Next steps

It’s been a while since I’ve released any updated versions of the demo so I’ve been thinking about what features I’d like to add next. I drew up a list but as it has a few dozen items on it I won’t repeat it here just now – too depressing!

One of the features of the original game that I hark on about all the time is the wide variety of objects you could find. There are large numbers of weapons, magical trump cards, scrolls, wands etc – certainly more than any other CRPG of the time that I can think of. Since version 0.4 I’ve added in support for dealing with the numerous objects in the Dungeon. So far I’ve added in some basic support for weapons. This means that you can now pick up any weapons dropped during encounters, equip them, swap them from primary to secondary and also use torches as weapons (they do both blunt and fire type damage). Different weapons have different effects during encounters E.g. don’t fight a Flame Demon with a Flamesword as it makes them stronger!

There are a lot of “specials” in the original game where you stumble across a special, one of a kind item. I’d like to add some of the weapons shortly. It will take me a fair bit more work to add in all the objects and their different effects. Some of the objects are quite complex providing special bonuses or unforeseen side effects. I’ve yet to decode the macro language used in the original game in order to understand how these objects work. I’m using the real object data from the original game and hope to be able to add all the objects in one go.

I still can’t help playing around with various graphics. The really difficult ones are the encounter graphics and shop interiors. My sensible side says use the original graphics for now and concentrate on replicating the game functionality but I’m also keen to try and update the look of the game a bit. The problem with graphics is that they are very time consuming to produce, especially if like me you don’t have any artistic skill. Ideally I was hoping a skilled artist might be interested in updating them but no luck so far. Eventually I’ll have a go myself. There seems to be no shortage of tutorials on the web! I’d also like someone to smooth out the AR font as I’ve doubled its original size making it look a bit blocky. If you’re interested in helping out let me know.

The other thing I’ve been working on is the portal room with spinning counters. I had this working nicely under my original SDL demo back in the mists of time but still don’t have the counters appearing in the right place since I’ve moved to SDL with OpenGL for graphics and increased the window size from 320×240 to 640×480. I know I should really sort something out with different window sizes and scalers but I’m leaving this for the time being. Currently the counters scroll out of sight – just need to spend a bit of time getting the coordinates right. Trial and error.

Welcome

Welcome to my Game Development Blog. Alternate Reality (AR) was a series of computer role playing games (CRPG) games back in the mid 1980s. The Alternate Reality games were originally intended as a series of seven scenarios – The City, The Dungeon, The Arena, The Palace, The Wilderness, Revelation and Destiny. Only the first 2 games in the series were ever completed, though plans for the Arena scenario were outlined.

Alternate Reality: The City was designed and programmed for the Atari 8bit by Philip Price with music by Gary Gilbertson and graphics by Craig Skinner. This original installment was intended to include the content of both The City and The Dungeon but was split into 2 games at the request of the original publisher. Numerous 8bit and 16bit versions exist, some better than others. The original Atari 8bit version is widely thought to be the best version.

Alternate Reality: The Dungeon was designed and programmed by Ken Jordan and Dan Pinal who worked for Datasoft with design notes left by Philip Price. 70% complete 16bit versions of the Dungeon for the PC and Amiga were in progress but were eventually cancelled. Versions exist for the Atari 8bit, Commodore 64 and Apple II. All copyrights for Alternate Reality have now returned to Philip Price.

Though not as well known as say the Ultima series of CRPGs, AR still has a small but dedicated following of fans who are keen to see the series revised. There is an AR mailing list which is still active and sometimes has the original series’ developers posting to the list. There have been various attempts from fans and the original developers to redevelop the series for modern systems but unfortunately none of these have come to fruition.
Originally I started playing the Commodore 64 version of The Dungeon whilst I was still at school and it’s remained one of my favourite games ever since. I’ve been interested in producing my own modernised version of the game for a number of years and a few years ago produced a simple C++ and SDL demo version which allowed you to explore a level of the Dungeon map and fight a few monsters. I eventually gave up after struggling to make progress with the 3D engine.

Over the last year or so I’ve started from scratch this time still using SDL for sound, music and input but also using the OpenGL library for graphics. This has allowed me to progress further and produce a more flexible display than my previous efforts, though the 3D view is still very basic.

My intention here is to record my progress on the development of the remake as well as give those who are interested in it the opportunity to comment and assist with the development of this project.