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#1131175 - 11/08/17 02:39 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Reenie]
8dognight Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 479
Loc: deep south
I like casual games a lot, too, and I am a sci/fi, fantasy, horror fan. That's why I am anxious to see variety in plots.

In addition, I am heartily tired of kidnapping as motivation for the usually female player/protagonist. I can imagine how that particular quest structure became almost a guideline and certainly a signpost for success with publishers: "The players are mostly women, right? Women are nurturing and protective of babies, children, and family, therefore saving a kidnap victim will hook the player." As far as I am concerned that hole has been fished out. I am no longer biting.

Runes: Abolish runes thrown in with no story connection or translation puzzle or even translation.

Some of the better reality only games are visually dull, a pattern that for no good reason seems to plague Art Deco settings. I love a richly detailed non-gritty setting. Fantasy/supernatural casual games often have beautiful settings that invite exploration while the settings in more realistic detective and save the baby stories tend toward blandness. I dread the idea of a spate of reality only casual games with dreary or boring settings. I shudder at the prospect of grocery store HOs or even worse more flat tires and broken generators in more garages. Give me a pile of authentic horse trappings in a creepy castle any day over an HO screen featuring Fischer-Price toys in an apartment furnished from Rooms to Go. To maintain my immersion in a quotidian game world, story and characterization must be extraordinary, and story and characterization almost never are in casual games. That isn’t going to change, so instead of mundane realism I vote castles and ancestral stately homes either well maintained or fallen into disrepair. Two of the Dana Knightstones fit that bill for me, the one in Romania and I think the first one.







Edited by 8dognight (11/08/17 10:41 PM)

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#1131178 - 11/08/17 03:17 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Reenie]
8dognight Offline
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Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 479
Loc: deep south
Originally Posted By: Mad
I should perhaps clarify that the "more realistic stories being played out by more realistic characters" that I would welcome doesn't necessarily require they be in a "present day" setting smile


Originally Posted By: Reenie
Absolutely agree! I understood that from what you said. I've enjoyed the Victorian London ones that have come out recently. But then, I love Jules Verne and steampunk and all that. Wouldn't mind one that took place during the Wild West or the Renaissance or something Victor Hugo-ish, really just about anything else but the vampire/witches thing. There is SO much unplumbed ground for stories!


I agree with Mad and Reenie on these points and, in fact, with all the posts in this thread. My fear is the equation or conflation of realistic with unremarkable because publishers and developers tend to go overboard with a theme once they latch onto it as a potential money-maker.

(Edited to add: I see I'm way too noisy. I'll be quiet now.)


Edited by 8dognight (11/08/17 06:41 PM)

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#1131243 - 11/09/17 12:18 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: 8dognight]
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 38338
Loc: southeast USA
Originally Posted By: 8dognight
I dread the idea of a spate of reality only casual games with dreary or boring settings. I shudder at the prospect of grocery store HOs or even worse more flat tires and broken generators in more garages. Give me a pile of authentic horse trappings in a creepy castle any day over an HO screen featuring Fischer-Price toys in an apartment furnished from Rooms to Go. To maintain my immersion in a quotidian game world, story and characterization must be extraordinary, and story and characterization almost never are in casual games. That isn’t going to change, so instead of mundane realism I vote castles and ancestral stately homes either well maintained or fallen into disrepair.

I agree.

One example of a game that was brought down (for me) because of boring settings is "Fright" -- a game that was rated well and had reasonably good puzzles, but that I didn't care for because of the mundane, uninteresting environments.

In contrast, when Big Fish had the 60% off sale a couple of days ago (only 42.9% off for members), I bought "Witches' Legacy: Awakening Darkness" -- and the "story" and environments turned out to be terrible. I have no idea how it got 4 stars at Big Fish. Most of the environments beyond the beginning area were incoherent "dream world" messes with no sense of continuity between scenes. The story was "cookie cutter" and insulting. I usually don't care about whether the protagonist is male or female, but in this case, where the only powerful female characters were unredeemably evil, the person to clean things up should also have been female. Puzzles were way too easy, and those with unfamiliar controls were often accidentally solved by random clicking while trying to figure out the controls. On the positive side, it didn't crash and the SE didn't have popups appearing after every little thing you do. But it was definitely a cookie-cutter game that seemed to be designed according to the "Lincoln’s Mother’s Doctor’s Dog" method of throwing together disparate elements that were considered to be "popular" by some measure.

Between "Fright" and "Witches' Legacy: Awakened Darkness" I wasn't particularly fond of either one, but at least "Fright" had some decent puzzles and a somewhat interesting story.

Between mundane environments and nonsense environments, I'm not sure which is worse. Both "psychological" games where you enter someone's mind and certain "fantasy" games where you go through portals to discrete imaginary scenes have issues with discontinuous, incoherent environments and I don't like either. Fantasy environments (and even environments where you enter someone's memories) don't have to be fragmented and nonsensical.

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#1131268 - 11/09/17 04:57 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Jenny100]
Mad Offline
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Registered: 11/21/00
Posts: 27435
Loc: United Kingdom
I must admit, I mainly play "Casuals" as a break from Adventures and RPGs. Both of which require much more concentration.

And yes, a lot of them ARE the same plot in a variety of disguises.

And yes, they ARE certainly a simple format.
[That must be how so many can be churned out so frequently ??]

But they do what I expect of them. They don't over tax my brain lol
_________________________
Time : The Most Precious Commodity

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#1131298 - 11/09/17 11:40 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Mad]
SharonB Offline
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Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 1180
Loc: Delaware, USA
This has been a good conversation about game themes. I can say that I absolutely love the casual games. Not all of them, of course. I get tired of the ones that just make the screens bright and shiny, sparkly, etc. Too much color can get on your nerves. But I do like a good vibrant color scheme depending on the type of game theme. Some games can be pretty brown and gritty, but if they are detailed it makes a difference. I'm not really into the games dealing with magic and fantasy, but they make a break from the usual games I play. I prefer modern times and detective stories. They can have some paranormal effects as well, but I can definitely say I prefer the modern themes.

However, you mention puzzle difficulty and object finding. I'm still not tired of the hunt for hidden objects. Given a choice between another type of puzzle and the usual hunt, I will almost always do the hunt. I've learned to suspend my pride in most game puzzles. I used to really struggle to do them (Unfortunately, I'm not as smart as I would like to be...) and now I only really try if they are of actual interest to me - or my ire gets irked because I feel like I should be able to solve it with a little effort.

My memory is very poor. I'm not exaggerating. I can replay games again and feel like it is the first time I've played it. So that is both a blessing and a bane.

This has been a very long post. I'm not sure any of it was very interesting, but I wanted to contribute to the conversation. Hopefully next time I will be able to give a more intelligent response.

To get back on topic, I think the thrust of this topic has been how repetitive some themes have been and you are all looking for some variety and a fresh perspective. I hope and I'm pretty confident it will. I don't have those expectations. I see a new game and it's "Oh! A new Mayan story. I wonder how this one turns out." lol

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#1131332 - 11/10/17 09:53 AM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Jenny100]
8dognight Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 479
Loc: deep south
Originally Posted By: Jenny100
Between "Fright" and "Witches' Legacy: Awakened Darkness" I wasn't particularly fond of either one, but at least "Fright" had some decent puzzles and a somewhat interesting story.

Between mundane environments and nonsense environments, I'm not sure which is worse. Both "psychological" games where you enter someone's mind and certain "fantasy" games where you go through portals to discrete imaginary scenes have issues with discontinuous, incoherent environments and I don't like either. Fantasy environments (and even environments where you enter someone's memories) don't have to be fragmented and nonsensical.


Can we give Jenny100 a standing ovation?

First, she highlighted a serious flaw in psychological enter-the-mind or dream world games where we pop over to different dimension/reality set in fragmented surreal universes. If I see those blocks of floating islands in the BFG images of the game, I rarely buy. I actively dislike those idiotic floating chunks of game time. I see purple and lavender floating steps to a floating location and mutter, "Lazy writers. Lazy developers. Lazy publisher."

I can think of only two casual games with floating nonsense islands that worked. One was a rare treat of a comic game which even managed to get away with a wisecracking cat set in a surreal stepped series of environments in which our protagonist could not tell which twin was good and which evil; another was a short portion toward the end--that point at which production gets hurried and sometimes sloppy--of one of the great casual games, Christmas Stories: Nutcracker.

Second, Jenny100 pointed out that the elements distinguishing the flawed game Fright from the no redeeming qualities Witches Something or Other* were passably interesting story and decent puzzles, to which I say amen. I miss decent puzzles. I miss door puzzles combining whimsy with diabolical cleverness. I miss challenging logic problems. On the theory that puzzle difficulty increases as a game progresses, I bought a recent Halloween offering because there was the teaser of a fairly simple slider in the demo so I overlooked second thoughts created by forcing me into a garage as prelude to rescuing the usual snatched child. As I have said, overuse has desensitized me to any sense of tick-tock, time crunch urgency intended in game world MacGuffin disappearances. My reaction is: Oh, go get yourself a milk carton; I want to explore the armory.

To Mad's and SharonB's points on why they play: if I had been in a no-thinking-for-me-today mood, I could have skipped the slider just as I did the gear puzzle in Nutcracker the first time I played. There's still one puzzle in Nutcracker I have never cracked except by accident, the surround the enemy flag challenge, and there are two over my head push the block puzzles in Grim Tales: The Legacy that I will set myself to figuring out by replaying.

Decent puzzles do not eliminate players. Everyone can still play. There ought to be some way for the BFG reviews and the more prolific reviewers to make this clear because 9 times out of 10 decent puzzles indicate thought went into overall design. I say this because the easy or hard option for puzzles doesn't seem to work out very often; when employed, both options are usually easy.

*As an aside, I note to Jenny100 that Witches Legacy: Charleston Curse is pretty good if she hasn't already tried it.





Edited by 8dognight (11/10/17 10:12 AM)

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#1131348 - 11/10/17 11:58 AM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: 8dognight]
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 3337
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I sure agree about good puzzles making the game. I play these games for the puzzles far more than for yet another errand to save my friend/child/newlywed/lost parent from whatever scrape they've gotten into now. I have jumped on games like the old 7th Guest and 11th Hour and Safecracker that consist ONLY of puzzles.

As for the "Hard" vs. "Easy" thing, I've only come across one game in all my Casual playing where changing the setting to Hard made the puzzles harder. I'm not even sure what those various settings are supposed to do unless it is turn off the damned Sparkles. I recently played a game where, once you opened a mini-game puzzle, there was a toggle available between Hard and Easy for that puzzle. That was a first. (It may have been the latest Dead Reckoning, but I can't be sure.)

I also agree about Fright versus Witches' Legacy. Totally. Fright was excellent, long, very good mini-games, a decent bonus game, and low on the HO load. I played six of the Witches' Legacy games and rated them all over the chart from Top Ten to Dreadful. Talk about inconsistency! ha ha ha

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#1131361 - 11/10/17 01:43 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: 8dognight]
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 38338
Loc: southeast USA
Originally Posted By: 8dognight
*As an aside, I note to Jenny100 that Witches Legacy: Charleston Curse is pretty good if she hasn't already tried it.

Yes I have Charleston Curse. Apparently I purchased and played it back in February 2012. I don't remember the game itself, but I remembered it as a decent quality game -- and that vague memory was part of the reason I bought Awakened Darkness without playing too far into it -- I was expecting similar quality. I also have "Lair of the Witch Queen" from 2013 and I don't remember details about that one either -- just a vague memory that it was decent, though maybe not as good as Charleston Curse. It might be time for a replay.

Originally Posted By: Reenie
As for the "Hard" vs. "Easy" thing, I've only come across one game in all my Casual playing where changing the setting to Hard made the puzzles harder. I'm not even sure what those various settings are supposed to do unless it is turn off the damned Sparkles. I recently played a game where, once you opened a mini-game puzzle, there was a toggle available between Hard and Easy for that puzzle. That was a first. (It may have been the latest Dead Reckoning, but I can't be sure.)

I've seen that puzzle-specific toggle too. But the puzzle wasn't one of those ridiculously super easy ones to start with. It was one of those sliders where you slide the whole row at once and every move affects several tiles. I'm not terribly good at that type, so didn't choose the "hard" option. The trouble with that type of puzzle is that you have to plan ahead of time -- you can often solve it in 3 moves if you know exactly what to do, but if you try to solve it without planning ahead you can get into what looks like an unwinnable state. The drop-dead easy puzzles that actually need a "hard" setting rarely have one, or there is little difference between "casual" and "hard" modes.

Originally Posted By: Reenie
I also agree about Fright versus Witches' Legacy. Totally. Fright was excellent, long, very good mini-games, a decent bonus game, and low on the HO load.

My only complaint was that I didn't care for the "mundane" environments. But as I tried to point out, it was still a good game for me overall because it was good in other ways -- far superior to something like "Awakened Darkness." I have no idea why both games got 4 star scores at Big Fish when there is such disparity in quality. I'd thought the scores at Big Fish were supposed to give some indication of quality, but apparently they can't be trusted at all.

Just as with "old-fashioned" adventure games, casual games are some combination of puzzles, environment, and story/characters.

Originally Posted By: Reenie
I played six of the Witches' Legacy games and rated them all over the chart from Top Ten to Dreadful. Talk about inconsistency!

I didn't realize that the Witches' Legacy series had such variation in quality. Which ones did you think were "Top Ten" material? Were any of the later ones decent or only the early ones? Was the quality only good in the early games or did quality go up and down?

According to Wikipedia, these are the gems in the series:

Witches' Legacy: The Charleston Curse (2012)
Witches' Legacy: Lair Of The Witch Queen (2013)
Witches' Legacy: Hunter And The Hunted (2014)
Witches' Legacy: The Ties That Bind (2014)
Witches' Legacy: Slumbering Darkness (released on February 26, 2015)
Witches' Legacy: The Dark Throne (2015)
Witches' Legacy: Awakening Darkness (December 24, 2015)
Witches' Legacy: Dark Days to Come (July 30, 2016)
Witches' Legacy: The City that Wasn't There (January 7, 2017)
Witches' Legacy: Covered by the Night (July 13, 2017)

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#1131388 - 11/10/17 05:32 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Jenny100]
Reenie Offline
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Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 3337
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Had to look them up in my database. I often abbreviate names that are long, so they'll fit my spreadsheet format, so they might not match exactly your posted list.

Best One: Covered by Night ("long and complex but puzzles still too easy").

Next two on my rating scale: Dark Throne ("long bonus game, too easy, but excellent story") and Witch Queen ("long play, good puzzles, variety of environments, good artwork").

Lowest Rating: Ties that Bind (OK, but not a Replay), Charleston Curse (I don't remember it well, but wasn't in love), Into Beyond ("cartoony, short and too easy"), The City that Wasn't There (this one started well but was so buggy that it wouldn't run properly and I had to bail and ask for a Refund).

One thing I have noticed when I have gone back to play older games again is that my standards have risen over the years. A game I noted in 2014 as being Pretty Good often doesn't measure up now, in 2017. The games have improved, overall, but I don't go back and change my ratings because I no longer remember specifics years later.

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#1131402 - 11/10/17 06:31 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Reenie]
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 38338
Loc: southeast USA
Quote:
One thing I have noticed when I have gone back to play older games again is that my standards have risen over the years. A game I noted in 2014 as being Pretty Good often doesn't measure up now, in 2017.

It varies. I really have to replay to be sure, but I've found quite a few older games (older than 4 years) that were more enjoyable than newer ones in the same series. For example, Grim Tales: The Bride was still quite enjoyable, though I didn't like all the newer ones in the series.

Then there are the obnoxious additions to newer games that detract from them. Having "Tasks" pop up and make you sit around waiting several seconds for the box to disappear can really kill enjoyment of a game. Despite many newer games having "custom" modes that offer the ability not to show "Tasks", I've never seen where the option was actually functional, and you get "Tasks" popping up no matter how you configure the options. "Collector's Editions" of older games don't have all those annoying popups and slide-ins that the newer ones do.

I'll consider trying "Covered by Night" but "too easy" puzzles doesn't sound great. I'll replay "Witch Queen" (which I have) and see what I think.

Thanks for the suggestions.

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#1131403 - 11/10/17 06:35 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Jenny100]
Marian Online   content
Global Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 07/04/00
Posts: 31675
Loc: near Yosemite in California
There is no Witches' Legacy game called Into Beyond - maybe this is referencing a different series, Reenie?

I also played The City That Wasn't There and had no bugs/glitches at all.

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#1131430 - 11/10/17 11:06 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Marian]
Reenie Offline
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Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 3337
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Oops! Yes, Into Beyond was a Whispered Secrets game, on the line just above all the Witches' games in my database. blush

I suspect sometimes when a game is "buggy" it is because of a glitch during downloading, and I could try deleting and re-downloading it, but I have seldom done that unless I found the game exceptional to begin with.

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#1131467 - 11/11/17 09:36 AM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Reenie]
8dognight Offline
Settled Boomer

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 479
Loc: deep south
I think using the Witches Legacy as an example is a little unfair because a couple of them are way above average. Reenie, you picked Covered By Night for replay. I abandoned it part way through because of the of the surreal settings, exactly what I think Jenny100 was referring to by "nonsense environment." The game fits squarely into the "almost exclusively magical universe" whose plans for casual game world domination Reenie wants to challenge. I emphatically do not mean that Reenie's proposal for more variety is inconsistent. If you can stomach the nonsense Daliesque world, then "Covered By Night" probably is a good one. I like the older ones myself.

What I am gathering from the whole discussion is a plea for better puzzles and more realistic characters and stories that do not fall into the trap of an endless stream of ho-hum or ugly settings. Fright was a good game in spite of the setting. Those depressing environments were rendered with great skill, and the actors were good. I like games with live, human actors. Abandoning their use was a grave mistake, much the way that eliminating a reasonable amount of world detail via journals and letters was a mistake.

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#1131508 - 11/11/17 07:58 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: 8dognight]
Reenie Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/01/00
Posts: 3337
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
I definitely prefer real people in real world situations, but yes, we humans can be inconsistent. Given my preference for the real world, I still will "like" a fantasy game if it is challenging because, for me, the puzzle part is the reason I play. (I had, as the intro to my notes on that particular game, "Yeah, it is Witches again. Still. ... " and then my rating comments commenced.) Sometimes, the pickings are slim, and you take what you can get when looking for a new game. wink

I am playing a Dead Reckoning game now, one I bought because it was set in a contemporary university (my character has a cell phone instead of a game-related PDA), and I have been invited to the campus as a former alumnus, to receive an award for Literature. However, the first "normal world" thing that happened at the very start was that, when I arrived, I had to help rebuild a hang glider and then sail it down from the mountainside to the campus. SO "real world." ha ha ha So you never know . . . I wonder if I will end up Liking this game?

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#1131518 - 11/11/17 10:47 PM Re: General Question about Game "Themes" [Re: Reenie]
Jenny100 Offline
GB Reviewer Glitches Moderator
Sonic Boomer

Registered: 10/24/00
Posts: 38338
Loc: southeast USA
I just finished a replay of the first two "Witches Legacy" games, and that series has certainly changed -- almost unrecognizable between the first two ("Charleston Curse" and "Witch Queen") and the later two games in the series that I've played ("Awakening Darkness" and "City That Wasn't There"). You wouldn't think they were the same series at all.

I actually started remembering some of the game locations in "Charleston Curse" once I started playing -- like going out the window near the end of the short hall, into the treehouse, and down the hatch in the floor. I didn't remember the environments in "Witch Queen," but "Witch Queen" had quite a lot of enjoyable puzzles -- not terribly difficult, but not drop dead easy like in "Awakening Darkness" and "City That Wasn't There."

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