Why Adventure Games peaked so early

In this interview with Al Lowe (creator of Leisure Suit Larry and other Sierra adventure games), he makes a point about why Adventure games were so popular early on and then flamed out so quickly that I never considered: basically in the 80s and early 90s the majority of people who owned PCs were the type of people that enjoyed solving problems and puzzles. As PCs became more mainstream, the amount of people who liked that got diluted and thus those games started selling less and less (I am extrapolating his point somewhat). That makes a lot of sense to me and I never thought of it. I certainly fit that mold. Just curious what others thought.

Interesting point, I would add that massive advances in graphics and the shift to a more visually-oriented gaming experience also played a part.

King’s Quest and Space Quest (NOT Liesure Suit Larry because I was in my early teens and my mother would have flipped her lid if I’d even mentioned it :D) were and still are some of my favorite games. Actually I still play the old Infocom text-based games for the puzzle-solving aspect.

I have wondered off and on why they fell out of fashion, but Al Lowe’s point makes sense. I wonder if they also had a hard time competing with console RPGs which got big around the same time.

It’s interesting to consider: forecasting the state of gaming by extrapolating Lowe’s premise an appropriate distance in time allows you to forsee the rise of “games” like Farmville or even the “Gotta loot 'em all” nature of MMORPGs.

Computers are now common, so computer users are now common too. So very common.

I miss Myst.

Do you have realMyst yet? You can get it on Steam, or I’ve seen it for sale on Amazon too. :slight_smile:

It’s probably more that better game genres were developed and adventure games got so convoluted as to render them unplayable, like that terrible Gabriel Knight 3 moped puzzle.

As far as recent Adventure games, there are still some decent ones being made. (I am linking to their Steam store pages, because they often have trailers.) Dear Esther is good. So is Machinarium. If you like adventure games with a horror twist, try Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I tried the demo for that, and it is on my Steam Wishlist now. Warp looks good, got it on my wishlist. Stacking looks fun too. Trine is a good platformer. Though I don’t own it, Cave Story is said to be a really good platformer too. Of course, you already have Portal and** Portal 2**, don’t you? :wink:

Did you play all 5 games? Unlike so many other series, they actually made good sequels each time, especially Myst IV.

Book of Unwritten Tales, which I have yet to play(installed on my PC, though), gets very positive reviews.

Tales of Monkey Island is new and very, very good. It’s Monkey Island 5, really.
One game that gets too little attention is Dark Fall. Along with it, Dark Fall 3 is one of the best adventure games of the last few years.

Seconding Mahaloth’s Dark Fall series nod.

Personally, I think one reason they’re less popular nowadays is because many of them lack replayability. I never bothered playing Leisure Suit Larry more than once, personally.

I’m leaning this way.

Yes, Al, that’s why.

That’s why actual puzzle games, RPGs with puzzle elements, and so forth also died.

It couldn’t possibly be the genre’s reliance on moon logic puzzles (or, at best, puzzles whose logic only makes sense after you solve them), pixel hunts, and unwinnable scenarios. Which, of course, make problem/puzzle solving impossible.

The whole genre has been experiencing a bit of a resurgence on the indie scene on PC. It’s not as mainstream as it once was, but there’s a consistent number of games coming out which end up being very highly scored. Many have found popularity by streamlining the user interface, and engaging the player a bit more mechanically with what’s going on than adventure games of old.

Recently I’ve enjoyed games like To the Moon and Machinarium as well as Amnesia Dark Descent. And I’m looking forward to a few like:

Lucius
Botanicula
Lone Survivor
Machine for Pigs
Stasis
Gemini Rou
J.U.L.I.A
Oh and let’s not forget The Walking Dead (episode 1 was pretty amazing!) and the upcoming RESET.

In addition to the indie games that folks have been mentioning, the adventure genre has made a home in flash games. Kongregate has hundreds of entries in its Adventure & RPG section; many of the popular ones are in the classic point-and-click problem-solving style–consider The Several Journeys of Reemus, for example. Platforming adventure has its entries as well, including the William and Sly games. The games tend to be fairly short, but they often turn into series if they prove popular; I think there are four or five Reemus games.

Outside such niches, adventure games seem to have been subsumed, rather than vanished. Adventure elements crop up in other genres to vary the play experience. Key puzzles seem particularly common; RPGs and FPS games often lock areas behind them, logically enough. There are others, though–trade sequence puzzles show up in RPGs, and FPS games with stealth elements are often similar to avoidance puzzles and mazes.

Even an MMO is getting into the act–I listed some gameplay types I had come across in The Secret World MMO in another thread, and some of them are very adventure-like. Following trails, solving puzzles with out-of-game information (non-trivial puzzles, too), riddles, key puzzles, avoidance puzzles, and the like. Sure, it has the usual MMO activities, but it also has a whole category of quests–“investigative missions”–devoted to making you use your brain, rather than your power tray.

The upshot is, I think, that adventure is still out there, both in pure and mingled forms. In fact, there may be more, and more varied, adventure games than ever. Other genres have grown up around them, borrowing from them and often overshadowing them, but adventure is still hale.

Wow! :eek: You really haven’t seen any Adventure games very lately at all, have you?! :frowning:

The precursors to MMORPGs are not King’s Quest or other adventure-type games. Those precursors existed before PCs existed even. Avatar and Oubliette were the MMORPGs of their day (end of 70s and early 80s) on mainframe PLATO systems, where you ran in parties of 2 to 5 people, interacted with other players (there were usually 30-40 people in the dungeon at any one time), and killed/looted everything that moved.

The quality of adventure games now has nothing to do with their death in the 90’s, though.

I wasn’t addressing your posts? :confused: I was addressing something another poster said, that indicated to me that they hadn’t even looked at an adventure game in some time.

cckerberos post is exactly on point.

Adventure games not being made by people who are idiots and/or sadists now has absolutely nothing to do with Lowe’s commentary (which is about why the genre faded out in the 90s, blaming it on the players instead of the creators), and thus absolutely nothing to do with my post, which was in reply to it.