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…

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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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His war-cry rang out across the still dawn

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This weekend should see the submission of Version 1.06 of The Lords of Midnight. It has a number of fixes and a couple of new features.It will likely be the last update, aside from a major bug fix, for the next month or so. Once reason for this is that I think I have exhausted a number of minor additions that I wanted to include. Over the month since the initial release, I have added about 20 new features, tweaked a number of features, and obviously had a number of fixes. I think somewhere in the region of 60 work items have gone into the last month.

Most of the bug fixes have not been major, but they do polish the game. Luckily, most of the changes should not had too much affect on players, unless you are particularly familiar with the workings of the original. I’m pretty happy now that the next release will bring the game as close to the original game play as I can get. I have a couple of more tests to do on a couple of possible problems with the AI over the next few days – just to ascertain if they are problems or not. But my initial gut feeling says they are not, but the proof is in the pudding.

Some of the feature changes again give the game more polish, but also help move toward Doomdark’s Revenge. So they have been worth the extra effort.

The main reason for not pushing out any more changes is that I need to move forward. I need to spend the next month getting the Desktop version complete. To be honest there isn’t much to do, but some of it is fiddly work. The identified changes are currently:-

1. Mouse Pointer – There needs to be one along with the context of what it is doing.
2. Resolution selector – The user needs to be able to choose which resolution to run in.
3. Full screen – The user needs to be able to toggle running full screen or in a window.
4. Graphics – The underlying assets need streamlining.

Of the above, option 4 is of interest, because I am hoping that this will help reduce the size of the assets required for the mobile version, and make it easier to include graphic sets in later releases.

After that, I can’t honestly see much that must be changed to make the desktop version. I play it all the time on my desktop. The above changes just tidy it up.

Once the desktop version is complete and shipped, I can then move on to Doomdark’s Revenge.

Over the months that I develop Revenge, I will trickle more features into LoM. But I will only start that once I break that back of the initial development. I would like to release a version by the middle of the year that includes some difficulty level changes and new scenarios. I would be nice for you to be able to replay the game a number of ways with different challenges.

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Version 1.05 and game play changes

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With the release of version 1.05, there are a number of game play changes that will have a major affect on the outcome of the game, so I wanted to discuss them in a little detail.

If you have already completed the game, then firstly, well done, but secondly, you might want to play the game through again to see how the changes affect the outcome.

Android users can start playing this version now, Amazon, iOS and Blackberry will need to wait until next weekend when they make it out of review.

Lords are now displaced correctly after losing a battle.

This is really about escaping. When a lord finally loses a battle and all his armies have been destroyed, if he is still alive he should have been displaced randomly to an adjoining location. This is important because that movement is free. Which means when you decide to retreat you have a one location head start from the enemy.

The affect of the Ice Fear on courage – not reducing it correctly.

Low courage characters like Lord Lothoril were gaining a massive courage boost when they were in the same location as Morkin. It means that they would have had a better outcome in battle or even the ability to attack when they shouldn’t have been able to so. This was caused by a negative courage being turned into positve.

Armies no longer recovery too quickly

Armies were regenerating their energy too quickly. Which means movement around the map without the need to rest, could be over a longer period, and more importantly, the armies were not suffering so much during long battles. The knock on affect during a battle would be that your armies would fair much better than they should have.

Doomdark’s armies no longer ignore lords on plains in front of their very eyes

There is code in the original Lords of Midnight that is used to look up to 3 locations in front for something of importance. This is just looking for something that is not plains. It is used when you are looking across plains to a location, so even though that keep in the distance is not directly in front of you, your view will be described as look toward the keep. This code is also used in the decision making process for the Doomguard wandering around the map. However, the bit I missed is that the original code didn’t actually use this function to check up to 3 locations in front; it was only using it to work out the location directly in front for the direction looking. So the Doomguard would scan a full 360 around themselves, and had they found a lord in one of those locations they would move into it. However, my implementation had two problems, the Doomguard would look a full 360 around themselves, and if they found a none plain terrain up to 3 locations away, they would start to move in that direction. Not only that, they would get there in one move. It means they could be distracted easily, and move too quickly.

Alteration to what you are allowed to do when Doomguard are at the same location

The options available to you when at the same location as the Doomguard have been brought in-line with the original. I made a mistake when interpreting these. Importantly, it means you can now exploit a quirk of the original which means you can attack the Doomguard at night with a single lone lord, and then immediately hide. This means that you affectively can get a free move at the end of the day. I will address this as a “quirk/bug” in a later version in that I will remove it as a difficulty option.

Now allowed to fight critters at night, as long as no Doomguard there

You should have been able to fight critters even though it is night. This is important just in case you get attacked during the night. Had you not killed the critters while you had an army could cause you a problem if you lose your army overnight.

Daytime game completion scenarios being triggered by Ice Crown destruction

This is purely an issue of the Ice Crown bring destroyed when Morkin is at the same location as one of the characters that can destroy it. The completion was being triggered on returning from the THINK screen. All this means is that it would have been difficult to achieve a complete victory without keeping Morkin away from those characters. And even then you would have to have brought the characters together and press NIGHT without having pressed THINK.

Removed left over AI difficulty code that would have Doomdark generating new armies that track down Morkin, Luxor, or head to Xajorkith

This was changed in the previous version. This was a problem that made the game a little more difficult because new armies were being re-generated when old armies were destroyed and these armies would often go after Luxor or Morkin. A version of this will be added back under difficulty levels at a later date.

 

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A Map Editor

lom_mapLooking for a coder who fancies writing a Map / Campaign /Scenario Editor for Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge… and anything else that might follow.

I’m afraid it’s not a paid gig, nothing more than a bit of respect and possibly some penny whistles and moon pie…

It can be Mac OSX only or preferably cross platform. It can’t be windows only.

If you are interested, give me a shout.

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The Compass

Something I was working on tonight…

Work in progress on a new feature in Lords of Midnight. Hold the screen for a second and the compass pops up, then slide left or right to look around and let go.
This is the initial version, I may later release it with full animation, either revolve to the new direction or maybe even revolve as you move your finger. It basically gives you access to the full 360 without multiple presses and drags.

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To pay or not to pay….

After uploading an update to the Android store at 1am last night, and then waking at 7am to see a tweet showing the location of the cracked version of said upload. It made me think about the issue of piracy.

Now I don’t think that £2.99 is too much to ask for an app, but some do. I’ve seen many comments since the release of the iOS version stating the the price was steep. I understand that nowadays some people might find it a high price to punt on a game, despite the large number of high rating reviews for the game. And I do need to find a way to allow people to experience the game for the first time. Now I don’t like the idea of Ad backed games, it’s not really a direction I want to follow. I also don’t want to reduce the price of the game. I think £2.99 is more than fair and reasonable, despite the prices of Apps in general.

I was thinking about doing a price promotion in Feb, around Mike’s birthday. But I was also thinking about releasing a Lite version. However, part of me is thinking about releasing a Free version.

The idea being, Free version and Paid version. Free version just has a nag screen pointing at the Paid version, and the free version will not get updates and new features. I’m kind of thinking almost like an honesty box version. You like it you buy it. But if you don’t buy it you miss out on any new features I add in the future. I’m sure others have tried this to varying success. But if anyone can cite some examples, that would be great.

I did wonder a little about should I remove a few items from the original free version, like. Remove a couple of the ways of destroying the ice-crown, or remove the quest entirely. Remove the grouping functionality. Remove the last undo. Remove the multiple stories. Should I remove more from a Lite version? Restrict the number of game days you can play it?

Anyway, thoughts…

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