First week snagging…

20140220-084247.jpgRelease week is always frustrating. On Android I just cannot test on enough devices, so I know that something is always going to bite me, and Monday morning it did. None of my Android testers had had any problems with the game loading, but Monday morning a number of devices were reporting that the game wouldn’t load. Later that night I spent a few fraught hours fighting with hotel WiFi trying to get an update tested by the affected customers, and then released.

In this instance it was an easy fix. In fact, I had already addressed the issue the previous week for the Windows release. Some last minute testing on my Mac Desktop running a windows VM, full screen, highlighted an issue of loading the splash screen. At the high resolution the splash screen was larger than 2048. When this image was being loaded, it was converted into a power-of-two texture and thus a 4096×4096 texture. The texture loader I was using was choking on that. A quick change to the affected images, across all resolutions, resulted in a fix, and a 5mb reduction in app size to boot!

This was the problem that affected some Android devices. So all I needed to do was rebuild the current version for Android and send it back out. In the end, the Android release was probably a lot smoother than The Lords of Midnight.

The next thing is the bugs that come from the game play. No matter how many testers play the game, no matter how long they play for, these things always seem to get through. What always amazes me, is how? Sometimes you just look at a bug and think, ‘how did no one notice that?’.

This is also, exasperated by the fact that I am releasing a retro remake. Some people remember how the game worked originally, some in amazing detail, some not so well. Doomdark’s Revenge had holes in it, it was never as polished as The Lords of Midnight, and I have kept those quirks. It’s important to me that the game plays like the original, before I think of making any changes to improve any originally flawed game play.

The problem is, these things are reported as bugs, and I need to investigate them, and often go back to the original to research and compare. A case in point is AI lords just leaving a battle. When it was reported, I thought about it, and I remembered from writing the battle code that there wasn’t anything that stopped the Lords wandering AI from kicking in when they were in battle. In The Lords of Midnight, there is an explicit check for wandering regiments, ‘if there is something at this location, stay here.’ I went back to the original code and noticed that there was a check that tested if a lord was in a tunnel they would not be moved. Now, AI lords can’t be in a tunnel, so that seems like a redundant check. It’s a bit flag check and I wondered if it was checking the wrong flag. When I consult my reference code, I look at my 80×86 disassembly, so I wondered if I had made the mistake 25 years ago. Going back to the original z80, the code is the same. So, either Mike intended to check for tunnels, or he made a mistake and it’s a 30 year old bug.

There have been a number of cosmetic issues, some of these are caused by different screen resolutions. A number of people didn’t like they way Dragons in particular looked at dawn. Most are easy fixes. There were a few UI/logic issues, times when you could do something that you shouldn’t be able to. This just results in the game being a little easier.

The biggest issue is with battles. One problem is reporting. The reports will show that a lords and his soldiers have killed X of the enemy. But that could be a combined number of a lord and a stronghold, or it could be from the stronghold and not the lord. There is no guaranty that when fighting at a location with multiple lords, that you will fight everyone. So you might inflict casualties but not notice the lord losing any soldiers, because you actually killed soldiers in the stronghold or another lord.

The next issue is that strongholds regenerate soldiers every night. So, they start with 1000 soldiers, you kill 200, you expect them to now have 800. But they generated 100 soldiers overnight, and thus they have 900. This isn’t helped by the fact that the owning lord takes from his stronghold. If the stronghold has more soldiers than him, he takes the difference less an amount. I actually have two bugs in this logic, firstly, I coded it wrong. An AI lord can take soldiers only from a loyal stronghold that he is currently at. I had him taking them from his own stronghold every night, regardless of where he is. Secondly, when the soldiers are given to the lord, I wasn’t taking them away from the stronghold. What this means is that unless you wipe out the stronghold, every night, the lord will be ‘magically’ topping up his army.

The final issue with battles is that strongholds appear not to be changing owners when they are reduced to nothing.

I have been working through all the issues, and hope to release a new version later this week. You can keep and eye on the current list of fixes here…

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51 thoughts on “First week snagging…

  1. “There is no guaranty that when fighting at a location with multiple lords, that you will fight everyone.” – that explains a problem I have had on the Windows version, I was fighting Shareth and for about 10 days she wasn’t losing any soldiers. Was getting really frustrated!

    I was starting to wonder if I had forgotten some of the relics (or whatever they are called) had to be picked up first prior to fighting her.

    One query, sent Tarithel into the caverns to get to Morkin, map showed I was underneath him, but couldn’t get out. Was I in the wrong cavern?

    Overall though, excellent conversion. Well done!

      • Is that from the menu? – no stairs were showing. Just blackness except for back the way I came.
        Is there more than one way in to Morking?

          • Ok, I’ll try and find the East way in, I’d come from the south. I recall that there was only one “proper” way in – except for losing a battle and being pushed through the icy wastes when dawn broke (on the spectrum).

            Thanks!

        • I know about the tunnel leading in from the east, I know the relic that’ll get Tarithel there and I know about the quick and slightly naughty but dangerous way of attacking a fortress and being kicked out right over the Icy Wastes and landing on the Plains of Anvoril (I’m guessing the Ice Guard use a catapult), but I didn’t know about a way in from the south.

          • I found the way in from the south and was right under Morkin, except that there was no tunnel exit. There was a tunnel exit next to the Fortress of Anvireon but no way to get past it as Anvireon didn’t want to be recruited and there are icy wastes on both sides. I wonder if that was put in deliberately…

    • No – it is a bug. I’ve had the same experience, but fighting Shareth alone wi three lords attacking her for over five turns. The battle reports indicate that we are killing soldiers, but her forces never get less. There are no other lords with her – or even near her – so it can’t be that someone else is taking the losses. It is a bug.

  2. Fantastic to play DDR on my iPhone. Done a great job Chris.
    Just a couple of bugs to fix I guess , the ice lords can be recruited one after another even when it’s ‘night time’ making the game very easy. They also seem to stay separate from each other unlike the original.
    Ice lords and shareth’s army’s don’t seem to lose any troops in battle , and seemed to struggle moving Morkin away from the city of imiriel .
    Fabulous game , and will be playing this again and again .Thanks for all your time and patience Chris.

    • I noticed that about the Ice Lords too. I bumped into Shareth at one point and she had a sizable contingent with her, i.e. too sizable to take on and beat, but then she sort of vanished off the radar and I found the other ones just wandering around and very easy to recruit. Maybe it’ll be different next time I play, it usually is…

  3. The games always been very random, thats what i always liked about it, icelords like any other character can and do travel solo or in groups so many factors can cause chars to go solo like fighting looking for there foes.

  4. It was great to play DDR again for the first time since the 1980s. It has brought back a huge number of memories….and it is amazing how many names and locations I can still remember after nearly 30 years. Many thanks- this game was (and is) the best.

    One or two issues that I’ve not noted in any of your previous posts (playing on the Ipad):

    Using the Crown of Varenand (which I believe summons all of Luxor’s forces to his current location) after you have recruited a large number of characters (in my case 87) caused the game to crash. Furthermore I was unable to then reload this saved game at all. I vaguely remember there being a limit on the number of characters you can have at one location, and I was wondering whether this issue was related to that.

    Furthermore as noted by Kev Riley above- I struggled to move Morkin away from the City of Imiriel. However I will confirm this on my next game (as Morkin was killed on the first night by Imiriel forces after recruiting him!).

    • I found the Crown of Varenand (it was a bit of a wrangle getting a greedy Ice Lord to part with it) but I didn’t want to risk using it after I read that…

  5. I too have had the Shareth battle problems where she loses no men even though the battle reports say she should have done.

    I also think Luxor, and maybe others, don’t move as far as they did in the original. For example, after recruiting Torinarg on day 1, in the original I can move Luxor past the nearby stones and onto the plain. Then on day 2 I can move him 8 squares north before night. On the new version he stops at the stones on day 1 and can only move north 6 squares on day 2.

  6. Some more issues I’ve spotted:
    * When someone’s liege (and maybe foe too?) dies, it isn’t updated to the next one up. (This only used to happen for people you dont control)
    * If you are in battle at dawn you can’t attack or approach without moving first (think you could in DDR)
    * When someone wins battle by slaying, they are still preparing next morning even though there is no one there.
    * On the select character screen, you can’t get to the bottom left character because it is under the “look” icon

  7. Tarithel the fey stands in the mountains of imorthay looking southeast to the temple of kahulane, which says mike singleton lord of midwinter 1951 2012 had to use a magnifying glass on my iphone lol anyway nice thing to do chris.

  8. Just great to play Doomdark’s Revenge again! One or two things, though… the information you get at towers seems to be a lot more random than I remember, e.g. previously Luxor would often be able to learn the location of the Crown of Varenand or Shareth, but thus far he’s been getting messages like “The Axe of Imgorarg can be found on the Plains of Thulil.” Not very useful all in all. Also, I’ve only had one game on the go, but I’m still waiting for Shareth to come and hunt me down! Not that it’ll help her much, I have half the Ice Lords on my side…

    • Yes I think you’re right here. I think in the speccie version guidance used to be mostly where other lords were, or occasionally it would be your “own” item. I dont remember it telling you where other people’s items were…

      • The logic goes likes this.

        item = random(0,127)
        if lord[item] is not loyal to moonprince and is alive then
        give guidance about lord
        otherwise
        if object[item] is not being carried by current character
        give guidance on object
        otherwise
        give guidance on shareth
        end
        end if

        If the lord corresponding to that number is loyal to us then use that number as

        • So, getting guidance on, e.g. the Crown for Luxor was literally a 1/128 chance even with Luxor? Wow. That’s quite funny because I always used to get Luxor the Crown in order to bring Tarithel & Morkin and everyone else home to win…I must have had to hit the towers a lot more times than I remember on average to get the info! 😉

      • Thus far no character I’ve taken to a tower has been able to get information about their own item, or Shareth’s whereabouts.

  9. On laptops equipped with retina display (at least on my 2013 13″) the game won’t start if the display resolution is set to the highest. It will either beach ball indefinitely or send message about “no suitable definition found”. Interestingly, if switch to lower resolution, fire up the game and then set to high resolution mode, everything works fine (i.e. there are perfectly operational windowed modes, even fullscreen mode – the latter one with a portion of the desktop visible at the bottom and right.)

  10. Thanks Chris.

    I’ve had great fun playing on my iPhone 3GS. DDR looks great.

    I’ve encountered some glitches.

    Firstly, it won’t load up at all on my iPad 2. So I’ve been straining my eyes a bit. It gets as far as program:revenge. (I’ve even tried adjusting the tone and volume settings if my cassette player but still not getting it to work)

    Secondly, Shareth never came to get me. I eventually found her with almost all the icelords stuck right at the top of the map – was she locked onto Morkin instead of Luxor?

    Otherwise it played much the same as of old.

    Tunnels still pointless (bar one under ice)

    Combat a bit baffling – casualties always very small, no matter how vastly one side outnumbers the other. I remember this being so in 1984 too. Why is not same system as in LoM?

    All in all, a magnificent job done, thanks Chris.

    N

  11. Hi Chris,
    first: great job to adapt the classic to modern platforms, I really appreciate that. However it seems there are many smaller inconsistencies, both in the presentation and gameplay-specific: graphical design is generally beautiful chosen, but not all the time optimal (overlaping of text and picture, colors), movement is changed and seems reduced, battles are bugged some times, recruitement is much easier than in the original game. Did you really not encounter these issues when you and the betatesters played the game? I really appreciate your great efforts to revive these great games, and I can imagine the time it takes to rebuild a game like this, but frankly, I’m a little bit disappointed about the current condition of the game… I think I’ll wait on the next version before playing further. Can I expect a updated version soon?

    • An update went out last night across all platforms, so should start to show up soon.
      I guess you are playing the Android version – thus the screen issues. What device? What resolution?

      I am double checking the movement. Recruitment is the same.

      I apologise for your disappointment, I will try harder next time.

      • Hi Chris,
        thank you for your fast reply! No, I play the PC (gog-) version. You are ironing out the problems – so no need to apologize 😉
        Cheers

          • My desktop resolution is 1920×1200, so I think the game takes this resolution, but I don’t think the problem with the “overlapping” texts/images is resolution-related: If there is not much text in a info screen, it isn’t a problem – if there is much text however, the text lies over the image. If the color for the image would be “softer”, it wouldn’t be that striking to the eye. It’s more a cosmetic issue.

          • Ok yes. I’m going to dither down the terrain image etc when the overlap occurs. I’d never seen it before and it is more prevalent on more widescreen resolutions.

          • Hey Chris,
            I just installed the updated version. The graphics (skulkrin & dragons in the morning and night) look beautiful in the new way! Well done! Just one thing remains: there is a horizontal line right under the clouds in the mist that doesn’t belong there and doesn’t look so pretty. 😉

            I’m looking forward on the correction of the movements – I just replayed the beginning of DDR on ZX Spin to compare remake and original and to give you two reproducable examples (movements in the first turn of the game) of what I mean:

            1.) if I go 2x southwest with Luxor right at the beginning, I can get Torinarg the barbarian AND still move for one space with Torinarg and for one with Luxor. In the remake, I can reach Torinarg, but when I approach him, it is night for both Luxor and Torinarg.

            2.) Also at the beginning, if I move southeast to get Thigrand the Fey with Tarithel, I can reach him AND can move further two steps with Thigrand and three steps with Tarithel. In the remake I can reach Thigrand, but after that, Thigrand and Tarithel can only move one step (moved individually, not “tied” together) further.

            It may seem insignificant, but it changes the game in a subtle way I think.

    • Love this game , but agree , recruiting is way too easy now.
      Lords can keep recruiting even when the day has run out , meaning a bunch of ice lords stood next to each other can all be recruited.
      The challenge of the game was that ice lords were hard to recruit.

  12. Chris,
    Firstly a huge congratulations on a fantastic release of DDR – it is simply the best game ever! I have read through the snagging reports and wanted to let u know of a couple of others things that I have encountered:
    1. Flames if dawn etc- some of these do not appear at the locations they used to (for example the Temple of Varorthane (the one near Thortheon) which now has the Thorns of Despair
    2. Army not shown in mountains – I noticed that when I had an army in a mountain location you can’t see it.
    3. Movement is different / less than the other versions

    It is a joy to play this game again
    With tks
    David

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