Adventure games have existed since the dawn of computer gaming. The style of adventure games has ranged from simple text based games to complex modern adventures, which boast powerful 3D graphics, spoken dialogue and crisp sound effects. Despite the obvious superficial differences adventure games have always revolved around the key game play concepts of puzzle solving, role-playing and the participation in an interactive narrative. Adventure games were perhaps the most popular genre during the golden days of Sierra, where the marvelous side scrolling adventures dominated the genre and the entire gaming scene. Since then the genre has experienced a drastic decline in interest as the popularity of First Person Shooters and other visually impressive games grows. Adventure games have been left behind in an industry, which does not treat those who fail to keep the pace favorably. Now in order to catch up, developers are producing games, which have fundamental differences from the adventure games of old.

The most obvious change is the implementation of 3D graphics. Adventure games of today no longer rely on the cartoon-like graphics of previous games in this genre, they utilize visually appealing and powerful 3D engines, and this brings the games to a new level of immersion and enhances the experience of the player immeasurably. These 3D graphics however have eliminated the old side scrolling style, and in their place 3D game worlds have been implemented. These new game worlds are most realistic and more detailed, features, which add to the player’³ experience. Omicron: Nomad Soul is a perfect example of a modern 3D adventure. It is visually stunning, the result of which is a very impressive environment in which the game play takes place. This implementation of 3D graphics was always going to be the logical and inevitable evolution of the genre, as it adds greatly to the experience of the game.

Unfortunately the implementation of new powerful 3D engines has not been the only drastic change, which the genre has experienced. In an attempt to appeal to a wider variety of gamers, the design teams have implemented combat and action into the adventure games, the result of which is the corruption and tainting of the tacit laws guiding the design of adventure games. This change is to the detriment of the genre. A perfect example of this is the failed adventure 씩me Machineî® Despite being visually appealing and supporting a fantastic storyline based on a novel by H. G. Wells, the game failed miserably as it relied heavily, at times, on elements of action. Adventure games should never include a heavy dependence on these elements of action. A perfect example of a game that successfully implemented action elements while remaining quite clearly a pure adventure game is Indiana Jones: The Fate of Atlantis. Action in this game took the form of fist fights between the soldier and his Nazi enemies. Successful completion of the game was not dependant on these brief action packed fisticuffs, yet rather, they provided one option the player could follow. There was always an alternative, and even a “sucker punch” key, which could be used to immediately end a fistfight in your favor.

Adventure games of the future must look into the past at the glory days of Adventure gaming, and they must draw upon the fundamentals of adventure games and place these above all other considerations. Successful implementation of a modern 3D graphics system, along with the subtle and unobtrusive use of optional action elements to enhance game play will successfully add to the experience of the game. Only the successful merging of quintessential adventure gaming, impressive 3D graphics and optional action elements will ensure the prolonged existence of this ancient genre of adventure games.

By John Farnik – 01/09/02

Screenshots for Successful Evolution is Key to Existence