Lords of Midnight – iOS

Thought I’d post an update for LOM. I realise that it’s been over 2 months since I last had anything to say on the subject.

Firstly, it’s been a busy few months for both Mike and myself. Mine work related and Mike’s more personal. That combined with a little bit of sidetracking on Eye of the Moon.

Two of the issues with this project is time and getting it right. Neither of us are working on project full time and it’s very easy to lose a week before you know it, just because you were overly tired or didn’t feel like sitting in front of a computer. I’m sure that winter is the best time to do development and not in the summer.

The getting it right aspect is about thinking about the project more than actually doing it. Over the last 2 months I’ve been going round in circles about the graphics of the game. I’ve been thinking about a number of different approaches that we have considered for the look and feel, and the way the user interface will work.

The original LOM had a very distinctive look and feel. Simple, but very affective. Somehow with the very powerful modern technology, we have to achieve the same result. I sat down recently and gave some thoughts to the way LOM was going to look, and was not happy. I’ve had firm ideas about the direction of the graphics for a long time. Mike brought new ideas to the party when we start discussing the new game. And in general we had a consensus about the way forward. But then I started to doubt… I kept thinking about Jaws. Jaws works because the brilliant robotic sharks that Spielberg was going to show off all over the place, didn’t work. In the end he had to work around them, utilising them sparingly. The end result, much more suspense to the film.

For LOM, the shark was the graphics. Mike wrung an awful lot from the spectrum, but in the end, the setting of the story was defined by the minimalist graphics – a world full of white snow! So, as you start to up the quality of the graphics you are moving further into working shark territory. LOM was stylistic and I feel it has to remain so. Simple and stylistic.

I discussed this with a few people and then went back to Mike in order to tell him that I thought we were the wrong people to be thinking about the graphics. And that if we continued down the path we were following, I felt we were going to make a mistake. Mike agreed.

So, last week I had a meeting with an artist. Fergus McNeil ( some of you may remember his 8 bit days with Delta4 ) and asked him to take over artistic control of the project. I’ll keep you posted with anything I can on the visuals.

In the mean time. Tonight I am back at the computer – coding!

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Eye of the Moon

I had a great day today. Work has been slow on iLom – basically because April had too many bank holidays, and with one thing or another, all these long weekends have messed my month up. I should be getting back to work in earnest in the next few days.

However, Mike and I recently found ourselves talking about that project that one does not speak about… Eye of the Moon. For those of you reading this because you are interested in all things Midnight, then you know exactly what I am talking about. For those of you who have no interest at all in Midnight, lets just say that EotM is the legendary missing sequel to all the other Midnight games.

Mike explained that he’d been thinking about EotM a lot lately. I guess it’s only natural as we stir up things with iLOM and go over old ground discussing other things Midnight. He said that he’d go a few things in his head for the story. Then today he surprised me with a design document for the game, complete with story overview.

It’s a ten page document, and very detailed. I like it – I like it a lot. It now changes the focus of the development of LOM. I think we are going to push out LOM and then jump straight to EotM, with DDR and CITADEL following as additions to the canon.

I’ll be working with Mike on the concept and fleshing the details out as we develop LOM. But I can already tell from the amount of info that Mike has generated in the last few days since we started talking EotM, that he is mentally very committed to this.

I can’t share much right now, however to snippets that give nothing away, that are of interested…

Those of you who remember EotM law; EotM was going to take place in the Bloodmarch and have 12 regions. Bloodmarch and these regions were eventually used in Citadel. That base concept remains, but those lands are now west of Midnight…. one of those is currently called “VARANGOR” another is “ISHERIL”

Mike Singleton wrote:
The map. I have deliberately broken up the overall map into Midnight-sized chunks. As much as anything this is to serve as a reminder to myself that each chunk should be as detailed and varied and hand-crafted as the original Midnight map itself. If this is not done, bigger quickly becomes worse and monotonous rather than better.

Mike Singleton wrote:
The idea is to make this last game of the series a truly grand finale, with new landscape and gameplay features, new enemies and new friends, but also the potential of Midnight being assaulted by all its old enemies too. And at the same time the land of Midnight itself returns firmly to the gameplay, which is fitting for the end of the saga, not to mention satisfying for old fans.

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Lords of Midnight – iOS – Update

Just thought I’d post a quick update.

I’ve now been working on this project for a tad over 2 months. Mike contacted me tail end of January, and we started work beginning of Feb.

However, I only work midweek evenings on the project, and then only for 4 evenings. Actually sometimes it’s less because some nights I’m just knackered from burning the candle at both ends and in the middle too. I get anywhere between 3 and 6 hours of coding time. Recently I’ve spent less time than I would like due to having a persistent neck problem that is affecting me sitting in front of the computer – and as I do that all day, it gets hard to do it in the evening too.

Anyway, I’ve nearly finished getting the game fully functional. I spent some time doing underlying UI code recently. We decided against using AirplaySDK’s UI stuff, just because it’s too much baggage. But now that my UI stuff is done, knocking stuff together is pretty quick.

Currently everything is still very simple. I have resisted the urge to throw everything that was in winLOM and winDDR into the mix. The objective is to get the game functional and then start the work of turning it into what we actually want – a small piece at a time. We know how the current overall game works. So once it is working, we can then identify what we want to change, write a design document, and then change it once step at a time.

Tonight I will be putting the character select screen in. Currently you can choose the 4 main characters from the main view, and you can recruit everyone else – you just can’t select everyone. After that I just need to put in the night screen and I’m done.

At that stage I will start testing on different devices. I would like to be able to get a number of people across the following formats – iPhone 3Gs, iPhone4, iPad1, iPad2, Windows, Mac, Linux, Android. If you are interested then keep an eye on the blog, I will post a call for help soon.

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Getting up and running…

It seems a little strange, that after all this time, something might just finally become of this project! đŸ™‚

The first stage was to get the Midnight Engine up and running under iOS. Well I tried that about 3 years ago without any major success. However, it’s a little more important now. So I downloaded the Airplay SDK which Mike and I had decided to evaluate, and started porting the engine.

It was a pain! Differences in compilers, changes in the language, blah blah blah… it took a couple of days of monotonous work before I had a project that loaded the TME data in. While I was working on that, Mike was playing around with some graphic ideas that we had talked about implementing – mainly to do with lighting.

Continue reading “Getting up and running…”

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Lords of Midnight Development

Back in 1999 I started work on the Midnight Engine. The scope of the project was to develop an engine that could play Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge and help create other Midnight inspired projects.

The development was split into five separate parts.

1. The backend, the actual engine.
This is a self contained library that loads a Midnight database and allows the game to be played. It has no concept of visuals or platform. It works by exposing an interface to anyone that should choose to use it, and is extended using scenarios. The scenarios allow for the code to be modified in game specific situations.

The original scope of the backend was to take both Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge and amalgamate them into one entity. I removed all hard coded logic and made everything data driven. I expanded every compressed bit of data and removed any restrictions on size that existed. I then added a number of data items that I believed future games would likely exploit.

2. The Lords of Midnight Scenario
3. The Doomdark’s Revenge Scenario
Although both of these were developed as separate scenarios, most of the differences were in the data, ie: characters, map, etc.. and features from the engine that were turned off and on.

4. The Lords of Midnight Frontend – WinLom99
5. Doomdark’s Revenge Frontend

The frontend’s where the graphical aspect of the games. They were the user interface that drove the Midnight Engine for the specific scenario. WinLom99 was pretty straight forward. Doomdark’s Revenge however was where the graphics started to take on a whole new dimension.

The reason that I mention all this is because, everything I have done before, becomes the start of Lords of Midnight 2011.

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