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.
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:
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.