Category Archives: HotM

Heavy on the Downloads – relatively

A nice pleasant surprise greeted me when I decided it was time to blog about my latest project this morning. I opened up my download stat counter, just curious and all, and found that, in the year since I released the Heavy on the Magick Engine Demo, it has been downloaded over 750 times. That’s almost twice a day over the space of 13 months.

I’m a little bit chuffed about that!

The source has been downloaded close to 400 times, and I can only apologise to all of those people who have tried to decipher it! It’s not an outstanding piece of C++ / Allegro!

I’m still proud of the work I did on HotM and one day, just one day, I might take it a little further, but not now, now I have other things to play with……

Heavy on the Magick Demo Released

After almost 2 years of on and off coding, several re-writes, massive graphical direction changes and VERY little testing, I am pleased as punch to be able to announce the release of my Heavy on the Magick engine demo.

Get the game here…..

Download the source code too…..

About the game

Heavy on the Magick (HotM, if you please) was one of THE must own games for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. It was released by Gargoyle Games in 1986 and was one of the first real ‘Text Adventure’ crossover games that the mass market took to their hearts.

The concept was simple, take a fully useable text parser, make it simple by defining the verbs people could use, and above all, animate the game with gorgeous looking sprites.

For those who did not play the original and don’t want to faff about with an emulator to see it working, you can, by the Magick of Youtube, have a little lookie here:

Heavy on the Magick – Spectrum-wise

So that’s the game, what about the remake?

As detailed here, I’d been working on a remake of HotM for a little while and had given up the ghost on it for the immediate future. Turns out the future can sometimes come around sooner than you think. I picked up the code again in early November 2011 and everything just seemed to fall into place.

One of the main issues I had that I wasn’t particularly happy with was the free-text entry system, if you tried Picking-up or Dropping an item it would open a seperate text input box for you to type in your object name, I just couldn’t get it to run in the command chain like all of the other commands. It turns out that this was a very simple thing to do, I just needed to re-jig my text input routine slightly, where as I’d been trying to re-write it completely. This also opened up the possibilities for talking (in the original you can talk to NPCs / Objects by using the speech mark key – ” and then typing your target, speech. For example “APEX, HELP or “DOOR, PASSWORD). The re-jig allowed me to implement this into the engine too.

The only other things I really needed to do to get this working was to create a game ending, add in some sound effects and remove all of the debugging flags. I also added an introduction / instruction screen and tidied up some of the graphics. In whole, I spent another 10 hours or so from the 2nd of November to the 10th November getting it ship shape and ready to go.

The game was released in the early hours of 11th November 2011 (International Skyrim Day, no less) and I went to bed a very tired bunny!

There isn’t a lot more to show screenshot-wise, the layout hasn’t changed and the graphics have stayed the same, but I’ve added a few for completeness……..

So, what did I get out of the whole process then?

Well, I guess I mainly got satisfaction. I guess that anyone who has been working on a project will be relieved that they finally managed to get it out of the door, but this was more than that. HotM was one of the most complex bits of coding I’ve ever undertaken, even moreso than Underlord, and, in the end, it worked. I can’t hold my hands up and say it’s the most efficient way of working, but it works.

I also got a lot of encouragement from the number of downloads. In it’s first weekend alone, I had over 70 downloads of the game and 8 downloads of the source. OK, it’s not exactly Angry Birds territory just yet, but 70 downloads is more that Action Biker and Gatecrasher (my two last games) have achieved in their lifetime combined (Both over 2 years since release).

I learned a lesson or two about coding, about woring with ASCII characters and about C++ and Allegro in general.

What did I not achieve?

Bloody graphics. The option is still there, if anyone fancies it, to work with the graphics on the game and make it look pretty. The graphics I have used have been inexpertly ripped and inexpertly touched up by me. They are rubbish, I know this.

Fonts. The font I have used is, I think, a beautifuly moody and ‘in character’ font, but it is, on the occasional letter at least, a right royal pain to read! I would prefer a custom font based on this one, but I’m not even sure now what font I used, it was that long ago!

Music. I picked, after a lot of searching, a wonderful piece of music called ‘Smoking Gun’ I couldn’t get it to work. Well, I could get it to work, but it just cuts out after about 10 seconds. this I intend to fix in a future release, if there IS a future release.

What is next?

For HotM, nothing, at lease, nothing in the immediate future. I, like many of my retro coding peers, am turning my talents (well, ability)(well, hand) to coding for the Android. There is a possibility that I might look into actually remaking HotM completely, but it will not be for a while.

I have released the source code though, if anyone wants to look or even take the project further.

Thanks for your interest.

Get the game here…..

Download the source code too…..

Updatathon Part 1.

Lawks! But my, hasn’t it been a while. Over a year since the last post on this here blog, and I’ve done so much yet done so little worth while. I guess I ought stick on an update on some of the stuff I’ve posted about before, that would most likely be a good start.

Heavy on the Magic

Heavy on the Magic (or ASCII on the Magic, whatever) has changed dramatically since I last wrote about it. You may recall that, in my last post (A Kind Of Magick?) I explained that, due to my lack of pixelling skills, I had moved from a remake of HotM to a DEmake. The idea was to ditch the requirement for an artist and to concentrate on the engine of the game itself and, partly because of my love of ZZT, and partly as a nod to the superb demake of Portal by Cymon, but mostly as a means to an end, construct the whole of Heavy on the Magic in ASCII.

As odd as it sounds, it was by far the best thing I ever did on the game, for several reasons.

  • It got me coding the game again.
  • It made me think about some of the problems I had faced in the coding of the game in a different way which, ultimatly, resolved quite a few of the issues I had been having
  • It got me another mention in RetroGamer magazine (Huzzar!)

I worked quite extensively on AotM for three months or so, and had a working engine which looked very much like this…….

So, it's one screen away from the start. I'm not saying I was ever any good at the game!

But then something interesting happened. I decided to test a theory and just drop some graphics in instead of the ASCII stuff……

Which I thought looked rather nice, and stuck with it!

Anyway, there is a sad end to this tale, HotM is currently on hold. Not gone forever, but on hold for a little while at least.

To be honest, there isn’t too much to do to get this finished.

That’s a lie, there is a massive amount to do to get this finished, but I don’t ever intend to finish it, my intention is to release a mini-game, just 40 rooms, but with different puzzles to the original, just so I can get what I have done on it out there.

I don’t think that there is too much to do to get this playable though, and perhaps I’ll get around to it. I’m not promising though……

A Kind of Magick?

It’s odd, isn’t it. Fate, I mean. In the last year I’ve completed 2 games and started a third and yet, have I updated my blog? Have I hell! Yet today I decided to do it. Today of all days.

It would appear that tomorrow marks the first anniversary of my last blog post. How odd, then, that I have news!

I’ve been working on Heavy on the Magick on and off for a while, but I’ve made very little progress. That’s not fair actually, I’ve made SOME progress, work on my XML map and game data, graphics ripping, moving sprites around, the normal stuff, but nothing that you could say was work towards HotM in particular.

The problem, you see, and I’m sure I may have mentioned this, is graphics. I’ve played around with ripped sprites, tidied them up the best I can, arranged them in a useable sprite sheet, blitted them to the screen and…… they still look shocking!

So then, what to do?

I’m not happy with my sprites but I want to get the engine working, I mean, if I have a proven working engine then I MIGHT be able to persuade someone to draw some pretty pictures for me. How can I do the game some justice without exposing the world to my gash blitting?

Ladies and gentlemen, I offer, for your perusal and comment……

Yep, you read it right…. ASCII on the Magick. I can cope with a bit of ASCII… And you know what? I’m getting somewhere. Using the power of the font, I’ve now got in:

Text input movement – working

A compass – working

Wall decor – Partly working

An ASCII map – working

And that’s just for starters…..

I’ll keep this up to date when I remember, but I thought I’d share my progress while I actually had some. So, as the title says, it’s a KIND of magick…..