SPOILER: There Is Not A Door On Top Of The Vista

by Ron Gilbert
May 26, 2016

During one of the podcast I mentioned we were having some design issues about halfway through Act 1 and we were trying to find a good fix. I can excitedly proclaim our design demons slayed and here is what happened.

I'm going to try and be as spoiler free as I can, so excuse me if I mask some of the puzzles by calling them "doors". I promise that Thimbleweed Park is more exciting than finding keys to open a bunch of doors, but at it's core, that's what adventure games are. Sometimes during early design we will just call a puzzle a key and door. All that really means is something is blocking the way (the door) and something is needed to get past (the key). We'll figure out something more interesting later (like a rubber chicken with a pulley in the middle).

Of course, sometimes there is just a door and a key. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

There is this point Thimbleweed Park where the world opens up. It happens about halfway though Act 1.  Imagine chartering Dread's ship in Monkey 2 and you'll get the idea.  The game starts out and players are pretty focused on the body and finding the killer, then they come to the vista and see the amazing panorama of locations they can travel to. Excitement takes over and they rush to the trail only to be stopped by a "door".

Remember back in paragraph two when I said I would use "door" as metaphors for puzzles to avoid spoilers? This is one of those cases. There is not a door on top of the vista. SPOILER: There is not a door on top of the vista.

When you present the opportunity to visit so many lovely locations, you can hardly blame players for forgetting about the pesky body and turning all their attention to the door on top of the vista, and that is exactly what they do.

Hours of hilarious and riveting gameplay later...

Players find the key (which isn't really a key) to the door (which isn't really a door) and they head out into the vastness of Thimbleweed County.

And they are lost. Not lost in the sense of which way is north or how do I get back to town, but lost in the sense that they totally forgot about the body and all the clues that were being laid.

I struggled with a lot of solutions to this problem, including making the door less sexy or forcing attention to the body (but who can resist a sexy door). In the end, I decide to leave everything as it was and add a small cut-scene.

When players unlock the door that isn't a door with the key that isn't a key, the second agent will show up and they have a conversion (via a dialog tree) and chat about what they still need do to solve the crime.

It works well because it refocuses players and provides a small recap. I was even thinking of doing something similar if you start up the game and it's been more than a few days since you played last.

Crisis number one averted, now on to crisis number two.

After getting past the vista, there is another door (that isn't a door... do I need to keep saying this) you need to get through. The problem with this door is that it isn't a very sexy door. Unlike the sexy vista door that you can see treasure behind, players have no idea what is behind this door. It's just a door. And to make matters worse, it's a door they saw very early in the game and probably forgot about. The key to this door is beyond the vista, so it couldn't have been opened sooner.

Now that players are beyond the vista, they have access to the key, but they could care less. We don't want to tell players what is behind the door because it's a surprise. We don't even want to nudge-nudge-wink-wink it. We really want it to be a surprise.

So players get past the vista, solve some more puzzles and then they just start wondering around.  Maybe they remember the door (that isn't a door!) and maybe they start to looking for the key (that isn't a key!) only because they are bored and it's a puzzle to solve while they compose their angry "this game sucks" post on whatever adventure game forum they visit too many times a day.

How to make the purposely non-sexy door sexy?

The solution was to put something else behind the door and tell players about that, but not the surprise that is really behind the door. Now players think there is something else they want behind the door (IT'S NOT REALLY A DOOR!) and seek it's key.

When they finally get in, they will stumble on the surprise, all the time thinking how clever they were, when in fact they were just being manipulated by game design.

"And that little Timmy is how you make a game."
"That's very interesting Uncle Ron, but can I go play Minecraft now?"
"Sure, whatever."

- Ron

P.S. The use of doors as a puzzle metaphor was only to confuse you, there is nothing interesting behind any of the doors in Thimbleweed Park.

doglobster - May 26, 2016 at 19:40
Jeez,  I explicitly backed this game because they said there'd be no doors.

doglobster - May 26, 2016 at 19:47
I also meant to say, thanks for the great post Ron, can't wait for this game!

Side note: I bought DOTT remastered last week to play with and educate my 6yo son in the annals of adventure game history.

UNEXPECTED SIDE EFFECT: he is completely unfussed by DOTT and begs me (literally begs!) to play Maniac Mansion via Weird Ed's computer.


So, well done on that.

Natalija - May 26, 2016 at 19:41
Haha poor Timmy had to listen uncle Rons stories :D

Peter Campbell - May 26, 2016 at 19:53
The order of those objects lol, forgive me if this seems strange and no one knows what it is that I'm referencing but....

"No Milo, I said to get THE KEYS, not THE CHEESE!"

Christopher Griffin - May 26, 2016 at 20:16
Jim Carrey in The Mask.

Peter Campbell - May 26, 2016 at 23:17
Right you are.  It can't be a coincidence that the keys and cheese are right next to each other in this blog post lol

Ema - May 27, 2016 at 09:55
Good job! Seems you found the hidden citation. Congratulations. :-)

Jonny - May 26, 2016 at 19:58
The only way to do it right this time is to enable backdoors around doors for backers. After all they paid real money and shouldn't be shown doors.

Sally - May 26, 2016 at 19:59
The $25 to back this game was the best $25 I've ever spent on a game.

Patrik Spacek - May 26, 2016 at 20:00
maybe there is nothing behind the door anymore, but there was something before....  it just scratched off now. :@)

john - May 26, 2016 at 20:07
I love the "recap" idea! I imagine it as a "Previously on Thimbleweed Park", and it would always be different depending on your progress. Telltale does something simmilar, but I dont remember a game doing it after several days of not playing.

Derrick Reisdorf - May 27, 2016 at 00:41
Yes. I would like this in adventure games as well. Especially with how infrequent I game due to the demands of my dull adult life. It may be weeks- months even- between play sessions of a few hours. When I pick it back up, the best thing to do is scroll through inventory...maybe a most recent item jars the memory of what I last did and need to do. Replay the last cutscene or maybe weirdly have a log of actions at locations that you can look through. It's not too big of a deal, but sometimes it can take a bit of retreading to figure out how to pick up where you left off if it's been a while.

Soong - May 27, 2016 at 07:08
I agree.  When I read about the possible recap I thought that this is exactly the thing adventure games need.  Sometimes you need to take a break from them to solve a puzzle and sometimes you forget what you were supposed to do.  Then the game suddenly becomes more of a "combine all items with one another" than an actual puzzle.

Brian Baker - May 27, 2016 at 11:10
Yeah, I would love something like this, for the same reasons mentioned by others. Sometimes I have a few weeks between play sessions and I forget what I'm doing. :)

Jesper Hansen - May 27, 2016 at 13:22
I have been proposing this idea in a few previous blog posts so great to see Ron thinking about it. Here's one hoping that he decides to implement it in the game :) I too play too infrequent to remember what happened during my last session. That, and I am getting old...

Josejulio Martínez - May 26, 2016 at 20:09
Awesome, thanks for confusing me, now i'll need to find a key (which isn't really a key) to unlock the door (that isn't really a door) to go out (that isn't really out, but continue to work).

As a side note, thanks for sharing your dev notes to us. They are awesome !

9876532 - May 26, 2016 at 20:09
That background, those icons and the characters just look amazing.

PrinzJohnny99 - May 27, 2016 at 05:12
Here's your 4. It seems you lost it.

Christopher Griffin - May 26, 2016 at 20:19
I love these posts, you know, the ones where Ron gets to be his cheeky self. :)

JJ - May 26, 2016 at 20:21
If it was your intention to write the most confusing blog post ever, then you have succeeded magnificently!!

Danilo Martins - May 26, 2016 at 20:23
I'd love if this post ended with  "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" :-P

Then again, maybe it did

wink wink

PrinzJohnny99 - May 27, 2016 at 05:13
Say no more!

R.C.M. - May 26, 2016 at 20:26
Can we have an option to turn doors that aren't really doors into actual d- OK, that joke is wearing thin.

Marc - May 26, 2016 at 20:41
What? Do I have to reinstall Vista in order to play this game? But that version of Windows sucks and is eol anyways.

Now I feel to urge to listen to 'The Mosquito' by The Doors.

Nadif - May 26, 2016 at 20:52
This post alone would suffice to justify the money I spent to back this game.

Nor Treblig - May 27, 2016 at 19:18
Is this a spelling error? Because I also threw a lot of monkeys at the screen to help getting the game funded!

Carlo Valenti - May 29, 2016 at 11:32
This line of yours, I really appreciated it. Definitely L. O. L.

Randy Pratt - May 26, 2016 at 21:00
I agree wholeheartedly with the two solutions.

I like it when a "vista" opens and there are a number of new locations available.  Having some gentle guidance on what I am trying to accomplish lets me know where I OUGHT to go - and then lets me opt to explore side areas if I want, coming back to the main line when I am ready.  Less frustration, more fun!

I would love to have a recap after being away from the game for some time.   I am constantly trying to remember what has happened and what I am supposed to be doing if I am forced to leave off playing a story-based game for too long.  Even if this is just a simple text based summary from a game menu instead of being automatic, I would appreciate it immensely.

On a more general "helping hand" note - what is the Thimbleweed philosophy on in-game hints?  This may have been mentioned before but I don't recall.  I tend to like some gentle reminders _IF_ I am getting stuck but I know that everyone has different ideas on this.  Maybe Ramsome could swear at the helpless character  ("Why the $#@!* haven't you ...", "Only idiots forget to ...") if asked for help.  I'm not sure if you can always seek him out though.

Randy Pratt - May 26, 2016 at 23:07
OK, so I even need a hint about how to spell Ransome!

Ian / Nihil Quest - May 26, 2016 at 21:17
Oh my, this post will be great, once I get play the game. But how door I play this game...?

urielz - May 26, 2016 at 21:50
Biggest non-spoiler with spoilers I've ever read. Also what a way to tease us!

Mattias Cedervall - May 26, 2016 at 22:16
Doors 95 for PC.

Tom - May 27, 2016 at 00:29
Unfortunately a week after the game is released there will be a complete puzzle solving walkthrough YT video. We must avoid spoilers until we solve the game ourselves. I am sure it cuts into sales too because some people just want to watch the game instead of playing it themselves. Maybe there will be multiple paths to puzzle solving.

Carlo Valenti - May 27, 2016 at 00:59
Thank you for this post.
When you wrote about this problem, I exactly thought about the moment you can actually charter MI2 captain Dread's ship, I always got a bit lost at that  point, the world of the islands is pretty large...

jfrisby - May 27, 2016 at 01:07
Don't make it too easy!

jfrisby - May 27, 2016 at 18:35
This is like the DOTT Dr. Fred joke:  "Step 1, find the super battery plans.....step 4. Get out of my house!" joke... that was kind of meant, I think, to be a useful parody of when games do this recap stuff.   I like undirected exploration with some vague premise, take the training wheels off!!  This generation is doomed!    (preview of bitter adventure game forum post)

Derrick Reisdorf - May 27, 2016 at 01:12
I am so looking forward to playing this game! I hope it runs okay on my crappy laptop.  I would say I'd play it on my phone, but I'm not crazy about playing point and click adventure games on my phone. My wife and I did play through Hector: Badge of Carnage with no concerns (though the UI was pretty streamlined, I guess).

You know what would be cool? I don't know why this really popped in my head... But, if a well-established indie developer had a contest for one person to co-design and (to an extent) directly participate in the development of a project.  Readers would submit (at their own discretion) their ideas for a game.  A good chunk of story, characters, game mechanics- if an adventure game, some sample dialog and puzzle ideas.  Maybe art design of they're so inclined.  From there, the devs would take over. They would decide if the "winner" had any additional say-so over the continued design of the game. Anyways...Whoever gets chosen gets their name in the credits as "story by" or "writer" or "concept by" or whatever. Of course, they also would get a special copy of the game. I think it's a crazy, possibly novel idea that would get a crap-ton of people interested in the project and garner quite a bit of attention.  I guess this idea would only work in a specific scenario- for a studio or dev that already has a bit of clout.  Anyways.  Just a thought that passed through my head. Kind of like Project Greenlight or The Chair but for video games- with a lot less creative control for the participant/contestant/whoever.

Derrick Reisdorf - May 27, 2016 at 01:15
I would guess this "contest" would be targeted towards non-devs, though I'm sure you couldn't/wouldn't exclude them.

Guga - May 27, 2016 at 01:54
This reminds me of how I started 2016. I woke up and tried to go to the bathroom, but the door handle broke and fell. I didn't have to search for a key but that was an awful puzzle.

Life: the worst adventure game ever.

Henning Idsøe - May 27, 2016 at 02:40
When using door as a metaphor, what kind of door do you visualize? Is it thin office door? A reinforced steel door? A thick wooden medieval door? A hinged door? A sliding door? A revolving door? An evolving door...? And boom!, a picture of the evolving prison-hut door from the pseudo-cannibal village on Monkey Island popped up in my mind...
I see what you did there... ;-) That was a neat door.

flower - May 27, 2016 at 02:57
Inventory: rusty old key, silver key, yellow key, small key, gold key, ivory key, skeleton key, important-looking key, keycard, ...

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 27, 2016 at 04:09
Now you tickled my fantasy with this "sexy door" on the vista (that isn't really a door, but it's really... sexy!)

Colin - May 27, 2016 at 04:35
I don't think you should have all these doors. Maybe some sort of puzzle that requires an object to solve and lets you move on would work better.

STuFF - May 27, 2016 at 04:57
Unfortunately, we can't use anymore the word DOOR to avoid spoilers since the last Game Of Throne episode... Bad timing.

A. - May 27, 2016 at 05:11
Very interesting.

Geoffrey Paulsen - May 27, 2016 at 05:34
"That's very interesting Uncle Ron, but can I go play Minecraft now?"
"Sure, whatever."


Geoffrey Paulsen - May 27, 2016 at 05:34
Like literally LOL.

Geoffrey Paulsen - May 27, 2016 at 05:35
It's not a door, but it's a LOL.

mr. T - May 27, 2016 at 05:34
Recap option sounds like a nice idea. It would be so cool if you could fade out to a classic day dreaming-like mode during any moment in the game, playing back the memories. More like a cut scene on-demand and less like an interface option. And perhaps with narration while displaying the "key"-"door" moments you have accomplished in the game: "I found that thing...and put it in the thing...". It might make it more fun than just mechanically scroll through a bunch of screen shots or something.

Big Red Button - May 27, 2016 at 06:01
Sounds good to me!
In the Lucasfilm games the character sometimes explains in such a case that there was still something else to do, while she/he is stepping back from the "door". This solution unfortunately gives the impression as if the character he is playing knew more than the player himself does. Therefore it's capable of impairing the immersion. So, the conversation with the second agent is a much more elegant idea!

Gffp - May 27, 2016 at 07:18
You better watch out for the zombies just behind the corner, little girl! Their flesh is reanimated by those aqua colored transistors that are everywhere in this cursed town. You must destroy them, their radiations re-activate the dead cells of the zombies' bodies, bloated and pixelated from the decay of a death come too soon! They're angry and hungry! Evil transistors! Everywhere ! That damn Tesla's project of transfering electricity without cables! Don't you stare me like that, move on! Have you got a rifle, cutie?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 27, 2016 at 08:16
... and this di*ks!
[pun only through italian translation]

Gffp - May 27, 2016 at 14:41
ahahah, you're right Zak! I know that my comment seems totally useless, (almost) to the point of being annoying. But it confirms the significance of the images of the games (not to mention the entire game which I haven't played yet obviously), not only for themselves, but also in the large context of videogames' media. In a fraction of a second, looking at that image, the setting I described above popped into my head. That image is able to convey a sense of mistery, of the unknown, of something sinister, even of danger. I was relieved I don't have to make the character I control embrace a gun and work out things the hard way. Back in the days of my teenage years, with the pain and difficulty of growing up, it was easy to turn to FPS to express anger, fueling our irrepressible instinct of hunters or resorting of brute force. But soon wit intelligence and irony of old games from the current Timbleweed crew sprang to my mind, giving me back a playful pleasure. That's the struggle of our social lifetimes, using intelligence, irony to solve little and big problems and contrasts. That's why these adventure games has significance in our lives for art and storytelling but also in videogames' and pop contexts making them bring out like little works of Art.

LuigiHann - May 27, 2016 at 09:41
Count me in among the crowd who loves the idea of a quick in-universe recap when resuming the game. Even if it's just the player character talking to themselves to reinforce their own plans.

Arne - May 27, 2016 at 10:32
Since the press kit, the vista is my destop background. Now I get caught staring at it. No program open. People's faces turn funny when I tell them about doors and keys. But they must be somewhere...

Nice 5x10 pixel antennas on the tower. And 3 pixel flies in Ransome's trailer.

Hotstepper - May 27, 2016 at 14:42
I'm fine with it as long as the doors make satisfying *click* and *thunk* sounds when opened and closed.

Gv - May 27, 2016 at 18:34
An adventure game without those sounds is not an adventure game, (and properly made with PC Speaker)

thexpert - May 27, 2016 at 15:32
"I struggled with a lot of solutions to this problem, including making the door less sexy or forcing attention to the body (but who can resist a sexy door)"

Just make the body sexier. Who can resist a sexy body?

Carlo Valenti - May 27, 2016 at 17:04
What I still don't get is: why is there a door on the top of the vista?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 28, 2016 at 01:20
Because Vista is a Windows system, so a Door is what was missing.

Arto - May 27, 2016 at 18:08
I got my hands on unpublished screen from Thimbleweed Park. SPOILER: the following picture contains a shocking reveal, which reflects the entire puzzle system of Thimbleweed Park.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 28, 2016 at 01:22
AHAHAHAHAH! I'd have bet money it was....that!

longuist - May 28, 2016 at 01:34
I expected it to be more in the sky.
Like http://www.lolcatbible.com/index.php?title=Genesis_1&;

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 29, 2016 at 07:03
That cat loves playing Loom™

Arne - May 28, 2016 at 13:07
there it is -- you saved my day

Zombocast - May 27, 2016 at 21:28
Even though DOTT was very "Door and Key" it had interesting elements like altering timelines with visual cause and effect. The animations for characters were seemless and the voice acting overall was supurb. To this day I can still hear Dr Edison complaining 20 years later.

Martin Wendt - May 28, 2016 at 02:04
Hehe. We were just facing a similar problem. Though we have an actual door...
The modern approach to your 'doors'  seem to be sliding doors (btw, my wife's fav movie) that open automagically just _before_ they cause any need for increased brain activity.

Ben - May 28, 2016 at 07:27
> I was even thinking of doing something similar if you start up the game and it's been more than a few days since you played last.

Great idea. Make it quick to skip so as not to be annoying, and a gentle 'now where was I?' For people coming back to the game after a short break.

Mario F. - May 28, 2016 at 07:33
I was out as Ron mentioned DOORS.

i remember my own excitment when i could open a new door and beeing scared what could be beyond this door.

longuist - May 30, 2016 at 06:27
Me too, but for different reasons:


Lars - May 28, 2016 at 07:48
How about a senior agent / supervisor that - from time to time - may call Rey / Reyes to give some hints. And could be called, of course.
No face, just dialog.

Fei Wong - May 28, 2016 at 12:58
Hello Ron, a big fan here from Spain since i saw your name in Maniac Mansion way back when games were games and not jokes.
I read the other day you were saying to those merciless execs at Disney that you wanted to buy MM and MI IP's, and man i hope you can do it someday, imagine a new Maniac! that would blow my mind so hard!
I'm very excited to see you working along Gary Winnick and creating another instant classic like Thimbleweed Park, it has the feel of the older graphic adventures that i grew up playing and i cannot wait to play it!

peterszky - May 29, 2016 at 03:39
The Door On Top Of The Vista is a LIE!

Simon Simon - May 29, 2016 at 08:10
Which games do you remember that were very obvious, plain door-and-key games?

The Myst and Riven series comes to my mind, which had valve-and-lever puzzles everywhere. (although some of the other puzzles were quite clever)

Nor Treblig - May 29, 2016 at 17:23
Maybe it's too obvious to mansion: Maniac Mention (ho-ho).
There are a lot of different keys and I actually had fun finding the matching doors. And since it's a big mansion with a lot of doors (naturally) you can get away with it more easily.

Zuckerberg - May 29, 2016 at 14:07
OT: There's a fan-driven C64 port of Indy III going on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiskB0Ov7SI
I'm probably the last one coming to this party, but I just found this gem of a project. Imagine this, Ron et al. - there's someone on earth voluntarily writing software for the C64! If that's not an argument for basic income I don't know.

Zuckerberg - May 29, 2016 at 14:08
Now that's what I call a door..!

Zak Phoenix McKracken - May 29, 2016 at 14:11

Necrosis Thanatos - May 29, 2016 at 15:57
I'm so confused...

Roman - May 29, 2016 at 16:48
the worst puzzle was using the monkey as a tool.....decades back and using a non-english version it was the weirdest thing to do and it took ages to solve it..

so sometimes a monkey is not just a monkey and a door not a door...are there more non-doors or doors in the game? or monkeys? grog? grog to open doors which aren't doors.....hell...cant wait to find out.

Nor Treblig - May 29, 2016 at 17:19
I wonder when someone starts banning us from the blog because we keep mentioning this particular puzzle...

Unaii - May 29, 2016 at 18:22
Ooohhh! A monkey wrench! Now I get it! And it only took me... what... 20 years?

Played the game in spanish, didn't speak English back then!

longuist - May 30, 2016 at 06:20
The longer the wait the louder the laugh :P

tomimt - May 31, 2016 at 13:06
The door/key dilemma is pretty common in adventure games, I've noticed. It happens quite a bit with relatively simple puzzles as well, when you forget that you saw a door ages back before you actually find the key that fits in. That leaves you in a pretty frustrating state, especially if you don't have anything else to solve, so you feel like you're stuck.

And then it gets more annoying when you result checking a walkthrough and go "oh, it was that thing. How was I supposed to remember that thing, I heard hours/days ago."

Mahaku - Jun 03, 2016 at 16:28
It's common even for "linear" creative work like writing - I'm in the middle of a friggin' PhD dissertation in which I aim to take the (bold) readers by the hand and guide them through my thought processes in a consitent and coherent manner. Drives me insane, which is why I need to share it everywhere to keep going. Sorry for the mild to severe OT. Back on track, I think.

Alessander - May 31, 2016 at 16:52
I (who am not myself) liked this post. Thank you, the Thimbleweed Park creator who is not Gary.

Bill Jackson III - Jun 01, 2016 at 20:36
"there is nothing interesting behind any of the doors in Thimbleweed Park". I doubt that very much...

longuist - Jun 03, 2016 at 08:09
This is some offtopic rambling and im pretty sure everything has been said already in the course of the last 25 years..
(please ignore)

I recently started playing old LA games which were released after DotT, because i realized i havent played them very often. Wanted to know why.

Sam & Max for example. Back in the days i was all in for ditching the verbs, streamlining the interface and full screen art was so future.
The art has aged well (although i prefer direct 8bit art <=mi1). The dialogues and animations are funny.
But the gameplay. Most of the time i dont know what to do. The door<->key relation is deranged. Longing into the mousehole to get money. Using Max on the cat to get the ticket for the circus. Why? There are more "puzzles" like this and it feels like a sequence of monkey wrench puzzles. Lot of it is based on timing. Why should i drive away when Max is on the toilet to get the key? Cant he steal the key and the rasp without this stunt? Overall gameplay is too much trial and error.
And regarding the interface. Cycling through the options (pick up, talk, use, look, walk, custom object) is awkward and slow (i know about shortcuts, but they are "invisible". Options are also wired in the inventory, but this is one step too much). Because of this (and because of beeing a very slow mammal) i fail regularly at timing based stuff.
I now consider the best aspect of the verb based interface beeing the text line. Hovering an object tells me what it is and gives detail (eg. a book and its title). I can decide to check it out or let it be. Wheareas with the eye-symbol i have to check it out to know if it is important or not, and it may trigger lines of text i dont want to read (i'm very impatient).
Furthermore i miss full dialog trees, the use of symbols to trigger text is not my cup o' tea.

Estimation of full playthroughs (the higher the number the less accurate):

MM: 4
One time on C64, where the overall playtime was the highest, because i had no internet and the slow loading times.
Second playthrough via DOTT, then ScummVM.

ZAK: 3
Oh boy, the dead ends were a show stopper for me. But such a great game.

Indy3: 2
Fighting. I hate fighting.

Loom: 1
Odd game, nice graphics. (noncompetitive)

Monkey Island 1: 10
My favorite. Best art and ideas.

MI2: 7
Very good game, more islands but at times overwhelming. Back then nice art, now i prefer MI1.

Indy4: 5
Oh boy, this was the story i wish had been used for the film

Although very cartoony, the time travelling mechanic was superb. Last use of Verbs :/

Sam & Max: 2

Full Throttle: 1

The Dig: 3
Not 1 because i like the dark SciFi tone and the great athmospheric audio. I remember the puzzles beeing lame.

I can't say for sure if this is because of ditching the verb interface or ignoring some of Rons Commandments (12; grumpygamer.com/why_adventure_games_suck).

To close, i want to express how happy i am that the verb interface (including text line) is used for the game soon to be known as Thimbleweed Park (TGSTBKATP). Furthermore i am under the impression puzzle design is again as important as the story, which seems to be not self-evident. Therefore i hope more games will follow, retaining proven mechanics, with some refinements here and there. Because we don't live in the past. Amen.

longuist - Jun 03, 2016 at 08:10
Sorry for the wall of text, i don't know why i posted it here?! :)

Nor Treblig - Jun 03, 2016 at 14:57
You are right, Sam & Max has very.. wacky puzzles. It may be a little bit unfair when playing it the first time...
I also don't really like these kind of dialog options.

Regarding the toilet key: You don't have to drive away, you just have to catch Max outside. Although Max has a lot of potential criminal energy, Sam (the player) is the intelligent one and has to initiate stealing the key. This particular puzzle isn't that bad, IMHO.
It's also nice that you can actually see him wandering around outside.

Yes, cycling throw verbs is annoying, but so is moving your cursor all the way down to the bottom of the screen and then often back to your original location. Shortcuts FTW!

Regarding Indy 3: Hey this is not fair, I don't remember any mandatory fight! (except maybe Biff)

longuist - Jun 04, 2016 at 05:13
The verbs at the bottom may not be the holy grail, but at least having the ui onscreen all the time is more intuitive imho. If you are fast in operating the mouse you don't need shortcuts. I have a very high vpm (verbs per minute) :P

Speaking of the grail, your're right, reducing Indy 3 to fighting is indeed very unfair. In fact, i like the game very much.
I tried to replay it on a tablet a while ago, and i don't know of a convenient way to use the fight controls. I stopped at the castle, because you have to get every answer (and item) right in the correct order to succeed (without fighting), which involves a lot of saving and retrying. Kind of Sierraesque.
If i remember correctly if you choose the zeppelin route you can't avoid a fight.

Nor Treblig - Jun 04, 2016 at 08:12
Yeah, there were mouse controls for fighting but those weren't really usable if I remember correctly.

I think I always ran away from the guards *in* the zeppelin. And if you immediately crash the plane (to pass all borders) there is always a way to get past them as far as I know.
E.g. one you can show the signed Passierschein, with others you have to select correct dialog options. It sure is trial and error, like in the castle.

Btw. that ticket taker on the zeppelin is the hardest one to fight! (you have to do it to get all IQ points)

Nor Treblig - Jun 04, 2016 at 08:20
The problem with intuitive UIs is that they are likely not efficient if you have to use them a lot.
A ticket machine should be most intuitive. An application which you use day in day out need the possibility to be used efficiently (e.g. lots of shortcuts).

Games are somewhere in between. But since I play games often for hours I want to have an efficient UI and not being hindered by it.
I don't really mind learning controls, in-game or even outside of it! (Hey I'm one of those who actually check out manuals!)
So in games I actually don't really care an UI being most intuitive. But I can understand intuitive UIs being important to hook new players.

This reminds me of DOTT. I can't remember where I learned how to transfer items between the characters, maybe it was by accident? Is it mentioned in the manual?

Ema - Jun 05, 2016 at 13:09
Yes, it is a wall of text.
And yes, it is a huge OT.

But I like interesting OT's.

This is interesting. I don't know if the dev team has time and will to join the conversation, but I think that studying the old adventures is a good exercise. I think they did this exercise a lot among themselves in making the game, but never together with the players.
Just one question: how the grades work? Is it from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst and 10 is the best? If yes, I'm familiar with these numbers, 'cause school grades in Italy are like this. And I can tell you your grades are very low, since the meaning in usually this:

4 very bad
5 bad
6 sufficient
7 fair
8 good
9 excellent

If you follow this score, only MI1 and 2 have an acceptable grade....

Sushi - Jun 05, 2016 at 14:51
The number are not scores. They are the number of times Longuist has completed the game. (where higher is perhaps an indication of appreciation, or rather replayability (e.g. Indy 4 with the different paths and MM with different combinations do encourage that)

What I did not get is why neither MI3, nor Grim Fandango were mentioned. They are (very) nice LA adventures imho.

longuist - Jun 05, 2016 at 15:50
Thanks for clarification, thats what i meant :P
I stopped at "the Dig", because it was the last classic VGA styled LA adventure. I know, this classification is highly subjective.
Furthermore i was late to the MI3b party. Technically it should have been in my list. Ok then:
MI3b: 1
Guess its about time to attempt a second play-through.

Grim Fandango is a good, story driven adventure which i enjoyed very much. But with 3D and its tank controls i do not consider it to be a classic point & click adventure.

As for being OT, i was about to ask for contact details to not bore everyone else to death. But you both seem to be interested in OT talk too :)
Still it might be a good idea to move the chitchat to a IRC channel or something like that. Especially if we decide to meet at the 30th anniversary ThimbleCon :P

longuist - Jun 05, 2016 at 16:02
With you both i mean you three :)

Nor Treblig - Jun 05, 2016 at 16:34
Classic adventure talk should be OK here. But maybe later the topic wanders and we talk about Doom :-) (you know: keys and doors..., it's an classic adventure game after all...)

Grim Fandango is a classic adventure.
And now it's point'n'click.
So it's a classic point'n'click adventure..., I guess?

Nor Treblig - Jun 05, 2016 at 16:36
Oh, and with Doom I mean this game called Doom, you know, that one.
Not that other thing which generates a unique constraint violation on insert...

Mister T - Jun 09, 2016 at 10:24
In hindsight, Loom was just ahead of its time: rather casual game, immensly beautiful design, the wonderful music and a nonintrusive interface. It would fit perfectly for the pad-generation. Just imagine watercolour paintings with a slight tendency towards the abstract, a shader which let's the character dissolve into its colours towards the edge of the screen, orchestral music instead of the the beeping. That thing could be a hit for people interested in casual gaming. But those people simply not existed. I knew one girl who had the game. At that time girls did not have computers. And casual gaming was not invented yet, as everyone was still chasing after higher resolution and better sound, not better design or better ideas, which also marked the end of classic adventures: at some point cartoon sequences got more important than the riddles. It is not an adventure anymore when it is about using the crowbar on everything just to unlock an animation.

Ron Gilbert - Jun 09, 2016 at 11:33
Brian was really ahead of the times with LOOM.  Oddly enough, I thought the same thing about Yoda Stories.

longuist - Jun 04, 2016 at 14:24
You are totally right in every aspect. Having both intuitive and efficient methods seems to be a good practice. I guess crippling the main interface was not that bad for the experienced user who used shortcuts anyway. But you cant use shortcuts on a smartphone. They should have thought of that in 1993!!1 :P

@DOTT: I looked it up, its in the manual. RTFM FTW. Glad its a short read, back then manuals sometimes were hefty books.

Nor Treblig - Jun 05, 2016 at 08:44
Yeah, nowadays you need an UI to work on touchscreens only (at least additionally). MM-style verb interfaces and also verb coin interfaces work quite well out of the box. Definitely not a cycle-through one like Sam & Max.

@DOTT: Oops, didn't read the manual carefully enough then!

Point'n'click adventure manuals are mostly quite short, a little backstory, installation, some key explanations, legal stuff oh and of course, copyright protection stuff.
They are also often funny, e.g. the history section of DOTT, or Simon the Sorcerer manuals in general.
Other games like RTS with unit stats or flight simulators with interface explanations can get huuuuge...

Nor Treblig - Jun 05, 2016 at 08:46
Another game with bad puzzle design you didn't mention was Discworld 1.
It's great for Terry Pratchett fans and those who want to become one. But I probably would only recommend it playing with the help of a walkthrough.
Characters and animations are great, but it's super linear, puzzles are often wacky (Discworld-esque) and you can solve puzzles only on the right place at the right time.
The Puzzle Dependency Chart™ would be one loooong single path.