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 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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A moment to reflect…

Well, this will be the first personal post on this site for a while…

I’ve been so consumed with Lords of Midnight, that most other things have taken a back seat. Now that I have moved LoM to its own blog, I thought I’d post something personal here, and take a moment to reflect.

Last New Year’s Eve, I set myself two goals. I don’t normally make resolutions, but I did last year. The first became known as ‘Piss or get off the pot’. This was directed at Lords of Midnight. I made the decision that I had to finish the game, or at least have made enough progress on it by the end of the year, to warrant continuing. If I hadn’t, I had to step away from the project for good.

So firstly then, I shall reflect on LoM, and I shall do it backwards…

The last two weeks have been manic. I had an intended release scheduled for the 21st Dec 2012 which didn’t quite go to plan. Due to Apple closing down iTunes connect, their service used to push out Apps to iTunes, I had to release LoM early. I chose the 19th, hoping that a) it would give me a little time to fixup any issues that might occur during the release, and b) no one would notice. The problem was a) there were no issues, and b) people noticed. So ill prepared, I found myself in the middle of the release storm, a couple of days early, and from that point on, it’s been go go go, all the way.

I have to say that I am very happy with how LoM has been received. From a sales point of view, it’s shifted just over 2000 units to date. As numbers go, it’s nothing to write home about, it won’t make anyone rich, and in fact for me, I chose to split the royalties after Apple and the VAT man took their cut, and therefore absorbing my costs out of my earnings. So, if I really analysed it to detail, and depending on what cost I want to attribute to LoM, I probably haven’t broken even on everything I’ve spent over the last few years, getting to this point. But then, it was never about the cost, and I have spent that money anyway. For sales, moving forward, it is now about stimulating the market, and getting out the releases for Android, Windows Mobile, and desktop.

Midwinter’s day was bitter-sweet. It was great to finally, albeit in a different way, to have shipped the product that I have been working on for the last 2 years. In another way of looking at it, I have finally commercialised something that I started working on over 20 years ago; in some way that legitimises the work. However, I’m painfully aware that it only happened because of Mike’s death, and that he was not there to see the release. That aside, I had a great pick-me-up on the day when Julian, Mike’s son, called me to talk about the release.

The game has been pretty much universally accepted well by the press and the public. The reviews I have had so far have all been positive. And although the game will never be the one that Mike and I intended to release, I feel justified with the decision I made just over two months ago.

The Christmas break proved a much needed rest, even though I must qualify rest based on the previous 6 weeks, which meant I was still working hard, just not quite has hard as before. Either way, I was able to recharge some of my batteries! It was also great to spend a bit more time with my family!

The 6 weeks prior to release were just hectic. I managed to cram in during that time, so much work that I had been unable to do over the previous two years! I was working on LoM until 2am most days, and then getting up in the morning to do the day job; home from work, start on LoM. It was so much a relief when the game shipped even if it didn’t relieve the work load.

The two weeks prior to that were a little numbing. Mike’s death knocked me a little more than I expected. Mike was a friend, and although I only met him a few times over the last 20 years, and I wouldn’t have considered him a friend in the same way I would friends I went to school with who I am still in contact with, or friends that I work with, or friends that I see more regularly and go for a drink with. He was a friend I spoke to very regularly, some times many times a day, every day. So, if we analyse friends based on how much we have talked, he would be up there near the top. Add in how much he, and his work, has influenced me over the years, and that we were collaborating closely on a project, it really is no surprise that his passing had such an affect. I think what happened was, I realised that he was more of a ‘friend’ than I had ever considered.

The second goal that I set for myself back at the dawn of 2012, was to lose weight. I won’t go into any detail here about that, other than to say that I lost 3 stone/ 36lbs / 16.6kg over the year. My shirts are now slimline, my t-shirts are now large not extra large, I just bought two coats that were medium, and my waist size went from 38 to 32. Overall I feel that I changed my lifestyle without sacrificing much or excessively exercising, so on the whole, I am very very happy with the result.

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The Moon Ring, the last of the Great War Rings of Midnight


Both Apple and Blackberry versions have now been approved… the War of the Solstice is truly nearly upon us. Available in both stores on The Winter Solstice, Midwinter’s Day, 21st Dec 2012.

Over the next week I will be working on the Blackberry10 version ( to be ready at launch ), and the Android version. Hopefully the Android version may also hit Google Play store… something to aim for.

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The War of the Solstice

Kindle, iBook, and PDF downloads of the Novella are availble on the site…

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