A couple weeks back now, we discussed “Adventure Games” in the comments and what they were and what they were not.
One of the big things that I think helped create and define adventure games at the time was two major things:
1. These games were for home play, rather than arcade play and so setting up situations where the player would “die” were seen as unnecessary
2. The hardware itself had a lot of limitations
These things worked together. Home video game graphics were not very good when compared to what you could see in the arcades. I suppose that this makes sense, given that most home systems were designed to have graphics better suited for such things as readable text and spreadsheets and data input while uprights needed graphics, graphics, and more graphics and, really, the only input was four directions and a handful of buttons (jump, fire, maybe something else if you were doing something really crazy like in Defender).
So if you were selling your game that had access to a whole lot of buttons and couldn’t rely on such things as joysticks, you had completely different sandboxes to play in and you needed to market your games differently. Sure, you could do a home version of the upright game you find in the arcade, but removing the whole “it costs a quarter a play” thing revealed that a lot of the games in the arcade kinda sucked when you removed urgency. (As I’m sure that anyone who has fiddled with ROMs has discovered.)
So you need to make a game that doesn’t rely on urgency, might not have a joystick at all, has a full keyboard, and can’t rely on a system that has a hyper-focus on graphics?
Well… I suppose… you could run with the whole “interactive story” thing… and the obstacles that you throw up against the player rely on mental dexterity rather than manual dexterity… so puzzles…
And, next thing you know, you’ve got King’s Quest.
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))