Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventure Games

It has been entirely too long since my last post. I blame work and the apartment finding process. Good news though, my roommate Jon and I have found a place, and if everything goes according to plan, we should be the proud leasers of a nice 2 bedroom apartment! I'm very excited to have separate rooms, so we no longer have to constantly make death threats to each other just to entertain ourselves.

Anyway, I've found myself in a position where I'm coming up with dozens of game ideas that I want to make, but not enough time to make them. It's really quite frustrating. Just in the last month or so, I wanted to make an RPG using RPG Maker (which was going really well, until I unexpectedly quit), I wanted to get back into Flash (so I don't forget everything I learned), I've been Forging a lot in Halo 3 (I'm up to 3 new maps, and I would be working on them right now if Jon hadn't stolen the Xbox!), and now I'm playing around with Adventure Game Studio. Guh. That is way too much stuff. I will eventually write about all of these things (and hopefully make them, too!), but for now, I just want to talk about AGS.

I got the idea to mess around with Adventure Game Studio a couple months back. I've heard it mentioned a few times before, as you tend to hear about these kinds of things when you're in a game design major at art college. But I really got interested in adventure games when I was at a used book store and, for some reason, they had a used copy of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey there. I didn't buy it, but it got me thinking about the adventure games I used to play, like Myst and Carmen Sandiego. I realized that, unlike a lot of other game genres, I had no idea where adventure games had gone in the last ten years. I hadn't played one in God-knows how long. I had no idea of what kind of advancements or improvements they've made over the years. It was like I had ignored a whole side of gaming for the last decade.

So I decided to make up for it. I got a copy of The Longest Journey (the first one, not Dreamfall) and I started to play it. And its good. I found myself being surprised how captivating a point-and-click adventure could be. I felt stupid for neglecting this genre for so long. And I promise I will get around to finishing it sometime. Around this time I also downloaded AGS, as well as one of the most critically-acclaimed user-made games for it, 5 Days a Stranger (made by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw of Zero Punctuation fame, oddly enough). Not only was 5 Days a good reintroduction to adventure games after my 10 year absence, it is an excellent example of what someone can create with AGS.

After that, I kicked some adventure game ideas around in my head for a while, but didn't do anything with them. But THEN, a few days ago, I heard about another indie AGS game (is that redundant?) called Heed. This game is... weird, honestly. But a good weird. It's visuals are fantastic. The soundtrack consists of distorted lounge music from the turn of the century, as in the late 1800s-early 1900s. The music gets annoying after a while but creates a wonderfully unsettling atmosphere. It's light on the puzzles, which is really the only gameplay that adventure games offer, and the story could be interpreted in a few ways (if you're into that). Overall, it was definitely a memorable experience. And it spurred me into full AGS use.

Now I'm working on an adventure game, with the hope of making a short, reflective experience like Heed, and hopefully I'll get it done before some other idea strikes!

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