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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He rode on towards the Tower of the Moon a little more gladly

Thanks to the generosity of Scott Gibbens, who took time out from his 170 mile journey home at the end of a busy day at work, to swing by my place and lend me his iPad2 for testing… the new build is now working on all the devices it can. The only restrictions I have had to make is iOS7. This removes iPhone 1-3, and iPad1, and iPod Touch 1-4. Unfortunately, there is just nothing I can do for these old devices anymore. For the record, the current version in the app store will continue to be available and work on those devices that have already downloaded it, it’s just no future versions (should there be any) will be available.
This new build has gone out to the external testers, and as long as I get the ok, it will head to the store next week. All being well, I will do the same for Doomdark’s Revenge. I intend to release both LoM and DDR for Android, Windows, and OSX as well to unify the releases. However, Blackberry, and Windows Phone will not be getting this release.
 
For the record, this is what is available in this release…
 
1. Added discovery map
2. Added ‘tooltip’ info on map
3. Added cleanup button for lords on select screen
4. Change to undo system ready for difficulty modes
5. Added ability to UNDO from the gameover screen!
6. Handle new screen resolutions
7. Built for latest IOS SDK
8. Support 64 bit devices
9. Cosmetic changes on scrolling views – dithered
10. Update of engine to align with Doomdark’s Revenge
11. Misc minor engine fixes ported from Doomdark’s Revenge

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No ice, no storm, no sword or shaft shall keep me from thy side

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Just in case you missed it… Doomdark’s Revenge is out on all formats.

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We ride to tear the Frozen Empire asunder!

doomdark_site_indexAfter hastily announcing that I will be releasing Doomdark’s Revenge on the 7th I can now confirm that the actual release date will be the Monday 17th Feb.

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.

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This is a gift beyond gifts…

ms62

To celebrate what would have been Mike Singleton’s 62nd birthday later this week, The Lords of Midnight will be reduced to half price on all available stores for the whole of this week starting Monday 18th February…

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Is it any less hopeful than defending the Plains of Blood?

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Last night I submitted a new version to the Apple App Store. The review process usually takes a week. So hopefully release 1.06 will be ready for Monday 18th.
Unfortunately during my device testing, I found a problem with one of the new features, and made an 11th hour decision to drop it from this release. The feature in question was the Map Pinch and Zoom. The problem was that not all the graphic elements were scaling correctly and during the zoom the focus point of the map was changing. The end result was that it was a little messy and I wasn’t happy letting it out. An evening of work will see the problem fixed, but to do that would mean delaying this release, and I’m painfully aware that the slow down problem needs resolving. So I decided to pull the feature. I know it would be have easy to just delay the release, but I need a working version ready and available on the 18th…

Thankfully, the Android version doesn’t need to be submitted until the end of the week, so I will make the changes and hopefully have the Android version ship with the feature. As long as testing this week proves everything to be working correctly, I will submit another Apple version with just this new feature as soon as possible.

I will upload the current version to the test servers tonight, as I would like it to take a good test pounding this week.

After this month release schedules will be slowed down, and I will go back to utilising the test process more fully!

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The Lords of Midnight are coming…


The game has now been submitted to Apple, I can only wait for their reviewing process to take place. As long as everything is ok, it will be in the App Store on the Winter Solstice, Dec 21st.
It’s been a funny few months, the last six weeks being particularly hectic. I finally played the game through on Friday and Saturday, as I did the last minute checks before the submission. It’s probably the first time I have played the game properly for a long time. I have to thank all the testers who made sure that I didn’t need to!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it! Even if I do say so myself, “It ‘aint half bad”. I am really really happy with it. I know it’s not the game that Mike and I originally set out to release, but I am pretty sure that Mike would be happy with the decision that I made, and the actual result.

The website is now live at www.thelordsofmidnight.com

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The Solstice is nearly upon us…

The Solstice is nearly upon us and Doomdark is already waking from his slumber. We must reach the Tower of the Moon by tomorrow, yet our ride promises to be long and hazardous.

The last few days have seen many issues knocked off the list for Lords of Midnight, two of them were show stoppers! Right now my actual TODO: list has 3 items on it. That said, every night, before I start working, I run through the game and add all the issues that crop up to my list; it seldom stays short for long… That said, I almost have a product that I am prepared to ship, even if not 100% happy with it. But then, when are we ever 100% happy with something.

Tonight I will be finishing off the tutorial system in the game. It’s not ideal and it’s a little wordy, and to be honest at this moment in time it is so in your face that I’m tempted to remove it. But knocking off the rough edges tonight should do the trick. After that I need to finish the manual, which will be online. And that should be it.

I will make another few passes through the game trying to snag issues that annoy me more than anything else. I suspect most of those issues to be cosmetic ones that drop out of resolution changes, or physical ones raised because of small hit zones on phones. I am the least happy with 480×320, the iPhone 3gs resolution. But hopefully I can get it more acceptable over the next few days.

It’s been a long six weeks since I made the decision to continue with the project in its current form. I’m not sure how much sleep I’ve had. They have been longs days that have often finished at 2am, with the following day still starting early. Then straight from office after an hour drive and into the study to start the process again. But all that said, I am really happy with how it has come together, it looks great. Sure there are loads of things that I would change. But every-time that I write a change on a list, I have asked myself, “how much does this really matter to the person playing this version of the game? And that has been the thing I have had to keep sight of, it’s this version of the game, and this version of the game needs to ship. There are a number of things I can tweak, but I can tweak them later.

So, currently, I plan to submit the iOS version to Apple on Friday, with a scheduled release date of The Winter Solstice, That gives me nearly three weeks for it to bounce in and out of the Apple submission process if necessary.

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