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Leeroy ST

27 years later, what's your opinion on the hit adventure game MYST?

27 years later, what's your opinion on the hit adventure game MYST?  

20 members have voted

  1. 1. 27 years later, what's your opinion on the hit adventure game MYST?

    • I think it still holds up and stands the test of time.
    • I think that it used to be great but aged badly overtime.
    • I always believed the game was over-hyped even for the time.
    • I'm not sure.


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15 minutes ago, bluejay said:

I suppose. Zork was released sometime in the late 70s, if memory serves. I dunno, it might have been early 80s.

I did some quick wikipedia research and apparently Return to Zork(1993) and onwards were released by Activision.

Wasn't to big a fan of Zork until the FMV series later but I remembered seeing Activisions name on boxes years before then. 

 

 

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Activision/Mediagenic bought out a financially-weakened Infocom and didn't do a great job overall with the property despite a few high points here and there before the branding was discontinued. Still, Infocom by themselves really wouldn't have lasted much longer, so at least we got a few more good things out of the brand and some of the people who remained.

 

I also liked and beat Return to Zork, by the way. I always meant to try the sequels, but never got around to it. Maybe one day.

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Robert Supnik recreated the original mainframe Zork in Fortran (as "Dungeon"), and maintained it for years, culminating in version 3.2B in 1994.

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15 hours ago, bluejay said:

I suppose. Zork was released sometime in the late 70s, if memory serves. I dunno, it might have been early 80s.

I did some quick wikipedia research and apparently Return to Zork(1993) and onwards were released by Activision.

I think it was created on a mainframe at MIT in the 70s,  then the creators founded Infocom to bring it and other games to home computers in the 80s.

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11 hours ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Activision/Mediagenic bought out a financially-weakened Infocom and didn't do a great job overall with the property despite a few high points here and there before the branding was discontinued. Still, Infocom by themselves really wouldn't have lasted much longer, so at least we got a few more good things out of the brand and some of the people who remained.

What caused them to be financially weakened?   Because it seemed like everything was in their favor at the time--  people were starting to buy home computers and then floppy drives, the genre was popular.  Infocom games were high-profile in shops and magazines,  and they just released the Hitchikers Guide, which seemed like a big deal at the time.

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32 minutes ago, zzip said:

What caused them to be financially weakened?   Because it seemed like everything was in their favor at the time--  people were starting to buy home computers and then floppy drives, the genre was popular.  Infocom games were high-profile in shops and magazines,  and they just released the Hitchikers Guide, which seemed like a big deal at the time.

The history is well documented. Despite high profile hits like Hitchhikers and bellwethers like the Zork series, they had average sales for most of the other titles and some really poor sales for others. They also invested heavily in their Cornerstone database program which was delivered late and ended up being relatively underpowered because it was based on the same portable z-machine-style concept of their text adventures (and as such, didn't have the speed of the competition). That deviation from the text adventures ended up being a disaster.

 

Of course, the computer games industry itself was becoming more competitive, and, despite how impressive their text processing engine was, everything was headed to flashier and flashier graphics, something the original Infocom team generally pushed back against. That idealogy changed obviously once Activision/Mediagenic took over and they went headlong into both text and graphics adventures and other types of graphical adventure and RPG games. Again, Activision/Mediagenic did Infocom no favors, but it's not clear that had Infocom continued on with their original plan sales would have been sustainable even if they were financially stable and didn't need a buyout to survive. At the very least, though, it probably did rob us of one or two more good pure text adventures with slight evolutions if they were able to limp along for a few more years. (It is fun to play a "what if?" if somehow Infocom had been able to continue evolving the Z-Machine (or just ditch it entirely for pure PC and optimizations for DOS/Windows) through to the present day. As impressive as today's hobbyist text adventures are, they're only marginally different from Infocom's final versions of their engine.)

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9 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Of course, the computer games industry itself was becoming more competitive, and, despite how impressive their text processing engine was, everything was headed to flashier and flashier graphics, something the original Infocom team generally pushed back against.

Yes it was headed towards graphics, but I don't think it was quite there yet.  Graphics adventures up to that point had been kinda 'meh', with simple parsers and rather simplistic graphics (they looked good in magazine screenshots but terrible on your screen).  Most of them didn't have the profile or popularity of Infocom games.

 

King's Quest came out around that time creating the hybrid-adventure genre, but it needed a high-end system, you couldn't run it on a common C64.   Lucasarts was a couple years away from releasing their efforts.

 

I didn't know about the Cornerstone database effort.

 

And I do remember them being resistant to graphics,  and I knew it would be a problem for them down the line.  But like I said they seemed to be at the height of their popularity at the time.

 

I guess it's similar to Tell Tale Games.   They made niche adventure games for years, then suddenly started putting out games based on big IPs like Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Minecraft.   Seemingly having hit after hit and getting glowing praise, then suddenly going bankrupt.

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6 minutes ago, zzip said:

I didn't know about the Cornerstone database effort.

 

And I do remember them being resistant to graphics,  and I knew it would be a problem for them down the line.  But like I said they seemed to be at the height of their popularity at the time.

 

I guess it's similar to Tell Tale Games.   They made niche adventure games for years, then suddenly started putting out games based on big IPs like Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Minecraft.   Seemingly having hit after hit and getting glowing praise, then suddenly going bankrupt.

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49 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

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Any idea of roughly how many units a game had to ship to break even?

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4 minutes ago, zzip said:

Any idea of roughly how many units a game had to ship to break even?

I'm not sure, but they started losing money as early as 1984 despite some of their best output and more to come. This is a good history: http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/infocom/infocom-paper.pdf

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8 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

I'm not sure, but they started losing money as early as 1984 despite some of their best output and more to come. This is a good history: http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/infocom/infocom-paper.pdf

Sales were still increasing, but they went on a spending spree.     They went from a half million profit in '83 to 2.4 million loss in '84 despite sales increasing 2 million

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It depended on the cost of the game, management, and what was spend to ship it to dealers. Some games made profit and good income from just 100,000 sales. Some also went bankrupt with 100,000 sales.

 

In the 90's games like Phantasmagoria made a lot of money early on before even selling 500,000.

Edited by Leeroy ST

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33 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

I'm not sure, but they started losing money as early as 1984 despite some of their best output and more to come. This is a good history: http://web.mit.edu/6.933/www/Fall2000/infocom/infocom-paper.pdf

Ian Chadwick told me that Infocom's CES parties were legendary for their extravagance. Sounds like it would have been an amazing experience. :)

 

Everyone seems to agree that Cornerstone went a long way to destroying Infocom. I'm not sure that we can place the fault squarely at the feet of bored gamers who were ready for an immersive graphic experience, because Infocom's text games already were marketed contemporaneously with rudimentary graphic adventures (if not of the point-and-click variety) and straight-up video games. Infocom offered a unique product both in software and packaging, and it was still finding a market when the company was taken over by Activision. I recall reading a number of reviews in which Infocom's adherence to text was praised, not scorned, and it seems likely that this fanbase was drawn specifically to this type of entertainment. I think it's likely that when Infocom failed, a portion of that fanbase simply withdrew from the market and didn't simply become avid arcade or graphic adventure enthusiasts. Infocom was really the only software house that I used to see being sold in bookstores, and someone must have been buying it there.

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4 minutes ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Ian Chadwick told me that Infocom's CES parties were legendary for their extravagance. Sounds like it would have been an amazing experience. :)

 

Everyone seems to agree that Cornerstone went a long way to destroying Infocom. I'm not sure that we can place the fault squarely at the feet of bored gamers who were ready for an immersive graphic experience, because Infocom's text games already were marketed contemporaneously with rudimentary graphic adventures (if not of the point-and-click variety) and straight-up video games. Infocom offered a unique product both in software and packaging, and it was still finding a market when the company was taken over by Activision. I recall reading a number of reviews in which Infocom's adherence to text was praised, not scorned, and it seems likely that this fanbase was drawn specifically to this type of entertainment. I think it's likely that when Infocom failed, a portion of that fanbase simply withdrew from the market and didn't simply become avid arcade or graphic adventure enthusiasts. Infocom was really the only software house that I used to see being sold in bookstores, and someone must have been buying it there.

I think it's pretty well established at this point that Cornerstone was just a factor, but not a direct cause. Based on the sales figures it seems that Infocom's main failings were in expanding its user base. As the industry grew and sales numbers had to grow with them to match, Infocom's games likely didn't have the same broad appeal potential. They could have run a leaner, smarter organization and survived, but that wasn't how most software companies operated back then. 

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11 minutes ago, The Usotsuki said:

I think they saw the writing.  They were slowly moving toward graphics with stuff like Zork Zero.

Which you could argue led to the reboot of the timeline when the 90's games came out. Seems they wanted to try and start over fresh by having Zero be a prequel to all the other games killing the old timeline while influencing the newer titles.

Edited by Leeroy ST

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20 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Everyone seems to agree that Cornerstone went a long way to destroying Infocom. I'm not sure that we can place the fault squarely at the feet of bored gamers who were ready for an immersive graphic experience, because Infocom's text games already were marketed contemporaneously with rudimentary graphic adventures (if not of the point-and-click variety) and straight-up video games. Infocom offered a unique product both in software and packaging, and it was still finding a market when the company was taken over by Activision. I recall reading a number of reviews in which Infocom's adherence to text was praised, not scorned, and it seems likely that this fanbase was drawn specifically to this type of entertainment. I think it's likely that when Infocom failed, a portion of that fanbase simply withdrew from the market and didn't simply become avid arcade or graphic adventure enthusiasts. Infocom was really the only software house that I used to see being sold in bookstores, and someone must have been buying it there.

There may have been a hype factor too.   These games were hyped up from the magazines I was reading at the time- especially when Hitchhikers came out, and I bought into it.   I had a new floppy drive and wanted to see what I could do with it.

 

I played Zork, Enchanter, Hitchhikers.   I also got Deadline, never got far.  Bueracracy,  again never got far and maybe one or two others.   I think I just grew weary of the format.   I wonder how many others that happened to?  Tried a few games and that was enough.

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39 minutes ago, zzip said:

There may have been a hype factor too.   These games were hyped up from the magazines I was reading at the time- especially when Hitchhikers came out, and I bought into it.   I had a new floppy drive and wanted to see what I could do with it.

 

I played Zork, Enchanter, Hitchhikers.   I also got Deadline, never got far.  Bueracracy,  again never got far and maybe one or two others.   I think I just grew weary of the format.   I wonder how many others that happened to?  Tried a few games and that was enough.

Generally speaking, the Infocom games were always critical darlings. That doesn't necessarily translate to commercial success, of course. If you look at the early sales charts for computer games, say up until 1984, you generally saw a lot of hardcore strategy and simulation games in the top ten. After the mid-80s, the charts began to diversify a bit more as computer owners themselves became a more diverse group. I think Infocom games, as great as they are, can be intimidating to a lot of people. So for me, I keep going back to the idea that Infocom didn't really do much wrong game-wise, it's just that they never would have been able to keep up with the sales expectations for the rest of the industry. They arguably could have done a bit better more consistently if they were able to snag more big licenses like Hitchhiker's, but as the Telarium/Trillium and other games showed, that was not necessarily a recipe for lasting success either.

Of course, Sierra is a counter example in many ways. Their games were often brutally hard and unfair in a way that Infocom games rarely approached, yet their games were paradoxically more broadly appealing. The difference was Sierra had the flashy graphics and sound that was easier for the average person to get into and stick around for. They obviously got rid of the hybrid text-based interface as soon as they were able to as well.

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17 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Of course, Sierra is a counter example in many ways. Their games were often brutally hard and unfair in a way that Infocom games rarely approached, yet their games were paradoxically more broadly appealing. The difference was Sierra had the flashy graphics and sound that was easier for the average person to get into and stick around for. They obviously got rid of the hybrid text-based interface as soon as they were able to as well.

Kings Quest 4 was a nightmare but the world presented through graphics drew people in despite the game being completely unfair and having a time limit iirc.

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7 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Kings Quest 4 was a nightmare but the world presented through graphics drew people in despite the game being completely unfair and having a time limit iirc.

Although I have plenty of Sierra games in my collection, I've never been a particular fan of them as a whole. I'm more of a LucasArts-style gamer, where I like to be challenged, but not punished with insta-death for doing things or being punished for not getting a certain object x moves back that I can no longer get (an occasional problem with Infocom games too).

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Just now, Bill Loguidice said:

Although I have plenty of Sierra games in my collection, I've never been a particular fan of them as a whole. I'm more of a LucasArts-style gamer, where I like to be challenged, but not punished with insta-death for doing things or being punished for not getting a certain object x moves back that I can no longer get (an occasional problem with Infocom games too).

To be fair many sierra games would be pretty short if they were straightforward so I understand the increase in difficulty as with other developers. But I feel Sierra takes it a bit too far especially when we are talking items that you may not have gotten or used on the wrong thing 5 hours before you were supposed to use them and you don't have a save from before you made the mistake.

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37 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

They arguably could have done a bit better more consistently if they were able to snag more big licenses like Hitchhiker's, but as the Telarium/Trillium and other games showed, that was not necessarily a recipe for lasting success either.

Yeah in the shipments you posted,  Hitchhikers blew away the single-year shipments for any of their titles in 1985.   Then for 1986, the company's numbers dropped dramatically because they didn't have a followup of that profile.    The did do another Douglas Adams game, but it wasn't based on a book.

 

15 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

Although I have plenty of Sierra games in my collection, I've never been a particular fan of them as a whole.

Same here.  Tried the King's Quest games, but they didn't pull me in.  I also didn't think the graphics were that good.  Looks like they were rendered at 160x100 probably to save disk space, but they were very pixelated.

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33 minutes ago, Bill Loguidice said:

I'm more of a LucasArts-style gamer

Lucasarts adventures is another one that thrived for awhile, had huge hits like Monkey Island then petered out.

 

Probably largely to do with the fact that they finally got the Star Wars license back after it was held by other companies for a decade.   Still-  could they not have made Star Wars adventure games?

 

I also wonder if switching to 3D for Grim Fandango and Monkey Island 4 had something to do with it.  Now those games suddenly needed systems with much higher specs to run the games, and they often wouldn't run without hassle. so this narrowed the base of gamers who could actually play and hurt sales.   The casual gamers who bought up these titles aren't the first ones to rush out and buy the latest 3D cards.

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11 minutes ago, zzip said:

Lucasarts adventures is another one that thrived for awhile, had huge hits like Monkey Island then petered out.

 

Probably largely to do with the fact that they finally got the Star Wars license back after it was held by other companies for a decade.   Still-  could they not have made Star Wars adventure games?

 

I also wonder if switching to 3D for Grim Fandango and Monkey Island 4 had something to do with it.  Now those games suddenly needed systems with much higher specs to run the games, and they often wouldn't run without hassle. so this narrowed the base of gamers who could actually play and hurt sales.   The casual gamers who bought up these titles aren't the first ones to rush out and buy the latest 3D cards.

Star Wars was always seen as an action series when talking about video games and likely wouldn't have been as much of a money maker to turn it into an adventure game.

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3 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Star Wars was always seen as an action series when talking about video games and likely wouldn't have been as much of a money maker to turn it into an adventure game.

So is Indiana Jones, but they made two adventure games based on that.

 

Yeah, a Star Wars adventure game wouldn't sell as well as something like X-Wing or Rebel Assault, but it would probably sell better than something like "The Dig" that they were still producing at the same time.

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