The Marches of Valahar

EyeOfMoon
The Lords of Midnight
by Mike Singleton

Book IV:
The Eye of the Moon

Comrades of the Prince:
The Marches of Valahar

Time itself was sleeping. There was utter stillness even in the air. The drops of rain hanging from the leaves gleamed but did not sparkle for not even the light trembled. The silence was so deep it made him feel deaf but when he breathed out it seemed like a roar. The storm had passed.

Dominykas turned his eyes to the horizon. Over the forest, misted by distance, the far peaks of Valahar floated in a milky blue haze, sharp white shards cutting at the sky. Then the light subtly changed and one of them, the tallest, suddenly suncaught, began to glow at the very tip, brighter and brighter until it glowed with golden fire.

The Wilderhorn, he thought, it must be. That’s where I must go, to the roof of the world, to the gate of the heavens. The boy couldn’t imagine the road that led there. It was impossible. How could he ever reach it? For a moment, black despair rose, seeping into him, but then he wrenched away from it. I’m not a boy any more. I can do it if I must and I must, so I will! He gazed at the mountain with its golden crown of fire.

It was simple after all. Bright as a beacon, there was the torch that would light his path. However long and twisted the journey, a peak that soared so high would be with him like the sun or the moon, sometimes hidden, sometimes in darkness, but always reappearing as he turned a corner and found the open sky again or as the world turned and darkness fled.

His heart filled with joy. Nearly forty moons had passed since they left Coromand and now their journey’s end was at last in sight, blazing with fire. Smiling, he turned to his friends. He flung his arm out to point wildly at the mountains.

‘There! The roof of the world! The gate of the heavens! The Horns of Valahar! Look! The Wilderhorn!’ he shouted and the fire that touched the far off crest blazed within him. His young comrades looked. They gawped. They gasped. They looked at one another. One by one they grinned. Then at last they cheered.

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Think about the future…

icon_512x512I finally submitted the OSX version of The Lords of Midnight to Apple last night, it’s been a long time coming, a lot longer than I expected. I didn’t start it as early as I expected due to supporting the mobile version until March. Some of it has been because of technical issues, I struggled to get the code, more accurately the resolution code, to work satisfactory. Another part was being burnt out. I hadn’t realised how much getting the Mobile version out, took out of me. I found myself not really interested in developing the desktop version, so I found myself bitting at it and not staying focused. In fact a lot of the code ended up being developed on a Saturday morning while my daughter was diving, like I am now. I have a an hour and a half to kill while she dives, you can only give your full attention for so long, and that was always a good excuse to have my laptop with my and work on LoM.

All being well with the Apple submission process, the game will be available in the Mac App Store for the Summer Solstice. The Windows version needs a little more testing and I need to find a home for it to be distributed. If that all doesn’t happen during the next week in order to hit the same release date, I suspect it will be the week after.I now find myself thinking about the next steps. Jure has already started work on, if not almost finished, the artwork for Doomdark’s Revenge, so there is nothing to hold me back there. I suspect that the actual next steps will be a new build of the mobile version of LoM to include the scaling map, the keyboard controls ( for bluetooth keyboards ), and a few bug fixes that were dealt with during the desktop development. The desktop code is just a different branch of the mobile version, so I just need to roll everything up. Being truthful, I also need to put an advert in the mobile version for the desktop version, it would be nice to pickup at least another 6k unit sales.
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Update

dragonI thought I’d post an update of where things are at, at the moment.

I’ve been having a bad run of “can’t be arsed”, this is not just on the Midnight front, but with a number of things. It happens now and then. I think part of this is due to the fact that from October I worked tirelessly on Lords of Midnight right up to release, and then followed the release with two months of updates. In the end, I think it burnt me out a little. That combined with the day job and that I work for some of my clients in the evening as well. The problem is that I have now lost a little bit of momentum and I just need to get that back…

The desktop version is almost ready. I hoped to put it into test a few weeks ago, but didn’t because I was waiting to add one more feature, which is the MAP scaling and movement gadget. I did the temporary graphics, but haven’t implemented it yet. Once that is in I will make a request of Jure for the final graphics and then upload for test and open the forum for testers.

I intend to formally request Jure start work on Doomdark’s Revenge at the start of May, so that is my new goal; I’m going to aim to have the desktop version in test and DR started by the 1st May. And then aim for DR to be ready for at least the Mac App Store  by the end of May.

 

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Comrades of the Prince

EyeOfMoon
The Lords of Midnight
by Mike Singleton

Book IV:
The Eye of the Moon

Comrades of the Prince: Chapter One:
The Shadows of the Forest

There was something strange whispering and skittering around it tonight, something dark but unseen. It was only a vague sense, nothing truly heard or felt, just an inquietude seeping and slipping through him. Dominykas closed his eyes and tried to ignore it. They were safe. It was safe. Mantas was guarding tonight so all would be well. The heaviness of sleep drifted down on him like soft thick snow.

The casket was nothing special, just a simple wooden box that would fit in your hand, with a brass keyhole where it locked but Asulgar sensed something of power pulsing within the plain casket, something that would surely please his master. There’s just five callow boys, he thought, and a dozen of us Hajeen, warriors of Qadim Haraj, the Shadows of the Forest. Four of the boys were sleeping. This would be over swiftly.

He stood slowly. We will honour them, he thought, they have respected the trees, but no one crosses Qasim Haraj unnoticed, no one crosses without rights of passage and still lives, even in times of peace and the times of peace were slipping away swiftly. Already there were rumours of war in the far north in the lands of fire and ice.

As Asulgar rose into the thin moonlight, so did eleven other shadows, the rest of his troop. They waited for Asulgar’s hand to drop. There would be no voice commands tonight, not until the first screams at least. But Asulgar froze as he felt a sliver of cold steel pressed lightly against his neck.

“Drop your hand old man and you will be dead before you can blink,” came a whisper, and that was all, no other touch or hold, no glimpse of his opponent, no clue as to which way to turn to meet him or escape him.

Asulgar noticed the boy guarding the camp was still standing there at the edge of the clearing, perfectly still, much too perfectly still. He smiled in admiration. A clever trick from one so young, setting a lifeless dummy as camp guard while he watched from an unexpected place.

“You cannot take all of us like this boy,” whispered Asulgar.

“You think not? Look at your men again old man,” whispered the boy.

With astonishment, Asulgar glimpsed at he Shadows of the Forest and saw that only seven of the eleven others were still standing, waiting for his signal. The edge of the knife gently caressed his neck. There was no tremble in the hand that held it.

“Save us some time and yourselves some blood. We would not harm you unless pressed to it,” said the boy.

There was such quiet assurance in the boy’s voice. In a soft calm voice Asulgar spoke aloud.

“Hold, men of Qadim Haraj, we strike not tonight. Lay down your weapons.”

A hesitation and then movement in the clearing and the sound of knives and heavier things dropping to the ground. Mantas knew that now was the time of greatest danger. All of these men would have at least one hidden weapon and be preparing himself mentally to use it. There would be a sign first, a voice change most likely.

“Now tell them to move slowly to the centre of the clearing, to gather at the fire,” whispered Mantas.

The knife edge no longer gently stroked Asulgar’s neck. Asulgar readied himself, then spoke slowly.

“Men of Qadim Haraj, slowly, we move to the centre, to the fire…”

The first cautious movements began and Asulgar stepped forward too.

“Now!” Asulgar added. The Shadows of the Forest heard the subtle change in tone, the shift from calmness to something more ruffled. No one would have called the tone urgent but the utter placidity was lost. It was their sign. But all of the boys heard it too and knew its meaning and each knew his part.

Asulgar turned as swiftly as death but his knife sliced through empty air. Mantas was already five paces away closing on another shadow and the boy’s hunting spear was already in flight, a flicker of gold in the glimmer of the campfire, straight to the heart of the shadows. Asulgar dropped like a cloak suddenly cut loose from the shoulders.

The campfire flared up, blazing like sunlight, and in the harsh white light the shadows became men whirling to face their enemies and slashing, stabbing as they span. Four of them slew their own comrades, bound, blindfolded and gagged and pushed stumbling towards them by the boys who had captured them but a minute or so earlier. The others, like Asulgar, struck at void.

Save for Mantas, none of the boys was visible but their throwing knives flashed through the air. Four more Hajeen twisted in death agony and fell writhing to the ground; Mantas took his man, killing him cleanly with a single thrust of his knife. The last two Hajeen tried to flee but were caught in a second volley of throwing knives.

It had taken perhaps twenty heartbeats. Mantas smiled to himself. Not bad. We’ll be swifter next time.

He walked over to where he had noticed Dominykas sprawl on the ground just before the mayhem began. He was pretending to sleep. Mantas nudged him gently with the toe of his boot.

“My Lord! Dominykas! Prince Dominykas!”

The other boys gathered round. Dominykas rubbed his eyes sleepily, then opened them.

“Is it morning already Mantas?” he said

“Stop pulling my leg Domse! You captured one and killed two. That wasn’t sleep-walking!”

Domse grinned up at his friend.

“Well, you pulled my leg first! I thought my toe was being severed!” he said with a gentle laugh. Mantas laughed with him

“But it worked didn’t it? And it was you idea in the first place Domse!”

“The fishing twine round our toes for silent alarm, yes, but not the amputation! That was just your idea Mantas!”

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The Marshal of Ithrorn is sorely pressed

dragon_redThought I’d better post quick update about what I have been doing for the last month, or more to the point, what I have not been doing. I’m not quite sure where all the time has gone, but it has gone nonetheless.
On off I’ve been trying to get over a particular hurdle on the desktop version, and it’s just about swapping resolutions. I don’t want to just allow the player to swap through all the possible resolutions that their monitor can handle, so I have implemented a system of, Fullscreen, and then Small/Medium/Large window version. The main issue is changing the internals of the system after the initial selection. It’s not a big, nor complicated job, it’s just one of those meh pieces that I seem to be unable to keep myself interested in for more than a few moments. It kind of feels a little like the Android version. That became a toil because I wasn’t really that interested in it at first, that is, all the work required to support multiple resolutions. So the work just dragged.
I think this is also on the back of two solid months of coding on the project. It feels like I’m having a little post release wobble. Hopefully I can get my coding mojo back soon so that I can get the desktop version out of the way….

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Retro Gamer Sizzler

Retro GamerI’ve had a lot of good reviews for The Lords of Midnight so far. The support from the on-line press has been staggeringly good. But I felt very different when I was handed a copy of this months Retro Gamer. It includes a two page spread review, and the game is awarded 90%, A Retro Gamer Sizzler.
I think that part of it was that it’s the first printed review that I’m aware of. But I think the main thing is that it feels old school, a printed review with a Crash Smash style award. It feels right. Holding the magazine in my hands made me feel really good. It feels properly retro!

“The new touches are practical, the refreshed graphics look great on a retina screen, while the gameplay remains as engrossing as ever – a timeless classic wonderfully remastered for iOS and must have for adventure fans” – 90%, Retro Gamer Sizzler – Retro Gamer.

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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?

lom_map
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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