Author Topic: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?  (Read 29558 times)

Sir Perceval of Daventry

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When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« on: June 26, 2011, 04:17:00 PM »
For those old enough to remember, when did the adventure genre begin to markedly decline in popularity--decline enough for people to ponder whether or not the genre was "dying"?

Some facts to consider: KQ5, released in November 1990, became the HIGHEST SELLING PC GAME OF ALL TIME. It held this title for 5 years, until Myst overtook it in 1995--1995 possibly being the height of Myst Mania? Myst remained the greatest selling PC game of all time until 2000 or 2001, whenever The Sims came out.

Offline MikPal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 05:29:36 PM »
Adventure games didn't die, they evolved. When simplified Deus Ex was a Point 'n click-adventure game with elements of shooting and rpg. Same goes for its father System Shock. Psychonauts was an adventure game with action scenes. Sure, you might say that the classical point 'n click- or text parser-style games declined in popularity during the 90's, but you also have to take note that during that time period new gaming genres emerged that gave the players (sometimes literally) completely new perspectives on how they can experience the game.

As to answer why Myst was the top selling game for a long time? I don't know for sure, but you have to look at the time it was released to truly understand the mindset of a person who bough it.
A) Myst was released when home desktop computers were becoming popular. So people, who didn't care for computers before, bought one and with it bought games to be amazed by it.
B) Myst was released when CDROM-drives were becoming affordable to the audience. Myst with 7th Guest were one of the earliest games that were used to show what one could do with the CD.
C) Myst is one of the few games that doesn't have a timer or anyway of dying (besides the bad endings), so it was a perfect for those who just wanted to suck in the atmosphere and advance with their own terms. A perfect game for those who don't really want their hero to die every damn second.

Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2011, 09:26:53 PM »
The decline happened around 96-97. That's when the familiar adventure style started to fade. I think the last good one was apparently The Longest Journey (99?) before Syberia came out in 2000 or so....I'm still trying to figure out WHY that game did so well.

Offline Cez

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 02:20:15 AM »
It was beautiful, lack of other good adventure games at the time, it had good production values overall.

It was a beacon of hope for people to hold on to.  I enjoyed the game, but it was greatly overrated. However, it was a nice thing to have around when we were so recently starving for high-quality adventure games with Sierra having gone to hell so recently.

One better question would be WHY did Myst do so well? :)


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Offline Blackthorne

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 08:18:36 AM »
Myst had beautiful rendered 3D graphics for the time.  People were obsessed with these new 3D graphics at the time.  3D = latest technology.  That, honestly, was a big selling point of Myst.  It's integration of multimedia components as well as it's challenging, yet accesable puzzles made it appealing to a wide bunch of gamers.

Seriously, though, I think it was the look of Myst.  Pretty graphics can sell a lot of things - if the gameplay had been really crappy it might not of worked, but the game was JUST mediocre enough for people to over look that and go "PREEEETY PICTURES!"


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Offline MikPal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2011, 08:35:17 AM »
One better question would be WHY did Myst do so well? :)

A) Cheaper computers
B) Cheaper CD-ROM drives
C) Much more forgiving to the new players
D) Word of mouth

(http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.08/myst.html)

And a word that was on every single computer ad during the period: Multimedia.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 09:16:30 AM by MikPal »

Offline DawsonJ

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 12:37:34 PM »
One main thing that hurt adventure gaming, as we knew it, was a greedy CEO with the initials K. W.:
 http://www.gog.com/en/news/from_monochrome_to_monarchy_kings_quest_history_final_episode/0

 "Sierra was a public company," said Sierra CEO and co-founder Ken Williams. "As its CEO I had an obligation to Sierra's shareholders to maximize the value of their investment. We received an offer that was nearly double the current price the stock was trading at. The decision was really out of my hands."
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 12:40:34 PM by DawsonJ »

Sir Perceval of Daventry

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2011, 01:50:18 PM »
One main thing that hurt adventure gaming, as we knew it, was a greedy CEO with the initials K. W.:
 http://www.gog.com/en/news/from_monochrome_to_monarchy_kings_quest_history_final_episode/0

 "Sierra was a public company," said Sierra CEO and co-founder Ken Williams. "As its CEO I had an obligation to Sierra's shareholders to maximize the value of their investment. We received an offer that was nearly double the current price the stock was trading at. The decision was really out of my hands."

I don't think accepting an offer of 1.5 billion for the company you spent 16 years putting blood, sweat and tears into, when you do have an obligation to the shareholders is greed. Especially when you think you know and can trust the people you're selling to.

Walter Forbes was the CEO and founder of CUC, which bought Sierra in July 1996. Forbes had been on Sierra's board of directors since 1991 and seemed like a guy Ken could trust; He had helped push Sierra's massive growth as a company from 1991-1996. Sierra went from employing 300 people at 3 studios in 1991 to having over 1,000 employees at around ten studios in 1996 at the time of the sale. How was Ken to know he was actually dealing with crooks?

Offline DawsonJ

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2011, 03:14:39 PM »
I understand that aspect of it; although you mentioned facts I didn't know. BUT, if you read the article I linked, you find out that KEN ordered the cessation of all current Sierra adventure games in order to change the way Sierra games were going. Next time you wish Space Quest, Torin's Passage, etc. had more sequels, think about MoE - that's where everyone was redirected. Therefore stopping their Good projects to focus on 'King's Quest Meets Diablo.'

Offline MusicallyInspired

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2011, 03:37:03 PM »
I really liked Myst. Not because of the graphics, either, it was very non-linear and had an element of exploration not found anywhere else. With all the puzzles and clues strewn throughout the ages for you to piece together on your own it was a quite an adventure. Other games that copied Myst's first-person "lonely" puzzle adventure really didn't capture it as well as Myst did. Myst is the only one that works in that style in my opinion.

With Syberia, you weren't the character you were controlling a character....and a truly detestable one at that. If most of the game owes its praise to her story and her character development than maybe that's why I hate it. I couldn't stand her and didn't care at all about her story or predicament. All that was left after that was the atmosphere, puzzles, supporting characters, and scenery. All of which I thought were extremely mediocre.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2011, 03:39:07 PM by MusicallyInspired »

Offline MikPal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2011, 04:22:55 PM »
Syberia

Benoit Sokal. He was the reason why I tracked down Syberia. I have a couple of his Inspector Canardo (or Tarkastaja Ankardo, as he is known here) books on my shelf. Stiff facial expressions, but the stories are sometimes really good. Usually some sort of bestial love is involved, at least during the early years of the book (La marque de Raspoutine), but most of them are just pretty mature and horrifying detective stories with anthropomorphic animals.

Sir Perceval of Daventry

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2011, 04:32:38 PM »
I understand that aspect of it; although you mentioned facts I didn't know. BUT, if you read the article I linked, you find out that KEN ordered the cessation of all current Sierra adventure games in order to change the way Sierra games were going. Next time you wish Space Quest, Torin's Passage, etc. had more sequels, think about MoE - that's where everyone was redirected. Therefore stopping their Good projects to focus on 'King's Quest Meets Diablo.'

Ken had a knack for seeing the "writing on the wall" in terms of the PC game industry, and I think he saw which way the wind was blowing with regard to adventure games as early as the mid 90s, before they had officially "died." He probably loved all those series and wanted to keep them going but in a profitable form. As the '90s ended it was obvious that the traditional, 2D, non-violent adventure game wasn't what most gamers wanted. I think he was hoping these great series could be brought into a new age, in new mediums, and was counting on fans being more open minded. I personally love the "KQ Meets Diablo" approach of KQ8 and wish the series had continued on in that direction....

I don't think it was really greed or malice on his part, simply wanting to keep those games alive. A public company with the demands of the truly greedy--the investors and shareholders--- isn't going to invest in 2D adventure games ala KQ6 if that's only going to cost them money without getting a good return.

Ken was a guy who foresaw massive multiplayer online gaming as early as 1990; He foresaw the "death" of adventure games as early as 1990 and had retooled Sierra's business model to slowly move away from adventure games altogether sometime in 1990. Sierra's focus in the mid 90s was to be on productivity software, and on games which could be revamped every year--Think Madden sort of games. That's why he and Sierra bought up a bunch of companies in the early-mid 90s.

He was openly declaring the adventure genre dead in 1996, even though Phantasmagoria had been Sierra's biggest hit ever just a year before. He saw where the wind was blowing. He wanted to focus on online gaming, massive multiplayer stuff; His biggest regret was selling The Sierra Network.

This is a guy who wanted to merge with Broderbund in 1991. Had the merger gone through successfully, Sierra would've been a co-publisher of the mega hit Myst (Broderbund was the publisher of Myst for Cyan). He also wanted to buy id Software after the heads of id sent Sierra a demo version of Wolfenstein 3D. The only reason that fell through was the guys at id got greedy and decided to ask for more than Sierra was willing to give, after Sierra had already given them a 2 million dollar offer to buy their company. Had Sierra succeeded in both of these initiatives, Sierra would still be alive and would likely be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, game company on the planet.

Consider that his last major decision as CEO of Sierra was to sign on Half-Life in late 1996 or early 1997 as a Sierra published title. He also secured exclusive rights to the Half-Life franchise (but a later Sierra CEO gave that right back to the creators of Half Life). Half-Life went on to be a huge hit, one of Sierra's last. Had Sierra retained the exclusive copyright to Half Life that Ken had secured, Sierra could've "been in the money" with Half Life and still been in business today.



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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2011, 08:34:26 PM »
I admit that I have never even come remotely close to finishing Myst.  I couldn't ever get into the story and so the gameplay bored me.  And it's not the game type that I didn't like, I finished both Shivers games, Lighthouse, and Rama, which all had a similar gameplay setup.  Just something about Myst that I couldn't get into.
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Offline DawsonJ

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2011, 09:55:35 PM »
Ok. I'm not saying Ken is the world's biggest piece of rubbish; I'm saying that his lousy decisions are a large reason for the decline in adventure gaming, as we knew it at the time. Although, I must admit, after reading that article, my respect level Severely dropped for him. However, my opinions regarding Roberta's later choices have softened. Also mentioned is the fact that she wasn't finished with MoE, so the hugely buggy (even GOG version with the 1.3 patch) game wasn't ready to compile and ship, according to her. Anyway, the fact is Ken was the business and Roberta was the heart of Sierra - a fact which became more and more obvious through their actions in the end.

Regarding Myst, I think it was ahead of its time in graphics, but feels "Soulless" in its gameplay; I prefer humor and characters, not just pretty vistas. But, to each his own.

Offline glottal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2011, 12:32:31 AM »
I'm saying that his lousy decisions are a large reason for the decline in adventure gaming, as we knew it at the time.

If an industry or genre is so dependent on one group or company that a set of lousy decisions by one manager can ruin the entire industry/genre, that industry or genre is doomed (or at least extremely vulnerable).  Lousy decisions will, eventually, be made. 

(I am not saying that Ken Williams' decisions are responsible for the decline of adventure games - I don't know enough to make a judgement call on that).

That's one reason why I like the idea of a bunch of small businesses - including Phoenix Online - reviving the adventure genre.  The adventure genre might never again be as big as it was in the glory days, but it might become more robust.

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2011, 05:37:58 AM »
Don't feel too bad Dawson--Perceval isn't one who changes his mind easily, and will argue to the death for his point of view.

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Offline darthkiwi

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2011, 08:53:52 AM »
Quote
the fact is Ken was the business and Roberta was the heart of Sierra - a fact which became more and more obvious through their actions in the end.

From what I've heard about them, that seems true. But surely it isn't bad to be business-minded? After all, without income no Sierra games would have been made. Sierra was in no way obliged to make adventure games, and other companies could easily have made their own. Since they were declining (not, perhaps, in revenues, but certainly in whether they were fashionable and what people wanted to play), it would have been unwise for Sierra to simply ignore what was going on in the gaming world more widely and to continue blindly churning out more point-and-clicks. I think they made the right choice in trying to evolve the adventure genre in MoE, even if I don't think they got it quite right.
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Offline MikPal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2011, 09:38:03 AM »
Sierra was in no way obliged to make adventure games,

And despite we remember Sierra best for their adventure games, their software catalog comprised of many genres. Thexder, Silpheed, Johnny Castaway, Threshold, Zeliard, Sabotage, Nova 9, Mr. Cool, Marauder, Lunar Leaper, Ultima II, Earthsiege, Crossfire, Firehawk, B.C's Quest For Tires (check out that old logo), Red Baron, Indycar Racing II, Nascar Racing, Sierra Championship Boxing... and so on. Some were imported from Japan and other are just copies of arcade games popular when they were made.

Offline DawsonJ

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #18 on: June 28, 2011, 03:21:23 PM »
Katie:  Thank you for the support.

I agree that being business-minded is important for a company. Companies rely on sales and income, obviously. But, from an emotional standpoint - especially now that I've been doing more research on Sierra - it's depressing to KNOW that Torin's Passage will never have its planned sequels and KQ is "Officially" left in the hands of people who weren't true fans of the Sierra style. In fact, there's a quote around here on another thread of a TellTale employee who said he didn't like Sierra games' format, back in the day - when Sierra was at its peak. Just finding out that Sierra's demise is due to two terrible decisions, both admitted in interview by the person himself, is heartbreaking.

Offline glottal

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Re: When did the Adventure Genre begin to decline?
« Reply #19 on: June 28, 2011, 08:07:53 PM »
DawsomJ, are you talking about the decline of adventure gaming, or just Sierra?  I'm not clear what you mean at this point.

Anyway, it seems to be that what happened to adventure gaming is that it went through a boom and bust.  Booms tend to be followed by busts.  The best way to avoid busts is to avoid booms. that becomes/is a public corporation sees its revenue increase 10 fold in five years (I don't know Sierra's actual revenue growth, I'm just giving an example) is much more likely to head for a bust than a small business which operates on a shoestring budget and, while not wildly profitable, has figured out how to support itself over the long haul. If you have a bunch of these small businesses (diversification) that industry as a whole will be more stable, though perhaps not as profitable, as an industry dominated by one or two large businesses.

EDIT: Of course, I also think it's heartbreaking that the KQ rights are not in the hands of people who love KQ (I've never played Torin's Passage, but I can imagine how that could be heartbreaking too).  To me, though, that's all the more reason to support reforming copyright law.  In my opinion, a copyright should last 14 years with a one-time 14 year extension, and that everything should go to public domain after 28 years.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2011, 11:28:43 PM by glottal »