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 Post subject: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:06 pm 
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Hey guys, I love the remakes, and I highly believe that you all are king's among men for doing all this work and busting your hump just for the love of the adventure game genre...a love that i'm sure many of us on this website share.

But I guess the fact that you all work so long and hard on these games raises a question for me...why AGS? I mean, I get that it's easy to use and stuff, but there are 3D engines out there that can easily be used to render 2D games at high resolution with beautiful anti-aliasing and whatnot. It just seems like a shame that you have artists like Eriq drawing these beautiful high-res pictures for the site, and then the games are 320x200 resolution.

I'm not a graphics biggot or anything, it's just that i'm sure that you have master copies of the sprites that are at a much higher resolution, and then you had to dumb them down to low res until the eyes are just a couple of dots on the screen. I know that using a modern engine would increase the requirements for the game, but honestly...anyone that still has a Pentium 133mhz deserves to be dragged out to the street and shot. Just thinking about it...the prospect of being able to play the original King's Quest at 1080p... it's enough to make me cream my pants just a little.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:44 pm 
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The reason is AGDI wanted to recreate the games with the nostalgic feeling of the Sierra games of the mid 90s. I think almost everyone can agree that those were the best times for Sierra's games. The games were great and the graphics were beautiful. There's something about pixelated 320x200 256 colour backgrounds that's a beauty all its own.

Plus it would've taken 10 times as long to complete each game (in QFG2VGA years, that's a long time!). Higher resolution means more fine-tuned details in backgrounds, more detailed sprites, and more animation frames. Generally the higher the resolution you go the more fluid the animations need to look. So if you up a game from 320x200 to 640x400, for instance, you'd need twice the amount of frames in each sprite's animation to make it look acceptable. To go even higher would be even crazier.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 2:19 am 
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Sigh. You just don't get it, do you?

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:22 am 
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hetfieldrawks wrote:
I'm not a graphics biggot or anything, it's just that i'm sure that you have master copies of the sprites that are at a much higher resolution, and then you had to dumb them down to low res until the eyes are just a couple of dots on the screen. I know that using a modern engine would increase the requirements for the game, but honestly...anyone that still has a Pentium 133mhz deserves to be dragged out to the street and shot. Just thinking about it...the prospect of being able to play the original King's Quest at 1080p... it's enough to make me cream my pants just a little.


I didn't actually read this paragraph at all. I have a number of older computers one of which (in active use I might add) is a 486 DX2 66MHz. That's pre-Pentium, baby! And the only way to play old games, ALL of which are a hundred times better than anything out today. So take your 1080p and cream all the jeans you feel like. I'll take great games in 320x200 any day over the limitless pile of steaming crap that's out on the game market today. :p

And the sprites weren't downsized from a higher resolution. Only the backgrounds, as I understand it. And probably not all of them either.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:09 am 
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Yeah, I know that when I make sprites for games, it's in the low res. There's a lost art to the pixel pushing low-res sprites.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:13 pm 
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Take a look at AGP's remake screenshot:
Image
Are you guys honestly saying that the background doesn't trigger nostalgia for you because the resolution is too high? Were you disappointed that AGDI didn't use MIDI or that they included videos in introductions?

Also, El Emmo was high resolution, right? Did that really take "10 times as long" to create?


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Why in the world would anyone draw a background that was intended for 320x200 resolution in any higher resolution than that? I am an artist over at Infamous Adventures, and I can tell you with utmost certainty that I would never do that. The working process is so much quicker and easier when you work in the game's native resolution, not to mention the fact that scaling down the resolution from anything higher would fuzz out almost all your sharp details that you worked so hard to refine in that higher resolution. Working in the native 320x200 resolution is the only way to get a background that looks really good and refined in 320x200 resolution. So I highly doubt that AGDI has a stock-pile of high-res versions of all of their backgrounds.

And as for Al Emmo-- 10 times as long as QFG2VGA, no definitely not. 10 times as long as a standard 320x200 adventure game like KQ1VGA (provided you weren't learning AGS in the process)? Almost certainly. Unless of course you had paid artists working really non-stop on it. ;) I'm not really a good person to comment on this though, but from what I would expect, it WOULD take much longer to do high-res backgrounds than little 320x200 ones--which you can do relatively quickly--a couple hours a piece.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:27 pm 
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Actually, when KQ1VGA and KQ2VGA+ were first released they came with MIDI soundtracks with a downloadable music pack as an optional addon. Not that I mind the music packs. I actually love them (though they were still made with older MIDI hardware). I wouldn't have minded higher res graphics either. Yes that screenshot looks nice (apart from the horrible models and their awkward angle placement) but the quality is still somewhat lacking. Yes high-res is nice but usually is never done well (especially in a fangame community) and isn't the nostalgia I personally look for.

Bottom line is that there's nothing wrong with either preference. I just prefer and appreciate lo-res more for these remakes. I'm just annoyed about the negative attitude towards owning and prefering older and outdated hardware/graphics. Anyone who has that attitude needs to be dragged out in the street and shot.

And I do know that a few AGDI backgrounds were created in high res and scaled down to 320x200. Can you imagine creating walk-behind masks for 1080p backgrounds, though? It's hard enough for 320x200 and 640x400.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 1:37 am 
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I suppose another way to do it would be actually do what they did in the old days, scan hand-painted backgrounds into the computer and touch them up digitally. If that was the case, you'd certainly be doing the initial painting on a much larger scale. I don't mean to come off as against higher resolution games--I've seen some fantastic artwork for adventure games with more "cutting edge" graphics, but for the purposes of emulating the style of the oldies, I think 320x200 is the way to go. And I agree with you, MI, about high-resolution backgrounds in 2D adventure games--they need to be done really REALLY well, or it hurts the overall appearance of the game.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 10:28 am 
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Quote:
Hey guys, I love the remakes, and I highly believe that you all are king's among men for doing all this work and busting your hump just for the love of the adventure game genre...a love that i'm sure many of us on this website share.

But I guess the fact that you all work so long and hard on these games raises a question for me...why AGS? I mean, I get that it's easy to use and stuff, but there are 3D engines out there that can easily be used to render 2D games at high resolution with beautiful anti-aliasing and whatnot. It just seems like a shame that you have artists like Eriq drawing these beautiful high-res pictures for the site, and then the games are 320x200 resolution.


Well, if we used high-res art in combination with all the stuff scripted into QFG2VGA, I don't think we'd ever GET to the point where we'd ask Eriq to start working on the website.

Quote:
I'm not a graphics biggot or anything, it's just that i'm sure that you have master copies of the sprites that are at a much higher resolution, and then you had to dumb them down to low res until the eyes are just a couple of dots on the screen.


You're mistaken, actually. SOME of the backgrounds in our games were resized from a larger size because they were hand-drawn, scanned in and then resized to 320x200. Most of the backgrounds were always 320x200. (most backgrounds in QFG2VGA, for example, were made by taking the original background and recoloring it, then doing extensive touching up) For 99% of all our sprites, that's the case as well...they never existed as high-res art, since most of our sprites were made with the computer, rather than being hand-drawn. The only time I ever actually cut frames was in the griffin battle scene in QFG2, but that was a 3D model rather than a series of hand-drawn sprites. We didn't "dumb" anything down.

Quote:
I know that using a modern engine would increase the requirements for the game, but honestly...anyone that still has a Pentium 133mhz deserves to be dragged out to the street and shot. Just thinking about it...the prospect of being able to play the original King's Quest at 1080p... it's enough to make me cream my pants just a little.


Heh, about 90% of the work I did on QFG2VGA, I did on a Pentium III 450 which is the BARE minimum to run that game and was considered outdated for years, so never underestimate the oldies.

Al Emmo was hand-drawn backgrounds and 3D models on top of them. So if that game had been done in 320x200, it would have mattered slightly less since the frames were being rendered rather than made piece by piece and the backgrounds were resized anyhow. For our remakes, upping the quantity of required frames per animation and making all those animation frames from scratch, in high-res would simply not be worth the crazy amount of time it'd take.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 8:35 pm 
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Well, if Erpy is saying that most of these sprites were drawn in the resolutions they were used on, then yes...it would obviously take a ton more time. I guess I just assumed that you guys all had hand-drawn master copies or digital copies that you made using Photoshop or something. I know that those guys that are doing The Silver Lining are drawing all their textures by hand. I hope you all can see where i'd kind of be like "WTF?" if AGDI went through all the trouble of hand-drawing their backgrounds and sprites, and then bringing them down to 320x200 resolution. Seems like using a flamethrower to light a cigarette...

And I can't really see why it would take that much more time to scan hand-drawn art into a game. As it is, with that resolution you had to carefully plan every pixel out. Probably going high-res hand-drawn would take about the same time. And the sprites could've been done using vector-graphics stuff, which can actually speed up the animation process, as well as adapting itself to changes in resolution. The big thing that would've sucked for AGD would be learning the scripting language of whatever engine they moved on to.

And Music dude, i'm not saying that I don't get nostalgia from playing a game in 320x200 resolution...trust me man, I grew up on these games too. But seeing all my favourite characters again drawn to a realism where I can finally see all the fine details that have only been left to my imagination thus far...lets just say that when hologram games become common, I hope our kids get to shake hands with life-sized Roger Wilco.

And well, the 486DX is pretty rough man. I get that if you're gonna boot up DOS games, some of them will only run on such a computer, but i've found that if you get VMWare and throw Dos 6.22 on it...games can't even tell the difference. I'll take my Core 2 Duo anytime over that old relic of a processor, lol. I get you're a pretty nostalgic guy, but there are good and bad things to get nostalgic about: family values back-in-the-day, how much a dollar used to be worth, poodle-skirts and swing dancing...but a junky old CPU...cmon! I suppose we should all throw our cell phones and laptops into a river somewhere because they make life too easy and convenient.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:34 pm 
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In response to your comment about planning out every pixel, I think that really depends on the individual artist's own working style. Personally, I was amazed at how intuitive it felt to paint in that resolution in Photoshop--I find I can work much faster and the details almost seem to fall into place by themselves. But different artists might have different experiences.

Sprite creation is a completely different animal--you have to use a combination of different programs to really get them right, and doing animation frames is an exercise in tedium that I think only the most devout old-school adventure game fan could get through. ;) Usually I'll design a sprite in Photoshop and then clean him up in MS Paint of all things. When it comes to animations, it's almost a necessity to use Photoshop's layering capabilities, so you can quickly flip back and forth between frames, but the program's constant anti-aliasing makes crisp single pixel editing a pain in the butt (which is why we switch over to a program like Paint for that.)


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 9:54 pm 
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Lambonius, consider looking into GraphicsGale. It not only does pixel editing (without antialiasing) but it also supports layers and animation. I found it very easy to use. The free version does everything you'd need.

Also, Photoshop does pixel editing too, without antialiasing. But instead of the brush tool, you need to use the pencil tool.

Back on topic: I appreciate the crisp graphics higher resolutions offer but I also understand that it takes significantly more time. I also think the extra effort is worth it but then again, I'm not the ones making these great games. :p


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 11:42 pm 
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gamecreator, thanks for the tip! I will download it later tonight. I'm always looking for better ways to do the things I love. :) And I totally forgot about the pencil tool in Photoshop! Good to know.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 9:28 am 
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hetfield, it would be stupid to have QfG2 at higher res when the rest of the games are 320x200. No matter how much you debate it, your point doesn't make sense.

Same for KQ.

If you want, you're free to re-re-make the games yourself. (I'd suggest getting permission from the current owners of the license though)


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 4:26 pm 
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Gronagor wrote:
hetfield, it would be stupid to have QfG2 at higher res when the rest of the games are 320x200. No matter how much you debate it, your point doesn't make sense.


a) You're right...if everything else is already a certain way, why strive for better? Why ever try to 1-Up your previous effort? Never thought of it like that...thanks for clearing that up!

b) There's an old anecdote out there that says that when people resort to saying things like "that's stupid" and "your point doesn't make sense", it means that they've realized that they don't have a leg to stand on in an argument, but aren't ready to admit that they don't have a real counter-argument.

c) I find it hilarious how everyone in these forums gets so up in arms about a question that I was aiming at Erpy or any of the other AGD guys. I'm glad he was at least able to keep his cool answering my question when everyone else in here is flying off the handle.

By the way Erpy...Lost Dutchman's Mine....I loved it! I get that a lot of people in here kind of gave it a "Meh", but I think it's a very good original game, and i'd like to see what else you guys can come up with. It certainly puts all those games by Dreamcatcher and those guys to shame :).

For those in here who haven't played "The Longest Journey" yet and want to see a 2-D High-Res adventure game that can stand up to those old Sierra and Lucasarts games, you will not be dissappointed.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 7:43 pm 
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Well, it's not so much the fact we have no ambition to one-up our former projects...ever project we've worked on since KQ1VGA was bigger and more refined than the project we did before it. We even rereleased our older projects with updated art.

There's a lot of ways someone can one-up his previous work...less bugs, better storyline, more complex gameplay, or better art. With all of this in mind, upping the resolution would not be one-upping things, it'd be more like ten-upping things. Background art would take a LOT of extra time. (all the handdrawn art we do have in our game wasn't drawn, scanned in, colored and then immediately tossed into the game...all backgrounds have gone through at least one extra stage of pixel editing and with a higher resolution it's simply more pixels, so a lot more time getting everything right)

The real killer with a higher resolution, as people stated, would be the animations. Dedicated animators are very scarce in the adventure gaming community, even for games at 320x200. With this in mind, I think high-res 2D animations quickly develop into a fatal speed bump for the project trying to incorporate it and be more than a high-res slideshow with the occasional animation thrown in.

The question with these kinds of projects is: is it worth it? How much time and effort can you ask of people who don't get paid a single penny? I find that the answer to the "worth it" question tends to be yes if one's role is limited to waiting for the game to come out and "no" or "probably not" if one has to get up there and get things done. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 8:17 pm 
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Yeah, i'm sure it's easier said than done from my perspective when i'm not the one busting my hump to make these games. I did do my part in supporting you guys by buying The Lost Dutchman's Mine, but i'm sure it doesn't exactly compensate for all the time you've spent on the other games. For what it's worth, the games look as good as any game can look with that resolution. So truly, you are masters of your craft and should be proud. That, and you've left your mark on the world so that people will remember you - that's gotta feel pretty damn good.

I hope you guys are feeling another original game coming up! I'd give you a suggestion about what theme it should have, but Sierra and Lucasarts already took so many themes: Pirates, Space, Medievel England, 70's Disco Era, Film Noir (Grim Fandango), Colonial Era...and more. I'm sure you'll think of something...


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 3:58 am 
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hetfieldrawks wrote:
And well, the 486DX is pretty rough man. I get that if you're gonna boot up DOS games, some of them will only run on such a computer, but i've found that if you get VMWare and throw Dos 6.22 on it...games can't even tell the difference.


Actually there's quite a difference. As with most old DOS games (including Sierra adventures), the games' speeds were based on the CPU's speed. Modern computers are simply way too fast to play older games anymore. So using VMWare does create quite a chasm in differences between it and a good ol' 486. Unless you use DOSBox. But it's just not the same sometimes when you want to play with a good AWE32 Sound Blaster's or Gravis Ultrasound's irreplaceable wavetable synthesis or the former's flawless OPL2 chips' stereo fm synth that just hasn't ever been emulated perfectly to date. And going a little further than that, what about the superior technology of the Glide API of the 3dfx VooDoo graphics cards? Some things in the past were just done very well and in some ways better than today. Not visually or even audibly, but in their own way. Like, had they still been using them today the results would be far better than what we have now. But as far as old games go you just can't emulate this stuff perfectly. The best they have for glide graphics emulation is a Direct3D or OpenGL wrapper and the results don't look near as good as what they would on a real VooDoo card...even with today's hardware emulating it.

And I'm not saying I'm against new things. I'm always on the lookout for the next newest best thing myself. I'm even presently looking at newegg to buy myself some new hardware incidentally. A nice 2.6ghz core duo CPU with 4GB RAM and a sweet nVidia (rather than ATI garbage for once!) 9500 GT card and a 1-2 TB solid state drive are on my list of future upgrades (when the moolah comes in, of course). But as far as old games go, they were charming for a reason and upping the graphics to the latest capability is not how I'd choose to experience remakes of the classics. It would be sweet to have, mind you....if done right! Like I said before, there's a significantly larger margin for error for making things sufficiently satisfying to successfully pay true homage to the original game being remade in such a way. And rarely does anyone come along that can adequately produce that.

So I'm not against new technology, or even remakes made with even newer graphics, but there's nothing wrong with the old either. That's how we came to know and love these games in the first place after all. And I think part (or most) of the reason why these remakes are always made in 320x200 is because Sierra started to do just that and stopped short one game in each series and those of us who looked forward to the rest of the remakes felt disappointed. In that light this is like a second chance to see what it might have looked like back then if Sierra had chosen to finish remaking them all.

Well that was quite a tangent. And completely off-topic. Probably should have started a new thread there.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Sun May 03, 2009 6:31 pm 
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MusicallyInspired wrote:
The reason is AGDI wanted to recreate the games with the nostalgic feeling of the Sierra games of the mid 90s. I think almost everyone can agree that those were the best times for Sierra's games. The games were great and the graphics were beautiful. There's something about pixelated 320x200 256 colour backgrounds that's a beauty all its own.


Couldn't agree more! QFG2VGA looks just perfect as it is. Personally i think that as modern games thrive for better graphics and 3d effects, at the same time they suffer from poor puzzles and poor gameplay. The beauty of the classics was the plot, the puzzles, and most importantly the gameplay and immersion... Modern adventure games tend to be more like interactive movies in my opinion. And personally, if i wanted to see a movie i would go see a movie instead of sit on the computer and click through it. I don't mean to say that the graphics are not important, but in my opinion it's the least important when it comes to an adventure game.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 3:34 am 
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I have a bias towards 3D. Why? Because I watched cartoons in the 80's and 90's. Even the games Sierra On-line and LucasArts created had a lot of 'cartoon' element to them. I'm all about cartoons. 3D can be cool, but not when you are trying to be consistent with a series that is mainly cartoon/2D-driven.

Everyone has their opinion on this... but to be honest, my opinion is just that - my opinion! If you are going to make a fan game, you are trying to appeal to the rest of the "fans" that love that game... so make it the way the "fans" love it.

Example: the Monkey Island series... Did anyone find that the 4th game, (created in 3D,) got a lot of reviews similar to this: "While certainly not the best adventure game LucasArts has ever created..."

Open for comments!


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 5:41 am 
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In response to the above post, A vampire story and the new Sam & Max series both have cartoon graphics, but in my opinion they are far from being good adventure games. Although the new Sam & Max series seems to be well received among the adventure gaming community, personally i didn't like it that much. The cartoonish graphics were a perfect choice and are very well made too, however i think the interface is a bit too simplistic and doesn't give the player too much interactivity. And talking about the monkey island series I don't think that its just the graphics that determine the quality and the success of a game. Yes, i agree that the 3d approach ruined monkey island 4, but if you come to think about it 3d was not the only change in monkey island 4. In monkey island 4 the interface was changed completely as well up to the point that i think the term "point & click adventure game" fades away. Quest for glory 5 also used pseudo-3d and it was a bad choice as well. On the other hand Gabriel Knight 3, Tex Murphy adventures and a lot of other games that used 3d graphics were a big success and i loved playing them. What both of those games had in common was a good and well researched storyline. Arguably Gabriel Knight 3 might have looked better in 2-d but i enjoyed it in 3d just as much. Thus like i said in my previous post, i don't think a good adventure game only depends on its choice of graphic engine or the graphics quality itself. It's all about the story, the puzzles, the gameplay and immersion. That's what makes a good adventure for me.


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 12:43 pm 
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Yeah guys, i think that Dreamfall (although possessing a fantastic storyline) probably had around a half-hour of actual gameplay. The rest of it was pretty much like watching a good movie. This is obviously in a stark contrast to games like Leisure Suit Larry, where the game is all gameplay and the plot is pretty much "get laid".

I think the Sam&Max games from Telltale are pretty good though. Lots of laughs and funny little details that you don't always catch the first time you enter a room. Cool Game for Attractive People is pretty good when you get to the later episodes. And what's with the animosity to Monkey Island 4? I realize it wasn't as good as The Curse of Monkey Island (what game is?), but I personally felt that the 2nd game was the weakest in the series (I realize I may be alone in this).


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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 12:49 pm 
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Strange you'd say that because most people say that MI2 is the best adventure game ever made. I don't think that, but I don't think MI3 is better than the first two either (and not because of the graphics). Great game, though. I tried MI4 once and played the beginning of it. When I noticed there was absolutely no mouse support at all I didn't get very far before I turned it off. Still have to get to it sometime.

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 Post subject: Re: Adventure-Game Studio...Best choice?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 5:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 11:54 pm
Posts: 405
Location: Illinois, USA
The biases here are so strange. MI4 uses the exact same interface as Grim Fandango, one of Lucasarts' best games, period. And its graphics are actually a bit more polished than that game (though the art direction is arguably a little weaker, since Grim Fandango had the great Day of the Dead meets Film Noir art style--MI4 is a little generic-looking in comparison.)

The main problem with MI4 was bad writing. The story is crap compared to the other 3, in my opinion. MI1 through 3 are all fantastic, with 2 being my favorite only by a slim margin (probably only because it was the first one I played.) MI4 took too many strange plot leaps, and the result was a story that, at best, felt forced in places, and at worst, was just plain garbled. It brought in too many characters from the previous games, but rewrote them to change their personality and mannerisms (what happened to Elaine's attractive British accent from MI3??--and what the heck was with the strange effeminate Latin Otto??--just awful character changes, really.) And the new characters it introduced were pretty terrible as well (the villain in particular was not only boring, but had one of the most gratingly irritating fake Australian accents I've ever heard.) Story-wise, it really lost a lot of the magic that made the first 3 great (smart, well-written characters--great dialogue with fantastic voice work (in MI3)--funny, entertaining plot, etc.) Also, the addition of some utterly horrendous mini-games (Monkey Kombat, anyone?) were the crap icing on the crap cake. The point is, the 3D character graphics had little to do with it.


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