What should the ending be in an adventure game?

Introduction. There are many examples of endings in adventure games – both good and bad. I think that we may sort them into “types”, what I will do in this article that is designed to help all developers.

         Main types. The main types of endings are two – a single ending and alternate endings. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which I will try to describe, but let us now proceed to the

         Subtypes:

                     I. Of a single ending:

                                 1. Happy end. This is maybe the most common type of ending. Use with caution though, the happy ending should not look like it is in a nursery fairy tale (Sam and Max). It should leave the player really satisfied with playing the game (Runaway: a road adventure, King’s Quest VI), which of course, applies to all the endings. This type of ending seems inevitable only for comedy games like Day of the tentacle.

                                 2. Wicked/Violent ending. A rather disappointing ending in my opinion. The wicked ending leaves the player astonished with what he have seen which was not at all what he had expected. The most popular wicked ending is maybe that of Monkey Island 2. As for the violent ending, it is something like “and ka-boom! The world explodes” or “He gets the machine gun and kills all”. It can only be used in a dark humorous game, but with extreme caution. Or it will seem like Flashbax. I advise you not to use these two endings though.

                                 3. Bittersweet ending. This is the ending that is most satisfactory in my opinion. The most common one is when the big quest is completed, but the character sacrifices something from himself – a woman, his life or love. When well made, it provokes the player to think whether he (the player) would make such thing if he were in the main character’s shoes. The brightest examples of bittersweet endings are Loom and Gabriel Knight 3. To use a bittersweet ending you will have to make the player really care for the character, or else the player will not care what the character has given up.

                                 4. Open finale. This is when the current game ends happily, but there is danger hinted to in it, like in Kyrandia 2 or King’s Quest II VGA. Note that when making such finale, you are obliged to make a sequel (Hello Tierra!). It is often used as a commercial trick to increase the sales of the follow-up.

                                 5. Sad ending. This one is used to show the drama in a game. Do not mistake is for bittersweet one though. I think that it is best to have a sad ending in a game, but it to be alternate. Not just a simple animation and a death message, but a true ending, like in Larry 1 or King’s Quest 6. If you’d like to make the sad ending the one and only, you will have to be really careful not to spoil the game, and it is advisable to be quite experienced with plot writing.

                     II. Of alternate endings

                                1. Bittersweet/Happy end. This is a quite rarely used combination, but in my opinion, it is satisfactory. It was used in Gabriel Knight 1 and King’s Quest 6.

                                 2.”Reflective” finale. In this rarely used ending, all things made in the game reflect to the ending. Maybe it is rarely used because there just aren’t many really non-linear games. This climax was used in Conquests of the longbow. Another variation of a “reflective” ending was used in Laura bow 1, where you had a smart hint system.

                                 3. Sad/Any other ending. See above.

         Conclusion. There are many types of endings, which I tried to describe. Use the one(s) that you think would suit your game best. I hope that article will help you do it.

Flashbax review

Introduction. One of the latest games created with AGS is Flashbax. In it, you play a janitor, who had his memory wiped out, and is trying to escape from his kidnappers. This game is the first one made by Mark Fozbee, so, I guess we shouldn’t be very harsh on his game.

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         The good. First, the graphics – they are skillfully drawn in a low resolution and in a cartoony manner. The intro is also excellent. The animation is also smooth and fits the game style very well. The first part of the plot is also very intriguing; the main character often has “déjà vu” visions, which thrill the player. Sadly, the first-rate things end here. Let us now continue to

         The average. The things that are so-so in this game are many. First, the first half of the puzzles. They can be described with two words – innovative and easy. Another average thing is the music. The tunes are not memorable, but they fit the atmosphere quite well. As much as I would not like, we will have to move on to

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         The bad. Alas, there are many bad things in this game. The author tried to use violence in a funny and witty way, but, regrettably, failed miserably. Sorry foz, but severing the hand of a dead man you have killed just to pass the hand scanner is not the most creative puzzle I’ve seen. It might suit an action game, but for an adventure game, it is quite absurd. But the nauseating and vulgar moments do not stop here. There is also a man puking with a quite realistic sound, but that can be described as “quite funny” by someone with a gross sense of humour. The most disgusting part of the game is a man doing the “home alone” type of sex just to push a button. This crosses all kinds of moral and ethical borders. It might easily been avoided with just letting the character stick the filthy magazine to the red button and tell the old man to go downstairs, but, sadly, the creator did not think of it. Speaking of it, the second set of puzzles is rather illogical, forcing the player to use the “use everything with everything” strategy. Well, that’s all for the unpleasant moments of the game. But the bad does not end here. There are many and various bugs in this game, even with the new version of the game. Also, all typos you can think of are there. It seems like Flashbax has skipped the beta testing stage. The ending is also rather disappointing.

         The conclusion. This game is worth playing just until you get to the second floor. All people who may feel offended please do not download this game. Only a Carmageddon fan may actually enjoy the second part of the game. Sadly, the graphics and animations can not compensate the many drawbacks of Flashbax. But the author should not be discouraged in any way. He should just think more about the plot next time.

Overall rating:

65%

Buccaneer Review

Richard McRoch is a buccaneer, whose wife passed away several years ago. He is also working in Amsterdam. One day, he wakes up to find that his manifests are gone! Somehow, he knows that his rival stole them, but, hey, he has got to prove it and take them back. This is the story of the best MAGS game ever, Buccaneer. The thing that makes it the best, obviously, is the strong plot. I must say that it is full of drama and excitement. The thing that also makes it such it that you actually care about the main character – something that is unbelievably hard to achieve in a 15-minutes long game. The ending is really well made, and I think that if the game had good voice acting, the experience would be even more moving. The graphics of the game are overall very good, for a MAGS game. The animations are smooth and pleasant to watch. The puzzle(s) are clever. Due to the much appreciation this small game has received, Unosar entertainment is now working on a sequel, which will be longer and filled with even more drama than this one. Expect coverage of Buccaneer II in our next issues. On the scales, this game is a must-have. The strong plot and drama make it not just your average one-hour game – they make it a potential classic.

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Overall MAGS score:

94%

Space Quest ]I[ VGA preview

Did you like the Space Quest games almost a decade ago? The idea of a sci-fi parody with an intergalactic janitor was just so sweet! My favorite one was SQ3, because of the innovative plot (not that the other games didn’t have one, but this was just a class above them in my opinion) and the wonderfully designed puzzles. For those, who have not played the game, I will try and briefly retell the story: Roger Wilco, after escaping Vohaul, is sleeping in the escape pod, but not for long. Soon it is accidentally swollen by a trash-collecting ship. After escaping it(which will take some time even for the most experienced adventurers) Roger goes to our all-time favorite Monolith Burger, a McDonald’s/Burger King spin-off. There he plays Astro Chicken, another really symbolic part in the history of adventure games. After winning it, he gets a message, which reads that his (and ours) favorite game-designers (the two guys from Andromeda, who are making a cameo in this game) are kidnapped by the evil ScumSoft (Gee, I wonder which company they are making fun of…). And so, our so-called hero has to save them. But enough for the original game.

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The remake will feature 320*200 VGA graphics, like the later Space Quest games. It will also feature digital music pack, and a star wars reference. Judging from the sneak peek demo, which is available here, the remake will be at the level of Tierra’s remakes and later Space Quest. Lets wish luck to Khaveen and hope that his remake will bring back the wonderful memories of the outstanding game, named Space Quest ]I[: Pirates of Pestulon.

Interview with Petteri, creator of Goldlagoon

The AGS Ezine now interviews Petteri to get a more detailed info about Gold lagoon and to ask him about his opinion on common topics such as adventure games in general.

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Ezine: First, will you tell us a bit more about yourself – what you like, what you do for a living etc.

Petteri: Well, I like music, drawing, movies… also skateboarding is one hobby of mine. At the moment I’m in school.

Ez: Which adventure games are your favorite (both commercial and freeware)?

P: I like first Gabriel Knight, King’s Quest 5 & 6 (probably because KQ5 was on of the first adventure games I played), Day of the tentacle (also one of the first adventure game I played), Monkey Islands 1-3, Pleurghburg: Dark Ages, Broken Sword 1 & 2… I also like what Tierra has done with KQ remakes.

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Ez: You said you liked what Tierra did with their remakes… Do you have plans of remaking a game in the future?

P: I don’t think so… because it would need lots of planning what do with plot and puzzles, I’m not sure what game would need to be remade (well Indiana Jones and Last Crusade would be one) and I prefer original plot when I start making something.

Ez: what were your projects before Gold lagoon?

P: I didn’t really have any projects… about 6 months before I started working with Gold lagoon; I tried to make a couple of small games. I have them on my hard drive and they look pretty bad. I almost forgot AGS until I found out about windows version of the engine. Then I started to work with Gold lagoon and it wasn’t going to be very big game at first. Then it got bigger and bigger and I thought I’m going to make some smaller games before it.

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Ez: What will the story of Gold lagoon be like in as much details as possible without the plot being spoiled?

P: Mike Night is young private investigator in need of job. Then he receives his first bigger case. He should find one lost cargo ship. He starts his job on an island where the ship was last seen. But as he does more investigating, he encounters murders and lost peoples…

Ez: What will its characteristics be (resolution, hours of gameplay etc)?

P: Game will have 320×240 graphics with 16bit colours. Digital soundtrack and sound effects. I’m not sure about the length of the game, because it still needs some planning and I have some ideas I would like to use somewhere in game.

 

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Ez: Currently, who is on the team?

P: Me, I most of the work like music, graphics, scripting, story etc. Andrew Edmark (LGM) has done a couple of music tracks and so have my friend. Mikko Paajanen (Mikko) is helping me with animations and Marcus Krupa (loominous) with close-ups.

Ez: Speaking of close-ups, what will the speech style be – sierra or Lucas arts?

P: Lucas Arts. Close-ups are used in some cutscenes, pretty much in same way as in P: DA.

Ez: What will the interface be?

P: Single left-click will make Mike to walk on screen, double left-click will Mike to interact with objects and talk to people. Right-click will make Mike to examine objects. And inventory works in same way as in my MAGS game The Faketrix.

 

Ez: Will there be a music and/or speech pack?

P: Digital soundtrack is in production as I mentioned earlier. As for the speech pack, I thought about it, but maybe after the game is finished. It would need lots of work to do speech for realistic game like Chrille said in the last issue.

Ez: What is the release date you are going for?

P: I’m not sure yet… I’m pretty sure that you get the demo before the end of the year, but whole game will be probably released somewhere in 2004.

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Ez: What will your future projects be?

P: I’m planning to finish my small game A Winter Night. I have some pretty good ideas, but more planning after finishing Gold lagoon. Oh, and team challenge, that must be finish too.

Ez: Speaking of team challenge, what do you think is the reason for its failure?

P: I think teams tried to make too big game. Also lack of time and challengers’ own projects won’t probably give enough time for working with it. After the deadline was reached, every team just had to finish their games, but so far no games are finished.

Ez: Do you think adventure games will come back to the main gaming scene?

P: I surely hope that they would. There should be more developers to make adventure games, because Monkey Island 4 and The Longest Journey for example have sold pretty well I think. I hope Broken Sword 3 and Sam ‘n’ Max 2 would inspire developers to make more adventure games.

Ez: Did you get Runaway yet?

P: No, but I would like to try it. Actually I saw a copy of it in the local store…

Ez: Do you think that some of the AGS adventures can be sold?

P: Sure. Making a game that can be sold surely needs hard work, but it’s possible.

Ez: What is your motivation in making a game?

P: It’s like a hobby. I love adventure games and I make them for all those other adventure game fans. Believing your game helps a lot as someone said on the AGS forums.

Ez: Thanks for your time.

P: You’re welcome.

Goldlagoon Preview

Another promising adventure out there is Gold lagoon by Petteri Aartolahti. It is about a private eye, who just got his first more interesting case. The plot promises many intrigues and I am surely eager to know what it is about in details, which probably will not be sooner than the release of the game.

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         The art of the game is overall very good, using a low resolution, and a nice cartoony style. The sketches also look very nice, and Petteri has made his best to colour them as well as possible. Of course, you can all see this in the absolutely exclusive screenshots here.

         The music of the game is also very cool judging from the small tunes Petteri and LGM have released. There will also be an optional digital music pack for all to download, which will surely strengthen the atmosphere of the game.

         The game will also be partially non-linear, which will give it a high replay value. We can expect a release in 2004. Thumbs up for this one!