Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Google Reader Feeds

These are all the adventure related thingies in my Google Reader:


Go to definition

In the middle of the night, I received what I like to think of as a "personal message" from what I like to think of as "Chris Jones". Our illustrious AGS author has asked me to blog about the "Go to function definition" feature of AGS 3.01 and beyond.

When writing a script, we can hit F1 on any built-in function to get the context-sensitive help. But if you right-click on the function name you are calling, you can also go to the function definition if it is in one of your own scripts or modules. This is a very handy feature and lets you navigate your code with ease. You don't need to remember which script the function is defined in, and if the script is not already open, AGS opens it up for you and goes to the correct line.

Because of this feature, I suggest that module authors could perhaps put a bit of documentation for each function after the first line of a function, becuase if the user uses this feature, it makes it very easy for them to access that documentation. Its also good to have documentation in one place as well, though, so this is as a supplement to any other documentation (which I always put in the header file of my modules). I haven't been doing this yet, but I intend to do so on the next release of any modules that I do.

Monday, April 28, 2008

3, O2 and other mobile networks

CJ has put up the first beta of AGS 3.02. He's said that he wants a quick release since some things were broken in the 3.01 release that he'd like to have fixed.

De fault is all yours

Well, A Walk in the Park won the April MAGS by default. Its a shame when there isn't competition in the competitions (especially as some people were recently complaining that it was always the veterans who won such competitions). Looks like there's only one entry for the current Animation Competition, too, although those can be more flexible with their deadlines.

But also, finally, the Grandiose Writing Project has released the four stories. Check out Andail's post in that thread for links.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jülich Caesar

Indulging in some further google analytics, I found that somehow the town of Jülich (pop. 33,882) in Germany has visitied this blog 4 times as often as any other town (2nd place is New York, pop. 18,818,536). Now, either I wrote something that particularly appeals to North Rhine-Westphalians, or somebody hit refresh a lot... very curious!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

AGS Video goodness

Apart from the Resonance preview, there are some other AGS related vids popping up on Ubiquitous-Tube. Here are a few:

Sea Scum?

The folks over on the ScummC project have not only created a compiler than can create ScummVM-playable games, but have also converted the AGS game "Open Quest" into ScummC, so this must be the first AGS game playable in ScummVM. Kinda.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Diamonds look pretty rough

Over at AdventureGamers (that's the adventure website that doesn't give everyone an 'A'), AGA reviews commercial AGS game Diamonds in the Rough and it seems to be a bit of a curate's egg. I had already noticed that its screenshots looked like the characters didn't quite fit into their backgrounds and that seems to be the case all the way through. Its funny how a high resolution game like this is actually visually inferior to something like Dave Gilbert's games that are only 320x200 resolution. It's the quality, not the quantity of pixels that is important.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to find out your game's votes

Or... How to Hack the AGS Games Page. The games pages don't show you a ranking if there are less than 5 votes, but you can get around this by hacking another game's vote detail page. For example: http://www.bigbluecup.com/games.php?action=votedetail&game=478 is Princess Marian V, which has 6 votes and so has a link, but Princess Marian X doesn't yet have enough votes, but look up its game detail and you find that it is game number 782, so hey presto change the end of the link: http://www.bigbluecup.com/games.php?action=votedetail&game=782 and you reveal the votes so far!

Latest Competitions

First entry for this month's MAGS has turned up, although it looks a bit gay... There's some unconventional logic in the Colouring Ball, further violence in the Animation competition, a chance to hold the fort in the Background Blitz and the end of then world in the Sprite Jam. Still no sign of the Grandiose stories, yet, though.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Silly Friday

Nothing to do with AGS, but... while diving into Youtube for that silly lighthouse vid (well, it does have music from Clockwork Orange!), I also came across the best soft drink advert ever. I thought it had been lost to posterity but youtube has saved it! This ain't a rickroll, honest!

Also: there's this one from around the same time but the beginning is missing :( It's a custom version of Wierd Al's "Got a funny feeling"

The Fog!

zyndicate won the "lighthouse" background blitz this time around, with the picture you see here. It reminds me of the movie "The Fog". Although, "The Ring" had a lighthouse too: perhaps they are a somewhat sinister thing? Although "A very long engagement" had a pretty un-sinister lighthouse. Anyway, what rambling rubbish! Obviously, the most sinister lighthouse of all is the one in this video...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuned out


An interesting Tune contest in the C&A forum has ended with bartillier as the winner with this "Remix" entry. I have to say that I agree that it was the best one.

Meanwhile "the awesome" has won the animation competition I mentioned before with this little rabbit explosion.

A new sprite jam is underway with an apocalyptic theme and there's one person left to do their bit in the "Grandiose writing project" whereupon we will have 4 collaborative stories with a common root to peruse.

Version poll result

I suppose that I should have done this for the last poll when I took it down, but the results weren't very interesting: nearly everyone used AGS forums.

Anyway, this last poll (Which version of AGS do you use?) was a bit more interesting. One person registered as using AGS 2.62 (last DOS engine - probably either Yahtzee or Gilbot!) and 5 people (10%) said they don't use AGS (wow, I'm flattered that you're reading my blog!) . Of those that use AGS, its pretty much one thrid each to 2.72, 3.0 and the latest beta (now 3.01, I guess).

Now that 3.01 is officially out, I don't think there's any gotchas in upgrading, so probably 3.0 will fade out (as have 2.70 and 2.71). But probably most of the people on the 3.01 beta will move to the 3.02 beta (or whatever CJ comes up with next) as they are "early adopter"-type-people.

And I guess gradually 2.72 users may slowly move over to the latest 3-series version, but its a quite a bit of an interface change so that will occur more slowly. There's also a thread discussing versions used in the AGS Forums.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Three Zero One

CJ has pushed AGS v3.01 out the door, and is fixes some wee niggles in v3 and adds a few wee things too. Not a major update, but now its officially out there's no reason not to upgrade.

Best forums evah!

Following on from this discussion on how silly gameboomer's moderators are, and from Mr Tolworthy's reaction to being chastised for wanting a reply too soon, I though I'd wax lyrical on how awesome the AGS forums are.

Sometimes, AGS moderators over-react, or are a bit humourless, or just seem a bit pompous. Hey, they are normal people: only deity (i.e. CJ) is always perfect. But consider that the AGS forums have almost never banned anyone. By comparison, Nikolas was banned from gameboomers for going slightly off-topic (and arguably not even that) in a thread on a game that he worked on. The only other forums I've seen with anything approaching the quality of AGS's is the AdventureGamers ones, and these are much more for gamers than developers, so often miss out on technical details.

Our support in the technical forums is unrivalled. So many helpful people pitch in and help n00bs in the beginners tech forums. There's a great principle there: even if someone should have RTFM, by all means tell them so, but also answer their question as you do so. It's usually adhered to. I've asked not-that-stupid questions in other technical forums and the usual response is empty silence or being shot down for not knowing the specific jargon term those people use for some concept that if you'd know it would have found you the answer in google in 2 seconds.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fluffy Pink Bunny DEATH

Ho, ho.. over in the Competitions and Activities forum, the Animation competition has taken a turn to black humour with a Bunny Death theme. Some amusing entries so far, so if lagomorphic mortality appeals to you.

While you're in the C&A forum, check out the Sprite Jam (rats!), Background Blitz (lighthouses galore!) and colouring ball (zombies!). Great stuff going on.

Final Count-up

Do deedodooo, etc. etc. (played backwards to reveal secret message from Jacques Delors)

OK, so AGS Final 2 is out, and this time its in an installer, so it really is more final than the last Final. Finaler. Finalest?

Friday, April 11, 2008

The top 10 best AGS games series ever!

For more top 10s, see Celebrity AGSers Top Games and Dualnames' top 10

Well, there's lots of top 10 lists out there and I thought I'd try and compile my own, but I narrowed down my list of AGS games to about 60... so it was going to be hard work to throw out 50 of those. So, to make things easier, and also to be able to sneak loads more actual games in, I'm going to list the top 10 AGS games serieses ever. I'm not including series that only ever had one game made, because there are loads of them and non-adventures don't count, either. I'm also excluding remake series, but I'll give them an honourable mention (along with some others, so its not even a top 10, really!)

Anyway, here goes:

10. Robotragedy

Pijin Pastrana's grammar-challenged games are great fun and beautifully drawn. These 2 games may have some puzzling puzzles, but they are otherwise fab. Robotragedy, Robotragedy 2: Countdown to Doomsday.

9. Principles of Evil

Ola's Rogi is on a quest to locate babayaga in this pair of witchin' games. Again, great graphics but a few wee issues with the puzzles. Principles of Evil, Principles of Evil II.

8. Earl Bobby

First his shoes, then his Balls: can the Scottish aristo not keep track of anything? A unique art style and sense of humour pervade these surprisingly long games. Earl Bobby is looking for his Shoes, Earl Bobby is looking for his Balls.

7. Frank the Farmhand

This farm boy ends up embroiled in conspiracies, secret societies and ends up saving the world. Twice! Despite the name, involves little farming... Frank the Farmhand Part 1, Frank the Farmhand part 2.

6. Sydney

A homeless man, Sydney Claywood, from Ivan Dixon's comics, takes on getting a job, the world of fashion and will soon take over the woooorld! Sydney Finds Employment, Sydney Treads the Catwalk.

5. Reality on the Norm

Possibly the most eclectic bunch of games ever to be called a series. This is where such titans as Yahtzee and Dave Gilbert cut their adventure gaming teeth. There are classics such as Purity of the Surf, Lunchtime of the Damned, Apocalypse Meow and III Spy. Then there are weird, surreal ones too. Take your pick!

4. Ben Jordan, Paranormal Investigator

AGS's answer to the Harry Potter Septilogy is Grundislav's Octilogy. Who ya gonna call? Nope, not Ghostbusters, but globe-trotting troubleshooter Ben. Best of the series is Case 4 and Case 1 (Deluxe), Case 3 and Case 6 are also fab. Not that Case 2 and Case 5 are not good, but just not quite up there with the others. The last two cases are yet to be released.

3. Apprentice

These two games are the greatest pair of games, especially now the original has been Deluxified. Help sorcerer's apprentice Pib in his quest to become a fully fleged magician. The second game holds the record for most AGS Awards won by a single game. There is tell of a third instalment, but it's not yet been forthcoming. Apprentice 1 Deluxe, Apprentice II: The Knight's Move.

2. Trilby

Whether you count non-adventure The Art of Theft or not, Yahtzee's Trilby character has won many fans over the years and his games have many plaudits. Beginning with 5 Days a Stranger where cat burgalar Trilby gets trapped with ghosts in the DeFoe Mansion he is trying to rob, to the sci-fi 7 Days a Skeptic where the ghost returns to haunt a spaceship and then later slotted in between these come Trilby's Notes and 6 Days a Sacrifice bringing the whole supernatural happenings under one "Chzo Mythos".

1. Blackwell

Joey Mallone, sardonic sanguine spirit guide steals the show in the Blackwell series. Initially incarnated as freeware Bestowers of Eternity, the Blackwell series was reinvented as Dave Gilbert's money-spinning and critically acclaimed Blackwell Legacy and Blackwell Unbound. A free demo for the third part: Blackwell Convergence is available, too, and there will be further parts after that. These games have been so successful that they have won Dave a big contract with casual gaming portal Playfirst to create a whole set of Adventure games with their own SDK.


Honourable Mentions

Also well worth a look are the Barn Runner games, Lone Case, two Magsic games, Larry Vales adventures and Yahtzee's Rob Blanc series. Maniac Mansion Mania has a RoN feel to it, but too many are in German for me to be able to play. Kings Quest 1, 2 and 3 remakes exist and are all very good, but obviously, they are just remakes. Yahtzee also make the fun 1213 series with AGS, but they are not adventures and finally, I couldn't pass by this opportunity to mention the largest series of AGS games made by a single author, Princess Marian I-XI!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

AGX

AGX is not the X-rated version of AGS, despite being used in the pneumatic Forgotten Element. Lemmy and Binky gave us a sneak peek in the Forgotten Element thread today of their cool character in-room-position system in their Editor plugin AGX. Head over to their Game in Production thread for details.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Go team!

I'm pleased to announce, that the AGS forum's new "Mr Walkthrough", Leon, has agreed to contribute to this blog with comments on new game releases. As opposed to my brief looks, Leon actually plays these things all the way through, and so can give an informed opinion and not just a judge-the-game-by-its-screenshots summary. So, welcome and hopefully his first post will appear soon, if we can sort out the technical details!

Media frenzy

A couple of AGS "royalty" have got new media related to their games available. Dave Gilbert is interviewed in a podcast by Yesterday's Salad and Vince XII has a preview of the Resonance Short-Term Memory system on video!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Audio Plugin

If you've ever tried to do a voice acted game in AGS you'll know that it takes a lot of work and its very fiddly keeping track of sound files. Even if you've only use music or sound effects in AGS, you'll know that its not AGS's most friendly aspect.

Well, in AGS 3.0, there is an great editor plugin (that's a plug in for the Editor, rather than the engine, so you don't need to worry about Linux compatibility issues, etc.) which makes managing audio files much easier. You can find details in the Tech forum thread about the Audio Manager Plugin.

It's also worth noting that these fabulous editor plugins are really taking off with AGS 3.0. In 2.72 they were theoretically possible, but none of them really worked properly. In AGS 3.0, they are noe fully supported and coming into their own. Lemmy and Binky (of The Forgotten Element) are putting together an all-singing all-dancing one called AGX which will be worth looking out for, too.

March MAGS

Yes, I know I'm waaay late with this, but here's what happened in March's MAGS competition:

TwinMoon's Unintelligent Design (which I mentioned earlier) beat out Radiant's Hypnotoad, The Book Unfinished by enveloop and Curse of the Vampire by Shaden.

April's rules are to create a game where the main character must fall in love and there must be a ladybug (ladybird) and various other items in the game.

For those of you who don't know what MAGS is, it is the Monthly AGS game creation competition and the winner gets to set the rules for the following month. It started in 2001 and is currently (for a few years) run by Klaus, having had quite a few different people run it previously. Illustrious past winners include Dave Gilbert's The Shivah, SSH's Pixel Hunt, and Trance Pacific.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Point-and-clicks enable people!

While trawling the blogsphere for AGS-related stuff, I discovered this blog entry, from a blog on accessible gaming. Seems that point-and-click games (and hence most AGS games) are particularly suitable for gamers who have to use head or eye tracking devices rather than keyboards or mice.

I'm glad that AGSers are accidentally providing games open to all, and I hope that AGS and all game creators bear these things in mind when it comes to planning future games. Don't put in keyboard control stuff just for the sake of having something different. Personally, I prefer to be all mouse or all keyboard myself rather than switching back and forth and it shouldn't take too much thought to come up with accessible alternatives for things. One should also bear in mind that not everyone can hear sound effects clearly, and so making gameplay dependent on responding to audible cues is also restricting access to people with hearing difficulties.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Final Countdown

Do do doo do
Do do dododoo
Do do doo do
Do do dodo do dodo dododo dododododododooo dodoooooooo dododododooooooooo

Ahem!

Now up is AGS 3.01 Final, which will be the release, if no-one finds any bugs in the next wee while (but they frequently do!) Read all about it in the tech forum thread.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cameron's death wish

Some of you AGS forumites may know Cameron. Well, he has joined the awesome AdventureGamers team and posted his first review... of an AGS game. So head over there and read the "I want to die" review.

Games are out

A couple of games I mentioned earlier as being in production have hit the virtual shelves. Looks like both needed a few problems ironing out after their initial release, but updated versions are now available.

NES Quest
Go out and fix your NES Console in this game. It's already been a freeware game pick on indiegames.com so have a shufti!

The Dwarven Dagger of Blitz
This hadn't really been tested on release at all, but now v1.3 is available on the forums and shortly we should expect a final release and entry in to the games database.

Thanks to Leon (Mr Walkthrough!) for being one of the first people to play through these releases and find the problems so that us who come along later have a better gaming experience!

The curse of acclaim

First Ashen wins the Lifetime Achievement after disappearing, and now after my post yesterday, monkey_05_06 announces that he'll have very scant internet access due to personal circumstances. Is there a curse on getting adulation?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Unsung Heroes

In the AGS Awards there's the lifetime achievement award which has been won by some great people over the years. However, there are many other unsung heroes on the forums, so I thought I'd pause an give them a little respect:

Rui Pires
In his time, Rui has run the skimbleshanks AGS resource page, administered a mirror of almost all AGS games, Helped out various people with modules and technical help and also contributed enormously across all parts of the AGS forums (he's the 7th most prolific poster ever, despite having disappeared off for a year or so). He signed up for the forums the day before me, too!

Radiant
He made a great font editor used by many, has stretched AGS to the limits of what it can do, masterminded the colossal Tale of Two Kingdoms and brought the world Cuppit. He's also brought some very sound suggestions into the melting pot that CJ has used to improve AGS to its current fabbiness.

monkey_05_06
Monkey has put together some great modules, is often foudn helping people in the Tech forums and also has made great suggestions which have improved AGS when CJ implemented them.

ProgZMax
Renaissance Man Progz keeps the Critics Lounge in line, draws fab artwork for The Shivah, Resonance, Blackwell Convergence and a series of his own games and also made the award-winning Mind's Eye which is another push-AGS-to-the-limit game with some great programming.

AGA
Along with his sidekick, hajo, AGA helps keep the AGS server running,. He is a global moderator, runs the annual Brittens meet at his house and has contributed to AGS since before some forum members were a twinkle in Roger's eye.

GarageGothic
Never quite having got a game out yet, but GG has been developing for a long time with AGS and so has made many helpful suggestions and bug reports in the Tech forum. He also helps out n00bs there and is the voice of reason in many a heated debate.

Rosie and Jane
Rosie and Jane are the most prolific of the forumites who generally keep themselves to the Hints and Tips forum. There these two ladies help out others who are stuck, are the first to try out many AGS games and so become unofficial beta testers and probably know more about more AGS games than anyone else.

So, AGS heroes, I salute you. And anyone else who greatly contributes, I salute you too. If you want your name to be mentioned, send $20 by Paypal to this address...

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

AGS Forum trends

I cut-and-pasted the AGS forum stats into a Google Spreadsheet and generated some charts. They show that while the amount of posting in the forums has had a small downward trend over time, the actual number of people registering and online has been steadily climbing. So the forums are accumulating more, less chatty people.





The cool thing with these charts is that they are dynamic, so if I update the spreadsheet (and, that's a big if, admittedly!) then they will be updated. Cool as mince!

Hoo Klineand Sin Ker

Well, looks like some people took the "AGS bought by Microsoft" joke a bit seriously yesterday. It follows on from a grand tradition in previous years of AGS going shareware, AGS merging with Wintermute and AGS being ported to the PS3. Dave Gilbert also announced "The Shiva" this time last year.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Exciting news today

Over at AGS, CJ has announced a new partnership with some major companies. Get over there and read all about it. Check out the main AGS page, too.

Also, Dave Gilbert has a new game out. Make sure you check it out, too.

Vive la France!

Bonjour, tout le monde! Mes amis a le Forums francais de AGS, linkez-moi, mais je ne sais porquois, or quell page ou est le link de moi! Je recherche le link! Savez-vous? Comment un comment?