What do you call a group of gamers? A nerd? A LAN? I’m not sure, but it’s a question I was forced to think about this weekend at the first annual AdventureX convention. Travelling from all areas of the UK, a small group of committed adventure gamers descended on the small town of Didcot for the first of hopefully many celebrations of the adventure game genre.
Located in the upstairs of a small pub, it was no certainly no E3. Our only comforts consisted of small wooden tables and uncomfortable chairs, and a small plate of home-made sandwiches for refreshments. The low budget nature of the event and cheap drinks made for a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, allowing adventure game developers and gamers alike to discuss all aspects of their favourite genre, pointing and clicking to their hearts content.
The event was organised by Mark Lovegrove, in conjunction with members of the Adventure Game Studio forum. AGS was originally developed by Chris Jones in 1997 and has since been used in the creation of both freeware and commercial adventure games for the past 13 years. Commercial titles using the software include Shivah, Dan Marshall’s Ben There, Dan That, and the engine also appeared in the recent Indie Royale bundle in the form of Wadjet Eye Games’ Blackwell Legacy.
Highlights of the weekend included a recorded message from Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw, interesting presentations from Discworld Noir’s Chris Bateman and Neil Rennison of Tin Man games, and an opportunity to try many independent games under development. In addition to the various talks, the cultural level of the group was raised a notch by the musical talents of Simon Loveridge and his keyboard performance of a number of popular game soundtracks.
Whilst everyone else was distracted by the raffle, I took the opportunity to get a hands on with Infamous Adventures’ remake of Space Quest II. Having already proved themselves more than capable with a remake of King’s Quest III, their current work in progress improves on the old Sierra space-based classic with improved graphics, some new puzzles, and over 6000 lines of fully voiced dialogue. It is a staggering achievement for a group of volunteers living thousands of miles apart, and with an expected freeware release in the new year, they were eager to show off their work to a captive audience.
Overall, Mark was pleased with how the event worked out. In a recent newsletter he stated, “everything came together in the end to make a fun weekend.” And he was right. The event was a fine reminder that PC gaming doesn’t need million dollar budgets, showy marketing campaigns or massive launch parties, just a group of people who want to make games, and another group of people who wants to play them.