from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adventures or adventure games refer to a specific genre of computer games . The main principle of adventure is an underlying story. By exploring and solving puzzles, this story is experienced in the adventure. Depending on the design of the game elements, the transition to action adventure or role play can be fluid. Adventures are almost always single player games.

Text adventures

Text adventures present the actual game events in text form and either do not use graphics and sound effects at all or use them as additional illustrative elements. The communication between the player and the game takes place via a text parser . Instructions are entered in natural language on the keyboard or (as in some titles by Legend Entertainment, for example ) are put together from existing text modules and then interpreted by the computer. So you look for your way through the fictional world with the help of commands like “Talk to the host” or “Take your sword”.

The adventure "ADVENT" on an Osborne 1 around 1982

The first known game of its kind was Adventure by William Crowther and Don Woods . Crowther had developed the original version (a virtual cave tour without real play elements) for his children in 1972 and published it in the Arpanet in 1975 or 1976 ; Woods converted the program into a game by adding puzzles and fantasy elements. The game, later also known as ADVENT and Colossal Cave , is now the first known adventure game and gave the genre its name. A large part of the adventures developed in the following five years were developed at universities and followed the content requirement of Adventure , to find treasures in an area to be explored. At first, text adventures were an American domain; the first European adventure was the Acheton , developed in Cambridge in 1978 , with 403 rooms the most extensive adventure in the world at the time. Acheton's authors , including Jonathan Partington, made their development environment freely accessible. Partington was later at Cambridge University tutor to Graham Nelson , who revived the text adventure genre under the name Interactive Fiction in the 1990s. The first adventure game that did not take place in a cave system was the Haunt , developed at Carnegie Mellon University in 1979 , which relocated the game principle of the treasure hunt to an old mansion and for the first time introduced a noteworthy background story. However, there were also earlier representatives such as Wander (around 1974). The first adventures for the new home computers was published by Scott Adams , who brought the first commercially available adventure game to the market with the game Adventureland, which he began selling in 1978 . The US company Infocom was known in the 1980s for its text adventure games, in particular the Zork series . Other companies of the time were Adventure International (founded by Scott Adams), Sierra Online , Level 9 and Magnetic Scrolls .

Screenshot of Mystery House

In 1980, the newly formed company published "On-line System" (later Sierra On-line ) of the couple Ken and Roberta Williams with Mystery House the first adventure with graphic elements, but not limited to simple line drawings. In a playful way, it was still a hybrid form in which the images were mainly used to better visualize the surroundings. After a few more titles of the same style, the company finally achieved its breakthrough in 1984 with King's Quest : For the first time, the player was graphically represented in an adventure game by a character that he could navigate through the virtual environment with the help of the arrow keys. Apart from navigating the character, the interaction with the computer worked as before: for each interaction, text commands had to be entered via the keyboard.

The text-based graphic adventure games from the Trillum company (later: Telarium ) emphasized the closeness to literature in the mid-1980s and relied heavily on classic narrative elements. Their graphics were mainly used for illustrative purposes, but were also partially functional (for example, depicting objects that the player could pick up or that he could ask other game characters about). The game development in collaboration with established writers - for example, the science fiction author Ray Bradbury wrote a special introduction for the adventure Fahrenheit 451 based on his novel of the same name - led to complex, interactive stories in terms of content. A court simulation ( Perry Mason: The Case of the Mandarin Murder ) offered the player, who acted as the fictional defense lawyer Perry Mason , varied dialogues with non-player characters and different ways of ending the game. Overall, the Telarium Adventures were characterized on the one hand by partly innovative interaction options; on the other hand, their demands were often higher than what was actually feasible in a computer game of the time. The desired closeness to reality could not always be achieved due to the hardware restrictions in the 1980s, but also due to general structural problems of text-based interactive fiction.

In the commercial sector, text adventures play practically no role, at least outside of Japan, as they were replaced by graphic adventures in the 1980s. However, a community of hobby developers was formed who are still developing new games of this kind to this day. With the advent of accessible programming languages ​​such as TADS (1988) or Inform (1993), creating your own text adventures was made much easier, as hardware knowledge was no longer required. In order to do justice to the sometimes high literary level of modern text adventures and to illustrate the basic relationship to printed literature, this genre is also known as Interactive Fiction (short: IF), a name originally introduced by Infocom for its own games. The games range from classic collections of puzzles with a rather secondary plot to a form of experimental literature that has little in common with the old conventions of the genre. The developer and player scene organizes regular competitions such as the Interactive Fiction Competition . The best amateur developments are usually awarded annually and made available for free download.

A comprehensive list of text adventures can be found in the list of text adventures .

Point and click adventures

The decisive further development from text adventure with or without stationary graphics to pure graphic adventure took place in 1984: In the Adventure Enchanted Scepters developed for the Apple Macintosh by the Californian company Silicon Beach Software, all of the required command components could be put together using drop-down menus . The Déjà Vu: A Nightmare Comes True by ICOM Simulations , published the following year , already had buttons for the vocabulary and a graphically displayed player inventory. Lucasfilm Games (later LucasArts ) published Labyrinth, his first graphic adventure game in 1986 , which already showed the beginnings of the later very successful interaction system SCUMM .

Great popularity reached the new point-and-click (dt. Show and click ) control concept called as Lucasfilm Games 1987 Maniac Mansion published his first play, which built on the SCUMM system. A large image section shows a scene from the game world, in which the player can control his alter ego with mouse clicks. The interaction with the environment works via a series of verbs in the lower part of the screen, which can be clicked together with the objects from the game scene to form simple sentences (e.g. "Open door", "Use key with door").

LucasArts continued to develop SCUMM technology in the following years and used it for games like Zak McKracken , the Monkey Island series and Sam & Max , which were extremely popular and successful in their time and still have a large fan base today.

The Myst era

A further simplification of the user interface took place from 1993 when the brothers Robyn and Rand Miller published their game Myst . Myst depicts the events from the first-person perspective and managed completely without verbs or other complex interaction models. A simple click in the area was enough to navigate through the game world and interact with it. Like its successors , the title was characterized by long product cycles, high production values ​​and elaborate 3D graphics with copied film actors. The gaming experience is essentially based on exploring the surroundings, deciphering how they work and solving abstract puzzles in a logical combination. A complex mythology is revealed to the player bit by bit , which has also been continued in several novels. Contrary to what was customary until then, the player in Myst did not take on the role of a ready-made character, but represented himself, which was made possible by using the first person perspective .

The Myst series is still one of the best-selling game series in computer history, even if the latest offshoots were no longer as successful as their predecessors. This success has led to many competitors launching similar products in the years after 1993. These games, often referred to as "Myst clones", never overtook the role model. Although a loyal fan base has remained to this day, the special concept of the series repeatedly leads to harsh criticism from players who see no attraction in such titles.

Death of a genre?

The end of the 1980s and early 1990s Adventures were very popular. In addition to LucasArts and Sierra, other companies served the market: Westwood Studios created their own fantasy world with their series The Legend of Kyrandia , the Gobliiins from Coktel Vision led through tricky fantasy scenes in several parts and Simon the Sorcerer from Adventure Soft copied this The recipe for success of the LucasArts classics.

Then, however, increasingly sophisticated technology began to produce new types of games: first-person shooters such as Doom or Quake revolutionized the gaming world, while attempts to advance the already relatively mature adventure genre through further innovations often failed due to the lack of acceptance by the players. In addition, the increasingly younger target group preferred less top-heavy games. The adventure market stagnated while the overall market grew explosively. After the critically acclaimed Grim Fandango by LucasArts (a commercial failure ) and Funcom's The Longest Journey in 1998 and 1999, the genre seemed to be disappearing for good. Well-known companies such as Sierra and LucasArts have completely abandoned their traditional market segment.

Boom in the new millennium

At the moment, however, an upswing can be seen again. More and more high-quality adventure games are appearing, some of which have again notable commercial success. This development began with the publication of Runaway , which after it appeared in its home country Spain initially threatened to disappear into the bankruptcy of the former publisher , but was then published in 2002 by dtp entertainment in Germany and finally in other countries as well could appear. Subsequently, Dreamcatcher Interactive took up the genre internationally and dtp in German-speaking countries and published several adventures every year.

The Austrian group monochrom published two adventure games in 2005 and 2009 with good media coverage, which deal with the history of Soviet Unterzögersdorf .

Since the commercially unusually successful Runaway , for example, the dark horror game Black Mirror , the poetic Syberia double by comic artist Benoît Sokal or the titles The Moment of Silence , Ankh and Secret Files Tunguska , developed in Germany, have again appeared high-quality adventures that both were positively received by the trade press as well as by many players. But even if the trend towards more and better adventure games continues at the moment (2012), the genre continues to eke out a niche existence: the budgets are considerably lower than with more popular genres such as first-person shooters and the sales figures are lower.

Many of the classic adventure games no longer run smoothly on modern computers. Early adventures were developed for computer systems like the Commodore 64 or the Commodore Amiga , which have not been in use since the late 1990s. For these you have to use emulators for the most part in order to be able to play them today. An open source project called ScummVM is working successfully to provide a free engine for the old LucasArts adventures so that they can also be played on modern systems. The system now supports more games that are not based on SCUMM technology.

Edge areas of the genre

In recent adventure history, the question of the limits of the genre arose. Games with radical innovations have appeared several times and created completely new gaming experiences that are difficult to classify in the usual classification systems.

In 2003, In Memoriam, a CD was released that was supposedly published by the kidnapper of two journalists as a mysterious lead to his hiding place. The player now had to solve the mystery of the fictional kidnapper in a combination of games of skill and puzzles that could be solved with the help of real internet research. In 2005, Quantic Dream completed its game Fahrenheit , which was staged like an interactive film with real-time 3D graphics and told a complex science fiction story. In contrast to the usual adventures, Fahrenheit essentially consisted of various skill tests, which is why some players do not see the title as an adventure.

In addition to the innovations, there are more and more mixed forms of adventure, action-adventure , role-playing and other types of games that are further softening the genre boundaries. So connecting Psychonauts of game designer Tim Schafer , who previously for classics such as Day of the Tentacle or full throttle was responsible elements of Adventures 3D platformers . A differentiation of adventure games from other games is even more difficult today than in the 1980s.

Amateur scene

As a reaction to the exit of many companies from the adventure sector, many fans have decided to develop their own adventures, so-called fan adventures . These are either programmed from scratch or put together with suitable development environments. Examples of graphic development environments for adventures - also programmed by private individuals - include the Adventure Game Studio , the Wintermute Engine , the Point & Click Development Kit and the German-language Visionaire .

Dead ends

In the first years of adventure games, there were often dead ends in adventure games, i.e. game situations in which the game can no longer be solved. The player only has the option of restarting the game or loading an old saved game. Since most players find dead ends frustrating, they are avoided in today's adventure games. A distinction must be made here between dead ends, which the player does not know that he is in, and game abandons due to game over .

In early text adventures such as Zork , dead ends were an essential element in increasing the depth of the game . Even with the appearance of the first graphic adventures, dead ends were still a common stylistic device, especially in the first parts of the Sierra On-Line series King’s Quest , Space Quest or Leisure Suit Larry . The player has to deal with the question of whether a previous action has an influence on the current puzzle. Due to the uncertainty as to whether the game can still be solved at all, an old game save often has to be loaded or the entire game has to be restarted in order to try out a different action. A single action can influence the game in detail, but most of the storyline remains unchanged, so that the player often has to play long game sections repeatedly.

The code name: ICEMAN , published in 1989, goes one step further and accuses the player of being a cheater if he repeats a dice scene more than twice by loading a game - the game is then reset to the beginning of the dice game.

In order not to frustrate the players with unfair game situations, the developers gradually moved away from deliberate dead ends from the late 1980s. In the adventures Maniac Mansion (1987) and Zak McKracken (1988) by Lucasfilm Games there are still some deliberate dead ends, but they can usually be guessed as such in advance. On the other hand, if a character is caught by a villain, it can be released again in both games. Some dead ends result from a game constellation which the developer either did not consider sufficiently in the non-linear course of action or accepted.

Adventure developers have usually been avoiding dead ends since the early 1990s, for example in the Monkey Island games (from 1990) or Myst (from 1993), with no game-over situations occurring in the regular course of the game . However, this is not necessarily the rule: for example in the series Baphomets Fluch (from 1996) or in Fahrenheit (2005) it is possible that the character dies and the game is over. Sometimes the scene that led to the death of the character can be repeated immediately without losing game progress. There was already a try-again dialog in the Leisure Suit Larry 6 , published in 1993 , with which a deadly action could be withdrawn.

Japanese adventures

Typical appearance of Japanese adventure games

Japanese adventure games have been among the best-selling games in Japan for decades. These account for 70% of all computer game titles in Japan. Some (commercial as well as fan-based) are so successful that novels, radio plays, manga or anime appear on them. Outside of Japan, however, they are hardly present at all.

The majority are text adventures without a verb system with anime-style illustrations. Many of them are more interactive novels whose focus - unlike their Western counterparts - is more on the plot than on puzzles and the like. The interaction with the game is therefore limited to asking the game at certain decision points how to proceed further, from which the user selects or dispenses with them entirely. There is often a strong romantic aspect to the plot. In the electronic versions of game books , the reader can also influence a textually represented story through decisions.

However, there are also the “classic” point-and-click graphic adventures with puzzle parts, such as Hotel Dusk: Room 215 .

Well-known adventures

Major series

Period Surname developer comment
From 1979 Zork Infocom Most famous text adventure series, later games contain graphics.
From 1984 King's Quest Sierra On-Line Created by Roberta Williams . King's Quest I is one of the first graphics adventures.
From 1987 Leisure suit Larry Sierra On-Line Raunchy adventures from Al Lowe starring cult figure Larry Laffer.
From 1989 Quest for Glory Sierra On-Line Adventure series with role play elements .
From 1989 Tex Murphy Access software
From 1989 Indiana Jones LucasArts Graphic adventures with the famous archaeologist. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out in 1989 and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis came out in 1992. This was followed by two action adventures called Indiana Jones and the Tower of Babel (1999) and Indiana Jones and the Legend of the Imperial Crypt (2003)
Since 1990 Monkey Island LucasArts Cult series about the would-be pirate Guybrush Threepwood. The 1st part The Secret of Monkey Island appeared in 1990, the 2nd part Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge 1991, the 3rd part The Curse of Monkey Island 1997 and the 4th part Escape from Monkey Island in 2000. 2009 was the Series continued by the Telltale Games and its 5th part came out under the name Tales of Monkey Island in 5 episodes.
From 1992 Alone in the Dark Infogrames Action-packed horror adventures about detective Edward Carnby.
From 1992 The Legend of Kyrandia Westwood Studios Three-part adventure series about court jesters and magicians.
From 1993 Gabriel Knight Sierra On-Line Mystery adventure series from Jane Jensen .
From 1993 Myst Cyan Worlds , Broderbund Most successful adventure series, controversial gameplay.
From 1993 Simon the Sorcerer Adventure Soft Monkey Island style wizarding adventure .
From 1993 Sam & Max LucasArts, Telltale Games Based on the comic duo by Steve Purcell . The first game was released by LucasArts in 1993 . From 2006 new adventures from Telltale Games appeared , this time in episode format and with 3D graphics.
From 1996 Baphomet's curse Revolution software Indiana Jones style adventure series .
From 1997 Atlantis Cryo Most popular series of ego adventures according to Myst.
From 1997 Crusade series Wanadoo Four-part series with games on the theme of the same name.
From 1997 To heart Leaf Part 1 significantly shaped the eroge and helped the visual novels to break through.
From 1999 Dracula series Wanadoo 3D horror adventure based on passages from Bram Stoker's novel.
From 1999 The Longest Journey Funcom Futuristic fantasy adventure about reality and dream world by Ragnar Tørnquist , which was continued in 2006 in Dreamfall - The Longest Journey. The sequel to the Dreamfall Chapters series is currently being released in episode format.
From 2002 Syberia Microids Classic adventure from Benoît Sokal .
From 2002 Higurashi no Naku Koro ni 07th expansion Japanese fan adventure series that sold more than 500,000 copies and was adapted as a TV series and feature film.
From 2003 Runaway Péndulo Studios Part 1 has contributed significantly to the genre's boom in recent years. So far, three parts have been published.
From 2004 Black Mirror Future Games Classic adventure around a mysterious castle. Part 2 was released in September 2009. Part 3 was released in February 2011.
From 2005 Ankh Deck13 Was voted "Best German Game 2005" by the industry. The second part of the series was published in 2006 and the third part at the end of 2007.
From 2005 Bone: Out from Boneville Telltale Games Most popular example of a series of adventure games that is distributed episodically over the Internet.
since 2006 Tunguska secret files Animation Arts , Fusionsphere Systems Very successful mystery adventure series from German production, the 2nd part of Secret Files 2: Puritas Cordis was published in 2008. The 3rd part of the series Secret Files 3 was published in 2012.
since 2006 Blackwell Wadjet Eye Games Retro-style adventure series about a psychologically gifted journalist. The fifth and final part was published in 2014.
2008 Edna & Harvey Daedalic Entertainment Successful classic adventure from Germany. Part 1: Edna breaks out , Part 2: Harvey's new eyes .
from 2009 on The Book of Unwritten Tales King Art German 3D adventure with numerous awards. The Book of Unwritten Tales: Die Vieh Chroniken was published in 2011, The Book of Unwritten Tales 2 in 2015.
from 2012 Deponia Daedalic Entertainment Most successful German adventure trilogy to date, the 2nd part Chaos auf Deponia was released in autumn of the same year, the 3rd part Goodbye Deponia was released in 2013 and the fourth part Deponia Doomsday in 2016.
from 2012 the Walking Dead Telltale Games Episodic adventure game series that focuses on making decisions that affect the gameplay. The second season was released in 2013 and a third season has been in progress since 2015.
from 2015 Life is strange Dontnod entertainment Episodic adventure series about growing up. In 2017 the prequel, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm , was released by Deck Nine Games . Another part called Life Is Strange 2 was released in September 2018. The corresponding demo called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit was released in June 2018.

Important individual games

year title developer comment
1975 Adventure William Crowther First text adventure.
1978 Adventureland Scott Adams First text adventure for home computers .
1980 Mystery House Sierra On-Line First adventure with graphic elements.
1982 The hobbit Melbourne House According to JRR Tolkien .
1985 Déjà Vu: A Nightmare Comes True ICOM simulations Developed on the innovative MacVenture engine, it is considered the first point-and-click adventure and inspired many later games such as Maniac Mansion .
1986 Leather Goddesses of Phobos Infocom Pure text adventure; Special feature: 3 levels of "slippery" text output (Lewd level).
1986 Murder on the Mississippi Activision Graphic adventure with joystick control, in which the actions are selected from a context-sensitive menu.
1987 Maniac Mansion LucasFilm Games Introduced the SCUMM system and inspired many later adventures with humor and interface.
1988 The Guild of Thieves Magnetic scrolls With stationary images of the environment.
1988 Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders LucasFilm Games Second SCUMM game that found many fans, especially in Germany.
1990 The hourglass World forge One of the few successful German-language text adventures.
1990 Loom LucasFilm Games Innovative fantasy adventure that communicates with the player using notes .
1991 Cruise for a Corpse Dolphins software First adventure with fluid vector graphics.
1993 Day of the tentacle LucasArts Introduced new comic book style to LucasArts; Sequel to Maniac Mansion.
1993 The 7th Guest Trilobyte Groundbreaking horror puzzle game for the introduction and rapid distribution of the CD-ROM.
1994 Heirs of the earth The Dreamers Guild Futuristic adventure after the extinction of mankind.
1994 Beneath a Steel Sky Revolution software Science fiction adventure that made Revolution Software famous.
1995 Full throttle LucasArts Rocker adventure with action inserts.
1995 The Dig LucasArts Serious science fiction adventure.
1995 The Riddle of Master Lu Eidos Interactive Travel adventure in which you slip into the role of the globetrotter Robert Ripley .
1996 Toonstruck Virgin Interactive Mixture of rough humor, colorful comic graphics and the filmed Christopher Lloyd in the lead role.
1996 Normality Gremlin Interactive Funny vision of the future with parallels to George Orwell . With its Doom- like graphics, Normality is the first real 3D adventure.
1997 The Last Express Broderbund Innovation through real-time history.
1997 Blade runner Westwood Studios Elaborate game based on the film .
1998 Grim Fandango LucasArts Introduced a new control concept in LucasArts Adventures.
1998 Sanitarium - the madness is within you ASC Games Adventure in a surreal style.
1999 Discworld Noir Perfect entertainment An adventure set on the Discworld, very reminiscent of Film Noir.
1999 canon Key Ren'ai adventure , which was implemented twice as a television series due to its success.
2000 Tsukihime TYPE MOON Very extensive fan adventure that sold exceptionally well in Japan.
2000 Air Key Successful Ren'ai adventure that was implemented as a television series and movie.
2004 The moment of silence House of Tales The first major adventure game developed in Germany for several years.
2004 Fenimore Fillmore - The Westerner Revistronic , Crimson Cow 3D point-and-click adventure in comic style, sequel to 3 Skulls of the Toltecs.
2005 Fahrenheit Quantic Dream Interactive film in real time 3D.
2007 Jack Keane Deck13 Classic German adventure that is reminiscent of Monkey Island.
2009 Machinarium Amanita design Adventure without a spoken word but a fantastic game world.
2010 A New Beginning Daedalic Entertainment Classic adventure game, which was chosen as the best German game in 2011 at the German Computer Game Award.
2010 Back to the Future - The Game Telltale Games Five-part adventure series that was released from December 2010 to June 2011. Some of the roles are voiced by the original actors.
2014 Broken Age Double Fine Productions Split game funded by a crowdfunding campaign on that generated a lot of attention for adventure games. The second half appeared in 2015.


Text adventures

Web links

Commons : Adventure  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Graham Nelson: The Inform Designer's Manual . 4th edition. The Interactive Fiction Library, St. Charles 2001, ISBN 0-9713119-0-0 , pp. 347 .
  2. Montfort, p. 115
  3. Montfort, p. 121
  4. Konrad Lischka: Young technology with an old tradition. Reflections on the cultural history of computer games. Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2005 (Chapter Development - From Words to Images of Virtual Realities )
  5. Werner Faulstich : Of trolls, wizards, power and other wondrous adventures. Small introduction to interactive computer fairy tales. In: Journal of Literary Studies and Linguistics . Volume 92, 1993, pp. 96-125 (especially p. 114).
  6. Jimmy Maher: Let's Tell a Story Together. A History of Interactive Fiction. Senior Honor's Thesis, University of Texas, Dallas 2006 (Chapter 6 The Rest of commercial IF - Tirllium / Telarium ).
  7. Point & Click Adventures . In: Retro Gamer . 3/2015, June 2015, p. 20.
  8. Code name: ICEMAN. Retrieved March 30, 2018 .
  9. AMN and Anime Advanced Announce Anime Game Demo Downloads - Anime News Network.