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.

Report Issue

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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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My friend, we must part now but I will be with you…

A couple of things kicked in at the end of last year that made me take the following course of action… The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge are no longer available to purchase. What this means is that the mobile versions are no longer available and the Desktop versions are available for free but unsupported.

The main driver for this is my inability to support the games. I have spoken at length about the issues caused when Marmalade pulled out of the SDK market, and my ongoing battle with bringing the games to a new platform. iOS was the first to cause me problems. LoM hasn’t worked correctly since iPhone8, however Apple don’t allow you to set which devices your games work on, so I had to add a piece of text to store description to say that it didn’t work. Up until late 2019 I would get the odd support email from people who had bought it or upgraded their phone and the game didn’t work. To the new purchasers I could easily point them at a refund, and the upgraders all I could do was offer my apologies. However iPhone8 is two years old and pretty much the base phone – which means that more and more people are upgrading and new purchases are most likely to be an incompatible phone. This situation became too much and so late last year I removed the iOS versions from sale.

Google are making more and more demands of the apps on their store. I have had to make a number of listing changes but as of yet not had any requirement to change the actual game, but it’s only a matter of time.

GoG had to remove the Mac versions from their store last year because of the 64bit support requirement of Catalina. At the same time I removed the Mac Desktop versions from the Apple App store.

My work on the replacement version has been very sporadic. I made great strides early last year while I was working away from home in Bristol, and even uploaded test versions for preview, however since taking a contract closer to home, I have had no time to do any work. I made a decision back in July that had I not released the replacement version by the Solstice, then I would stop all work on it. The reality is, that outside of my day to day work, I just don’t spend time developing any more. And the fact that the game sits their uncompleted essentially stops me from doing anything else.

The second driver is that I am making some changes to my working situation. There is no need for details here other than to say that I will be making my company ‘Chilli Hugger Software’ officially dormant for the next six to twelve months. The main issue from this is that I cannot have any income coming in to the company bank account, otherwise it’s not dormant. Therefore the games would at least need to be free.

With the combination of the two things it was just easier to remove the games from sale completely, which I did across the board late last year. Once all the games were removed from sale, I intended to put the latest versions of the Desktop games on the site for unsupported download. However when removing the games from sale through GoG.com, they requested that they be able to keep the game on their service as an unsupported free download – I didn’t have any issue with this as their site listing is really nice!

I hope that this is not an end game rather just an acceptance on my behalf that it was time for the game and me to take a break. I started working on Lords of Midnight DOS in 90/91 and I released the Windows version in ’99 the remake has been available since 2012. I am hopeful that I will come back to Midnight development in the foreseeable future – I just don’t know how or when. I thought it important to make it clear that for the foreseeable future, there isn’t going to be a updated version of the game.

The code remains on GitHub should anyone wish to get involved. The current version works on Windows and OSX desktop, but only in a window. Technically it works on iOS and Android, but the resolution support isn’t there. As always I would be happy to work in conjunction with others, as sometimes, just being a team can make the difference – and I still want to see The Citadel produced.

I must take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported me and the game over the years. It really is appreciated.

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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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Each dawn a new hope, a new beginning

I now have a test version of The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge for Windows and OSX. The idea is that these can be tested in order to iron out some of the obvious issues while I now concentrate on getting the iOS version built properly. This is now the most pressing task as I would really like to get the App Store version working on the iPhone X range.

There will be some missing features, mainly small gesture shortcuts etc, but I can add these features back in as they don’t detract from playing the game. For example there is currently no Zoom on the Detailed Map page, and Post/Guard on the think page is missing.

Should you wish to test the games here are the download links. But downloader beware these are not finished products. There is no installer and for OSX you will have to override any popups about being untrusted.

The Lords of Midnight – OSX

Doomdark’s Revenge – OSX

The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge – Windows

If you have any issues then please contact me through this form. I will look at a better testing and reporting process later. You can also check the GitHub issues page for known issues.

Doomdark’s Revenge
The Lords of Midnight

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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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The minstrel’s songs were old ballads that everyone knew well

I’ve been having a few conversations with Wayne Britcliffe about making his Midnight inspired music available. Two of these pieces of music I used on the game trailers. The Midnight Overture was used for The Lords of Midnight, and The Icemark was used for Doomdark’s Revenge.
When I say having a few conversations, I actually mean I spoke to him about it three years ago, and completely forgot to do anything about it. Now that I have finally remembered, I wanted to ask if there is an appetite for these pieces of music to be made available.
I’d appreciated it if you would take some time to fill the form in so that we can gauge interest on releasing the current music or potentially more music.

The Lords of Midnight Trailer
Doomdark’s Revenge Trailer

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How many times had he pictured in her mind its winding paths and gentle glades?

When Drew and I were thinking about the cover for the novel, we already had a picture in mind. However, as with most novels, the responsibility of the cover sits with the publisher. Very few authors have much say on what the final cover will look like, it is after all, generally a marketing decision.

In this case, things changed. Due to events outside the scope of this post, and generally not of real importance, Drew and I found ourselves having to think about the cover. What it would look like, and who would create it. The who was a no brainer – Jure my long time collaborator on all things Midnight was the perfect fit, and we had an image of his that both Drew and I loved and had used already in promoting the book. 

Original Inspiration – Jurij Rogelj

There were just two issues with the picture though. One, we had used it already, and two its focus is the wrong way around. If you fold the above image in half the Lord would be on the back and the Citadel on the front. It’s not a huge problem, but it doesn’t feel right.

I also had an image that I used in the game for the main menu. The image shows a group of Lords marching out from the Citadel, albeit this one juxtaposes new and old art work. And that was the idea I liked.

Main Menu

So I created a mockup by flipping the image and sticking on a cutout of the citadel and the lords. This I sent to Jure and asked for something like that.

Cover Mockup

Within a day or so, Jure sent me his draft sketch. Which Drew and I discussed. Needless to say we loved it. There was only one thing that we wanted to change and that was to incorporate ‘dawn’ a little more. We both liked the way that the sun pops up from behind the mountains and sprays across the lake on the original image.  So I asked Jure if he could adapt the sketch to take that into account.

First sketch without text
First sketch with text

Jure sent a new image, but he felt that the switch of the sun made the right side of the image, and therefore the front cover, too dark. We agreed with him and so asked him to create the final artwork based on his sketch. To be honest, I could have just gone with the sketch! 🙂

Second sketch with text

A couple of days later, I received the final artwork from Jure, and I think it’s safe to say that everyone involved with the production of the book were overwhelmed with how great it looked. It’s another one of Jure’s perfect Midnight inspired images.

Final Image
Final Image with text but no publisher logo or barcode

I now look forward to what Doomdark’s Revenge cover might look like. This time however, we might give Jure more time!

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Above, the towering clouds simply melted away and the bright stars gleamed in the sky once more.

After having a conversation with Drew a couple of weeks back about the future of the novels, I came to a stark realisation that I was now unable to build the special version of Doomdark’s Revenge that he would need to allow him to freely wander the Icemark as part of his research. This was something that I did for him with The Lords of Midnight and it helped greatly.

However, the problems that I have had with the building of the games because of the loss of the Marmalade SDK are still plaguing me. I was slowly coming to the acceptance that I would soon be removing the games from the Apple app store as each new release of iOS and new devices makes the game unobtainable. This will likely follow through to Android and Windows.

All this has been compounded that my general motivation has been through the floor for a number of years now.

The upshot of this post is that this week I had a self imposed break from work and I’ve been working on the game and have made great progress already. The main menu and surrounding screens are all working. The main view is mostly done bar a few niceties and features that I don’t yet need to give Drew the functionality he needs. Today I’m working on the Think screen, but the main missing screens are the Select and Map screen.

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There were many tales to be told

Drew has posted a blog about him and his future novels, but the TLDR; from a Midnight point of view is that we have agreed on more Midnight novels… If all goes to plan then he should be starting on Doomdark’s Revenge in the first half of 2019.

Doomdark’s Revenge will be an interesting story as it should be less confined than working on Lords of Midnight. At heart it has a female protagonist on a quest with a female antagonist, but after that, what is it really about…? At this stage we already have a few ideas that link all the stories together, we had to discuss them right at the start of this process, but for the actual main narrative, I for one look forward to finding out…

One side effect of this is that I now absolutely need to get the games up and running again. I’ve been finding it really hard to find the motivation to revisit them, but Drew needs a version of Revenge that he can walk around unhindered, and hopefully this can be the push I need to jolt me back into it.

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