A look at Adventure Game GUIs

Adventure Games went a long way from the Text Adventures of the 80’s to be something like an anachronism in the 2010’s landscape that’s dominated by twitch-based action games. Here are some GUIs that Adventure Games used over the years. This is by no means exhaustive, but should cover the most common ones.

Early Sierra Games were essentially still text adventures – you could move your character, but not interact with anything without typing.

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(King’s Quest 1)

A lot of early games used text-based GUIs that still resemble Text Adventures, except that the parser is now hidden, thus eliminating the “Guess the Verb” problem.

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(Zak McKracken / Commodore 64)

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(The Secret of Monkey Island / Amiga)

Lucas Arts would eventually reduce the number verbs and replace the inventory with icons.

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(The Secret of Monkey Island / PC DOS, VGA Version)

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(Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis / PC DOS)

Some games had icons for the actions.

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(The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition / iPad)

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(Das Erbe / Amiga)

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(BiFi Roll Action in Hollywood / Amiga)

There are Hybrid Icon/Text approaches.
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(Das Telekommando kehrt zurück / Amiga)

Assigning Body parts is a way to not have actions per-se (since e.g. a Hand can mean Push, Pull, Punch, Use, Climb, Shoot…),

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(Full Throttle)

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(Gemini Rue)

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(Curse of Monkey Island)

Some games use a simple Interact/Look breakdown:

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(Secret Files: Puritas Cordis, but the same cursor was used in Secret Files: Tunguska and Lost Horizon)

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(Deponia)

And some games didn’t have verbs in the traditional sense at all, but relied on a single context-sensitive action, plus inventory action and dialogue. However, sometimes right-clicking implies “Look” while left clicking is “Interact”, so it’s not really that different.

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(Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars)

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(Legend of Kyrandia)

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(Space Quest V)

A special case are multiple verbs that are context-sensitive (so they may completely differ from hotspot to hotspot)

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(A New Beginning – Final Cut)

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