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Tijuana Time

Colin Rowsell | 29 Jul 2008 08:44
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Adventure Game Studio is a free toolkit that helps you make out-of-date computer games. Twenty years on, the resources needed to make a miniature, five-minute Larry have boiled down to one person. In fact, by my count, they're not far off those needed in the 1930s to create a crude eight-page comic.

There's no sophistication to be found here. When one person writes, draws and programs something, the results are rarely spectacular. They're straightforward, though, and free of the Sheen. Their five-minute length leaves just enough room for one or two scenes, a single encounter, a bit of scratchy dialogue and some hilariously pistoning pixels. There are more opportunities than ever for amateur game-makers to show their stuff, from the Indie Games Festival to Microsoft's ramped-up XNA Creator's Club; these little AGS gems, however, aren't for public consumption.

In other words, let's back away from the driveway and leave our friends to their business.

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More and more, I find myself appreciating the simple things around me. Touches. Smells. Handmade, homemade things. I miss crude innocence, I really do. You've got the vast shininess of corporate-sponsored sex dreams in one direction, a perverse arms race in another, but what about that third coordinate: the unadulterated thrill of dumb lust?

A well-known New Zealand comics artist once handed me his own attempt at a Tijuana bible, complete with rough-print paper. But it was far too stylish, and the sex was like a Penthouse letter. It's the downside of all this knowledge, all the sweat that makes individuals into professional creators and the world into a fantastic imaginative playground; it gets harder and harder to just turn it all off. It's a shame, because I guarantee that one of the untapped oil fields of creativity lies right beneath us, there for the drilling, if we could just forget the last 80-odd years for a minute.

I still haven't solved the writing problem, and while a few more rounds with Larry and the AGS community may nail it, I wonder if I can ever remake the small community flavor on a grander scale. Ah, well. God forbid we should actually go and have real sex and real relationships with real people ... in fact, that sounds pretty good right now. I'm off for the evening. I'll have Mothra home by midnight.

Colin Rowsell has seen too much. Talk to him on [email protected].

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