History: The Adventure Game

  (Edited: )

In preparation for Sean's new show "Mostly Walking" all about the adventure game, I thought it best to provide a bit of history as well as hearing your experiences with the genre.

Adventure games are one of the oldest genres in gaming, starting just a little after the arcade. They sometimes focus on puzzles, sometimes on exploration, but they always tell a good story and tell it well.

The first ever Adventure game was made by Will Crowther back in 1975. Called "Colossal Cave Adventure", the game was completely text based. To interact with the world, you typed in commands like "take axe" or "move south". Despite being able to only input two words at a time, the game gave players the freedom to move around in a virtual space, fight monsters and acquire dem phat lewts. 

The game became the inspiration for many would be developers. In 1980, a developer called Infocom sold their first copy of Zork, which is widely credited with bringing adventure games to a larger audience. Players could now type in sentences, and it also introduced the idea of an enemy that you had to beat. Zork was so successful it spawned numerous sequels.


In the same year, another start-up developer called On-line Systems produced the first adventure game to incorporate graphics called "Mystery House".

This breakthrough was followed up by "Kings Quest: Quest for the Crown" in 1983, under their new name Sierra On-Line. Kings Quest was great not only for its excellent gameplay, but for the first time the player had the ability to control a character in the 3rd person. Sierra went on to produce heaps more "Quest" type games, including Police Quest and Space Quest, as well as the infamous Leisure Suit Larry series.

The next big thing in adventure games was the release of "Maniac Mansion", a creation by Lucasfilm Games in 1987. This game introduced the SCUMM engine (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion). Rather than typing, the player used the mouse to click on specific phrases, then click on the scene to interact with the world. The game also had multiple characters and endings, all coupled with a brilliant quirky sense of humour. 

This formula was replicated in later extremely popular titles such as Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max: Hit the Road, and the Monkey Island Series under there new name LucasArts.

By now, graphics in games had come a long way, and in 1993 the game Myst was released. This game used CD-ROM technology to give players an unprecedented level of graphic detail - all the scenes and worlds were pre-rendered, there were embedded movies, and exploration was done from a first person perspective. People either loved it or hated it, but regardless it became the top selling PC game for many many years until the Sims. 

Once the Noughties arrived the popularity of adventure games went into the decline, however many other genres began to apply the same elements to there games. roaming around the huge countryside in Oblivion; swinging on vines with your pistols drawn as Lara Croft; even hiding in your first PVP zone trying not to get ganked in World of Warcraft. 

But with the success of Adventure games like The Walking Dead, we may just see a new resurgence.

So what were your fondest memories with the adventure game. write them in the comments below: