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A graphic adventure game is a form of adventure game. They are distinct from text adventures. Whereas a player must actively observe using commands such as "look" in a text-based adventure, graphic adventures revolutionized gameplay by making use of natural human perception. Eventually, the text parser interface associated with older adventure games was phased out in favor of a point-and-click interface, i.e., a game where the player interacts with the game environment and objects using an on-screen cursor. In many of these games, the mouse pointer is context sensitive in that it applies different actions to different objects.
Graphic adventure games were introduced by a company called On-Line Systems, which later changed its name to Sierra On-Line. After the rudimentary Mystery House (1980), and the first color adventure game Wizard and the Princess (1980), they established themselves with the full adventure King's Quest (1984), appearing on various systems, and went on to further success with a variety of strong titles.
A number of games were released on 8-bit home computer formats in the 1980s that advanced on the text adventure style originated with games like Colossal Cave Adventure and, in a similar manner to Sierra, added moveable (often directly-controllable) characters to a parser or input-system similar to traditional adventures. Examples of this include Gargoyle Games's Heavy on the Magick (1986) which has a text-input system with an animated display screen, the later Magic Knight games such as Spellbound (1985) which uses a window-menu system to allow for text-adventure style input, Yūji Horii's murder mystery game Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Portopia Serial Murder) (1983), and Hideo Kojima's classic Snatcher (1988).
In 1984 a new kind of adventure games emerged following the launch of the Apple Macintosh with its point-and-click interface. First out was the innovative but relatively-unknown Enchanted Scepters the same year, then in 1985 ICOM Simulations released Déjà Vu that completely banished the text parser for a point-and-click interface. In 1987 the well-known second follow-up Shadowgate was released, and LucasArts also entered the field with Maniac Mansion - a point-and-click adventure that gained a strong following. A prime example of LucasArts' work is the Monkey Island series. Another famous point-and-click graphic adventure game was Hideo Kojima's Policenauts (1994). Point-and-click was used in horror games as well as Human Entertainment's Clock Tower series quickly became popular in its first release in 1995. It later branched a sequel and a spin-off.
Graphic adventure games were quick to take advantage of the storage possibilities of the CD-ROM medium and the power of the Macromedia Director multimedia-production software. Games such as Alice (1990), Spaceship Warlock (1991), The Journeyman Project (1993), and Iron Helix (1993) incorporated pre-rendered 3D elements and live-action video, as seen to good effect later in Blade Runner (1997 video game).
In 1993, Day of the Tentacle, a sequel to Maniac Mansion, was released. It featured the original game as an Easter egg.
Space Quest IV became the first in the popular series to feature a point-and-click interface. King's Quest V was the first for its series. Eventually, the first games in both series would be remade in the point-and-click format with VGA graphics.
Other notable point-and-click adventure games include:
- Sam & Max Hit the Road
- The Dig
- Torin's Passage
- Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist
- Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars
- Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People
- Blade Runner
The 1980s also saw the development of first-person-adventure games, similar to point-and-click adventure games, but using a first-person perspective, often featuring limited or no other characters.
By 1993, Myst represented a major milestone for graphical adventure games. It featured a first-person viewpoint and reached 6 million sales, making it one of the best selling PC games of all time.
Decline and rebirth
The genre has since seen a relative decline. Reasons for the decline involve the ability for computer hardware to play more graphically and gameplay advanced action games such as first-person shooters, and the advent of online gaming where players can play against other gamers online. Such online features are irrelevant to adventure gaming. The popularity and sales of these games have made publishers less inclined to fund development teams making graphic adventures for fear of bad sales.
Recently however independent users have created many smaller graphic adventure games in Adobe Flash, such as the series Johnny Rocketfingers, which is one of the most popular point-and-click in Flash on the Internet or the series The Several Journeys of Reemus by Jay Ziebarth and the Submachine series by Mateusz Skutnik. Many of these challenge the player to interact with objects in an environment. These form very short and basic point-and-click adventure games. A popular sub-genre is known as escape the room games.
The graphic adventure genre has seen a rebirth with the introduction of new videogame hardware like the Nintendo DS, and Wii, that allows the gamer to interact with the game in new and innovative ways. These new play styles were naturally intuitive to the method that adventure games are played, and as a result many developers have developed new graphic adventures for these platforms.
Recent examples of graphic adventures include Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure for the Wii, Ceville for the PC, Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars for the Nintendo DS, as well as games developed by Telltale Games, founded by former LucasArts employees. Their games include Sam & Max Save the World and Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, and the Monkey Island revival, Tales of Monkey Island.
Some recent adventure games have made attempts to revitalize and reinvent the adventure game genre by blending new technologies, interfaces, and gameplay elements into it. RealMyst and several other recent Myst games took the Myst series into realtime 3d, and Myst Online: Uru Live included multiplayer functionality and physics-based puzzles. Dreamfall, Portal, and many other games have mixed action elements with elements of the adventure genre, blurring genre lines. Some recent adventure games, including Machinarium and some of the titles by Telltale Games, have integrated a variety of hint systems into their game design in order to make the genre more accessible to players.
- ↑ IGN: Escape From Monkey Island
- ↑ Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- ↑ GameSpy.com - Top 10
- ↑ Guilofil, Michael (2001-05-22). "Beyond the Myst". The Spokesman-Review.
- ↑ Walker, Trey (2002-03-22). "The Sims overtakes Myst". CNET Networks. Retrieved 2008-03-17.