Does AGS have what it takes to create a fully commercial effort?

These days, with the new versions of AGS becoming more and more powerful, comes the question: “Is it powerful enough for a commercial effort?” The answer to this question cannot be concrete, but in my opinion is ‘yes’. Lets now have a brief look at what the limitations of AGS are, tech-wise:

       15000 sprites

          400 views

          40 GUIs

          300 inventory items

          150 characters

          500 interactive dialogs

          Resolution up to 800*600

          Colour depth up to 32 bit

It is obvious that hardly has any adventure game any features over these. Except the resolution, of course, but we don’t see much 2D adventure games using higher resolutions anyway – the only one I can think of is Runaway.

            The only semi-commercial game made with AGS thus far is “The adventures of Fatman”, a game that honestly, did not use all of the capabilities of AGS. However, it sold around 400 copies, a number not bad at all for an adventure that wouldn’t have been considered that good even in early 90s. But such is not the topic. The topic is whether a modern adventure like “The Black Mirror”, “Syberia” or “Runaway” can be made with AGS. Recently I played through the first one with this purpose. I examined every thing and thought how it may be done in AGS. And guess what. There is nothing that cannot be done in AGS. At times, I even had the feeling that the creators from “Unknown identity” were using the Rain/Snow plug-in! It used pre-rendered 3D backgrounds, pseudo 3D characters which were downgraded to 2D and AVIs for cutscenes with moving camera and other things that could not be done with the game’s engine.

            Now comes the other question. Is there anyone who is capable of pushing AGS to its limits? The answer to this one is without a shadow of doubt ‘yes’. The single game that will use the 800*600 resolution and the 32 bit colour depth thus far is Jimmy Jam, and I must say that it looks at almost Runaway quality, which I consider to be the maximum of 2D art. And although it will be freeware, it would surely sell. Other is the matter that graphics do not make the game and a professionalist has to take care of every component in a commercial game.

            As for profit, Mike Doak said that he made modest profit from “The adventures of Fatman”; enough to cover his expenses on the game and have some money to spend. You have to bear in mind though, that this game was not that good and received grades around 60-65% from gaming magazines. If someone makes a really good and modern game with AGS, like “The black mirror”, it would sell around 20000 copies without much advertising (maybe just posting links on forums etc). With such however, the number of copies sold could drastically increase – Runaway, for example, has sold around half a million copies to this day, bearing in mind that it has not yet been published in all countries.

            At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an engine to make your commercial game with, you can look no further – AGS is the one for you. If you and your team have the qualities needed to make a kickass game, please do!

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