PICEDIT

(New: Try out 1.3 Milestone 6  of the Java version of PICEDIT. You will need Java6 installed)

I know it got slower as the pictures got bigger, I know it wasn't a Windows tool, I know it was a bit confusing and unlike any other graphics tool you've seen before, I know it lacked a lot of features, but surely most of us remember spending a lot of time using PICEDIT to draw AGI pictures for our games? There were two reasons I created this web site. One of those was to give PICEDIT a presence on the web again. Even though there are other alternatives these days, I think I'd still use PICEDIT myself because it reminds me of the original AGI games. The picture was exactly positioned where the picture would appear within the games. The menu used exactly the same style as the games. And in my mind it was how I imagined the original Sierra AGI picture editor was like.

In case it wasn't obvious to everyone, I'll share a secret. That status line at the top is a direct copy of the status line shown for the SCI picture editor screen shot in the "The Official Book of King's Quest". I figured that if the SCI editor had a status line that looked like that then perhaps the AGI editor did as well. Turns out I was wrong about this but in general I think the end result probably wasn't all that different from the Sierra original. Think back to the way things were in 1984 when King's Quest was released. We had to boot into DOS and then from the command line we executed the programs we needed to run. Every tool that Sierra used to build a resource for an AGI game would have been a standalone DOS executable. The artists, musicians and coders that wrote those original AGI games were running DOS utilities that were very similar to PICEDIT.

When I started writing PICEDIT, the first puzzle I had to work out was how I was going to build drawing tools that would then save as AGI picture codes. Do I let the artist draw lines however they want and then convert the result to AGI format at the end? Or do I keep it fairly low level and use the AGI PICTURE actions themselves as the tools? I went with the later approach. PICEDIT shows very visibly what is happening with the generated picture codes. You can see it on screen at the bottom for the current action. The picture being drawn is kept in sync with the generated file with every change that is made. This makes it very easy for the tool to load existing AGI pictures, for example from a Sierra original game, and then make changes to it. And the thing I really like about that is that by loading an original Sierra AGI picture, we can see exactly how the Sierra AGI artists drew their pictures. This is because the AGI picture codes capture the exact actions that the artist made, in the order that they made them. It is in essence a recording of the picture being drawn.

PICEDIT isn't just a tool for drawing AGI PICTUREs but is also a very useful tool for learning the AGI picture data format. And by loading pictures for the original AGI games, it is also a very useful tool for learning how to draw AGI pictures. Simply step through the picture and see how people like Mark Crowe drew the rooms for Space Quest.


Here are some comments I've collected from the Internet regarding PICEDIT.

"Lance’s program is pretty much all you have right now – but don’t worry, it’s easy to use" - Juha Terho  (source)

"I'd also like to thank Lance Ewing, author of picedit, an agi screen editor that i used too many times to possibly mention. it's an easy program to use and very effective, without which i'd have no screens." - Vonster D Monster (source)

"I hate PICEDIT" - King Graham (source)

"A friend of mine was totally disgusted with the lack of any useful functions in PICEDIT like running under Windows for starters, using clipboard, having a grid, masking, layers, patterns, marquee (selection) tool, zoom..." - Half-Saint (source)

"If I can't draw a picture using picedit, then I shouldn't have the right to use a more powerful tool." - Rich (source)

Comments