spending afternoons basking in the vicinity of waterfalls. I will however deny the ten points that he otherwise might have earned as a lesson. ;) But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s how my session played out…

As Zenic says, "ROT13 is your friend"

Determined to get as far as I could without assistance, yet knowing that the waterfall played a role in the game’s solution, I once again loaded Shadowgate and entered the fray. My restore returned me to the chamber with the unclimbable wall, so I decided to spend a bit of time trying to figure out how to scale it. The one thing that caught my attention about the room was that the torches on the wall can’t be removed, whereas they can be (and need to be) in every other location so far. That made them suspicious, so I tried lighting them…nothing happened. I tried “operating” them and what do you know, the left one is a lever that opens up a hidden door. In hindsight, it’s obvious that the purpose of the arrow positioned in the centre of the wall is not to be collected as a weapon, but instead acts as a directional marker, informing the player that they really should focus their attention on the left hand torch. It seems obvious when you think about it, but how many times have you paid attention to what direction a newly discovered arrow (and by arrow I mean the type you project from a bow) is facing in a fantasy based computer game? It didn’t help me that the first thing I did on entering the chamber is add the arrow to my inventory, subsequently removing the game’s ingenious hint from the room.

OK, so it looks really obvious now! Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I eagerly saved and went through the door, excited that I’d opened up a new part of the game while still having the waterfall hint up my sleeve. The bridge room beyond has two separate bridges that you can cross, but experimentation soon told me that only one of them can be crossed without falling to your death. The alcove I entered after crossing that bridge contained a rather eerie looking shadow wraith, apparently “searching for a soul to take its place”. Setting things on fire had been a fairly successful tactic so far in Shadowgate, so I immediately tried it with the wraith. He disappeared in a puff of smoke, but not without letting loose terrible laughter that suggested there might be consequences to my actions. I was able to continue a couple of screens, but the wraith kept reappearing and my strength deteriorated until eventually his curse overcame me and I died. Reloading, I looked at my very limited inventory to see what else I might be able to use on the wraith. One of my torches was described as being unusual and unlike the others, and I knew from previous uses that when lit it produced a glowing green flame. I lit that torch and “operated” it on the wraith, with the result being a lengthy scream rather than laughter and the wraith was no more. Another success and Shadowgate was beginning to be much less threatening than my Uninvited fallout had led me to expect.

I don't suppose you're scared of spiders are you? No? you like fruit?

I picked up some sort of cape from behind the wraith, which I’m now wearing (in the game that is), but I’m not yet sure what its purpose is. The next room beyond the alcove was another chamber with some interesting features. Most noticeably, there was a sign on the wall with the letters EPOR on it, along with a coiled up rope on the ground. I don’t think it takes a genius to realise the word EPOR is ROPE backwards, but any attempts to pick up or operate the rope fail as it was being held in place by some sort of magic. Deciding to try my luck, I clicked on the rope then clicked on “speak” and typed EPOR. The rope uncoiled and tied itself to an opening through the ceiling. Once again Shadowgate earned a little more of my trust and rewarded me for applying logic (well, fantasy logic anyway)! Climbing the rope took me to the mirror room, which was a bit disorientating since there are no stairs or any sort of incline between the chamber and the mirror room, but it’s nice to be able to jump between the two locations quickly. Also in the chamber were three items, being a bottle of vile smelling liquid that I've not yet used, the parchment that contains the message I wrote in the journal entry, and a bottle of Goo-Gone. Immediately thinking of the green slime that came out of the second tomb, I saved my game and skipped over there to see what would happen if I used it. It did make the goo disappear, but I couldn’t see that doing so gave me access to anything I didn’t already have.

It's not often solutions to puzzles are literally written on the wall

The other thing of note in the chamber with the rope was a fairly obvious outline of a door at the end of the room. I opened it and pushed through into a cave containing a wall with cracks all over it and some sort of stone inscription with a hole in it on the floor. I could figure out anything I was supposed to do there, so I assumed I mustn’t yet have whatever it is that needs to go in the hole. Still holding the waterfall hint up my sleeve, I decided to push my luck and head back to the dragon’s lair to see if I could now achieve something there. From my last post you might remember that anything I tried to do in this room resulted in dragon’s breath burning me to a cinder. Unfortunately, nothing new that I had in my inventory appeared to be of any help, but before I left I thought I’d try a few more random things. Interestingly, unlike every other item in the room, “operating” the shield resulted in “you raise the shield instinctively as a warrior should”, yet adding anything from the room into my inventory afterwards still resulted in a fiery death. I dragged the shield into my inventory and when the dragon sprayed me with fire the game stated that “the shield protects you from a burst of flame as the dragon tries to roast you”. I was then able to pick up the spear, the helmet and the war hammer without being toasted. Yet another small victory and I was on a roll!

But there's a treasure chest...surely I can just get the burns!!!!!!

At this point, given how well things were already going, I decided it was time to check in my “ask the audience” card and go and see this waterfall. I tried clicking on the waterfall and selecting “go”, but that just made me stand in the water with no positive outcome. I tried "operating" the waterfall but that didn’t do anything at all. Any attempts to access the area behind the waterfall were blocked due to a landslide and the game informed me that the rocks were too heavy to lift. Honestly, if Bobbyloathesme hadn’t given me the hint that I needed to do something with the waterfall, I would have left that screen and not thought about it again, certain that there was nothing more to do. Instead, given how adamant he was that I simply must see this splendid waterfall, I started double clicking on different spots on the screen to see if anything would happen. Suddenly I appeared in a little alcove, wondering how I got there. It turns out there’s one little shadowy spot just next to the waterfall that you have to double click on to gain access to the alcove, and since this is where you get your hands on the three gems that are of major importance in the game, I think that’s a bit unforgiving. Perhaps in other versions of the game (with more colours and better resolutions) the solution may have been more obvious, but I’m putting this down as the first example of a puzzle in Shadowgate that requires a bit too much luck to resolve.

The fact that there's an exit displayed on the minimap, and yet double clicking on it tells you the path is blocked, makes this particularly difficult

Thanking my lucky stars that the one hint I needed was the one I’d accidentally received, I set about figuring out what these gems were for. There were two places that quickly came to mind where I might be able to use them. The pedestal room, where there’s a hole in the wall, and the cave beyond the bridge room, where there’s a similar hole in the floor. I went to the cave first and the blue gem fit the hole perfectly, lowering the crack-filled wall and revealing an old wizard. “Heed my words, warrior!” he said. “The Warlock Lord can only be defeated by thy courage and the Staff of Ages. Remember, five must thou find. Three for the staff, on to be the key, and one to be thy pathway. Have the wits about thee, warrior! Fare thee well.” With that, the wall closes again and I’m left with a parchment on the ground. The parchment rather cryptically says “As the shadow of the wind, thou shalt be! Ulterior Humana.” I have no idea yet what that means, but perhaps I’ll know when I need to. With nothing else to do, I quickly moved onto the pedestal room and successfully slotted the white gem into the hole there. I was rewarded with a crystal sphere that would turn out to be extremely useful! The sphere was described as being “as cold as ice”, which gave me an idea...

A magical image of an old wizard? I guess projectors must have seemed pretty magical back in the eighties.

That damn skeleton with the key in the lake had been annoying me since I first came across it, so every time I picked up a new item, my first thought was whether it could be applied to that puzzle. In this case I wondered if the freezing sphere might help, so I “operated” it on the lake. The water froze up, allowing me to cross over and get the key! While I was trying to think about what I might do with that key, I wondered what would happen if I then melted the ice with my torch. The answer is that I was able to recollect the crystal sphere, so I happily placed it back in my inventory. Lucky I did too, because I was about to find another use for it! The only mystery I could think of that I still hadn’t solved was the mirror room, so that was my next destination. Looking through my inventory, I now had a war hammer that seemed the perfect thing to use to smash one of the mirrors with. I chose the middle one due to the surrounding gems and to my astonishment it actually smashed, revealing a locked door. That’s right, a locked door that just happened to be unlocked by the key I’d just found!

Did I need to smash the other mirror? Probably not. But damn it felt good!

Still not being able to believe how much progress I was making, and wondering what the hell I was about to come up against, I stepped through the door to be confronted by a bridge surrounded by fire and “a legendary firedrake” blocking my path. My attempts at burning and hitting it achieved nothing but death, and then I remembered the freezing sphere. Operating it on the firedrake didn’t work, so I tried it on the fire surrounding the bridge. Apparently he was getting all his power from the fire, so as soon as the sphere touched the flames, he vanished! I can very happily say that this is where I left the game session. Typically I finish game sessions at a point where I’m not entirely sure what to do next, hoping that a good night’s sleep will make the solution come to me (it works sometimes too!), but in this case, I don’t even know what is beyond the next door! I’m genuinely eager to get back to the game, which is not something I expected to say a few days ago. I’m not sure whether my excitement has more to do with my surprising success, or whether Shadowgate is actually a great game just yet, but one thing’s for’s far better and much more rewarding than Uninvited, which is just as well.

No ICOM gaming session would be complete without being ripped to pieces

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 00 minutes

Monday 26 March 2012

Game 14: Shadowgate - Death and Torches

Journal Entry 1: “I have entered the Warlock Lord’s domain! The wizard Lakmir magically transported me to the entrance of the castle, but not before he spoke these words: “Within the walls of the Castle Shadowgate lies your quest. If the prophecies hold true, the dreaded Warlock Lord will us his dark magic to raise the Behemoth, the deadliest of the Titans, from the depths of the earth. You are the seed of prophecy, the last of the line of kings, and only you can stop the Warlock Lord from darkening our world forever. Fare thee well.” On entering the castle I have been faced with many strange things, and the Warlock Lord mocks me, seemingly at every turn. Castle Shadowgate is a dark and deadly place, and I have to take great care not to set off the many traps that cover the path I must take. I have investigated all of the rooms that are immediately accessible to me, and a few that weren’t, but have come up against only dead ends. There is something I’m missing or something I need to do to continue, but so far my efforts have failed. I will focus my attention on the unscaleable wall in the chamber, the pedestal in the pedestal room, the skeleton in the lake, the mirrors in the mirror room, and the dragon in the lair, and hopefully I will find a way to proceed. The world depends upon my success!”

Somehow I doubt this is going to be a particularly good evening

Before I even begin to discuss the challenges I’ve faced in getting anywhere in Shadowgate, I feel it’s my duty to talk about the challenges I faced in simply getting the game to run properly. Someone reading this blog might wish to try their own hand at defeating the Warlock Lord or perhaps in future, someone searching for a way to get the game working might come across this post, so here goes. I’d already learnt, from my experiences playing Déjà Vu and Uninvited, that it’s important to put the game files somewhere on your C drive before trying to play the game through DOSBox.  I did that this time too and mounted a C drive to the path using DOSBox 0.74. The game started up perfectly, but I ran into problems as soon as I tried to save my progress (it just locked up). Knowing that I was definitely going to need to save my game regularly, I hopped onto the DOSBox site to see if there was any compatibility information for the game there. The site suggested that the game is compatible with DOSBox versions 0.58 and 0.62, but nothing later than that. Feeling chuffed that I’d found the solution, I downloaded and installed DOSBox version 0.62. The result was not pretty!

Here's an example of dying in the darkness of DOSBox 0.62

Once again, the game started up fine, and it even allowed me to save, but there were other noticeable issues that were going to be tough to ignore. Firstly, the graphics were extremely dark. Secondly, whenever the game tried to produce sound, no matter how short, I was subjected to between thirty seconds and a minute of gurgling noises. I could possibly ignore the darkness and the sounds, but sitting there waiting for control to return to me while the gurgling noises went on and one was going to be too much. It was then that Sir Charles (his name is just Charles, but I’m going to call him Sir Charles from now on) came to my rescue and introduced me to a little program called DBGL (DOSBox Game Launcher). As the name suggests, DBGL is a front end application that makes it easy to launch games using DOSBox. You can create profiles for each game so you only need to configure them once and play around with all the settings you probably could within DOSBox if you were smart enough (I’m not) using a clear and easy interface. I simply loaded the application, created a profile called Shadowgate (it’s even linked to Moby Games so it picks up all the basic information about the game), and set the Machine field (under the Machine tab) to “cga”. Running this profile from DBGL allows me to play Shadowgate using DOSBox 0.74 perfectly, which means the graphics and sound is fine and I can save my progress successfully.

DBGL - DOSBox for the technically challenged

Onto the game itself! Shadowgate is as difficult as I expected it to be. When I read Sir Charles’ comments on the introduction post, I hoped that my previous experience with ICOM games would stop me from getting stuck on the second screen the way he did. It didn’t! After entering the castle, there appears to be absolutely no way out of the first room, with two locked doors the only exits (apart from the front door back outside) and no key to be seen. I spent a good ten minutes pixel hunting and trying all sorts of stupid things before I decided to go back outside and see if I missed something. There’s a small skull just above the entrance, and it turns out you have to click on it and “open” it to retrieve a key that can then be used on one of the locked doors inside. This puzzle sets the standard of difficulty for the rest of the game that follows it, as each screen requires the player to take particular attention to everything and to try some things that are no immediately obvious. Speaking of trying things, there are many options available to the player that end in an abrupt yet painful death. There’s not really any way of predicting these game overs and I guess they should be seen as part of the fun, but I’ve pretty much been saving after everything I do that doesn’t result in instant death.

See how much better dying looks using DBGL?!

So what have I achieved so far? Well, after getting through the first of the two locked doors I very quickly got my hands on a second key (hidden within a book). This key opened the second locked door in the first room, which gave me access to a little closet containing a sling and a double-edged sword. Dragging these into my inventory, I ventured further off into the castle to explore. Basically, there’s two ways I can go. The first one leads to a chamber with an arrow on the wall. I’ve taken the arrow, but there appears to be no way of scaling the wall to access the door beyond. Any attempt results in part of the wall collapsing, so I assume I need an item to help me get up there. The second pathway leads to a hallway with three doors. The door on the left leads to a pedestal room, which is aptly named as it contains a large pedestal in the centre of it. I’ve tried doing various things with the pedestal without success. The room beyond the pedestal room holds a number of treasures and weapons, but any attempt to do anything with any of them results in a dragon disintegrating me with its fiery breath. I’ve tried throwing rocks at the dragon and “operating” my sword on it, but to no avail. Thankfully, I’ve had more success through the second door!

What was happening here? Hmmm...oh yeah, I was dying again!

The second door leads to a room containing six tombs. If I label the tombs one to six, this is what happened when I opened them: One – a banshee comes out screaming. This is there to scare the shit out of the player but has no other relevance from what I can see. Two – slime pours out of the tomb and any efforts to do anything with it or even get past it result in my death. Four – appears to be empty. Five – contains a leather pouch filled with gold coins. Six – contains a mummy. “Operating” the mummy achieved nothing as did speaking to it, so I did what any adventurer would do. I set it on fire. This actually worked, as burning the mummy revealed a King’s Sceptre which I eagerly added to my inventory. What about tomb three I hear you ask?! Well, this tomb leads to a mirror room. There’s a broom in there that I picked up, but I can’t yet see anything that I’m supposed to do with the mirrors. The centre one is surrounded by jewels whereas the other two are framed by oak, so I’m thinking the centre one holds some importance, but any attempts to do anything with them result in the game telling me the mirror seems to be protected by some sort of magic.

This is one of my favourite bits! Oh...not it's not, this is where I died again.

With nothing else to try in there (that I can think of), there was only one more doorway to go through. The third door leads to a lake that strangely has sharks in it. What’s even stranger is that there’s a skeleton figure standing in the lake holding a key. With no way to cross the lake without being eaten by a shark, I started slinging rocks at it, but that didn’t achieve anything. Just next to the lake is a pathway that leads to a waterfall, and it’s here that I collected all the rocks that I’ve been throwing with the sling. So…I currently am not sure what to try next. As I mentioned in the journal, the mirrors, the lake, the pedestal, the dragon lair and chamber wall are all of interest, and while I can’t currently think of what to try with any of them, I’m determined to have another shot at trying to progress unassisted. If you’re wondering whether Shadowgate is aggravating me as much as Uninvited, well the problems with that game still remain. The inventory is tedious, the CGA graphics make pixel hunting very difficult, but most of all the time limited is downright annoying. In Shadowgate, the time limit is implemented by making the player always have one lit torch. You keep collecting torches as you go, but if they all run out, you’re left in darkness and unable to continue. Despite this, I’m currently enjoying the challenge offered by Shadowgate and it at least offers small rewards whereas Uninvited offered very few. Only time will tell whether this enjoyment turns to frustration and rage.

Question: How do you know you're playing an ICOM game?
Answer: You get eaten by a castle shark trying to reach a skeleton standing on a lake holding a key.

Session Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

I stole this time idea from Zenic (with his blessing of course).

Saturday 24 March 2012

Weekly Poll Discussion

Another week flies by and another poll has run its course. Last week’s question was “What’s your favourite classic Sierra adventure series?” and as expected there were a lot of votes and a fair bit of discussion. As I commented earlier, I purposely left the Gabriel Knight series off the list as that didn’t start until the nineties, but the Laura Bow series was unfortunately an oversight. Apology’s to anyone who would have liked to vote for that series although I think I can safely assume it wouldn’t have topped the list. Here are the results in ranked order:

Quest For Glory (Hero’s Quest)   31 (39%)
Leisure Suit Larry                       16 (20%)
Space Quest                             12 (15%)
King’s Quest                             11 (14%)
Manhunter                                 4 (5%)
Police Quest                              4 (5%)

The glory just keeps on coming it seems!

I have to say that I’m a little surprised by the result, as I thought Space Quest might have done better and that Leisure Suit Larry might not have scored so well (that little underdog never fails to score!). That being said, I’m stoked to see Quest For Glory topping the poll as that’s my personal favourite and a series I’m very much looking forward to playing through again. Given how much I enjoyed Police Quest, the fact that it came in equal last really shows how solid the Sierra adventure games are overall. Once I get through the majority of them, it will be interesting to average out the scores of each series and see how they compare, although King’s Quest is certainly disadvantaged by being the first to launch the technology.

Time for another question and I’ve given this one quite a bit of consideration. Looking through games lists, it’s obvious that certain movie franchises transition very well into various video game genres, and many developers have tried to tap into existing fanbases over the years with varied success. When it comes to adventure games, the most notable movie series to make the transition are Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Sherlock Holmes and Star Trek, but others such as Jurassic Park, Batman and James Bond have been attempted as well. This week’s question is "Which movie series would you like to see made into an adventure game?” Your choice might be due to which would transition the best, or perhaps just which one you’d love to see, it’s totally up to you.

I’ve chosen some of the bigger movie franchises out there, all of which have been made into video games, but none of which have been made into adventure games. I've also tried to have a good mix of settings too, such as sci-fi, fantasy, gangster etc. Before anyone says it, I know there were adventure games based on Lord of the Rings back in the day, but they were interactive fiction rather than graphic adventure games. I’ve also taken the liberty of not including The Matrix because let’s face it, that would be shit! Feel free to raise any you others in the comments that you think would be great.

Friday 23 March 2012

Game 14: Shadowgate - Introduction

You would have thought that CGA might have gone away by 1988, four years after King's Quest

If there’s one thing that this blog has taught me, it’s that sheer determination and perseverance almost always leads to rewards. Apart from the games I’d already played through previously, I think there’s only been one game (Leisure Suit Larry) where I didn’t run into a significant brick wall at some point and even that game had me scratching my head a few times. Getting through Mortville Manor was a huge challenge for numerous reasons, not least of all the terrible translation and the illogicality of the plot. Both King’s Quest III and Maniac Mansion had their fair share of nasty puzzles that caused me no end of torment, but I persisted and was in every case rewarded to great satisfaction. However, there’s one game that sends shivers down my spine, and not for the reason it was likely designed. Uninvited! Just thinking about it makes me want to cower in the corner and tremble uncontrollably. No other game has given me so little in return for intense logical application or even determined trial and error. I wanted to enjoy the game…but I hated it!

If Shadowgate has a strange round grinning creature that just wants to fly, I'm quitting immediately

What’s any of the above got to do with the fourteenth game on my list? Well, ICOM released four games in total in their MacVenture series. Déjà Vu was the first (which was still challenging but nowhere near as frustrating), the second was Uninvited, and the third…yeah you guessed it…is Shadowgate. Call me a coward if you will, but I’m genuinely scared about starting this game, fearing that my next two weeks might be filled with tear-your-hair-out frustration and nights of aimlessly wandering around ugly CGA environments. It really doesn’t help that the little I’ve read about the game suggests the player dies at nearly every turn and Computer Gaming World’s review claimed the game was a step up in difficulty from Déjà vu and Uninvited. But…I’ve decided to man up, let go of all preconceptions, and go into Shadowgate expecting to win! It’s by far the most popular of the ICOM games, so it can’t be completely rubbish, and a few of you out there (Zenic for one) have commented that you enjoyed this game much more than Uninvited.

This cover suggests more horror than fantasy, but it's what's on the inside that counts right?

So what’s it all about? Shadowgate was originally released for Apple back in 1987 before being ported to numerous other formats including DOS in 1988. It uses the same interface as was used in the previous two MacVenture games and, unfortunately, was ported to DOS in glorious palette 1 CGA. While Déjà Vu was a detective game set in 1941 Chicago and Uninvited had a haunted house scenario, Shadowgate appears to have a fantasy setting (albeit a dark one) where the player takes the role of the “last of a great line of hero-kings”, with the aim of saving the world from an evil Warlock Lord who is attempting to summon a demon Behemoth from the fiery pits of Hell. The box artwork is fairly Lovecraft-ish so I imagine this might be a rather dirty affair, but I’ve learnt to never judge a book by its cover so we’ll see. Speaking of books, I notice Nintendo went through a phase of releasing game related books around 1991, and Shadowgate was one of the games chosen for the treatment. The book is a prequel called Before Shadowgate and I have no idea whether or not it should be recommended, so read at your risk! Anyway, I’ve downloaded the game and a manual (which is for the Apple, but I can’t imagine it differs all that much) and am ready to enter Castle Shadowgate. If I don’t hear from me within a couple of days, well...just know that I died an honourable death.

All I know is that Uninvited came Before Shadowgate, so I'm not rushing to the bookstore

Thursday 22 March 2012

Game 13: Police Quest I - Final Rating

Game 13 is in the bag and I imagine the PISSED rating system won’t be too unkind to Police Quest. There are obvious flaws that will bring down the total, but I think it does enough elsewhere to still be a contender. Time to find out!

Puzzles and Solvability
As I’m sure I’ve made it clear in my previous posts about Police Quest, almost the entire game is based around following procedures described in the manual as opposed to using logic and common sense to solve puzzles. The various scenarios that Sonny faces throughout the game, including the crash scene, the DUI, the weapon-packing criminal, and the drug bust, are all completed by opening the manual, finding the relevant instructions, and applying them to the situation with no alterations. It’s kind of fun to see things unfold, but there’s no real sense of achievement at the end of it all. On top of this, whenever you are struggling to figure out what to do, the game will often blatantly tell you, making the game overall pretty easy to complete. However, the few times Police Quest does put the ball in your court, demanding the player make some decisions of their own, the parser just isn’t up to the standard that games like Leisure Suit Larry had set (I’ll talk about that in the next section). Overall, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the procedural based scenarios, but they held no real challenge and therefore gave no real satisfaction.
Rating: 4

Making the player check whichever car their going to drive every time they want to use it does not result in fun

Interface and Inventory
I might as well cover the text parser while I’m already talking about it. While the underlying technology behind the parser in Police Quest is the same as it was in previous Sierra adventure games, in this instance not much effort seems to have been made to allow the player multiple commands for any given task. You want to ask about the transmitter pen? Ask about pen doesn’t work. Ask about transmitter does! You want to take the FBI Most Wanted List page out of the clipboard? Take page doesn’t work. Take list does! This leads to false negatives, where the player is put off the correct path through no fault of their own. The only other differences in interface between this game and the others I’ve already played are the mini-games, which play more of a role here than they have previously. You spend a lot of time driving and playing poker, so it’s good news that the interface to these is solid. Driving around is pretty easy and while doing it at higher speeds is not, the same could easily be said for real life too! The only strange thing to note about that is that you can drive backwards or forwards with no discernible difference, which doesn’t match the reality that has been applied to the majority of the game. The inventory is as you would expect and not worth mentioning.
Rating: 5

I'd pull over too if the cop pursuing was keeping up with me whilst driving backwards!

Story and Setting
I’m not even sure there is technically a story to speak of in Police Quest. The game is broken up into numerous separate scenarios, most of which have no connection to any overarching plot. The developers did try to inject some ongoing subplots, such as the gremlin practical joker in the station, the Sweet Cheeks romance, and Sonny’s friend Jack having issues with his daughter’s drug problem, but none of them run full circle, either never receiving a resolution or reaching one with no real lead up. Calling the game Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is pretty misleading, as no mention is made of the Death Angel until the undercover situation that closes the game. It’s not like you spend the game trying to hunt him down and get caught up in other situations on the way. I’m not going to be too harsh here, as the developers achieved exactly what they set out to do. I just think they could have included a real plot and still given the player the chance to use real life police procedures.
Rating: 5

Jessie Bains! OMG!!!! It's actually Jessie did you say it was again?!

Sound and Graphics
The sound effects are pretty much identical to other Sierra games of this period (minimal usage and low quality). As for the music, I can’t say it was particularly memorable, which is exactly what I said for the last game Margaret Lowe worked on, King’s Quest III. She seems to have a knack for creating adequate yet completely forgettable music for Sierra adventure games. The graphics are also as you expect, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that Police Quest has the most variety out of all the games I’ve played so far. The game isn’t limited to the Police Station and takes the player out onto the road and to locations as various as the cafeteria, a bar, the city jail, the beachfront, the local nightclub, the courthouse, the city park, and a grand hotel. All of these locations are convincing and colourful, and I imagine Mark Crowe must have had significantly more time to produce all the graphics required than he did for the likes of Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. I still can’t justify giving the game the first 6 (if the music had been better, I might have) for sound and graphics, so it’s 5 again.
Rating: 5

Plenty of room at the Hotel Delphoria. Any time of year, you can find it here.

Environment and Atmosphere
The developers did a great job of making Lytton feel like a real, thriving community. Not only does the player gain access to all the locations I spoke about in the Sound and Graphics category, they also get a top down view of the whole city while driving around. This really does give Police Quest the most complete game world that I’ve experienced so far, so the game certainly deserves credit for that. If you’ve ever seen the movie Police Academy, then you’ll know what that type of humour is like, and some of that has been injected into Police Quest. However, there are certain scenes that have a much more serious tone, and I think this works given the very real threat that Sonny faces during them. The pulling over of Marvin Hoffman (later known as Jason Taselli) is a highlight on this front. The atmosphere in the game jumps around a bit due to this mixing of comedy and serious police work, but I think it works overall, which is probably why I enjoyed the game so much despite all my criticisms.
Rating: 7

Take Police Academy, add a little bit of L.A. Confidential, and a touch of Casino Royale, and mix! What do you get!? (Actually, you probably wouldn't get Police Quest, but I tried you know?)

Dialogue and Acting
I can’t be sure, but I’d imagine Police Quest has the most dialogue of any of the games so far. When I scan the hundred plus screenshots that I took whilst playing, the first thing I notice is just how many of them are filled with words rather than images. I imagine anyone playing this game back in the 80s would have been forced to take a lot of notes on paper, although there admittedly is a notepad and pen in the game that you can use to write important things down. Jim Walls input into the game gives all of this dialogue a certain level of authenticity, but Al Lowe’s silliness (and I say that with the utmost respect) is just as evident. The one area where the game doesn’t match up to say, Leisure Suit Larry, is the level of optional detail in each scene. In that game, you could ask about pretty much anything on any screen and get a relevant and often hilarious response. In Police Quest, undoubtedly due to the game giving the player such little room for experimentation, most requests are met with default responses such as “it’s not important” or “you don’t have one”. It’s a bit tough to criticise the game too much for dialogue that isn’t there rather than the stuff that is though, so I’m giving the game a 6 for Dialogue and Acting.
Rating: 6

Hang on, did I just give this game a 6 for dialogue? Nah...I couldn't have!

Police Quest gets a PISSED rating of 52, which is the same score that Below the Root and King's Quest III received. They're very different games to this one with different strengths and weaknesses, but I'm not unhappy with that result. It rightfully came in below Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry and didn't come close to Maniac Mansion, and that's the way it should be. I'll be very interested to see what parts 2 and 3 are like, as I have no idea whether they continue on with the procedural style puzzles or take it in a different direction altogether. But, they're a long way off, especially when I may not survive Shadowgate! It's time...

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Game 13: Police Quest I - Won!

Sonny Bonds Journal Entry 3: “It seems my day from hell has ended in the most unexpected way. I, Sonny Bonds, have taken out Jessie Bains (aka The Death Angel)! Not without a fair share of drama I’ll add, which when combined would probably be enough to write a book about one day. At the end of my last entry, I was trying to find a way to make sure Jason Taselli stayed behind bars. After trying and failing to figure out how to use the station printer, I ended up ripping off the FBI Most Wanted List I’d seen on the narcotics clipboard, hoping it would be enough to convince Judge Palmer. It was! With Taselli behind bars, Laura and I responded to a drug deal tipoff in the city park. It was a pretty nerve-wracking experience, but we arrested the dealer that’s been causing so much trouble at the local High School, along with some stupid kid that will probably get a slap on the wrist. It’s at this point where my day took a dramatic turn for the worse!

Another fine enactment of crime fighting that sadly involves merely following instructions to complete

Taselli had escaped prison just hours after I’d put him there, and a short while later, I was identifying his body down at Cotton Cove. Someone obviously wasn’t happy with the way the bust went down, and I soon found out whom that someone was! My next task was to go undercover and infiltrate the gambling scene at the Delphoria Hotel. I died my hair blonde and dressed up in the most ridiculous suit, but it obviously worked as I was in the secret back room playing poker in no time. Not only that, I won my way into a higher stake game later in the evening, where I was once again victorious. One of the players I beat turned out to be Jessie Bains, the number one most wanted man around, and he invited me up to his penthouse suite to discuss a business opportunity. I took the opportunity and thankfully I had back up, as someone tipped him off that I was a cop! I took him down before he could do any damage and The Death Angel will be spending a significant amount of time (as in the rest of his life) behind bars!”

The Death Angel goes down, the ultra-violent way! (First person to get my little joke gets 10 points, and it has nothing to do with Clockwork Orange)

Sorry for the long intro, but I’ve got through a heck of a lot in the last two nights leading up to the completion of Police Quest. In total, it’s taken me eight and a half hours to finish, and I’ll say straight up (before I make a bunch of criticisms) that I enjoyed the experience overall. It’s not going to top the leader board when all is said and done, but it won’t be a long way off either. I won’t spend too much time in this post giving overall impressions though and will leave that to the Final Rating post tomorrow. There’s still plenty to talk about that came out of the last third of the game, and I’ll start with where I left off last time. The downside of having a blog like this one is that a growing number of people watch me making mistakes and struggling through sections of games that are really quite easy. There are undoubtedly going to be times, if there haven’t already been some (the cell in Maniac Mansion for example), where you guys just can’t believe that I haven’t been able to solve something when the solution is right there in front of me. This has to be expected though as regardless of how simple things appear, one misunderstanding or one wrong command in adventure games can lead to misdirection and confusion. My printer woes in Police Quest are a perfect case in point!

The clipboard that made me look like a fool in front of all my friends! :(

You see, you don’t need to print anything in Police Quest. Nor do you need the computer that I found the warrant for Jason Taselli on. In fact, there’s absolutely no reason to ever go into the computer room in the police station in the first place. This begs the question of course…why is it there? Developers of adventure games have a bit of a balancing act to perform. On the one hand that want to create an environment that feels real and that has great depth, but on the other hand, they want to avoid drawing the player’s attention to irrelevant information and unintentional red herrings. Would a police station have a computer room? Sure...why not! But there’s not a single other room in the whole game where something doesn’t happen, so I don’t think I can be blamed for spending time in there trying to achieve something out of nothing. However, this red herring is not really the issue at heart when it comes to this particular puzzle. The issue is that all I needed to take with me to Judge Palmer, to convince him not let the suspect go free on bail, was the file from the cabinet, which I had, and the FBI Most Wanted List on the clipboard, which I’d read many times over. When I first read the FBI List, it seemed an obvious item to take to convince the judge, but my command “take page” was met with “take it where?”. I then tried to take the clipboard itself, but my command was met with “the clipboard cannot leave the narcotics office”. These two responses led me to believe that the evidence I needed was elsewhere, and when I found the Federal Warrant on the computer, that seemed to be the logical answer. Well, we all know how that went!

The first room I checked out in the game and the only one where I didn't do anything.

The answer in the end was to “take list” instead of “take page”, but it took some hints from Alfred and Tk for me to even try that (10 points to Alfred for getting in first, 10 points to Tk for such a spoiler free hint). All of this could have been avoided if the developers had been a little less finicky with what commands players could use in certain instances. I don’t recall other Sierra games being as painfully pedantic as Police Quest is when it comes to getting the words exactly right, and I’ll briefly jump ahead to another important section of the game to give another example of the pain it caused me. After cleaning up at the poker table for the first time, Jessie Bains told me to come back later and join him for a more private game where the stakes would be higher. I headed back up to my room, as there didn’t seem to be any other apparent thing to do in the meantime. Once I arrived, my backup team entered the room and told me they would have my back when I met up with Jessie again later on. Before leaving them, I took a look over the earlier screenshots where the undercover plan is first discussed, to see if there was anything else I needed to do. There was mention of two items I would need, the first being a gun hidden within my cane, and the second being a pen with a transmitter in it. I had the cane on me, but I couldn’t see the pen in my inventory. I thought I should ask the backup team whether they had the pen, so I typed “ask about pen”. The response was “how can you do that?”

Man, I just love to dance! Just gotta move my body you know! Ooohhhh... By the way, does anyone have a pen!?

Having at least asked the question and thinking that perhaps the pen was on me already (just not showing in my inventory), I went back downstairs and spent another twenty minutes playing poker, winning poker, following Jessie up to his penthouse, and then getting shot and killed because I didn’t have any way of telling my backup team where I was. Reloading back to when my backup and I are standing in my room, I tried “ask about transmitter” instead of “ask about pen”, and was subsequently given the device! I had to go and win numerous hands of poker all over again due to the game not accepting the word “pen” when describing a transmitter in the shape of a pen. You could argue that in these instances I should have spent more time asking the question in a different way, but the game gives you no indication that asking in any way might result in anything other than “how can you do that?” It doesn’t say “Bob doesn’t have a pen” or “you don’t need a pen”. Neither does the game make it clear as to whether the pen is something you need to get from the backup team. You’re told you will need it at some point, but not where to get it, who to get it from, or even if you already have it (why wouldn’t they just give it to me with the rest of the attire?). I can only describe it as lazy writing, which is surprising given how incredibly thorough Al Lowe in particular was for Leisure Suit Larry.

The two rules of poker success: 1) Never tell everything you know.

Thankfully, given that I had to spend a lot of time playing poker to finish the game, it’s fairly well implemented in Police Quest. I really enjoy poker and fancy myself to win a few hands here or there, and I think for the most part it plays ok here. I did notice that the opponents tended to fold more often than not when I had a good hand, suggesting some cheating AI, but overall I was able to apply the same tactics I would in real life with good results. A word of warning for anyone hoping to play the game down the track, make sure you set the game speed to fastest before sitting down at the table. The amount of time you spend waiting for cards to be dealt, for chips to be put down, and for decisions to be made is absolutely mind numbingly long if you have it on normal or even fast. Regardless of how good the poker minigame is, I did find it a little unusual to spend the last hour of an adventure game playing cards. Everything wraps up extremely quickly once you leave the table and in fact, there is absolutely no action needed by the player other than walking from the card room to the penthouse. The rest unfolds without user interaction, making the big climax feel less than satisfying in my opinion. I’ll save the rest of my ranting (and add some positives) to the Final Rating post, which I should be able to write tomorrow. For now, I’m going to prepare a little bit for one of the more daunting projects I’ve had since...well...since Mortville Manor. It’s nearly time for Shadowgate! I’m scared...really scared!

Nothing says victory like pashing a prostitute called Sweet Cheeks in front of the whole town. Living the dream!

Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Design of Advolution - Part One

Since my idea for introducing a feature to The Adventure Gamer that would follow which games introduced certain features to the genre was met with interest, I've started to put together a list of the various categories that might be included along with the various features that would be listed in each. Below is a first draft, which makes no attempt to list each possible element for every category (that will happen over time). At this point I'm really just looking for feedback on the categories, but you're all welcome to discuss to features within each while we're at it. The key will be to make sure the system is kept fairly broad, otherwise it will very rapidly get out of control, while also not restricting it so much that very little ever changes. Adding categories and features down the track might require going back and re-evaluating all previous games played, so we should try to get it as right as possible before launching it.

Oh, and before I start, what do you think of the name Advolution? I notice it's been used for a couple of other things, including a search engine and marketing company, but it serves the purpose and rolls off the tongue. I'm open to other suggestions as always.

DIALOGUE: Branching Conversation Trees, One-Way Interaction, Two-Way Interaction

GAMEWORLD: Linear Progression, Open-Ended


INTERFACE: Text Parser, Point and Click, Hybrid

INVENTORY: Limited, Unlimited

MINIGAME: Fighting, Strategy, Racing

MISCELLANEOUS: Game Score, Dead Ends, Game Over Scenarios, Multiple Playable Characters, Time Limit


PERSPECTIVE: First Person, Third Person

PRESENTATION: Slideshow, 2D, 3D

PUZZLES: Multiple Solutions, Maze

SOUND: PC Speaker, Digitised Sound, Speech Synthesis

STORY: Branching Storylines, Multiple Endings

THEME: Adult, Detective/Mystery, Medieval/Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi/Futuristic

Sunday 18 March 2012

Game 13: Police Quest I - Epic Printer Fail

Sonny Bonds Journal Entry 2: “As if my day hadn’t already had enough excitement, I’ve now had to deal with overly aggressive bikies, an insanely drunk driver, a depressed pal, and last but certainly not least, a revolver packing criminal on the run! It seems that everywhere I go in this godforsaken town, there’s something I need to deal with. Lucky I’m trained for this stuff! Those bikies knew they never had a chance once I got my nightstick out and they left the bar without any further trouble. As for the drunk driver and “Marvin Hoffman”, the narcotics freak that tried to ruin my day, they’re both spending some time behind bars after taking a ride in my patrol car. Speaking of patrol cars, I don’t think I’ll be spending much time in them from now on, as I’ve received a promotion to the narcotics department! I’ll be working with Laura Watts and will be driving around in unmarked cars in casual attire, at least for the foreseeable future. My first case is try to get something on Mr Hoffman that will convince Judge Palmer not let this obvious criminal out on bail. I think I’ve got enough to nail him too, as I’ve found an FBI warrant for Jason Taselli, who often goes under the alias of...yeah you guessed it...Marvin Hoffman. I just need to figure out how to use this damn printer!”

Just remember kids, there's nothing funny about people driving under the influence...a young swan attempting take off...bahahahaha

My last couple of Police Quest sessions have continued in a similar fashion to the first one, with slightly more emphasis on logical deduction rather than merely following procedure. The game is extremely linear, with one success leading to another assignment pretty much immediately, and there’s never any doubt about what you are required to achieve next. Apart from the minutes of cruising around town in the patrol car, waiting to witness a felony or for a call to come through on the radio, there’s a general sense of urgency that pushes the game ever forward. There’s always somewhere that Sonny needs to be, whether it be the station, a bar, the courthouse, the jail etc., and often he needs to be there within the next fifteen minutes, so there’s just no time (or need) to muck around and search every screen the way you would in most adventure games. I still haven’t decided how much I like the game, and I might not be able to make a real judgement until I find out how it all wraps up at the end. It’s certainly quite different to every other game on the list so far and makes for a refreshing change, but whether or not being coaxed through a day in the life of a police officer is satisfying enough once all is said and done, could very come down to personal preference.

Al Lowe just had to get a half naked woman into Police Quest somehow!

While the game is still holding my hand a fair bit and requires following manual procedures more than it does brain power, there have been a couple of places where it surprisingly hasn’t, resulting in my progress being delayed. It’s these times that you realise the developers of the game really had their hands tied. Considering how little knowledge the average person has about the goings on in the day of a policeman, they had no choice but to give as much instruction as was required. After all, real cops don’t learn on the job do they!? The game (and the manual) made it pretty obvious that to make the bikies leave the bar, you need to use physical force, ideally with a nightstick. What neither the game nor the manual told me is where that nightstick is located. I’d collected everything I needed from my locker and around the station in general, but I’d never come across a nightstick. I eventually just tried typing “get nightstick” while I was sitting in the patrol car and was pretty surprised (not to mention ecstatic) when the game responded with “ok”. Did I just miss something or is there no lead to let you know that the nightstick is in the car? Maybe it’s just common knowledge that cops leave nightsticks in the patrol car when not on duty and my lack of cop knowledge is to blame? Or maybe, I should be grateful that the game for once didn’t hand the solution to me on a platter instead of complaining! Either way, once I had it, merely taking it out in the bar was enough to make the bikies run away with their tails between their legs.

Run home and cry to mama!

Pulling over the hilariously drunk dude and administering the alcohol test was a more straight forward affair, literally following the manual instructions step by step before driving him to jail. I’ll admit that I suffered a game over here for not putting my gun in the locker at the front of the jail, resulting in my prisoner grabbing it and shooting me as soon as I took his cuffs off, but that’s a mistake I’ll only make once (and I assume many have made before me). Capturing Marvin Hoffman was a surprisingly tense and cinematic experience, with a real sense of imminent danger given to the scene. It was still just a matter of following instructions though: exit car, draw weapon, command suspect to exit vehicle, command suspect to stop, put their hands in the air and lie face down, cuff suspect, search suspect, read suspect rights, put them in the car and drive them directly to jail. Failure to do any of these steps in that exact order results in your death, but the manual very clearly tells you what to do and in what order. I got stuck at the jail for a while once the guard asked me what Mr Hoffman was being booked for. The game didn’t seem to like any of my answers (murder, evading police, speeding, homicide, unlawful possession of a firearm). I eventually started trying different codes that were listed in the manual for each of the above crimes, but they wouldn’t work either. Finally I tried narcotics, which a radio transmission had suggested the suspect had a prior arrest for, and it worked. Given all the other things this guy has done wrong, I felt that was a little bit pedantic.

This was a great scene that brilliantly mixes adventure style commands with cinematic excitement

By this point in the game, it appeared that my progress was only going to be halted by "find the right  command" problems, and that keeping the manual at my side at all times would likely be enough to get me through. However, Police Quest had a surprise for me. I’m presently pretty damn stuck! My first case in the narcotics department is to find any evidence that might stop the judge from releasing Marvin Hoffman on bail. Basically this evidence needs to be found within the station itself, and it took me all of about one minute to find what I considered to be enough to keep the guy under lock and key. I checked out a file in the narcotics cabinet that showed me all the details on Marvin Hoffman, including photos. I then found an FBI Most-Wanted List on a clipboard in the office that had the same dude going under the name of Jason Taselli, who sometimes goes under the alias Hoffman. Heading into the computer room, I searched the database for Jason Taselli and found a federal warrant for the guy, which included his alias Marvin Hoffman. So what’s the problem I hear you ask? Case closed, get to the courtroom! Well, I tried that, but unless I can give them actual evidence of the warrant, I get thrown out in contempt of court. The most obvious solution would be to print the warrant, and the computer does appear to have a printer, but I can’t see any way to make that happen. Any command while using the terminal is treated as search criteria and any commands about printing while not using the terminal result in a negative. I’m still not certain whether this is yet another find the right command problem or something else entirely. Well...I was criticising the game for being too easy. It’s time to face the challenge!

A shame they didn't have iPhones back in the eighties

Friday 16 March 2012

Weekly Poll Discussion

Rather unsurprisingly, last week’s question (should Psycho be added to the list of 1988 games The Adventure Gamer will play?) has ended up with a positive outcome. The results of the poll are below:

Yes, it’s a really great game that shouldn’t be ignored!                         3 Votes (6%)
Yes, it’s the little known games I enjoy reading about most.                 33 votes (66%)
No, for the love of God, don’t play that terrible excuse for a game!         6 votes (12%)
No, I’d rather The Trickster not waste his time on little known games.    8 votes (16%)

I’d love to know who chose option 1 and whether they’ve actually played the game (anyone want to own up to it?). Regardless, that’s 36 positives to 14 negatives, which is pretty comprehensive. I’ll be playing Psycho!

Can anyone tell me which scene in Hitchcock's Psycho had a ghost in it?

This week’s poll is going to be a little more fun and will have no ramifications on the blog. I previously had a poll asking which setting people enjoyed the most in their adventure games, but that particular poll turned out to be fundamentally flawed. This time I’m going to be a little more specific and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you find it challenging to commit to an answer.

What’s your favourite classic Sierra adventure series? Keep in mind that the question is about the full series', not one particular game in each.

It seems a fitting question, given that I’m playing through Police Quest right now. I know which series I’d personally like to see come out on top (can you guess?), but I’ll be very interested to see what everyone else thinks.