Project Midwinter – Artists

The only missing piece of Project Midwinter right now is artists. Long term I will be looking for artists to cover all the disciplines, but right now I need Texture Artist, Modeller/Animator, and Concept art. All the better if you can fill all those roles!

What I’m after is someone who can join the team part time while we get this project moving, and then be ready to go full time as soon as the funding starts. Or maybe you are so *pumped* at the idea of a Midwinter remake, that you want to volunteer your expertise just to help us get this off the ground.

Do you know what Captain John Stark should look like?

Give me a shout…

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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… 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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Dollar Babies – for games

I have been thinking about this for a while, so thought I should probably put it out there for the record. And the Games Britannia games design competition reminded me of it.

Anyway, Stephen King runs this thing called Dollar Babies. The idea being that a student film maker can option one of his short stories for $1. There’s is obviously much more to it than that, and a full explanation can be found on Wiki.

The thing I was thinking about was, what if games publishers trawled through their back catalogues and IP and made a select few of them available to a central body. Students and Indie developers could then buy an exclusive option, for a time limited window, to develop a title based on that IP.

There would be rules in place to protect everyone of course. For example, maybe the game can’t be a straight remake of the original, or it can’t be used for an FPS, or it must have a particular age rating…

The option period may mean that the developer must supply a demo or design by the end of the window that the publisher can then sign off. At this break point the agreement can be terminated, and the IP returned to the pool, or the developer is granted rights to continue with the product. The final game cannot be released without sign off, and any commercial ventures must tip up a royalty to the publisher or the central body.

I know there are lots of details that would need to be ironed out. It’s never quite as simple as it appears in one’s head. But as a concept I think it could be a great way for students and Indie developers to have a chance to mine a wealth of old Intellectual Property that is currently doing nothing at all. Imagine then, if other creatives put some of their IP in. For example, an author could add one of their old novels or short stories to the pool. Or even a film studio could add a film or film character.

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Lords of Midnight – iOS

When the iPhone SDK first came out, I signed up as a developer, downloaded the SDK and started playing around. One of the first projects I started was to port TME to the iPhone. I played around for a while, started converting from c++ to objective-c, and then decided that as it would never be an official project then I should use my time more wisely and work on something else – which I never really did.

I briefly discussed the concept of an IOS port for Lords of Midnight with Mike Singleton, but we never really got anywhere.

I actually felt passionately that Lords of Midnight could be developed on modern technology and reach out to a whole new market. The new demand in casual games on portable devices, means that now is its time. And the platform that Apple have developed has allowed games that are about their gameplay to get out to a large non gamer centric audience. I believe that a lot of people would love to get lost within the world of midnight. The gameplay is simple but effective, and as engrossing as the game is, it’s a good pickup and putdown game. Perfect for the portable game player.

When Mike contacted me four weeks ago to discuss the concept of bringing Lords of Midnight to iOS, it pretty obvious that I was excited, but I was also suddenly very nervous. It was now time to put up or shut up. It’s time to actually do it.

Lords of Midnight is a much loved game. It was pretty revolutionary in its time. It’s an amazingly atmospheric experience. And I know a lot of people who would lynch me if I helped to produce another Citadel! My number one concern for this project is – to not f*** it up! My number one item at the top of the design document is – to not f*** it up!

So with that in mind, what are we going to do?

Continue reading

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Lords of Midnight – 2011

In 1984, maybe 1985, my brother Darren, introduced me to a game on his zx spectrum – Lords of Midnight. It’s a wargame/adventure game which was revolutionary in its time. Written by Mike Singleton. You can read much about the history of the game on its wiki page.

In about 1990 I was playing around with a new Spectrum+3 that I had bought and decided to reverse engineer Lords of Midnight. I just wanted to know how it worked.

After performing the reverse engineering, I ported the game to the PC. This indirectly led me to getting a job in the games industry when another industry legend Jon Ritman saw the project and suggested I should think about joining the games industry, and thus everything else that has followed in my career over the last 20 years.

My port was released along side Mike’s official 3rd part of the game. Lords of Midnight:The Citadel in 1995.

In 1999 I started work on an updated version of Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge. A project that was never finished and over the years has fallen by the wayside. But much good came out of it.

My website ICEMARK.com ( Icemark being the land that Doomdark’s Revenge was set in ) was setup and covers much Lords of Midnight material. It has become the unofficial central site for midnight related material.

My reverse engineering of Lords of Midnight and a number of other spectrum titles that followed, led to me performing some work for a New York law firm on 3d Patent Case 4,734,690

In 2004 I wrote a 10 page article about Lords of Midnight in which I also interview Mike Singleton. It was my first piece of published work. Which in turn led to a number subsequent articles.

I host a website for the game Midnight/MU developed originally Jean-Yves Rouffiac, a multi-user take on the Midnight games, and have been involved in the development in some small way over the years.

Needless to say, that Lords of Midnight has played a major part of my life for the last 27 years.

So, taking all the above into account, you can imagine my jubilation, when Mike emailed me at the end of January to discuss the concept of us collaborating on a Lords of Midnight project….

… further details of this new project to follow…

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