|Adventure Construction Set|
Fantasia Systems (Amiga)
|Platform(s)||Commodore 64, Apple II, MS-DOS, Amiga|
1985: Apple II
|Genre(s)||Adventure, game creation system|
Adventure Construction Set (ACS) is a computer game creation system written by Stuart Smith that is used to construct tile-based graphical adventure games. ACS was originally published by Electronic Arts (EA) in 1984 on the Commodore 64, and was later ported to the Apple II, Amiga, and MS-DOS. It was one of EA's biggest hits of 1985, earning a Software Publishers Association "Gold Disk" award.
ACS provides a graphical editor for the construction of maps, placement of creatures and items, and a simple menu-based scripting to control game logic. A constructed game is stored on its own disk which can be copied and shared with friends. For some ports (such as Amiga) the ACS software is still needed to play user-constructed games.
Included with the system is a complete game, Rivers of Light, based on the Epic of Gilgamesh. It features art by Smith and Connie Goldman and music by Dave Warhol. The Amiga version of ACS has art by Greg Johnson and Avril Harrison and an additional pre-made adventure called "Galactic Agent" by Ken St Andre.
Titles influenced by ACS include The Elder Scrolls Construction Set. Project lead Todd Howard had stated, "When we started Morrowind, I was really excited about making a tool like 'Stuart Smith's Adventure Construction Set for the Apple 2'. I even used part of the name."
Gameplay features of Adventure Construction Set include:
The framework of an adventure built within ACS is organized into the following main categories:
Tiles may be stacked. Only the top tile of a stack may be directly interacted with by the player, however special tiles allow for game-logic to be implemented via the stack. For example, a tile may be set to "Activate All Things at This Place". Tiles may also allow or disallow interaction based on the contents of the player's inventory, or activate if a specific object is dropped on top of the stack.
Spell-effects may be attached to Things.
The game allows for somewhat varied monster AI behavior. A creature may be specified to behave solely as a "fighter" or "slinker", or adjust its temperament based on its condition. In addition, it may be specified as either an "enemy", "friend", "neutral", or "thief", with a total of 8 possible behavioral patterns expressed.
There are maximum quotas applied to most categories in the game (including the total number of unique things, text messages, pictures, regions, creatures per region, things per region, and rooms per region.) These limits restrict the size of adventures. For example, "Each adventure can contain up to 15 regions and each region can contain up to 16 rooms."
ACS included a framework for fantasy adventures, as well as starter toolkits for fantasy, futurist, and "spy" game genres.
Along with user-constructed adventures, the software can also auto-construct a random adventure. This feature can optionally be used to auto-complete a partially built adventure. The user may specify numerous parameters for auto-generation, including difficulty level.
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Smith denied that his software was inspired by Pinball Construction Set. Stuart stated that the concept was based on his experience writing accounting software, during which he developed a report generator that would create a standalone COBOL program, and that Electronic Arts suggested the name Adventure Construction Set. ACS was produced by Don Daglow in parallel with the development of Racing Destruction Set.
Orson Scott Card criticized Adventure Construction Sets user interface, stating that it "was designed by the Kludge Monster from the Nethermost Hell". He praised the game's flexibility, however, reporting that his son was able to create a spell called "Summon Duck".Computer Gaming Worlds Scorpia described ACS as an "easy-to-use, albeit time-consuming, means of creating a graphic adventure."
Shortly after Adventure Construction Set's release, announcements were included in the packaging for players to submit their adventures for a contest to be judged by Electronic Arts and their playtesters. Approximately 50 games were submitted and winners chosen for three categories:
The supplementary manual included with the Amiga port mentions, "If you're an ACS fanatic you can join the Adventure Construction Set Club. Club members receive access to a library of adventures created with ACS" The supplementary manual also mentions that the club is not affiliated with Electronic Arts.