I loaded Adventure Construction Set. Ah, such
are the wonders of modern science that in this one package
we are given all that is necessary (except the obligatory
spare disk) to create our very own graphic adventures,
complete with scrolling maps, custom built creatures,
sound effects and cliched tedium (but wait, all will
be made clear).
in terms of operation of the ACS was simplicity
itself. There was very little that could only be understood
after deciphering one of those arcane offerings, the
instruction manual. The manual itself was not remarkable
but managed to be concise and clear if a little misleading.
Misleading in what way? Oh, I have only a tiny quibble,
really. It gives the impression that all the work you
will inevitably put into your first creation might even
be worth the effort. How misleading!
tiny detail of vital interest to loading minions, which
the manual does mention in passing, is that there is
the need for a few disk changes whilst setting up your
blank disk for the adventure. Well, there are a lot
of disk changes needed (I stopped counting after the
fourteenth). So make sure, whatever you do, that you
have several months to spend on just getting going --
otherwise you're going to have to start all over again.
my disk was ready and I wanted to get straight into
creating my own world (you must understand that there
isn't much of an opportunity to get involved with world-creation
nowadays). The area in which you can build your world
is about eight times the size of the screen. Basically,
you may use a simple joystick selection routine to place
different types of territory to the map. This is so
badly handled I found it rather amusing. The scrolling
cannot be described as fine; in fact it is so jerky
I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. The graphic
symbols used are akin to those often found in wargames
on the computer, not bad but hardly anything to raise
a hairy eyebrow over.
funniest aspect of this part of the program is that
there is no logical restriction on the different types
of terrain you can use in any given area. Consequently,
I happily made a world without any coherency to it at
all; plains of boiling lava are listed as passable terrain
whereas water is not (oh, rivers are all right, just
'water' creates the problems). Gateways of various descriptions
lead into the middle of a lake with no possible means
of a character returning from one; in fact the whole
affair is definitely Pythonesque.
features include such fascinating things as spaceports,
time warps and alien vessels (I was using the science
fiction version but there are also fantasy and mystery
styles of adventuring; but I did not want to complicate
the matter with magic, at first). All these features
exist (or could exist) for no reason whatsoever and
in fact they all do exactly the same thing: transport
your character from one area of the map to another of
your choosing. It is possible to edit the graphic features
however, and even to rename them, but such good features
in the program are insignificant compared to the gross
incompetence that pervades the rest.
you have created your map, it is possible to populate
it with various creatures and objects. You can also
start adding more detailed rooms, which themselves can
have creatures, objects, and whatever else takes your
fancy. The amount of customisation that may be achieved
with the adventure pack is enormous and still easy to
achieve. Should you become bored with the process you
can even let the program create the rest of your adventure
for you, although when I tried this, the process took
as much as forty minutes!
was so laughable because the result was so bad.
I'm sure that the various routines contained massive
areas of BASIC, and the resulting finished adventure
could never look anything other than extremely amateur
in nature. In fact, you might spend so much time laughing
at the finished work's cheap, outdated and silly details
(such as the fact that your character can be a mountain
range), that it would be easy to forget just how much
scope ACS's programmer has attempted to achieve.
In that respect the product is admirable. There are
even seven mini-adventures and one epic already on the
disk. The genres vary and some of the plotting is clever
and imaginative, but all of them are slow and clumsily
displayed. I really could not believe my poor old eyes
with this one. Compared with programs already available
for writing your own adventures, the Adventure Construction
Set can only be viewed as a waste of time and money.