“I slew score upon score of his foul creatures yet always there were more to take their place”

I can only apologise for the delays in this project, but can assure you that I more than anyone am eager to see this released.

The summer has proved much turmoil to my schedule. Not because I am too busy, but more because I am out of sorts with development in general. The house move came at a time when I was in full flow, and unfortunately, it had the dramatic affect of completely killing my momentum. And I am only very slowly getting that back.

Anyway, over the last few weeks I have pushed out 2 new versions for testing, and have already added some features read for next weeks drop. The first included changes to the Ice Crown quest. For those people who are very familiar with the original game, the quest mode is way too easy. So I wanted to spice it up a little. Ideally, I was going to move the location of the Ice Crown, or even have it randomly assigned to a location, so that you would have to do some questing to find its location, before you can perform the quest itself. However, I decided to leave that to later in game campaign updates. So all I did was add a few extra armies on the north western flank, the route that Morkin would usually take to perform the quest, and then add some additional logic for generating new armies that are interested in the Ice Crown, should it be lifted from its original location. Current testing suggests that the quest may be a little too hard! 🙂

Second update added some small features to the lord selection screen. The ability to instantly see which lords are at night, dawn, in battle, and to be able to filter on them.

Next weeks drop includes additional features for the map screen. Namely easily locating yourself on the map, scaling, and being able to select things from off the map. Hopefully, I will also add in support for iPhone5 for next week, because currently the wide-screen nature of it, is playing havoc with the game.

In other news, I have a Blackberry tablet dev kit winging its way to me, courtesy of RIM and Marmalade. Which in theory means that the game could launch on this device at the same time as iOS, something that I unfortunately cannot extend to Android.

And… still looking for artists… if you know anyone who might like to get involved, point them in my direction!

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Postcards from Midnight

Dawn approached stealthily, running swift fingers of light over the Lands of Midnight. Far to the east, it touched the grim Keep of Utarg with a brief golden haze: the Targ sentries yawned and looked around only to see if the next watch approached to relieve them. The dawn moved on. trembling over the Downs of Athoril, cloaking them in scarlet and saffron. The hills which had seemed hunched herds of vast menacing creatures in the absence of light, seemed now to draw apart and unfold.

Thought I’d post a quick update on the progress, or lack of, for Lords of Midnight on iOS as I am aware that I have not posted anything for a while.

Unfortunately, the truth is that developed has comes come crashing back to a slow trickle. This is due to me moving house at the end of June. I am somewhat surprised at how much the move has disrupted my development work.
Obviously, I had a few days prior to the move as I dismantled my study and then concentrated on all things moving. Prior to that I had had 7 straight weeks of shouting at people, chasing down people, to make sure the move happened, so by the evening I was more than happy to throw myself into development.
After the move it took a week or so to hey my study up and running, and generally be in a more organised situation round the house in general. But the momentum had been lost. Since that time I have not really spent anytime near the computer, where I have been able to develop.

It has really surprised me, and a little disappointed me, at the level of disruption that has occurred, but all I can do now is try and get myself back in the saddle, so to speak.

Testing has been good, and the current version is relatively stable. It is also now working on all iOS devices. The current changes that I am working on are amendments to the AI with regard the Ice Crown Quest. And then after that I will be working on tweaks for the Xajorkith Defence.

Hopefully I can get my self kick started and fully operational soon!

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We fought side-by-side on the Plains of Blood in the last war against Doomdark

Since the start of this project there has been an interesting issue with Doomdark’s armies reaching Blood too soon. I’d noticed it while playing, and the testers have brought it up more than a few times. I have checked the code, doubled checked the code, triple checked the code, and the fact is, there is absolutely no reason why Doomdark’s armies cannot reach Blood the first night.

There are two regiments that start the game at the keeps at the Gap of Valethor, lets call them regiments 100 and 101. These are both riders set to wander.

A wandering regiment has 6 turns in the night. Firstly it checks up to 3 locations away, if there is anything interesting between it and 3 locations, it will make 1 turn step toward it. If not, it will randomly pick a direction, and as long as it isn’t frozen wastes, make 1 turn step in that direction.

Movement costs depending on terrain and direction. eg: Cost is *2 turns for a warrior, and a mountain costs 4 turns. So a warrior walking out of a mountain will take 8 turns. You take the terrain cost from the terrain you are leaving not the one you are stepping into. So a warrior walking from plains into mountains will take 2 turns, leaving 4 turns. The next move will cost 8 turns, but the fact they only have 4 turns left, is not important, they take the move, but then have -ve turns left, and thus their processing ends.

The process will be repeated until the 6 turns have been exhausted.

Now regiment 100 starts at the keep directly north of Blood. If on its first move, it decides to move south, then that places it within 3 locations of Blood, which means the next turn will focus it on the stronghold, and therefore it will guaranty hitting Blood in the first night. A movement of southeast, or southwest, will reduce the chance that the regiment will hit Blood in the first night, but it is still a possibility.

So, the original AI for Lords of Midnight, makes it possible that Blood could be hit on the first night. But it hardly ever happened. On my version, it happened almost every time. And every time makes it impossible for you to recruit Lord Blood, let alone try and mount the Blood Defence.

I figured that the random number generator mustn’t be functioning, so tested that, double tested it, and then tested it again. It seemed to be giving a reasonable stream of numbers. Didn’t change the fact that the results I was getting were not desirable. So I considered placing a delay command on those regiments, just to slow them down.

Last night I was talking through the issue again with Mike and we decided to throw out the random routine, and use another one instead. He gave me the C code version of the one used in Midwinter. The results were the same! But then I noticed something. The random number functions generate a number between 0.0 and 1.0 And thus picking number between say 0 and 8 just involves multiplying 8 by the random number, and there was the problem. This number needed to be converted to an integer, a whole number, and it was being done with a cast to int. And this truncates, which means the number is ALWAYS rounded down. In theory it just means that in this instance, 8 would almost never be picked. And in the case of these wandering regiments, that just means losing Northwest. However, changing that one line of code in the random number generator, has put those wandering regiments, back on the right track.

Blood can still be hit, but it is hit much less often than before.

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It was time, thought Luxor…

“Luxor stood at the doorway of the hut. gazing into the white gloom of the forest. A thin scatter of ersh, the fine powder-snow of the new moon, was floating down onto the frozen ground. It was time, thought Luxor, it was time. An icicle of fear touched him and shivered through him. He drew his cloak tightly around himself, as though it would warm the chill in his heart, and turned from the forest.”

This week we started doing some early tests. A number of people have signed up for the test process and are putting the game through its paces. For that I am very grateful. At this stage, what this allows is for me to iron out some of the obvious bugs and make sure the game is actually feature complete as per the original. It also allows me to take feedback from players and get an idea of some of the directions that we should take the User Interface.
The iPad is a very different beast from the 8bit computers that Lords of Midnight was originally developed for. It is also a very different beast from the Windows machines that I developed WinLom and the Midnight Engine on. Therefore, it’s only when you start playing the game on the actual device that you get a feel for how the game should and should not play. I’m already starting to question some of the assumptions that I had made about the direction of the UI.

Over the next few weeks as the game starts to settle, I will be one by one addressing particular areas of the game. For example, I might spend a couple of weeks really drilling down on the in game map. So over that period all builds will be addressing new functionality or tweaking existing functionality in that part of the game. The the following couple of weeks, I will focus on a new area.

There are already so many great suggestions coming in that I’m not sure I will have the time to implement everything. But one thing is for sure, the more this project goes on, the more exiting I get about the pending release…

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Testing… Testing…

A little later than anticipated as I got a little side-tracked with buying a house… anyway, I’m ready to open up the iOS testing.

If you would like to take part in this very early stage of testing, iOS only, then you need to email me your details to test@thelordsofmidnight.com
Most importantly I need your device UDID – you can get this from iTunes. Click on your device so that it shows the summary page, and the click on the serial number. Alternatively you can get it off the device by using this app…

Email this to me with your name and details about your device. I will be rolling out iPad tests first, followed by iPhone4, and then possibly iPhone3.

I have now decided to use Test Flight to manage the test process. Please follow this link to register for Beta Access.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Lords of Midnight – Update

MorkinI finished some work on the character select screen last night, which means that that is now good to go. I also built a version that was uploaded to my iPad, which means we are back up and running on the device. This has been sent to our potential artists for them to look at. It also means I have a test to see if we can get the app out to other testers…

I now just have the load & save screen to be implemented before we are green light on functional testing. That is, test the game for gameplay issues. You should be able to fully play the game through on the iPad. This is prior to some new features and the relevant eye candy changes, not to mention final graphics. But it should allow me to check for device and porting issues.

Once the iPad test version goes out I will spend a little time making sure I have dealt with the iPhone4(s) and prior. This is mainly an asset issue and dealing with different resolutions.

After this I will likely make a Windows and OSX version available for testing. Again this is to just increase the scope of gameplay testing, and not necessarily to focus on what a desktop version would look like.

I will spend a little time on an Android tablet version and Playbook version. I will not be looking at Android handsets during this phase.

I am now hoping to be ready to start pushing test versions out from the end of this month.

We have a collective of artists potentially prepared to work on the game, which means we can start honing in on the visual requirements of the game. I can hopefully announce more about that in the coming weeks.

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Slow development week

I got a new iPad on release day, and I have to say it *is* lovely. The screen is just amazing. Can’t wait to fire LOM up on it, and also I can’t wait to see LOM running with some proper higher res graphics on it. ( BTW: Mike and I have had some discussions with a collective of artists who currently develop on iOS, and it is possible that they will be picking up the reins on the project – more of that in the future )

Anyway, tried to add the new iPad to my develop setup only to be told that I needed a development version of iOS 5.1. So, I did the usual and updated XCode. XCode has been supplied from the Mac App store for a couple of updates now, and Apple took this opportunity to finally change the installation. It used to install to a set of folders inside /Developer but now it installs as a single app inside /Applications.

The knock on affect was that it removed my /Developer folder, which removed the Marmalade SDK. No problems really, I needed to install the latest SDK anyway.
Only, after I did, nothing worked anymore! So not only was I able to target my new iPad, but I was unable to compile and test anything!

I could of course uninstall everything and go back a few versions, but I figured that I would post a support issue on the forums and hope for a quick resolution. Turns out that there was a simple fix, telling the system where the XCode tools now reside using xcode-select. Only it took me until last night to get it actually working.

The knock on affect – no LOM development since last Friday! 🙁

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Lords of Midnight – Lord Select

Screencast of Lords select screen concept demo. Running in the simulator.

This shows grouping.

** Work in progress **
** Placeholder Graphics **

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Lords of Midnight – Video Footage

Ok, sorry it’s taken so long… but here is a bit of video showing the app running on an actual device. Some caveats…

1. this was taken by my daughter using my iPhone, therefore the quality is poor. But then it wasn’t about showing you the graphics! 🙂 – I will try and do a proper one later. But it may just be that screencasts from the simulator will be better in the future.

2. none of this is final. Placeholder graphics, placeholder ui, placeholder placeholders…

3. this is the first time I have run in on the hardware for some time. I have been through a number of Marmalade SDK changes in that time. This was one of the reasons why it has taken so long – I couldn’t get the deploy to work!

Subsequently, there are a couple of issues. The main one that dragging the main view around doesn’t work, thus the default to click on the left and right side of the screen.

Also, the character selection screen was mid working. So all that you could see was dragging one lord around, with his grouping circle on!

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