Why SCI?


You might notice in my previous post that I mentioned some alternative game engines. SCI (which I use here), SCUMM, Adventure Game Studio, and "something home-made".

Why do I use SCI, though? What does that even mean?

Well, it means that I'm using basically the same engine Sierra developed and used for their games, with only minor alterations. It's the same engine, with the same features and limitations as it had back in 1993. It ran on MS-DOS, in 320x200 256-color VGA, with a MIDI soundtrack on PC Speaker, AdLib, or Roland MT-32, later General MIDI in general. I've seen reports of a helpful fan with an actual old IBM PC-compatible from around that time who went through the effort of getting the demo on there and ran it, just to confirm that it worked as expected. Dude even had an MT-32, which was nice to hear.

It does however mean that I can't do funky stuff like freely rotate an element or scale one with anything other than point sampling — there's no bilinear filtering in 256 color modes, after all. Not if you want to run okay on a system with less than 100 MHz. There's no CD audio, but only because I can't figure out a good way to test that stuff without wasting actual CD-R media. The engine most certainly supports it.

The same thing about compatibility, features, and limitations would apply if I were able to do this in SCUMM. Unfortunately, SCUMM fangame support is relatively shit compared to SCI, at least in the creation aspect. That leaves Adventure Game Studio and homebrewing. Now, I don't like AGS very much. Purely personal opinion. I just think that if you're gonna imitate the old engines, don't half-ass it. As it is, AGS is some sort of half-SCI half-SCUMM thing and the "VGA" remakes of the old Sierra games, good as they are, just reek of pod people to me. I don't rightly know how else to explain it.

If I were to homebrew it, the game'd never be done.

I make this game mostly with the same tool anyone could use to study the old games, and make their own; SCI Companion. It's a neat little IDE that's much like its predecessor SCI Studio, but less crash-prone and it comes with a decompiler. Who doesn't like one of those? So if you see a neat trick in a Sierra game, you can find out how it's done without bothering with the SCI PMachine bytecode. For example, what about that part in Space Quest 3 - The Pirates of Pestulon where Roger can walk into a shadowy area on the screen and his entire sprite is tinted a dark blue? Well, it involves control screens, two walkaround sprites, and the code in this video:

And since this is the devlog for The Dating Pool and I've got my video manager open in another tab anyway, why not show a thing or two about script code, control screens and such? You might notice the quality on the first video is garbo, that's entirely on me. The others are much better.

Yeah, you might recognize that new room as the one in the wallpaper I posted earlier.

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