Welcome back to NAG Online, adventurer! You are currently standing in an open meadow dotted with a few trees. To the north lies a river and page header. There is an article on adventure gaming here, as well as a small note tacked to a nearby stump.
The note explains your current situation: a few weeks ago, there was a feature on NAG Online detailing the early history of adventure games, focusing on the ever-so-classic text adventure genre and the emergence of graphics in the mid-80s. Your quest is to finish this history by examining the emergence of point-n-click gameplay, the adventure gaming recession and the modern adventure renaissance.
You have the following items in your inventory:
You notice a mouse scuttling around nearby.
You try to grab the mouse. It bites you and scuttles into the undergrowth, taking the text adventure with it. After hunting about in the long grass, you manage to recover the mouse, but the text adventure is nowhere to be found.
The first part of this series detailed how Sierra rose to prominence in the adventure gaming world with its revolutionary idea of creating fully-interactive graphical worlds where the player actually controlled a visible avatar instead of passively viewing the scenery. Series such as King’s Quest enjoyed podium positions from as early as 1984, standing head and shoulders above the rest of the swollen market.
It was only in 1987 that somebody finally emerged with a title that could give the adventure giant a run for its money. His name was Ron Gilbert, he worked for LucasArts, and his offering to the world was a point-and-click adventure game called Maniac Mansion. It used a scripting system known as SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion – how delightfully creative!) that had players clicking on verb commands to combine them with inventory items or areas on the screen.
The inclusion of a mouse interface turned the entire adventure gaming world on its head: suddenly the good old text parser was discarded in favour of verb wheels and simplified, icon-based interaction. LucasArts quickly rose to prominence and went on to develop a whole whack of other awesome adventure games including the Monkey Island series, several Indiana Jones games and a Maniac Mansion sequel called Day of the Tentacle.
Some games eventually took the new mouse-and-graphics idea to the extreme, abandoning text entirely in favour of visually-driven stories without verbs or dialogue. Examples of this are games such as Myst, which was praised for its unbelievable visual quality and immersive world. It used pre-rendered 3D scenery to create a sense of realism that was unmatched by its oh-so-crude rivals – it also happened to be an incredibly cerebral experience, requiring players to think about puzzles that were a lot deeper and often based on environmental clues rather than inventory and verbs.