Fallen trees and stray boulders made a mountain range of the forest floor

Screenshot 2016-01-14 19.55.13While I’ve been looking at the data for The Citadel, and putting it in a editable format, I thought I’d make available the data for The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge. The zip file includes a JSON file for the database structure and a JSON file that can be loaded into TILED.

I’m pretty sure that this is the exact same data that has been released with the game, however I can’t be 100% sure due hacks I might have done in code at the 11th hour!

DOWNLOAD: lom_ddr_data.zip

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In the forest, the trees grew tall and shady and bright flowers carpeted the floor

Screenshot 2016-01-06 23.01.13I finally got round to spending some time converting some Citadel data. On of the issues that I had was that I have the map data in LBM image format. It’s obviously not a great format for the terrain data, but this was given to me by the original programmer and I’m not sure how they were processed for the final game. The other issue is the difference in game styles. This data is for a 3d free roaming map and some of the maps are different sizes. The region map are 128×128, however I can’t believe that the citadel could be played out as a 2d landscaping game, without seriously playing with the time taken to move. Therefore, I decided to make the Citadel map 256×256, this is in keeping with the map that Mike drew up for Eye of the Moon, and therefore as the Bloodmarch was originally going to be the setting for EotM it seems fitting to go with the same size.

Last year I did some work on transferring The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge maps into Tiled. I figured that if I could create a tool chain from that, I could possibly edit the maps for future campaign updates to the games. I did all the work on converting to Tiled and coming up with data formats, but never did any work on the toolchain to get the data back into the game. This is something I still need to do.

With that in mind, I produced a draft Tiled version of the Citadel map which you can download to take a look at. It has layers for Realms and Regions, and then individual layers for each terrain type. The Citadel map was very sparsely populated compared to LoM and DDR, and although the current terrain types account for 19 different terrain, which is actually three more than both LoM and DDR, these terrain really are base landscape terrain. Land, Water, Trees, Mountains, Swamps, etc…. it is lacking anything remotely of interest. There are no Liths, Villages, Hits, etc…

If a game is going to come of the Citadel, this is something that is going to need to be rectified.

LoM and DDR pretty much share the following landscape terrain types: Mountain, Forest, Downs, Lake, Frozen Wastes, Plains, and Hills.

LoM adds: Citadel, Henge, Tower, Village, Keep, Snow Hall, Ruin, Lith, and Cavern, while DDR adds: Gate, Temple, Pit, Palace, Fortress, Hall, Hut, Tower, City, Fountain, and Stones.

The Citadel has landscape types of: Mountains, Craggy Mountains, Forest, Hills, Plains, Land, Valley, Lakeland, Swamp, River, Sea, Bay, Lake, Foothills, Isle, and Downs, and adds: Castle.

As you can see, there isn’t a great deal of variety in those none landscape terrains. Citadel, City, and Castle pretty much replace each other, as do keep and fortress. I seem to recall that Maranor is the Dark Citadel, but I am not aware of any cities.

So, apart from Snow Hall, I see no reason why the additional LoM and DDR terrain types could not be used within a Citadel scenario.

The question then becomes, should there be any new terrains?

My first process is to make sure the Tiled map all holds together. I needs a little tidying up which will need to be a visual process. I’m not sure if there were problems with the original, but I noticed things like trees in the sea. I never got that far in the game, so I don’t know if there were indeed trees in shallow water on the coast line, but a few things like that should probably be ironed out.

At this stage I would like to get some Terrain graphics so that I could drop the map into the engine, and start walking around. There are some issues here, as The Citadel introduces water in a way that LoM and DDR didn’t, so there will need to be engine changes to handle that.

Once a clean version of the map is available, the next stage would be to hand populate the map with the other terrain types. I don’t see this being a quick exercise because I think a lot of thought will need to go into this process.

Only at that stage, will I be anywhere near thinking about an ACTUAL game. There is a lot of underlying work do consider with how the game should work, how the AI in the original works etc. Without help this will also be a lengthy process.

So basically, don’t hold your breath, but slowly slowly catchy monkey…

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The Citadel – Novella

As the smouldering dusk fell, the Citadel of Xajorkith towering above them on the opposite bank seemed lit by a great fire in the west. Luxor the Moonprince gazed up at the Great Tower where his banner fluttered in the gentle breeze. Already the torches were being lit and the slender windows of the Tower were filled with a bright glow.

 

 

As a little Winter Solstice treat, here is the novella from The Citadel.

Some of you might find it an interesting read if you’ve never read it before, and for those of you who have, then it will serve as a little reminder, it’s probably been a while.

ibooks

iBooks Novella

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Kindle Novella

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PDF Novella










The War of the Solstice
The Icemark Chronicles

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We must not think that any task is hopeless…

t_tower0It’s been mentioned to me recently that it would be nice to have modding functionality for The Lords of Midnight. Opening the engine up was something I always wanted to do but I’m not sure to what level this needs to happen. Therefore if there is anyone out there who would be interested in modding LOM or using the engine, drop me an email, and we can discuss what approach to follow to make this happen.

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In the Blink of an Eye

While doing an interview for Retro Gamer Issue 148, I was looking at some of the original hand written pages that Mike had written for The Eye of the Moon. The idea was to give the magazine an image of his writing to put in the article. What I actually found was a piece that hadn’t been typed up. I had mistakingly thought that the text had been included in the documents I already had. I’m not 100% sure where this piece goes before the other two, it feels like it might be the first piece, but the fact that it wasn’t typed up suggests to me that either a) Mike had disregarded it – ( I doubt that ), b) he wrote it after the other two.

The images of this text did appear in the Retro Gamer Article, however, they are too small to read, so I include the images here, the text, and I have updated the Eye of the Moon document to include it.


In the Blink of an Eye In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye

“How many Mantas?”

“At least 100 riders Domse, and they have spare horses too. They’ll catch us sometime tomorrow for sure.”

Domyinykas sighed and turned to gaze at the distant mountains rising from a blue haze. How would they ever reach them now?

“It’s that stone Domse?” said Mantas quietly.

“The Eye of the Moon? Yes, I fear it is. We’ve been hunted from the forests of Qadim Haraj to where we stand now by different bands of warriors every step of the way. It’s as though it calls them, it beckons them to us.”

“Domse, we can’t take a hundred of them. Can we not just cast the thing away here and now?”

Domse turned back to his friend and gazed into his eyes. Even Mantas was afraid now. It was desperate.

“No we can’t. That would be the ruin of all things. We must take it to the roof of the world, we must! Do you think that they will ride in tonight?”

“No my Lord, the footing is too harsh. They only ride by day and their horses are swift, as though they ride the wind.”

“The get some rest Mantas, and the others. I’ll stand guard tonight. I need to think.

It was early to stop, dusk was only beginning, but Domse wanted everyone fresh as could be tomorrow. Another mile tonight wouldn’t make the difference, the riders of Varangor would still catch them tomorrow regardless.”

As the other boys, weary from the long days of chase, lay down to sleep, Domse gazed at the casket which sat on a rock close to him. He wondered at what power lay within that could draw death and danger down upon them from so far away.

For a few moments, Domse eyes closed and he seemed to drift asleep. The dusk thickened around him and he thought he heard music playing far away. He opened his eyes. There was a shimmer around the casket and it seemed to dose now that the faint music was coming from inside the small wooden box.

It was a light and happy melody that swayed and danced and twisted and gently grew louder. Domse was filled now with curiosity. There was a strange air of peacefulness enfolding their small encampment. His comrades slept with smiles on their faces, the campfire blazed merrily, the dusk was full of stillness and soft with the lingering warmth of the day.

Slowly Domse reached forward and opened the box. Inside the Eye of the Moon was glaring and shimmering as though it was dancing through a bright rainbow. The brought the stone closer and peered into its crystalline depths. The feeling of warmth and homeliness filled him.

The shimmering rainbow colours faded and we replaced by a scene, another encampment but far larger than his own, bustling with men, brightly lit tents, cooking fires, lanterns and in the foreground a man. The man turned to face Domse with a look of surprise.

“By all the gods!” The man exclaimed, “who are you boy?”

The VOICE was commanding but not harsh. Domse was as surprised as the man, but nevertheless, he answered as best he could.

“I am Dominykas, Prince of Coromand. I journey with my comrades to Valahar, seeking the roof of the world.”

The man smiled.

“Well if the roof of the world is anywhere, it surely lies within Valahar. But Valahar is very far from Coromand.”

“That’s true enough sir, we have been travelling for nearly three years now.”

“Then you are close to Valahar?”

“We believe so, yes, but we are being hunted.”

“By who?”

“Riders of the Varangor this time, but they are not the first to try and catch us.

“The Varangor! They’re a long way from home! Forgive me for asking young prince, but what have you done to stir up such a hue and cry?”

Now Dominykas needed to fake nothing.

“I truly don’t know. We harmed no one save in our own defence, we have stolen nothing, we have passed as quietly as we could. And sir, now you must forgive me, but who are you?”

“I am Morkin, Prince of Midnight. We also travel to Valahar, seeking a treasure that is rightfully my fathers. Some fate rides upon it my boy.”

“Some fate perhaps, but not as grave as the fate that rest on our quest.”

“Which is?”

“We take a jewel to the roof of the world, to cast it there into a bottomless chasm and rid the world of its evil forever. So the prophet commanded and so shall it be!”

“What jewel is this Dominykas?”

“Men call it the Eye of the Moon. Don’t ask me why, I haven’t a clue.
Morkin laughed softly.

“No wonder you were being hunted young prince. The dark forces of the world have been seeking this stone for many a long year and now it has revealed itself again. You are at the eye of a storm I fear Dominykas.

“That’s the truth for sure Morkin. We have a hundred or more riders hunting us, and we are five.”

“Five hardened warriors?

“Not really, although we have done our fair share of killing the last few weeks. We are just boys Morkin. I am sixteen and the others are the same, give or take a month or two.”

Morkin turned, perhaps to hide his reaction. When he turned back though, he was smiling. “Courage lad! That was my age when I set out the destroy the Ice Crown”, he said with a smile.

“The Ice Crown! Exclaimed Dominykas. You destroyed the Ice Crown?You loosened the grip of the long winter on the world?”

“I played my part. It was for others though to defeat the armies of Doomdark,” said Morkin.

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I cannot save you from the beauty of the world

undoTo save or not to save…

Mike and I spent a long time talking about the save game feature in LOM and DDR. Both us came down on the side that a save game on a modern platform diminishes the story nature of the game. Unlike loading the game back for 10 minutes from a tape as it was back in 84, it take less than a second to reload the game, and therefore a lot of the challenge is removed. I’ve discussed this previously here…

Anyway, I received an email today about the save game feature…

Due to the complexity of the gameplay, it is difficult (impossible) to excite new people to play if you do not include a true “Save” mechanism in the game.

I’m still not of the mind to add a save game feature, but I ended up wondering if it was time to expand the UNDO feature a little.

The game creates an undo position after every single move. It allows to roll back completely through the game. It marks special undo records such as Dawn and Night. However, in the game it only utilises the last move and dawn. I originally wanted to give the facility to playback the undo records as a way to watch the game unfold… never happened. And I was going to add difficulty levels that utilised the UNDO facility more… Also, never happened.

The undo records except dawn and last are purged as you end the story and return to the menu. This happened because I received a report that stories were taking up a lot of space. An undo record is actually a full uncompressed, unoptimised save game and takes about 30k. They can soon mount up.

What I was thinking was… how about if I left ALL the undo to dawn records live and possibly the last x moves too. That way you could undo a couple of moves, or undo dawn, undo dawn, undo dawn… etc… Maybe an option to redo so that you could step back up the dawn undo list if you have not pressed night since undo.

Thoughts?

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We must find friends as well as enemies…

A new bug came to light in Doomdark’s Revenge. I had a report of a crash bug that occurs after 138 days, that’s one hundred, one score, and eighteen days since the Moonprince rode forth into the Icemark.

The problem appeared to be that an AI character’s liege was getting set to himself. This causes a problem in the AI logic for a character choosing to follow their liege. The AI goes something like this…

I want to follow my liege, but my liege is dead, so I need to follow my liege’s liege and this character will become my new liege. The code ripples up the liege tree until it finds someone to follow, or bails and decides to hunt down Luxor instead. When the bug occurs it follows the tree and finds a liege who is dead but they are also their own liege, and thus we get stuck in an infinite loop.

Once I found this as the source of the crash, I needed to work out WHY it occurs.

There are only two places where the liege can change, the aforementioned follow liege routine, and being recruited.

I stuck some debug info on both cases and set the game to run on automatic to see if the issue triggered, and it did.

Here is the scenario…

Anvarorn starts with Fangrorn being his liege. Fangrorn’s liege is Shareth. Fangrorn gets recruited by Anvortheon the Barbarian, and thus his loyalty changes to the barbarians, and his new liege becomes Anvortheon. Anvarorn decides to follow his Liege, who is still Fangrorn. When he gets to the same location as him he notices that they are not the same loyalty and thus tries to recruit him. He succeeds. Thus Fangrorn’s liege becomes Anvarorn. So we now have a circular liege issue. This becomes a problem if Fangrorn dies, because in this instance Anvarorn decides to follow his liege, finds that his liege is dead so takes his liege’s liege as his new liege and therefore becomes his own liege!

I went back and checked the original code, and this issue can happen. The only place you would notice it would be on one of the description screens where it would say, Anvarorn’s liege is Anvarorn – or words to that affect. At worst the character would end up following themselves and end up not moving. This is something that has been mentioned as possibly happening in the current version.

When I implemented the liege tree walk, I did just that, I implemented it as a walk up the tree, and because of the circular issue, a dead lord who is their own liege will create a circular loop if they are someone else’s liege. The original code doesn’t do that, it only takes the next liege up the stack and therefore slowly makes its way up the liege tree over a number of nights. Thus no infinite loop.

This would possibly occur with characters following their foe. If their foe is dead it walks the liege tree of the foe to find the next foe.

Fix to follow soon…

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Amazon Underground

amazon-underground-app1A month or two back, Amazon approached me about putting The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge on their new service. It had just a project name then, and I had to sign a whole host of documents before I was even told watch the service was, and then another whole host of documents when I agreed.

Before deciding that I would, I thought long and hard. Essentially, I never wanted the Midnight games to be advert driven, and I couldn’t see a compelling way to have “in app purchases” that would generate the kind of sales required to support the game, without an amount of work that would be loss leading.

By having the Midnight games as a full purchase game, it has probably stopped it from being installed as many times as it might have been when free, indeed I have seen the spikes when the game has been reduced in price for promotion. But even those extra sales have not amounted to much in the way of cash as the price reduction has obviously hurt.

That said, the games have sold around 30k units which I couldn’t be happier at. That just hasn’t resulted in a great deal of money, in the scheme of things. Rough fag packet calculation, if you take the average price at £2.50, taking into account price reductions, different platforms, and multi-currency, you get a turnover of £75k less Commission 30%, and VAT at 20%, it’s just £37.5k – and divided between Jure and Mike’s family, pretty much a three-way split, I’m looking at £12.5k over 2.5 years. Without doing an accurate calculation, I can say that number feels about right, and it’s still a long way from covering my time costs if I apply a day rate to it.

Android sales of the games are well under a 3rd of Apple, but they appear to have a 10:1 piracy ratio when taking into account rough internal data calculations.

So, as we hit the tail end of sales, I wondered if the Amazon pay-for-play where they pick up the tab, might be an interesting approach for some additional Android sales. The gamble was, will people who won’t buy it on Android, possibly pick it up and play it for a while, enough to generate a small trickle of income, that might be greater than the normal Android sales. This could all possibly be maximised by being an official launch app for the service.

Android still accounts for about £50 a month in sales, this last week has seen and additional £3k units downloaded through Amazon Underground, accounting for less than a £1 worth of pay-for-play. Amazon pay a fraction of a penny per minute played. So not a great start, but I’ll have to see how it goes.

I know the t&c’s for the Amazon offering are a little harsh, and the privacy settings quite extraordinary, but still understandable considering what they need to achieve, however I figure that the target audience who don’t want to pay for the games in the first place, probably don’t care. And those who do, have either already bought the game, or still have the option to through Google Play, or Amazon Store proper.

I just need to keep an eye on whether the Amazon Underground sales hurt the Android sales, better them, or just become another small income stream.

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The Eye of the Moon

I have finally typed up the notes for The Eye of the Moon and combined it with a little story history.

I’ve just found some extra notes and bits that I forgot to scan. I have now added these in.

The new bits are:-
1. The hand drawn map of Valahar at the end.
2. Some information about name changes on the Eye map.
3. Names of additional wise characters.
4. Known Routes
5. Single Use Magic
6. Holding Domains
7. Independents
8. Restricting the Numbers

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