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Couchpotato September 10th, 2013 03:03

RPG Codex - The State of the Adventure Genre
RPG Codex has a new article discussing the state of the Adventure Genre. I play a few adventure games myself so the topic does interest me. What about you do you think the genre is still going strong?


Over the course of the past decade of decline and genre rape, I became aware that the adventure genre was experiencing some sort of resurgence. European developers, with their lower operating costs, were continuing to release new adventure games, and over in the United States, a company by the name of Telltale Games had received the license to produce sequels to some of the old LucasArts properties. Had the genre been resurrected? I'm not sure. Much like in the RPG world, it seems few people took those European developers very seriously, and as for Telltale, in the dark corners of the Internet, certain fans whispered that their games were but shallow imitations of a glorious past.

Perhaps that's why it was no surprise that in February 2012, when legendary LucasArts veteran Tim Schafer launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new adventure game, he received over 3.3 million dollars from over 87,000 backers. It was an incredible success, that launched a new age of crowdfunding-supported game development that has benefited RPG fans greatly. At that point, I fully anticipated a glorious future for both genres, old-school adventure games and old-school RPGs marching side by side. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out that way.

One by one, spurred on by Tim Schafer's success, various Sierra veterans made their way onto Kickstarter to fund spiritual successors to their old titles. And…they didn't do so well. Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe, creators of Space Quest? $539,767. Jane Jensen, creator of Gabriel Knight? $435,316. Corey and Lori Cole, creators of Quest for Glory? $409,150. And then there was the downright humiliating failure of Jim Walls' Kickstarter for a Police Quest spiritual successor.

Crowdfunding campaigns for newer franchises have fared a bit better. Revolution Software's Broken Sword sequel got $771,560 on Kickstarter, while Ragnar Tornquist's Dreamfall Chapters achieved a respectable $1,538,425. But none of them have gotten anywhere near Double Fine's number of backers. Tim Schafer's army of 87,000 seems to have dissipated just as quickly as it materialized.

In short: what the hell, adventure game fans, what the hell?

More information.

HiddenX September 10th, 2013 03:03

Adventure games are still going strong here in Germany - like Tim Schafer said:

(Adventure games) exist in our dreams, and memories, and in Germany."
-> Why?
and this!

Couchpotato September 10th, 2013 03:10

Not in the US there not.;) At least I have Steam and GOG for my Adventure gaming needs. Hopefully those German developers keep making them for international audiences also.

ManWhoJaped September 10th, 2013 04:55

Sadly I am a bit of a casual gamer when it comes to adventure games, but not TOO casual.

For me the lucas arts adventure games, leisure suit larry, and quest for glory series, were fantastic. But if they are too serious or too hard then I lose interest, but then if they are too simple I do, too. So I guess I won't ever be playing another adventure game as it was just a short window of time that the games I liked a lot were coming out and probably won't come back even if we see a lot more titles.

But I'm glad to see some people will be getting some more options.

ChienAboyeur September 10th, 2013 09:39

Probably another definition relying on means. Because the adventure genre fares quite well, the means used to deliver the adventure experience only changed.

Kordanor September 10th, 2013 11:01

Played Book of unwritten Tales, Critter Chronicles, Chains of Satinav and New Beginning this year (all made in Germany). Thats more adventures than played within the last 10 years alltogether.

My guess is, that adventures are probably in average too casual for kickstarter and people are not as invested in adventures as they are in RPGs. Also you play an adventure for 10 hours or so, while you might put a hundred hours into a RPG.
Personally I did not back the Double Fine Adventure, but backed like 15 old school RPGs or tactic games on Kickstarter, including "massive chalice".
Adventures can be really cool but they are something I buy when walking by, not something I am looking forward to for months or years. And I guess that is the same for a lot of people.

But europeam developers and lower operating costs? Really? I mean I don't know the numbers but that sounds like a bad excuse as saying that solar energy works better in Germany because Germany is a very sunny place.

I think the reasons for Adventure games being more successful in Germany are to be found in things like Germany being still a PC-nation while Adventures are a PC-Genre. Adventures are more accepted in Germany because they have more of this "educational" or "logical" vibe and normally don't focus on violence/action. So if parents want so buy a present for their son they might prefer to buy an adventure instead of a FPS (but these parents will probably not invest in Kickstarter).
In addition it's probably easier to get voices in German versions which excel in what they are doing. I mean did you ever play a game with the voice of Leonardo di Caprio, Julia Roberts and Brad Pit at once? In Germany we do. Voice acting in the German Versions of adventures is really excellent in most of the recent cases and they are using voices which you recognize and love.

Ryder September 10th, 2013 12:08

I'd give my left nut for another Curse of Monkey Island.

Alrik Fassbauer September 10th, 2013 13:06

Unnoticed by maybe most you, Al Lowe has done a new Larry Laffer adventure game !

And since it's on his own web page, it's quite sure that this game was made with his influence - in contrast to the one before.
The "digital download only" is incorrect, because it is sold in German retail as well - in a boxed version.

As an interesting side-question : Why are WiSims (econony simulations) so popular in Germany, but unknown by the rest of the world as well ?
I think that the answer to this question might also lead to the answer why adventure games are so popular here in Germany …

Perhaps it's a thrive for/with details ?

Besides, download-only adventure games don't sell that well as well in Germany, I believe. Especially tying Satinav's Chains to Steam was hurting the game, I believe, since I've been talking to relatively many people same-minded as I am : Germans not going to buy it because it has Steam. Plus, I can see it still fairly often at retail. And that's bad for an TDE game.

I suspect that especially older German "casual players" dislike Steam. But I have no data to proove my suspicion.

HiddenX September 10th, 2013 13:07

Current Daedalic adventures

Alrik Fassbauer September 10th, 2013 13:21

I believe that this entry nails it done quite well : http://www.adventuregamers.com/forums/viewreply/20070/


I believe it’s more different factors all together than one single reason.

First you need to know that adventure games in Germany are more popular than in other countries in term of sales, but it’s not outstanding, if an adventure game sells 10K units full price on PC in Germany it will be considered as a success in 2012 (and it will sell 25K units lifetime). We could sell 30K units at full price back in 2003-2004 (100K+ units lifetime). so overall the sales of one adventure game in Germany, even a very famous one, lifetime, will not reach 100K units today, meaning that the sales in retail decreased there just like in any other territories, France, UK, or US for the last 10 years.
Germany still sells more units than any other country in Europe, whatever the genre, Farming Simulator alone sells in Germany what it sells worlwide on PC for example.

The differences are still here, but there are only partly specific to the adventure genre:

1. Germany is still traditionalist, there are less sales in Germany in Digital that in other countries in term of % compared to overall sales, Germans are still buying paper press, while it disappeared everywhere else and trust what the journalist write, it’s decreasing but slower than anywhere else.
This taste for old-school industry is also valid for the genre, Germany is producing Simulators, adventures, tactical RPG, genre that are not that popular anymore but they work pretty well on the domestic market
2. Adventure Games in 2D cost little money to be produced, we are speaking about 100-400K euros here, compared to 2ME+ for the testament of Sherlock Holmes or 20MUSD+ for LA noire.
3. the local Publishers and local Journalist are working hand in hand most of the time, it means, journalist and publishers discuss and compromise about previews and reviews,rankings, etc..it could be qualified as conflict of interest or corruption in other countries, but in Germany this art of dialog is really helping the local industry, this is pretty unique.
4. Germany has 90Millions inhabitants and the 4th ww economy, it has a big domestic market, one localization is easily recoupable when you sell 10K units
5. Adventure games makes it rarely on consoles, the lesser the budget, the more point and click it is, the less chance it has to be on consoles, therefore the console countries (UK, Japan, US) where console sales are so much higher than PC, are disqualified as country producing adventure games. Germany was and still is a PC country.
6. Strategy Games was they key genre in Germany in the last ‘90s mid 2000’, but those titles cost far more to be developed today than 10 years ago,and the sales decreased, meaning that the local publishers had to find another genre to produce in Germany.
7. everyone else in the world dropped adventures, leaving the door open for a country to become the leader, but instead of a country you can really count one publisher, Daedelic, the others are mostly taking advantage of Daedelic works in term of marketing, which is excellent by the way, it’s young, it’s a little underground, not taking itself too seriously…
Also this : http://www.adventuregamers.com/forums/viewreply/20280/


Germany is also where most boardgames are created nowadays. I think they are simply a more cerebral audience.

Thaurin September 10th, 2013 14:48

What--no mention of the upcoming, Kickstarted Tex Murphy game Tesla Effect for which the official trailer was recently released!?

As for FMV adventure games that "stood the test of time", IMO at least The Black Dahlia and The Journeyman Project games deserve mention.

Alrik Fassbauer September 10th, 2013 16:59

Some games are simply unknown in some territories. Quest For Glory was never released here in Germany, it seems, except for the last game.

Infinitron September 13th, 2013 00:50

Thanks for posting this. I hope you guys read the interview itself and not just Couch's excerpt of my introduction, though. ;)

HiddenX September 13th, 2013 08:25

Nice interview and analysis.

I played some more adventures in my C64 and Amiga days (1982-92).
After discovering my love for CRPGs my relationship with the adventure genre cooled down. I don't blame the quality of the current adventures so much for this.
It is more the fact that good CRPGs are some kind of superset of adventures.
Good CRPGs include puzzles and riddles, narrative elements and exploration.
As an extra I get character develoment and combat.
So in my case the CRPGs killed my adventure gaming.

I sometimes return to adventures if I hear good things about them:
LA Noir, Dreamfall, Runaway, Grim Fandango…

holeraw September 13th, 2013 13:48

That was a good read (though exhaustingly long)
Some thoughts I'd like to note about adventure games:

1. I've heard a lot of laments for them over the years but I never shared them, I was always able to find a decent adventure game when I felt like playing one - and I've played a lot of them.

2. Those golden age masterpieces that we keep mentioning are how many? a dozen or so? and that's mostly LucasArts games. There were even back then hundreds of otherwise fine games that didn't achieve such greatness and we either choose to conveniently ignore them or just give them a 'classic / better than today's games' status regardless of their shortcomings.

3. Recent games that try to do things differently are not really all that different at their core. The Walking Dead might not have complicated puzzles but it really just succeeded at what adventure games have been trying to do for decades: get the player deeply involved in an interactive tale - TellTale didn't move away from their roots, they just realized that obtuse puzzles was not the most efficient way to achieve this old goal. Another example: when playing LA Noire I realized that it has so much in common in its gameplay design (and the setting for that matter) with Mean Streets, the first Tex Murphy game from 1989, that it feels more like a 'proper sequel' to it than any of the real Tex Murphy games did!

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