Old Creation Tools (aka, "Hey, remember that game creator we spent *hours* on trying to make a game?")

In a different thread, at one point, Hanon went:

I have probably tried every other creation tool since then.

And I just went… wow, that is very cool. Shortly after I read that, I was (by coincidence) booting up a game that was obviously made in GameBuilder. The style was immediately recognisable. SCI-style graphic/parser/wannabee engine.

So, hey, I just want to throw some names at you lot, if that’s ok, because frankly I was never really able to throw them at anyone else.

Do you all remember that DOS-based (and maybe Apple?) Adventure Construction Set? I fiddled around with that, never got it to work properly (my system was too fast for the program) but did have a nice time playing some of the random adventures it would churn out.

What about ZZT and MegaZeux? I used to have a sizeable collection of ZZT games, there was some great stuff

Did anyone ever try out Figment? It seemed to be rather buggy, but the gimmick it hinged on was multiple viewpoints, quite interesting. I tried making a Maniac Mansion port that way, and well, no go. I think it’s in the archive.

I actually bought Adrift and SUDS back in the day, I recall. Wow. SUDS was actually pretty interesting in the Andy Elliott days. I also bought The Games Factory back when I was a bigger idiot.

There was a strange program for making windows adventure games; first-person only, and with very limited features (and it’s not Adventure Maker), no idea what it was any more. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Then there was this one which was about IF, but pretty graphical - it had various windows and pretty features, but a severely limited database. Which reminds me of Archetype, which was also pretty limited but not as pretty. I remember playing a Christian adventure of some sort in it…

Also tried CAT, and found it quite cool until I realised it had a hard limit I didn’t like.

What I really stuck to was AGS. It got so I was very comfortable with it; I actually replicated the LSL7 interface in it, just for the challenge (made it available as a template, but it was a huge, ugly mess; no one could really use it. Still, proof of conpect). Also a Space Quest 2 interface template, to prove it was possible. Great days,
simpler days. And through it all I was completely unable to actually release something original, go fig. I even implemented a sort of parser engine with clickable choices, like the old Legend games.

I remember trying Adventure Builder. I don’t think I got into it much.

And wow, I can’t believe what I just remembered… My uncle had this really really old laptop, that was unrecogniseable as a “laptop” by today’s standards. It did have BASIC (or QBASIC), and I actually went a surprising way towards porting Mystery House to that clunky old thing. My experiment was cut short when the thing died for good. Fun days!

So tell me, what game authoring tools did I miss in my misspent youth? What do you remember from yours? What game engines did you favour?

And hey, while we’re at it, let’s view the present. The only tools I could see myself using today would be Inform 7 and AGS. And you?

LADS, a primitive development system written in BASIC that I found on some old shareware disks. I always hoped to find some old games written in this, but never did.

ScummC (alternate link), a set of tools for making games for LucasArts’s SCUMM engine. This is for SCUMM what Inform originally was for the Z-Machine, but sadly it never took off like Inform did.

I learnt to program by copying examples from the David Ahl book on BASIC Games. Later I got my hands on a book whose title escapes me. Maybe it was: “Writing Basic Adventure Programs for the Trs-80” by Frank DeCosta. I don’t remember owning the book - only having a few hours to flip through it. That was enough: I made a few games for myself as a kid - some had parties and group combat, others with MOBs that hunted you etc.
My Uncle wanted to make a game and the Amiga tool he had allowed for an image, some text and some choices. I can’t recall the name of it. I recall him wanting a bit more power than that system allowed so I rolled him something in C. I don’t think he ever made a game.
I’ve always rolled my own engines. Something about having total control over the world-physics is what attracted me to Twine over similar tools.

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Do you think the existence of AGS might have something to do with it? One of its attractives was that it was possible to do SCI-style AND Scumm-style adventures; with little tinkering, you had a game that could pass as Scumm.

AGS was pretty awesome. I didn’t have a lot of graphic skill, though, so it was overwhelming to me. I remember loving the Larry Vales games and hoping the guy would write game #3.

Also, thanks for reminding me of type-in programs. This helped me locate the book I only vaguely remembered. The cover rang a bell for me, and I was so happy to find this:


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The only game creator I put any sizable amount of hours into was Garry Kitchen’s Gamemaker (and that was all just sprite work), but I also used to follow the ScummC stuff. Additionally, I used to regularly keep up with Verge RPG (http://verge-rpg.com/).

I remember messing with Broderbund’s Arcade Game Maker and Bill Budge’s Pinball Construction Set when much younger. I was amazed what you could do & still think to the bigger picture organization and how they wrote something like that.

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The Apple IIe Adventure Construction Set (which produced games more like tile-based graphic RPGs) was the bomb back in the day. I wish there were a similar utility native to Mac. I think there is one for PC because people are always making indie horror RPGs with squashed little square people.

Isn’t the modern one RPG Maker?

I wax nostalgic about ACS still. :slight_smile:

Not sure, I bet it’s Windows only.

Didn’t ACS even have a utility to make your own sprites or alter them?

It certainly did! Similar to a modern icon-editing utility.

Well, come to think of it, I’m not sure about “creating”. You had a database of existing sprites you could edit. I was a kid and got simple kicks out of altering a pixel or two in a “landscape” sprite and see the altered sprite everywhere. Simpler days, yo.

Man, I never played Adventure Construction Set. I do want to look at it. I loved Pinball Construction Set, and if I’d known about ACS…well, it wasn’t at my local Babbage’s or Egghead. I was too busy tinkering with actual RPGs a friend told me about.

So that is on my bucket list, maybe to do this year. Oh, Prince of Persia too. No, seriously, never played it.

I don’t believe you.

I mean, I believe you, but I don’t believe you. That running, jumping dude in the white pyjamas rocks. The animations still look smooth after all these years.

I’ve definitely seen it. But somehow I always managed to miss it through all my Apple emulator runs. I’d hit up the big RPGs and be exhausted. I had a sort of skewed view of what I could buy–I’d often go in for the clearance stuff because that’s what I could afford. I mean, I wasn’t poor by any stretch, but I tend to impulse buy cheaper stuff, with PoP wasn’t. Plus the apple crowd in my school was more about RPGs etc.

I half don’t believe myself either! And I need to fix that. Especially since general klutziness is not so much of an issue with emulator save states etc. available.

I never played Prince of Persia back in the day. I’ve tried in the past few years, but couldn’t get into it - I think I was spoiled for that genre by Flashback.

I can find it tough to get into old games unless I try to look at them from the perspective of, okay, how can I see how they managed to program it with so little memory? I also do have a good bit of fun finding and isolating cheat codes–a sort of game on the side, especially if it is too frustrating as-is.

Old topic, but came across when i was rereading some of the ZIL posts.

I can recall back in the mid 80s as a teenager, reverse engineering the old scott adams cartridges i had for my vic-20. Mostly to cheat, but i learned enough assembler that i actually managed to hack together a few rooms of my own game. When i got my C64 i expanded on it with a mix of basic and assembler. A neighbor and i eventually put together a game we called Time Train. A short but complete text adventure even putting an animated splash screen together. Unfortunately it was lost on a floppy somewhere 20 some years ago never to he seen again.

I saved up some cash and purchased some adventure creation software for my Amiga, maybe adventure construction kit, but i don’t really recall. I started to recreate Time Train in it but never got too far. My buddy and i still talk to this day about resurrecting Time Train. Good memories.

One of my more humorous Hugo ideas is to create an extension for graphical games where, when the game detects that the interpreter doesn’t have graphics capability, it plays a short Scott Adams-style adventure instead. I pretty much figured out how I’d do it code-wise (getting one game to react differently to two different parser styles was a little tricky) and I figured the game’s “MacGuffin” would be the Hugor interpreter itself), but I pretty much shelved the idea when puzzles and such didn’t come to me instantly.