Friday, 16 March 2012

Idea for New Site Feature

I’m working on a new project and I’d love to get as much input as I can. Given that I'll be playing through hundreds of adventure games and experiencing the evolution of the genre in chronological order, it just makes sense that I log that evolution as I go. I’ve therefore decided to build a list that shows the first time certain elements appeared in an adventure game as well as the last time. I’ll give you an example of what it might look like:

I can think of stacks of other elements, ranging from branching storylines, multiple puzzle solutions, progress scores, text parser interface, multiple playable characters etc. etc.  What do you guys think of the idea? If it’s something you’d like to see, then I will do a first draft, but it’s really going to be something that would require input from the community. There are questions that would need to be answered such as:
  • Would the list only include games that I’m playing for the blog or would it include any adventure game?
  • What would we do where two games from the same year introduced (or were last to contain) a certain element and no definitive dates could be found for at least one of them?
  • Should all formats of each game be considered? For example, if a game was released on DOS and Windows, should both be taken into account or just the more advanced of the two?
Anyway, I’m putting it out there and hoping to get some feedback. We can figure out the minor details if and when it’s launched. If anyone has any other input about how The Adventure Gamer blog can be improved or expanded, please speak up. This site is as much about the community as it is the games, so I want it to be a place you all love visiting regularly. :)


  1. Sounds like more polls.
    Here's what I think:

    1) Only games played for the blog
    2) List both
    3) If you're taking multiple releases into account, then you should compare the release with games of that era. DOS released in 1988 compared to other 1988 games, and Windows release in 1996 compared to 1996 games.

  2. A really nice idea. My two cents about the specifics:

    1) I, like Zenic Reverie, think you must restrict the list to the games you’re blogging about.
    2) Better list the two. If the month is known, you can aknowdlege that.
    3) I don’t really understand this question.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure if you must consider the “Last Example” or how that item is going to work. With some of the elements it could work: for example, last game published for Amiga. But others, like third person perspective or unlimited inventory, aren’t that relevant because the current games have those characteristics.

    Beside the categories that appear in the sheet, I think the “interface” category is a must, with elements like parser, point and click with verbs, point and click with nouns, inteligent cursor, etc.

  3. I'm echoing Zenic's answers, and I vote yes on the overall idea. It's a really good one. Kudos! :)

  4. @Manny: Please be aware that I'm not planning to cover non-PC formats. Basically it would include PC Booter, DOS and Windows versions. To explain the question further, there may be some games out there that have different features on each format (perhaps there's a game that has CGA graphics on DOS but EGA on windows). Would that game be considered as having CGA graphics? I'm thinking the answer is yes, but that I'd need to be specific about which version in the list to save confusion.

    1. You’re right. I forgot about that. And now that I understand the third question with your example, I agree with Zenic.

  5. I also realise that many introduced features remain with the genre right up until today, but I think the interesting thing will be to see when they were introduced and by which game.

  6. I really like the idea as well, and I think it would be a nice tool to see the evolution of the genre.

    I have the same concern that Manny about the "last" feature. For example, I've recently played an excellent 2006 indie adventure game (which I strongly recommend by the way), called "Trilby's Notes". It uses a text parser. IMHO, The problem is that, even if it's listed as the last to use a feature, it would be irrelevant compared to knowing what game effectively concluded the massive use of said feature. (Granted, Leisure Suit Larry VII used it for easter eggs search, but it was released at a time where text parser use was already a dead feature).

    I'm not giving any idea how to overcome this, because I don't have any. The "first game" column is a given and it would justify the creation of the database in itself, but I'm afraid the "last game" one is prone to endless debate (which could be an interesting thing, though).

    As for my opinion on the questions asked, I agree with Zenic's ones as well.

  7. And by the way, Trick, I'm sorry, but I still have the captcha thing when I post on your blog ;)

  8. This is a great idea! I would also answer your questions like Zenic did.

    Like Manny and Alfred have already said, the "last feature" -element is questionable. In "hardware" issues it might apply - there might be really be a last adventure game made for DOS or using CGA - but in case of game mechanics, old ideas tend to be recycled (e.g. parser can still be used, although it's quite rare).

    Now, if you really wanted to use your blog for following trends in the use of game mechanics features, you should probably make another list, where you would for each year write down how many games used limited inventory and how many unlimited etc. This might actually be a valuable tool for adventure game historians, because one could use it to see how some features (like parser) "fall out of fashion", while others take their place. I don't know how much effort such a list would require, so I'll just leave this as a suggestion.

    1. I don't think it would take much more effort to keep a tally. The challenge would be remembering all the features of all the earlier games I've played if and when we add an element to the list. Ideally we would agree on a list of features from the get go and try to stick with it, otherwise it would definitely become tiresome.

      I'll see what I can come up with.

  9. Is this still going? I'd think it'd be interesting to see an update of how things have changed over the last 30'ish games.

    1. Definitely a cool thing to see, I'd forgotten about this.

      Dammit, I've been doing so much spoiler discussion I almost ROT13ed this by mistake.

    2. To be honest, I got discouraged after I noted how little things change technically from game to game. I decided it was best to focus on playing and posting, as that takes up about fifteen to twenty hours a week as it is.

      I may go back to it one day and get it up to date.

    3. Sounds reasonable. Rama knows I wouldn't have the time to put in the kind of effort you are at the moment.

      Maybe think about doing one-off summaries say, every five years of game releases? That way it hopefully wouldn't add much to the general level of work, and things would probably change a bit during those years.