See that link in my sig? Yeah, that’s my blog about video game-related stuff. I wrote a new entry in it about video games as a medium for literature - specifically, making an example out of a game I played recently that went about it all wrong: Hotel Dusk.
Awesome. This sounds like a terrible, terrible game. At least it’s a sort of first step (keeping in mind that the step ended with its foot in a pile of shit) to more literary-type video-games. The point you bring up is really good, though; without the advantages of a Video Game, this is a 30-dollar verison of a 6.95 paperback novel.
Yeah. I’d go a little easier on a game that pretty much lived up to a limited potential, even if it wasn’t as good as this. The fact that this could’ve been so good but ended up, evidently, such a fuck-up is the sad thing.
I don’t think that’s entirely true…I just think that games constantly get the balance wrong. I didn’t expect Hotel Dusk to be incredibly gameplay intensive - it is, after all, based in the graphic adventure genre of games; however, there wasn’t ANYTHING. Trace Memory, Ace Attorney, King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry…all those adventure-type games required you to FIGURE OUT SOMETHING. Hotel Dusk doesn’t. It’s almost like playing a Mario Bros game where all the levels are just straight walking with no enemies or obstacles until you make it to the flagpole.
Since more of my comments are being left here than in my actual blog, I thought I’d repost this comment from Nulani, as well as post my response. I hope you don’t mind, Nuley :D!
I’m not sure if you get what I’m saying…Hotel Dusk had a really great story. I, too, finished the game very quickly, because I enjoyed the story.
However, Hotel Dusk could not have possibly fallen into most of the ‘traps’ that point-and-click games do, because there’s never any puzzles to solve!
Let me summarize my argument:
I concede Hotel Dusk a very good story. On the flipside, there were no gameplay elements to it at all, save for completely inane things like picking one of two choices in conversations (one which ends the game immediately); ‘puzzles’ in which one just flicks the stylus around a lot with no particular obstacle to overcome; and having to click on an icon to bring up a screen of a door so you can double click the knob so you can open it.
To elaborate on the the point of making choices in conversations, the game’s story is entirely linear - there are no surprises or alternate methods of making your way through the game.
Because Hotel Dusk has no challenging factors, obstacles to overcome, no aspect of the game that requires/is supplemented by a visual aid, nor any alternate story paths, it does not take advantage of any strengths lent to it by being a video game. This leads me to my claim: “Hotel Dusk is a horrible GAME.” Emphasis on the word ‘game.’
When considering the above point, one must wonder exactly what reasoning there was to make Hotel Dusk’s story into a game; after all, you need a DS ($130-150) to play the game (which is $30), which most people don’t have. It would have been more accessible and cheaper as a novel ($7-14, no DS necesary).
Lastly, to bring back my most important point, when viewing a video game as a piece of literature, one has to ask if video games were truly the best medium.
Was it necesary to use a visual to depict the scene, rather than a narrative?
Did the music really help the game move smoothly, or was it just there simply to for background music (By the way, I concede that the music helped with the atmosphere of Hotel Dusk)?
Did it take advantage of the fact that one can get from point A to point B in several different ways - something that novels nor film can accomplish effectively?
Did it utilize written and/or spoken word effectively (I would say that it did; however, I think that spoken word would have been even better if possible)?
Did it feel more engaging than simply watching a long movie?
If it was a particularly long game (the length of a novel - perhaps longer), did it effectively utilize the gameplay to keep your mind alert and attentive?
Did it effectively utilize the gameplay to create a sense of atmosphere - of really BEING in the shoes of the protagonist (To the game’s credit, a clear attempt was made with the interrogation scenes; however, it was poorly done)?
If you can’t say ‘yes’ to most of these things, then I can’t say ‘yes’ to the idea of your story being made into a game rather than a film or novel.
It is an interactive book, like Radical Dreamers. It wouldn’t have been nearly as engaging as a real book or as a movie, though it would’ve been a damn good book and a damn good movie, and certainly something they ought to make at some point, at least a movie with a sexy Kyle Hyde! Mmm.
Puzzles aren’t a trap unless they’re illogical; what the worst traps are, is linearity and when you’re forced to repeatedly walk around and desperately try and find the event that advances the plot, and when you’re forced to look really, really hard to find something. It fell into them all.
And why do you think that? I just made a blog entry arguing that what you’re saying is NOT true. On the contrary, why do you think that it IS true? I don’t think that the interaction helped it one bit.
I don’t honestly think linearity is a ‘trap’…it doesn’t get you stuck in a game, and it’s not even necesarily a bad thing. I think that some non-linearity could have helped THIS game, but not every game in the genre would have benefitted from it.
Anywho, I never fell into any of the traps you’re saying; in fact, I would say that perhaps Hotel Dusk is the least-guilty of these things out of every game in the genre that I’ve ever played. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing, because you were never really forced to use your brain…
Mmm, I don’t buy that. Like I mentioned in the blog, the different ‘endings’ are just tiny variations on the main ending - one such variation, by admission of fans on the internet, is completely random! Either way, this is a lot like Star Ocean 2’s ‘over eighty endings’ crap - eighty is more like the number of all possible combinations of the VERY MINUTE variations in dialogue. The difference, I suppose, is that Star Ocean 2 allowed some non-linearity in the fact that you could only recruit half of the playable characters in a playthrough.
All other comments aside because god knows I can’t talk to you about these things in a turn-based environment, I’d just like to point out that the lack of puzzles (and when they’re there, they’re just pointless clicking the screen and occasional using of items) is pretty much standard for the adventure game genre, some of the titles you’ve listed actually being exceptions to the rule. This is a large part of the reason the adventure genre is all but dead, because there is barely any real gameplay to speak of.
Also on your book analogy–try comparing it to a trade of some comic books/graphic novels, and the price difference really falls apart. Hell, aside from that, I can’t remember the last time I saw a $6 book that wasn’t a paperweight. $15-$20 really is the norm here.
This is my problem with pretty much every game ever made with a storyline, I read extremely fast, and even for games that where you can set the text speed it’s almost always too slow unless there’s an option for instant. I hate having to hammer on a button to make text appear faster. And don’t even get me started with GBA and DS games, it’s even worse when they can only fit a few short rows of text on the screen at once.
I’m not saying I don’t believe you…but I guess I’ve just been REALLY lucky, because the ones I’ve mentioned are pretty much the ones I’ve played. Nontheless, my bar has been set, albeit high, I guess.
Hmmm…A comic or a graphic novel…That COULD have been good for Hotel Dusk…
Either way, my biggest point is, no matter how much it costs, it still wouldn’t cost as much as Hotel Dusk did as a cartridge - ESPECIALLY not factoring in the costs for the DS, and it would have been more accessible on top of that. With a medium like video games being so costly, it’s pretty important to not use them as a literary medium unless necesary; otherwise, you’re alienating a HUGE part of your audience that would have enjoyed it by making it a game, and you’ve alientated a HUGE part of your already-niche audience by making it a shitty game.