testgame.exe: Making the Adventure

Hey all.  Another month has gone by, and it's time, once again, for everyone's favorite adventure game production article/journal/diary/whatever, testgame.exe: Making the Adventure. Now, those of you

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Hey all.  Another month has gone by, and it’s time, once again, for everyone’s favorite adventure game production article/journal/diary/whatever, testgame.exe: Making the Adventure.

Now, those of you who read last month’s article may recall my sudden burst of productivity regarding testgame.  Well, guess what.  No really, guess.  DO IT!

OK, OK, I’ll tell you.  I did it again!  Yaaayy!

*Throws confetti at you.*


Go ahead and take a look at this month’s list of new things in the game.  You will be astounded. Astounded.  A-stound-ed.  A stoun dead?  Jeez.

What?  Enough?  OK.

Let me just say a few things about what I’ve done with testgame this month before I let you go try it out.  To start with, this month marks a landmark in the game’s progress.  The petition puzzle may now be 2/3 solved.  2/3!  That’s like, almost 3/3, which equals 1!  1…petition, I guess.  Anyway, for a puzzle that I hadn’t even meant to put in the game until it randomly appeared in Amazing Anthony’s dialogue, it’s getting pretty far along.  Maybe by next month we’ll actually be able to get back to the main part of the game.  Then again, what’s an adventure game without puzzles?

[Begin rambling philosophical monologue.]

Speaking of puzzles, one of the things I’ve been generally pretty happy with—without even really paying attention to it—is the structure and pace of the puzzles in the game.  If I try to think about testgame from a player’s point of view (which is hard to do, I have to admit), I feel like the flow of the game is coming together pretty well.

I tend to see each section of the game (and there will be four of them in total) as containing one overarching puzzle, and, in order to complete it, many smaller puzzles must be solved.  The fact that this ideal actually seems to be playing out in the final product is quite amazing to me.  And, by the way, if that statement makes it sound like this is completely by accident, well, that’s exactly how it feels from my point of view.  Does that make sense?  It’s almost like testgame is its own being, and I really have little control over how it grows.  (How cliché does that sound?)

Of course, I’m not saying that I never plan things in testgame.  Of course I plan things in testgame!  It’s just that sometimes when I’m working on it, I make something up on the spot, and that ends up contributing to the overall balance of the game, rather than me sitting down and saying, “OK, this part of the game is going to be this length and it’s going to have three sub-puzzles and blah blah blah.”  Another way I might explain what I’m thinking is that I don’t like just having puzzles for the sake of having puzzles (and just because adventure games have to have puzzles).  I much prefer coming up with puzzles on the spot when it makes sense to me, as with the petition puzzle.  Hopefully, this results in puzzles that don’t feel forced/contrived.  (Of course, there’s definitely some of that, too.  The locked bedroom door?  I used to have a reason for that, but I’m not quite sure the reason’s there anymore.)

[End rambling philosophical monologue.]

On a completely different note, something that I’ve been trying to work on more recently is creating a sense of continuity between adjacent screens.  For example, I hadn’t noticed until just this month that the front of the castle looked different depending on which of three screens you were looking at it from…. Why didn’t I notice this before?  In any case, this is hopefully fixed now, and this should make for smoother motion from screen to screen.

Also, I am sad to report that, from now on, you will almost certainly not be seeing the high level of productivity on testgame that came out of the past two months.  I blame this on the fact that, come Monday, I will be joining the working world in my first real job.  Well, we’ll just have to see how next month turns out!

And that concludes another (really random) article.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the ‘Cola and PLAY TESTGAME GOSH DARNIT.

TestGame v. 29


(no extra programs needed to run this file)

Things to do/new features of note:

  • Three new characters!  We’ll refer to them as the man, the woman, and the child until you guys get a chance to go meet them yourselves.  Go into the right/upper screen of the castle courtyard and you’ll find them.
  • New dialogue with the man and the woman.
  • Ability to use any item on the man, one of which (not the petition, although this has some cool interactions too) results in the partial solution to a puzzle.  Also, try doing all this stuff and talking to him in various orders, because there are about a million different ways these interactions can play out.  Eehehe, I love dynamic-ness in games, but it sure is a pain to program!
  • Ability to use the petition on the woman.
  • Ability to use the shoes on Paul and the shoe salesman (multiple times each), as well as something in Paul’s inventory, but I’ll leave that to you to figure out (nothing really comes of it, but if I told you what it was I’d be giving part of the puzzle away).
  • Ability to look at the petition in Paul’s inventory.  This actually took a while to program (it’s different depending on how many signatures you have and from whom), so appreciate it, gosh darnit!
  • A little more work on the cutscene outside Paul’s door.  Paul now backs up slightly when Thurston draws his sword, there’s animation for Thurston drawing his sword, and sword-clanging sound effects.
  • Background work: castle courtyard side screen, pathway outside castle, screen outside Paul’s door, front of castle.
  • More things to look at/interact with in the castle courtyard.
  • The blue shoes are now visible in the background in the castle courtyard, and they disappear when Paul gets them.
  • New cursor icons.  Up until now I’ve been using the icons that came with the program, and I figure that’s kinda cheating.  I’m not sure yet whether these are the final versions of the cursors (they’re probably not because, well, they look really weird to me), but they’ll do for now.
  • Fixed a glitch in which Paul still talked about wanting to get the knife out of the gumball machine after he already had the knife (upon interacting with the gumball machine).

All the graphics and design are by Lizo. The dialogue was written by Lizo, with significant input by Paul. The background music is by Lizo. “Let’s Go Skateboard” is written and performed by The Word Problems.  Adventure Game Studio (the program used to create this game) can be downloaded at http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/

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About the Contributor

From 2005 to 2013

Elizabeth Medina-Gray (a.k.a. Lizo) is the creator of the game-in-progress tentatively titled "testgame" and the author of "testgame.exe: Making the Adventure." She thinks videogames are cool.

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