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SmittyB

Spire of the Ancients (WIP)

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I looked at my keypad code again and it appears I disabled the keypad while testing because of the aforementioned key 11 problem causing trouble while testing in emulation. Future builds should have the keypad enabled again and the pause function moved to key 12. I'm having fun seeing how I can link things together for a livelier dungeon crawl experience.

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Sorry for the absence of an update for a long time, I've not had a chance to sit down and get much done.

That said I've managed to automate a lot of the difficult and time consuming parts of level editing via spreadsheets so I can now churn out levels in a matter of minutes. Additionally I've doubled the amount of objects per map from 16 to 32 which has given me a lot more freedom.

The only thing that's stopping me is a lack of content to fill those levels, after all what's the point of running through the same corridors if it's just a matter of finding a switch to allow access to another switch to get to more corridors? My focus at the moment is to draw up graphics for new enemies to fill the maps with and I've attached screenshots of a couple that I've been working on. I tested adding more segments to the snake-like 'terrasite' but it caused a little too much slowdown for my liking but I'm okay with the slightly disjointed look.

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post-27819-0-21534300-1522695325.png

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I've updated the titlescreen a bit and added a snippet of music too. I've slightly updated the tetrach graphics and completely changed the pnydt to reuse graphics I already had.

 

I've not made a lot of progress because I keep hitting roadblocks which mean I keep having to go back and squeeze a little bit more out of my code and graphics whilst also trying to not burn out on the whole project. This also means that most enemies will just be palette swaps but then again I have 6 different enemies at the moment, and Dungeon Master has 27 in total so with palette swaps and reusing enemy parts to build new ones I should be able to get pretty close.

 

It's getting there, just very slowly.

post-27819-0-60411400-1527508517.png

post-27819-0-61256000-1527508522.png

post-27819-0-63394400-1527508526.png

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Wow is that ever cool!! Don't give up!!

The 7800 needs you! Mine told me that this morning.

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This also means that most enemies will just be palette swaps

 

This is the 7800. A mid-80's machine. Palette swaps should be perfectly fine for anyone's realistic expectation, so long as the enemies are "different" otherwise. Different stats, maybe behaviors/skills if that kinda thing is in the game. (ie: don't worry about it that much.)

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Oh they'll definitely have different stats, and the current default enemy AI is configurable enough that I've not actually needed to write an alternative yet.

 

Each enemy (and possibly non-hostile things if I feel like adding them) has a configurable movement speed, attack speed, attack strength, health, look distance, and attack distance.

This means my cultists appear to be fairly intelligent as they can spot the player at a distance, and move close enough to use their ranged magic attack so the player either has to move closer to the cultist before attacking, or run away and the cultist can easily give chase, even if it loses sight of the player briefly.

On the other hand the basic slimes won't react to the player unless the player is close to them and they need to be in the same space as the player to attack. If the player runs out of their short 'lookDistance' they'll just start wandering aimlessly.

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I've been meaning to redraw the slimes for a while to fit the current style and to better conserve graphics space.

I named the different colour variations and couldn't avoid thinking of the monsters from some other game....

 

Not shown are 'Putressence' (yellow) and 'Chlorogak' (green).

post-27819-0-26773000-1527626221.png

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I've had another play around with my keypad code. It's now a bit more reliable now that I've increased the delay to account for aging capacitors before polling the ports. Before it would occasionally read as the wrong key briefly.

 

I still have 2 problems with it.

Firstly, if no keypad is plugged in it always reads as the lowest-middle key, if one is plugged in and removed it correctly acts as if no keys are pressed.

Secondly, the entire right-hand column doesn't register even though it works fine on the demo program I made with identical code.

 

I've moved the item selection and pause to the two working columns so if I can't fix it I at least have the functionality I wanted.

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Here's my current NTSC test build to keep you all happy while you wait. I added some torches to the map at the last second and it's introduced noticeable slowdown so I'll see if I can make them more efficient.

There's only 3 areas accessible at the moment and I suppose the objective is to get to the ladder at the end of the underground tunnel that boots you back to the start so you can do it all again. Have fun.

SotA 18-06-03.a78

SotA 18-06-03.bin

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So much game ambience already present, this WIP needs a video...

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkVF1069Gc0

 

Three areas found; however, cheated in finding my way 'back'. I failed to find the ladder at the end of the underground tunnel that boots you back, and a few times went in circles. Not the fault of the game design, but of my giddiness wanting to explore.

 

Finding myself instantly immersed, by no small means of the title screen intro with a beautiful melodic tune and the start of game presentation; it really colored me impressed. The game is progressing along beautifully.

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I'll admit I'm more than a little giddy seeing somebody else playing it.

It's a weird experience because I know exactly where everything is and what the map looks like, so while I'm there thinking "Left, you need to look left!" I'm also thinking "I should probably change that, and that, and that too.".

In other news, I did indeed manage to speed up the torch logic with a touch of assembly. I'm going to try doing the same for the other object functions like movement checks and the general AI.

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Funny mentioning the thought, "Left, you need to look left!" as I edited out of what was a part of my original intended post, that navigating through the maze in such a haphazard fashion was similar to me driving to a new location for the first time and my wife telling me to stop and ask for directions. :P

 

In conjunction with that, driving on the right side of the road, and more accustomed to going right with many games...Pitfall!, SMB, most side-scrollers, wondering how much of that is influencing my decision making on which direction to proceed in next.

:ponder:

 

Anyhow, the speed is perfect right now. Heck, I'd say it's too fast when just full trailblazing through it. Dungeon "Crawlers" encompasses many elements, the realism of walking slowly and the spookiness and 'magic' behind lights slowly illuminating during the opening area really adds to the initial submersion into the game('s atmosphere).

 

I'd go as far to state the initial start of game corridor/cavern should be forced to a slow pace - a crawl, and keep the current start illuminance rate of the torches and overall area as well. Once the player obtains and wields the sword, then the option to move quickly through the corridors (or continue slowly), can be permitted. Makes sense too, as being weaponless, one should be extra cautious as opposed to feeling (slightly) bolder after a weapon is obtained and in hand.

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Thanks, that gives me a lot of ideas and things to think about.

I was wary of making the walking speed too slow lest the game becomes a tedious slog through boring hallways, but I already have boots in the game as an item to allow running, so maybe I'll adjust the speed and make sure the player gets the ability to run before they need to do any serious backtracking.

 

I'm thinking I'll also add more in the way of puzzles at the start to introduce the mechanics of the game before dropping the defenceless player into areas with enemies that they have to avoid.

 

The combat in general is something I still need to overhaul, at the moment enemy stats are just whatever feels right for testing.

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What is this and why am I only now seeing it?! Please finish this! Looms great!

 

Special thanks to Trebor for posting the video on Youtube which is how I found this.

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I've found the source of the slow down on the second area though my first attempt at improving it just slowed everything down more.

The slowness is caused by the objectLook routine that's used to find line of sight and distance to the player.

When a monster is idle it will look every frame so it can react immediately whereas normally it will only look after moving or before attacking every 20 or so frames.

If the rewritten routine isn't fast enough I'll add a delay before idle enemies look around and offset it slightly per monster so they don't all look at once and make things stutter.

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