It was time, thought Luxor…

“Luxor stood at the doorway of the hut. gazing into the white gloom of the forest. A thin scatter of ersh, the fine powder-snow of the new moon, was floating down onto the frozen ground. It was time, thought Luxor, it was time. An icicle of fear touched him and shivered through him. He drew his cloak tightly around himself, as though it would warm the chill in his heart, and turned from the forest.”

This week we started doing some early tests. A number of people have signed up for the test process and are putting the game through its paces. For that I am very grateful. At this stage, what this allows is for me to iron out some of the obvious bugs and make sure the game is actually feature complete as per the original. It also allows me to take feedback from players and get an idea of some of the directions that we should take the User Interface.
The iPad is a very different beast from the 8bit computers that Lords of Midnight was originally developed for. It is also a very different beast from the Windows machines that I developed WinLom and the Midnight Engine on. Therefore, it’s only when you start playing the game on the actual device that you get a feel for how the game should and should not play. I’m already starting to question some of the assumptions that I had made about the direction of the UI.

Over the next few weeks as the game starts to settle, I will be one by one addressing particular areas of the game. For example, I might spend a couple of weeks really drilling down on the in game map. So over that period all builds will be addressing new functionality or tweaking existing functionality in that part of the game. The the following couple of weeks, I will focus on a new area.

There are already so many great suggestions coming in that I’m not sure I will have the time to implement everything. But one thing is for sure, the more this project goes on, the more exiting I get about the pending release…

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13 Replies to “It was time, thought Luxor…”

  1. Sad that I can’t participate with the testing and suggestions. No access to Apple hardware in the foreseeable future. And by the time it reaches Android or Windows all features and decision will be already set in stone. 🙁

  2. Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good. Once you are confident that the basic, core game is bug-free (or as bug-free as any software can be) then I would release. This gets the game into the market, and you can improve with subsequent releases.

    I really admire your investment in this project and can’t wait to play LoM on iPad!!!

  3. Yeah, wish I could help out with testing but I don’t use Apple products.

  4. I know guys, but I just don’t have the android products to even start the process. I know it’s going to work, but I can’t start the fiddly process. If someone could produce the graphical specs for the most common tablets, that would be a start. Because in theory I should be able to quickly test targeting a 1024×768 tablet.

  5. Richard, it will definitely be difficult to draw the line. But I would rather out sooner that later…

  6. My advice would be to concentrate on the iOS version first and get the final design locked down. The more platforms you try to support at once, the more work it is to implement each and every little change. Not pleasant even with a big dev team (been there, done that).

    There will come a time where a cool feature gets cut because you don’t have the time to port it to all the other versions too (not that there is ever enough dev time to begin with). Once it’s all locked down, a port of a static final design can be done much easier and quicker- and only needs to be done once.

    If I was to prioritize any of the game looks and features, I would say the most important thing would be to update the graphics and have all the features of the original game in place. The majority of potential customers will (hopefully) be new to the franchise, and so you need to attract those people first. Old fans are already interested.

    Retro graphic (original) support and multiplayer support are not essential for release, but would make very nice updates afterwards.

    The automap function is probably a standard requirement these days, no-one is going to carry some graph paper and a pen with them. The ability to move multiple characters at once fixes a rather tedious design (really a gameplay interface) flaw in the original.

    And LOM iOS is a reboot of the franchise, the first game in a new and exciting trilogy. While LOM and DDR have already been created in the past, EOTM will be new to everyone. Tricky as it may be, LOM and DDR shouldn’t look so different from the planned conclusion of the trilogy.

    Having been on the fence for a long time about the graphics (being retro or not), I think it makes much more commercial sense to anticipate the look and feel of EOTM than to be duplicating the old ZX Spectrum version.

  7. Ross,

    Porting is just a build. The Marmalade SDK takes care of that. Resolution support is the problem.

    The process that I am now going to follow to support iOS should allow for android support. Having looked through the Android potential resolutions I realised that actually supporting the iOS resolutions is a similar if smaller problem.

    I going to produce artwork and the following resolutions. H=2048×1536 M=1024×768 and L=512×384. Everything will be scaled from these resolutions and laid out accordingly. My only issue is aspect ratio which I shall keep at 0.75 4:3 and then fix everything with layout.

    The only real issue is extreme wide screens like 1024×600. And it’s only the landscaping view ( just the main one! ) that has problems here.

    I will try this approach and unless the results are not good enough on iOS devices, then follow this path.

  8. Ah so you are working off a single codebase. OK, that’s great then, forget my previous comments about working on a single sku.

    As for the problems with widescreen displays, could that be solved by cropping empty space from the top and bottom of the landscaping screen (fit the ‘image’ to the width of the screen) and readjusting where the text and shield graphics are displayed?

  9. This is great to read!

    Getting close to release and you, Chris, getting more and more exited about it! It bodes well for the progress and quality of the game!

  10. Ross, the problem with the wide screen is where the vertical is much smaller than the aspect ratio needs.

    So source resolution of 1024×768 but a target resolution of 1024×600.

    The landscaping view wants to keep the width so the same scale of 1.0, but the height is now compromised by a full 168 pixels. I can’t lose that from the bottom of the landscape view, so I will have to lose it from the top… not sure how that will look.

  11. Ah, I forgot there was no space at the bottom of the screen to trim but there is a lot of space at the top. And of course, 2 tablets with the 1024×600 resolution are the B&N Nook color/tablet and the Amazon Kindle Fire, not skus you’d particularly want to ignore.

    Played around with a speccy screengrab in photoshop and you should still have enough room for the landscaping if you trim the top 168 pixels. If anything, I think I may actually prefer the widescreen look where there is much less empty space onscreen. It puts the horizon pretty much center screen now, half land half sky.

    The shield to the right could be made smaller, but seems to look fine even lowered down. The base of the shield just touches the tops of trees 2 squares away from the player.

    The problem is the text. The second line just touches the top of a citadel, the 4th line basically sits along the top of the outer walls, obscuring the small tower atop the building.

    There are a few things you could try that hopefully isn’t too much work:

    Make the text transluscent (may be hard to read though).

    Use a smaller font size and push the RHS edge of the text box to the left of the center of the screen.

    Make the text scroll or fade in and out somehow (so the background isn’t always obscured).

    Make the detail text (“He stands on the plains…”) collapsible/hidden either automatically after a few seconds or by tapping the top line (“e,g, “Luxor The Moonprince”) to clear the view.

  12. Sure thing- just sent you an email to your icemark address…

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