Developing good games takes time. In my case, it took a lot of time. From pre-production to the game's release, three and a half years passed. That was about 7/8ths of my time in high school. Considering that some of my previous efforts, ZZT games, had been completed in a few months tops, this was a pretty big deal. To be fair, I wasn't actually working on the game for a lot of that time, but from the time I first got the idea to do an adventure game project to the time of its completion, that number is about right. To give you an idea of why the game took so long to finish, here's a timeline of major events in AfterShocked!'s history.
2/99- While surfing the internet one day, I discovered the home page of an adventure game engine in development known as SCRAMM. Immediately, I considered the possibilities.
4/99- Excited by the prospect of doing a full-featured adventure game, I quit working on my then-current ZZT project "NextGame". It was nowhere near complete, and progress was slow due to my own lack of interest. There was no actual evidence that SCRAMM existed, except for the web page... but it was a really nice web page. Having no means with which I could create art for the game, I began working on music. This only amounted to one lousy midi that I never used, but it was a start. I also started thinking about the game's concept: a comedic post-nuclear adventure game. The title "AfterShocked!" came to me one day while in the shower.
5/99- I started thinking about how I would promote the game very early on, before any real work had been done on it. My first thought was to create a huge index of game reviews that would attract visitors. They'd come for the reviews and stay for the game. It didn't work. So, I tried hosting one rom each week. That didn't work either, but visitors later poured in once my page became a full-blown rom site.
6/99- I ordered a Wacom artpad, which never arrived because it was discontinued around the time I placed my order.
8/99- I thought up all of the game's scenes and puzzles, and began writing dialog. All of the dialog written during this period was so awful that I had to scrap it. CompUSA had a cheap 4x5 inch artpad, the CalComp Creation Station, on sale, so I bought it. The package included MetaCreations art dabbler, and I bought a copy of MetaCreations Painter Classic off eBay.
9/99- After experimenting very little to see what my options were in terms of the sort of art I could create for the game, I decided on a style and went with it. The very first backgrounds, the three variations on the general store, were completed. At this point, I figured that the game would be released in late 2000.
9/99-8/00- Most of the backgrounds were created during this period. My work was very off-and-on, though, because I didn't see the point in investing a ton of effort into a game whose engine, for all I knew, didn't even exist. That was kind of frustrating. A typical background would only take me a day or two to complete.
8/00- I discovered the AGAST engine. Its demonstration game convinced me that AGAST had, or would eventually have, everything I needed to do my game.
8/00-1/01- During this time, I finished up the remaining backgrounds and made the game semi-playable. Most of the scenes were in place, the main character could move around, and it was possible to use the "look-at", "talk-to", or "use" commands on just about everything in the scenes. Also, a lot of small animations, such as opening doors, were added. My popular website was deleted by its host.
2/01- Most of the characters were added into the scenes, though they didn't do anything. Inventory items were added as well.
2/01-6/01- This is when I put most of the puzzles into place. Many of them were changed or modified from my original plans.
4/01- I redesigned this website and put it back up at a new host, now knowing that there were better ways to get word of my game out than a rom site.
6/01-10/01- Summer vacation allowed me a lot of time to give the characters dialog, and add whatever other text needed to be in the game. New puzzles were added during this time as well, most of which involved the newly talkative characters. Meanwhile, the SCRAMM project died a quiet death.
10/01-11/01- Most of the music was completed in only about three weeks. Other new stuff was added as well. I spent the last week of November finding and fixing the remaining bugs in the game
12/1/01- Beta version .97 of AfterShocked! was released for the purposes of giving college admissions people a sample of my work. This website was down at the time thanks to the host, f2s.com. Due to AGAST bugs, it lacked most of the music. There was no way to save the game, either. Much to my amazement, two people were actually able to finish the game.
12/07/01- With the website back up, I posted word that the game had been released.
3/02 - A new version of AGAST was released with save/load abilities. I updated the game a little, but the sound bugs were still there.
6/02-7/02 - Yet another new version of AGAST was released, this time with some sound bugs fixed. I completed a few new songs and updated the game to work correctly with the new version.
7/4/02 - Beta version .98 was completed (Burger Joint's four year anniversary!). It was sent out for testing the next day.
7/26/02 - Version 1.00 was finally released to the general public.
There you have it. The complete history of an amateur PC adventure game. Whatever project I work on next, I'll make sure it won't require so much of a time investment. And if you were wondering, it probably won't be AfterShocked! 2.
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