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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Phew! What a weekend!

So I was a bit ill on Friday and decided to have a 3 day session of resting in front of my lappie working on the game. I got a lot accomplished, though it's all small details I'm afraid, so there's nothing hugely impressive to see. But still, if you're a game developer you may appreciate them anyway. This time I have a video to go along with my claims!

What you will see in the video:

- Several bugs that I am aware of:
- Minimap screws up occasionally
- Chop sound is still played when clicking on an enemy's corpse
- Monsters get stuck in things from time to time
- Fireballs think doorways are solid while open
- You can collect and use scrolls to instantly cast spells now
- You can collect spell books and read them to learn their contents permanently
- You can see what you have equipped in the inventory now
- You start off wearing clothes (rather than just your underpants) (also, please note that the clothing graphics I've used there are VERY temporary)
- Blood spurts out of enemies when they are hit
- You can see how much health, mana and gold you have while in your inventory (handy for when taking potions)
- Monsters now roar when they see or hear you

What you unfortunately WON'T see in the video:

- Sometimes when you smash open a crate, it will leave a pile of debris, which you can click on to find things
- Good balancing of enemy times for the player's level
- Good balancing of pickups for the player. Currently the player finds WAAAAYYY too much good stuff.

We're also currently working on getting heaps of new spells, heaps of new potions and heaps of new items to find (including weapons)

Until next time!

Friday, July 29, 2011


So currently there are a couple of really annoying bugs that just won't go away that I need to sort out. So while I'm being driven absolutely bonkers with them, I'm putting the call out to see what sorts of potion and spell ideas people have.
Yes, the potion and spell system in the game is going to be procedural, however I also want to put in some base ones that will be staples of the game.
So far Nyssa, Carl and Tim have come up with some fantastic ideas:

-Surrounding attack
-Chain lightning attack
-Double Speed (double attack, too)
-Wall of fire
-Detect life
-Reveal map
-Projectiles that explode on impact (splash damage)
-Confusion (enemies attack enemies)
-Blinding light (disorients enemies and gives player light)
-Drain Life
-Explode outwards from player
-Power strike (double damage and push back 2 squares)
-Bezerk (double damage but half health)
-Poison Strike (half damage but poisons enemy)
-Pierce (doesn't stop when it hits an enemy)

But I'm always open to more ideas! So feel free to comment on this post with any ideas that you do have.

By the way, monster corpses and smashed crates can now be searched for items! I know it sounds like a simple thing, but it really makes a difference to the game!

I'll be sure to post a video showing you that in action, as well as the awesome new minimap system, very soon!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

All the small things

So this weekend just gone was filled with two things:

Firstly was me doing a HEAP of small bug fixes in preparation for the demo release, so while the game doesn't look any different now, it's much smoother to play and has much fewer bugs in it. If you read this blog regularly, you'll have noticed the bug list in the bottom right getting a bit shorter lately.

Secondly we did some new voice recording. Well... Sort of... Due to technical difficulties (aka my expensive microphone somehow being badly damaged) we recorded some temporary new voice work to be replaced later when my microphone is repaired or I have bought a new one...

But there are two new voice packs, one male and one female, voiced by myself and and my lovely wife, Nyssa.

So you'll see them in the upcoming previews!

Until then!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Video Time!

So, as promised, here are a couple of videos showing off some of the new things I've been working on!

- New player voice packs by Rebeka Thomas and Samuel Drake
- A fully functional magic system (though still with temporary spell effects)
- "Spell Book" menu
- New sounds for various things
- "Death Cam" feature (a nod to my programming idol, John Carmack)

A couple of things to note with the videos:

- Spell effects will be MUCH prettier in the final version
- When the magical projectiles hit the monsters, there will be some sort of effect that plays around the monster to show that they have been hit
- All of the monsters are currently using the same sound pack, I know, but that is just until all of the monster sound packs are complete. Steven Kelly is voicing the Ork and Goblin, Samuel Drake the Zombie and Imp, myself the Minotaur and Lizardman and Kell Pressnell the Ogre.
- I'm aware of the player weapon animation bug, and am actively working to fix it
- In one of the videos, the death cam feature was finished and in the other one it was not, so I'm sorry about that.
- Blood effects for when the enemy gets hit by the player are still on the way!
- The volumes of various sounds are still being sorted out, and I know that some are far too loud/quiet at the moment.
- The inventory graphics haven't been set up to work for both male and female characters yet, so that is still happening.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these vids! The first is a very intense dungeon brawl to show off the new combat, voice acting and death cam features, and the second video is an extended gameplay video to show off how the game is coming along as a whole.

Insane Combat Encounter:

Extra-Long Gameplay Video:

Enjoy, and I'll be back soon with more cool stuff!

Lots of new things!

Another week, another death scare. Isn't my life interesting?

Anyway, despite the setback, I've managed to get lots done! There are a few new tricks up the sleeves of the monsters in the game, including them having a "guarding" behaviour of some areas of the dungeons, rather than actively chasing the player. Not all monsters will do this, of course. Just some of them.
The magic system is also now totally completed! Soon I'll start adding scrolls, etc, in chests that the player can find and add to their spellbook.
Another exciting new function is the death-cam! When your player dies, they scream, gurgle a bit and fall to the floor. It's very cool.
I've also incorporated the two voice packs provided by the lovely and talented Rebeka Thomas, and the first voice pack by the wonderful Mr Samuel Drake. Also, until all of the monster sound packs are complete, I have been using the Ork sound pack for all monsters, which was voiced by the amazing Steven Kelly.

All of this will be shown in the next video or two, which - due to internet issues - I am hoping to put up here tomorrow some time! I hope you enjoy!

See you again soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Slew of New Features

Did I spell that correctly? Slew? It doesn't matter. I'm too excited.

So wow, what a productive last few days I've had! To sum up my latest accomplishments briefly, the game has:

- A functional magic system
- Temporary spell effects
- New potion graphic based on the Ordinary Obscurity designs
- A new weapon (ready for my soon-to-come work on equipping weapons)
- A new chime sound to alert the player when a secret is nearby
- The ability to equip armour
- New graphics to show you which spells you have working (this also works for potions)

Here's a video showing all of it in action:

So yeah, lots of fun stuff! Next up is adding in the spell book menu and dropping procedurally generated spells into chests for the player to find, not to mention some "mystery potions" that may help or hinder you depending on what they do!

Rachel from Ordinary Obscurity has been hard at work and producing some mind blowing stuff as usual. You'll recall the earlier posts with the new tapestry decorations for dungeons? Well, she's pumped out a full set of them now. Here's a small sample of what she's done:

They're going to look amazing decorating the walls of the dungeons! She's also been working on some more super secret stuff for towns and countryside once the player leaves the dungeons (don't forget that the dungeons are only a small part of this game!)

Natalie Snook has also been hard at work on the concept art and so you'll be seeing some more of that very soon. I believe she's been working on the concept of the Dokkalfar, or Dark Elf. The early renders of it I've seen look amazing, so that should be awesome when it gets in!

Samuel Drake, Steven Kelly and Myself have also been hard at work on the new set of monster sounds that will accompany the game! They're going to be super cool, and we're almost at the point where we have ALL of the player voice packs ready! Once they're all together I'll be doing a special post with a special video showcasing them all for you!

Until then, I need to get some well earned sleep! Ciao!

Monday, July 4, 2011


So I've been asked by some people to share some of the more intimate details of the tech behind The Sword of Ahkranox, so for all you budding game developers out there, enjoy the read.

And, before you read on, if you disagree with the way I'm doing any of this, or are planning on ridiculing my methods, or telling me I should be doing it another way to the way I'm currently doing it, please refer to this link.

If you're just in for a good read, then please continue:

The Tech:
Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox is written in three different languages. The first and foremost language that it is written in is C++. This was used for all of the 3D rendering of the engine. To do this I have made extensive use of the DarkGDK.NET libraries by The Game Creators. However, the C++ portion is merely to create my OWN set of libraries (since I'm not 100% happy with the DarkGDK libraries on their own, and I have insisted on reinventing the wheel and modifying their output). So C++ has been used purely for that purpose. Once those libraries were complete, I then used Visual C#.NET to tie the game together and give it its front-end. Visual C#.NET is definitely the core device that holds the game together and gives it its Windows interaction. However, the main bulk of the processing objects that are used in the game are written in DarkBASIC Professional and brought into Visual C#.NET via the DarkGDK.NET. All of the things like the procedural content generation, etc, is done in this manner. Now that the engine proper is sorted out, most of my coding has been in processing, so these days I mostly am writing DarkBASIC Professional code, and only having to modify my C# or C++ files when absolutely necessary. I'm an old-school BASIC coder, so this is what works best for me.
So why not just drop the C++ and C# and just write the thing purely in DarkBASIC Professional? Good question! While DarkBASIC Professional is a fantastic package and they have done a really awesome job in putting together a really solid platform, all programs made in it are incredibly heavy on the system resources and any decent sort of game written in it takes a monster of a machine to run. By reinventing their SDK in C++ and controlling its Windows interaction in C#, I have been able to directly be in control of which system resources are used and in what way, making me able to write a considerably more powerful engine than what would normally be able to be done in pure DarkBASIC Professional.
As a side-note here, I'd like to add that if you have tried DarkBASIC back in the day, and haven't yet tried out DarkBASIC Professional, I cannot stress to you enough how much you need to try it out. It's a whole new language and literally about 500 times more versatile and powerful than its predecessor.

The Engine:

So the engine is grid-based first person game. The design was modeled off of the classic grid-based first person engines of the mid-nineties that powered such titles as Might and Magic, Eye of the Beholder, and the like. I grew up loving these games, but always thought they could have been better.
So because of this, the game is broken up into a 2D grid. Each grid space represents a different item. Each grid space can only contain one item. Things like walls, destroyable objects, chests, fountains, columns, etc. They are placed using the procedural engine (which I will describe in that section)
When loading the level, the engine looks into this grid and places the corresponding 3D objects into the world. The player is then placed into this world, and as they move about it, the engine refers to the 2D grid (which is still stored in memory) to see whether the player is allowed to move forward or not (based on the solidity of the object in front of them)
Monsters follow a similar system as their modified Dijkstra algorithm refers to the 2D grid to see where their available paths are.

The Procedural Content:
So this is the super-secret part, but I'll tell you a bit about it. Yes, The Sword of Ahkranox's in-game world is quite literally infinite. No, I'm not exaggerating. The engine makes use of a new type of procedural generation that I invented myself. No fractals, no Perlin noise, no blobs, no diamonds. Instead it makes use of a hyperbolic paraboloid generating seeds which are used to create the world in four dimensions. X, Y and Z co-ordinates as well as a time coefficient. Changes that the player makes to the world as they move through it are stored in a temporary database but are then reset after the player has given enough time and distance between them. So, if you empty a chest in one dungeon, then travel across the world, eventually that chest will re-fill, however, due to the time coefficient, the seed that generates the content of that chest will now be different, thus putting different content in that chest.
The AI of NPCs and monsters also follows this procedural generation, so people won't just sit in one spot, but will travel around the world while you play, depending on their role.
This generation accounts for almost everything in the game. Spell creation, item creation, weapon creation, potion creation, NPC dialogue system, even the spell effects that happen on the screen. Due to this, the world that the player explores will be ever-changing and infinite. They won't keep finding the same old weapons or items, there will be no end to the number of spells they can find or use, they won't even keep having the same conversations with NPCs.
"That's impossible!" I hear you cry. Well, it's already working fine. I know you're only seeing the dungeons at the moment, but that's because their pretty. The other parts of the game aren't pretty yet ;-)

The Assets:
There are a lot of assets in the game, and to create them I personally have been using Adobe Photoshop CS4, as well as 3ds Max 2011. Other artists on the team have been using Photoshop as well as programs such as Illustrator and ArtRage (great program if you ever have the time to have a play) and one of our artists is even sticking with purely traditional methods and materials, and then digitizing them later.

So that's everything for now. If anyone has any other questions, please feel free to comment on this post or send me an email and I'll answer as best I can!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What a day!

So it just hit me that I've been programming for 14 straight hours. Fun fun!

I've gotten a lot done though:

- The potion system is now 100% functional, and that includes custom potions that the player will be able to brew themselves.
- The player can now put on the armour that they find, and the armour can bestow multiple effects on the player (which leaves room for me to implement magical armour)
- The player can now equip new weapons and it will both be visible inside the game window and update their combat statistics. Weapons can also bestow multiple effects (making way for flaming swords!)
- Added in a God-Mode and a NoTarget cheat for my testing purposes.

If you haven't seen it already on the FaceBook group ( then you can see what the finished combat looks like here:

This combat is still pretty early stages (needs more blood, etc, and there are a couple of non-terminal bugs, but it's getting there)

So more work soon. The next video you will likely see is one showing a fully functional inventory system!

Ciao for now!