Point, Click, Vote: The AGS Awards

The annual AGS Awards are open for voting for a couple more weeks. That is, the awards for the best games of 2012 made using Chris Jones’ enormously popular engine. As the adventure genre enjoys a return to the spotlight, what better time to delve into highlights of the last year? NO BETTER TIME. That’s what.

With the Earth’s population finally abandoning their embracing of idiocy and once more welcoming adventure gaming into their hearts and hard drives, AGS ever more proves a great source of both free and commercially successful projects. The likes of Dave Gilbert’s Wadjet Eye games, and the recent Richard & Alice from Denby Raze, show the potential the engine offers. As do the very many other games you’ve likely not heard of, because you don’t spend enough time trawling AGS’s utterly abysmal forum-site splurge. So the annual awards are a great chance to pick through what’s risen to the surface.

Dominating the nominations this year, not surprisingly, is Xii Games’ Resonance, which Richard very much enjoyed. I did too – it’s really very good. It’s up for Best Game, Best Gameplay (whatever that is), Best Dialogue Writing, Best Original Story, Best Puzzles, Best Player Character, Best Non-Player Character, Best Background Art, Best Animation, Best Character Art, Best Programming, Best Sound Effects, Best Voice Work and Best Music. Good grief. Is this like the Oscars, where the noms for Best Picture and Director inexplicably get nominated for Best Hair Cuts and Best Use Of Focus Pulling too? Actually, no – the game really does excel in all these areas (within the rather specific caveat of being a pixel-based AGS game, it should be stressed).

Also appearing a lot of times is Ben Jordan Paranormal Investigator Case 8: Relics of the Past, which I haven’t played but can inform you that the opening titles go on FOREVER, and aren’t very interesting to look at. The Cat Lady, which people keep telling me I should but actually I really hated, is up for a collection too.

Ben Chandler’s very splendid ^_^ is nominated for a Best Short, and is well deserving, even if he is infuriatingly trying to make a game for every obscure bit of punctuation on the keyboard. It’s the number one game for making you want to shout “HEADBUTT OF THE AWAKENINGS!” While the lovely-looking Anna’s Quest Vol.1 gets very deserved entry in Best Animation and Best Character Art (although should also be nominated in the OH GOOD GRIEF JUST SHUT UP AND START Prize category for interminable self-indulgent intros).

Space Quest: Incinerations is a fan-made sequel to the series, and Space Quest II VGA is a remake of the dreadful original Sierra game. Richard’s written about both of them here, observing that the first is a great reinvention of the series, while the latter is a far more bearable version of the terrible original.

Go pick through it all for yourself. Where they’re not free, there will be a demo instead. And you could even give money to people for the good ones!


  1. HoosTrax says:

    Maybe one day, they’ll update AGS engine to actually support modern resolutions higher than 1024×768. As a gamer, I consider the engine a liability, not something to tout. I do understand that it makes creating games easier on the devs though.

    • kalirion says:

      Well, Barely Floating is 1280×720, which is technically higher (i.e. more pixels) than 1024×768.

      I have noticed that the higher res games seem to take disproportionately more HDD space than their low res cousins, to the point where I think a 1080p game of with a similar number of locations as Deponia would probably be 15-20GB.

      • Mr. Mister says:

        Deponia spoiled me so much… I couldn’t bear with the cumbersome inventory system of any other game after playing it (save for Chaos on Deponia), specially Primordia.

        • kalirion says:

          What innovation exactly did Deponia introduce as far as the inventory system, besides accessing it using the mouse wheel?

      • emertonom says:

        You’re assuming the art would still be pixel-based, which seems not so much the case in the examples that have gone higher-res; instead, they go for vector graphics or 3d graphics, which are pretty much resolution-agnostic. We’re close to the point where games won’t actually have to know what resolution your display is anymore.

    • Diziet Sma says:

      Can’t say the limited resolution phases me at all, and certainly doesn’t put me off of playing games like Resonance and Gemini Rue (who’s art style wouldn’t really look right at 1080p). A liability? Really, that’s a bit strong.

      I do find myself running these games in a window though… full screen doesn’t look right. I also find the pacing of adventure games handy in a window. I can play them whilst doing accounts, checking email whatever.

      As much as I love my 1080p 3D Skyrim sessions such wizzy graphics really aren’t necessary for my enjoyment of games.

      • Teovald says:

        Well, I wholeheartedly agree that art style is not defined by technical prowess.
        Many ‘AAA’ games graphics don’t impress me at all.
        But higher resolution would also also allow some nice things like displaying nicer, more readable fonts which can improve the experience a lot, especially in an adventure game.

    • MurrayL says:

      The AGS engine is open-source now, so it’s being worked on (with features like resolution support being high priority).

      There’s actually already a version of the AGS engine available with support for at least 1280×720, made by the developers of The Journey Down.

    • seamoss says:

      While I also don’t particularly like playing AGS games at the lowest resolutions, it’s not a huge deal for me. In most cases, you can use a scaler in the AGS game setup to double or even triple the window size (I almost always play AGS games in windowed mode). If the game supports them, the HQX scalers are quite good.

  2. The First Door says:

    ^_^ is an adorable little game, even if it did have me a little stumped in a couple of places.

    I do get the feeling that there is no time in life you can ever shout “HEADBUTT OF THE AWAKENINGS!” without getting into trouble approximately 2.5 seconds later though. Which is a shame, frankly.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    But what if you could talk to the Julians? Now that’d be something.

    Oh wait, you can? Sweet.

  4. tobecooper says:

    Why did you hate The Cat Lady, John? I’m playing it right now, and I find it very interesting. But maybe I’ll change my mind when I finish it.

  5. TheIronSky says:

    Thought about using this for my own adventure game, but I found the logic trees to be unwieldy and discovered that I had a need for a 2.5D perspective and camera controls.

    Still, I love these AGS games. Despite being a tad lackluster on the storyline, I thought Primordia was rather good. And Gemini Rue was nearly perfect.

    I guess I should go play Blackwell now, huh? From what I’ve seen of the story, it didn’t seem very appealing, but I’ll give it a try, along with some of these more recent titles. Oh, and Resonance. As soon as I have a proper computer again, I’m playing that.

  6. jrodman says:

    Yes, you really should, even though you didn’t. You should feel bad about.

  7. jfrisby says:

    Why isn’t Primordia up for any of the nominations this year? Really enjoyed Resonance & Space Quest: Incinerations (one of the best fangames ever)… Feel like I’ll need to give The Cat Lady another chance before voting, since I couldn’t really get into it either.

  8. orient says:

    I enjoyed Primordia — the fiction was stellar but it fell victim to the type of menial busy-work that a lot of adventure games do. Sadly it didn’t quite live up to its potential. Of course, the Blackwell games are great.

    As someone that’s currently using AGS to make a game, I think it’s a top-notch piece of software. I like that you need to know a bit of scripting to get things to work, even though I’m not a programmer at all. Almost anything you’d ever want to achieve with a 2D adventure game is possible with AGS. The resolution support is unfortunate, but I’m not that fussed about HD resolutions — I’m more annoyed that you can’t play a game in its native resolution, centred with a black background filling the empty space. This is absolutely essential and is a huge hole in the feature list.

  9. Risingson says:

    I enjoyed the first half of Resonance, just before it jumped the shark. The ending is so unbelievable, so inconsistent with that you played, and the last part is so lazy compared to the wonderful design and writing of the beginning, that I can’t help feeling very dissapointed with this game.