Wednesday, 21 January 2009


The tricky thing about coming from a largely pure design background is that, despite an A level in computing, I cannot program to save my life. Okay, so by average standards, I'm better than most people you will meet walking down the road, ie. I can write HTML and DHTML and a bit of some simple languages like Pascal. Unfortunately, this is roughly where my savvy ends. As soon as I start seeing lots of semicolons and numbers, my brain shuts down. This means that finding a way to make some kind of hard evidence of 'Look! I design games!' a little hard, as the results look like a bunch of diagrams, comics, character designs and notes, not an exciting video game. While this would be pretty standard in the industry, it does make things a little tricky when it comes to showing people outside what you do.
I'd like to, if possible, have some kind of a game to present at my MA exhibition. Something I could set up and people would be able to play!
I started out looking at Source modding. Okay, it's not going to work. I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm just confused. I can't use game making stuff I'm comfortable with like 'RPG maker' or the Neverwinter Nights' toolset because then I either have to stick rigidly to the engines they have in place, or it gets horrendously complicated.
Then, randomly while looking at Adventure Games, I stumbled onto 'AGS'; 'Adventure Game Studio'. This looks like exactly what I need. It's flexible, but user friendly with coding involved, but it's simple coding, around the same level as HTML, I've managed to pick up the basics in a day or so's study. Though it's often used for 8 or 16 bit games, it can not only support full colour and high rez graphics, but it seems people have made plugins for 3d support and particle effects.

This means, potentially, I could make games with 3d models overlaid onto a painted backdrop, in the style of an awful lot of Japanese PSX and PS2 games, particularly RPGs like Final Fantasy VII-IX, Chrono Cross and Shadow Hearts, but Resident Evil games were made in this style too. This means I could feasibly make a demo game in which a player controls a character in an environment, with basic gameplay and area design implemented and dialogue. The game supports voice acting, and I happen to have friends (and was myself for a while) involved in Amateur Voice Acting online, so that's perfectly feasible, I know the ins and outs of auditions and sound manipulation.
Just to show how flexible this program is, it has been used to make not only Adventure, but stealth and platform games, and from the looks of tutorials, can be used to make RPG games without too much fuss. It seems to be possible to implement fighting and special actions and interaction abilities and a range of character animations...Hmmmm. Might be just the thing I need.

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