The following considerations are partly our preferences / beliefs but otherwise they are the statements of many players who have told us about their experiences and what they would have liked to find in an adventure game.
Compared to pure 2D, the characters move more fluidly and in any direction, not just in the eight directions typical of sprites.
We will therefore not have that bad experience of seeing the character walking sideways that risks reminiscent of the retro games (which still have many supporters).
Animations also benefit and reduce our work.
Suppose we collect an object or knock on a door, with the sprite we should create an animation for each direction (or always use the same one that limits us in the construction of the scene) with a 3D character a single animation can be used in any environment and location.
Furthermore, the resizing of the character is managed directly by the game engine and we will not have to worry about working on it.
We remember that we are talking about indie games and we do not have the support of teams of developers and graphics like those of Benoit Sokal (Syberia) or Charles Cecil (Broken Sword).
Imagine an environment, a scene, of your favorite game with a 2D background (e.g. Broken Sword 5).
Can you see the titanic effort to build such an environment in 3D?
Weeks of work to assemble a scene and it will never have the same rendering of the 2D one. Indie developers often fail to get their work done for this very reason. There are many elements to take care of in the development of a game (story, dialogues, environment, animations, movies, music) and the 3D environment complicates things further.
From a 2D image you can cut out the sprites and then place them in the scene. The character will walk in front of or behind them. Furthermore you can also use 3D objects (a cat, a table, a key to collect) which will make the scene even more real.
Find a topic you are passionate about, research it, delve into every detail. It is true that the development of the story comes from your imagination but if you refer to real events it must have solid and consistent foundations. If you talk about Eskimos, Mayas, ancient Egyptians, you must make real connections, provide reliable information to the player who can find in your history information that he already knows or that broadens his knowledge. If you refer to peoples you have to mention their customs and traditions, when you visit new places you have to mention their monuments, statues, churches for which they are known throughout the world.
It is about telling an original, exciting, intriguing story within many small real stories.
When you write the story you start by defining a beginning and an end. Then develop it by deciding if and in how many chapters to divide it and the most significant events for each of them. The script may not be meticulously detailed but must contain the main passages on which the story is based.
Very often, according to some developers, it undergoes changes during construction and some original ideas are replaced by new ideas that better suit the context. So stick to the project but be dynamic.
The 2D background allows you to start working immediately. You can take photos of environments that fit your story or download images from the internet and start your creation right away. You can then reproduce the background image at any time by redrawing it or by having a graph do it. This operation can also be done at the end of your work, just replace the background image and crop any sprites again.
Pay attention to the most delicate part of a successful adventure game, the puzzles.
They must be sensible, they must arouse interest in the player, his wit, his intuition.
Have you played Secret Files: Tunguska? If you haven’t, do it and at the end of the game you will have an idea of what you absolutely must not do.
Never block the player at the beginning of the game, gradually accompany him through the story starting with uncomplicated puzzles. The journey is long, there is time to test his wits. Let it enter the story, let it be passionate.
The puzzles don’t have to force the player to go through the entire inventory, item by item, trying senseless and stressful matches.
You have to provide information, suggestions sometimes quite clear, sometimes hidden between the lines but the player must always know what to do. A comment from the character, a page from a book, a writing on a painting, are elements that must never be missing to allow the player to reflect and make his move.
Forcing the player to consult the solution to continue the game is a bad practice that should be avoided.
Throughout the game you can expect a series of medium difficulty puzzles, two or three rather difficult puzzles and one, perhaps in the final part of the game, particularly challenging. If you really care you can insert a couple of nonsense puzzles but don’t go further or you will just annoy the player.
They must not be excessively long, they must provide information for the advancement of the game (see puzzle), however, useless and sometimes funny jokes must not be missing.
Always expect the dialogue to be interrupted (e.g. with the right mouse button).
A diary to consult is an excellent thing, you will collect in it the suggestions given in the dialogues, images or symbols to consult, so as to allow the player to quickly and easily return to these important topics.
Dubbing should be present for at least one language (English or yours) but subtitles for as many languages as possible. For localization, provide separate files, both for speech and for the interface and subtitles. This is because, if your game is successful, someone might think about doing the translations in their language. If the texts are found accessible you will make it easier for them and you will indirectly benefit from them too.
Adventure game lovers are mainly looking for Point and Click. Lately, many games involve the use of the keyboard or joypad, thus disappointing the expectations of many players. Those who buy an adventure game want to enjoy the story without many complications. With a simple click they tell the character where to go, moving the cursor in the scene they look for clues. That’s all they want. At least, if we’re talking about personal computers. And giving them what they want is very simple. One click to walk, double click to run. Generally speaking, left click on an object to pick it up, right click to examine it. Of course variations are possible, but the basis of what they are looking for is this.
The walk must not be too slow and the double click must include running or teleporting. If the character has to move several times from one point to another along different screens, foresee the teleportation to skip the middle screens (for example a double click on a hotspot with the image of a door or an arrow). If the player has to travel this route several times back and forth, perhaps because he remembers seeing an object and thinks he might need it, he must go back without wearing out the soles of the shoes.
A well-designed inventory is very important. Scrolling is boring, the player always wants to have an eye on all the objects and possibly try to combine them without wasting too much time.
If your story includes many items in your inventory (do not exaggerate, they are confusing) use small images and if possible also on double lines so as not to have to use scrolling.
If an object is to be combined with another, expect a suggestion comment from the character, even just a hint that leads the player to reflect on it.
Don’t use the right click practice too often on an object that splits into two or more objects. It is not very popular with gamers. If, on the other hand, it is a bag or an envelope, the right click will reveal their contents.
The soundtrack must be adapted to the story and not the other way around. So forget it until the game is over, then you’ll think about it.
This is a sore point in game design, they should not be missing between chapters but also during the game. Unfortunately they are very demanding, our suggestion is to define during the development of the game where they should be inserted and at the end find a graphic designer who makes them on commission.
If you have any comments or something to add please write to us!
We will be happy to include new suggestions in the article.