What is a point’n’click game?
Point and click refers to a sub-genre of adventure games where the player interacts mainly with the mouse or any pointing device.
A good story is generally an important part of this genre, as well as interactions with items and non-playing characters.
This genre is very easy to play. User inputs generally consist of:
left or right clicks
drag and drop
These user inputs are converted into game interactions depending on the element that was clicked. Among some of the most classic ones:
walk towards a given point
talk to an NPC
look at something
use an item
The player might be able to pick up some objects and put them into his inventory. While the inventory is not mandatory in a point and click game, it remains very frequent.
These interactions help the player to find solutions to problems. Solved problems advance the intrigue and make the adventure continue. It is common to encounter puzzles that provide problems to solve. There are many ways to design those puzzles.
A bit of history
LucasArts and Sierra are often considered as pioneers of point and click games.
Sierra is thought of as the historical creator of the graphical adventure game genre. They created successful series such as King’s Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, and several others, thanks to their graphical engine called Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI), later upgraded to Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI).
LucasArts is well-known for games like Maniac Mansion, the Monkey Island series, Day of the Tentacle, the Indiana Jones series, and others. All of these examples have in common the use of a scripting language called SCUMM. This language is descriptive and was created to allow game designers, scenarists, dialogists, etc. to modify the game without the help of a programmer at each step.
The genre suffered a big popularity loss in the mid 90’s, mostly due to the boom of 3D technologies. But it finally rose again in the middle of the 2000’s thanks to successful series like Syberia (Microïds) and Runaway (Pendulo Studios).
These days, point and click games remain popular thanks to their casual nature and the match with mobile devices. A point and click game:
is made of a story and puzzles
uses few system ressources
requires no special devices
doesn’t require special execution skills