Release 0.60 – Coming Soon

Release 0.60 of Alternate Reality X is coming along very nicely with a particularly productive late night / early hours to bed development session last night. So far I’ve completed the following for release 0.60:

  • Implemented City and Dungeon encounters as a single set using same encounter object format
  • Combined encounter images into single set using Dungeon images for majority
  • Added all Dungeon fixed encounter specials (32 in total)
  • Added all weapons for encounter specials above
  • Added one of the Dungeon quests
  • Fixed Bug #002: Delay of a couple of seconds when entering some shops / modules due to music loading 
  • Fixed Bug #003: Mini map edges weren’t refreshing properly
  • Fixed Bug #013: Lyric strip appearedover shop / module image at 800 x 600 resolution
  • Fixed Bug #014: Daggers were only type of weapon dropped after winning an encounter
  • Fixed Bug #001: Goblins and Trolls didn’t recognise that you’re carrying rival ring half

There are a few more things I’d like to add before release but I would expect to have this available for download by the end of the week.


I’ve now merged all the City and Dungeon encounters into a single set as previously they were treated as two separate sets of encounter types meaning that a thief in the City did not behave the same as one from the Dungeon. This led to some confusion for players and made some of the code more complicated than it needed to be. I think I’ve been holding back to some degree but I think I’ve realised that if I’m really going to make Alternate Reality X a true, single game or environment then I need to make some aspects of the game more consistent across the different scenarios. This includes content such as encounters, weapons, items and the game mechanics. I have decided to keep the individual graphics for each scenario just now but even that may change over time.

I’ve also added all the fixed encounters for all levels of the Dungeon. There are around 32 in total. Now I’m modifying all the encounters covered by these fixed encounters so they have the correct weapons (e.g. Ebon Blade for an Undead Knight). I then need to add some more of those treasures that they are protecting!

I should have another release out in the next few days.

Keep on supporting the project in whatever way you can as this keeps my spirits up and let’s me know there is still interest in the project.


Alternate Reality X: Release 0.59

Release 0.59 is now available from the downloads page at This release fixes and adds a number of features around experience awards, levelling up and level up bonuses for the seven primary stats. There’s more work to be done to make experience points accurate across the whole of ARX and the City.

Changes included in this release are:

  • Removed levelling up cap (previously level 5)
  • Added stat bonuses when levelling up
  • Added Strength, Intelligence and Charisma bonuses for repeated successful actions
  • Dungeon encounters now award correct experience points when you defeat them
  • Dungeon encounters now award correct experience points for 50% of hits during combat
  • Removed “spinner” special from Dungeon level 1 map (location 40,15) as it left player trapped
  • Added Knight to Dungeon encounters & related alignment adjustments
  • Added Pauper introduction message
  • Added text for quests to Oracle module
If you like what I’m doing with ARX then please consider dropping me a note, spreading the word online or making a small Paypal donation towards my time. 
All the best,

Alternate Reality X: Added levelling up

Managed to spend several hours working on ARX focused on levelling up and investigating correct experience point awards for combat. I’ve noticed that many people playing ARX have managed to get up to level 5 very easily and part of the reason for this is that in many cases the experience awards have been way too high.

I’ve removed the level cap that was in place at level 5 so you should now be able to develop your ARX character up to a very high level. I’ve also added the missing stat bonuses which you should receive when gaining a level so your seven primary stats may now improve for each level of experience you gain.

Investigating the experience gained from encounters in the Dungeon I believe I now understand that the Dungeon awards it’s experience on 2 levels:

  • Firstly you receive half the experience for any hits you land on an opponent e.g. if you hit for 6 points of damage you would instantly gain 3 points of experience.
  • Secondly on winning an encounter you appear to get an experience bonus which is based on the opponent’s initial hit points multiplied by a factor – in many cases this is two but in the case of say a Ghost this could be as high as eight.

I’ve added these into ARX for all encounters as it’s my intention now to have only one method of calculating of experience in the game rather than differentiating between City and Dungeon. I will however spend some time playing the City to see what level of experience awards it provides.

Alternate Reality: Attention to Detail

I’ve been working away on adding the Dungeon Oracle to ARX so that we can sign up for all those Dungeon quests but while I was sifting through a capture of the binary for this part of the game I noticed something that interested me as someone with a long time interest in game design. Whilst many games of the era (and most recent games too!) are happy to have a single response or set of outcomes from the gameplay The Dungeon designers always added two, three or more varied responses to each of the modules. It’s a simple thing to do but so few designers or programmers bother to do it. I think this shows attention to detail that is so often overlooked or not considered. They didn’t take the easy route or quickest options to finish things but added extras to the game which is probably why we still play these two games.

Did you know that if you upset the Oracle repeatedly he will tell you not to come back for a month? I never knew that and if you return before the month is up then be prepared for trouble.

One of the other things I’ve been looking at is the design of the City shops. Where most games would provide you with a stock selection of clothing, in the City we have four values for each possible item – value, material, colour and type – giving us literally hundreds of possible clothing items some of which we will never see within a game. We have a similar feature in the shape of the Weapons Enchantress who can modify numerous attributes of your weapons (based on your choice) allowing us to potentially create some very interesting custom weapons of our own if we have sufficient patience (and precious stones).

For me this means I need to alter my object code for ARX as it currently doesn’t allow for the flexibility and custom nature of items such as procedurally generated clothing from the City (the D & P apparel items are static) or the custom weapons of the Dungeon. I overlooked the complexity of attention to detail in The City and The Dungeon when I first set up the object code and took a simpler route like most games do. Once I’ve done this and I want to do it soon then I’ll be able to add City shops, the Dwarven Smithy and the Weapon Enchantress to ARX.

Despite playing this game on and off for over 25 years I never realised those features and details were in there. This is one of the key things I love about Alternate Reality – I’m still discovering things about it 25 years after it was created – how many other games – past or present could we say that about.

Alternate Reality X: Release 0.58

Release 0.58 is now available from the downloads page at: Please note that you may need to download the Microsoft Visual Studio C++ 2010 x86 Redistributable Runtime from Microsoft’s site. Release 0.58 includes the following additions and bug fixes:

  • Switched development to new version of SFML 2 media library
  • Switched development to Visual Studio C++ Express 2010
  • Added Barred door interaction in Dungeon – Locked, Bolted and Enchanted
  • Added some Dungeon unique treasures – Razor Ice, Sword of the Adept, Map Stone & Amethyst Rod
  • Expanded weapon format to include bonus to hit, parry, 2 handed, alignment, minimum stat requirements
  • City Enclosed areas added by Dalimar
  • City deathtraps fixed by Dalimar
  • Fixed some Dungeon zone colour schemes
  • Started work on Dungeon Oracle module
  • Bug fix: Fixed so more than 44 rectangular map zones can be defined
  • Bug fix: Fixed crashes relating to songs with longer sequences of lyrics
  • Bug fix: Fixed images for staircases,
  • Bug fix: Goblin Lord & Troll Tyrant now carry a Sceptre of Evil (not a dagger)
  • Bug fix: Lyrics strip image overlapped with shop image for 800×600 resolution

Hope you find something of interest in this release. Thanks for your continued support for this project.

All the best,

Alternate Reality X: Dungeon Door Madness

Firstly thanks for the messages of support for the project following my previous blog post. It’s good to know that people are still interested in ARX. I think the post possibly sounded more negative than I intended but I felt an update on progress (or lack of over recent weeks) was required.

One of the causes of my frustration…

Anyway I have made some progress in recent weeks. I’m now using the latest version of SFML 2.0 which is the multimedia library used for ARX. SFML 2.0 is supposed to fix some of the display bugs that some people were experiencing but only time will tell. I also switched over to Visual Studio 2010 Express for development. Unfortunately Visual Studio 2010 seems significantly slower that 2008 which came as  a big surprise and annoyance to me. The web is littered with tales of frustration. It seems to have settled down a bit now though generating new executables still seems slow.

A few weeks back I thought I would add “barred doors” to the Dungeon. If you’re familiar with the Dungeon you might remember that you come across some doors which require some effort on your part in order to pass (screenshot above). Now I thought this would probably take me a couple of hours to implement. How wrong I was. I should know better that the things that look really simple will always take me much longer than expected. I’ve just finished coding up these doors this morning and I’m pleased to say it now seems to be working properly for both forward and backward movement through the doors. ARX will also remember the most recent couple of dozen doors you “opened” for a while. Don’t be surprised if you start to find some of these doors added to future versions of the City map.

Dalimar has also kindly tweaked the City map and zone data so that all the enclosed areas on the map show up correctly (e.g. they have roofs and can have other behaviour added such as no rain). He’s also modified the 2 Deathtraps so they are no longer traps which result in the loss of your character. Now I need to add something interesting into those 2 areas… If you have any ideas you’d like me to consider then drop me an email – encounters, special treasures or maybe a special passage or teleport to some previously unexplored area of Alternate Reality…

Alternate Reality X: Hitting the Wall

I’ve been struggling a bit over the last few weeks to get enthusiastic about my next update for Alternate Reality X and found myself thinking about other game designs for my own original games. I pulled out some old design documents for my space exploration and trading game for example – some of the oldest designs dating back to when I was a teenager (which was a long time ago).

The Palace Entrance – Still some way from going through those doors

After following a link from the Rampant Coyote and reading Chris Kaitila’s blog about his 12 Games in 12 Months challenge (create 12 games in a year) one bit in particular caught my eye. The bit that interested me most is where he writes about “hitting the wall” where a project is no longer fun, is very complicated or the finish line is much further away than you originally thought.

I think this is the point I’m currently at with ARX. I’ve been there before of course where I’ve felt really burnt out and the thought of working on the project seems like work without any fun or achivement. It’s only a temporary state but when a project which I’m supposed to be doing for fun feels like work and the prospect of firing up my programming environment fills me with dread then it’s time to take a break. I’ve totally failed to keep on schedule with my ARX development roadmap but it was useful in that I can easily pin point where the time went (adding other features to ARX not on the original roadmap). I’ve even considered starting an AR project from scratch so I can fix all the issues I know about which I feel are bad design decisions I made in earlier times.

So don’t panic if you don’t see any updates for a little while and don’t be surprised if you see an update on some new project. These other projects allow me to keep my outlook for ARX fresh and come back with renewed enthusiasm and energy. I really want to see the project through to completion but there is still a lot of work to do and I don’t want to get burnt out along the way so that I get to the point where I want to abandon the project altogether.

All the best,