Only Luxor remained with a thousand riders of his Houseguard, waiting for news.

Just an update of how things are progressing at the moment.

The move to Cocos2d-x is now almost complete. I have the full Lords of Midnight running with every screen implemented. Which means it is fully playable, however in order to hurtle through to completion I chose to priorities and simplify certain things.

For example. The select screen allows you to do just that. What is missing is the grouping functionality. Which means you can play the game and select all the recruited characters, you just can’t utilise grouping.

Here is my current TODO: list…

  • Landscaping – armies
  • panel_look – direction arrows
  • panel_map_detailed
  • Mouse Images
  • panel_look – shortcut keys
  • panel_look – show following character
  • panel_look – compass
  • panel_think – select character
  • panel_think – Post/Recruit
  • panel_look – help pending
  • panel_look – Landscape – keyboard control
  • Load XML Project Config
  • landscaping – mist
  • landscaping – grafitti
  • panel_select – Grouping
  • panel_select – shortcut keys
  • panel_select – drag and drop
  • DDR panel_gameover
  • DDR uicommandwindow – give text
  • DDR uicommandwindow – select face with name
  • DDR panel_look – Tunnel View
  • panel_advert – multiple adverts

I’ve been doing all this work with the MAC build because it’s easier. The next step was to make sure I could get the project working on iPhone, again because that’s the next easiest most logical step for me. I fixed up some cosmetic issues caused by multi-resolution support and added in support for the Safe Area of the iPhoneX range of phones – basically the notch, the curved corners, and the home indicator. This will also help with any potential AppleTV version that might come later. With the safe area I chose to allow the background to fill the full screen, but make sure any UI components are within the safe area.

The next thing is to get Windows32/Windows10 variants building, which for me unfortunately means spending time in a Windows VM. I also enjoy using Visual Studio less and less… but hey, needs must.

Once the windows version is building, at least the win32 version, I will swap back to Doomdark’s Revenge. I will make the changes required to get DDR running in the same way LoM is. The main thing will be tunnels, mist, landscaping and ui differences. The reason for this is so that I can have a version to give to Drew that will help him with the novel research.

After that, I will start pulling on the straggly strands together. I haven’t decided for definite yet, but I am thinking of releasing this version under the monicker “The Midnight Chronicles” and having both LoM and DDR as selectable campaigns, rather than releasing them as two separate apps. This wasn’t really possible when I first released LoM 6 years ago!

I am also considering In App Purchases. The idea is that the main game will be free, but you can pay for additional scenarios and graphic sets. It is likely that The Citadel will be released as a scenario rather than a new game. Some other scenarios might just be playing with the map or the game conditions. I like the idea of a scenario that more closely resembles the way the Novel plays out. I don’t intend to add IAP for functionality or gameplay, so there will be no in game currency for example!

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The minstrel’s songs were old ballads that everyone knew well

I’ve been having a few conversations with Wayne Britcliffe about making his Midnight inspired music available. Two of these pieces of music I used on the game trailers. The Midnight Overture was used for The Lords of Midnight, and The Icemark was used for Doomdark’s Revenge.
When I say having a few conversations, I actually mean I spoke to him about it three years ago, and completely forgot to do anything about it. Now that I have finally remembered, I wanted to ask if there is an appetite for these pieces of music to be made available.
I’d appreciated it if you would take some time to fill the form in so that we can gauge interest on releasing the current music or potentially more music.

The Lords of Midnight Trailer
Doomdark’s Revenge Trailer

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How many times had he pictured in her mind its winding paths and gentle glades?

When Drew and I were thinking about the cover for the novel, we already had a picture in mind. However, as with most novels, the responsibility of the cover sits with the publisher. Very few authors have much say on what the final cover will look like, it is after all, generally a marketing decision.

In this case, things changed. Due to events outside the scope of this post, and generally not of real importance, Drew and I found ourselves having to think about the cover. What it would look like, and who would create it. The who was a no brainer – Jure my long time collaborator on all things Midnight was the perfect fit, and we had an image of his that both Drew and I loved and had used already in promoting the book. 

Original Inspiration – Jurij Rogelj

There were just two issues with the picture though. One, we had used it already, and two its focus is the wrong way around. If you fold the above image in half the Lord would be on the back and the Citadel on the front. It’s not a huge problem, but it doesn’t feel right.

I also had an image that I used in the game for the main menu. The image shows a group of Lords marching out from the Citadel, albeit this one juxtaposes new and old art work. And that was the idea I liked.

Main Menu

So I created a mockup by flipping the image and sticking on a cutout of the citadel and the lords. This I sent to Jure and asked for something like that.

Cover Mockup

Within a day or so, Jure sent me his draft sketch. Which Drew and I discussed. Needless to say we loved it. There was only one thing that we wanted to change and that was to incorporate ‘dawn’ a little more. We both liked the way that the sun pops up from behind the mountains and sprays across the lake on the original image.  So I asked Jure if he could adapt the sketch to take that into account.

First sketch without text
First sketch with text

Jure sent a new image, but he felt that the switch of the sun made the right side of the image, and therefore the front cover, too dark. We agreed with him and so asked him to create the final artwork based on his sketch. To be honest, I could have just gone with the sketch! 🙂

Second sketch with text

A couple of days later, I received the final artwork from Jure, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone involved with the production of the book were overwhelmed with how great it looked. It’s another one of Jure’s perfect Midnight inspired images.

Final Image
Final Image with text but no publisher logo or barcode

I now look forward to what Doomdark’s Revenge cover might look like. This time however, we might give Jure more time!

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Above, the towering clouds simply melted away and the bright stars gleamed in the sky once more.

After having a conversation with Drew a couple of weeks back about the future of the novels, I came to a stark realisation that I was now unable to build the special version of Doomdark’s Revenge that he would need to allow him to freely wander the Icemark as part of his research. This was something that I did for him with The Lords of Midnight and it helped greatly.

However, the problems that I have had with the building of the games because of the loss of the Marmalade SDK are still plaguing me. I was slowly coming to the acceptance that I would soon be removing the games from the Apple app store as each new release of iOS and new devices makes the game unobtainable. This will likely follow through to Android and Windows.

All this has been compounded that my general motivation has been through the floor for a number of years now.

The upshot of this post is that this week I had a self imposed break from work and I’ve been working on the game and have made great progress already. The main menu and surrounding screens are all working. The main view is mostly done bar a few niceties and features that I don’t yet need to give Drew the functionality he needs. Today I’m working on the Think screen, but the main missing screens are the Select and Map screen.

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There were many tales to be told

Drew has posted a blog about him and his future novels, but the TLDR; from a Midnight point of view is that we have agreed on more Midnight novels… If all goes to plan then he should be starting on Doomdark’s Revenge in the first half of 2019.

Doomdark’s Revenge will be an interesting story as it should be less confined than working on Lords of Midnight. At heart it has a female protagonist on a quest with a female antagonist, but after that, what is it really about…? At this stage we already have a few ideas that link all the stories together, we had to discuss them right at the start of this process, but for the actual main narrative, I for one look forward to finding out…

One side effect of this is that I now absolutely need to get the games up and running again. I’ve been finding it really hard to find the motivation to revisit them, but Drew needs a version of Revenge that he can walk around unhindered, and hopefully this can be the push I need to jolt me back into it.

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Why is the Solstice so important?

As much as my life has become entwined with The Lords of Midnight, it has also for similar reasons become linked to the solstices.

When I first started my journey through the Midnight landscape, I lived about 250 miles away from Stonehenge, the pilgrimage location for all those who follow the solstices, and the concept of spending a night there couldn’t have been further away. Now I live about 25 miles and have made both the summer and winter pilgrimage many times. Lords of Midnight uses two concepts that align with Stonehenge, the winter solstice and standing stones – the henges.

 

So it seems apt that today at the Summer Solstice I have hit another Lords of Midnight milestone – the release of the novel.

I must make it clear that I am not the author of the novel, that role was taken on by Drew Wagar. I still have some way to go before I manage to tick off my author goal. But, I think it’s fair to say that the novel would not exists without my involvement, and I am extremely proud to have helped to finally make this happen. The original game publishers promised a novel that never happened, and 34 years later, Drew, Fantastic Books, and I have delivered.

Firstly the novel came about because of a chance twitter conversation. The result of that conversation and after some discussions with Mike’s family, was that I was able to greenlight the novel. Let that sink in a little, I have to. 34 years ago when I originally started playing the game, I could never have imagined that my life would become so linked that I would affectively have a casting yes/no vote on anything to do with it, let alone a novel. Unfortunately that sword is double edged as this is only possible because Mike is no longer around.

Secondly I worked closely with Drew to keep the novel accurate not only with regard the original game, but also when considered as part of the complete Midnight saga. The Lords of Midnight can no longer be considered in isolation. The original game and novella were written without any consideration for the future, and after its release more games and stories became available. Therefore, when setting out to tell this tale, it was imperative that the necessary adjustments and corrections were made. Drew and I spent a good amount of time looking forward and backward over the saga’s timeline. Somethings we just needed to link up. Somethings we’ve had to fill the gaps.

Thirdly I’ve been there as a sounding board for the story, Drew had a story to tell. In part that reflects the original game story and for all of us to have played the game to death, we all know how it ends, so there are no surprises there. Drew’s job was to navigate the journey and to tell a compelling story that fits within the constraints already defined. My job was to assist Drew with that in any way I could. Part of that was reading the story and commenting on it. This just involved me often saying, yes, no, or how about. The other area would be me making suggestions based on my knowledge of the saga lore either up front of in reaction to something Drew was working through.

And lastly, the cover. Drew and I commissioned the cover from my long term Midnight collaborator Jure. We took some ideas based on work he had already produced and created a mock-up concept of something we would like. Jure then created a quick concept sketch that we discussed and then went on to produce the lovely final piece.

So today has come. Summer Solstice 2018 – The Lords of Midnight – Book One in the Chronicles of Midnight is released, I hope those who read it enjoy it. I hope that Mike would be as proud of it as I am.

The book is currently available in eBook format from Amazon or in multiple DRM free formats from Fantastic Books Publishing. Physical copies to follow at the official launch in September.

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You listen to too many ale-tales, Morkin

The Lords of Midnight official novel is available to pre-order via Amazon in ebook form which will be launched on the Summer Solstice, June 21 2018. Paperback copies are due in September.

The land of Midnight was cursed into eternal winter many thousands of moons ago.

 

The survivors battle hardship, famine and war; having beaten back Doomdark, the Witchking, in a battle that lives on in legend. 


But now, at the Winter Solstice, neither the Lords of Midnight nor the Fey of the forests can resist his greatest weapon, the ice-fear.


Their only hope rests in ancient lore, the myth of a long lost house and the legend of the Moonprince.

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Many tales were told that day…

Drew has delivered the first draft of The Lords of Midnight Novel. Obviously, I have read it during the writing phase, made comment where necessary, and am overall very happy with the story. However, a novel is not generally written in one pass. The story made be told, but it still needs to be crafted and refined. Things that were written at the start of the tale may need to be revised, information that we want to impart as an aside, or for future continuity and foreshadowing, may need to find a home at the correct place of the story.

So, as Drew gets out his polishing pen, I shall be printing out a copy, and sitting down to read it from start to end for the first time. Something I’m really looking forward to.

In Drew’s words…

First draft in the Chronicles of Midnight

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We cannot spare more than a few for such a perilous task

After the problems earlier in the year with Marmalade getting out of the SDK market, I started working on porting Lords of Midnight to Cocos2d. I initially decided to park the games and start on something new to get me going. As it happens that the new thing was The Citadel. I managed to get TME – the Midnight Engine – which is the backend game code that runs both LoM and DDR, up and running. I then worked on the Landscaping technique.
Happy with that working, I dragged the Map data out of The Citadel and started rendering that. The real big issue I needed to address for the Citadel is water, so I started working on that.

I spoke with Jure and he mocked up some potential imagery, so we could get and idea of what it might look like.

I then had a lot of problems with Cocos2D getting it to build under windows, and to be honest, I got a bit disheartened and gave up for a few months. It’s frustrating when the OSX Build all works without any issues, but the code just wouldn’t build on Windows.

Since I’m working closer to home at the moment, I started to get that coding itchy feeling, and so I returned to the game. After a bit of restructuring I managed to get the code compiling on Windows – however, it completely wouldn’t build on OSX anymore. Xcode would completely barf and kill my machine taking up over 52gb of memory!

I spent three evenings trying to get it to work. The upshot of all that pain, is that I seem to be back into my groove…

I spent a bit of time thinking about the whole process, and I’m not sure if it’s because my Facebook feed keeps reminding me of what I was doing five years ago… desperately trying to complete LoM to get it submitted to Apple before the Winter Solstice as it happens, but it feels right to get these games back up and running an ready for any future release.

At the moment I am slowing making my way through every UI screen and rebuilding it under Cocos2d. It’s painful because as powerful as Cocos2d is, the documentation is a complete bag of horse turd. I’m really stumbling around trying to translate the UI Engine I had already built into a new one.

Once I have all the periphery screens complete, I will make my way into the game screens.

I’m not abandoning The Citadel, I’m just taking some time out to get the whole engine fresh again. I’d like to get LoM and DDR released under the new system early next year.

As an aside, the complete progress can be found in the GitHub repository. All the code and assets are there.

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