Adventure Construction Set (ACS) is a program used to construct Ultima-type games, written by graphic adventure game pioneer Stuart Smith and published in 1985 by Electronic Arts. The game was produced by Don Daglow, with art by Smith and Connie Goldman and music by Dave Warhol. It was initially developed for the Commodore 64 and Apple II, but then ported to the Amiga in 1986 and DOS in 1987.
The program concept was inspired by the groundbreaking Pinball Construction Set (PCS) that had come out in 1983. It provided a graphical editor for the construction of maps, placement of creatures, etc, then let the designer use those to create a standalone game that can be shared with friends. The resulting game was a top-down view similar to Ultima-type games. The ACS came with a complete predesigned game (comparable to other games then on the market), Rivers of Light, and a compendium of sample adventures to show off the design program's capability. Rivers of Light was based on the legend of Gilgamesh, continuing with Smith's theme of basing his games on classical mythology.
Stuart Smith was a pioneer in the graphical adventure game world, earlier creating the seminal game Return of Herakles (the Greek spelling of Hercules). Although the graphics in these games were primitive by today's standards, in a time when any graphics at all were an innovation in adventure games the work of Smith stands out as thoughtful and original. His clear writing style and focus on literature and history also stood in sharp contrast to many other adventure games of this era.
Goldman and Warhol, who had worked with Daglow on the Intellivision game development team at Mattel, also provided art and music respectively for Racing Destruction Set, which was produced in parallel to the development of Adventure Construction Set.
The game was one of Electronic Arts biggest hits of 1985, earning an SPA Gold Disk award.
As technology continued to improve, ACS was followed over the years by more powerful construction kits, culminating in the current world of the shooter game and their mods.
ACS also displayed a key truth reflected in later adventure building systems: they only automated the mechanical parts of game construction; good game design was still difficult and time-consuming. The option to allow the computer to create a random adventure produced treasure-hunt mazes and compounds, but no story or logical succession of challenges to link them together. Many users would use the random function to save time and create large, relatively empty canvases and then build their adventures by modifying them.