Thimbleweed Park™

Ron Gilbert's wilfully retro point-and-clicker Thimbleweed Park might be excellent, but it's not - thanks to its precisely structured narrative - an experience that felt like it would benefit from additional story DLC. Which is probably how we've ended up with Ransome *Unbeeped*.

Ransome *Unbeeped* is the name of Thimbleweed Park's first paid-for DLC - and it exists to do one thing and one thing alone. It entirely removes the family friendly censorship beeps that mask Ransome the clown's frequently foul-mouthed tirades.

I'll be honest, it never even occurred to me that there might be actual f-bombs and p-diddles underneath the endless procession of beeps - I'd just kind of assumed that the beeps were as written in the script. But no, there are definite swears under there, albeit seemingly nowhere near as imaginatively filthy as you might be expecting.

Read more…

Thimbleweed Park™

Ransome the Clown is a foul-mouthed character in Thimbleweed Park, the retro-styled point-and-click adventure released last year by Terrible Toybox. Not in a way that will get you kicked out of nice restaurants, though: His way with words is softened in the game through the liberal use of the censor's bleeper every time he speaks. But if you'd prefer to play the game uncensored—Ransome Raw, you might say—then the new "Ransome Unbeeped" DLC could be just what you're looking for. 

The DLC is exactly what it appears to be, a fact that Ransome himself (it's probably the developers or a PR agency, but we'll play along with the theme) makes no effort to hide. "I’m not talking about new content, deleted scenes, or alternate endings—this isn’t a *beeping* director’s cut," he said. "What you will get is the same great game with none of the *beeping* beeps drowning out my lines." 

I'll be honest, the language under the beeps is not as colorful as I'd hoped. There are penty of f-bombs but no compound words, extended strings, or anatomical references anywhere. I like the f-word as much as anyone, but you have to mix it up or it gets boring quick. Hopefully they're saving the good stuff for the game. 

The Thimbleweed Park: Ransome Unbeeped DLC will cost you two bucks on Steam or GOG. Be aware that only the English audio track is affected—the subtitles will remain beeped. 

The trailer below, in case it needs to be said, is definitely NSFW, unless your workplace happens to be very swear-friendly. 

Thimbleweed Park™ - (Alice O'Connor)

The Total War games have a tradition, so they can dodge the censors and get a lower age rating, of toning down the gore then releasing a big bucket of blood and mutilation as paid DLC. That way, teens still get to murder but adults can see the full consequences of murder. Now Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick’s retro point ‘n’ clicker Thimbleweed Park has seemingly followed suit. Well, with swearing, not decapitation. If you wish to hear Ransome the *Beeping* Clown swearing his teeth out, you may now pay $2 for DLC to remove the censoring beeps from his dialogue. (more…)

Thimbleweed Park™ - jennsand

The mystery adventure game Thimbleweed Park may have five playable characters, but let's face it: Ransome the Clown steals the show. If only his colorful language weren't censored to protect your delicate eardrums.

Good news, Thimbleweed Park aficionados! For the low price of $1.99, you can now remove the annoying beeps from Ransome's dialogue and hear his lines as the artiste originally intended. *Beep* yeah!

Exactly what can you expect from an uncensored Thimbleweed Park? Check out the new DLC to find out, then go wash your ears out with soap:

NOTE: To enable the *unbeeped* voice, go to Options -> Video and check the box. This option is not sticky, so you need to turn it on each time to start (you know, for the kids)
Thimbleweed Park™

I finished the Dragon Age games on 'nightmare'. I just want you to know that.

I was advised not to waste words proving my 'gamer cred'. I was like, "Sure, I’ve been playing since the Exidy Sorcerer and reviewing games professionally for 10 years, but that’s totally not relevant. Whatever." But after four serpents killed me in Avernum 3’s tutorial area on 'casual' difficulty, my cred feels relevant. 

Avernum 3: Ruined World is Spiderweb Software’s second remaster of what was originally Exile 3: Ruined World back in 1997. It’s a classic roleplaying game with turn-based combat, abundant loot, lots of story, and everything else you expect. Not only do NPCs react (and reveal their attitudes towards) the non-humans in my party, like the cold-blooded Slitherkai and cat-like Nephilim, I could specialize the first as a lockpicking missile expert and the second as a knowledgeable priest. There are so many points to buy so many things.  So, what’s up with the serpents?

My error was not inexperience, it was hubris. I figured I could explore further than I should have, underestimating how much experience would be needed for early missions. I didn’t need to be handed bigger swords or squishier serpents, just a reminder to progress sensibly through an open world.

Avernum 3's hint book. SPOILERS.

In Avernum 3’s opening stages, what I needed to hear was "Go to B and collect all of the supplies there" and then "You should probably go to Upper Avernum to gain some experience. You can get missions from Commander Johnson at D." The kind of information that is friendly and specific, like you might find in a let’s play. I don’t have time for one of those, but fortunately Avernum 3 has an official hint book and it is my new favorite thing. 

I was traversing the outside of Lord British s castle, hunting for secrets, and in a patch of forest (in the bottom right corner of the map), I found Joshua.

I ask designer Jeff Vogel if his games have always had hint books. "Yes, ever since Exile: Escape from the Pit came out in 1995," he says. "For a small game like ours, you can’t just google one. IGN doesn’t write big guides for our games and there are no wikis, like for Dark Souls or AAA games. Our first games were shareware, so our demos were distributed on CDs and over AOL. We mailed hint books on actual paper, using actual stamps."

As a kid my dad convinced me that he had a "friend at work" he would ask for help "in a couple of days." He was actually consulting hidden hint books on a shelf. (It was a lesson in delayed gratification.) For RPGs, I always needed maps.  

Avernum 3’s level design encourages exploration. Towns and cities aren’t just places to rest and re-stock, but also intriguing places to poke around in. They tell the story of an exiled, subterranean people who are striving to understand, and return to, the world’s surface and are full of secrets. 

They reminded me of my favorite moment in Ultima IV. I was traversing the outside of Lord British’s castle, hunting for secrets, and in a patch of forest (in the bottom right corner of the map), I found Joshua. A hint-giver, oddly enough. It was completely unexpected because you literally can’t see him until you are standing on an adjacent tile. 

If there was some hint leading to Joshua’s location in Ultima IV, I never found it. Avernum 3 is peppered with these kind of hidden encounters. Towns often have monsters and animals skulking around the edges as well, though most combat takes place in dungeons like the Slime Pit. It’s a highly intuitive dungeon. A central panel opens doors corresponding to their underground location and the boss is progressively weakened, shown by a visual cue that is easy to understand.

In the Slime Pit, I didn’t need help, but I enjoyed confirming my approach with the hint book after I’d cleared it. The hint book has instructions on how to navigate the area and weaken the boss, but more specific tips are absent. I also found an (undocumented) orb that can open just one of the magical doors I’ve seen everywhere. Can I appreciate the joy of that discovery, or did I want the guide to tell me it was there? I’m honestly not sure. 

In that guide I also read that vampires had level-drained poor Anomen and that there was a star sapphire in a privy in De Arnise Keep.

In creating the hint books, one of Vogel’s aims is, "To think about what the player would want and might miss." He also says, "It’d be nice to have maps for every section, but that would be too awkward and too much work. I give a full walkthrough, answers to all the quests, guides to hidden dungeons, and lists of special collectibles." This is true, but I wonder whether I want Avernum 3’s hint book to be even more detailed. Don’t misunderstand me. It’s wonderful—and that is why I want more of it.

Firkraag was the first dragon I slew in Baldur’s Gate 2. But before I enjoyed that moment of triumph I read the comprehensive Prima guide, because I couldn’t figure out how to cause Firkraag any damage. In that guide I also read that vampires had level-drained poor Anomen and that there was a star sapphire in a privy in De’Arnise Keep. I was richer for knowing, literally.

So, what’s the point of all of this? That games should have hint books because some lady needs her hand held? Don’t be silly. I played Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2 — Martian Dreams hint-free. (Well, up to the frozen laboratory and plant-robots. I got that far. It was very far.) Hint books are an opportunity to welcome players, old and new. If indie iterations of 'hardcore' games can find a larger audience without sacrificing what makes them special, we can play more of them. That’s good for everyone, surely. "For a small developer, hint books make a significant bunch of extra money," Vogel says.

Official guides that are tailored to genre and play experience have been, at least to some extent, replaced by trying to navigate a let's play, which is a process fraught with spoilers and time wasting.

If it's super easy to get hints, then people will do that all the time. If it's super hard to get hints, people who are already frustrated enough to want a hint will get even more frustrated.

Jenn Sandercock

I enjoy watching let’s play videos for fun, but less so when it’s an adventure game and I just need a hint. Last year I reviewed Thimbleweed Park, a modern iteration of the early LucasArts adventures, like Monkey Island, made by some of the original designers. On the two occasions I was stuck a PR representative named Emily Morganti deftly alluded to a solution rather than spoiling me, as a video would have. I felt like I’d solved the puzzle myself.

Wanting the same experience for other players but figuring Emily wouldn’t have time to talk to literally everyone, I made an incremental hint guide in Twine, which has been used more than 15,000 times. Later, in one of Thimbleweed Park’s updates, it became the HintTron 3000, an in-game hintline you can call from any of the game’s phones. You can then access progressively more explicit hints, including a solution, for any puzzles that are currently relevant to your game state.

But why the phone? It’s reminiscent of the expensive hintlines you could call before the internet was a thing. (I never called one, thanks to living in Australia. My dad wouldn’t even call his "friend" who was "not in our area code".)

Programmer, designer, and producer Jenn Sandercock, in addition to implementing the system, reorganized my hints so they could be found at appropriate times. "I think we got the friction element spot on," she says. "If it's super easy to get hints, then people will do that all the time. If it's super hard to get hints, people who are already frustrated enough to want a hint will get even more frustrated. In Thimbleweed Park, you need to find a working phone, or switch to a character who has one, and dial a number. Then you need to listen to some preamble, work your way through a dialog tree and then you'll find your hint."

I read a lot of positive feedback about the HintTron, as well as a few people saying it was difficult to exercise the self-control needed not to use it. (You can remove it by adding hintsEnabled:0 to the Prefs.json file.) I do understand this. A flatmate bought me The Longest Journey and she showed me the incremental Universal Hint System guide. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Hints are basically Mentos. 

I ask Sandercock where the line should be drawn between an essential instruction or clue that is baked into a game, and a hint. "It must be possible for players to complete the entire puzzle without any hints. You can't ask people to do something and then have nothing in the world, or people's common knowledge, that says how to go about solving the puzzle.

I remembered every puzzle I solved, because having help didn't detract from the potency of my own achievements.

"The hints should only be there to reinforce or remind people of things they already know, might have missed or to help them make a leap in logic. A character might say, 'I need Thimbleberry Pie'. There must be clues as to how to find or make pie embedded into the world, but players might see them before they've been given the task (and so could ignore them), skip over the text quickly or they might take a break from playing the game and forget the details."

When Avernum 3’s hint book told me to find Johnson, I remembered that a character had mentioned to do so. I had not been prevented from leaving Fort Emergence before I’d completed this 'tutorial step', as might happen in a modern RPG. It is a truly open world. 

Thimbleweed Park also lets you discover things in your own sequence, potentially creating problems. "One unexpected thing about the HintTron was people being able to learn which puzzles they could solve or were meant to be solving now," says Sandercock. "It is a big game and there are times when there are things you think you can do, but you can't until you unlock a new area or character."

Oddly, I can’t recall where I needed subtle suggestions from Emily in Thimbleweed Park. What I remember is finding specks of dust, right when I needed a coin and thinking, "This game is teaching me how to pixel hunt." In making my Twine guide, I barely needed to refer back to the game. I remembered every puzzle I solved, because having help didn't detract from the potency of my own achievements.

So I’m proud to be both a user and creator of game guides. The first I ever contributed to (professionally) was for The Sims 2, shortly after its release. Guides for simulations can be different again, and Carl’s guide is a good example of one that inspires self-directed play by comprehensively outlining what is possible. I used it to make the ultimate gardener/fisherwoman/chef combo in The Sims 4.

As an 'old school' gamer, I do get sad when games change. Yet I speak to indie designers who want to recreate the experiences of their childhood without alienating enthusiastic newcomers who might enjoy their games. Making a guide should not indicate a failure of design or a lack of the player’s expertise. A guide should be like a helpful PR rep or the friend my dad invented—someone who doesn’t tell you what to do, but knows how to lead you there so you can discover it for yourself.

Path of Exile

Tim Clark: Simulacra  

Look, I'm nothing if not entirely predictable, so to the surprise of absolutely nobody, least of all myself, I failed to catch up on Assassin's Creed: Origins. To be fair I did boot it up and made it through a couple of missions, but as I saw its vast sandy expanse stretching away into the distance, I felt the clarion call of my old favourites. And so most of the break was spent grinding Destiny 2 for masterworks weapons, of which I now have an indecent amount, but somehow still no raid hand cannon. I also managed to crank out a successful Hearthstone Dungeon Run with every remaining class, thereby earning the card back. Shaman was the last to fall, and finally got over the line last night—but only after I started auto-quitting unless I was able to get the 'double Battlecry' passive buff and a decent batch of Jade cards.

In at least a slight change of pace, I did play most of my games on a laptop this Christmas, a gift from my family and myself to myself. Being able to plug the 1070-equipped ASUS into the bedroom TV and enjoy Destiny 2 at 1080p/60fps made for an illicit pleasure and long lie-ins. (I also ended up buying a wireless adapter and charging pack for the Elite controller.) And at least I managed to play one entirely new game stuff on the laptop. Inspired by Hannah Dwan's retrospective on 2017's best visual novels, I picked up Simulacra and finished it over the course of a couple of nights on the sofa with my other half.

This was the first 'missing phone' game I'd tried, and I loved the mix of stalker-themed Tinder mystery with weirder supernatural trappings. Creeping around the emails, Twitter account and chat logs of a girl who has disappeared becomes propulsively dramatic when a blizzard of new notifications start popping up. Simulacra doesn't quite stick the ending, but as a self-contained mystery it was still a great way to spend a few hours. You can pick it up on Steam in the Christmas sale right now at 30% off.

Steven Messner: Path of Exile

I had great, ambitious plans for this holiday break. With a back catalogue of games that had grown considerably over 2017, I was looking forward to making a big dent while sipping rum and eggnog in my underwear. I was going to finally wrap up Persona 5. I was going to try out PUBG’s new desert map. I was going to shovel the walks like a good neighbour should. And then I logged back into Path of Exile to give the new seasonal league a quick taste. I fell in love with the free-to-play ARPG back in September with its Fall of Oriath expansion, but I was curious about seeing how it had grown since then. Nearly two weeks later, I’m looking back at my holiday break in despair. Where the hell did it go?

I clocked in over 60 hours an average of five a day (though I m ashamed to admit there were a few days where it was much more). Path of Exile consumed me.

It’s been years since a game has wormed itself so deeply into my brain, but Path of Exile is like a fever that won’t break. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I woke up exhausted more than once because of a restless sleep filled with dreams of running maps, finding exorbitantly expensive unique items, and theorycrafting my build. I clocked in over 60 hours this holiday break—an average of five hours a day (though I’m ashamed to admit there were a few days where it was much more). Path of Exile consumed me. I’m finally willing to say that it might even be my Dota 2, the game that I will happily clock a thousand hours into and countless more talking and dreaming about.

Tyler Wilde: Civilization VI 

I uninstalled all my Civ 6 mods (some old, manually-installed mods were breaking all the icons and I couldn't remember which) and relegated half of New Year's Day to building a prosperous Russian civilization. I quit in the Classical Era to go find my old mods, though, disappointed by how few quality of life improvements have been made standard so far. Still no production queue? A strange omission. That aside, I still love Civ 6's district system, as I always thought it was silly that a city near the ocean couldn't have a harbor, and city-planning minutia is my favorite aspect of the series. 

Building mines, farms, camps, and roads, protecting caravans, erecting wonders and ensuring that every district is placed exactly where it out to be, maximizing gains—these are the reasons I play Civ, not warfare, so I'm typically on the defensive, protecting my perfectly symbiotic metropolises and hamlets from the absurd imperialist reasoning of my neighbors. Presently, Mvembra a Nzinga is furious that I won't spread my religion to his people, and Qin Shi Huang is upset that I've built more wonders than him. What did my peaceful, overly efficient society do to deserve such petty neighbors? Yet again I wonder if I wouldn't enjoy Civ more if I were by myself in the world.

Evan Lahti: They Are Billions 

Some of the most fun I had with RTSes as a kid was messing around with Command & Conquer: Red Alert's map editor. I'd make winding tesla coil death mazes that my opponent had to navigate in order to reach my spacious, well-supplied base. They Are Billions revives that same feeling of defense-focused strategy, except I'm the one being tortured.

I love the preparation for the payoff at the end, a Left 4 Dead-style finale where thousands of zombies are on screen simultaneously.

The structure of it is somewhere between StarCraft and a horde mode game like Killing Floor 2: you expand outward with pylon-like towers, hoovering up wood, minerals, and food off the map to feed your economy, but there isn't a true opponent on the map with you—you're the only one with an expanding base. Instead, there are crowds of mostly stagnant undead (with various durabilities, speeds, and attack types) occupying the map, and massive waves of them that attack every 15 minutes or so from a random direction.  

I love the preparation for the payoff at the end, a Left 4 Dead-style finale where actual thousands of zombies are on screen simultaneously, seeping in from all cardinal directions. Your north wall may be impregnable, but did you gather enough resources to reinforce that bottleneck to the west? An Early Access game, They Are Billions needs a little more depth and unpredictability in its midgame, but it nails the fun of building a sprawling defensive death machine and having it continually tested by a tough enemy.

Chris Livingston: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality 

I finished Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality before the break, but despite its size (it mostly takes place in Rick's garage and only gives you three spots to stand in) it's a impressively expansive VR playground. This is mostly to do with the Combinator, one of Rick's inventions that allows you to put two items onto it and see what you get when they're scientifically merged (think of Jeff Goldblum and a fly getting into a teleporter together). 

Often it's nothing exciting (combine a glass with a bar of soap and you'll get a bar of soap made of glass) but there are enough weird and surprising combinations to make you want to combine everything with everything else, and then combine the resulting combinations with the resulting combinations. And then combine those some more. Throw in some growth pills and the fact that you can copy your own brain (by laying your VR head on the combinator) and you might, with enough re-combining, wind up with an enormous twitching brain that fills the entire garage.

And despite it looking like a cartoon, it's still the most convincing VR experience I've had. I almost fell over after trying to lean on a countertop that doesn't actually exist, I've punched a few real walls throwing things around, and I realized that when eating or drinking something in the game I actually open my (real) mouth.

Wes Fenlon: Thimbleweed Park and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward 

My holiday gaming involved a lot of puzzle solving. Over Christmas I was away from home and my gaming PC, so I actually spent most of my time with friends playing games on Nintendo's SNES Classic and Switch. If you love XCOM, you really need to try Ubisoft's excellent Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. In the last few days of the break, though, I really dug into two games I've been meaning to play for months: point-and-click adventure Thimbleweed Park and escape room visual novel Virtue's Last Reward.

Information from some dead-ends actually lets you progress down paths that don't end with horrible suicides or deaths by lethal injection.

Thimbleweed Park is delightful so far, with classic adventure game puzzles that err on the side of reasonable instead of impossible logic. It gives you multiple characters to control so you don't get stuck and can jump between puzzles and areas at will, and there are also some clever bits that require using one character to help another. It's a little meta jokey for my taste (as mentioned in our review) with frequent jokes about the genre itself, but the laughs I've gotten from the ridiculously foul-mouthed Ransome the Clown have more than made up for it.

Currently, though, all I can think about is Virtue's Last Reward, which has its hooks in me deep. The central mechanic of this escape room game is solving the mystery of your imprisonment, with every major decision you make creating a new branching path—but you can go back and take a different route whenever you want. Information you gain from some dead-ends actually lets you progress down paths that don't end with horrible suicides, explosions, or deaths by lethal injection. The way it teases out the solution to its mystery is maddening, and there's a bit more repetition of similar conversations than I'd like, but I need to find out what happens, and each cliffhanger I hit just adds fuel to the fire.

Andy Chalk: Hob 

I started playing around with Hob shortly after it came out in September, but I didn't make a concerted effort to really do anything with it until the holidays arrived. With time on my hands, I got down to the business of properly exploring the bizarre, wild mechano-landscape, collecting its secrets, and unraveling the great mystery that lies beneath. Most of my gaming time is dedicated to shooting dudes or playing roles, but this odd little diversion ("little," I say, as Steam shows 36 hours sunk into it) was nothing less than magical: Complex without being obtuse, challenging but never punishing, and set in one of the prettiest and most unusual game worlds I've ever explored.

The sights and sounds are so wonderfully weird that even after botching an obvious move, I never felt the urge to pound my mouse into pieces with my keyboard.

The platforming is a tad wonky at times but never unfair, and more importantly the sights and sounds are so wonderfully weird that even after botching an obvious and simple move, I never felt the urge to pound my mouse into pieces with my keyboard. The ending was brilliant, too. No spoilers, but there is a story being told amidst all the strange grunts and glowing hieroglyphics, and the payoff was unexpected—and unexpectedly difficult to process, too. For all that I loved the game world, the fact that Hob isn't just jumping and slashing its way to a simple happy ending might be my favorite part of the game.

Everything we said in our review was spot-on (although I would've scored it ten points higher—sorry, Other Andy) but I feel like it could stand to be shouted from the rooftops a little more loudly: Hob is a fantastically good game. (And Runic deserved better.) 

The Walking Dead

Every few years, someone claims that adventure games are dead. But adventure games never died: they just changed. "I think what they really mean is the death of point-and-click adventure games," says Ron Gilbert, creator of Monkey Island and, more recently, Thimbleweed Park. "Games like Gone Home, Firewatch, and everything Telltale makes are adventure games, and they can sell millions of copies. But if we limit the description to point-and-click games, I don't know that I fully disagree. These games are a niche market now, but if you make them cheaply and efficiently, they can still do well. Dave Gilbert [no relation] has carved out a nice fanbase."

"What's interesting is that those articles usually come out after a high-profile adventure game is released that's less than stellar," says Dave Gilbert, founder of point-and-click revivalist Wadjet Eye. "Suddenly a game speaks for all adventure games, and the whole genre is dead. This is a narrative that only seems to apply to adventure games. Roguelikes 'died' then came back. So did the platformer and the RTS. But people love talking about how adventure games died, or are dying. Even developers themselves! But I've been making them for 11 years and they continue to sell and support my family, so it's hard to take that kind of thing seriously."

"When people declare things dead in the moment, the odds of them turning out to be wrong are usually close to 100%, so it's easy to brush this kind of thing off," says Sam Barlow, creator of experimental mystery game Her Story. "I think part of it comes from a certain self-consciousness and a certain desire for the medium to hurry up and grow up. Adventure games often feel like an awkward middle ground between the proper narrative games we aspire to and our cruder earlier attempts."

Barlow explains that one of the adventure genre's greatest struggles is the idea of the player controlling the story's protagonist. "They become stuck in the weeds of the plot," he says. "I kinda like the fact that a lot of modern games have reduced the emphasis on the specifics of the actions, and focused more on dialogue and higher-level character choice. I'm interested in finding ways for players to be a part of the experience of a story without having to throw them into the busywork of 'being' a character."

Francisco Gonzalez, founder of indie adventure studio Grundislav, thinks that adventure game designers often stubbornly cling to older design tropes. Mazes, illogical puzzles, excessive in-jokes and too much fourth wall-breaking are just a few of the elements that bother him. "If your game absolutely needs a maze, keep it brief," he says. "Add some sort of puzzle element that allows you to navigate it without having to map it yourself."

"So many point-and-click games these days seem to have random puzzles that don't help move the narrative forward," says Ron Gilbert. "A good adventure game should also be about exploring a world, and in many games you're just teleporting from location to location. Firewatch and Gone Home are about exploring a space, and more point-and-click games need to do a better job of this. Build me a world I want to live in."

He continues, "I don't know that I've played a point-and-click adventure made in the last few years that thoroughly engaged me. I'm a point-and-click snob. I think two things that have hurt the genre are illogical puzzles and puzzles that don't intertwine with the narrative. I still see these issues today. However games like Firewatch get around this by not having deep puzzles. Most adventure games are all about story. In a lot of ways they've thrown the baby out with the bathwater, and that is depressing."

Olivia White of Owl Cave Games thinks too many adventure games still fall into the archaic traps of horrible logic and self-referential humour. "All the people working in the field today who do excellent work are the ones who are actively slicing away the old, rubbish parts of the genre and improving the good parts with surgical focus," she says. "Not all adventure games use moon logic, but plenty of designers are still stuck in the past."

"This is actually one of the freer genres to work within," says Sam Barlow. "There are enough limitations that it kind of encourages people to play around the edges, and I think that's important. The adventure game fan is often of a certain type, and there's been a lot of intense, fairly academic discussion and analysis of the genre. It has a lot of fans and creators who are passionate about keeping things moving forward."

No limit

I ask Ron Gilbert if the seemingly limited framework of the adventure genre naturally limits innovation. "For pure point-and-click games, it does," he says. "But people, including me, have a very rigid definition of a point-and-click game and resist change. After building Thimbleweed Park, I do think there's a stigma attached to the genre. People are often predisposed to think they won't like them, and that these games are full of illogical puzzles and bad narrative. As a creator you have a huge hump to overcome. We felt that every day making Thimbleweed."

"There have been a lot of really innovative things done in adventure games recently," says Francisco Gonzalez. "I think the main problem is that if an adventure game tries to innovate too much, then people no longer consider it an adventure game. There's a notion that you need absurd inventory puzzles to be part of the genre, but I consider games like The Cave, which has platforming elements, and the heavily story-led Oxenfree to be great examples of modern adventures."

"What adventure games do well is tell more intimate, more focused stories," says Dave Gilbert. "You wouldn't make an adventure game about a soldier fighting in a warzone. Nor would you make a beat-'em-up about a detective trying to solve a case. So can adventure games limit you? Sure. But for telling the stories I want to tell, the sky's the limit."

So what does the future hold for adventure games? "We're going to see a lot more games that shed the point-and-click mould," says Olivia White. "I think we'll see a bunch of developers adopting the Telltale style, but I'd like to see more games doing interesting things with interactive narrative like Stories Untold and Edith Finch."

"I think things are going to continue as they have for the past 20 years," says Francisco Gonzalez. "There'll always be a market for adventure games, and new generations of gamers will get into the genre through modern narrative games or the classics. But I hope adventure games will continue to evolve and not be afraid to go beyond the traditional genre trappings, embracing the move away from illogical, archaic design."

"We're seeing more games with lighter mechanics and a greater emphasis on story and character," says Sam Barlow. "I think that's something that helps the genre, because it brings in audiences who are hungry for what makes adventure games tick, and also draws in new creators who are ready to mix things up. My vision of the future is one where the adventure game creators step into the world of streaming TV, where they figure out how to use performance and video as a way of telling stories."

"More people are making adventure games than ever," says Dave Gilbert. "So we'll continue to see a lot of new and interesting games coming out."

"If only I knew," says Ron Gilbert. 

Thimbleweed Park™ - (Mitch Kocen)


Adventure game remakes are common. But not everyone likes to see their old favourites revived. Mitch Kocen asked veteran point-and-clickmen Ron Gilbert and Tim Schafer, among others, when they think it s OK to remaster the classics>

Without intervention, every video game you have ever loved will eventually become unplayable. The technology that enables the next generation of games cripples the last. At some point, systems simply can t run slowly enough to support games made decades prior. For many years, it wasn t possible to (legally) play older games without digging out the old computer gathering dust in your basement. Fortunately, there is a resurgence of classic games on modern hardware. These re-releases often come with new (or improved) graphics and sound, and sometimes include the option to view the game in its original form. Yet some creators are concerned that these changes compromise the game s original artistic vision. (more…)

Thimbleweed Park™ - Khatie
In Thimbleweed Park, a dead body is the least of your problems -- but minor bugs are being squashed!

Patch Notes for Build 1417.947:

* Minor bugs fixes


The voting for the Golden Joystick Awards presented with Omen by HP closes in just under three weeks (November 3rd), and before that happens, we want to see our favourites from the last 12 months get the recognition they deserve. Not to manipulate the process because we want all the PC games to win in every category, or anything, but because there are so many amazing projects nominated that we want to celebrate. 

If you vote, too, you get a free digital copy of The Best PC Games Ever, which we published earlier this year. Take a look here for more information on what's inside, but it contains a great making of feature on the All Ghillied Up mission from Call of Duty 4, retrospectives on classics like Red Alert 2, Deus Ex, Max Payne 2 and tons more. All you have to do is vote, enter your email, then you'll receive instructions on claiming this lovely-looking digital book.

There's a bunch of great PC games up for awards at the Golden Joysticks this year. Rock-hard modern classic Cuphead is up for best visual design, for example, and offbeat horror platformer Little Nightmares is deservedly nominated for best audio. The best indie game category is full of great PC titles, of course: Dream Daddy, Everything, Friday the 13th, Night In The Woods, Pyre, Slime Rancher, Stories Untold, Tacoma, Thimbleweed Park and What Remains of Edith Finch. And that's just a few of the categories. There are three eSports categories, and the best PC games category has the likes Total War: Warhammer 2, Endless Space 2, West of Loathing, PUBG, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam and a bunch more—check out the voting page and pick your favourites. 



Search news
Jul   Jun   May   Apr   Mar   Feb  
Archives By Year
2018   2017   2016   2015   2014  
2013   2012   2011   2010   2009  
2008   2007   2006   2005   2004  
2003   2002