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105 Computers & Internet > Video Games  
Creating Adventure Games On Your Computer

Let's face it. Life can be pretty tame, sometimes. There don't seem to be many dragons waiting to be slain in my city, and chests heaped high with abandoned gold are in scarce supply. I can't remember the last time I met an Evil Magician down at the local supermarket, and it's been ages since I discussed battle tactics with sentient androids at the local tavern.

The hunger for excitement lies in all of us. The desire to take on the personalities of other, more vibrant, people-even for just an hour or so-is a common one. Although you can't conjure up devils and werebears, envoke the power of a Shield of Protection, or employ trolls to carry sacks of emeralds from the ruins of an abandoned castle, role-playing games allow you to do just that.

Adventure gaming has hit the big time. You've probably seen the claims that it is the "fastest growing game in the world." Whether that's true or not, it indicates that Adventure gaming is a leisure pursuit which satisfies the inner needs of many people.

You may well have taken part in Adventure role-playing games yourself.

But these real-life campaigns have one enormous disadvantage. You need people to play with and against. You need a referee (often called the Game Master, or Dungeon Master) to control the world and its artifacts and encounters. It is not always particularly easy to get all these other human beings together just when you decide you'd like to indulge in a little bit of Adventuring.

That's where the computer comes into its own.

Although computer Adventure games lack a little of the spontaneity of games played with live company, they can be remarkably unpredictable and exciting to play. The fact that the Hydra of 10 Heads you've just slain exists only within your computer's RAM seems in no way to diminish the relief you feel when it dies. The gems you find lying all over the place are no less "real" than those discovered in live-action Adventures.

How to Read This Book

I've written this book to show you just how easy it is to create computer Adventure games of your own. However, there is one problem, and I hope you'll be willing to work with me to solve this problem. It is pretty difficult to know where to begin explaining how a computer Adventure is structured. Many times I've discovered that understanding one particular programming concept depends on your already understanding a second, separate concept. I've done all I can to make sure that the introduction of these concepts follows a more or less logical order and that all new concepts are carefully explained. Unfortunately, because of the complexity of most Adventure game programs, from time to time this has been impossible. All I can do is ask you to proceed on trust. Explanations which are not blindingly clear the first time you read them should swiftly fall into place as you continue working through the book.

I have written this work with the ancient Chinese maxim-A PROGRAM IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS-always in mind. You can learn far more by entering a program, or program fragment, and then running it, than you can from chapter after chapter of explanation. Therefore, this book is program-oriented. It contains four major programs (plus variations), and the instruction part of the book is based on these programs. In fact, if you just want some Adventure programs to run, you can just enter and run the programs as they are, ignoring the lucid explanations which surround them.

However, as is obvious, if YOU do this you'll miss the whole point of the book. Proceed slowly, have your computer runnmg when you read, and enter each piece of code as you come to it, and you'll discover that in a very short while from now, you'll be creating Adventure programs of your own.

We'll begin with two quick looks at Adventure games in progress. Chapter 2 contains a version of the game WEREWOLVES AND WANDERER that you play by flipping two coins. If you haven't played an Adventure game before, this will give you a good idea of what to expect. Chapter 3 shows brief "snapshots" from the computerized version of WEREWOLVES AND WANDERER in action.

As I mentioned before, one of the most satisfying aspects of computer Adventuring, and therefore one of the most critical parts of Ad venture programs, is the design or discovery of the computer-stored "map" of the environment that the Adventure takes place in. Chapter 4 shows how your computer can keep track of a floor plan for a deserted castle, or a dark dungeon, or whatever environment you choose.

In the next nine chapters (chapters 5 through 13) we begin our step-by-step construction of WEREWOLVES AND WANDERER. From this point on in the book you should enter the lines of the programs as they are given. This will teach you a great deal about how an Adventure program is written.

Chapters 14 and 15 show a more elaborate version of this program, creating a less predictable (and therefore more exciting) Adventure. You will discover a number of key ideas you can use to add interest to your own programs.

Next we will turn our original WEREWOLVES AND WANDERER program into a totally different Adventure, THE ASIMOVIAN DISASTER. Both versions of WEREWOLVES AND WANDERER take place within a deserted castle. THE ASIMOVIAN DISASTER takes place in outer space, where you (playing the part of an intrepid space explorer) have come upon the wreck of the giant space liner, The Isaac Asimov. You become trapped within the wreckage, and while avoiding crazed androids and unfriendly aliens, have to work your way to the Life Pod launching area, to get aboard the final Life Pod and blast your way to safety. This will serve as an excellent illustration of how a basic Adventure program can easily be adapted to simulate the environment and situation of your choice.

Finally, we'll present two completely different Adventure programs: THE CITADEL OF PERSHU and CHATEAU GAILLARD. These programs introduce more sophisticated Adventure programming techniques.

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 Additional Info
 No. 216
 Posted on 8 June, 2006
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