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About this blog

Merry Prankster Games: Temple of the Abyssal Winds

Entries in this blog

gdunbar
Temple of the Abyssal Winds is now available, for iPad and Windows!

[media]
[/media]
"Twenty years ago, the demoness Urgoroth rose to power from the depths of the Temple of the Abyssal Winds. She was defeated, but your parents were lost in the conflict. Your aunt and uncle have raised you in the small village of Tomm's Crossing, where life has been mostly peaceful. Until now..."

So begins the classic-style role-playing game Temple of the Abyssal Winds. Features:

  • Epic fantasy adventure.
  • Single player, controlling a band of adventurers.
  • Real-time pauseable combat for realism and control.
  • A combination of open-ended exploration and strong story driven plot.
  • Tactically challenging encounters featuring many different strategies.
  • Deep, complex role-playing system, inspired by popular paper-and-pencil role playing games.
  • Dozens of quests, enemies, and monsters to tackle.
  • Build the character you want to - dozens of skills and powers, and hundreds of spells and items.

    Try the first chapter for free, which includes a full adventure and conclusion. If you like what you see, chapter 2 is available for purchase, with the following chapters 3 through 6 to come in 2015. Merry Prankster Games invites you into the world of Temple of the Abyssal Winds!

    You can find more information, or download Temple of the Abyssal Winds for Windows, on the website:
    http://www.prankster.com/totaw

    For iPad, Temple of the Abyssal Winds is available in the App Store:

    gallery_98001_495_2239.png

    Merry Prankster Games is a one-man band indie development studio, started in 1995 making the play-by-email game Atlantis. For more information about Merry Prankster Games visit: http://www.prankster.com or email Geoff Dunbar at [email="totaw@prankster.com"]totaw@prankster.com[/email]
gdunbar

Working on Chapter 4

Here's a screenshot of the level editor, working on the exterior of the Inbarr Manor:

gallery_98001_495_94554.jpg

In Chapter 4, Inbarr Manor is your base of operations, outside the town of Oldenton. Your mission: To rid Oldenton of the demonic influence of the Temple of the Abyssal Winds.

Geoff
gdunbar
Try again. Hope I got it right this time.

gallery_98001_495_27164.jpg
Also, considering... should I post little updates like this here to my dev journal? To twitter? ([twitter]prankstergames[/twitter]) Both? (Neither?) Anyone have thoughts?

Geoff
gdunbar

Got It!

Figured out (I believe) the issue with the app store. My code was barfing on displaying the chapter price, in a non-US locale. I still couldn't get the bug to exactly manifest, but by changing the locale (in code), I got it to blow up in the same place as the crash report from the app store review. So, here is TotAW displaying a chapter price in pounds.

gallery_98001_495_14173.jpg

I found some other places in the code that might have similar issues, and fixed them all.

So, back into app store review, as soon as I do a little more testing, and fix a couple of other minor issues that came up in the meantime.

Geoff
gdunbar

App Store Rejected!

Rats, my App Store review failed. Rejected because the app crashes when you go to purchase another chapter. Look at the crash dump, it appears that the app store is returning a bogus value for the price of the chapter. Hopefully this is just some weird manifestation of the review process... chapter purchase works fine for me. In any case, it shouldn't be too tough to check for the bogus value and continue on without crashing. I suppose I should ask on Stack Overflow if anyone else has any idea what is going on.

For devs, here is the crashing code: NSNumberFormatter *numberFormatter = [[NSNumberFormatter alloc] init]; [numberFormatter setFormatterBehavior:NSNumberFormatterBehavior10_4]; [numberFormatter setNumberStyle:NSNumberFormatterCurrencyStyle]; [numberFormatter setLocale:skProduct.priceLocale]; NSString *formattedString = [numberFormatter stringFromNumber:skProduct.price];--> std::string szPrice( [formattedString cStringUsingEncoding:NSASCIIStringEncoding] );
This would be a lot easier if I could get it to crash on my device!

Geoff
gdunbar
Starting to plan Chapter 4 today. Also, stopped back to fix a few bug that came up working through Chapter 3. For instance:[quote]
Knock
Matter Magic: 7 5 energy caster Fortitude
Knock grants a bonus of 57 points, for a duration of 10 seconds, to statistics: Locks. The bonus increases to 97 points at Spell Bonus 57.
Knock allows the caster to open locked doors, by granting a significant bonus to Locks for the time of one action.
[/quote]

The spell Knock. It gives a bonus 57 (?) points to Locks, up to 97 as the spellcaster's level increases. 57? What? So, I changed the bonus to a more comprehensible 50 points.

This spell is available to a level 3 spellcaster, and at that level he will be more capable of picking locks than a level 3 thief (class Adventurer, with the skill Locks). As levels increase, the thief will gradually become more powerful at picking locks than the spellcaster.

Geoff
gdunbar

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 is playable!

gallery_98001_495_18833.jpg

Need to fix some bugs and put it through a quick beta, but it looks good.

Meanwhile, chapters 1 and 2 should be released soon. Just working through a couple of unexpected issues.

Geoff
gdunbar
Had some time over the holidays, so I banged out another Infocom game: Spellbreaker. [color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=arial]For more information about my attempt to finish all of these games, see here:[/font][/color]https://www.gamedev.net/blog/717/entry-2259971-the-infocom-project/

gallery_98001_495_31810.jpg

Spellbreaker is hailed as perhaps the most difficult Infocom game, and is the culmination of the classic series of Zork-like fantasy games, starting with the Zork Trilogy, and followed by Enchanter (at one time named Zork IV) and Sorceror. I have a history with Spellbreaker; the previous two games being some of my favorite Infocom games, I made a previous attempt at solving it. At some point I was feeling pretty good about my progress, but for some reason I glanced at the map that came with my Masterpieces of Infocom collection. When I saw how much still remained undiscovered, I gave up in frustration. This time, I made it all the way through.

The good:

  • I love the spell system, introduced in Enchanter, and it still works well here.
  • Plus the cube system was a cool new wrinkle.
  • Audaciously complex in the design of the puzzles (so many puzzles!) and how they fit together. The scope of this game is plus-one from previous Infocom games that I've played.
  • Good writing, with a touch of humor (especially the introduction).
  • Difficult (sometimes extremely so) puzzles, which (mostly) have very logical solutions once you figure it out.

    The bad:

    • I found the end-game puzzles (the Sand Room and the very end) completely inscrutable, and had to resort to heavy reading of the Invisiclues to figure out what I was supposed to do. I thought the hinting in the Sand Room was poor, with random deaths for inexplicable reasons. I can't say more to avoid spoilers.
    • There were many times in the game where I faced a number of difficult puzzles (or red herrings), and worked furiously on all of them, only to later realize that all but one of the puzzles were not solvable at that time; further locations had to be explored to progress on most of the puzzles. I suppose this is actually an Infocom staple, but I found it especially frustrating, maybe because the puzzle difficulty is higher in this game.
    • The overall plot didn't make much sense to me. Who the villain was and what he was really trying to accomplish, just didn't tie together in a satisfying manner.
    • Some of the areas in the game felt incomplete, consisting of just a room or two, and existing only so you could pick up an item from the area.

      Puzzle frustration: High. I referred to Invisiclues pretty often. Many times, all I needed was, "You can't solve puzzle X until you've visited location Y", but the end-game, I need lots of help with.

      I rate Spellbreaker as a disappointment. I respect the accomplishment of the game as a creation, but I didn't enjoy playing it nearly as much as its predecessors. Just too hard for me? Maybe.

      [color=rgb(40,40,40)][font=arial]Played Games, Best to Worst:[/font][/color]

      1. Enchanter
      2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      3. Sorceror
      4. Zork III
      5. Zork II
      6. Zork I
      7. Planetfall
      8. Wishbringer
      9. Stationfall
      10. Spellbreaker
      11. Plundered Hearts
      12. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos
      13. Infidel
      14. Starcross
      15. Seastalker
gdunbar

2015 here we come

Well, I was just about to submit Temple of the Abyssal Winds, chapters 1 and 2, to the iOS App Store. With the plan to release them for Windows as soon as they went live in the App Store. But then wiser minds (my wife) pointed out that we're going out of the country for 2 weeks soon, and submitting to the App Store and then being incommunicado for 2 weeks might not be the best idea. So, I'm going to hold off. First week of January is the new plan.

Not necessarily a bad thing, as Chapter 3 is almost done, so I should be able to put chapter 3 out there soon after getting the first 2 chapters out.

In any case, here's a random screenshot of Chapter 3, the party fighting cultist assassins. The assassins are pretty beatable, but do a really good job of killing my party's spellcaster. I think that's more a problem with my testing party than any game imbalance, but players going into the prison levels would be advised to have some way of dealing with stealthy enemies.

gallery_98001_495_29347.jpg

Enjoy,
Geoff
gdunbar

Hide the stats? Never!

Courtesy of Rampant Coyote (http://rampantgames.com/blog/?p=8117), I saw an article on Gamasutra advocating hiding the stats in computer RPGs:

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JamesCox/20141103/229306/There_is_No_5_Sword_in_Lancelot.php

The author has some thesis about telling stories instead of burying the player under a bunch of numbers.

To this I say... Hogwash! I want to see the numbers in an RPG, and know exactly what they mean. My games do the same, to the best of my ability. Here's a lovely screenshot from Temple of the Abyssal Winds:

gallery_98001_495_64756.jpg

Not shown is that almost every field in that screenshot can be clicked on to get even more information about the field. It's not all the way there yet, there's still some stuff that you have to look at the manual to figure out:

http://www.prankster.com/totaw/manual/rules.htm

But my ideal game, you can tell exactly what's going on with the numbers. Hopefully there are some others like me out there!

Geoff
gdunbar

Beta Version 0.6

Beta Testers,

I've got an updated build for you, iOS and Windows. Version 0.6 has the following fixes:

  • Improved hover information for items:

    • The item name is red if you can't use it.
    • The item name is yellow if you aren't proficient.
    • Weapons display their attack damage.
    • Armor displays the defense bonus.

    • Warning if you try to buy an item you can't use, or are not proficient.
    • Warning if you try to wield a non-proficient item.
    • On the inventory screen, show the actor's attack bonus, attack damage, and defense bonus.
    • Reduce shield penalties so it sometimes makes sense to wield a shield even if you aren't proficient.
    • Add a '-' button to the attribute screen so you can adjust attributes without totally resetting.
    • Make the whole party the default selection, instead of just the first actor.
    • Allow 'y' and 'n' keys to work on some dialogs.
    • Skip "1. Done" in talk dialogs
    • Leaving the Smithy took 8 hours of game time (oops!).
    • On iOS, show the title for dialog boxes.
    • On the actor info screen, show the Singing and Wands bonuses (if non-zero).
    • Fix some items and spells so the name is not truncated in the hover.
    • Fix faction names so they aren't truncated on the actor info screen.
    • Display a dialog when an enemy surrenders to make it more clear what has happened.
    • When someone surrenders, cancel all attack orders against him.
    • Fix a pathfinding bug with using objects. For instance, the bed in the first house.
    • If HP go negative due to a non-damage spell (poison or whatever), the actor should die immediately.


      A couple of other bugs came up:

      • I didn't totally fix the pathfinding issue... more work needed.
      • If there is only one actor in the party, default selection should be him, not the party.
      • Potions can affect more than just the user. (Courage is where I noticed this).
      • Lights that are hidden behind a closed door are still providing illumination.


        However, I wanted to get a build out to you guys, so I am still working on those.

        Thanks,
        Geoff
gdunbar
Temple of the Abyssal Winds: Beta Testers Needed

Temple of the Abyssal Winds is ready to go for, this time for Windows, and I just need a few intrepid beta-testers to go through and find the last few bugs. Help out, and enjoy a classic-style RPG at the same time!

[media]
[/media]

To find out more about TotAW, check out the website: http://www.prankster.com/totaw/index.htm Chapters 1 and 2 are ready for beta-testing, on Windows and iPad, and I'm working on the rest.

I'll give more instructions once I have my testers lined up, but mainly, I'm looking for testers to simply play the game, and let me know of any issues. For beta testers, if you provide helpful feedback or bug reports, I will list you in the game credits, and give free access to chapters 2-6 of the game.

If you are interested in testing, the best way to let me know is to drop an email at [email="totaw@prankster.com"]mailto:totaw@prankster.com[/email]

Thanks for your support,
Geoff Dunbar, Merry Prankster Games
gdunbar

Beta Testers Needed!

Temple of the Abyssal Winds is ready to go for iPad, and I just need a few intrepid beta-testers to go through and find the last few bugs. Help out, and enjoy a classic-style RPG at the same time!

[media]
[/media]

To find out more about TotAW, check out the website: http://www.prankster.com/totaw/index.htm Chapters 1 and 2 are ready for beta-testing, and I'm working on the rest.

If you want to beta-test, you need an iPad. I'll give more instructions once I have my testers lined up, but mainly, I'm looking for testers to simply play the game, and let me know of any issues. For beta testers, if you provide helpful feedback or bug reports, I will list you in the game credits, and give free access to chapters 2-6 of the game.

If you are interested in testing, the best way to let me know is to drop an email at [email="totaw@prankster.com"]mailto:totaw@prankster.com[/email]

Thanks for your support,
Geoff Dunbar, Merry Prankster Games
gdunbar
Today I completed my 14th Infocom game, Infidel! For more information about my attempt to finish all of these games, see here: https://www.gamedev.net/blog/717/entry-2259971-the-infocom-project/

gallery_98001_495_69377.jpg

So, Infidel. The good:

  • Unique, intriguing setting (Indiana Jones!).
  • Pretty small, focused adventure area, with relatively clear connections between puzzles. I didn't spend much time wandering around wondering what to do next.
  • I liked the descriptions of the rooms in the pyramid (spoiler?); very evocative of the setting.
  • Good puzzles (as expected with Infocom).

    The bad:

    • Pretty small adventure is a drawback, too.
    • No NPCs, not much interaction or story progression.
    • Text-based hieroglyphics featured heavily. I only used them for one puzzle, and was unable to decipher them otherwise. Not a fan.
    • As with a lot of these early Infocom games, the space requirements and vocabulary limitations are frustrating... doing something _almost_ right often gives a "I don't know the word ..." or some such.

      Puzzle frustration: Moderate. I had one serious syntax issue, and another moderate issue. In general the puzzles were logical and made sense (at least in hindsight). I referred to Invisiclues twice, both times only needed a few hints to move along.

      I'll slot this in towards the bottom of the list; a competent and enjoyable game, representative of early Infocom, but not rising above the rest.

      Played Games, Best to Worst:

      1. Enchanter
      2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
      3. Sorceror
      4. Zork III
      5. Zork II
      6. Zork I
      7. Planetfall
      8. Wishbringer
      9. Stationfall
      10. Plundered Hearts
      11. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos
      12. Infidel
      13. Starcross
      14. Seastalker
gdunbar

The Infocom Project

Well, this may be of no interest to anyone, and certainly has little to do with my indie game development, but it's my blog, so there! A project I've been working on for decades has been to win all of the old text adventures by Infocom. These classic games were released during (and just before) my teenage years, and thus hold a special place of nostalgia for me. Wikipedia tells more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infocom, you can find a list of the games here: http://pdd.if-legends.org/infocom/fact-sheet.txt, and all the documentation here: http://infodoc.plover.net/.

[font=Calibri][size=2]gallery_98001_495_63604.jpg[/font]

My copy of the games came from the "Lost Treasures of Infocom", volumes 1 and 2. I think I still have the floppy disks around somewhere. The official list of games has 35 canonical Infocom games. Right away I'm going to rule out three of the late games, Journey, Arthur, and Shogun, for a variety of semi-lame excuses:

  • They featured heavy illustration, rather than strictly text based (especially Journey, which apparently can be played without keyboard at all).
  • They aren't part of my Lost Treasures collections.
  • They are reviewed quite poorly (except for Journey).
  • I already have enough of these games to play!

    I'm also going to rule out Sherlock, based on the "developed by Challenge Inc" tagline; Infocom was just the publisher.

    So, that leaves me with 31 games. Prior to today, I had completed 13 of them. Let's make a list, in order of best to worst. I should note that this is a bit speculative (and very subjective!) as it has been decades since I played some of these, but based on memory:

    Played Games, Best to Worst:

    1. Enchanter
    2. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    3. Sorceror
    4. Zork III
    5. Zork II
    6. Zork I
    7. Planetfall
    8. Wishbringer
    9. Stationfall
    10. Plundered Hearts
    11. The Leather Goddesses of Phobos
    12. Starcross
    13. Seastalker

    Games to Play:

    1. Spellbreaker
    2. Trinity
    3. Beyond Zork
    4. Zork Zero
    5. Suspended
    6. A Mind Forever Voyaging
    7. Deadline
    8. The Witness
    9. Suspect
    10. Ballyhoo
    11. Moonmist
    12. Infidel
    13. Cutthroats
    14. Hollywood Hijinx
    15. Bureaucracy
    16. Nord and Bert
    17. The Lurking Horror
    18. Border Zone

    Next up, Infidel!
gdunbar

TotAW PR Tour

PR tour? OK, maybe not. However, at least for my tracking purposes, here are the TotAW announcements that I know about:
gdunbar
[media]
[/media]

"Twenty years ago, the demoness Urgoroth rose to power from the depths of the Temple of the Abyssal Winds. She was defeated, but your parents were lost in the conflict. Your aunt and uncle have raised you in the small village of Tomm's Crossing, where life has been mostly peaceful. Until now..."

So begins the classic-style role-playing game Temple of the Abyssal Winds. Features:

  • Epic fantasy adventure.
  • Single player, controlling a band of adventurers.
  • Real-time pauseable combat for realism and control.
  • A combination of open-ended exploration and strong story driven plot.
  • Tactically challenging encounters featuring many different strategies.
  • Deep, complex role-playing system, inspired by popular paper-and-pencil role playing games.
  • Dozens of quests, enemies, and monsters to tackle.
  • Build the character you want to - dozens of skills and powers, and hundreds of spells and items.

    Try the first chapter for free, which includes a full adventure and conclusion. If you like what you see, continue on to the following five chapters. Merry Prankster Games invites you into the world of Temple of the Abyssal Winds!

    Coming in 2014 for iPad and Windows. Visit the Temple of the Abyssal Winds website for more information:

    http://www.prankster.com/totaw