Adventure Games Live

Adventure Games Live

Adventure Games Live (AGL) is a feature at "RinkWorks". The games on it are single-player turn-based adventure games run in CGI on an engine written by Samuel Stoddard, who runs "RinkWorks" and wrote five of the ten games currently available on AGL. The main site rates the games' difficulty levels on a scale of one to ten.

Technical details

AGL games are written in a simple programming language called Smash, derived from an earlier language called AGLL (from "Adventure Games Live Language"). Smash is generally intended for producing menu-based adventure games, though it is flexible enough for many other types of single-player, turn-based games as well. The former AGLL language is deprecated and is no longer in use on "RinkWorks".

The specification of Smash is publicly available from its page at "RinkWorks". Anyone who wants can write a game in Smash, and if they want, send it to "RinkWorks" for evaluation. Following a period of feedback and extensive playtesting, if the game is approved, it is published on the AGL page.

The Smash source code for the simplest and easiest game, "The Trainer", is freely available on the Smash tutorial page. The source code for the other games is proprietary and not available without explicit permission from the authors.

The Smash interpreter that is responsible for running the games on the "RinkWorks" server is proprietary software written by Samuel Stoddard and not publicly available. People wishing to play AGL games locally on their own computer are free to write their own interpreters, or can use "Rex", a Smash interpreter written using wxPython and developed by Andrew Walters (who also developed two of the games available on AGL).

AGL games

*"The Trainer", a game to introduce players to the Adventure Games Live playing format.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard.
** Difficulty level 1.
** Release date: November 18, 1998
*"Outlaws of the Sierra Nevadas", a western dealing with a confrontation between a gang of bandits and a small town in 1874 California.
** Written by Heather Billings
** Difficulty level 5.
** Release date: November 15, 2004
*"Escape From St. Mary's", a comedic adventure set in a Catholic school in Dubai.
** Written by Ryan Menezes
** Difficulty level 10.
** Release date: December 13, 2005
*"Fantasy Quest", a fantasy game in which the player rescues a princess.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard.
** Difficulty level 4.
** Release date: November 18, 1998
*"Fantasy Quest II", a sequel to "Fantasy Quest" originally based on a joke made in the "RinkWorks" chat room.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard.
** Difficulty level 5.
** Release date: September 22, 2002
*"The Game of the Ages", a fantasy game based on a story by Stoddard and David J. Parker using their respective fictional characters.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard
** Difficulty level 8.
** Release date: January 12, 2001
*"The Mystery of Brackly Hall", a game in which the player searches for a wealthy man's inheritance.
** Written by C. Patrick
** Difficulty level 2.
** Release date: September 11, 2000
*"The Early Years", a collection of games of varying quality written by Stoddard in his childhood and youth, adapted for AGL format.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard.
** Difficulty level 3.
** Release date: January 30, 2005
*"More Early Years", another collection of games of varying quality written by Stoddard in his childhood and youth plus one brand-new game, adapted for AGL format.
** Written by Samuel Stoddard.
** Difficulty Level 3.
** Release date: October 22, 2007
*"The Perils of Akumos", a science fiction game in which the player (as Kenneth Connell) solves puzzles and explores a space station.
** Written by Andrew Walters.
** Difficulty level 10.
** Release date: November 9, 2000
*"Trail of Anguish", a prequel to "The Perils of Akumos" in which the player (Kendra Connell) searches for a madman on her college campus.
** Written by Andrew Walters.
** Difficulty level 6.
** Release date: August 29, 2001

The Trainer

"The Trainer" is the simplest of the games available on the site. It is one of only two games to have been featured on the site from its opening.

As the official description states, "This mini-adventure is a good way to have fun while learning the ropes. It doesn't take long, yet it does a good job of familiarizing you with the features of this site and some of the types of puzzles you'll encounter in the larger games."

The full source code for the game is now available on "RinkWorks" in the tutorial on Smash programming.

Outlaws of the Sierra Nevadas

As the official description states, "It's 1874 in Caballo Creek, California, where a man can work and live in peace -- at least until recently. Gangs of bandits have been pillaging nearby villages, and you're worried that Caballo Creek might be next. Journey through a landscape chock full of guns, smoke, and saloons in this historical mystery adventure set in the Old West."

Escape From St. Mary's

As the official description states, "You're stuck in math class, and you just can't take it anymore. You want to ditch school, but little do you know that your simple mission will run you through an hilariously outrageous set of parallel adventures. You've just got to get out of here! This exciting adventure game features a richly detailed world, an intricate conversation system, and a handy new mechanism for making use of items you acquire along the way. Find the secret area for an alternate ending!"

Fantasy Quest

"Fantasy Quest" can be considered the oldest of the games available, as not only was it present from AGL's opening, but it was actually written much earlier in the fall of 1991, as a console game written in BASIC.

As the official description states, "A twist on the old "rescue the princess" plot, this game has you entering a mysterious land of fantasy to save your beloved from evil. Features over 30 interactive characters and over 140 locations."

The game is a lot simpler than most on "Adventure Games Live", lacking any real storyline or logical objectives. It is only slightly more advanced than the games created by the author in the collection "The Early Years", where the players objectives are seldom more complex than moving through physical obstacles, frequently by killing whatever mythical creature is in his way. However, the game is of interest simply because of the extent with which it plays with absurdity, frequently bordering on self-parody.

The game was followed by a sequel, which was this time an unabashed parody, written solely to make fun of the original. The ridicule was then followed by a news parody, the "Fantasy News Network", which pokes fun at both games. "Fantasy Quest" has become a veritable franchise now, with "RinkWorks" even selling T-shirts decorated with the map of the original game.

Fantasy Quest II

This game is the sequel to "Fantasy Quest", the oldest of the adventure games on the site.

As the official description states, "Return to the magical land of fantasy and its quaint, inexplicable characters to meet old friends, settle old scores, and save dozens of princesses."

The origins of this game are highly unusual. As documented in the " [ RinkChat Archives] " from 2000, the idea for the game came about when a chatter mistakenly referred to "Enchanted Forest II" (an existing game) as "Fantasy Quest II". In the surreal fashion of conversations between creative individuals, the others in the chatroom responded as though the latter game did exist, and made references to imaginary situations that supposedly existed in the game, all of which made fun of the original game. The conversation soon moved on, but the idea for a sequel remained in the author's mind.

True to its mission, "Fantasy Quest II" spends most of its time ridiculing the many absurdities, inconsistencies, and annoying elements of the original game, and, to a lesser extent of all adventure games. For example, characters from the original who apparently had no purpose return which involved and highly contrived explanations of what they were there for. Areas of the game that were inaccessible before are opened up - spectacularly and hilariously. And certain elements of adventure games that seem particularly odd (exchanging unrelated items, having to try an option multiple times to get a result) are played out for maximum comedic effect.

The Game of the Ages

As the official description states, "Based on "RinkWorks"' fantasy parody novelette, "The Duel of the Ages", this game stars you as the lone hope of your village, which has been taken over by the Shadows. To dispose of these foul creatures, you must journey into other worlds and seek the aid of legendary heroes Blood Drops and Darius Longshore. This game features a richly depicted environment and even a secret area."

The parody novelette in question is a collaboration between Samuel Stoddard and David Parker, featuring the characters from each of their fantasy universes battling to the death with each other. Besides general absurd humor, the novelette also makes reference to numerous movies and other items of popular culture, most notably "The Princess Bride". It also deals in deeper themes of fantasy literature, including multiple worlds and the nature of magic, and also delves into metafiction.

"The Game of the Ages" incorporates the characters and the setting of The Duel of the Ages but boasts independent puzzles and plot elements. The game is of particular replay value, due to its well-written prose, and to a 'secret area' searched for by many players.

The Mystery of Brackly Hall

As the official description states, "Lord Brackly's dead, but no one can find his secret vault, rumored to contain the bulk of his very wealthy estate. His will leaves it all to the one who can find it. Can you?"

The game is much simpler than most on the site, both in difficulty and complexity. It lacks a storyline other than the vague objective to "find the inheritance," and the puzzles are rarely more complicated than using an item to get another or to bypass a location. The most memorable location in the game is probably an intentionally frustrating garden maze.

The first game written by a reader of the site rather than by Stoddard, "The Mystery of Brackly Hall" influenced many other fans of the site to start working on their own games privately.

The Early Years

As the official description states, "In the five years after I wrote my first computer program in 1985, I filled dozens of floppy disks with program after program, mostly games, and many of them adventure games. These efforts culminated in "Fantasy Quest" in 1991, which has since been ported to "Adventure Games Live". The games I wrote prior to that were primitive in comparison -- sometimes hilariously, awfully so -- but they abound with nostalgia and the charm of innocence. "The Early Years" is a collection of 22 of these early games of mine, ported to "Adventure Games Live" with every misspelling and most of the bugs intact."

The quality of the games in the early years varies greatly, from the literally infantile to the fairly complex. At the beginning, only two games are available, but the rest become unlocked as you progress through each one. Self-deprecating commentary appears throughout the games.

To "win" "The Early Years", only 12 of the 22 games are required; the remaining 10 are optional. The games are as follows:
*"Required Games"
** Adventure - Search an old mansion for treasure and avoid the badguys on the same hunt.
** Gold Rush - Find the gold hidden in a huge house, before time runs out.
** Trapped In Castle Bombadier - Escape a castle patrolled by lions and Medusa.
** Space-Man - Travel to the nine planets of the solar system, plus the sun, and solve hilariously illogical puzzles.
** Spider Attack - Escape a spider-infested forest, inspired by Mirkwood in "The Hobbit".
** Save Crewshade! - Confront the "creator of evil" and save the world from destruction.
** Camelot's Curse - Go back in time with Merlin and save Camelot from the dominion of an evil sorceress.
** Trapped In Castle Bombadier 2 - Escape the lions a second time.
** Time Machine - Recover your time machine, and don't get trampled by the dinosaurs.
** Vampire Hall - Find your way into a vampire-infested castle and defeat them.
** Magical Journey - A light adventure in a fantasy world.
** The Quest of Kael - An epic fantasy adventure; easily the best game in the collection.
*"Optional Games"
** Tower of Terror - Get to the top of a monster-infested tower without going mad.
** Granny's Garden - Find the missing kids. Paradoxically, there is no granny and no garden.
** Shibble - Explore a forest for a magic artifact.
** The Spinning Stone - Explore a cave for a magic artifact.
** Mini-Adventure - A very short fantasy adventure.
** Dragon! - Slay a dragon in this quickie game written by Stoddard's brother.
** Jewel of Montol - Explore a fantasy world and find a precious gem.
** Compu-Maze - A maze of mostly one-way doors.
** Forest - An AGL port of "Forest", a game that Stoddard wrote on his Apple IIe, which later became the "RinkWorks" feature "Enchanted Forest".
** Murder! - Solve a mystery in this game reminiscent of Clue.

"The Early Years" is written by Samuel Stoddard, and was first posted on January 30, 2005. It has a difficulty level of 3.

The Perils of Akumos

As the official description states, "This futuristic science fiction adventure is devious and intricate. Guide Kenneth Connell in his new job aboard the Corolis space station as he discovers that all is not as it first appears. Something sinister is afoot!"

The game is easily the most complex on Adventure Games Live at the present. Its many unusual locales include a brilliantly designed space station, and a 3D network of underground caverns. The puzzles vary from the conventional to timed puzzles, mathematical puzzles, and puzzles involving spatial reasoning. The characters in the game are realistic, and are richly described. Plus, the game boasts a genuinely engaging storyline.

The game was followed by "Trail of Anguish", and there is a third installment in the trilogy planned.

Trail of Anguish

As the official description states, "This exciting prequel spin-off of "The Perils of Akumos" chronicles the tale of Kendra Connell in college. Can you track down a mystical madman, loose on the campus? Alternate solutions in this game make it impossible to see everything without playing it through at least three times. This game may be played before or after The Perils of Akumos, as you please."

The alternate solutions referred to involve the player choosing different classes to take, and resultantly having to solve different puzzles, each with a separate item as a reward. These items can be used in conjunction with one another in a variety of different combinations in the endgame segment.

The game, along with "The Perils of Akumos" and the as yet unreleased "Starlight Sacrifice", will form a trilogy.

tarlight Sacrifice

"Starlight Sacrifice" is an unreleased game, and is now available as a demo exclusively for "RinkWorks" subscribers. Written by Andrew Walters as the final part in his trilogy (which includes "The Perils of Akumos" and "Trail of Anguish"), "Starlight Sacrifice" has been long in production, originally due for release in late 2001, but now expected to be finished around 2010.

As the demo's official description states, "This fantasy adventure game completes the story introduced in "The Perils of Akumos" and "Trail of Anguish". Journey with Tyrus Tel'Karath through the lands of Magencia, Rakcha, and Tequine -- and beyond -- on a desperate quest to save them from disaster. This demo contains three separate sections from the game, of increasing difficulty, which represent a tiny cross-section of the types of puzzles and gameplay elements you'll find in the full version."

The game threatens to be far more difficult and complex than anything else on "Adventure Games Live". Though the demo's listed difficulty level is 8, the difficulty of the final game has been estimated as "off the scale", possibly as high as 12 or 13.

External links

* [ Adventure Games Live]
* [ Smash Information]

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