An open letter RE : Double Fine Adventure to Tim Schafer

why not have some kind of in office digital comments pin-board, where backers can throw encouragement, suggestions feedback Ideas etc and staff can sticky them or something print em out etc

to Tim : I pray this somehow passes across your gaze

    What I think about adventure games

(background Osborne luggable with CCA – till today)

agreed DFA cant be a nostalgia re-RUN / repeat things usually taste better when they’re fresh concepts etc, 2nd digestion is for ruminants, and cows look quite bored when they’re ruminating ?

    essences that were important in my love of – Monkey island 1 and not just from a nostalgia perspective
    Characters :

I want to love the characters not because theyre good, but because they’re recognisable cohesive and I can identify with them whatever they’re role in events dopy, evil, good, romantic funny, without them being one dimensional caricatures, ie if evil then also has to have an element of silliness or stupidity etc, and the characters regardless of their lot in the plot demonstrate some levity in their situation even if a dark levity regardless of the circumstance, this is something we all admire even in real life ;) some sense of background of life Arc, but not necessarily in a realistic way.

    Humour :

call me old fashioned, sadly I want my games and my characters I play or interact with to make me smile, even if only wryly, and this is often not a technical exercise this comes from the spirit of the people who make the characters, its a giving of themselves or someone else they know or saw in a personal memory kind of way.

    Immersion :

I like to feel that I’m immersed cocooned in a tangible atmospheric alternate place, that im mostly comfortable to exist in, even in the sense of pausing or tootling or looking about. Something that draws me in and I’m inquisitive about (Read say Dear Esther, Monkey island, Myst)

    Story :

I like those storys where im intrigued to see whats next, yet i can still put the game down, but at the same time i think about what might happen next after ive put the game down, and know i going to come back to it


    On games in general:

awareness of Linear v open multi pathing in adventure:


if an adventure is too linear the game world is inevitably less immersive and quicker too complete and can feel like its on rails, yet also feels more directed and secure, and this can work in some kinds of games and still be satisfying.

    Open World:

if its too open a world the player which the player can get lost in, in this case you need to make sure the environment theyre lost in, is a casual one with less consequences, their character is chilled to be lost in, with eventual signposts that hint where to from here etc, characters going in circles repeating parts looking for a trigger in a linear pathing sense within an open world, can get frustrated, unless of course … the exact details of how you progress are looser and less prescribed this style of game can have its own issues, paths being blocked in open world games by single missing items and discoveries / events frustrate the player.

    Games stress :

speaking as an older player, If the game makes me feel stressed in visiting a place more times than once, in a “im not making enough progression sense” im going in circles argh! Then its got it wrong in the sense, I should like the environment enough to want to be/play in it regardless of the objectives ((objectives is such a negative word) perhaps better to say things my character wants to do to get some feeling of wholeness and happiness)), but not feel so threatened in the game all the time, I don’t want to hang around and scurry desperately trying to find a save point to solidify my progress in the game, for fear of progressional loss. A game that had this right – Journey on the playstation.

Likewise stress related to controlling the game, is not “the game” (ZombiU on the Wii), nor should it be part of the games difficulty, controls should be beginning to be transparent after the first 15 minutes of play, inventory management tends only fun in games where those items make a difference to your characters abilities. So inventory management should be a stress free process, removing unnecessary clicks and dialogs, keep the control structure and the actions required as brief as is actually needed, this increases immersion and flow( Superbrothers sword and sworcery, didnt quite have this right, although i loved the game and supported ideologically for its originality and endeavour, somehow I didnt feel compelled to complete it ?)

    Measuring player progression ? testing, game feedback ?

such measurements like the metric as to how much of a game you bother to complete, should be built into the game and anonymously reportable, so developers know what people can be bothered with and the trends of where they get bored and where they pause or finally stop, players need to be teased and intrigued along.

    Virtual esteem:

players dont like feeling their running on a treadmill that travels backwards and undoes the progress infinitely (ie WOW), im not a virtual esteem seeker i like fun, i like interesting situations or environments, i like characters , like a sense of progression and a meaty story that warrants the time spent to traverse the whole of it. If games rely too heavily on character identification and building and virtual esteem related to said charcater, they eventually become stressful and unhealthy (WOW).

    Scale, story length and episodic nature balanced against a lingering desire to see whats next

but don’t need an open-world so vast and complex it takes me three months of solid playtime to finish it , as I don’t have time, the good thing sometimes about a film is you get final satisfaction in a 2 hour period, though films can be episodic, and that also can be good have chapters that have satisfying or meaningful places to pause before starting another chapter (sword and sworcery a good element) but at the same time not too conclusory, ie they leave you with a desire to know what happens next.

    things that are still ok:

puzzles im ok with, puzzles are great as long their progression difficulty is linear in its increasing difficulty and can be picked up quickly (Portal was a brilliant example of this) at no point in portal did i feel really frustrated or totally stumped and that is surprisingly difficult thing to achieve from a playability perspective, and the voiceover always encouraged or amused and those slower moments added to this and they’re difficulty is not created through being frustratingly obscure.

    things to avoid :

REhashes of old concepts – pirates etc ;)

    Extra thoughts :

Keep it simple, don’t sweat the technicalities and don’t try too hard, dont over-examine, to the point of not being able to see what you have created anymore or taste its flavour, let some instinct and gut in, let it come naturally Xen style, but also make sure graft and output and fresh beta testing is in that mix.

    YOUTH !

Everybody thinks theyre funny, but you will need some young people in order to inject the optimistic humour and levity of youth, people with enthusiasm, and an often puppy like nature, bright eyed peeing around the place and soiling the carpets but innocent of such things, looking for theyre meat of laughs and adventure, it cant all be old hands, but your office looks like it has wit and levity as an underlying principle so even the old bones can be warmed by the warm hearth of jostling communal humour.

    How to know when your getting it right :

When I stop playing the game i want to feel lighter than when I started, too many games today are like your going to work to or something in an unsatisfying job. and I definitely know when ive enjoyed ie, If i tell someone about a character or a situation in a game from a humour perspective, and not from a ((frustration perspective)read WOW)) the strong elements make permanent memories, for example the sword-fight in monkey island or the boat salesman.

also watch on youtube farfromsubtle’s first and last episode of their ZombiU review, and contrast their happy enthusiasm optimism in the first video, with their faces in the last video, as long as dfa doesnt do that your on the right track ;)

    An Idea / character Suggestion ?

Id love an adventure that at some point you played a shabby wire’y old man with a stick and a limp as its main protagonist and hero (no children) living in a windy rainy rough faded glory seaside town or space port ( who once in his youth was a computer wizz but is now out of touch with technology of the era he lives in, as in the game, the other characters technological culture is too advanced for his precise understanding, his environment would be inhabited and flavoured most often by younger characters hes always out of touch with and mis-comprehending their negative actions as positive’s, as a way of trying to fit them in to his world view and template, with a pre-perception to see them in a better light than he should do in all realism, yet he stands no truck with misbehaviour and sets to task on those who misbehave in the most unexpected and old fashioned of ways, (ringing their parents up etc) surrounding characters who due to societal decay are living in bad circumstances with few options, and although the old man disapproves at the same time he treats them all regardless of their situation or character with a displayed disdainful charismatic humour with hidden empathy and wisdom of the long years, regardless of their apparent situation or role, as extended members however distant of his wider family in a cultural tribal tableau yet at the same time even those of his own age he doesn’t understand or get along with either, A solo melancholic who has somehow maintained empathy and enthusiasm for that which surrounds him , this old man has his routines he sticks too, whilst at the same time trying to find adventure in his life until a mystery that need solving falls upon him, which he engages with in order to defer his own inevitable death from boredom and routine. Maybe the adventure could also flashback to his childhood and a girl ?