No, this post isn't about the original Adventure nor is it about the recently released Get Lamp. Interactive fiction will have to wait for another day.
No, this is about adventure games on computers. Why they work and why they don't. Recently a couple of the best of the adventure style games were rereleased for yet another generation of platforms. Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2 have been updated for the most modern gaming consoles and yet they are still the same adventure style games at heart.
(As a pure aside... if you want to have fun understanding how far computer games have come and how primitive early home computers were by today's standards then watch this video of the evolution of PC sound technology illustrated through the music for Monkey Island. I think I owned most of the sound cards and technologies listed. I think I still have my Gravis Ultrasound somewhere. It's amazing how far we've come from bleeps and bloops to full orchestral scores.)
Replaying Monkey Island had me plunging through my bookmarks to find an article by Ron Gilbert called Why Adventures Games Suck. As the designer behind Monkey Island he should know why adventure games suck and what to do about it. After all Monkey Island, and several other LucasArts games, are considered classics of the genre.
Which then lead me to remember a much more recent article Sierra vs. Lucasarts by L.B. Jeffries in Popmatters. The difference in approach symbolized by those two companies really does help capture some of the basic problems and issues in designing and writing good adventure games.
Those two resources won't help you design the next great adventure game but they should help you understand what can make a good game work well. Sadly the genre seems half dead. Sure many other genres include lots of the elements of adventure games but as a stand alone genre the adventure game seems to have fallen out of favour. For now. There will always be stories to tell, games to play through them, and designers who want to do more than just give us wave after wave of enemies to mow down. There will be other adventures to play through we just may have to wait a little while.