Flash Adventure game Engine
Adventure Game Studio is a free engine and toolkit for the creation of point-and-click adventure games. Since its appearance in 1997, it’s grown in scope to the point where it’s now utilised in many commercial titles. Lewis Denby put on his fictionsuit and plunged face-first into the world of AGS – taking a look at the games and speaking to some of the developers who swear by it. Let’s see what it means to them.
Last summer, I set myself a project: to learn Adventure Game Studio and try my hand at making a couple of small games. I knew that it was a free engine and toolkit for the development of classic point-and-click adventures, and had the idea that it was a stripped-back, basic engine-in-a-can that was capable of some interesting stuff in the right hands, but mainly targeted at amateurs. Even knowing this, what I found surprised me.
AGS is, in fact, an enormously capable toolkit, brimming with possibilities. It’s true that it can’t handle 3D graphics or much other fanciness, but with just some basic scripting knowledge you can create surprisingly complex adventure game logic. It’s aimed at amateurs, but that doesn’t always restrict what you can do with it.
I’ll wager that quite a few people reading RPS have played AGS games without knowing it. You might have even bought one in a shop. Bold and intricate games like Gemini Rue – which Comrade Cobbett called “one of the best commercial [adventure games] in ages” – were built using this toolkit. I’d be fascinated to know what AGS creator Chris Jones would have thought if you told him this back in 1997…
It began life as a personal project for an ambitious young man who wanted to make an adventure game, but didn’t have access to an engine in which to do so. But Jones quickly realised it was the development of the toolkit, rather than something using it, that truly excited him. To this day he’s still not made a game of his own. He is, like so many people in the games industry, someone who helps other people do the final order game creation. He is one of the grand facilitators.
What he has done is update AGS beyond recognition from that early plan. The more I delved into the software, the more I realised how much work must have been done to deliver something so powerful. Quite easily, and with a bit of creativity, you can make some startlingly good games – as many have done, both as freebie releases and as professional products. Among my favourite are those in the free Technobabylon series, created by James Dearden, also known as Technocrat.
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