Stone of the Citadel: Map Designer

Slightly smaller 3D view window and use of a background for the sky

Whilst I’ve not mentioned it much recently Stone of the Citadel is still progressing. Here are a couple of new screenshots showing the use of background images for outside locations, a slighly smaller 3D view window and the beginnings of the map / scenario designer. You can switch between “play” and “designer” modes with a single key press at the moment, wipe the map data and start building your own SOTC map. As the map format is almost the same as that used by Alternate Reality X there is no reason why I can’t add a similar map and scenario builder to ARX in time.

A blank canvas, ready for creating a new adventure!

Alternate Reality X – Casting spells

I’ve added spell casting to ARX so you can now cast spells within the game. Currently there are no effects for sucessfully cast spells but I’ll add some of these today. I’m keen to get another release out so there may only be a handful of spells that are fully functional. I might limit these to the non-combat spells as the whole combat routine needs an overhaul at some point.

Alternate Reality X – Guilds progress

Work on the guilds is progressing well with the addition of guild lockers for depositing your gold, silver, keys etc. I did consider making it possible to add any item from your inventory as my object handler can deal with it but I decided to stick to the original and keep this option for a future release.

I’ve also started working on guild spells. I’ve got as far as displaying a list of spells and prices at each guild for learning new spells. This took a bit longer than expected as I reused my Smithy object menu code and had forgotten how some of this worked. Once purchasing is working properly then I’ll add the guild spell practice option and then spell casting whilst exploring and in combat. I’ll probably not be able to code up all the spell effects in one go but I’ll see how it goes. For now I just decided to make use of the spells in the Dungeon for those guilds in the City which never made it into the Dungeon. So you’ll be able to learn spells from the Star Wizards Guild and Physicians Guild but they’ll be ones from the Dungeon selection (35 different spells in total).

Alternate Reality X – Donations & Support

Apart from my belief that the Alternate Reality games are some of the greatest (if not the greatest) computer games ever made, I also rely heavily on the support and feedback I get from the AR community to keep me going on this remake project. I know I’ve been working on this project for a very long time and these timescales aren’t what anyone wants but I think people sometimes forget how much work goes into a game and I am just one guy. You have to remember as well that this is Alternate Reality not just any old game so I picked a pretty challenging game to remake!

I’m not a professional programmer, have a full time job and a family to look after so I need to feel that I’m using my time wisely. I have had a few doubts along the way about how many people are really interested and whether I’m wasting my effort and should do something else with my limited time. Then I get an email of support or someone posts a link and spreads the word elsewhere and it gives me a real boost.

I am now accepting donations through Paypal from both the link on the right hand side of this blog for both my Alternate Reality X and Stone of the Citadel projects. You can also make a donation from the link over at www.crpgdev.com. This is a great way to show support for the projects and will also help to cover the web site costs and my time. I think my time on Alternate Reality alone must be running into several hundred hours over the years.

I really value any support you can give to the projects whether it’s a donation through Paypal, an offer of assistance or just your feedback or suggestions – but please let me know you’re out there and have an interest in the project one way or another.

Over the last few days I’ve probably spent about 15 hours just working on the City and Dungeon guilds. It takes a long time to work out how the original games worked, research all the fine detail, decide how to recreate that experience and then turn it into a real part of the game that you can download and play. I feel it’s really coming together now but I still need your support to see this through.

Let me know you’re still behind the project whether it’s through a donation, personal email to acrin1 @ googlemail.com , by signing up as a follower for this blog, posting on the AR mailing list or posting on the forums. And to those of you who’ve supported this project from the early days or earlier incarnations my sincere thanks. Hopefully you will soon feel your patience has been well rewarded!

Alternate Reality X – Guild Wars!

I’ve started work on adding full functionality and merging guilds for both the City and the Dungeon scenarios. This obviously posed a few interesting issues that I had to decide on how to approach. Should I use the 8bit Dungeon guild model or the 16bit City one? Should I treat the guilds located in the City as entirely separate to those in the City or just as branches? I’ve been thinking about this one for some time and I’m sure not everyone will be a 100% happy with my choices but so far I think it’s working out well and I’m about 30 – 40% into building the guilds.

Here’s how it’s working to date:

  • Guilds are based on the 8bit Dungeon guild model. General opinion seems to be that the 16bit City guild model has some annoyances around learning and retaining spells. I always thought the Dungeon model worked really well.
  • You can have full membership in one guild and associate membership with a number of other guilds.
  • I made a few guesses as to which of the unique City guilds would be enemies to each other. The other 12 guilds in the Dungeon have clear enemies so no problem there.
  • 8 guilds feature in both the City and the Dungeon. 2 guilds (Mercenaries and Paladins) are unique to the Dungeon and 4 guilds unique to just the City (Blue Wizards, Red Wizards, Physicians and Assassins). This gives ARX a total of 14 unique guilds. I’ve chosen not to add the 2 “hidden on disk” guilds from the 8bit Atari City for now.
  • Where a guild is available in both scenarios I’ll treat them as “branches” so when you join one you’ll already be flagged as a member when you visit the other. Guild bonuses will be gained when you first join a branch in either scenario. Due to the “power of the guilds” the contents of your guild locker (E.g. gold, silver, gems, crystals etc) will be available from either branch.
  • I’ll start by implementing all the spells for the 12 Dungeon based guilds. I’ll then either choose some of these spells for the remaining 4 unique City guilds or add some additional spells from the 16bit City version.
  • Removal of curses will be free at guilds – but only when you’ve joined a guild
  • Guild membership acceptance is only based on your experience level and moral alignment as in the Dungeon guild model.
  • I standardised the guild names between the City and the Dungeon as there were quite a few inconsistencies.
  • I’ve kept the guild images and music unique for the City and the Dungeon as you’ll see from the screenshots here.

Alternate Reality X – Fixing zones

Now that release 0.42 of ARX is out I’ve started on the next set of fixes and additions. A few people had commented that some of the Dungeon map zones were displaying the wrong textures and colours so I thought I would look at fixing these. For example the areas around the Dungeon Chapel had a bright white floor and the Blink Mine area kept displayed the City mountains as a background -Interesting but not really true to the original game!

After a bit of digging I reacquintainted myself with the zones system. Basically the Dungeon designers set up a system where you could define a “zone” by specifying a pair of X and Y co-ordinates on the Dungeon map. These are used to control the colours, textures used (eg. rock walls, ice crystals in the crystal caverns), types of encounters (e.g. lots of guards around the bank vaults) and anti-magic zones.  It’s an efficient system (as you only specify 4 numbers to define the area) and I might use something similar for some sections of Stone of the Citadel.This is one of the things I like about AR over other games of the time – the variety of different area styles as opposed to other games which had one set of wall graphics for the entire game.

The original Dangerous Area



The ARX Dangerous Area

Anyway I focused on the southwest area of the Dungeon map and went through every area and zone there to match them up and add any new styles and colours required. I haven’t matched all the colours and areas exactly, partly because the colours in the version of Atari800Win I’m using didn’t look quite right to me but also because I could spend a lot of time making every area look exactly the same and most players won’t remember the exact scheme. This area of the map is now nicely tidied up and all the zones look sensible. I’ll move onto other areas shortly.

Alternate Reality X – Version 0.42 released soon

I’ll be releasing version 0.42 shortly. This will only be a minor release but it does add a few features that people have been asking for repeatedly. 
The main changes are:
  • Save
    and load characters in the City or Dungeon
  • Updated automap that only shows
    explored areas
  • Updated Exit / Quit behaviour and help screen
  • Sell gems
    and jewels at the Dungeon D & P
  • Some adjustments to the City Smithy such as better weapon choice for new characters and correct intervals for restocking weapons and armour
  • A
    few more bug fixes
Please consider the save and load options as experimental
in this version so I would suggest not putting lots of effort into building up a
character at this stage.
Hopefully have this uploaded in the next few days.