A new version of ScummVM was released on 9th October – a significant date for the project, because it was on 9th October, 2001 that saw the very first revision – 0.0.1 – appear from the keyboard of Ludvig Strigeus. The latest release is 2.5.0.
ScummVM is a ‘virtual machine’ designed to run a range of classic games falling into the ‘point and click’ genre. These are similar in concept to adventure games/interactive fiction, in that as the game is played out a story is told, steered by the player’s actions, but instead of the game presenting the player with a block of text (possibly supported by a picture) and the player then typing in commands, in a point and click game, the image itself is key. There is usually little or no text, and the image may be animated to show actions taking place. The player then uses their mouse or other pointing device to click on elements within the image to interact with them, and trigger the next action within the game.
There are a number of games that fall into this category, and ScummVM was originally aimed at a particular series – those developed by LucasArts with a tool called SCUMM (Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion) – but has since expanded to cater for games from many other sources.
Such games usually take the form of an executable and supporting files (including the ‘script’), and ScummVM bypasses that executable. One of the benefits of this is that even where a game was only released on certain platforms, if ScummVM supports the the game and the underlying system it uses, that game is then playable on any platform on which ScummVM runs.
And for RISC OS – thanks to the porting efforts of Cameron Cawley, who keeps this platform’s version up to date – that means the ability to play a large number of games that were never released for our operating system.
Version 2.5.0 of ScummVM is the first version to support 2.5D games – where 2.5D is a sort of pseudo-3D. This is a result of ScummVM merging in the ResidualVM project (which Cameron was previously demonstrating separately for RISC OS), and brings with it support for Grim Fandango and Myst 3: Exile. (For the main announcement, The Longest Journey was also listed, but this is not supported in the RISC OS port because the engine lacks a TinyGL renderer).
As well as the new 2.5D support, a number of other game engines and sub-engines are now covered, bringing several more games with them, such as Little Big Adventure, Transylvania, Red Comrades 1 and 2 – and a whole raft of interactive fiction games that use a system called Glulx. Adventure Game Studio (AGS) is also supported, but some games written using this system can include their own libraries, and thus need to be supported individually.
For RISC OS specifically, to get around limitations in the size of executable files, the port has been split into two parts. The Zip file contains two applications, ScummVM and ScummVM2, with the various supported engines split between them. Performance issues since the last release have also resulted in the VFP build that was provided with version 2.2.0 has been dropped, but Cameron says he is hoping to look into this before the next release.