In the early years of personal computers, the adventure game genre reigned supreme, exemplified by classic titles such as King’s Quest and The secret of the monkey island. Toronto based artist Julia minamata grew up playing this style of play, which emphasizes storytelling and story-based puzzles.
“With an adventure game, you go through it at your own pace, and it feels more like a book than an arcade game,” Minamata explains in episode 459 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy Podcast. “I found – as an artistic and bookish kid – that interactive storytelling was the kind of game that appealed to me the most.”
Video game journalist Kurt Kalata loves adventure games so much that he wrote and edited The guide to classic graphic adventures, a massive tome that details dozens of different games. This is exactly the kind of book he wished he had as a child in the 90s. “I remember keeping a [adventure game guidebook] like my Bible, although it was mostly how to play games and how to beat them, ”he says. “I wanted something that looked like this, but actually about games.”
The adventure game genre has been dying for years, but the arrival of tools such as Adventure games studio has created a thriving indie scene. Minamata is working hard on The Crimson Diamond, a 16-color adventure game inspired by the mystery of Sierra’s 1989 murder Colonel’s legacy.
“What got me back to the genre was when I started seeing games that were produced by solo developers,” says Minamata. “Yahtzee Croshaw did Chzo Mythos, Francisco Gonzalez directed the Ben Jordan series. This is from someone who uses Adventure Game Studio, and that really inspired me. “
And while tools like Adventure Game Studio can help streamline the coding process, there’s still no shortcut to creating great-looking illustrations. Kalata spent months making a Monkey island-an inspired game called Christopher Columbus is an idiot, but hits a wall when tweaking the visuals. “Everything there was was scribbled in MS Paint, and eventually it got to a point where it was like, ‘I don’t know if I can spend time on it without making it a commercial project, and to do a business project I need good art, ”he says.
Listen to the full interview with Julia Minamata and Kurt Kalata in Episode 459 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Kurt Kalata on point-and-click games vs. text parser games:
“[With a point-and-click game], you only have a few tools to interact with the world, so ultimately, if you just try enough things, you’ll solve it, and it was a comfortable blanket feeling for me. You could try anything and eventually you will find it. And the text analyzers in Sierra games weren’t particularly good, compared to Infocom games, which had better vocabulary. I think if the game was a little more blunt in telling you what it got – and also if you didn’t have to guess how it decided to call a name, or at least it had more synonyms for some words – it could have been better. “
Julia Minamata on Game Designers:
“Before the current situation we find ourselves in, I went to Pax West, and I was able to meet Lori and Corey Cole, which was really amazing, and I got to meet Douglas Herring, who was the artist for Colonel’s legacy, which is a main inspiration for my game. Al lowe was also there, so it was really cool. They were together on an adventure game board, so I got to see them and chat a bit with Lori and Corey Cole. … So it was really cool to see and go to events to show my game – just kind of meeting people here and there, and seeing people who are still developing [games]. It was really very inspiring.
Julia Minamata on Colonel’s legacy:
“Artists had a lot of leeway in what they produced. They were given reference material, photos of similar houses, but they were pretty much on their own. With stuff like King’s Quest, what would happen is Roberta williams sketching a simple “ Here is a tree, and this is where the stream is, and here is where the rock is, ” and she passed that on to the artists, who in turn would interpret that as something more professional. But what was great Colonel’s legacy didn’t she do that. She just said, “ Go and do the thing, ” so [the artists] were able, from scratch, to create this incredible atmosphere.
Kurt Kalata on the future of Monkey island:
“I participated in the Limited series project, and I know they were hoping that this whole project would generate some interest in Disney. Disney is so big they didn’t even really know what [Monkey Island] was, because it’s just ‘an old 90s game that people love’. So we were hoping that there was enough money generated that they were like, ‘OK, people are interested in this. Monkey island thing, and here is the original designer who would be interested by doing something with it, then maybe making some kind of connection. … The stars must align. Someone who works with [these companies] must be a fan of these games. Someone has to care.