Mines of Morgoth Developer Blog


7th of May 2009 :

This guy has a point.
The price has to reflect the time spent on developing a title otherwise hardly anyone but the biggest
sellers can hope to make a living from creating games. And since indie developers are the most vulnerable,
devaluing one's time and effort to the lowest denominator out there is just suicidal at best in the long run.
My view is that there is way too much dross drowning out the good stuff in a sea
of mediocrity and blandness, often cleverly hidden behind pretty graphics but little else.


1st of May 2009 :

v1.0 is out and on sale right here !



23rd of March 2009 :

v0.90 released.

Final release coming soon.
You will be able to buy the game through Paypal.
I still have to correct a few minor bugs and Morgoth Mountain will reveal its treasures !



25th of February 2009 :

v0.78 released.

The game is now Vista compatible.
dx7vb.dll for VB was missing in Vista as well as msxml.dll (v2.0) so it could not start.
Resolved some strange slowness in the initial opening graphic effect by cancelling it if Vista is detected.
Another weird thing was the sudden refusal of the DirectInput key "Grave" or "~" from responding.
So I added "1" as a potential replacement for Vista users.
I noticed they finally got round to upgrading the clock and calendar in Windows but still have kept
the basic File Explorer without really improving it or adding functionality to it such as the option
of having a source/destination dual layout as in Directory Opus for example.
Other than the prettying up of the interface I didn't see much else worth mentioning so far.
Look out for a final release in March.



16th of February 2009 :

All the monsters are now in the game. All 187 of them !
Did some more sound effects. A few more special rooms for the dungeon,
some polishing and testing and it should be ready for final release
in the next month or so.
The road getting to this point was very long indeed and I have learned a lot
about making a proper game.
When I compare my last tiles to the ones I did eight years ago,
it is like seeing the clumsy sketches of an amateur. Sure, I'm no Dan Malone yet,
but I am pleased with what there is to show today.

Programming wise, I am impatient to get to grips with a more powerful language than VB6.
I have been looking at BlitzMax but I am worried it might not include everything that
is needed to handle all the necessary options I would like.
Coding a game in C++ is for masochists only and I refuse to dirty my hands touching this
obsolete, ugly syntaxed mental torture device which needs to be tossed overboard as soon as possible.
I will probably go for C# and DirectX as there is little choice if you want to reach a large
audience. Tried a Linux Ubuntu install the other day and although clearly much progress has been
made, there is still a lot to be desired like installing software packages offline that have
fifty thousand dependancies instead of just including all the necessary files for one application
in one package as in Windows. It seems they forgot some people are not always connected to the Net.
It's all very nice releasing an OS on a CD but I'd rather get a DVD with tons of files I'll never use
than have to keep copying over files one by one from my other PC which has a net connection
just to get one application going ! It's not like bandwidth is that expensive anymore with
torrenting. In all fairness, I have to say that most of the hardware was detected properly and that
for basic use like OpenOffice it is quite good.
But applications is what makes Windows strong and the way MS has complete vertical
integration (Compilers->OS->DirectX->Software) of the development chain is key to it's survival.
Maybe the Linux people who have any real ambition should get a clue as to why this works.
If people can come together to make Battle for Wesnoth, surely they can find a way to coordinate
a real alternative.
Oh, and for goodness's sake enough of the ancient command line Unix syntax where it is impossible
to do anything intuitively, it's truly pathetic. AmigaOS had better CLI commands back in 1985.
If you want more people to contribute, evolve a bit and give ordinary users a chance when faced with
a terminal window. Being a fundamentalist does not win more converts. On the contrary.
Well that's my Linux rant over, see you in ten years' time, maybe then there will be two or three games even
worth mentioning on it.



20th of November 2008 :

v0.76 released.

New stuff : better AI, a whole range of spells with proper balancing of damage for the more clever monsters.
All monsters up to level 10 are now in the game.
I have also moved over to the open source installer program from Nullsoft.
It's free, which is nice since it's all I can afford at the moment anyway.
Some impressive piece of programming there from that team of coders as it is extremely
efficient and produces a very compact installer executable.
Struggled for a while to customise the interface as the examples are pretty sparse and
I had to guess a lot of stuff to get things going.

Got Fallout 3 recently and I rate it much higher than Oblivion.
Thoroughly recommended for all who enjoy some post-apocalyptic nulear wasteland exploring
whilst demolishing super mutants and other nasty creatures that populate that 1950's fantasy
future world set in a ravaged Washington DC.
Heard good things about Dead Space and Far Cry 2 as well but those will have to wait a bit.

Discovered to my dismay that VB6 is not compatible with dual core AMD processors, at least when
running a program in pseudo-code mode (ie : not compiled). It just keeps one core going at 100%
after you return from testing the code once until the IDE crashes at some random later time.
This of course is such a pain that I had to fall back to a single core Athlon 3800.
Obviously Microsoft couldn't be bothered fixing those kind of bugs anymore since
they only support the .Net environment these days.
It truly is disappointing since VB6's Service Pack 6 dates from 2004 when dual core processors
were already widely available. But I am not really surprised after having to deal with Microsoft
software for so long.
I still miss a Pascal based dev environment like Delphi but with proper multimedia capability
such as DirectX integrated into it. That would be the kind of thing that would tempt a lot more people
to get into Linux and develop more programs and games for it. Until this happens, I doubt Linux
has any chance of ever making it onto the average user's PC.
Then again how do you motivate people to develop for a platform where people are used to get everything
for free ? How are you supposed to reward those who put in the time and effort to make it happen when
others are happy to say that their time is worth nothing ?
The Nullsoft Installer is a good example of that. I would have gladly paid 20-30$ for it as a shareware fee
for their efforts. They clearly deserve it but because it's free they are just killing some other small
developer's livelihood. To be fair, the commercial offerings for a Windows installer are outrageously expensive
so it's nice that someone gives out this type of program for free.
Still, it's a serious problem which is at the root of Linux's troubles in the competition for PC desktops.


2nd of October 2008 :

 v0.75

Demo is up for download.


19th of September 2008 :

All the objects in the game are now included.
Added a few more tiles to the village level as the landscape was a bit barren.
Still have 15 levels to add before I can consider releasing it.


23rd of August 2008 :

Finished the save game routines at last.
You can only save on the village level as otherwise it gets too easy.

Set up my first Media PC the other day using bits and pieces lying around
and it was a bit of a struggle to get it going properly thanks to the constant
crashing of the software supplied by Terratec for the TV Tuner card.
It seems their cheapo remote setup cannot handle too many repeated presses of the same button
to navigate channels, which is really quite lame.
Even the Media Center software from Microsoft can handle it better without ever falling over !
That said, the Samsung T220 screen I got at the same time is awesome for an LCD display.
It doesn't go higher than 60Hz at 1680x1050 but it's still incredibly good value.
One can see the very real progress that has been made in image sharpness and refresh rate of LCDs.
Of course Microsoft had to use a proprietary MPEG2 format for the recordings of TV,
they just couldn't leave that alone so that it would be convenient in case you wanted to save something on DVD.
Luckily, it's not too hard to convert, but it is still quite annoying.


22nd of July 2008 :

 v0.72

Added the Main Menu and New Player screens.
Had some weirdness with the cursor refusing to reappear after an ALT-TAB and returning to the game.
It turns out I forgot to put in a return variable for the cursor counter after calling ShowCursor.
So the counter kept going up and after a while it resigned, probably disgusted at my negligence.
Anyway I am now starting to code the save game routines.
I quite like the sound of the rolling die. Took me quite a few tries to get the sound I wanted
as there would always be a dice rolling to the floor and other random irritation.
The Samson USB mike I'm using has amazing sound quality but it's impossible to find something
to hold it onto the side of my desk, so I have only one hand to do anything whilst holding it near
the recording area. Tried some voice recording for the mission briefing but I'm not sure
my acting capabilities are that good. I was surprised to see just how much concentration you have to put
into these things to get a decent result.


13th of July 2008 :

 v0.71e

More polishing.


8th of July 2008 :

 v0.71d

Trapdoor bug crash corrected.


3rd of July 2008 :

 v0.71c

A few bugs squashed.


23rd of June 2008 :

 v0.71b

Corrected very silly crash bug when going up to the King in his tower.


19th of June 2008 :

 v0.71

Corrected a few bugs, certain monsters leave corpses behind and gold is now picked up automatically.


15th of June 2008 :

 v0.7

All magic items are now included.
Planned release date is fall 2008 for the first part, which will include the first 20 levels.
Demo is now up for download and is limited to the first 5 levels.


4th of June 2008 :

Put up a few screenshots of the new village level graphics.


21st of May 2008 :

Most of the magical objects are now done (117 of them !). Still have to finish the scrolls.
I'll release a new demo then, within a week or two from now. The Village level has been entirely redone
thanks to a good friend's tilemap editor. Had to draw tons of tiles to pretty things up,
and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the end result, even if it remains on the old school
side of things. Forget giving in to marketing pressures and realistic graphics, I'm going pixel esthetics all the way !
Got hold of Commander (WWII hex wargame) and it's quite nice in some respects but also has a lot of irritating flaws
putting me off having another go at it. A bit expensive for what it is as well. It's only worth half the 40 they ask
for it in my opinion.
GTA IV makes me want to get an XBox360, which is quite a feat in itself, but I think I'll hold out until a Bluray
version comes out. Anyway I'll be wanting to spend money on holidays after this is finished,
not spend more time in front of a screen!
Had high hopes for a trackball contraption from Kensington ("Expert Mouse" yeah, right) because I was tired of using a
thumb-driven Microsoft one but sadly it is a complete failure in ergonomics and design, an RSI-inducing disaster that
feels cheap even though the price tag is not. Going to try and get an MS one again, but of course they have discontinued
making them. Typical. Wow, I'm actually having to praise and feel annoyed by MS at the same time for once!
I have decided to keep this game independantly developed so that I can keep control of things and not have to give up
what I believe is best for the gameplay and style overall. I think I'd rather sell a bit less and keep the soul
of this game intact and not let a publisher mutilate it in the hope of making it more pleasing to the masses.
Yes the learning curve is a little daunting at first, but it's worth it, which is more than can be said for quite a lot
of games these days.


10th of December 2007 :

 v0.63b

Forgot one line of code which would make the game crash if you took off armor
and tried to sell it to the shop.
Am tempted to get Sudden Strike 3 but the demo left me a bit wary about shelling out
for the whole game. The performance was a bit lackluster and some details that I liked in
SS2 are no longer there. Still think it would have been far better in 2D but with much more
animation. Also it would not have required so much horsepower to get it to run decently.
Shame they feel they have to keep up with the marketing hype.
Commander (the hex-based WWII Matrix Game) looks nice but there is no demo to download,
which is disturbing. Are they trying to hide something or what? Very stupid decision.


7th of December 2007 :

 v0.63

18 new objects. Treasure can now be found in certain types of rock.
Fast swap for wielded weapon is implemented, as well as eating food.
Some new sounds and effects for traps. Finally flogged myself into a complete rewrite
of the item handling code in the game. No more inventory bugs are possible
thanks to a more rigourous approach. Wasted a lot of time with bugs in the past because I was too lazy
to put in the few hours of concentration required and be done with it for good.
The short term gain is not always the best way out, as in real life!

I have to say this about COD4 : it's Sofa King good !
Easily the best fun I've had in ages on the PC and that's without even mentioning the intense multiplayer
which is clearly the main attraction in this game.
Crysis is a bloated bore compared to it, just left me thinking : "meh".


28th of October 2007 :

 v0.62b

A few minor corrections. You can now switch the music off if desired.


23rd of October 2007 :

 v0.62

15 new monsters, stat modifying attacks and potions.
A few adjustments were made so that some monsters are more agressive.
I have got hold of an old IBM Model M keyboard and what a racket it makes !
Still, very good feeling when typing, with proper tactile and sound feedback.
Shame I can't get my hands on a new one as they no longer make them or I'd have
to pay extravagant sums for a modern copy of it.


25th of September 2007 :

 v0.61c

All known serious bugs are corrected and the code base is stable as far as I can tell.
At least you can try selling your loot after a long dungeon crawl without risking a crash.
Coding a game really has to be one of the most demanding tasks I have ever taken on.
Keeping the player interested and surprised has got to be hardest thing imaginable.
The obvious answer is a compelling, original story but that only works once, as one can see with any
good adventure.
My main focus will have to be to try to generate unpredictable events within the constraints
of what I've done so far. Not sure I'll be able to pull it off but it's worth trying, I think.
Or I'll just fall back on having NPCs insulting the player if it's too much work. :)
There's the temptation of relying on shocking content to get some attention, like so many
other games, but it's a bit of a cheap trick and the novelty wears out real fast.

I see that Nintendo have really won their bet with the Wii, and well done too.
The demo of that Mario Galaxy game really makes you want to try new things. Miyamoto is truly a master of his art.
Bioshock is worth a look, but not as original and interesting as it would like to pretend itself to be.


2nd of July 2007 :

 v0.61b

It seems that too many interruptions during a monster update corrupts the memory of the monster list.
Bizarre things were going on so I had to revert to the previous method.
Otherwise, managed to track down an elusive bug that crashed the game in the shop after identifying
an unknown item being sold by the player. All similar items in the inventory are now revealed after
a greedy merchant has tossed the unfortunate player a few coins for a nice item.
Perusing the Spells Book is less painful as navigation has been slowed down.


26th of June 2007 :

 v0.61

All monsters for the town level are done. Finished the basic AI for most monsters.
They no longer just stand around after getting hit so they look a bit more like panicking
but quickly come to their senses again and resume attacking the player after a while.
The original program had scripted moves chosen at random but I think it's not the best
idea for what I want to see.
Have a very strange bug that occasionally occurs in the middle of a fight.
Some things have been modified where I think this is coming from but I am stumped
as to the true cause of this. The monster list actually gets partially overwritten by another
list right in the middle of an update ! I have made a special debug version that I am handing out
to the alpha testers.
Got into Red Orchestra recently and when it isn't being frustratingly slow, it's a blast.
Really amazing life-like WWII action on the eastern front, complete with drivable vehicles and all kinds
of very pretty details. Superb job but it deserves a better engine like the one COD2 uses.
Of course, it's online multiplayer only.
Tried the new Microsoft Reclusa backlit keyboard and what a disappointment that was.
A real shame as it gets some things right but the faults are so serious that I had to put it aside
the next day they were so annoying. The stepping between the rows of keys is too low, the hand-rest is useless,
the feet at the back of the keyboard are too short and not adjustable. Disgraceful. How this went into
production without anyone noticing this is just unbelievable. That's large corporations for you I guess.
Weird as Microsft make a decent mouse or trackball. Maybe the next version will be usable.
I dream of a keyswitch mechanical keyboard with OLED keytops where the shortcuts appear on the row of function keys.
As if a proper keyboard had to be a luxury... rubbish.
Saw the Apple IPhone demo and was quite impressed with it's functional abilities. Very sexy design and seems
practical too. I notice they avoid talking price of course. Not a word either on the power autonomy
of this little marvel.


18th of May 2007 :

 v0.60 released.

A lot of testing and general optimising of the code has been done.
I have not been able to crash the game after quite a bit of playing, so I'm hoping
it will hold up to the more persistent gamers out there.
Most townspeople are simple placeholders so their behavior is still a bit lame.
I said this would be a better Moria and it will, believe me !
Pretty shocked at the cost in processing time if I try to update all the monsters
in a level every turn. I guess I'm paying for my choice of development language.
Some parts of the code deserve assembly progamming but that is not possible if only
because I hate x86 machine language. Ah if only Motorola had won the processor wars...
Speaking of hardware, I am still looking for a keyboard that has good mechanical keys
and backlighting for coding in dark conditions. All these cheap soft keyboards with no tactile
or sound feedback are pretty sad. My Alps keyswitch Compaq keyboard has still to have a true
replacement found yet. And why did IBM give up making serious keyboards ?
Where did their ambition go ? I see no progress except in profits in this area.
It clearly is an item that one does not want to compromise on unless you want to
pay for wrist surgery at huge cost later on.
They're talking of making World of Starcraft. Are they trying to destroy Korea or what ?!?
I'll have to stay well away from it until I finish this.


30th of April 2007 :

My first attempt at a fuzzy state machine AI is complete. The results are not too shabby at all.
Beginning to see emergent behavior in the NPCs. Enemies can now run away and not look like retards
with three seconds attention span. Great to see some come back for a chance at finishing off the player
if he looks in a bad state. Got lots of good ideas to make the gameplay even more fun while playtesting.
It still needs a bit more work before I release v0.6. Should have something to show within a week or two.
Of course, the end-of-game monster will have a class of AI all to his own with memory and probabilities to
make sure he sends shivers of fear down a blue wizard's spine no matter what his level is !


6th of April 2007 :

 v0.56g

Hopefully done away with another bug that crashed the game if a monster died while being the last in the list.
On a side note, I was asked for 2000$ for the privilege of using a font in my game. Er, fuck off then ?
That is why you don't see that nice calligraphic font any more in the game over message.


3rd of April 2007 :

 v0.56f

Fixed bug that occurred when dropping damaged item from inventory which would lead to a crash.


27th of March 2007 :

 v0.56e

This time round I have implemented display on the playfield itself of damage in combat.
You can now see immediately if an invisible monster is gnawing away at your health.
Spell effects are now a bit more pleasant looking thanks to proper delay timing.
Combat still quite primitive and may seem hard at first but that's just to get you to pay attention
and to remind you that you are but a pathetic worm at the beginning, which
makes later power ups feel all the more satisfying.

Just got into STALKER and it's quite nice, very pretty and atmospheric if you like decaying
soviet nuclear wastelands. Strong FPS quality to it too, even if it is far from perfect.
Two levels of crouching, and none of which work well ? What happened there ?
All FPS developers should take some lessons from COD2 I think in this regard.
A pleasant surprise is Frontline Fields of Thunder. Never mind the somewhat lame
title, it's a pretty good WW2 tactical simulation based on an improved Blitzkrieg 2 base,
which will content me while waiting for Sudden Strike 3 to come out.
It's taking them ages, but they're slowly but surely getting there (a bit like me!).


22nd of March 2007 :

 v0.56d

Help screen display issue resolved as well as faster keyboard response.


20th of March 2007 :

 v0.56c

DirectMusic is now included and you can now hear the delightful MIDI tunes Wes Powell has made for this game.
There will be an option screen for this later on.


10th of March 2007 :

 v0.56 released.

Quite a few things this time round : animation of the player, village layout redone, normalised the sound
effects, and DirectInput handles all commands. Get ready for the new AI in the next installment, it's going to be ... interesting.
Been looking into MIDI music and I must say Ultima III's town theme is really very good,
wish I could have something similar for this game.


9th of February 2007 :

Almost finished animating the main character. Looks a lot better than a static image
being pushed along early 1980s style. Wish I could afford to have the rest of the game with
the same level of animation. Fooled around with a mike and have done some voice acting for
certain stages in the game. All input is now going through DirectX, speeding some things up.
Next step is putting some decent AI into those creatures, so as to challenge and even, hopefully, surprise the player.
Redesigned the layout of the town to make it less tedious to get to the shops when you get back up.


1st of November 2006 :

 v0.55b released.

Found why the damn thing crashed after a player death.
It dates from the time this game ran in a window and I used to intercept windows messages.
It appears that that is now overkill and is no longer required.
Onwards to find out why it doesn't minimize to the taskbar and decides to lurk in the lower left
corner of the desktop ! It does restore properly anyway. Weird.


31st of October 2006 :

 v0.55a released.

Now with animation of main character when moving left and right.
Found the source of some of the crashes.
It was a mix of my inexperience in error handling in VB6 and what can only be a bug
in Direct Input's handling of the keyboard when requested in exclusive mode.
Nothing wrong with my code really, I was caught out by not putting an exit sub before
the error handler. Classic VB noob mistake I suppose. Still find it very stupid to let
the code after the error handling label to execute even if there is no error !
Hope this kind of nonsense disappears in Visual Studio 2005.
Still have a weird partial black screen on starting the game on another PC I have.
It works anyway, the player just has to press a key and the Direct Draw graphics appear.
A bit annoying as of course this doesn't happen on my machine.

28th of October 2006 :

 New installer for v0.54c

I have upgraded the install program. All is contained within a single executable.


11th of October 2006 :

 v0.54c released.

Game is now entirely handled in full screen mode. You can now sell stuff back to the shop.
I need an assistant... The amount of work required to get this finished is scary.

I'm sure I'm not the only one to have noticed that Amazon now censor any negative review to boost sales. Pretty low.
Did find time to play Half Life Ep.1, and it's very nice indeed.

5th of September 2006 :

 Almost finished redoing the main screen graphics. New screenshot added.
It seems I'm going to have to animate at least the main character. Not too familiar
with that animation stuff. Six frames seems a minimum to get somewhat
decent movement. No way can I afford to do it with any other creature in the game as I'm a one man band.
Thankfully Pro Motion 5 handles the tedious bits quite well.

Been playing F.E.A.R. quite a bit. Pretty 3D and good times blasting away at everything in sight.
The AI however is not living up to it's hype and all I can see is some pathfinding and a lot of atmospheric
shouting but yet to see any real cleverness.

Came across a demo of a game called Darwinia. Stunning 3D style that would be exactly what I would do if
I started coding a Virus-type (old 16-bit game on the Amiga) shooter (hint hint someone do it!).
Half Life 2 Episode 1 looks mighty tasty. Might give it a whirl soon.
On the other hand, the Sudden Strike 3 demo plays like a sloth. What a waste of resources.
This obsession with 3D is really getting tiresome, especially for a RTS. Instead of adding more animation
and correcting the multiplayer bugs of version 2.2. Just sad clueless marketing exec greedyness at work I suppose.
Still amazed at the nerve of some developers, if they sense you are new to the biz they will try to rape you standing !
I was basically asked to work for free. Needless to say I left it at that.
Don't let them get away with it, kids. Even if you're desperate to get into the games industry.

The Yak is doing something (Space Giraffe 8-) !?! heh) for XBLA. Oh the irony of seeing Microsoft rescuing
the indie scene via it's XBOX Live service. At least someone has thought that the creativity
that we used to see on the old platforms could be resurrected. Maybe something to look into at some point.

Got my first official rejection from a publisher. Ahahaha. Pathetic how some people who pretend to publish games
can't get the potential of what I'm doing. Because Morgoth is going to be a masterpiece even if it looks old hat
to most people. It's Moria but on the equivalent of an Amiga 8000. But you would have to know what Moria is
in the first place. Finishing this game is going to be the best demonstration of their short-sightedness.


11th of July 2006 :

 v0.54a is now up for download. (finally...bastard video memory bug!)

The game is now full screen and a ton of new stuff and various polishing has been added.
Debugging over the last week was horrendous. Somewhat like taking a house in WWII, room after room,
dragging a man-size rebellious insect outside and shooting it. Then kicking it to make sure. :)
Well, the main thing is that I finally got there. The worst part is the time wasted looking for an error
and then discover that it is just one forgotten instruction that's causing all the mess.
Still not finished including all the magical items and their effects, just way too much to do in one go.
New screenshots have been put up.
Got a MAME cab now, and it's a beauty. Made the control panel myself from scratch. I might put up some pictures
if I have the time.

23rd of September 2005 :

 My main hard drive exploded, which didn't help but thankfully I had backups all over the place.
This version is going to get some old farts to shed a tear or two in reminiscence
at the long hours spent playing Moria when they come accross some good old surprises.
Got a ton of scrolls to fit in, 3 magic spell books and quite a few wands and staves but I'll
get there... Been doodling a bit too and redid some of the village graphics as well as parts of
the main screen. My little Wacom tablet is proving very handy indeed... What a great piece of kit !
I totally recommend them to anyone who enjoys using the PC to draw or paint.
Speaking of which I got to try out Painter IX and it just oozes quality. Very good for revealing the
digital artist inside and if I had the gear to print out large colour sheets my walls would soon be covered.


17th of July 2005 :

 It's been a while since an update but I have been moving yet again and this took a toll
on the game programming. But I'm settled in now and ready to resume trying to push this beast out the door.
Expect a new release sometime soon. You may notice I got tired of the old site and redid it a bit.
Thanks to all who have sent emails encouraging me, I really appreciate it !


7th of October 2004 :

v0.52
 Lots and lots of issues were resolved. However this means I have had to leave out identifying
magical objects and other Word-of-Recall scrolls for next time.
Player is again allowed to regain HP and mana while walking, which does make
gameplay a bit smoother. The Inn is open for quaffing vast quantities of ale.
You may notice the odd pitcher of beer lying on the dungeon floor. It is quite normal as you
probably rudely interrupted a good crack session (I hear green jellies get nasty after a barrel or two).
Spikes may now be used to jam doors, which is quite handy to grab a breather or two before the mayhem
resumes. It is said that the more corpulent monsters can just smash right through a multiple-spiked
door but we don't have any evidence yet.
In this eventuality, Ozgron the Wibbly recommends that a rogue adventurer gets hold of at least a small shield.
Whether this delays at all a quick and very probable death from a Multi Hued Ancient Dragon's breath is the subject
of heated debates.
On the bug-hunting front, the occasional duplicate room still appears now and again, which is quite irritating.


14th of September 2004 :

 I'm on a Bug Safari and I've just bagged a Rhino :-) !
Stay tuned for an imminent release of v0.52 with new objects, one nasty new critter and lots more magic.
I have tried Far Cry and it's nice. Real nice. You can go buy it with a blindfold and a white stick.



11th of May 2004 :

  v0.51
 Shops and the castle level are functioning as they should.

Been a while since I recommended some MP gaming : Call of Duty, Sudden Strike II, iSketch.
Really damn good fun blasting in the small Normandy villages and the Stalingrad maps.
Whether it was much fun for those back then trying not to get killed or maimed is something else.
It's still an amazing rendition of what it was like and I can't imagine getting any nearer than the
real thing apart from being a true veteran of WWII. Far Cry seems tempting but I have yet to sample
this pretty beast.



1st of March 2004 :





"What's all this, then ?"


26th of November 2003 :

  v0.42e
 All monsters from the first two levels are present and the first spell book is now complete.
In all there are 15 new monsters in this version with quite a few new attacks.





It's green and it's mean.


10th of November 2003 :

  v0.42d
 The first spell book is almost complete and it is possible to learn up to seven different spells now.
Extra HP and Mana are now given out at every new level the player reaches through experience.
Next episode's menu : special rooms, more monsters, more objects ...

Would whoever has been using a bot to hit my site with over 100 visits a day since the 18th of August using
a rr.com/pacbell.net account or whatever it is, stop ! You are messing up my web site stats.



27th of October 2003 :

  v0.42c
 A busy week! Run command now available so no more aching fingers from repeating movements
down long corridors. Two new spells : Detect Monsters and Phase Door (teleport self).
I'm letting you try all three spells straight away, aren't I nice ? Next time you'll have to earn them !
Yet more fiddling with the level generator to get a good balance of rooms and monsters.
Did a bit of doodling and produced a backdrop for the spell book. Not quite finished but it's better than nothing.
Someone has asked me for an easy setting for kids. Well, this game is supposed to be a challenge,
so I don't think that's going to happen. And when I put in the fuzzy logic algorithms , it's going to be
tough enough for anyone !





An old book with lots of trusty spells at your fingertips.


22nd of October 2003 :

  v0.42b
 Got rid of a silly display bug that allowed the player to move offscreen (ouch!).
The dungeon generator has been tweaked and is looking better than ever.
Played around with Simsynth, a SID-style old skool synth effects program and have added a few of those.
The teleport sound is simply a delight to have one's ears tickled with !
There now are secret doors and an amulet which, if stared long enough into, may show a map of the current level.
See the commands list to check out what is new : Peer at gem and S for Search mode.





Tunneling can be fun. Beware of where you end up though !


4th of October 2003 :

  v0.42
 A lot of new stuff : A* pathing, chests with traps, and lots and lots of gameplay tweaking.
The monsters are far brighter in the way they move around and can corner you quite quickly if you're not careful.
I didn't have time to put in secret passages this time but they are for the next episode.
It is quite pleasing to see the game become a bit of a challenge to survive until the orcs appear.
Have fun trying !



31st of August 2003 :

  v0.41d
 Horrendous debugging sessions. Got rid of a niggling display bug that forced me to a partial
rewrite of the display routines.
All seems to be in working order for the next steps : traps, cleverer monsters and so on.



31st of July 2003 :

  v0.41c
 Spent some time on improving the overall look of the interface.
A few gameplay tweaks and twiddles here and there.



18th of July 2003 :

  v0.41b
 I have now removed the last mouse-based command to avoid any confusion as to the nature of the player interface.
This is a keyboard based game by nature and it seems common sense to keep it that way
for reasons that become apparent the more you play.
Indeed, you quickly acquire the reflexes necessary for quick play that no longer requires you
to even look at the keyboard any more to play.
 Somewhat like Doom, where you would struggle to ajust to the number of commands on the keyboard
at first and then you'd be blasting and jumping and weaving all over the place without even
thinking twice about it.
 Feedback is incredibly important at this stage and I wish to thank
all who were kind enough to give up some of their time to make me rethink some crucial
issues and get me to fix them. Thanks Ahchay (from the Yak's forum) !




8th of July 2003 :

  v0.41 - Just a few bugs squashed and a couple of cosmetic improvements.
Finally got to stabilise the code base back to it's almost granite-like status :)
Hacked through the spaghetti of windows messaging and now my little game behaves properly.
Put some dungeon atmosphere into some of the sound samples too. Used Sound Forge to do all the editing
and reverb sound effects. Top piece of software.
Have clearly reached the limits of VB6 now as some functions just are not meant for this type of environment but
it stills seems to work. Thankfully a lot of Win32 API calls are there to make sure things don't blow up.



18th of June 2003 :

 You are now able to cast your first spell, a very handy Magic Missile.
All the first level monsters and their respective attacks have been implemented.
Almost forgot, you can now tunnel your way out of a sticky situation if you can get your hands on some digging tool...



The new graphic inventory screen.





4th of May 2003 :

 Have finally got round to implementing DirectInput for the keyboard and other various bits
that needed sorting out, such as making sure the game keeps responding even if the player
switches to another application on the desktop.





9th of April 2003 :

 Moving between three different countries has played havoc with my update schedule.
But fear not, this game is still on track. Still working on implementing the fuzzy logic AI.
Some of you will notice a vast number of improvements and changes as I'm getting closer
and closer to the final shaping of this beast. All monsters are now only appearing at their
respective levels so no more green dragons at level 1... Magic items and spells are for next time
and you'll be needing them too as being an Apprentice is going to show how clumsy you are
with a sword (*chuckle*).




31st of October 2002 :

 Finally decided to release another installment.
The few weeks turned into a month and a half but you'll understand where that time went!
Still far from deserving the name of game but it should be amusing for a few minutes.
Have been mostly getting the player inventory working, as well as some very primitive combat.
Monster AI is for the next episode... It's going to be evil ;)
The map is now fully functional. If you can break it, I want to hear about it!



13th of September 2002 :

 Just a little teaser of things to come.
Into combat code at the moment and generally making sure the dungeon starts to allow for some action to go on!






21st of August 2002 :

 Sorry for the long delay since the last update but I am still busy working on the next episode of this in-progress work.
Line-of-sight is up and running. Testing different graphic styles for the borders of the interface.
Look out for another release in the coming week(s?) !
Got a couple of nasty bugs still being their usual pain in the sphincter but they will be steamrolled shortly.



16th of May 2002 : Tried out DirectSound a bit and put in a couple of .wav effects.

 Free copy of the final version of the game to the first to recognize the C64 sound!
In the following screenshot you can have a better idea of what I'm aiming for
in terms of graphic design. Still massive amounts of work to be done on main game objects
and interaction. The dungeon seems to be optimal as far as creating challenging maps in the
digging the walls type of getaway dept... Made a new icon for the desktop shortcut.
Looking good I think , it's a view of a 20-sided die.
Three out of four sound samples I have used so far come from Jeroen Tel's VG Soundeffects CD.
Already known for his scene work back in the Amiga days, he's still around messing with the sound
and is proving a good sample base. Let me know what you think. Too Gauntlet-style perhaps?
I always thought Gauntlet was a very good attempt at bringing a simplified (ok, dumbed down)
type D&D into the arcades. On the Emulator side of things, I'm pretty much into VICE for the
C64 and WinUAE for Amiga. MAME rules like few things that have ruled this earth so far :
Atari & Sega vector games, Marble Madness + trackball in all its glory
(also Pack Rat on the same system), Gravitar, Gyruss
(where the hell am I going to find a paddle for the PC ??) ...
Logging off ...Systems breach... Got you!... Stand by your beast player one...






18th of February 2002 : Got the color keying going and it looks quite nice too.

 



29th of January 2002 : Just letting you have a peek at the latest screenshot of the game (v0.0102).

 Fixed a couple of oddities in the display due to poor DirectX/VB6 documentation.
I have started implementing the interface and trying out different layouts on the main window.
My evaluation version of Installshield has started threatening me for money so I can't update the files
for download! Should be fixed soon though.
You may notice that some of the graphic tiles for the dungeon environment have changed,
and for the best I think.
 This project was started for fun but as I spend more and more time on it, I feel
that it should be released as a small commercial game (if I ever manage to finish this monster!).
 As all I'm really interested in is writing a game I'd like to see but have yet to find,
it seems that if I can hold out long enough in hermit mode, maybe if I'm lucky I could even
make some kind of living from it. We shall see.
 On the big league PC games front, Castle Wolfenstein and Medal of Honour really shoot off the dogz bollocks,
especially the multiplayer maps from MOH. There is just one nag with some of these fancy 3D games :
quite a few of the developers, while being very talented in many areas, seem to forget that 60hz refresh rate
on a modern monitor is really annoying... and there is no easy way of changing it under Win2K!
Learn to detect desktop refresh settings guys!

*update* I have discovered that this is actually NVidia's fault with drivers defaulting at 60 hz...
Luckily, there are fixes out there to toggle registry entries and fix this nag.

And, yes, even more chawarma sandwiches and enough cans of coke to build a house with have selflessly
given up their tasty existence so that this project may live on.






14th of January 2002 : Second release of on-going work

 At last I've sort of finished my dungeon level generator routines.
Added a few tiles to give a better idea of what the general look and feel of the
game will be.
Haven't got round to the masking or color-keying yet so certain tiles look rough and have
a dark blueish thing going around them.
And, yes, you're still allowed to run around with the arrow keys in 'god' mode!
Moving on now to field-of-view and general coherence of the dungeon such as real walls and
opening and closing doors etc..





30th of April 2001 : First release of on-going work
 I've chosen to start with the much-needed upgrading of the visual side of a Moria-like.
Character tiles in the XXIst century ??? No way! It's 32x32 pixel tile format for me.
3D is not an option of course but may be used when I upgrade to DirectX 8.0 and object VB
for player interface uses.

The few 2D tiles that can be seen in the essentials.bmp file are all drawn by hand by
yours truly using Pro Motion, a very nice Deluxe Paint 4 clone.
 Used an XML formatted text file to store game object data. Works very nicely indeed!
Have no complaints with M$ on that one, the XML parser actually works as it should.
Maybe I'll have time someday to make it into an online user-updatable database for Moria-like
environments...
 All the real guts of the game have yet to be rewritten in VB.
After using VB6 for a few months now, all I can say is that it lacks a lot of things,
mainly object coding.
And VB7(.NET) ? Well it's far from finished from what I saw in the Beta release.

 Finished implementing four-way scroll of the player view area via the keyboard arrows.
Testing level generation routines and wondering how to make sure the resulting
chaotic structures that emerge from the void are actually any fun at all.
I would like to add the future possibility of actual destructive results when strong
weapons hit the dungeon walls.
Also vast quantities of lebanese sandwiches & several vats of coke have been destroyed so far.



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