Before the 2000s, the world of technology was hampered by proprietary products. Every technological concept was selfishly owned by a technology company with no authorisation for sharing or modification. After the 2000s, open source software was introduced where anyone could acquire computer software complete with its source code. After acquiring the license for the software, one acquires full rights to study, modify, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. The advent of open source software revolutionised many technological fields and in particular the video game sector. In the 2000s, open source game engines were introduced and these could be accessed online. All you had to do was to download the engine and then use the tools availed to create a game as you desired. This was a welcome relief for most of us independent game developers who had suffered past challenges due to resource constraints.
Dedicated creators and profit-seeking publishers
s a skilled computer programmer, I have been in the video game production industry for over three decades. In this time, I have both suffered and rejoiced as technological revolutions reinvent my line of work. In the 1980s and 1990s, I used to work for a game publishing company which developed games internally in a studio. It was a huge company that employed many skilled workers and we really made the company rich. I always felt used by the company because of its overall approach to this endearing career. My programming team in the studio included dedicated programmers who were enthusiastic about the creations we were making. However, the profit-seeking publishing company was strictly risk averse and would often shun any new ideas, innovative or not, to avoid losing a penny. As the years went by, me and several of my teammates became disgruntled with this approach and started thinking about leaving the company.
Embracing the chance
We started discussing about starting an independent video game production venture with my colleagues at the end of the 1990s. We started exploring the available open source game engines and I developed an interest in the Adventure Game Studio (AGS). After the release of the Larry Vales and Rob Blanc games in the early 2000s, we decided to give the engine a try. We created our first game using this engine and used online distribution platforms for marketing and distribution. AGS offered us an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for setting up most aspects of the game with a scripting language based on the C language to process the game logic. Additionally, the open source engine and the use of Steam, an online distribution network, required very little financial resources on our part while ensuring huge returns due to elimination of publishers.
The big break came in 2008 when version 3.0 of the AGS was released; this was a big improvement on the older version and it included a complete rewrite of the editor using the .NET Framework and an update to the game engine to support 3D hardware acceleration. Additionally, the editor and runtime engine that were originally designed for Windows operating systems were ported to Android, iOS, Linux and Mac OS X after the source code was released. Using AGS, we are now able to create games with a graphical range from 256 colours and a resolution of 320×200 (classic appearance) to true-colour games with a resolution of up to 1024×768 (modern appearance) and an alpha channel. The engine also supports multiple graphics filters such as; 3x nearest-neighbour, 4x nearest-neighbor, hq2x, and hq3x. And to cap it all, AGS supports multiple multimedia formats including; mod, S3M, wav, xm, midi, ogg, mp3, and avi among others. As I always tell developers, open source game engines revolutionized the world of visual entertainment.