|★ CODING ★ SECTION 1. ADVENTURE GAMES ★|
|Writing Adventure Games on the Amstrad - 00 - Contents||Writing Adventure Games on the Amstrad - 01 - Adventure Games|
The arcade shoot-'em-up style of computer games is the one most associated with home computers. They are games of skill, involving fast reflexes and good hand-to-eye coordination. While there are some elements of strategy in arcade games, it is more along the lines of “which baddy do I shoot first?” than any complex planning. These are games of action; adventure games are games of thought, of planning, of strategy. Fast reactions will not help you in a standard adventure game — you must use your brain, not your joystick.
There are many different forms of adventure game, as we shall see in the next chapter, but they can all be considered to ultimately be the same type of game. They are all linked at the basic level by a game format which involves the player interacting with the computer in order to solve puzzles, collect objects, and perhaps kill monsters. The player takes the part of a character, who is free to roam around an imaginary world, within his computer, and whose actions are controlled by the player through the computer. The best adventure games give you the opportunity to get lost in their worlds, to take on roles which allow you to escape from mundane, ordinary life and become an adventurer, an explorer. Adventure games can give you the same feeling of enjoyment and involvement which is available from a well-constructed, well-paced novel; or from a well-run roleplaying game session. Of course, not all adventure games are good, far from it, many lack atmosphere, ideas or even a vaguely logical plot. They can reduce the whole adventure playing process to a simple game of guessing which word to use, which object to pick up, etc rather than an exploration of the author's world. Playing a poorly designed adventure game is mechanical at best, if you even bother to play it, that is.
WHY READ THIS BOOK?
With the growth in popularity of adventure games, and the realisation by computer games companies that a good adventure game can sell as well as a good arcade game, there has been a boom in the number of adventures being produced. There has also been a comparative boom in utilities such as The Quill, which allows you to write your own adventures without knowing any programming techniques. This has led to a lot of Quilled adventures, some of which are very good — a lot of which are quite dire. There seems to be a similar expression to “Everyone has at least one novel in them” — with computers, everyone seems to have at least one adventure in them. These utilities allow them to produce their one (or even more) adventures.
There has also been a boom in adventure game books, which purport to show you how to write an adventure game easily and simply. Unfortunately, beyond giving you some form of programming knowledge, which can be picked up by typing in listings, these books have very little to offer. The standard format is to show how to write one adventure game, which is produced by directly coding the adventure in the form of BASIC, and to then claim that this will enable you to write your own adventures. Sadly, it doesn't do this at all; because of the adventure format chosen. The adventures presented as examples are directly coded programs which only apply to their adventure game alone; if you wish to write your own adventure, you have to code your game in the same way, from scratch. What is more, you will have to code each adventure game you write subsequently, in the same way, programming it directly. Far from allowing you to write adventures easily and quickly, this technique wastes a lot of your time, and produces fairly standard adventures, as well as teaching you very little.
That is the conclusion which we came to, after tiring of reading the same material time and again in adventure game books and articles. There are so many computing techniques and methods which can be applied to adventure games, and they seem to remain the secrets of large software houses. Well, this book sets out to outline some of the techniques which you can employ to write your own adventures, some of them fairly advanced; techniques which will actually teach you something new about computing. We have also set out to provide a complete adventure generating system which can be used to design any number of adventure games, without direct coding, or any programming being necessary. The Adventure Kernel System is easier to modify and more flexible to use than most commercial adventure designers as well, as it enables you to see the structure of your adventure game, in a way which menu systems cannot.
WHY WRITE ADVENTURE GAMES?
You may be wondering why anyone would want to write their own adventure games. The simple, and short, answer is for enjoyment and a feeling of satisfaction. A large adventure game is very similar to a novel, in the way it must be designed, plotted and finally written; and there is the same feeling of achievement when you finally finish an adventure as you get from writing a book. Designing and implementing adventure games is fun, as well. Your imagination has complete freedom to produce whatever strange ideas and puzzles you want, and you are able to stamp your own personality and feelings on an adventure game in a way which is not possible with an arcade game. There is also the enjoyment which can be had from watching other people play your adventure game, trying to puzzle through all those problems you carefully designed. In fact, it is often more fun watching people play your game than playing other peoples' adventures — an inside view gives you a wonderful perspective on the player's actions.
Besides the enjoyment derived from writing an adventure game, you can learn new programming techniques, something which isn't possible with a novel! An adventure game is easier to construct and write than a novel, as well, which may be why so many adventure games writers appear to be frustrated novelists! If you are creative and as much of a technophile as we are, it also gives a chance to do something useful and constructive using your treasured computer for a change. No longer will people be able to say that you are wasting your time playing silly games — you are creating them instead!