Adventure Game Studio

Adventure Game Studio

Infobox Software
name = Adventure Game Studio



caption = The room editor in AGS.
author = Chris Jones
developer =
released = 1997 (version 1)
latest release version = 3.0.2 SP1
latest release date = July 4, 2008
latest preview version = 3.1.0 Beta 9
latest preview date = September 21, 2008
operating system = Windows
Linux (runtime only)
Mac OS X (runtime only)
platform = Personal computer
language = English
genre = Game engine
license = Freeware
website = [http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk Adventure Game Studio homepage]

Adventure Game Studio is a freeware tool that can be used to create both free and commercial graphical adventure games. It is aimed at intermediate-level game designers, and combines an Integrated development environment (IDE) for setting up most aspects of the game with a scripting language to process the game logic.

History

Adventure Game Studio (AGS) was created by British programmer Chris Jones. AGS was originally released in 1997 as an MS-DOS program entitled "Adventure Creator". This early version had extremely limited functionality and was unable to create anything but the simplest of games, but the concept of an adventure game making toolkit started to attract interest. As a result, the application was re-written during the summer of 1999 and released in September of that year under the name "Adventure Game Studio."

Jones was inspired by the apparent simplicity of Sierra On-Line's adventure game interface, specifically as showcased in . The first version of Adventure Creator allowed users to create only low-res, keyboard controlled games.

Initially only small tests and demo games were created with AGS, and most of the "more ambitious" projects soon ceased to exist. As a result of the lack of completed games, engine features and advertising, the user base was quite small, yet the community grew slowly. Game developers started requesting more features so that they could create more complex games. Gradually as these requests were implemented, AGS became a more capable toolkit and it was finally possible to create high quality games with it.

After a long period of slow activity, Lassi Quest was released as the first complete AGS game in late 1999. It was not until later, after the now-classic games Larry Vales and Rob Blanc had been released in 2000-2001, that the engine gained widespread popularity.

There is now an active community containing thousands of members, which continues to grow and produce more and more games, which range from short and sweet games to large full scale games like Pleurghburg.

AGS itself continues to be added to and improved upon, with the Version 3 release in January 2008 including a complete rewrite of the editor using the .NET Framework, and an update to the game engine to support 3D hardware acceleration.

Capabilities

The editor and runtime engine are currently designed for Windows operating systems, though Mac OS and Linux ports of the engine are also available. Prior to AGS 2.7, a DOS engine was also available; this has since been discontinued.

It is not yet possible to run the editor to create games on operating systems other than Windows without an emulator or API wrapper like WINE.

AGS can create games with a graphical range from 256 colours and a resolution of 320x200 (games with more "classic" looks) to true colour games with a resolution of up to 800x600 (games with more "modern" looks) and an alpha channel. The higher the resolution, the more demanding a game is on computer resources, resulting in the need for a faster computer. The latest beta version also supports 1024x768 resolution as well as up-scale filters for widescreen monitors.

Games

Thousands of games have been produced in the years since AGS was first released. These vary extensively in quality, from short 'test games' to full-length professional-quality games. It has even been used to create arcade and board games.

These games are usually classified amongst the community by length, with separate categories for non-adventure games and joke games.

hort Games

The most prolific category of AGS games, short games consist of a few rooms and a simple plot: finding something or escaping are popular themes. These games vary widely in quality, from games using default sprites or stick figures, to games with attractive graphics and music.

Examples include:
* "The Adventures of Princess Marian" Series: A series of short games created by AGS forum user SSH as gifts to his wife. The graphics are simple, and there is little or no music, but the stories are generally agreed to be very heartwarming and sweet.
* "Grr! Bearly Sane": The adventures of a man in a bear suit who is having a very bad day, and is out to avenge himself against his cruel boss. Very notable for its unique use of a blood-pressure monitor — the angrier the player character gets, the higher his blood pressure goes. If it gets high enough, the player can make him take out his aggressions on random objects, characters and animals.
* "Stickmen": This game is about two stickmen named Doug and Toby who are searching for pirate treasure. The graphics are grayscale, and all the characters are, obviously, stick figures.

Medium-Length Games

The games in this category are very hard to pin down. It covers games that are often quite entertaining and complex, but simply don't take more than an hour or so to play. The quality of games in this category is usually very high.

Examples include:
* "5 Days a Stranger": One of the most popular games of 2003, 5 Days a Stranger has become one of the landmark games of AGS.

* "" A series of 7 games (as of August 2008) featuring a character who investigates paranormal activities around the world.

* "Cirque de Zale": One of the most successful AGS games to date, garnering a great deal of attention throughout the adventure game community. The graphic style (but not the humour) is reminiscent of early 1990s LucasArts adventure games, namely the "Monkey Island" series.

* "": One of the most successful AGS games to date, garnering a great deal of attention through the adventure game community as well as gaming critics.

* "The Shivah"

Full-Length Games

The "cream of the crop" of AGS games, these games are usually of very high quality and take a while to complete. These are the rarest type of adventure game created with AGS, as they often take years for the game creator to finish. One of the more popular ways to create a full-length game is to take an old adventure and to update it, either by simply creating a point-and-click interface or by completely overhauling the graphics. AGD Interactive, Infamous Adventures and LucasFan Games are three of the leading creators of these updated classics.

Examples include:

* "Kings Quest" VGA: A one-to-one remake of Sierra On-Line's first graphical adventure game, "King's Quest". The only changes made were updating the graphics into VGA. The team who was responsible for this project was originally called "Tierra," a play on "Sierra," but has since changed their name to Anonymous Game Developer Interactive," or AGD Interactive for short.
* "Kings Quest II+: Romancing the Stones": Also made by AGD Interactive.
* "Kings Quest III: To Heir Is Human": Maintaining the trend of Sierra remakes, Infamous Adventures provides an updated version of the third chapter of "King's Quest".
* "Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire": Also remade by AGD Interactive.
* "The Adventures of Fatman": A satire of the crime-fighting superhero Batman, "Fatman" gained quite a bit of attention for being the first AGS game ever to be released commercially. The game was originally sold on CD, and came with a voice pack and a unique "director's commentary." Recently, the game has been re-released as a special edition with some extras, and a sequel announced as in production.
* "Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine": The first commercial release from the people behind AGD Interactive. Released under their new label, Himalaya Studios, "Al Emmo and the Lost Dutchman's Mine" maintains the classic charm and humor of 2D retro adventures of the mid-90s while providing improved graphics and digital music.
* "Cosmos Quest I: To Find a Sun": The first release of the Cosmos Quest series, and one of few AGS games at 800x600 resolution and 8-bit colors. Released by an independent developer.
* "Maniac Mansion Deluxe": This has done for LucasArts' "Maniac Mansion" what AGD Interactive did for "King's Quest". The game is a one-to-one remake of the first ever point-and-click adventure game, but with completely updated graphics. However, there are several modern Easter eggs scattered throughout the game.
* "A Tale of Two Kingdoms"
* "Pleurghburg: Dark Ages"
* "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf/Sector 1": A game by Austrian art/philosophy group monochrom. The fake history of the "last existing appanage republic of the USSR", Soviet Unterzoegersdorf. Created to discuss topics such as the theoretical problems of historiography, the concept of the "socialist utopia" and the political struggles of postwar Europe. To monochrom it was clear that the adventure game, an almost extinct form of computer game, would provide the perfect media platform to communicate the idea of "Soviet Unterzoegersdorf". Edge (games magazine) chose the game as their Internet Game of the Month for November 2005.

MAGS Games

MAGS, the Monthly AGS competition, is an activity on the AGS forum which has game creators attempt to create a short game over the course of one month. The challenge is that the game has to follow a series of restrictions regarding length, art and content. At the end of the month, the games are voted on and the creator of the best game wins the opportunity to choose the restrictions for the next month. These games are usually very short and simple, and vary wildly in quality of the artwork, gameplay and most aspects.

Games Series

There have been a few examples of series of games with a lot of games.

The most notable example would be Reality-on-the-Norm which is a series of games which anyone can make one of, with the same characters and settings.

Another series of AGS games (although it's not limited to AGS there aren't any games from other engines yet) is the Maniac Mansion Mania series. The games take place in the Maniac Mansion universe and show the everyday life of the well-known characters. They are originally in German, and then translated into other languages.

The award winning 5 Days a Stranger has spawned three sequels: 7 Days a Skeptic, Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice.

Non-Adventure Games

One of the most interesting categories of games created with Adventure Game Studio are the games that are not adventures at all. AGS has been used to make a variety of programs that are anything but adventures. These vary from various types of games other than adventures, as well as several utilities.

Examples include:
* "Board Quest": A rather challenging board game, in which the players travel around a board based on automated dice rolls and have to compete in various challenges.
* "Platformerius: The Ninja Incident": Platformerius is a platformer. You play "FruitTree," an AGS forum member, who has just had his Japanese garden attacked by ninjas. The player character can attack both up close and at a distance. The download includes the source code so that others can create similar games.
* "The Historical League of Bouncy Boxing": A very complex two-player fighting game that pits various historical figures wearing boxing gloves against each other.
* "Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment": has some adventure game elements, but is largely a spaceship-based trading sim.
* "1213": A game by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, the player is a prisoner trapped in a strange facility with no memory of his past. The gameplay is that of 2D action/adventure-platformer similar to "Prince of Persia" or "Another World" (also know as "Out of this World" in the US,) and the author directly cites "Flashback" as an inspiration. [http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/games.htm]
* "Trilby: The Art of Theft": Another game by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw taking place in the "5 Days a Stranger" continuity, this game is a 2D stealth-platformer where the player plays as master thief Trilby as he pulls off heists while being hunted by a shadowy group.

Community

The AGS community is quite possibly the largest surrounding an adventure game creation utility. It is based on the [http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forum AGS Forum] and the [irc://irc.bigbluecup.com/ags AGS Internet Relay Chat channel] . There have now been IRL meetings of the community each summer for some years, known as Mittens. There is also an [http://ags-ssh.blogspot.com ongoing blog] covering the latest goings on in AGS development, games and community.

Competitions

One of the most important aspects of the community, other than getting assistance with game creation, is the presence of various competitions for art, writing, music and general game creation.

There are various game creation competitions, as follows:
* [http://www.mags-competition.tk MAGS] : The Monthly AGS competition, has developers create a unique game based on a series of restrictions. Development time is one month, and at the end of that time players vote on the best game. At the end of the calendar year, all MAGS games created over the course of the year are voted on for the Maggies, and the game with the most votes is declared the best MAGS game of the year.
*ATC: The AGS Team Challenge: In this competition, groups of five people attempt to make a game. Each team has a story writer, a background artist, a sprite artist, a musician and a programmer. The goal of this activity is not to create the best game, but merely to complete a game within a certain time frame.
*AGS Awards: The most prestigious award of the AGS community, the AGS Awards (also, occasionally, known as the "Rogers") are a series of annual awards similar to the Oscars voted on by the AGS community. Awards are given out for various story, character, and technical aspects, as well as for best game overall and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The awards ceremony is held on the IRC channel.
*One Room One Week: Competition to create a small game in one week; games are then presented anonymously to the public (via a moderator), a vote taken and winner decided, whereupon the authors are announced. Unlike MAGS, there is usually no theme or restrictions.
*Background Blitz: A workshop to discuss and experiment with background designs. A Background Blitz usually lasts four months.

ee also

*
* Amateur adventure game

External links

* [http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk Official Homepage]
* [http://www.bigbluecup.com/yabb/index.php AGS Forums]
* [http://drevil.warpcore.org/ags/ AGS Linux Homepage]
* [irc://irc.bigbluecup.com/ags AGS IRC channel]
* [http://ags-ssh.blogspot.com AGS blog]
*


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