4 Types Of Transforms The Art Of 3D Computer Animation Escaping to the Point and Click Adventure

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Escaping to the Point and Click Adventure

Some of my best gaming experiences; in fact, some of my best experiences in just the last year of the 80’s and throughout the 90’s came from the incredible Point and Click Adventure genre. Also known as “Graphic Adventures”, each game was an absolute journey, deeply layered and immersive – I was tuned out of reality and into another world, allowing me to be someone else from the moment those discs were inserted until the time I turned the ON/OFF switch and went to bed.

To escape my mundane life as a school kid, all I had to do was rise above, and I instantly became a pirate, secret agent, time traveler, space ranger, detective, archaeologist, magician or king. Douglas Quaid had Rekall, I had my Amiga.

This was beyond “the book”; Point and Click Adventures allowed the player to immerse themselves in a rich story, but actually be the protagonist, walk as them, respond as them, interact with other characters as them, and make their own decisions for them; each time being rewarded with further stories, riddles and puzzles. Before the integration of real audio dialogue into games when they arrived on CD-ROM years later (which I think ruined them); the much cooler generation of limited-capacity floppy disk users were forced to read all the dialogue in their heads, (creating their own voices if they wanted) with a 16-bit soundtrack and sound effects to accompany them. It was a sublime experience.

I preferred to Point’n’Click alone

Often with intriguing story lines and an intense need to beat the actual puzzle; players would invest countless hours into the games over and over, playing throughout the day, into the evening, and into the wee hours of the morning. With a tired mind, this could transform them into a trancelike, dreamlike state, as if the dream they were seeing was in front of them, but it was in full color, completely controllable, and lucid. These were the best dreams they had ever had. Everything beyond the 4 sides of the screen in front of them was destroyed and nothing else existed but adventure; the only memory that they were still a human being they were looking at was the feeling of their wrist and hand pointing with the mouse and the sound of Clicks as they selected a verb and then an object.

It was a very personal and lonely experience; a journey that can only be fully enjoyed when done alone. I once sat down with a friend, together trying to beat some puzzles of a certain game that was out at the time, at his house. I felt like I was infringing on his experience and he was definitely spoiling me; this was an experience I wished I had locked away in my bedroom, not his. It was akin to trying to sit down and read a classic novel at the same time as another person, both looking at the same pages, one wanting to turn a page and skip it, and the other wanting to hang around and take in the intricacies of the story and dialogue and apply imagination to enhance the scene. We were just two different instances of that sprite in two different mindsets. On his screen was the exact same animated collection of pixels, but I didn’t recognize this character, it wasn’t the same one waiting for me at home. We had been through different things at different times; I had built up a rapport with mine, and here it was just a clone performing actions I wanted to save for later – it just wasn’t the same. Needless to say, I never tried to co-play a Point’n’Click again.

Graphic adventure piracy, before Monkey Island

It all started for me in 1989, I was given by my uncle a pirated (naughty naughty) copy of the excellent Future Wars by Delphine – this whetted my appetite for the genre, but as only a floppy disk had been delivered to neither of us) a two-disc game, I was only able to complete a few of the puzzles before I was prompted to “Insert Disk 2”. Without the disc, I wasn’t able to continue, which was disappointing to say the least, but it made me hungry for graphic adventure – I had to play more.

I used to order Amiga games from some sort of mail order catalog (I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called, or why I was doing it this way as I could probably go to a computer store in town.), However, I believe that this catalog contained games that were not widely known or distributed at the time, perhaps from abroad. Inside it, a small ad showing a quirky and exciting cover game, like that of an 80s cartoon or movie, which was accompanied by a charming sales pitch – right there and then I had to find out what was going on in Maniac Maniac. And so it was ordered and the waiting time began (I seem to remember 14 – 28 days?). Every day was a “Has the postman been?” routine, until one warm and hazy Saturday morning, it had finally arrived. I remember opening the big brown bag and taking out that amazing box. On the front, a large, color version of what appeared in the catalog, but on the back, a strange painted image of the stories’ antagonists: Dr Fred, Nurse Edna and Weird Ed. If I wasn’t already withdrawn; The fact that inside the box was a large poster depicting a notice board with all sorts of plot related stories and character history references really hooked him. Maniac Mansion Disc 1 was on, and I was going to Maniac Mansion.

Adventure for a time without adventure

With a strong craving for point and click, and with the arrival of the 90s, many other titles followed; Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Secret of Monkey Island, Operation Stealth, Loom, Day of Tentacle, Cruise for a Corpse, Cost Leisure Larry, King’s Quest, Space Quest, Quest Police, Dark Seed , Dreamweb, KGB.. Some atmospheric and serious, some filled with incredible wit and humor; they came thick and fast, each taking me to a different place, time and life.

As the genre became popular and constantly filled the charts, it wasn’t long before sequels appeared giving us even more adventures and even more time to spend with (as) our favorite characters.

However, as consoles came more and more into the limelight with their gaming keyboards, this meant the end of point and click (of course, consoles don’t use a mouse), and with game sales at a low level due to the quantity of diskette piracy; this spelled the end of the Amiga. PCs continued with the genre for a while, but with the new generation demanding more shock value and exciting real-time 3D graphics gameplay; the whimsical innocence of Point and Click games as we know them was gone and the adventures were seemingly over. Fast forward 15 or so years… Although it lacks the authenticity of the interaction (less point-and-click, more like look-then-tap adventures), in recent years with the intimacy of touch-screen devices and tablets, Point and Click adventure made a return and I was happy to see some classics re-released. It’s nice to see the genre become popular once again, although sadly, for me they’ve lost the charm that made the games what they were. Perhaps this is because the actual hardware that was used at the time to play them is missing; with not much storage space, processing power and graphics capabilities, the storylines and characters really shined because they had to. Or maybe it was because of what was happening (or not happening) outside the computer screen at the time. In an age before the Internet, cell phones, social media, MMOs, and instant digital entertainment, there were few places to transpose the consciousness of a young boy seeking true adventure. With such a dearth of options at the time for escape, the Point and Click adventure was a point and click away from a whole other world.

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