LeGACy code: studying how (amateur) game developers used Graphic Adventure Creator
Graphic Adventure Creator, text adventure, game development, binary reverse engineering, archaeogaming, empirical study
How did game programmers use early game development tools, and how does this fit into the bigger picture of how humans use tools and technology? To help answer these questions, we embark on an interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeology and computer science. Graphic Adventure Creator (GAC) was released in the mid-1980s for a number of microcomputers; we focus here on the 1986 version for the ZX Spectrum, a popular UK computer of that era. GAC was a game-development tool for creating text adventure games, optionally with graphic images. We have amassed a corpus of nearly all known GAC-produced games for the Spectrum – over 130 – and reverse-engineered the game format. We extracted out all the games’ data, and built a software framework to perform static and dynamic analysis of all these games at scale. This empirical data, plus contextual information from some interviews we conducted, gives us unique insight into the nature of how this tool was used to make games.
Aycock, J. and K. M. Biittner. (2020). LeGACy Code: Studying How (Amateur) Game Developers Used Graphic Adventure Creator. Paper presented at the Foundation for Digital Games Conference (virtual). Exceptional Paper Award. Best Paper Nominee. Paper presentation can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihirGcCjjbU&list=PLV86WtJ_99B63A3d2VQGLiDUeTkrhxkX5&index=7 (begins at 00:48 mark).
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