It is better to know your comrade’s mettle before the real battle begins, is it not?

I have finally managed to get The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge ready to return to the stores. Yes I know it’s taken a while and in reality it’s been a labour of love, but we are almost there. I have had both games running on iOS, iPadOS, OS X, Windows, and Android.

I am hoping to release the games during January, I have put a lot of work into this rebuild of The Lords of Midnight and for that the game will now cost a total of NOTHING! I initially intend to keep a price on Doomdark’s Revenge, although if you’ve already paid, you won’t need to pay again. But I also intend to include some In App Purchases in the future.

Right now, I would just like to get as many people testing them to make sure that they are behaving as expected. I am sure there are a few little niggles, and I know there are a couple of small UI features that I removed; awaiting a rebuild. I just decided not to hold up the release because of them.

To start testing The Lords of Midnight…

To report any issues either use the links supplied as part of iOS/Android testing system, visit my issues page on GitHub or fill in the form at the bottom of these page. Please provided as much information as possible, screenshots if it helps, and details of your device.

Some of the things removed.

  1. Detailed map needs the ability to scale.
  2. Desktop – Cursor images need adding
  3. The compass gadget is missing from the look screen
  4. Desktop – Some keyboard shortcuts are missing
  5. Mobile – Some gesture shortcuts are missing
  6. Desktop – Only runs in a window. Should open a window in 16:9 at about 75% the hight go your desktop resolution.

Known issues

  1. Splash and Credits screen crop badly top and bottom
  2. Desktop – Direction number keys are mapped incorrectly
  3. Scrolling indicators/icons missing from think page and popup info pages
  4. Names on the map collide with each other
  5. Options screen has incorrect options on it for platform

Some of the changes.

There have been some UI changes that I have added either for flourish while I was rebuilding or out of necessity.

The landscape view now adapts to your screen resolution much more dynamically. It keeps the same aspect ratio (1.3333) of the original for the height of the view but allows the width to grow. The affectively gives you a wider field of vision or wider devices. I did feel originally that this was an unfair advantage to those on with resolutions closer to the original, but in the end I decided that the advantage was minimal as most people look around them anyway,

The Think page changed a little. The first is that the text now scrolls vertically if it gets to long. Again this was to help with certain resolution issues. But also each think page now scrolls horizontally in a fashion more akin to scrolling pages on mobile devices. Note the page indicator at the bottom of the screen.

He thinks again…

The following screens show some new additions to the think screen that allow to take certain actions direct from there.

Showing the new display when it’s night… more like the original.

Two changes that have happened on the main menu. A bigger scrolling area for the stories and a new stile menu screen.

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We must reach the Tower of the Moon by tomorrow

It’s been 15 score and 7 days since I last posted about The Lords of Midnight. Things have changed a little since I decided to make the games available for free on GoG and to remove them from the Apple and Play stores. Firstly my working situation didn’t change. This was mainly because the government shelved its implementation of the new IR35 rules that were coming in to effect in April 2020. The reason for this was the same reason that has turned 2020 topsy-turvy; Covid19.

During this time I still haven’t done much work on LoM deciding to keep to my self imposed exile. I did visit the land of Midnight time-to-time and managed to break the back of a number of issues, and I enjoyed my time there for the first time in a long while.

I have have finally pretty much completed the Cocos2dx port. I only say “pretty much” because until I produce a release with it, then I’m not sure of any issues that remain. There are some known Desktop problems and I haven’t looked at Android at all (other than it’s under Cocos so should work mostly).

I have also satisfactorily resolved the resolution independence problem that has increasingly gotten worse with Apple in particular going hell bent for leather to release as many different resolution phones as they can managed over the eight years since I original brought the new LoM to mobile. Some of you may have already see the wide screen screenshots that I have posted on Twitter.

With those two issues at hand, I believe I am very close to being able to bring The Lords of Midnight back to the Apple Stores soon. My intention (but don’t hold me to it) is to get the game in to TestFlight testing in January and get it in to the stores proper as soon as possible after that. There are a lot more Apple devices to test on this time around!

After that, I will look at resolving any desktop issues so that I can get the game into TestFlight for OSX in February.

If these two milestones can be achieved, then Android and Windows release will follow very shortly after.

This is the last few remaining issues that I would like to tackle before I push to TestFlight. Not all of them are required to push to TestFlight so I suspect I will attempt an early smaller test release just to go through the process.

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The building of a new citadel upon the ashes of the old had already begun.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to briefly discuss the Lords of Midnight rebuild particularly for those people who have found their way to the blog more recently. I have spoken a number of times over the last few years about the loss of the Marmalade system that I was using as the underlying cross platform support for LoM and DDR, and that I would need to rebuild the project under a new system in order to at least keep supporting it, and better add some new functionality. The rebuild has almost been a full UI recode with very little backend game changes other than to get code compiling on various platforms. During the UI rebuild I have taken the opportunity to change the way a few screens might work, but nothing too drastic. In many cases the rebuild has simplified the code in certain areas.

I know this process has taken a frustratingly long time, but happily that process is now almost complete. Both The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge are up and running, and they now both completely share the same code base. I have placed the skeleton versions of the Desktop in test so that I can see if there are any glaring issues with the new build, and will now focus on getting them released for Mobile before coming back to Desktop and tidying up the few features I chose to drop in order to get me to a Minimum Viable Product.

Availability

The first thing to point out is that none of the following versions will be released as a new purchase, so if you already have the game, you should be able to pick up the updates for free as long as your device is supported. And in theory over the last six years most people will have updated to new devices anyway.

iOS

The reason for the iOS focus is that The Lords of Midnight currently does not work at all on the iPhoneX range of phones and essentially it is the version most endanger of being pulled from the store. I’ve had a few reports of the games not working on Android, and none at all for OSX and Windows.

This week I will be testing the game across all the current resolutions for iOS devices to make sure they all work as expected. I will then take stock and the end of the week to see if I can release both iPhone and iPad versions together or not. Either both or one of those versions will go into public beta through Apple, and then I will look and OSX.

OSX

The reason for OSX focus is due to 64 bit support. The next version of OSX – Catalina, due in September, will remove support for 32bit apps. I can honestly say that I have no idea if the versions on the App Store were built 64 bit or not, but I suspect not. Under the current development system, all I need to do is build and submit – in theory!

Android

Android needs a little bit more work. Firstly just getting the new code base building. I have not focused on this at all just because I’m Mac based, using iOS, and needing a Windows version for Drew. However, I have not been concerned at all that it will not build, it will just take a short time going through the motions. The I need to test against a number of screen resolutions. This is the area that will probably cause me more work if it hasn’t already as part of the iOS process. It is likely that the rewritten landscaping technique does not hold up across a number of different aspect ratios. And of course, 64bit will soon raise its ugly head across the Google platform.

Windows

Windows version is already building and the only real work required is Fullscreen and Resolution support. There will also be a little bit of Desktopification required as I look back at all the features and make sure I am not too Mobile centric.

There is currently no real urgency on the Windows version other than wanting and needing it to generally be released as soon as I can. The only real consideration I am having with Windows is whether to consider Steam or Epic Games store as a new mechanism of distribution.

Feature Parity

During the process of getting all the versions released and then immediately after I will take time to make sure that all the features that I have removed in order to hit a release, are put back. Most of these are small things like a few touch gestures and shortcuts.

Gameplay

There are technically no gameplay changes. However, there are a few bugs that have been fixed over the last few years that some or all of the versions have not been updated with.

The Future…

New things can now start to happen… 🙂

Reference:
  1. This time you’ve got me to help you
  2. The Moon Ring lends us the power to change our plans
  3. The way was obscure but he moved onwards
  4. We cannot spare more than a few for such a perilous task
  5. Above the towering clouds simply melted away and the bright stars gleamed in the sky once more
  6. Only Luxor remained with a thousand riders of his houseguard waiting for news

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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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This time you’ve got me to help you…

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…

 

 

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