BOTS: Bridge Over Troubled Silicon

BOTS: Bridge Over Troubled Silicon

Get the latest release of the BOTS prologue demo here!

What is BOTS?

In the shortest terms possible, BOTS is a computer game.

More specifically, BOTS is planned to be a series of small games, with each game being a chapter or "chapterlet" of the story. The game is being developed by a very small team as a part-time project, and so rather than trying to develop large, fully-formed game installments which would take several years to develop, each installment of the game with take less time (hopefully only a few months). A higher release frequency of shorter games will hopefully keep things interesting and prevent people from getting too bored while waiting for the next installment. Hey, if it works for the sub-sequels to Half-Life 2, why not? :)

Is there a screenshot of the game available?


A screenshot from the prologue of BOTS

What is BOTS about?

It's a secret.

In all seriousness, trying to explain the plot to BOTS at all would probably spoil much of it. The best way to find out what the game is about is to play it yourself.

Briefly, BOTS is a semi-science-fiction story, borrowing elements from classical cyberpunk and existentialist themes, but it's not really cyberpunk as such, nor does it take place in the future. The events of the game, though essentially fictional, take place in the present day, in some real-world locations.

Is BOTS free software?


What parts of BOTS have been released?

Currently, only a small demo of BOTS' prologue is available. This demo will be made available on this page, and any updates will be implemented into the file as we go along. Updates are likely to be too minor and frequent to warrant version changes for each edit, so for now you'll just have to go by the date on the file to determine whether there's been an update or not. When the program becomes final-release software, we'll attach a more solid version number to it.

Where can I download the current demo of the BOTS prologue?

Right here.

How do I play the game?

The prologue of BOTS uses the basic third-person adventure interface. You can move your character around using either the arrow keys on the keyboard, or by clicking with the mouse. Commads can be issued by simply typing them on the keyboard. (Pressing any letter on the keyboard will make the command input box pop up.)

Why does my character in the game just look like a stick figure?

Because that's all the identity you have right now. Later on in the series, your character will change.

What is BOTS made with?

Since BOTS will be a series of chapterlets, it seems possible (perhaps even likely) that different chapters will be made using different tools.

The prologue of BOTS is being made with Chris Jones' rather excellent Adventure Game Studio (AGS). This choice was made for a variety of reasons.

The developers of BOTS had actually used Adventure Game Studio before, and were reasonably impressed with it. However, AGS is geared mainly toward point-and-click adventures, and BOTS was intended, from the very beginning, to be an adventure in which commands are typed through the keyboard. AGS seems, at first glance, to offer very limited support for such things, and it clearly is intended for people who want to make mouse-driven adventures. For this reason, it was initially passed up as a development environment for BOTS.

The original plan was to implement the prologue using Sierra's AGI (Adventure Game Interpreter), the same engine that drove Sierra's early 3D adventure games. AGI is a relatively simple engine, and since BOTS' prologue was to have very simple graphics, this seemed like a reasonable decision.

As time went on and background graphics actually started being made for the game, however, the graphics took on a level of beauty that hadn't originally been anticipated for such a quick-run, deliberately stark-looking game. It became apparent that if these graphics were placed into an AGI engine, they would be raped by AGI's half-wide resolution. Because of this, we took the next step up and moved beyond to Sierra's SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter), the engine that drove most of Sierra's later adventures, beginning with breakthrough installments like King's Quest 4 and Space Quest 3. SCI probably would have served BOTS' needs reasonably well, but it quickly became apparent that unlike AGI, which is relatively well-understood and has several free utilities available, the free-software community has yet to develop a really usable SCI editor. The de facto standard for SCI editing is Brian Provinciano's SCI Studio, but SCI Studio is still in a tragically unfinished state. Although it has the makings of an excellent tool, it appears to offer no way to create game scripts, meaning that it becomes impossible to actually create game events with it. After a large amount of time was wasted trying to deal with SCI Studio's limitations, the BOTS team began to look for other alternatives.

In a move borne of some fair amount of desperation, we returned to AGS, thinking that perhaps we might have to compromise with a point-and-click adventure after all. When we examined AGS' feature set more deeply, however, it turned out that the game does indeed have a built-in text parser, although it is considerably underdeveloped when weighed against the program's mouse interface features. Nonetheless, it is in fact possible to use keyboard input with AGS, and have it parse and interpret typed text commands.

With this discovery, development proceeded with AGS, and it seems likely that the prologue will be finished using this same engine. Future installments of the game may be made with other development environments like Game Maker. There was some speculation about making BOTS be a real program (i.e. having it made in a true programming language like C or assembly language), but given the multitude of options available for integrated development environments to make it much easier to construct this kind of game, we reluctantly steered away from that option.

What platform(s) does BOTS run on?

Because it's made with AGS, BOTS is essentially a Windows game. It should run reasonably well under Linux with Wine.

Who is BOTS being made by?

BOTS is primarily a personal project of me, Adam Luoranen. The graphical art for the prologue has been created mainly by Andrew Nelis and David Balfour. As I possess virtually zero artistic ability, it seems likely that the graphics will continue to be developed by volunteers.

Is any volunteer help needed in the development of BOTS?

Yes! Artists are very much needed. If you have any kind of artistic ability at all and can make even very simple computer game graphics, your assistance would be much appreciated.

How can I contact the author of BOTS?

Please go here.

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