A few months back I received an email from Marmalade Studios. Marmalade is the system I used to give me cross platform support. I pay for a licence yearly which is still covered by the ongoing sales on the long tale of the game. Anyway, the email informed me that Marmalade were pulling out of the Tools business to focus on their own development. They laid out a timetable and final release plan for the current tools but ultimately from March 2017 they will no longer be supporting their toolset. There was an offer to purchase rights to the source code, but as a small indie, that’s not really an option.
This doesn’t affect the current releases, but what it does mean is that any chances of me producing updates in the future have almost certainly been removed. And with every new OS release, the chance of the game not working are increased.
I know I have not been prolific with updates since the release of Doomdark’s Revenge settled. There was so many things I wanted to do, but just haven’t gotten around to. The reality is two fold, as amazing as the sales of the games have been, they are obviously not enough to support me full time, and secondly, the games were written quite frantically in the end and I never regained that sense of purpose after their release; this is not just for these games but for everything that I have been doing creatively.
I’ve been trying recently to tie up another release. The main reason for this is to produce a build with the latest version of Marmalade and get it out there to properly support the latest devices. In theory a new release should keep its visibility in the App Stores for a few more years. As part of this I’ve been slowing adding a couple of features: Discovery Mode, Difficulty Modes, Rationalise the code base between DDR and LOM. etc..
So with all this in mind I have been toying with the following: Uploading the source code to GitHub and making it open-source with the objective of transferring it to another cross platform solution, Cocos2d-x for example. Or, allowing people to port the engine to any other coding languages they like, so it could be used however they like.
The current codebase is written in c++, and thus moving to Cocos2d-x makes sense, but I quite like the idea of porting to c# or swift.
Moving to open source could also allow for the tool chain to be fully developed which would allow for more work to be put into ongoing development of the games.
Anyway, I shall think on this more, but if anyone is interested in getting involved, then drop me a note…
Just in case you missed it… Doomdark’s Revenge is out on all formats.
The main reason for this change is purely logistics. I have to get the website ready to go, PR and Press Packs, Screenshots, Video, submit all versions, and create the store for direct selling.
However, the other reason that I hadn’t taken into account until thinking about submission congestion, is that, during the week of the 17th, it would have been Mike Singleton’s 63rd birthday. So it feels appropriate.
The iOS version is ready to go, and I intend to submit to Apple tonight. Apple usually take 7 days to approve a new submission. If there are any problems, then I would likely miss the 7th. The real area of concern is that from Feb 1st, Apple are insisting that all submissions are done using XCode5 and target iOS7 as the build SDK. In theory this shouldn’t be a problem, however in order to guaranty this, I need to build with the latest version of the Marmalade SDK 7.1.1 and as this version is only BETA at the moment I have slight concerns. I am currently not able to submit to MAC Appstore because of a Marmalade issue, and that affects my confidence in it.
The Android version appears to be ready. The first initial sweep has been done and a few small visual bugs stamped out. The game UI now seems stable across resolutions so I would suspect that supported devices will be the same as with The Lords of Midnight. I don’t foresee any issues moving forward. The turn around time on Google Play is such that I still have plenty of time to fix anything that crops up.
I have done a Blackberry build, and it all seems to be running in the simulator without issue. I need to perform an actual device test but again I don’t foresee any issues. There were some initial problems with the Q10 720×720 resolution but they have been ironed out. BTW: this version will allow the Q10 to rotate and I will include this fix in The Lords of Midnight ASAP.
Samsung and Amazon builds are just packaging. So again, I don’t foresee any issues.
Windows and OSX builds should be good, as this is how I develop. I expect to hand over a master to Fastspring and GoG.com early next week.
The only issue with the OSX version is that it is unlikely to be available in the MAC Appstore for a while. This is due to the aforementioned issue with the Marmalade SDK and OSX Mavericks. If the issue is not fixed soon, and I have a window of opportunity before the 17th ( preferably by the 10th ), I will install an OSX Mountain Lion machine and attempt to build the app. The OSX version will however be available direct or through GoG.com, where I don’t need to release a signed app.
Once the release is out there, I intend to revisit Windows Phone 8 version of both Doomdark’s Revenge and The Lords of Midnight.
I finally managed to push out the update to Lords of Midnight. All platforms have been updated to 1.11
This is the first time that all platforms have shared the same code base, and it’s the first time I have updated all platforms on the same day. It’s quite a big day as I’ve been trying to get this update out for a while, and I feel this marks the proper hand over to Doomdark’s Revenge. So, I really hope I haven’t missed something massive somewhere!
This will likely be the last update this year, unless of course I’ve messed something up. For the next 6 months I suspect all my focus will be on Doomdark’s Revenge. Not only getting it released, but those first few updates that will happen to it early next year after the initial release.
I full list of changes can be found here….
But I thought I might pickup and summarise a few of the items.
Big change was adding new grouping controls. You can now scroll around lords that are grouped making it easier to select lords from the select screen when they are grouped. You can also merge groups, disband with one click, change the leader of the group, and drag a lord from one group to another. You can also disband a group or leave a group from the think screen. Video of it working here…
There is more keyboard support on screens. This is for the desktop version and hopefully Android where it has keyboard support.
Mouse wheel support is there for the desktop version.
The scaling on the map is now available to the mobile versions. You can scale with pinch and spread, but I have also left in the scaling gadget on the mobile versions too.
Selecting lords on the Map screen has had a little work. You can now select the multiple lord icon in order to gain access to all the lords.
For iOS I have added an option to toggle between an ebook novella and pdf novella. I hadn’t considered that people might not have iBooks installed. But I have also added ebook support to the OSX version now that Mavericks is shipping with iBooks.
Two biggies that will make a difference to the game. You can no longer select a lord from the map screen when Luxor is dead and Morkin does not have the Moon Ring. This was a bug that would have allowed you to still control your lords even though you didn’t have the Moon Ring – sorry that exploit has now been plugged!
And, armies were fighting double at night. Which means battles would have been quicker than they should have been because double damage was being dealt out. This would have meant that you could have lost a fight without the chance of escaping, because you should have had a turn between the two battles. Or the armies on both sides are unable to get reinforcements between the two battles.
I hope you enjoy…
Just thought I’d post a quick update.
I’ve now been working on this project for a tad over 2 months. Mike contacted me tail end of January, and we started work beginning of Feb.
However, I only work midweek evenings on the project, and then only for 4 evenings. Actually sometimes it’s less because some nights I’m just knackered from burning the candle at both ends and in the middle too. I get anywhere between 3 and 6 hours of coding time. Recently I’ve spent less time than I would like due to having a persistent neck problem that is affecting me sitting in front of the computer – and as I do that all day, it gets hard to do it in the evening too.
Anyway, I’ve nearly finished getting the game fully functional. I spent some time doing underlying UI code recently. We decided against using AirplaySDK’s UI stuff, just because it’s too much baggage. But now that my UI stuff is done, knocking stuff together is pretty quick.
Currently everything is still very simple. I have resisted the urge to throw everything that was in winLOM and winDDR into the mix. The objective is to get the game functional and then start the work of turning it into what we actually want – a small piece at a time. We know how the current overall game works. So once it is working, we can then identify what we want to change, write a design document, and then change it once step at a time.
Tonight I will be putting the character select screen in. Currently you can choose the 4 main characters from the main view, and you can recruit everyone else – you just can’t select everyone. After that I just need to put in the night screen and I’m done.
At that stage I will start testing on different devices. I would like to be able to get a number of people across the following formats – iPhone 3Gs, iPhone4, iPad1, iPad2, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android. If you are interested then keep an eye on the blog, I will post a call for help soon.
It seems a little strange, that after all this time, something might just finally become of this project! 🙂
The first stage was to get the Midnight Engine up and running under iOS. Well I tried that about 3 years ago without any major success. However, it’s a little more important now. So I downloaded the Airplay SDK which Mike and I had decided to evaluate, and started porting the engine.
It was a pain! Differences in compilers, changes in the language, blah blah blah… it took a couple of days of monotonous work before I had a project that loaded the TME data in. While I was working on that, Mike was playing around with some graphic ideas that we had talked about implementing – mainly to do with lighting.
I thought that I would address a question that I have been asked a lot since announcing this project:
Why is it for iPhone only?
Firstly, it isn’t.
It is true that we are using the iPhone and iPad as the lead platform. There are many reasons for this that are not actually relevant to anyone other than us. It is the process that gets us to a final release. But, we don’t intend to stop there.
When I first introduced the concept to Mike, I really was only thinking of iPhone. It was after all pre iPad.
However when we started this a few weeks ago, Mike introduced me to a product called Airplay SDK.
One benefit of this SDK is that we can continue to code in C++ rather than Objective-C. The main reason this is a great benefit even though I wanted to develop a larger project in Objective-C and that I have moved on from C++, is that The Midnight Engine was written in C++ and making that work under the SDK was going to be a whole lot easier and quicker than recoding. That brings me to the second benefit. Because the Midnight Engine has been live, in particular for Lords of Midnight, then we start we a good base – most of the previous logic has been coded.
The fall out of looking at Airplay was that it is multi-platform. It allows for targeting the following platforms.
iOS, Android, Samsung Bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BREW, Palm/HP webOS, and Maemo. It also supports, through its partner product Airplay Arcade, the Sony PSP.
A further benefit is that you can also target Windows Desktop and OSX Desktop.
So you can see, it’s an attractive option.
So, our focus is on iOS. But the intention is to exploit as many of the other platforms available to us that we can.
When the iPhone SDK first came out, I signed up as a developer, downloaded the SDK and started playing around. One of the first projects I started was to port TME to the iPhone. I played around for a while, started converting from c++ to objective-c, and then decided that as it would never be an official project then I should use my time more wisely and work on something else – which I never really did.
I briefly discussed the concept of an IOS port for Lords of Midnight with Mike Singleton, but we never really got anywhere.
I actually felt passionately that Lords of Midnight could be developed on modern technology and reach out to a whole new market. The new demand in casual games on portable devices, means that now is its time. And the platform that Apple have developed has allowed games that are about their gameplay to get out to a large non gamer centric audience. I believe that a lot of people would love to get lost within the world of midnight. The gameplay is simple but effective, and as engrossing as the game is, it’s a good pickup and putdown game. Perfect for the portable game player.
When Mike contacted me four weeks ago to discuss the concept of bringing Lords of Midnight to iOS, it pretty obvious that I was excited, but I was also suddenly very nervous. It was now time to put up or shut up. It’s time to actually do it.
Lords of Midnight is a much loved game. It was pretty revolutionary in its time. It’s an amazingly atmospheric experience. And I know a lot of people who would lynch me if I helped to produce another Citadel! My number one concern for this project is – to not f*** it up! My number one item at the top of the design document is – to not f*** it up!
So with that in mind, what are we going to do?
In 1984, maybe 1985, my brother Darren, introduced me to a game on his zx spectrum – Lords of Midnight. It’s a wargame/adventure game which was revolutionary in its time. Written by Mike Singleton. You can read much about the history of the game on its wiki page.
In about 1990 I was playing around with a new Spectrum+3 that I had bought and decided to reverse engineer Lords of Midnight. I just wanted to know how it worked.
After performing the reverse engineering, I ported the game to the PC. This indirectly led me to getting a job in the games industry when another industry legend Jon Ritman saw the project and suggested I should think about joining the games industry, and thus everything else that has followed in my career over the last 20 years.
My port was released along side Mike’s official 3rd part of the game. Lords of Midnight:The Citadel in 1995.
In 1999 I started work on an updated version of Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge. A project that was never finished and over the years has fallen by the wayside. But much good came out of it.
My website ICEMARK.com ( Icemark being the land that Doomdark’s Revenge was set in ) was setup and covers much Lords of Midnight material. It has become the unofficial central site for midnight related material.
My reverse engineering of Lords of Midnight and a number of other spectrum titles that followed, led to me performing some work for a New York law firm on 3d Patent Case 4,734,690
In 2004 I wrote a 10 page article about Lords of Midnight in which I also interview Mike Singleton. It was my first piece of published work. Which in turn led to a number subsequent articles.
I host a website for the game Midnight/MU developed originally Jean-Yves Rouffiac, a multi-user take on the Midnight games, and have been involved in the development in some small way over the years.
Needless to say, that Lords of Midnight has played a major part of my life for the last 27 years.
So, taking all the above into account, you can imagine my jubilation, when Mike emailed me at the end of January to discuss the concept of us collaborating on a Lords of Midnight project….
… further details of this new project to follow…