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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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ready? FIGHT!

So the combat system is starting to work. Currently it's based around a one-hit-kill mechanic just to prove that it works, but you'll get the idea. Check out the video!

And in this video you can hear some of the awesome new voice pack that was done up by the talented Samuel Drake, as well as the first (I think) viewing of the new tapestry designs by the lovely Rachel!

Well I'm tired and slightly delirious, so I'll talk to you again soon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So the talented Natalie Snook has agreed to let her concept artwork for the monsters be used on the in-game loading screens, and they're looking awesome!

Here's an example:

More to come soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The A.I. LIVES!!!!!!!!1!!1!!!!ONE!!!

So the A.I finally works! Yay! It's still in an early stage of development, but it's at a point where it's finally fun to play with!

So yeah! There's going to be a LOT more to it than you see in the video, but you can see where it's going!

Yay! Big leaps from here on in!

Monday, June 27, 2011

AI is close...

So the A.I. nightmare is almost over. I've gotten it working about 99%. I think by the end of this week it should be a total go, so stay tuned.

Also, the newest member of our art team, Natalie Snook, has been hard at work still. Check this out!

And there is more to come, too! So that is very exciting. More updates when the A.I is behaving even better!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Notes

So this is a quick post to welcome the newest member of the MSoA team, Natalie Snook!

She is handling the enemy mob high concept art for the game, and potentially more. Just tonight she got in her first piece, which is the Ork concept piece (all of the enemies in the game are currently temporary, and are all being remodeled)

Take a look!

Awesome work, hey!

In other news, the A.I work is progressing slowly. The background processing is working fine, but translating the enemy's "thought" into animated movement through the 3D world is proving difficult. More news on that as things happen...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Just a quick update to let you know that I've fixed the no path problem and the A.I is working faster than lightning now! Huzzah!

The no path problem

So I've fully integrated the Dijkstra's algorithm into the game for enemy movement and it works REALLY well, but I have a problem. The algorithm doesn't have any parameters for when no path can be found, and is only appropriate for when there is always guaranteed a path from start to finish. In my case, this is not always so.
For the purpose of getting it working inside the engine I mocked up a simple solution to the problem, but when running the algorithm (with my fix) on a large group of monsters, most of which whom can't find a complete path to their endpoint, it causes big problems in terms of speed; sometimes taking up to 45 seconds to do the thinking for all of the in-game monsters. This will not do, so I need to come up with a better fix (to be fair, my original fix was REALLY haphazard, so I'm not surprised that it sucks balls)
When there IS a clear path from start to finish, the algorithm is solved as quick as lightning, and there is barely any delay to be seen, but I need to be less lazy and more clever to try and sort this thing out.

I'll get there eventually...

New Voice Talent

As mentioned in a previous post, Karen Kahler has joined the voice acting team. Here's an example of what it's sounding like!

Sorry about the long loading time, but that's because of my experimentation at the moment. It's doing some extra things that still haven't been optimized.

Anyway, more soon!

Monday, June 20, 2011


So now that the A.I is behaving itself, let me show you what I have planned for it.

The enemy A.I will be divided into three different states; idle, suspicious and aggro.

Idle enemies will simply meander around the dungeon, looking for areas that they can see and moving to them as they see fit. Sometimes they'll just stand around doing nothing, depending on how they feel at the time.

Suspicious enemies have thought they heard or saw something abnormal. They have a vague idea of the direction that sight/sound came from and head over to investigate. Once they reach that point, they will either see the player and turn aggro, or see nothing (due to the player either hiding or having moved on) and return to an idle state.

Aggro enemies have seen the player and are on their case. They will ruthlessly hunt the player down and chase them. Once a monster loses line of sight to the player, a countdown will begin. The monster will keep trying to chase the player until that countdown is up. If they get line of sight on the player again, they resume their hunt, but if they can't find the player by the time the countdown is up, they go back to being suspicious and head over to where they think the player was heading. After that, they may find them and turn aggro again or they may assume the player has escaped and revert back to an idle state.

For my early tests I've been using a simple "move forward until you hit something, and then turn in a random direction and keep trying to move" algorithm, but now that it's working I'll be moving to something a little more complex; namely Dijkstra's Algorithm. so far it's working quite well:

So more news on that when there's something to show for it!


Quick post! The AI is working now!

This means.... Next stop... COMBAT!

Also, the latest addition to our voice talent, Karen Kahler, has gotten her character voice pack in, so expect to see a video showing that off later tonight!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 19, 2011


So I also had a poke around with some early procedural landscape generation stuff. You know, for when you get out of the dungeons and walk around the countryside (don't forget that this game isn't just dungeons!)

My first experimentation was with fractals, which I'm not overly impressed with. Plus they've been done to death... I produced this:

Great for large-scale stuff, but when it comes to The Sword of Ahkranox, I'm going to need a little more than this... The next time I have a play with this I'm thinking of looking into Perlin Noise.

Most likely I'll create my own system like I did with the dungeon generation, which was based on generating seeds through a hyperbolic paraboloid (I was eating pringles while I wrote it). It seemed to work quite well, but countrysides will be a very different animal to the dungeon interiors...

Time will tell!


So there has been a rousing clamour from my testers for secret areas in dungeons, and, doing a Carmack move, I have capitulated and put them into the game. They don't show up on the map (unless you're clever) and they look just like any other wall, but if you click on them, then they will lower down into the floor allowing you access to the secret areas beyond.
Also, when you're near one, one of the red gems down the bottom of the screen will start to glow. It won't lead you to where it is, but it will let you know that they are there.
Oh, and monsters can sometimes hide inside secret rooms and jump out at you when you open them :D


Frustrations! Even with progress!

So I've got tapestries decorating the dungeons now (you might see some in the next video), I've added some extra button functionality, I've updated the character selection screen (which had been bothering my play testers), I fixed the monster placement routines and I added in some extra loading screens where previously the game had just sort of locked-up when it got to certain parts. Now it has the extra functionality to make it much more user friendly.
I also put in some fun groundwork to make the secret walls start to work! They're looking fun, and when it works properly I'll put up a video.

But the god-damned AI still isn't working! And I can't work out why! Grrr!

More info on that soon...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Wind Up My Bum

So after showing the latest build of the game to a couple of people *cough*Ian*cough*Scott*cough* I got a good response, but at the same time it really hilighted to me that even after 18 months of solid work developing this engine and working on all the little things like the lighting and shadowing, control system, texturing, etc, all the game currently allows you to do is basically run around and kick tables over.

Not very fun.

So while in MY head I can see all of the potential for future growth in the game, today really showed me I need to get some serious playability starting to happen. And that means combat! And traps! And secret rooms! And that sort of jazz. So the NEXT time I show people *cough*Ian*cough*Scott*cough* the latest build, they'll actually have something to properly DO in the game and they can like it for more than its smooth-as-butter controls and pretty lighting systems lol

Thanks guys! You've inspired me to work harder, and that is always a good thing :D

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Amazing audio

So here's the first of several videos showing off the amazing voice acting of Steven Kelly, one of our many talented voice actors on the project.

Sorry it drags on a bit, but I was looking for more debris to hack to pieces because occasionally when you attack, your character utters a big attack scream, and I was hoping that one would play, but no dice... I'll be doing more videos soon anyway.
This is also your first view of the magic system! I cast "guiding light" to illuminate the dungeon a bit, making it easier to see.

More soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why I'm doing this

So after talking to several different people about this, I thought it's probably a great idea for me to write a post as to why I started this project, and why I am continuing to do this project.

Originally, this game started out as a card game. That's right, a card game! It was still procedural, still had the same monsters, environments, items, spells, etc, but it was all played with cards and dice. So anyway, my wife and I (the only members of the team at that point) spent a very, very long time developing this card game from crappy paper cutout cards with hand-drawn artwork and writing on them all the way through to getting a professionally printed set made up, adorned with amazing artwork donated generously from the DeviantArt community. Once we had this set made up, and the game finalised, we then proceeded to look for investors to be able to self-publish the game. Unfortunately, we came up short, and very shortly afterward I became deathly ill (quite literally. I very nearly died) and that health scare lasted 18 months. Even now, as I write this, I am still about 3/4 of the way through my recovery. Still not 100%. Because of this time, almost all of our spare money and time went to sorting out the illness and paying medical expenses, etc, etc, and so finding investors seemed even further from our reach than ever.
However, I then had a notion. It had always been the plan to release the card game, and then develop a supporting PC game to accompany it and expand our market horizons a little. In the end, we decided to focus on developing the PC game first, and use the profits from it to self fund and launch the card game that we had put so much love and effort into. It was then that conceptual development of Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox began.
By the time the concept had been fully fleshed out, however, the views had changed yet again. My wife and I are avid gamers and have been since a very young age, and we have seen many games come and go. We have seen many games that had so much potential to be great get crushed into repetitive rubbish by money hungry publishing companies, or get rushed out the door without being bothered to reach their peak heights. I was determined to not let that happen to my game. I have been writing computer games for the PC since I was 10 years old, and I would be damned if I was going to put this much effort into anything other than perfection. And not just anyone's perfection. MY perfection. Growing up, I have always had the largest fascination with fantasy RPGs such as the Might and Magic series, and The Elder Scrolls series, and I have always had a very clear idea in my mind of what my ideal RPG would be. The Sword of Ahkranox is it.
I decided to really do this game right. Like most game programmers, I find it difficult seeing a project all the way through to completion, but this project I have dedicated myself to in a whole new way. I am spending large amounts of my own money to hire some incredible talent in the fields of voice acting, concept art and texture design, as well as music and sound generation. I want this game to have the professional cut of a modern game, but at the same time have the old-school charm of the retro magnificence that is the history of classic RPG play. I want it to be procedurally generated, but not in a predictable way that is found in every other so-called procedural game.
So that's what I'm making. My game. I am heading a team of around 35 people to make my perfect gaming experience, and no-one elses. It may make money, it may not. If it does, then great! It means that there are others out there as frustrated with modern RPGs as I am. I'll be able to take the profits and turn the card game into a reality!
If it doesn't sell well, then I'll still have my perfect game to play! And when it comes down to it, that is what I find important in this. I will be plugging this game everywhere, advertising it and selling it with gusto in every way that I can, but making money from the project is not my main goal. Making my ideal game a reality is my only goal here.

Because I can ;-)

More on the Lights

Just a quick update for tonight. Three things on the menu.

Firstly, I've changed the lights a little. Instead of being statue-like lights that can block the path of the player, now the lights hang from the ceiling in these delicate cast iron webs. Much prettier and they don't impede the player at all!

In this screenshot, you can also see the latest rendition of the User Interface, with a few more thanks and songs of praise to Scott Cameron for his suggestions on that.

Secondly, there is a new terrain object that the player will be able to find things inside of. Pots!

Yeah, I know, pretty dodgy looking models at the moment, but remember that all of the assets in the game so far are temporary fixtures while I get the engine working perfectly, so bear with me!

And finally, you'll notice that to the right there is a public to do list. I've decided to make this public since it will then make me accountable for my work! It's not finished yet, but you'll see it grow (and then hopefully shrink) over time!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Let there be light!

So this idea is thanks to Carl Hansen. In the game, it's actually going to be virtually pitch black inside dungeons, and very hard to see. Players will need to use torches and/or magic to find their way around easily. Torches will sometimes fizzle out, too, leaving you blind in a monster infested dungeon... However, what if the dungeons occasionally had light sources placed at intervals? Carl had this idea and I immediately put it into action, creating these floating magical orbs which let off an eerie blue/green glow, illuminating the dungeon around them. There will only ever be a maximum of 5 on each floor though, so they will be few and far between!

Pretty cool, huh? Thanks Carl!

Talk again soon!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New things

So you'll remember a while back that I mentioned the in-game language of the game, called Ahkrani. Well it's getting a bit more developed now. It was developed by Rachel Birchnoff over at Ordinary Obscurity and her handwriting is much better than mine. Here's an example of what it can look like when hand written:

So that's looking fairly cool and you should be seeing more of that as time goes on. I may even end up turning it into a font you can download to use yourself :D

The next topic is the magic that I'm working on:

I'll be adding two initial spells, Seer and Guiding Light, to test the system. Once they're working better I'll do another video for you.

Ciao for now!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Finally got the A.I behaving itself (I hope - needs further testing to be sure). But now that it's working nicely I can start prettying up the movement by linking it to the model animations (currently they're just sliding around the map as if on roller skates!)

So all going well, I could have a very fun movie to upload later tomorrow!

But it's 2:30am now, so I'm going to bed!

See ya!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Whoa, what a night!

What a night! Got quite a few things crossed off of the bug/to do list tonight.

Firstly, the first gem in the new user interface is working. The big green gem down the bottom of the screen now lights up when enemies are nearby (whether you can see them or not, actually. It's quite disconcerting)

Secondly, the weapon animations are finally fixed. That was a bizarre problem to fix, too. It had something to do with the way my engine was interpreting the animation data in the file. All of my other in-game models are directX objects, whereas my sword was a .3ds file straight out of 3ds Max. Got it sorted in the end though and now it looks even cooler.

Thirdly, the "take all" button in the chest interface works now, and you read the earlier blog entry regarding the open chests, which is cool.

Fourthly? I laid down some more groundwork ready for the monster A.I rewrite, which will mean an exciting weekend for me (it's a long weekend where I live) which means if all goes well I may have a working combat/A.I system in place ready for the new week! Very exciting!

Well, it is FRIKKING FREEZING here right now, and it's 1am, so I'm going to curl up in bed and get warm.

Talk soon!

What's in there then!

So what are you seeing in this screenshot? Opened chests! It's a little feature that my wife pointed out should be in there, but after you've looked inside a chest now, the lid opens. The models I've been using will now have to be changed (as you can see in the screenshot) but other than that it's working really nicely!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New Pretties

So I've done a significant upgrade to the UI of the game. Still not 100% done as my friend Scott Cameron has come up with a couple of very valid points involving the buttons and avatar layout which I'll be putting into effect soon.

In addition to that I've begun work on the next dungeon tileset. The dungeons won't always look the way you've been seeing in the screenshots and videos. Sometimes you'll find creepy catacombs like this, but sometimes you'll find sandstone tombs, mouldy cobblestone dungeons, etc. So the next one is in the works. Just 3D models at the moment with no textures, but check it out:

So yeah, I've also done a few awesome bug fixes in the engine, but you'll hear about them soon!

Ciao for now!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Traps on Hold, but Still Progress!

So the traps are still going to happen, but today I started working on the character creation process, using some of the amazing artwork being provided by Rachel Birchnoff over at Ordinary Obscurity.

Sorry the audio quality in this is so bad. I'm still sorting out my recording procedures...

I hope you like that! It's still in the works, but it's looking great. And you can make out some of the incredible voice work of Steven Kelly there, too (sorry again about the audio quality. I promise I'll make a decent movie very soon)

So I also put in some extra decoration into the dungeons. Statues! They look great, too. I'm very happy with them. What do you guys think?

I'll also be starting to play around with the magic system, soon too.

Talk again soon!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


So in true MSoA style I'm modifying the design document as I go, and I have had an inclination to put traps in dungeons! Muahaha. Also, monsters normally don't trigger them, but aggro monsters will! That could lead to some (potentially) awesome take-downs!

Let me know what you think!

New Video

So I'm always saying I'll get you guys new videos to watch, and here you go!

We're up to alpha build 0.36 now, which is exciting. The last build I showed you was only alpha build 0.15, so we've come quite a long way. You'll have to forgive a few things in this video as there are still a lot of temporary assets in place while things get sorted out.
Anyway, the audio quality is crappy (sorry about that) but you can hear some of the AMAZING vocal work being done for the game by the wonderfully talented Steven Kelly. I'm going to do a proper tribute to the voice actor's work very soon after it all comes in. It really deserves its own video to show it off, so that will be coming shortly when we get a bit more of it in!

Things to note in this vid:

- The weapon animations are all buggered at the moment and are being worked on
- The volume levels of different sounds are a bit of a mess, but they will be fixed eventually
- All of the 3D models you see are either temporary or unfinished
- The UI is going to be changing dramatically. What you see here is the development one we're using just until we get the game working properly
- Why the hell did that fountain disappear? I'll have to look into that...
- I'm totally in love with the item name generation code. The examples in this vid really don't do it justice. It is procedural like the rest of the game and is coming up with names of ancient cities and heroes where the item originated from all on its own. Took a good several months to perfect this system, so I'm really happy with it!