Have you ever played a game and thought to yourself, “I could make a better game than this in my sleep!” or, “This game’s plot and story are terrible! Who wrote this garbage?” If you have then you’re in luck, because you can actually create your very own adventure games with the Adventure Game Studio (AGS).
Yes! You can now be responsible for your friends feeling hours of frustration over a puzzle, or you can be the one who brings hours of joy to them. It’s your choice, with AGS.
“But,” you cry out, “don’t you have to know a whole lot about coding and scripting and all that jazz to make a game?” Not with AGS! It’s set up with the beginning learner in mind and it does quite a good job at leading the user through the process from beginning to end. There is some scripting involved, but it’s very easy and simple, and the tutorial for AGS leads you through it almost painlessly.
So sit down, grab a blue cup of coffee, and start chugging the caffeine, because AGS is going to keep you glued to your screen for a few hours, at least.
AGS was created as an attempt to revive the 2D adventure genre of games, and is currently available for download on almost any Windows based system. There is also a Linux port available of the AGS system and even a Mac version currently in production. The program itself is completely free to download and use, but the source code for it is not available for download. This is actually a good move on the part of the developer, since it protects the AGS program from being re-distributed by unscrupulous folks, as well as making the games created with AGS harder to hack by cheaters.
A really nice feature of the AGS program is that, if you want to, you can actually sell the games you create with it! You will be bound by a specific user license, which you really should read before attempting to sell your game, but as long as you adhere to that license, you’re free to profit from your labors with AGS. This is a great feature of a freeware program! Not only is AGS free but it can actually make you some money! Now, bear in mind that any creation program will have a learning curve, and the AGS program allows you to create 2D Adventure games (not World of Warcraft clones) so you probably won’t be the next Sid Meier or Id Software, but it is still nice to know that selling your game is an option.
To install and run AGS (for Windows), you will need to have the latest version of .NET Framework 2.0 installed. AGS runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7 (I had to put it in compatibility mode for XP, and run it with admin rights). The download comes in at a very modest 7.96 megabytes, which is impressively small for such a great program. There are two different files that can be downloaded. One is a complete .exe installer package with a demo game included so you can see the kind of thing you’ll be able to create with it. The other is a .zip file containing all the needed files to run AGS but doesn’t include the demo game. I recommend the .exe file, personally, and that’s the one I downloaded for this article.
After downloading, the install process is pretty quick and easy. A few moments later, you’ll be able to start the program for the first time. I suggest you read the manual first, as it is set up as a tutorial to walk you through the process involved with making a new game. Alternatively, you can choose to open the demo game included to see what kinds of things you can produce with AGS. In either case, you will eventually be opening the AGS Editor program itself, where you will be presented with a dialogue asking if you want to create a new game, or continue working on one you have already started. It also keeps a handy list of games that you recently worked on, for those of us that constantly have 300 projects going at the same time.
Once you get to the new game screen you’ve got a wealth of options to explore. When you choose to create a new game, the program will offer you a few different templates to start with. Each of them has their own pros and cons, and you’ll need to choose the one that will work best for the kind of game you want to create. The editor may seem overwhelming at first, but if you follow the tutorial/manual, you’ll be flying through it in no time at all.
Learning how to create the games is, of course, the toughest part, but the AGS editor is built to help you along with a minimal amount of muss and fuss. There is also a very robust support community including forums, where you can interact with other game creators. There’s also a chat page where you can speak with other creators live in real time. Both of these are handy for the beginner looking for help, as well as the seasoned creator looking for new ideas. Within the forums, one can find lots of answers to any questions they may have, post a new question, browse and download games from other creators, etc. The community itself is more than just a bunch of people who like AGS, it’s a base of people who want to help each other, and promote the revival of two-dimensional adventure games. Additional resources for AGS include a knowledge base where you can look for answers to specific problems with the AGS editor, a world map showing the location of many registered creators (which means you might find out your neighbor is an AGS game creator), and a listing of personal websites from the various AGS users. None of these are requisites to making your own game, but it sure is nice to see such support for a freeware program. There are contests you can take part in, there are “game of the month” awards, there are tons of games available to download for examples. The community is perhaps one of the biggest and strongest points in favor of AGS. Rarely have I seen such a strong following among the populace for a freeware program.
Once you have created a game, you can then pack it into a single .exe file that you can distribute to your friends and relations. In my opinion, the Adventure Game Studio is one of the best freeware programs out there, since it allows one to be creative, and can even lead to a bit of change in your pocket. I love it, and may even create a game for FreewareGenius fans.
As the AGS website states: “So, is AGS for you? Well, that depends what you want to do. It is designed to create adventure games, in the classic point-and-click style. It is not designed to make platformers, straight RPG’s, or any other type of game (although simple arcade sequences are of course possible).”
Until next time, my friends.
Version tested: 3.2.1 (current as of the time of this posting)
Requirements: Windows, .Net Framework 2.0 (or later), DirectX9 (or later), 20 MB of storage space (for editor and it’s cache files). Tested on Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium.
Check out the feature list and community/forums. “If you prefer, there are unofficial French and German-language forums. These are not officially supported, so if you have a technical question that you need an answer to, you’re better off using the official English forums instead.
- Unofficial German AGS Forum. Provided by Adventure-Treff, it is for German-speaking people to discuss AGS.
- Unofficial French AGS Forum.
You might like to check out the AGS Academy, home of the AGS Awards and the AGS Dictionary, which defines many of the common terms you may see getting used on the forums.”