Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How I found AGS and why I am still using it: Part III - Monkey424

My first taste of computer game development was in the 90’s using GW-BASIC.  I created many amateurish games including ‘Great Escape’, an adventure game without the luxury of pointing and clicking (as GW-BASIC didn’t support a mouse) but rather with the unique experience of key-tapping numbers and letters to interact with inventory and hotspots!

Along came the year 2000. The future had arrived! And I could download AGS (version 2.07). I played Demo Quest and was blown away! I knew what I had to do. That weekend we took a trip to the country and stopped in at my aunt’s holiday caravan site, which we fondly called The Block. I took a few happy snaps, bung ‘em into AGS, added a few puzzles, a jazzy sound track, and Bob’s your aunty! My first AGS game! A masterpiece which I simply called The Block. I didn’t bother releasing the game though.

By coincidence, a few years later, a reality home renovation show called The Block appeared on Australian TV. I was gutted! The bastards obviously stole my brilliant game title and used it for their own mediocre purposes!

The following year I dabbled with a detective adventure called Sleuth, but AGS 2.07 was a bit buggy (as was my scripting I suspect), and I abandoned the project. I’m currently in the process of reviving this one.

In 2004, I started another game based loosely on a girl I was into (but she just wanted to be friends).  My hopes were to finish the game and give it to her as a present (the game that is). I never finished it, and that’s probably for the best. I won’t work on this one again (too many painful memories) but I will show you this scene of her on the toilet.

In 2005 I started an odd project involving a crude stick figure on a black and white background. Thus the rather obvious name Chalkman was born. It was a bit of an experimental joke game at this stage. There was no plot, just drawing the world, the city, and creating the infamous cube maze. I abandoned this project, I suppose due to a lack of vision or inspiration. I was still using AGS 2.07, which was getting tedious to use, and that could be another contributing reason. I also met my future wife later that year. Hmm…

The next 5 years were inactive. However, in 2009, while on holiday, I discovered Yahtzee’s Trilby / John DeFoe games and was TOTALLY blown away! I rediscovered my purpose in life: TO MAKE GAMES!

Nearly a year later, in 2010, I knew I’d procrastinated long enough. I finally downloaded the latest AGS, got a strong cup of coffee, and recommenced production of Chalkman. A lot of it was sort of made up as I went, but it was thrilling, artistic freedom! The pieces of the puzzle were coming together, albeit a few mashed together into place. I became excited as vague ideas became... less vague. And a sort of plot emerged. There was even an antagonist, which I literally just threw in at the end. Yes, it gets weird. It’s definitely not your average adventure game. But I’m proud I can say I finished it!

After releasing Chalkman (Feb 2013) I thought I should probably pay more attention to my heavily pregnant wife. But fuelled by adrenalin and coffee from just completing my first game, I couldn’t resist re-making The Block in AGS 3.2.1. It only took two weeks to complete! What a rush! Better than sex (which I wasn’t getting much of anyway).

I hadn’t been involved with the forums at all prior to releasing these games other than searching for technical advice. So although I’ve known about AGS for some time now, I’ve only just recently discovered the forums so to speak. All this has coincided with the birth of my daughter (aka monkey425) who is now 9 months old and gaining speed! AGS can be a time consuming and somewhat guilty pleasure, but as Baron and co. have stated, family comes first.

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