The Lords of Midnight are coming…


The game has now been submitted to Apple, I can only wait for their reviewing process to take place. As long as everything is ok, it will be in the App Store on the Winter Solstice, Dec 21st.
It’s been a funny few months, the last six weeks being particularly hectic. I finally played the game through on Friday and Saturday, as I did the last minute checks before the submission. It’s probably the first time I have played the game properly for a long time. I have to thank all the testers who made sure that I didn’t need to!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it! Even if I do say so myself, “It ‘aint half bad”. I am really really happy with it. I know it’s not the game that Mike and I originally set out to release, but I am pretty sure that Mike would be happy with the decision that I made, and the actual result.

The website is now live at www.thelordsofmidnight.com

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The Solstice is nearly upon us…

The Solstice is nearly upon us and Doomdark is already waking from his slumber. We must reach the Tower of the Moon by tomorrow, yet our ride promises to be long and hazardous.

The last few days have seen many issues knocked off the list for Lords of Midnight, two of them were show stoppers! Right now my actual TODO: list has 3 items on it. That said, every night, before I start working, I run through the game and add all the issues that crop up to my list; it seldom stays short for long… That said, I almost have a product that I am prepared to ship, even if not 100% happy with it. But then, when are we ever 100% happy with something.

Tonight I will be finishing off the tutorial system in the game. It’s not ideal and it’s a little wordy, and to be honest at this moment in time it is so in your face that I’m tempted to remove it. But knocking off the rough edges tonight should do the trick. After that I need to finish the manual, which will be online. And that should be it.

I will make another few passes through the game trying to snag issues that annoy me more than anything else. I suspect most of those issues to be cosmetic ones that drop out of resolution changes, or physical ones raised because of small hit zones on phones. I am the least happy with 480×320, the iPhone 3gs resolution. But hopefully I can get it more acceptable over the next few days.

It’s been a long six weeks since I made the decision to continue with the project in its current form. I’m not sure how much sleep I’ve had. They have been longs days that have often finished at 2am, with the following day still starting early. Then straight from office after an hour drive and into the study to start the process again. But all that said, I am really happy with how it has come together, it looks great. Sure there are loads of things that I would change. But every-time that I write a change on a list, I have asked myself, “how much does this really matter to the person playing this version of the game? And that has been the thing I have had to keep sight of, it’s this version of the game, and this version of the game needs to ship. There are a number of things I can tweak, but I can tweak them later.

So, currently, I plan to submit the iOS version to Apple on Friday, with a scheduled release date of The Winter Solstice, That gives me nearly three weeks for it to bounce in and out of the Apple submission process if necessary.

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“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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