CRPG Dev – Still here for 2015!

You may have wondered whether I had been dispatched by a Nightstalker or become hopelessly lost wandering the streets of Xebec’s Demise but I’ve simply been very busy with work and home commitments as well as the build up to Christmas and New Year. I hope you had a good Christmas / holiday if you haven’t been working.

I’ve also been looking into some of my other interests, reading up on them and I’ll post about them over the next few weeks as they are relevant to computers and gaming to some degree. I’ve also just found that after work and family things all I’ve wanted to do some nights is sit down and catch up on some TV or movies that I’ve been wanting to see for a while. My working environment is also less than ideal at the moment which isn’t conducive to game coding and development or even blog posting. I’m surrounded by clutter. It will be easier once the Christmas decorations are packed away in the next few days.

Unity 4.6 is now out of Beta so I’ll be using this for some projects and have found it works very well. The on-screen GUI development will speed up game development a lot for me I think as you can see what is on the screen as you’re working without having to go through a slow modify / run, repeat process for every little change. My plan is to focus on gameplay mechanics and coding within Alternate Reality X and put the cosmetics to one side for now until the gameplay is a little better established.

Some of my other computing interests have sparked an interest in dusting down my older SFML Alternate Reality X as I’d still like to bring that to some clear conclusion (Windows only though for this one). I’m toying with a few ideas as to how to complete this without it taking too much additional development time. I could for example strip it down to a single resolution such as 800×600 and 8bit graphics and sound as the new versions from Furious and Ted have a natural home in the Unity 3D version of ARX. I’ll give this one some further thought.

The website and blog are likely to be merged together into a single site using Blogger as the basis. I’m looking at ways to make updates easier to maintain and You may notice some oddities whilst I experiment with various options on the blog and website(s).

Thanks for following CRPG Dev through 2014 and taking the time to comment and offer suggestions for the games. If you have supported my development through Paypal, Patreon or by contributing code or content then I am especially grateful. I would have liked to have done much more development this year but it hasn’t happened and I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

I hope you’ve had a good 2014 and would like to wish you, your friends and family all the best for the New Year in 2015. Hope you have a good one.

CRPG Dev Updates – May 2014

I feel I’m long overdue on a blog update for CRPG Dev, Alternate Reality X and Stone of the Citadel as there have been a few important changes and decisions.

The biggest change is that I have now switched to Unity 3D for developing both Alternate Reality X and Stone of the Citadel. For those unfamiliar with Unity it is a game development system which allows you to create 3D (and more recently 2D) games across multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac OS X and mobile devices. It’s very popular, powerful but relatively easy to use, has a big online community offering help and advice and has a handy asset store where you can access for free or buy models and code for use in your games. The version I’m using is free, though there is a commercial version and add ons for higher end users or teams.

I feel I’ve gone as far as I can with my current C++ and SFML based code. There are a lot of bugs to fix and some serious architectural problems behind the scenes relating to how objects are represented. A lot of my code will be relatively straightforward to move over to Unity though. SFML’s use of OpenGL has been a constant difficulty for some players as they have struggled to get compliant OpenGL drivers on their systems – Windows & Mac OS X. Unity builds in my experience just seem to work. On reflection the work to port my current ARX to Mac OS X last month was a lot more painful and time consuming that I believe it should have been. Unity allows you to build for Mac with a few extra mouse clicks in the “Build Settings” 🙂

Configuration screen for the new Alternate Reality X

I’ve started work on the introductory sequence for Alternate Reality using the free version of Unity and you can check out my work so far using the link below and the Unity Web Player:

I’ve converted the old custom map format to a well known, common format and Patrick has kindly provided me with some Unity code / framework that converts the map data into a usable Unity scene. There are some omissions in the scene just now but these should be fairly straightforward to sort out. Lots of work to do with the map(s) from here but this is a really big help in getting started. Thanks again to Patrick for this.

My work in progress for the intro using the Web Player

I’ve also posted several pieces of my design for my Stone of the Citadel party based CRPG. These are available on the Patreon site but I’m going to start putting more of them onto this blog as well. So far I’ve published a number of the character background descriptions. In the real game these will be partially random and you’ll be able to generate a new background (or write your own) if you don’t like the initial ones your characters receive. In addition I’ve published some of the lore and locations of interest to set the scene. SOTC will use a different map model to ARX but it will be able to use all the nice features of Unity to make an attractive game world. It will begin with a small map initially to give people a taster of game play.

Lots of people have suggested I should do a Kickstarter for my games but I don’t think it would be the right sort of platform for me given my personal circumstances. I feel Patreon provides a very good alternative where you can build up an active, interactive community around multiple projects and interests (games in my case) and provide support and feedback in a more manageable way to suit people’s budget. You don’t have to pledge any money to support CRPG Dev on Patreon if you don’t want to or aren’t able to so it would still be great to hear from you there. The CRPG Dev Patreon site is here:

Hopefully you’ll check out the page and might consider becoming a Patron. You can also provide support through one off Paypal payments if you prefer (linked from It really is greatly appreciated and makes a big difference. If you’ve already supported CRPG Dev in the past then a big thank you.

I’ve also signed up for Twitter so I’ll probably be making use of that shortly as an alternative way to post updates and other news. The ARX forums have been updated recently and look a lot nicer to use but I haven’t had a chance to dig into these yet and customise them.

I’d welcome your thoughts about the direction above and changes I’ve mentioned so feel free to email me or post via Patreon or Facebook. As always thanks for your support and interest in what I’m doing.

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.