Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Tools

Now that we've had a quick look at what I plan to do, let's have a look at how I plan to do it. While the building of the game itself is something I am going to be doing entirely in DOS, I'm going to use Windows based applications for creating assets, simply for reasons of convenience and familiarity.

The game itself I plan to build in Adventure Game Studio 2.3. Having downloaded various versions and compared system requirements, this appears to be the last version of the engine that can be used in DOS. You can find a copy of it over on the AGS Archives. For those of you unfamiliar with AGS: It's an engine aimed specifically at point and click adventures, with an easy to use editor which also features a high level scripting language. 2.3 is several versions earlier than when I started using the engine, and a lot has changed, so I'll be needing to refer to the manual plenty and trying to figure out how to do what I want, but it should be a fun challenge!

To create the graphics, I'll be using two different programs. One is my standard version of Photoshop that I use every day for work (I use Elements 12.0, but any modern version is good). The other is going to be Aseprite, an affordable, light and nice to use pixel art program, which has plenty of nice features and is good for working with indexed palettes (essential for this project).

For testing and fiddling with things I will be using DOSBox, a very cool emulator which I use all the time for running DOS programs on modern PCs. Please note: due to the lack of support for the "edit" command, you cannot edit AGS scripts in DOSBox. To code the game itself, I am running Microsoft DOS 6.0 on a seperate PC. I'll go into more detail about this later, as it's something which had me a little stumped for a while.

To make the music for the game's soundtrack, I'll be using Midi Maker, a very simple, easy to use and free program. This is the only MIDI creation software I've ever used, so no doubt there are alternatives which others will prefer, but having played around with this for a short while, I'm confident it'll be everything I need to create a simple soundtrack.

To create a font for the game, I'll hopefully be using Radiant FontEdit, a small, free utility that allows one to create their own fonts. Due to AGS 2.3's very limited font format support, this appears to be my only real option for having a custom font in the game. I've no idea if it will work - we'll cover that when I get there.

Finally, for transferring files, backing up, and testing, I'll be using a USB 3.5" floppy drive, so I can get files from my Pentium 120 to my computers with internet connections and the like. These are relatively inexpensive, and are a very convenient way to get any modern Windows PC with a USB port to read a floppy disk. I've never tested them with other operating systems, but no doubt there devices compatible with Mac and Linux, too.

If I find myself using more than these, I'll update this page to reflect this. I'm quietly confident that this will represent everything I need to create a small game. Naturally, there are still many unforeseen challenges that will no doubt lie in my path, and I'll be writing about those as they happen. For now, however, we have a plan and set of tools, so it's time to start building a game!

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