Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Garden - SL as a graphic adventure game?

In the eighties and nineties graphic adventure games were a popular genre. They revolutionized game-play by making use of visual human perception in a game where the player interacts with the game environment, characters and objects. In many of these games, the mouse pointer was used to apply different actions to different objects. Clues relied upon dialogues between the player and characters within the game. The player was interacting with characters and objects in order to solve complex puzzles and to advance in the story line.

the garden

Picture of "The Garden" by grace mcdunnough

The decline of graphic adventure games since the end of the nineties is blamed on the rise of advanced action games such as ego-shooters and interestingly also to the advent of online gaming where players compete with each other online. The missing multiplayer feature of graphic adventure games seems to have been an important reason for their decline. However in the last years there have been attempts to reinvent the adventure game genre by blending new interfaces and gameplay elements into it. Notably Myst Online included multiplayer functionality and physics-based puzzles.

the watcher
Picture of "The Garden" by grace mcdunnough

According to the definition given above, the new Second Life game "The Garden" could be defined as a reinvention of the graphic adventure game genre for SL. I am not sure if the game creators had such a concept in mind, but all the ingredients are there: a story-line, interaction with the game environment, clue-based puzzles that need to be solved by interaction with objects and characters. A good description of the gameplay is given by Inara Pey on her blog Living in a Modemworld.
Essentially, the idea behind The Garden is that of a clue-based puzzle which incorporates a mixture of exploring, gathering and logic. The aim is to seek the seven Guardians and / or to find their artefacts and, by doing so, gather clues which enable the player to identify which sin each Guardian committed, and the penance they suffered as a result. Then, having correctly identified the sin committed and penance paid be each Guardian, the player can offer forgiveness to one of the Guardians. 
The most interesting parts of this game are the interactive functionalities  The game-play objects - called artifacts - are scattered throughout "The Garden". Once a player finds and uses an artifact it will vanish and reappear elsewhere in the region. Even if someone plays the game alone, the presence of other players will still have a direct impact on his experience. The multiplayer option of the game also looks promising. Players can cooperate and find the solution together as a team. Or an alternate method of play is to compete among friends to see who can find the solution in the shortest time.

"The Garden" is one of the most innovative games that have been developed for SL so far and it has earned itself a lot of praising press coverage. The solution will change with each game round ensuring players interest for a long time. "The Garden" is an outstanding example of SL games that residents can develop as a team.

If you want to get news about "The Garden", you can find them on their official blog:

Here is the official video presentation of the game:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great post, Estelle. If you have more insight or feedback about The Garden to improve and/or extend the experience you'd like to share, we'd love to hear it!