Over at The Escapist, they have an interview with Jane Jensen. For the few who may not know, Jane was the designer of the Gabriel Knight adventure games for Sierra.
No surprise, she has some interesting things to say. A couple in particular stood out to me. One was a comment on Myst:
Ninety-five percent of the people who bought Myst never finished it. Did you ever finish it? I never finished it. It was just too freaking hard. I always wonder if Myst hurt adventure gaming - because it looked so incredible and it hit such a mass market thanks to that. People would play around with it, say, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then put it away because it was so hard. It probably didn’t make them want to play more adventure games.
I don’t know if that 95% is correct or possibly a bit high. But I think she’s on to something there. I never finished the game myself; it just bored me silly.
We remember that after the phenomenal success of Myst, there was a resurgence in the adventure game market. Naturally, everyone wanted to be the next Myst, and, of course, no one ever managed it, even with pretty graphics.
Having played a couple of them, I figured the trend died out because the products were mostly mediocre. But having read Jane’s take, I wonder if too many people did find Myst too hard, and crossed adventures off their “games to play” list.
Perhaps that feeling lingers on to today, and is why adventure games remain a fairly small niche market for the most part.
The other comment she made has me feeling a bit depressed. It was this:
You can’t overestimate the stupidity of the mass market. Anything that’s going to be popular will have to be really simple and really entertaining, and I’ll strive for that in the future. I don’t think it’s necessary to make things hard.
I can certainly agree with “stupidity of the mass market”. But I’m sad to see Jane Jensen going that way. Her work on the GK series was topnotch stuff (except for the action parts), and while I’m sure any casual games she comes out with will be good work, I’d rather see her doing something a bit more, how can I put it?, hardcore.
Anyway, read the interview and see what you think.