How are we gonna choose the correct interface solution?

  • #1, by loro-gamesSunday, 20. August 2017, 13:02 3 years ago
    Hi Guys!

    I was just wondering about everyones preferences regarding the interface of a point and click adventure. 

    We seem to have difficultys deciding whats best for our game. We started with a classic Sam and Max style interface where you can cycle the commands by right clicking (walk to, look at, take, use,speak) but we think these are too many commands to always kleep on cycling through. We dont like coin interfaces so we thought about making the "look at" command a permanent fixture on the right mouse button, no cycling and only ONE symbol command for the left click that is morphing depending on the context. So it will become a speechbubble when hovering over a character, a hand when hovering over an object which can be picked up and finally a use symbol (possibly a button being pushed) when hovering over something that can be used. This could work because no characters in the game can be used or taken, no object can be spoken to etc. The representation of that morphing symbol has to be spot on and clear of course.

    What do you guys think? What are your prefered interfaces in adventures? I do love the classic verbs and the cycling interface but I sometimes feel like these are not as accepted anymore nowadays. (Thimbleweed may be an exception).

    EDIT: Also, what do you think needs to be done for you to deem an interface understandable right away and clear?

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  • #2, by afrlmeSunday, 20. August 2017, 14:15 3 years ago
    Most modern games seem to favor the single command broken sword style interface. Left click for interaction. Right click for examine. You change the cursor image when you mouse over or leave objects, items or characters.

    It's simple, easy to create & effective. Though unlike the retro scumm interface, sam & max cycle interface or the coin/ring interfaces it removes the possibility to create puzzles based around trying out different commands - then again it also makes less work for you as you don't have to create invalid/refusal based comments or actions for them.

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  • #3, by sebastianSunday, 20. August 2017, 15:32 3 years ago
    Though unlike the retro scumm interface, sam & max cycle interface or the coin/ring interfaces it removes the possibility to create puzzles based around trying out different commands - then again it also makes less work for you as you don't have to create invalid/refusal based comments or actions for them.
    and thats why i like the coin interface most. It is not overcrowded with verbs, has possibilities to use multiple words on one verb (use/open/punch) and gets not in the way because its hidden most of the time. 
    Furthermore as mentioned by AFRLme: puzzles can be more complex, because as a player you have to think more. 
    In my eyes the 1click interfaces are giving away nearly all work done by the player. Its just (mostly) left clicking through the game... 

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  • #4, by afrlmeSunday, 20. August 2017, 16:03 3 years ago
    Though unlike the retro scumm interface, sam & max cycle interface or the coin/ring interfaces it removes the possibility to create puzzles based around trying out different commands - then again it also makes less work for you as you don't have to create invalid/refusal based comments or actions for them.
    and thats why i like the coin interface most. It is not overcrowded with verbs, has possibilities to use multiple words on one verb (use/open/punch) and gets not in the way because its hidden most of the time. 
    Furthermore as mentioned by AFRLme: puzzles can be more complex, because as a player you have to think more. 
    In my eyes the 1click interfaces are giving away nearly all work done by the player. Its just (mostly) left clicking through the game... 

    Which isn't a bad thing as most gamers these days are much lazier compared to back when we didn't have youtube & online walkthroughs. We actually had to use our brains to solve puzzles/get past levels or hope that a walkthrough/tip book would be included with one of the gaming mags or go out to somewhere like wh smiths & fork over money for a walkthrough book.

    Pixel hunting is something else people dislike these days because as I already mentioned... people are lazy & also because there's a shit ton more pixels on the screen now (more often than not) compared to the point & click games of the 80's & 90's. 320x240 or whatever versus 1920x1080.

    P.S: I am one of those lazy people. I used to enjoy pixel hunting & getting to try out different commands & inventory items on everything, but I seem to have grown less impatient with age. Oh well...

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  • #5, by loro-gamesSunday, 20. August 2017, 19:45 3 years ago

    Furthermore as mentioned by AFRLme: puzzles can be more complex, because as a player you have to think more. 
    In my eyes the 1click interfaces are giving away nearly all work done by the player. Its just (mostly) left clicking through the game... 

    I kinda agree with you on the last part. However I am not entirely sure in what way the majority of the puzzles really are getting more complex by adding stuff like open/punch etc. to the mix. In most cases the answer still is pretty obvious and doesnt really get more complicated by adding these commands. For example opening a fridge with an "open" command vs. an "interact" command doesnt really add any extra thinking. Even with the old gems like DOTT we have commands like pull and push that are literally identical to a lot of cases where you can also just press "use" in the game (i can not recall more than two instances where you had to press "pull" specifically). On the other hand, all the games I liked, especially the ones from lucas arts seem to be very focused on puzzles based on inventory and item combinations. Our puzzles are the same with some added dialogue puzzles. We just dont seem to need any of these commands. Do you have an example of a coin interface adding depth and complexity of a puzzle / outside of the box thinking?

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  • #6, by afrlmeSunday, 20. August 2017, 20:42 3 years ago
    Some games like Simon the Sorcerer added commands like consume (eat) & wear. It wasn't that it made things more complicated, but typically each command you tried resulted in a unique refusal response from the protagonist.

    Push/pull vs. open/close are kind of similar & depending on the situation either could be used. push/pull a door open/closed.

    It's just a way of giving the player more decision based input rather than them simply spamming left & right click on everything. Personally I prefer spamming left & right click because I lack the patience to try every single command &/or item on every single scene object or other item in my inventory because it's a time waster - however some people really like trying out everything & making the game last for as long as possible. Why? who knows!?

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  • #7, by mikael32225Tuesday, 22. August 2017, 12:01 3 years ago
    I prefer the slimmed down interact/examine scheme that AFRLme mentioned. While lots of verbs allow for a more specific answer to a puzzle, it usually just end up causing confusion.
    It puts the player in a position where they not only need to figure out what they should do, but what action is its closest representation (according to the designer!).
    Do I need to “Open” a letter to read it, or perhaps “Look at”, or worse “Use”?

    That type of pedantry really pulls me out of the story. Obviously, opening and reading a letter - one of the most menial tasks imaginable - should really just be a matter of one click. You don't forget how to read a letter, so there should be absolutely no mystery to doing that.

    However, if you what you are aiming for is a straight up comedic game, I have to admit it can be very funny trying out different verbs. Just be aware it can be difficult to stay immersed in the story while doing so.

    A quick note on complexity. I don't think a game should be difficult in terms of the interface, it should be difficult within the context of the story. That is, if the player faces a complex situation, the character should also be facing one. The letter-example above illustrates a mismatch. That situation is only complex for the player, not to the character.
    If you want to make your game hard. Try to think of situations for the character to face that are difficult to figure out from first impression. Because difficulty should come from figuring out the right solution, not how to execute that solution. 

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  • #8, by loro-gamesTuesday, 22. August 2017, 12:15 3 years ago
    Amen, Mikael! Could not agree more!

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