Timbles – Week 2

Last week I spent a good amount of time coding! I has my main framework in place last week so just need to start adding new things in. I found myself reading through the code of the original prototype and then coding these individual snippets up in the new system.

The original windows vb.net code
Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.15.57

New C/C++ code
Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.17.53

However, after wondering if there was anything online for converting vb.net to c++, I found something that would allow me to convert 100 lines of code at a time. So I quickly rattled through most of the code, and by Tuesday had all the original prototype code in place in the new system. I spent Tuesday, housekeeping, fixing up the stuff that wasn’t right.

By the end of it I had areas of code marked up as TODO: these were areas that I couldn’t incorporate fully yet, but I knew I would need to work through.
Screen Shot 2013-06-24 at 10.24.26

Timbles Design DocumentWhile working porting the old code, I realised that there was a whole area of the original prototype that I couldn’t remember how it worked, why certain actions were triggered, what certain variables were doing. So I started a design document to record this information as I worked it out again. This would give me something to work with as I turned the prototype into a real game.

It’s funny, that as the new prototype is now playable I find myself thinking about the actual game more. Which really is what it is all about. The original prototype was just that, a prototype. I now have a new prototype running under a new system, but it is still a prototype. It’s the base to build upon. The original prototype had a few game styles, but I decided to implement Frantic mode first. Frantic involves numbers appearing on the screen slowly, you must keep the screen clear. The more questions you get right, the shorter the delay between questions becomes. The game continues like this for a time and then stops adding new numbers allowing you to finish off clearing the screen, and then the next table is added and the process starts again.

While playing the Frantic mode, I found it too difficult! Yep, that’s me playing a game I wrote, that was only using the 2 times table. Is there any hope? 🙂 The issue is actually the size of the playing area. If the question comes up at the bottom of the screen and the answer is at the top of the screen, you can spend more time looking for the answer than you have, especially as the screen becomes fuller. Thinking about it, I found myself thinking about two solutions that would make it easier and more importantly more fun. Either the playing board is smaller and the imagery bigger, which is not a bad thing in itself, or the the questions and answers need to appear closer together. Of the two I happen to like to first solution, mainly because bigger graphics are always going to be preferable, especially on mobile devices. So if the game suggests that the board should be smaller and the graphics should be bigger, who am I to argue?

Thursday I added in sound code. My framework had no method for playing sound as I never used it in The Lords of Midnight. So I had to work my way through the Marmalade SDK to add sound support. Now I can start the process of implementing all the sound effects – a whole group of TODO’s ready to come off the list.

Friday was a right off, pretty much the same as the week before. Not sure what it is about Friday’s but I need to keep my eye on it. No working currently getting done on Fridays!

Video of me playing the new prototype!

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Timbles – Week 1

Can’t believe that a full week has passed by so quickly. It’s been really refreshing to be working at home full time again, even if my setup is less than optimum.

A few weeks ago, I pushed the button on a new study. We moved into this house almost 12 months ago, and the study, being much bigger than the old one, just wasn’t working. We have moved both mine and Victoria’s computer in to the room, and have two desks in there. But the setup and furniture just weren’t conducive to a good working practice. Strange that I was much more comfortable in my old, smaller, study. So we decided to have it kitted out properly, but this won’t happen for another two weeks. We had already moved the desks out into the living room, so that the study could be decorated. And in doing so, I killed my desk. Which means my iMac is sat on the top of a cupboard. I only realised midweek that the cupboard is empty, so I can open the doors, to give me some legroom!

On Monday I spent the morning getting rid of some company admin that was lying around. It’s amazing the difference clearing down all you email and stuff makes.

The afternoon was used creating mock up graphics and design for the screens that are needed for the game. Just to give me some focus and to make me think about the game minimally.

timbles_screen_flow

As the day went on and I finished some of the concept images, I added them to my flow chart.

timbles_screen_flow

I also finally named all the characters. Although some of the characters are going to need to change. I realised while trying to assign the characters to particular numbers, that the list is not very gender balanced. Hopefully the artist can make some adjustments before release.
Meet The Timblesarnold
Continue reading “Timbles – Week 1”

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The Timbles are coming…

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A few weeks ago I made a decision to allow my current contract with IBM to come to and end. They had offered me another six month extension but I decided not take it.

Toward the end of July, I am taking the family to Florida for three weeks, and I had already decided that I would take the whole of August off. It’s been a long time since I had a long vacation. I originally wanted to only work the winter months when I started contracting. 🙂

The issue was that there was only seven weeks between the end of my contract and going on holiday. IBM had agreed to factor in August as part of my contract, but ideally I only wanted to work up to the holiday. I could have taken a new contract to cover the next seven weeks, but short contracts have a habit of turning into longer contracts, and I really didn’t want to commit to anything new.

So, I made the decision to finish my contract and not look for a new one. This means being out of contract, and therefore not earning money, for the next 3 months!

I ended up thinking about a project that I started in 2008, Timbles. It was a prototype game that I wrote, to help my children with their Times Tables. Unfortunately many things got in the way of me developing it, not to mention the plan for it started getting more and more grandiose, and therefore harder and harder to complete.

Continue reading “The Timbles are coming…”

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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 especially the 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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