Deprecated…

I was feeling a little depressed last night, thought I’d wallow in the understanding that I was going to end up, moving on…

I’m working away, (again), at the moment. So I left my hotel and went for a walk, then into town to get something to eat. Found a nice homely Italian restaurant, and settled on some pasta, and beer, and wine, and desert, and Limoncello, and coffee…

I got back to the hotel and decided to Kickstart the ZX Spectrum Next. I figured that I might have a play around with it when it comes out. Started to think about finishing off the OpenSourceing of the codebase that I started previsouly. I then decided that I needed to give Timbles one last chance. I’d been unable to build LoM and DDR as 64 bit, but hadn’t tried Timbles. It failed! BUT, it failed differently. Hmmm… interesting.

Marmalade uses a project file called an MKB. The cross platform nature of it means that you create the actual project from the MKB file. So if I’m developing on Mac under XCode, I don’t hand the XCode project to someone developing on Windows, just the files and the MKB. From the MKB file they will be able to create a Visual Studio project.

This would be the only thing that would affect the build process of the different Apps. I took a look through the MKB file and found a couple of odd entries, entries that looked like they pertained to processor. These entries were in the iOS section. Now, I didn’t think there was anything in the project file for processor selection, that happens as part of the build process, AND I didn’t recognise the config options, I certainly hadn’t put them there. Now, I’ve had this before when an older version of Marmalade has added some options, or the options were necessary at some stage, but the system has evolved – yet the project has not been cleaned up.

I deleted the options and rebuilt… Success!

Quickly loaded the app onto my device… fail!

Not disheartended though, the failure was a memory issue. A quick check of my memory configs and I noticed that I don’t have enough memory allocated against the new devices ( as decided by screen resolution ). I’m testing on an iPhone7. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

It got further though… This time it is complaining that the TME databse is invalid. The MagicNo that I used to identify the database and to check endianness, is wrong. I figure that this is a 64 bit issue… I check my definitions of u32 ( being an unsigned 32 bit ) and the definition is unsigned long. Longs change to 64 bit, so I’m reading 8 bytes for the MagicNo and not 4 bytes, I should have used int. I check all the type definitions, check all the places that I’m using longs in the project. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

This time no error message, just crash straight out. So I add more logging and identify the image cache sorting routine. It’s using the c++ qsort function to sort a series of pointers to objects… in the code I noticed some funky casting going on, which happens to be using *(u32*) – that should be using longs. Change, compile, deploy… fail!

Hmmm… more tracing and I find another sort routine! So I change that and then search the code for any code that is doing a similar thing. Change, compile, deploy… success!

A quick play through and everything looks ok!

I upload to app store and the upload fails. It doesn’t like the binary. The reaon – it’s because the payload has the iTunesArtwork embedded in it, and Apple stopped doing that a while ago. Change, deploy, upload… success!

Download the app and everything is ok. So I push a version to external testing. This requires Apple to review and clear it. At 1:45 the app is cleared. I’m now ready to externally test. I really need to test against all the new devices that have been released by Apple over the last few years. Resolution will be the issue…

But… we’re on. This means that I can now push a new version of LoM and DDR out and buy myself a lot more time to transition to a new system.

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Becoming obsolete…

A few months ago I recieved an email from Marmalade detailing their intention to withdraw from the SDK market. Marmalade is the system I used to develop The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge in order to facilitate the cross platform nature of it. Using Marmalade gave me the ability to target iOS, OSX, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, Kindle, and Blackberry.

A month or so later, Marmalade confirmed that the SDK had been sold to another company, and that further support may become available from them.

That process has now taken place. I still have a month of my Marmalade licence left, and they have not turned off the Licence server to I can still build and continue to work. However no future support will come from them. The new company are offering a 12 month bridging licence at $100 more than my previous licence fees, but this also comes with no support. I’m also not convinced that they intend to be around for the long term. The main reason they appeared to by the Marmalade system was for internal development.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Google. Doomdark’s Revenge was now in breach of one of their policies and needed to be resubmitted or removed from the store. A quick recompile and the problem was solved.

Lats week I received an email from Apple. The Lords of Midnight was due to be removed from the store in 30 days. This is due to them culling old apps that were not being updated and/or were not 64 bit. In theory, a recompile would solved the problem, and as I had slowly added some new functionality, this should gain me a stayt of execution for possibly another 5 years.

The problem is, I can no longer build the App for iOS. I just cannot get the system to consitently build the app in 64bit mode.

So, unless I can resolve this issue within the next couple of weeks, it will mean that The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge will be dropping out of the stores – as no doubt, Google will soon require 64bit support. And as much as I would like to, it makes no sense for me to use time to port the games to another system in order to get them released. I also couldn’t do it in the timeframe that would stop the app leaving the store.

For me, worse than this is the affect it has on ill fated education game Timbles. This is something that I have slowly been working in for longer than I can remember. My own ineptness has stopped be getting the final push to get the game released. I’ve found myself tinkering with it to help with things like the UI and game flow, but have never fully let it go… well, without 64 bit support, it won’t see the light of day.

Again, it just makes no sense for me to spend time porting it to another system…

And with that, I feel that I am once more, stepping away from game development. I’m not sure my heart is in it. I’m not sure my heart has been in it for a long time now, and I just don’t have it within myself to do what is required to bring these three titles back from the bring.

Obsolete…

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The Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge

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Are we there yet…?

lordsofmidnight_avatarI should be working, but today has been a nice day, and I’ve been a little distracted. I’m at the end of week 5 for Timbles, and on the whole, everything is coming along fine with that.

However, I can’t help myself but think about the last 7 months. During that time I have managed to release The Lords of Midnight for iOS ( iPad, iPhone, iPod touch ), Android, Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry Z10, Mac OSX, Microsoft Windows, and Kindle Fire. I find it odd, that I often berate myself for not having brought all the versions to market as quickly as I had intended, however I need to remind myself that there is only me for the majority of the time, and support from Jure for the graphics, and I am only working on it part time.

With the release today of the Windows version, I feel close to wrapping up this little chapter that started… well it’s hard to say when it started. 30 years ago with the release of the original game, 24 years ago with my work on the DOS version, 14 years ago with my Windows version, 5 years ago with the opening of the Apple App Store and approaching Mike about releasing it for iOS, 2 Years ago when Mike finally said yes, or 9 months ago upon his death.

On Monday I intend to try and build a beta Windows 8 Phone version that will allow me to get a Windows 8 Phone through a Microsoft/Marmalade promo programme. This is how I approached the Blackberry versions. With full acceptance from Microsoft after that, the Windows 8 Phone version should be available in their store later this year. Not before the end of August I suspect, mainly because I have a 3 week holiday coming up. Once that is done, I don’t think I will be looking at any other platforms, although I must admit, I would love to see it on a console in some fashion…

There is still a lot I would like to do with LoM, but that will have to wait. I intend to push out a couple of updates this year, there are some new features for the mobile versions, and no doubt some bugs in the desktop versions. But my main focus will be Doomdark’s Revenge now. Only after that is released can I really take stock of the games and come up with some major grand plan. I would like to release one major update every year, and I do have the ideas that would fit into that category.

The last seven months have been more hectic than I imagined, the next seven months I suspect will be much more so. I must remember to take more time to think…

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The Lords of Midwinter

I’m currently working on the desktop version of Lords of Midnight and will be moving on to Doomdark’s Revenge soon, but in the meantime there are a few things that I have been thinking about for the future.

There are two projects that I would like to get off the ground.

The first is obvious, I would like to develop “The Lords of Midnight: 30th Anniversary Edition”. Yep, that’s right, 2014 is 30 years since The Lords of Midnight was released. For an anniversary edition I would like to bring in 3d rendering. Not a full freeform 3d world, just render the landscape from 3d models and textures. Part of the reason for this would be to up the quality and style of the imagery, but currently using 2d images has a massive graphic overhead. For LoM, the textures to support 3 resolution sets, for the terrain images take up 25mb compressed and 150mb uncompressed. The other area I would like to work on is the AI and game mechanic. Part of me wants to leave he current LoM pretty much as it is, a few tweaks here and there, but ultimately, not to tinker to far. To make bigger changes, I think I would rather have it in another product.

midwinter_skiingmidwinter_01

The second project is one that I’ve been contacted about a number of times since releasing LoM, and that is Midwinter. Midwinter was for Mike Singleton, to 16bit what Lords of Midnight was to 8bit. I think Midwinter is ripe for a full on remake and it’s one that Mike was considering for some time.

So, I’ve had a few conversations, and here is where I’m at.

I’ve spoken with Mike’s family and had the ‘all clear’ there. I’ve also spoken with Dave Gautrey who was the Maelstrom developer on the original ST and AMIGA version. He is interested in getting involved as a consultant to the project. I’ve also had early conversations with someone who could help drive the project forward, and help with the hoops required for trying to raise funding.

Firstly I need to assemble a team. As I’m not directly going to be working on this I’m going to need programmers. I’m going to need artists, 3d modeller, Texture, Concept. And I’m going to need a designer.

The idea is to start working on this project in the background to try and bring together the idea of what we want to do with the game. This is going to be large scale development, and the initial core team will be on the project for a least 12 months and anywhere up to 2 years. That’s a budget of at least 300k. Now, unless I’m very lucky and someone out there has a spare 300k or so that they want to throw my way, getting a budget together isn’t going to be easy, nor quick. So I need to find some people who would be interested in joining the team long term, but in the short term would join the team, like the rest of us, as part timers. During the first few months, and without deadlines, the focus will be to define the game; drill down and expand upon the original design, put together concept art, and get a working visual engine running. As we go through these stages we will get a good idea of what the game is going to be, what assets we need to create, how long it’s going to take, what the team size needs to become, and therefore what our funding requirements are going to be, and how we are going to raise that cash!

(If you are interested in getting involved, give me a shout… )

Now, I’d really love to be able to do both projects especially the best ceramic pans one … but then I think I’m looking at closer to 1m to fund two teams… anyone got a spare 1m that they’d like to use for funding reboots of the two best Mike Singleton games and two fantastic franchises… ?

EDIT: I thought I’d better clarify. The Project Midwinter is higher priority than LoM:30, if I could do both then I would, but if I can only do one, then it will be Midwinter. I’m putting the finishing touches to The Lords of Midnight desktop version ( Windows/Mac ) then I will start on Doomdark’s Revenge for the same platforms as LoM and in the same style. In the meantime, the planning for Midwinter is underway…

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