Hello Tim Schafer! Hi! You don’t know me, we’ve never met. I saw you once at the Develop Conference in Brighton, but you wouldn’t have recognised me because I immediately ran in the opposite direction, giggling.
Hello! So, now the Kickstarter’s over, I just thought it’d be nice to chip in my two cents about point and clicks. I really hope this doesn’t come across as anything other than idle meandering advice; obviously I’d never deign to lecture you of all people on making adventures, but, as you’re presumably aware: it’s the future now.
Hark! at all the flying cars and robots. Things sure have changed since Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle and whatever that one with the pirates was.
As someone who has made two well-received, top-selling, award-winning old-school, LucasArts-esque point and clicks in the last 5 years or so, I thought it might be nice to impart what I learned from the experience, and what I garnered from the feedback I’ve received. HERE’S FACTS:
People these days have a very low tolerance for tough puzzles. When I was stuck in Day of the Tentacle, you know what I did? I fucking well sat there and damn well worked it out. What was the alternative? Calling George Lucas’ hints line in America for twenty minutes? No chance. Click everything until something different happens, or pixel hunt every screen by sweeping the mouse back-and-forth. That’s what we had to do, and it put hair on my chest. Nerd hair, admittedly, but it still totally counts.
Now, obviously the core of point-and-click adventures is the puzzles, and a good hard puzzle is satisfying. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’ve learned that signposting is extremely helpful – back in the day, “memory requirements” meant you had to fall back on “I can’t do that!” or “That’s not going to work” as the stock response for the majority of duff clicks. These days, you’re pretty much free of that limitation. So nudges in the right direction when the player’s practically right are much appreciated.
It boils down to this: just be aware that the joys of The Internet meant lots of people play point and clicks in one window, with a walkthrough open in another, because the ease of it has turned them into big cheaty cheats.
I reckon if anyone was using [clever technology] to track when people stop playing point-and-clicks, it’d turn out they all save and switch off with the introduction of a huge, sweeping area to explore. Suddenly loads of new people to talk to, new puzzles to identify… eugh. It’s probably also where people never bother coming back to the game. It’s daunting! Smaller, tighter, densely-packed areas with minimal to-ing and fro-ing are where it’s at. People loved the quick travel map in Time Gentlemen, Please! Walking around is for idiots.
Finally, and possibly most-importantly: the role of the auteur in adventures is key. When I was playing Full Throttle, there was a personal relationship between you and I. You, at the time, were presumably not aware of this. I knew that solving puzzles wasn’t necessarily about logic, or doing the right thing, it was about what walls you as a designer had chosen to put up. Your brain, your rules.
That’s what makes those games so special, and I’m aware it’s what people like about the Dan and Ben games – they’re clearly about us, and written by us. Whatever stupid logic exists is our stupid logic, and people who play the games often email me like we’re old friends, because they know who I am though the game. It’s what made DoTT so great, and it’s why you’ve found such support through Kickstarter, and I reckon it’s vitally important Double Fine Adventure is largely your game, with your big lovely mucky fingerprints all over it.