Call For Help

RJD Eh, slightly off topic, my apologies to the mods. It does have to do with SCI STUDIO a way.
About a year ago or so, Brian and Aaron W. went on TechTV to talk about SCI STUDIO. Well, the show they were on, Call for Help, is gone now. TechTV merged with G4 to make G4-TechTV, and Call for Help was canceled. I figured I should tell you guys this, since SS has been on that show, and Brian could have possibly gone back on Call for Help to promote SSVGA, or any other project of his. Sad, sad.

- Ryan Davies
Brian_Provinciano I love the new TechTV with G4. It's no problem. I know the other people at TechTV too, so I could get on their other shows if I wanted. They actually told me they could have put me on the Screen Savers show. It's changing now with the merger and TechTV is moving from SF to LA, but when my next big thing is done, I'll contact them ;)
RJD Well, that's great! The merge is doing some good things, but I don't particularly like that they dropped Call for Help, and some G4 shows don't float my boat, but the fact that you could go on again is very very good. Once SS4 comes out....we're gonna have one pantload of people coming to make games.
Brian_Provinciano I wouldn't be talking to G4TechTV to have SCI Studio on again. Sure, on G4 or the Screen Savers it would have received more publicity, but I believe that the SCI development community is about as big as it would ever be. There are indeed lots of people who still enjoy and play the SCI games, but very few people with the motivation to actually make games in SCI Studio. Going all the way down to LA to promote SCI Studio again would be a lost cause. I paid for it all out of my own pocket, the airfare, hotel, etc.

It's unfortunate, but most people just don't have motivation or patience to finish their game, and it's very clear if you check how many people have actually made SCI games. It isn't just SCI of course, it's all homebrew games in general.

I know people are awaiting SCI Studio 4 for VGA games, and it will be done eventually. It's still under development, but as you all know, the progress is slow right now due to it not being a top priority. I have other more important things I must be working on right now. I've been in the AGI&SCI dev community for seven years now, and the community just keeps getting smaller. I know that there are many of you out there wanting SS4, but honestly, there aren't _that_ many of you that justifies losing sleep and taking too much time out of other things to get it done right away.

The first SCI Studio I released only worked with graphics. It wasn't in huge use, but I "knew" once I did a script compiler, people would start making games. I sacrificed more sleep and school work than I can remember to finish it, but still, people weren't making games. Well, it "must have been" because it contained no template game, just a script compiler. So, I "knew" once I finished the template game, people would being making games. I spent ages disassembling and coding the entire template game, with full documentation, created a very in depth tutorial. Yet still, very few people make games with it.

SCI Studio 2.1, which contained the script compiler and full documentation has been out for two years now. How many games have been made in SCI Studio?

I now DO KNOW, that sacrificing more years of my life to finish SCI Studio 4 with the VGA support will not create a boom of homebrew SCI games. I finally see the light! I'll finish it, so that it's finished, but know that finishing it won't start massive flow of new SCI games.

Many people claim that they aren't making SCI (EGA) games because they are waiting to make VGA games. This is true for a couple of people, I know, who do have the motivation and dedication, and have already started artwork and story. However, the rest, I do not believe would make VGA games when SS4 is released. Why do I know this? Well, because I repeatedly tell them that SCI VGA games use the same scripting language, syntax, and are basically EGA games with a point and click engine. I tell them to start in EGA, learn it, make a little game, so when VGA comes out, they will be able to start right away. However, they don't. If they don't have the motivation to learn SCI now, they very likely won't when VGA comes out.

If I started seeing 15-20 complete SCI EGA games done and released, I'd be very likely to put the extra effort in to finish SCI Studio 4 quicker. However, I highly doubt this will happen. I need to work and do other things now. Most of my coding now is either for work, or something I truly want to code, for myself.

Four years were put into the eventual SCI Studio 3.0. The result of SCI Studio with a template game and full documentation being released two years ago? About as many complete games as I could count on one hand, and a bunch more politically incorrect demos about people such as Osama. I'm all for free speach and what not, and people can make games about whatever they want, but when four years of work goes into development, and that's all there's to show for it, it's not very motivating to say the least.

I've enjoyed all the work I did on SCI Studio, and all I learned from it. It's always been about creating games though, and I just don't see enough use to force myself to get it done right away. If it were a commercial program, it would have been out of business long ago. I can't sacrifice my life and lose hundreds more hours of sleep for a handful of loyal users.

15-20 games... is that really too much to expect? Since that's only an additional 10-15 (when I count short "complete" games). Five years of work on a development system to see 15-20 homebrew games created with it? I really don't think that's much to expect at all.

So, I guess the moral of the story is that from expeince, another version of SCI Studio won't really cause many more SCI games to be created, since two years == about 5 games. If I did see a number of more complete games springing up though, you could change my mind.
Endroz Brian, I fear that you're right. :(
Point&Click Adventure games are not much populars nowadays, and -together with the fact that SCI is basically an old engine, technologically speaking- that means few feedback. I'd focus on SCI32 support if I were you, which is more likely to be used at all. Once peoples will be able to develope high resolution games with decent audio, music and avi video support maybe there'll be a future for SCI Studio. As of yet personally I don't think there are much peoples out there interested in EGA&parser adventure games, apart from old-times gamers, I don't have even played a parser AG myself in my life (besides Larry 7, but that had a different approach).
RJD I'm not sure if you know this yet, Brian, but every single TechTV employee will be layed off by the end of the summer. I was told that they had 60 days, but am not sure when these days started. This is awful! Out of the 280 people working, only 80 job openings will be made, and only to those that move to LA. There is no guarentee that those who do move will get their jobs back. This looks like the end of the TechTV we know n love. The merge would've been fine, but firing all the TTV employees? Madness....
doan sephim brian,
i understand what you are saying. it is obvious that you put a ton of hard work into the scistudio. when i first ran into it (i dont remember what i was looking for) sometime a year ago maybe, i was excited to play all the cool games that i thought i would definately find made by your work...and when i started looking, pretty much all i found was al pond 2!
i think its disheartening that alot of people are wanting scistudio4 when the potencial of scistudio3 has barely been touched at all. there is so much that can be done with it.
a bigger palate and a point and click interface arent necessary for a great game. people can make great sci0 games and poor sci vga games: so why not just make great games with what we can now?
Brian_Provinciano RJD: I know about the layoff. The 60 days occured about a month ago. It's because TTV is moving from SF to LA. The employees can reapply if they want to move to LA.
As for SCI32, it's unfortunate, but I don't really think that could save it. For one, it's harder to do the artwork for higher resolution games, so less people could make their own games. As well, it's much more complex than the previous SCIs. It uses the same scripting syntax, yes, but there are a whole bunch of other things one has to deal with. Most people who want to make games in SCI don't want to (or know how to) code. I've been impressed by some people who weren't coders, and learned how to code from the SCI tutorial. It's too bad there aren't more people like that out there.

Also, the SCI1 support is about 90% done, so there'd be no reason to toss it. But I'm positive that if I did put all the effort into SCI32 with a template, compiler, etc. it just wouldn't make a difference.

Some people complain that they don't make EGA games because the pictures are difficult to make, with the patterns, 16 colours, and vectored drawing. For one, the patterns are optional, and there's nothing to them. Simply, think of them as different colours (ie. blue+green = teal). VGA graphics are a lot more difficult. Sure, you can scan them in, but you still need to do the vectored picture drawing for the priorities. As well, with VGA, you need to deal with a dynamic palette for dynamic views, dynamic background, and the UI. You can't just use any old 256 colours for each view, background, etc. So you need to master the skill of arranging your palette, swapping in/out colours to make the game look the best it can. Pasting visual screens is easier in VGA games, but the complexities of the palettes even it out with EGA pictures.

As for the people who have stated they don't make SCI games because of a lack of documentation... SCI Studio has more documentation by far than AGI Studio! The entire template game is documented! It includes a complete tutorial! The whole scripting language is documented, along with the rest. As well, the FreeSCI site documents the SCI internals very very in depth. Even more, it's all open source, so you can look at the code to see exactly how everything works.

SS4 will be done when I have a lot of free time. I can't work on it for five years straight without variety and other work, expecially when it's not used much for making games.
Omer Mor I, for one, can be honest and say that I didn't use SS3 (or AGI Studio, and AGS for that matter) because I don't have the talent or any good game ideas.. ???
I am very interested in this project because I have the soul of a hacker, and I would realy enjoy decompiling the games and looking for interesting stuff (like hidden debug modes...).
Brian - I hope you'll get your joy back from what you're doing because you're very good at it.
If it would help - let me tell you a little bit about my hobby:
I write and play music with my band for no profit other than mutual fun and good time. If I started questioning my music just because very few people like it than I wouldn't be doing it at all. As long as I'm having fun I'll still do it (and release it for free on the internet).
Brian_Provinciano Omer, I did SCI Studio for the fun, and enjoyed it very much. I needed a variety though. I can't be coding the same thing and nothing else for five years straight. It would be like you playing the same song, every day, and nothing else.

Just like people constantly ask for SCI Studio 4, even longer, people have been asking for a script decompiler/editor. However, to test out the market so to speak, I released a whole load of decompiled scripts for people to play with, and nothing has been done with them. It again proves my point that so many people can tell you they want something, but when it's released, they are no longer interested. It also proves once again the point as to how few games will actually be made when SS4 is released. A few scripts for example, have very clear debug mode code in them, that hadn't been previously known/documented. I figured I'd put it out there and hint, to see if anyone would notice and post their findings. No one has... so all these people who say they want to play with decompiled scripts and edit games... hrm... yep.

I'm doing it for fun and non-profit. That being the case, when I need to work on something else or take a break, I can do so, naturally.
cloudee1 Alright everyone keeps saying that they don't think anyone, or very few "professional" games will be made, everytime you guys say this you are outcasting those of us who are trying just that.

As far as when 4 will be released, I HOPE it isn't until after I finish my game in 3, that is why you haven't heard me ask.

Brian everyone keeps talking about decompiling and extracting but I want to thank you for creating something that I can use to create my own games. Some of us are trying.
Omer Mor Actually Brian I did play with your decompiled scripts in lsl6 - just didn't write about it (yet):
so: in lsl6 I extracted 911.scr & 911.hep and triggered the debug mode :D

At first I just tried to create an empty 911.scr file because the condition checks for this file, but the sci loader tries to use this file because it is a script, and causes an error. so i had no other option other than to extract the real script (and heap) file and put it in the game's directory.

Thanks for posting the decompiled script!

Endroz Brian,
I know for sure there are peoples out there who are editing SCI games. NewRisingSun has made lots of timer bugs fixes using self-made tools. He has developed a program to Insert a chunk of bytecode inside a compiled SCI script. I myself have developed a SCI32 Disassembler. By far, I've already released an interlacing patch for Gabriel Knight II and I am working at a general bug fixing patch for Gabriel Knight I, while you can see NewRisingSun's work here:

I could have used your great Decompiler a few months ago, but right now my Disassembler is complex enough to handle most of my needs for fixing bugs. Still I could use your decompiler, though.

IMHO, if you just release a few discompiled scripts, there's not much one can do out of these. I took a look at Larry 7 scripts but there are no 64xxx scripts available for download beside 64000. I'm only partially interested to 1xx scripts, as they are related to specific game locations as you know.
I'm sorry but we're aware of many debugging modes already, it's just that none of us bothers to publish them somewhere. Personally I don't have a web site right now but I'd like to put one up soon. I once posted something here on this forum, but it disappeared from time to time.
I really don't pretend to tell you what is right to do, but I believe that if you make people wait too much without updates, they'll end up making their own tools or just sail toward other seas.
I also made a package for translation of SCI1/32 games named TraduSCI. I could have used a beta of SCIStudio 4 for this. I'm sorry but time passes and peoples are likely to forgot that you're working on something if you don't release betas and these kind of things. That's exactly what happened to me when I was working on a MacOS porting for ScummVM a couple years ago. I didn't release a thing and the result was that another porter did the job for me and was joined in as the official porter. :(
This is just the way I see it of course. I'm most likely wrong on many things. However, thank you for all you incredible work which has been and which will hopefullt come in the future. Being sort of an hacker myself, I know how difficult is to disassemble old executables to figure out things and stuff. My most sincere respect.
Eero R We should respect Brian for what he has done already, not ask for more... I mean working on the same thing for five years is much. I was just playing around with SCUMM a while ago, made some small utilities, but then I stopped since it already bored me in half a year.
Brian has done SCI Studio for five years and he's still working on it, not so fast anymore, but still. SCI Studio VGA will get ready, that's for sure...