Today I’ll go through the game development tools (AGS, Unity, Adventure Creator) we’ve been using in the development of our retro point-and-click adventure game Manoforce: A True Metal Adventure.
Like Badger wrote in the previous post, the idea for Manoforce was conceived ten years ago. We had no experience in game development whatsoever, but we had our love of true metal and point’n’click games. Ten years might not sound very long. But back then it was quite hard to find user-friendly development tools for the type of game we wanted to make. One nice exception we found was AGS (Adventure Game Studio).
ADVENTURE GAME STUDIO
AGS is a free and open source Adventure Engine to create graphical point-and-click adventure games. Basically, AGS is a combination of an Integrated development environment (IDE) plus its own scripting language which is based on C. It’s been around since 1997 and is continuously updated. Thousands of games have been created with it, and it has a pretty stable following to this day. For example, Dave Gilbert who’s behind Wadjet Eye Games used it to create the fantastic Blackwell series. Gemini Rue by Joshua Nuernberger was created in AGS as well.
Back in 2008, it sounded like a good choice for our cause. I started to learn the engine and how to create the very very basics for our game. However, AGS does need some coding skills. This was tough for me as a teenager, and for various other reasons, the Manoforce dream was put on ice…only to be revived ten years later!
Alright, almost two years ago we started to, once again, look around to see what’s happened in the world of game development. Obviously, it had exploded. There are so many awesome and user-friendly ways of creating games today. For developing Manoforce, we chose to use Unity in combination with an asset (plugin) called Adventure Creator.
Unity is one of the best and most popular game creation engines available. More or less any game, regardless of size or genre, is possible to create in Unity. It’s used by millions of small-scale developers like us, Lynx & Badger, to giants such as Blizzard Entertainment. For us, the 2D tools are especially valuable. It handles sprite management really well, the 2D world renderer is great and it’s easy to play-test while you’re editing.
One standout function in Unity is how easy you can build your game to various platforms. Today 27 platforms are supported. With a few clicks you can, for example, create an .app file for OSX or an .exe-file for Windows. Within minutes you can send it to game-testers. From what we’ve seen so far it works really well. This is important for us as we’re planning to hopefully release Manoforce on PC, Mac, iOS, Android and WebGL. Unity also has the Unity Asset Store where you can find unlimited amounts of assets to improve your game development or design.
Adventure Creator (AC) is the most important reason Manoforce: A True Metal Adventure is so close to realization today. It’s an asset for Unity which allows you to create 2D, 2.5D or 3D adventure games without any manual coding. AC uses a visual scripting system that functions extremely well. You can build custom dialog trees, cutscenes, interactions, triggers, and much much more with AC’s ActionList system. It also integrates fantastically with the Unity Editor and 3rd party animation or dialogue tools. For us, it’s perfect to create our old-school point-and-click adventure.
Of course, it takes a bit of learning but the documentation is extensive and AC’s developer (Chris Burton) is present himself in AC’s forums to answer technical questions. AC is constantly updated and every few weeks or months lots of bug fixes or nice new functions pops up. It’s really awesome. After hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of working with it, the process feels really smooth. The way from having an idea, to implement it in the game gets shorter and shorter. All in all, it’s a True Metal tool.