Okay, so here’s how things are standing with the project-with-no-name – after using some industrial trussing-up code, I’ve finally gotten an ancient and embarrassingly simple bug in the dungeon editor to stop making everything else fall down repeatedly! Friendly advice from one coder to another: Don’t save values as signed Integers and then load them into an unsigned Byte variable. Just don’t. The number formerly saved as -1 is not amused at such shenanigans.

I’m nearly done with Milestone 2, and possibly might have had it nailed today were it not for the aforementioned editor malfunction. Tomorrow I intend to finish defining debug monsters for each of the 18 spawn types – as close as I am to nearly being able to list all of the categories off the top of my head, I’ll spare you the detail – and then, I can crosswire the now-properly-loading dungeon spawn area IDs into the part which keeps track of all the monster spawning, and finally the dungeon will be rid of the Random Monster army!

And after that? A change of pace. Items! And a way to look at how awesome they are! And perhaps if I use enough exclamation marks in this sentence, I can persuade myself that interface design is fun after all! Yeeaah… no. Not happening.

The unnamed, unofficial and may-always-be-unfinished Project ... on TwitpicIndeed, I think the new trend in games should be not naming your monsters at all, and instead giving them descriptive labels like what are in this ‘ere clump of pixels.

What? You don’t think it’ll catch on? BAH. I’d argue the point but a whole flock of Strange Creature 73 has just flown up my trouser leg, so do excuse me a moment…

To elaborate on what’s done today: A decent amount, yet not as much as I hoped. I spent far too long iterating the layout of what I am calling the “encounter panel”, but I think this present design uses space nicely enough for the time being. As you can see, I’m using the Oryx tileset (otherwise known as the retro coder’s best friend) since it’s just so easy to work with and is pretty much the best free set of graphics out there right now. I don’t mind that they’ve been used in so many other things – they can be replaced later if needed and it’s way better than looking at dull placeholder squares. Oh, and I know it doesn’t have chests yet; they’re in a later Milestone.

All that remains before Milestone 2 is complete is to finish getting the spawn areas to randomly populate – by which I mean they won’t take account of what monster spawn types (humanoid, insect, devil, etc.) the dungeon file says should actually appear in any given location. Then it’s just a case of actually feeding that “real” data to the encounter panel. Easy! Except it probably won’t be. :D

To temper my own excitement as well as any you, dear reader, might be feeling, I should say that I’ll update as often as I feel there’s something interesting to mention. With Christmas around the corner, updates may be less regular, but we’ll see how it pans out.

I have made the occasional tweet in the past about being involved in some flash-in-the pan project for this and that (Ho-Hum Piano Dungeon, anyone? Lordy, what the deuce was I thinking…), and they’ve always somehow petered out before they became interesting. Or they just failed to be interesting in the first place. Just to give you fair warning: This could well be just another project. But this is one is far closer to my heart than pretty much anything I’ve coded in the last few years – it is, in fact, a return (*coff*) to a project I abandoned in the days of Firestorm Productions, never to be mentioned again…

This video should instantly tell you what game I mean!

Yes, it is of course an attempt at an 8-bit “demake” of the often-overlooked Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol, released in 1995 by David Allen and now owned and marketed by Decklin over in Decklin’s Demise. What the video shows is the program’s completed first milestone: It can load a dungeon using the file format of the old game, and have a “party” of one character move around and explore, respecting walls correctly. For the next milestone I will add an interface to displays monsters and get the spawn areas (i.e. rooms) to individually populate.

Ten milestones are planned to take this idea far enough for it to be a playable game engine, some bigger and more involved than others, with one further milestone required to add the final content and make it playable. Any and all feedback is much appreciated to keep the motivation at its current high level!

On a related note, if you’ve played Demise, the strangely-titled rough diamond that was the sequel to the first game, you might be interested to know that Demise: Ascension – an update that includes even more content and the ability to run natively on Windows Vista and 7 – has recently gone into a public testing phase. You need only put your money down to order it from the Decklin’s Demise page above and you’ll receive access to all current and future versions. If you’re into retro RPGs with many, many hours of playability, you really should check it out!

If I say “Exile” as the name of a game, what do you think of? If your mind immediately forms an image of Spiderweb Software‘s series of RPGs… well, they’re good games, but you’d be completely wrong.

No, in fact the game I talk of is one of those rare few titles that spans multiple generations of gaming hardware – from the humble BBC Micro to the ill-fated Amiga CD32 – and at each step, has retained its crown as one of the most epic arcade adventures that was ever created. Do you believe you can procedurally generate a world big enough to easily support tens of hours of action-puzzle exploration, and give that world a complete Newtonian physics engine, all in just 64KB of memory? That is what programmers Peter Irvin and Jeremy Smith managed to do. Oh… and did I say yet how bloody fantastic the Amiga version intro music is?

Zolyx’s Game Music Monday #13: Henry Jackman – Exile

Yes, you can tell it’s 4-channel MOD music and it has rough edges, but like a Vulcan mind-meld, it also imprints the feel of the game into you using nothing more than a few seconds of instantly memorable synth pad harmony. I’m really glad I chose this music for today’s episode because until now, the MOD version of this had been sitting in my library under “unknown artist”. Now I can finally give Henry Jackman proper credit for composing and arranging this bit of the gaming memory that is Exile.

What the deuce has happened in the past month? There’s been a sudden explosion of indie-related bundles from places on the internet that you never thought existed! Anyone would think it was nearly Christmas or something.

Bundles of fun!

A little while ago it was the Indie Music Bundle to titillate your ears with fantastic vibes, but right now you have a choice of not one, or even two… but four different game bundles to check out – and they’re all asking you to pay as little or as much as you like! One is even completely free to download!

Since a couple of them are also supporting charity, now is a great time if you’re just starting to dip in to the world of indie games and are looking to snag some great deals at the same time as helping a good cause. While it’s possible to take the dimmer view that it’s an easy way for an organiser to make a quick buck, that would be pretty unfair – if you believe in the charitable roots behind a couple of these bundles then they’re doing a lot of good at a time of year when it matters the most. Even if a bundle doesn’t donate part of its proceeds to charity, it’s still a good way to get some games you might otherwise have overlooked for an excellent price. Stocking fillers ahoy!

Read on to see all of the currently running bundles that are clamouring for your attention…

Read more…

Since I was lazy enough to miss out mentioning last week’s GMM, I must atone for this grievous display of apathetic behaviour and at least give it some passing mention!

Richard Westall - Arkanoid (Title Screen)Episode #11: Richard Westall – Arkanoid (Title Screen)

You’d think that with there being so many different mixes of the unmistakable Arkanoid title screen theme that it would be easy to find one that was good whilst also being a bit out of the ordinary. Not so, to my ear! Well-known UK remixer Infamous came close with one of his versions but, at the end of the day, I plumped for one of the oldest listed versions by Richard Westall. The original music was, of course, by Martin Galway. If you think my choice of mix is a little boring, well… you’re wrong, of course, but perhaps this week’s offering might be more to your liking… :P

Episode #12: Mixer – Nemesis the Warlock

Mentioning one musical legend in this post isn’t enough for me. It’s time to double the awesome – so how about a saxaphonistic re-imagination one of Rob Hubbard‘s compositions? The tune was one he made for the computer adaptation of 2000AD’s comic book character, Nemesis the Warlock. In a strangely effective tangent to the comic’s style, artist Mixer decided to jazz it up – with real jazz. I think it works surprisingly well. Treat your ears for a few minutes and see if you don’t agree.

Happy listening – until next time!

Path of Exile snippetThat’s exactly right folks! I have a beta key for Path of Exile that is burning a hole in my virtual pocket and I’m going to be giving it away very soon! Not heard of the game? Are you a fan of gritty, Diablo-esque click-kill-loot gameplay? Want to give it a try before the open beta early next year? Well, this may be right up your street.

Wander over to the game’s homepage to learn more about it. If your interest has been piqued enough to give this a try, it’s dead simple for you to stand a chance of getting your hands on the key and start forging your path in the land of Wraeclast!

  • Step 1: If you haven’t already, you should save some time and create a Path of Exile account
  • Step 2: Follow my Twitter account, @Zolyx
  • Step 3: Watch it closely – I’ll tweet the key around 20:00 GMT tomorrow (Friday 2nd December)
  • Step 4: If you’re lucky then you’ll be in the beta! Let the devs know what you think!
I wish you good luck!