When we first talked about creating a video game, we almost immediately decided to make it a point-and-click. From this point, we had to look for an engine than would allow us to do so. From our researches and our previous knowledge, two options were available:
Adventure Game Studio (AGS)is dedicated to the creation of point-and-clicks games. Some great games have been developed with this engine, such as Kathy Rain or Technobabylon. This engine is completely free and has a great and active community. The main pros for this engine is that it can be learned very quickly: in just a few hours, it is easy to have a working example of what you want to achieve.
Unity is maybe one of the most popular engines that exists. It has tons of great features and a huge community, and can handle both 2D and 3D. All kinds of games, from independent to AAA, have been developed with it. Most of the engine is free but it also have multiple specific packages that can be added.
Due to our experience in the game development field (which is close to zero), we decided to go with AGS, mainly because of its simplicity of learning. But after a few months developing on AGS, we faced some problems that were quite difficult to resolve:
Graphics: Berlin Gun Club is developed in 1080*1920 pixels whereas the maximum resolution handled by AGS is 1024*768 pixels. Besides, Unity offers great possibilities in term of dynamic lighting, and the features for animations are more complete than in AGS.
Accessibility: AGS is only available for Windows. Our goal after finishing the demo is to develop a full game, which will involve much more people that just us two. Some of them may work with iOS or Linux. AGS is also very centered about the code, and therefore can be hard to access to a person with no knowledge in the matter.
Mobile versions: We also wanted Berlin Gun Club to be available on mobile and tablet platforms, on Android and iOS. This seems to be really complicated to achieve with AGS, only a few games succeeded in that conversion.
After over six months working with AGS, we decided to start over and switch engines to Unity. We also bought a fantastic asset that would help us a lot starting with Unity: Adventure Creator. This extension has a lot of pre-build elements for point-and-clicks game, such as third-person player, cursors, hotspots, dialogs etc. With Unity + Adventure Creator, we know that we will succeed having exactly the game we want… but, because it is not that easy to master, it will take quite some time!
We would advise you to go with AGS if you plan on making a game in the style of the classic LucasArts/Sierra games, because the engine has pre-defined templates for these kind of games. In you want your game to be compatible with tablets and smartphones, it may be easier to go with Unity, with or without Adventure Creator.
On this blog, we’ll talk (mostly) about the Berlin Gun Club video game development.
I’ll write something more detailed on the “about” page, but right now, quick presentation. We’re two people currently working on the project: Pauline for the coding and myself, Maxime, for the graphics, animation and writing. We’re both working on the puzzles of the game.
When we started the project, we thought the demo would be finished around the end of the fall 2019. But we’re almost there and the demo is still far from over.
So we thought, while working on it, we could share a bit of what we do.
What will it be?
Basically, the game is an adventure game, much influenced by classic LucasArts games of the nineties, but also a whole bunch of great games of this genre.
At this moment, we have a rough idea of what the whole game will be about, but we’re mostly focused on the demo part for now.
The story and the characters are yet well defined, the puzzles are almost finished, and we’re currently fully working on the graphics and the code.
The graphic part
The demo consists of a main character, (which is composed of over two hundred sprites) four non-player characters, nine rooms, (plus an additional tenth) something like thirty-or-so different items and a few seconds of cutscenes. (and the UI but that doesn’t really count)
All of this is drawn and colored by hand, (on a tablet, but come on) and animated the traditional way.
What’s the traditional method you ask? Well, I’ll explain the details later, but basically, it’s drawing each and every frame of the animation by hand, instead of leaving this to the computer, as it’s currently the case pretty much everywhere. (Well, here too, I use a tablet, but it’s still kind of traditional…)
Anyway, I just wanted to say that it was quite a lot of work.
It’s nice to have beautiful drawings but if you can’t interact with them and make them move, “c’est comme pisser dans un violon”, which means “it’s useless” in French.
Coding a video game is hard. But fortunately, nowadays, we’ve got plenty of new tools to help us do it. I’ll go into detail about that in a next post.
For the demo of Berlin Gun Club, Pauline needs to program how Zoé moves, interacts with her environment and talks, but also how the different objects interact between them, how the inventory behaves, and how different actions affects the plot of the game.
That’s fascinating, truly. But am I glad not having to touch a single line of code…
There are plenty of things I won’t talk about right now, like the writing, the sound design, the music, the voice acting… but these are essential parts of what the game will be. We’ll talk about that in the meantime.
We hope the demo will be playable at the beginning of 2020.
Until then, stay tuned for some infos about the development!