Please note that all screen shots displayed in this blog are works in progress and in no way represent the appearance of the final game. Check out the main site here.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

New Bits and Pieces

So I've been having quite a bit of a play around over the last few days, and I've done quite a bit of work.

Firstly, and most unimpressive, is the in-game menu. I know, I know, it's a pretty standard addition, but it's something that wasn't there that now is. Before this, people had to quit the game using the console, so this makes things go a bit smoother. Plus it gives me more motivation to add in the other features like save games and user-settable options.

Secondly, I've started work on player inventorys, customizable for both male and female characters.

In addition to the inventory work, I have done a considerable amount of work interfacing the dungeon skin scripting system. LOTS of work to be done there, but once it's done it would mean a BIG difference in the way the game works.

In other news, we have another artist on the team! Nyssa has begun producing armour assets for your character to wear in-game:

But yes, expect some good stuff there! And Rachel at Ordinary Obscurity is getting a badass new PC sometime very soon, so you'll be seeing some great stuff coming from that direction!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sword of Ahkranox

So you all may or may not have been wondering what precisely The Sword of Ahkranox is.

Here's an early rendition of what it looks like:

The in-game world in MSoA is called "Ahkranox", and not actually a world at all. It's a bit hard to explain, and I need to get a proper writer on board to get this worded properly, but I'll do my best here.
While a certain amount of what the people of Ahkranox know is mere skepticism and religion, the truth of the matter is that the corporeal world does not actually exist at all, but is a mere illusion held together by the high magic of The Sword of Ahkranox. The sword attracts the wandering spirits of mankind and projects them into the world of Ahkranox, where they all believe and perceive that they are existing on a physical plane.
Why exactly the sword does this, no-one knows, but The Overlords of Ahkranox revere the object above all things and have built a massive city around it.
The sword itself is ice cold to the touch. So much so that where it is kept, a giant crystal of ice has encased it.
Anyway, that's the most I can tell you now, so more soon hopefully!

As for the game itself, lately all my work has been on getting the scripting engine working... So more of that tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Hello again everyone. This post is purely a monologue of thought, so you may or may not be too interested in reading it, but I wanted to post it anyway.

Back in the early 90s, a young programmer named John Carmack was working for a small company in Shreveport, Louisiana. He lived and breathed games programming. He grew up watching Star Trek and seeing the members of the crew use the Holodeck - a special room that could simulate any desired environment.

He wanted that to be a reality so badly that he, quite literally, devoted his life to making the Holodeck a reality. His results in this excercise led to Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Doom 2, Quake 1, Quake 2, Quake 3, Doom 3, Quake 4 and now Rage. All increasingly amazing game engines that made it more and more possible for people to get close to a true virtual environment.

One thing, however, that has not made it into all of the ever more advanced games through the ages is realistic dialogue. A dynamic conversation system that is indeed relevant to the game world as it stands would be an amazing achievement in the games industry. It is also one that I plan to achieve with The Sword of Ahkranox.
Dynamic dialogue systems are somewhat of a speciality of mine. I have been fascinated with things such as the Turing Test, etc from a young age (I know, I know... NERD) but since I first started programming back in 1998 it is the single one thing that I have worked on over and over again.

Long story short, MSoA will have some pretty interesting characters whose dialogue will shift, change and adapt based on world events.

I can't guarantee this, of course, since it's something that's never been done before in a video game, but I have high hopes. I'd love to know what you think of it being like that in a game...

Thursday, January 13, 2011


So tonight's work was on the scripting side of the engine. I figured it was high time I got asset loading down to a simple script procedure. Basically, the engine - when generating maps - will load up an appropriate "level set" which has all of the models and textures for a particular theme. When incorporating that sort of thing into a game as complex as this, it's quite a difficult task, so only the beginnings of the functionality were added.

In other news, I added a new feature to the free-look option. Now, when you release the free-look button, your camera snaps into the direction your view was facing. Before, it just returned you to whichever direction you were looking in when you began the free-look. Now you can make turns using it! It's only a little detail, but it makes a huge difference in gameplay.

Anyway, more info on the script loading procedure when it's working!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Looky looky!

So with a heap of extra work tonight the Alpha is sitting at revision MSoA0.00.021 with the addition of free-looking!
Basically, what this means is that the player can, before they make a move, take a look around them by holding down the right mouse button and moving their mouse. (This was Ian's idea, and it's a damn good one). Using this, the player can further analyze items, surroundings, etc, before continuing, but the main benefit is being able to look around for approaching monsters before choosing what you want to do (very handy at crossroads).

I've also done a heap of work on the enemy A.I. function, but that's still got some big problems, so more work on that tomorrow. I also have one or two little bugs with the freelook mode, but they should be fixed up before tonight is over!

Monday, January 10, 2011


So I've started work on a basic website for this project! Check it out!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Download Soon

So I thought I'd do a quick post to give you all an update on my plans for this game in the near future. I'm going to release another Alpha build (a LOT more complete than the last one) but before I do that, I have a certain list of features I plan on having added:

- Solve the problem of enemies walking through walls
- Put in combat (but still based on the "silly" A.I. that I have in there)
- Add in-game menus
- MAYBE add the inventory code and add in item drops from crates, etc.

Once those things are done (I'm hoping by around revision 0.00.024) I'll release a new Alpha build.

So stay tuned!

Communication Breakdown

So the A.I has been giving me hell all day. All of the stats and A.I decisions of each enemy are handled in the memory space and then translated to the 3D space. However, somewhere between one and the other there is a small communication breakdown that I can't seem to find, and it's making small anomolies that, when extrapolated, mean that monsters sometimes decide to walk through walls and other obstacles. Now, I've tried working it out (which has led to a few new console commands for you guys to play with when the game comes out) but so far I haven't had any luck...

More info when I DO have some luck with it! I'm sure it's something simple that I'm missing, I just need to find out what!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Artificial Intelligence

So today has involved a lot of work towards incorporating basic A.I into the game now that the monsters are hanging around. My first step was to build a basic top-down simulator to process the swarm-style A.I that I've been planning on using in the game. The initial tests I did came out great and it looked a little something like this:

Basically, the enemies run around a square at a time, choosing to turn left or right when they find walls, however, they also keep an eye out for entrances to their left or right and sometimes decide to go down them instead (makes for some chaos in room-environments!)
I'll make it better later, but for now I just wanted A.I in the game (even stupid A.I)
So the top down simulator worked well, so I started putting in enemy "sight". Basically, all enemies have 3 states that they can be in. State 1 is their idle state when the monster is just doing it's own thing. If they see or hear something odd, they move into state 2, or 'suspicious' state. In this state they will wander in the general direction of the thing they saw or heard and snoop around for an alotted time before moving back into their idle state. If they see or hear the player whilst they are already in the suspicious state, they will enter state 3, or 'aggro' and once aggro'd they will hunt the player relentlessly. The player can do things like close/lock doors behind them or try to lose the monster through cunning navigation, but some monsters are going to be smarter than others, and some will be able to open doors ;-) others will be so large that they will easily smash their way through obstacles! Just because I'm evil like that :-)

Once that was done I put this new engine in to the MSoA code and linked it up to the 3D models. So for now they just pop out of one square and move into the other with no tweening or animation in between, but it's just a proof of concept at the moment, so that will come next. After I was done with the basic movement though, I linked their movement up with the 3D sound engine and now as I wander the dungeons I can hear things moving around me! It's pretty cool! I now frequently see sights like this:

And I keep thinking "uh oh... That's not where I left you!". You may also notice that I've started implementing the higher resolution 3D assets into the game! Very excite!

Well anyway, I'll post another update soon!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Assets

So I spent tonight working on the first new skin for the dungeons. Due to the massive amount of extra speed I have in the engine now, I'm also able to create and use much higher resolution models, and let me tell you, they're looking great! Take a look!

So I spent tonight working on the first new skin for the dungeons. Due to the massive amount of extra speed I have in the engine now, I'm also able to create and use much higher resolution models, and let me tell you, they're looking great! Take a look!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Awww Yeaaaaahhhh

Yeahhhhhh! I just worked out the math to improve level loading. Previously, levels took about a minute and a half to load (suuuuper long time), even for an advanced game like this. Now that the math is sorted out, the same level is loaded in... Get this... 4 seconds.


More Weapons!

So I spent tonight doing some work anyway lol I had a play around with animating the Short Sword and incorporating it into the game. I hit a snag with converting the animation splines out of the CAD software and into the MSoA engine. Kind of thrown today though, since I had my first day back at work after the Christmas break and it was a pretty shitty one, so I've spent the evening vegging out and watching Good Will Hunting (awesome film).

I DID, however, manage to pump out a Long Sword and a Medium Shield model for your enjoyment :)

Anyway, I hope you like them, since they'll be in the game. Talk soon!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Slowed, but not stopped!

Hello again! So tonight was my last night of holidays for a long time, which kind of sucks. Basically, it means that I won't be able to spend as much time on MSoA as I have been in the last week. So the blog posts are going to slow down a bit, but that doesn't mean I've stopped working on it!

Tonight I had to build a new graphics PC for Ordinary Obscurity, but I did manage to play around a little with weapons! I'm doing all of my test coding using the new Short Sword model that I made specifically for the game:

Cool, huh? Made it myself. Anyway, I didn't get enough done to really show anything, but it has been started. The final game is going to have an intricate crafting system for building weapons and other items, but there WILL be a finite number of 3D models for the weapons.

Anyway, I'm off to bed, ready for work tomorrow (boo hoo) so I'll update you guys again when I'm back on the project!

Bye for now!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I had planned to put this in from the beginning, but a couple of the alpha testers nagged me about it after playing for 5 minutes hahaha Turns out that those zig-zaggy corridors were nastier than I thought! So strafing exists in the game now!


This is Mr Zombie. Say "Hello, Mr Zombie!"

Mr Zombie spawned into the game world all by himself! That's right. Monsters are now spawning in as part of the level generation. Still plenty of bugs (for example, the number of monsters in a dungeon isn't yet regulated by its size, so I had a tiny level get created that was packed to the rafters with monsters!)

But it's a damn good start! Soon you will see them moving around and whatnot.

I'll have to start adding weapons.......

Also, I managed to (literally) quadrouple the rendering speed of the engine :) works much smoother now. I got some lag on a particularly large dungeon and it made me cranky so I worked on it hahaha


How to play...

It came to my attention that I should probably do a short post on how to play the Alpha...

Basically the controls are this:

- Arrow keys move you
- Clicking on things activates them
- The tilde key opens the console
- The M key opens the map, and the Esc key closes it again

Some things to note:

- Keep clicking on debris to smash it. Eventually it will break
- Playing with headphones will give you a much better view of the 3D sound engine
- DEFINITELY have your volume turned up as I am quite proud of the sound and music
- Every time you run the game, a new dungeon will be generated. You will never get the same dungeon twice.
- The final game will be more than just dungeons. It just happens that dungeons are what I'm getting working first.
- To quit the game, you must first open the console by pressing the tilde key, then type QUIT.
- The main menu isn't broken. You work it with the mouse.
- I want you to send me bugs if you find them. Not feature ideas. Just bugs.
- Remeber, please, that this is in a VERY early stage of development and is obviously not a full game yet. It is merely a tech demo of the new Hellfire II engine.

Enjoy! Email me if you have any questions!

Try me out

So I've uploaded a playable Alpha build of the engine so far. It's not exactly feature-rich, but it is playable.

Before you dive right in and download it though, it is protected by a serial key and once installed it will only work for 10 days. To get a serial key you will have to email your unique hardware fingerprint and name to me, but I won't be handing them out to just anyone. Just certain people that I want to test out my work. But then again it can't hurt to try lol

Reccomended System Requirements:

2.4GHz Dual Core CPU
Windows XP or greater
512MB video card

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Mapping Out a Game

Hello again,

So I've spent today so far working on a workable map system, including a fog-of-war sort of scenario where the only parts of the map you can see are the ones you've been to. Check it out!

Looks good, eh? Comes in handy, too, since the levels get generated randomly and I always manage to get lost!

Another Video

So earlier I promised a video showing sound. And here it is!

So it's just a quickie, yeah, but you'll notice the sound is in there now. There are a lot of ambient noises going on, too, so turn those speakers up! You also get to see the fountains, though it looks weird at this low frame rate... I need to work on my screen capture skills...
Another BIG think you may have noticed is object destruction! Yes, I did kick those objects into rubble to get past them! I hope you like that. It took me all afternoon to code and it is DAMN fun to do! I keep running around maps destroying things!

You'll also notice that I spawned an Orc using the console! (Yeah, that's his breathing you can hear) There still isn't any enemy A.I. yet, so nothing too exciting, but that's what I'm putting in next!

Anyway, I'm off to bed. Hope you're enjoying reading/watching this!