The Resurgence of the Adventure Game Genre


I’ve been a gamer ever since I first laid eyes on an Atari. But of all the genres that I’ve enjoyed - the Adventure Genre stands out the most. What games are included on this list? Pretty much all Lucas Arts games…Monkey Island (1-4), Loom, Day of the Tentacle, etc. Because of my age, these games (for the most part) came out before I was old enough to realize that I needed to go buy them. As such, I acquired them from garage sales and relatives wanting to get rid of them. The adventure genre isn’t known for its replayability, graphics, or downright fun. What I’ve always enjoyed was the tongue in cheek humor provided by them. I’ve enjoyed the zany puzzles. I enjoyed the “talkies”.

These kind of games have been abandoned as a viable genre. Monkey Island 4 was the last great (if you can call it great - it used the keyboard more than the mouse) adventure game released by Lucas Arts….all the way back in the year 2000. So for seven years the world has needed a fresh adventure game. Who stepped up to the plate? Telltale Games. Building on the success of Lucas Arts’ old Sam & Max adventure game, Telltale Games built and released episodic Sam & Max adventure games through GameTap (a monthly PC game subscription service). A friend of mine lets me use his secondary account, and I’ve been gladly enjoying Sam & Max for the last six months. They’ve completed the “first season” of the game (6 games) and are now offering it for sale at their online store. To be honest, Sam & Max is the ONLY PC game I’ve been playing in the last six months. None of the rest have held my attention (or been as entertaining).

Here’s a brief rundown on how I’d score this game if I was reviewing for an online game site:
<ul><li>Graphics: 5/10 - The game doesn’t push my GPU hard at all. However, it’s a cartoony looking game with 3D graphics and nicely modeled characters. If it got much more graphically intensive, it wouldn’t have the comic feel that it should. You should be able to run this game on just about any PC you could have bought in the last 4-5 years.</li><li>Replayability: 4/10 - Once again - this isn’t what adventure games are about. You may replay the game once every few years. I tend to explore every aspect of an adventure game the first time through, so replaying is done more for nostalgia sake than anything else.</li><li>Sound: 10/10 - the voice acting and ambient music are excellent and really contribute to the feel of the game. The Sam & Max voice actors remind me of the old cartoon that was being produced years ago. So yes…this is a “talkie” :)</li><li>Humor: 8/10 - The humor in this one (and most adventure games) is very dry. My humor is the same, so I found the games to be pretty funny. At times, the jokes and dialogue just didn’t tickle my funny bone - but they made my wife laugh. Good stuff.</li><li>Challenge: 7.5/10 - This is one area where I was a bit disappointed. The old Lucas Arts adventure games many times had you combining different items in your inventory to do things (sometimes multiple items). These games didn’t do that at all. To top it off, each game generally had a similar premise - Find out problem, get tool from the inconvenience store, solve problem. Not that this was a totally bad thing - but a little more interactivity with the items in the inventory would have been appreciated. At other times, the puzzle completely stumped me and I ended up cheating (yeah I know…don’t say it). I didn’t ever get that same feeling that I got when playing the first couple Monkey Island games when I’d solve some rediculous puzzle using multiple combined items and timing my mouse clicks right. The game was still rewarding though.</li><li>Worthy of purchase: 11/10. If you’ve ever enjoyed adventure games, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up and play through it (all 6 episodes). I’m not advertising for TellTale here - but I think they’ve done the Sam & Max franchise justice.</li></ul>If you’re interested in purchasing the entire series, the TellTale store has it. You might also think about getting a 3 month subscription (or longer) to GameTap. It’s a pretty neat service and has alot of good games to pick from besides the Sam & Max Series.

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WinAudit - a shameless plug for a nifty tool

While surfing the interwebs, checking the emails, etc. I came upon a program called WinAudit. It’s a FREEware app that can report a lot of things about your machine and output it in a lot of different formats. Straight from their site: “The programme has advanced features such as service tag detection, hard-drive failure diagnosis, network port to process mapping, network connection speed, system availability statistics as well as Windows® update and firewall settings.”

Anyway - it’s pretty neat. My new employer is a “100% Microsoft Shop”, so I’m trying to move more that direction in the things I learn about and use on a daily basis. I’m all for open source, free software for all, and beautiful alternative user interfaces…but managing a 100% Microsoft Shop is surely going to have its peaks. All in all I’m looking forward to the opportunity. Only question I now have…should I switch my Linux server/media box to Windows Server 2003?

If you’ve got a handy free tool for the Windows world that makes your life easier - leave me a comment or two :)

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Spoofing the Mac Commercials

I don’t often laugh at online videos - but this one got me. Now don’t get me wrong - I love the Mac’s interface. It’s truly a wonder. But this video is absolutely hilarious :)

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Increasing the Wine font size

Thus far in using Ubuntu, I’ve been able to use only Linux applications. I’ll admit that some of them were just ports of their Windows or Mac OS X counterparts…but I never had to install wine (a compatibility layer for running Windows programs). Well you know that torrent app I recommended? kTorrent? It’s crashed on me several times in the last couple days…and ate up every bit of memory the system had this morning. I went looking for a better alternative and my only choice was to use uTorrent under wine. No problem!

Wine is only a synaptic click away. Running utorrent under it is a simple affair too. I found this tutorial very helpful: Using utorrent with wine - Ubuntu Forums

However, since my primary monitor is a 32” LCD and I’m at about an 8-10 foot distance from it - the font size needs to be increased. Under windows this is a simple task…but under Wine = not so much. I think this is something that NEEDS to be put into the wine configuration app. Anyway - here’s how it’s done.

First - close any applications that are running under wine.

To change the size of any menu font - you’ll need to edit the win.ini under the following folder:

/home/yourusername/.wine/

Add the following information to the win.ini file:
[Desktop]
MenuFontSize=18

You can change the 18 to whatever size you need - but that worked for me. Now we need to change font size of the rest of the application. To do so, use the terminal and launch wine’s regedit:

wine regedit

You’ll want to browse to this value:

HKEY_CURRENT_CONFIG\Software\Fonts\LogPixels

and change it to something larger. Make sure to change the selection to “Decimal”, as you probably don’t natively speak hex. It’s default in decimal is 96. I upped mine to 120 and it worked nicely.

When you’re done doing that, close out regedit and restart your wine application. Enjoy your larger font sizes and lack of squinting!

Here’s the best resource I found on this matter after a bit of searching:
http://www.winehq.com/pipermail/wine-users/2005-April/017810.html

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