Adventure Games Then & Now
Sierra would go on to hire Jane Jensen, a brilliant game designer. In 1992, she co-designed King's Quest VI, a landmark game that was part of Sierra's flagship series. The following year, Jane created the first in her hallmark series, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993), a game that many consider the best adventure game of all time. There were two sequels, The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (1995) and Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned (1999). The fans now demand one more!
The Demise of Adventure Games
But why did these games cease being so popular with the majority of most gamers? The reasons may not be so obvious. The more sophisticated and advanced that adventure games became, the more expensive they became to produce — with budgets that were approaching those of Hollywood movie productions,
The rise of the cheaper-to-make simulation games and 3-D shooters, such as DOOM, also came with the explosive growth of the consumer computer market and the internet. There may be a greater initial appeal to new gamers when they don't have to think about how to solve a problem and have the option to blast their way out of it.
As short-sighted, bottomline-driven corporations took over the computer game industry, the emphasis for short-term profits determined what games were developed, ignoring what made the old companies successful. Now these older, successful franchises are held in limbo, the fans demanding more, the new owners refusing to develop new titles or releasing (or selling) the rights to others that might wish to try developing the games. Everybody loses but the sellers of used copies that go for obscene prices.
The Return of Adventure Games
What could bring back the popularity of adventure games? One financially successful adventure game, especially in the large US market. Adventure games still enjoy a certain amount of popularity in other places in the world, such as Europe.
It would have to be innovative, without abandoning the core aspect of adventure games — emphasis on the narrative. It would have to appeal to the traditional adventure gamers (which ranges in age from young to middle age) as well as players new to the genre.
The player MUST be a part of the decisions that determine the direction or development of the plot, not merely along for the ride. Puzzles in the game must not be irrelevant obstacles randomly thrown in the way, but problems integral to the plot that must be solved to further develop the plot. Any action sequences, if any, must be held to a minimum, with easy-to-win options. There should also always be a way to avoid combat.