How to quickly make a Sierra/LucasArts-style game in Adventure Game Studio

AdventureJam 2017 is upon us next week! This means that adventure game developers from all around the world — the good, the bad, the smelly, and the first-time curious — will have two weeks to create an adventure game from scratch.

The beauty of the AdventureJam is that no one expects perfection. It’s just what you can knock out in two weeks. There is a ton of fun to be had with that kind of time constraint. It often forces you to go to silly places, to experiment, and to just do something for the hell of it.

I know a lot of people who say they want to make adventure games, but have no idea how. Back in August of last year, I made a series of tutorial videos that took you through the basics. They were a bit rambly and long-winded, though.

So, in anticipation of this year’s AdventureJam, I have made two new tutorial videos that are a lot more snappy — aimed at getting you started quickly.

The first one is about how to make a Sierra/LucasArts style adventure game with on-screen characters:

In this video, you’ll see me working on some scripting and stuff. If you want to take a look at the inner workings of the game yourself, click here to download the source code.

An ode to AdventureJam: My personal history

I’ve been involved in this jam for as long as it’s been around. Back in 2014, when it was called the “Point & Click Jam,” I made What Spunky Found; in 2015, I made What’s in the Safe?; and last year, in 2016, came Were We Ever?.

Neither of these games did very well at all. They won no awards. I don’t think the judges even played them, to be honest, and if they did, they probably turned them off in disgust very early on.

I did, however, also contribute slightly to two jam titles that did far better. In 2015, I wrote some dialogue for Late Last Nite, a game that ended up getting the “Judge’s Pick” from then-judge Steven Alexander of Infamous Quests.

In 2016, I contributed more writing for Stair Quest, which quickly became a favorite among Let’s Players for being unnecessarily cruel and frustrating.

It also made it into print in PC PowerPlay in March 2017.

All of these games were made in the “wouldn’t it be cool?” kind of spirit. We weren’t looking to blow up or become darlings of the indie scene. We just did it because it was fun.

What Spunky Found may look like a piece of shit, and it certainly is, but it got me back into making games. I hadn’t touched Adventure Game Studio in a long-ass while, but it gave me the excuse to get back into it.

Not only did it rekindle my love for making games. It reminded me just how easy it actually is to make a game when you stop caring about how shitty it looks. And that’s how you get better.

You don’t make perfection the first time around. You make something that looks like utter shit, and then you move on to the next project — which will, by the virtue of personal growth, look a little less shit. And so on, and so on.

Your games may start out looking like shit, but that’s all right. They WILL get better.

Doing game jams also allows you to put the cap in a very short project without procrastinating. At the end of the two weeks, you have a finished product. It may not be finished in the sense that you’re happy with it, but it’s finished. You’re free to let it go and move on. It’s a very rewarding feeling.

I always look forward to this time of year. Even though I’m currently spending most of my free time developing Space Quest Historian: The Adventure Game, as well as maintaining my YouTube channel and podcasts, I relish the thought of kicking back for two weeks and just doing whatever. Just something silly and for the hell of it.

I hope you’ll join us in making something silly and for the hell of it. Or something deeply profound and serious. That’s all up to you. But I hope you’ll join us, and hopefully this video will help you get started on that.

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