Starflight

October 15th, 2010 2 comments

A video courtesy of CRPGAddict that shows the final gameplay of the classic space exploration/role-playing game Starflight. I remember playing this game back in the day on the Amiga but never really came around to finish it. But now that I’ve read how the game’s story resolves with a big surprise in it toward the end it dims to me what a great plot this game had. There are many of today’s modern role-playing games that story-wise would pale in comparison that Starflight.
This was also one of those games from the era where I realized my affinity for science fiction-themed games. Back then whenever there was a new review to be read in a game magazine about a space-themed adventure or RPG my eyes started glowing. I liked the idea of flying around with the ship and explore a vast number of planets and Starflight was basically a whole galaxy squeezed on a floppy disk.

If you’re interested in classic role-playing games I recommend to check out CRPGAddict’s blog! I don’t know how he manages to find the time but he already finished playing 26 games since he started last year. And not only that! He analyzed them, drew maps about them, and reviewed them in a very detailed way. On top of that he made a long list of CRPGs that he yet wants to play and review and it seems he’s serious about it. Determination is everything!

There’s also the whole write-down about Starflight, no less than nine blog posts!! Check it out! You will certainly have enough to read for a while!

Categories: Gaming Tags: , , , , ,

Random Accessing Zip Files with Adobe AIR

September 20th, 2010 16 comments

I’ve recently re-published a new version of hexagonlib, a universal AS3 class library at code.google.com/p/hexagonlib/. Some parts that were originally in the library have been removed, in particular the UI components and the game package. This has been done because I’m working on a game engine (more about that one later) that will probably exclusively include these parts. The hexagonlib is instead targeted at a broader area of development, not just games.

Either way, many classes have been updated and improved (and many still need too *ugh*) and what is particularly worth mentioning are the file IO classes which provide a unified way to work with different file formats. Basically the way how files work in hexagonlib is that you can create file objects of any specific file type (like text, binary, image, XML, etc.), give them a path to a physical file and then add them to a loader (BulkLoader, FileLoader, ZipLoader) which then loads the data of the physical files into the file objects.

While you can use the BulkLoader class to load a collection of arbitrary files in one go with all sorts of comfort (priorities, weighted loading, load retries, multi-connections etc.) the newest addition to the library is the ZipLoader class which can be used in AIR development to access a standard zip file using Random Access. What does that mean? It means that you can create a zip file (a very large one if you want), pack all your resource files that can be loaded by your application and then open it with your app and ‘load’ (= extract) files from it without ever needing to load the whole zip file completely into memory. This makes accessing a large zip file very efficient because only the chunk of the requested, zipped file is loaded.

This is especially interesting for us game developers who desire to use large, nicely packed resource files like they are utilized in a similar fashion in most current day commercial games. For a while I was promoting to add such functionality to AIR over at Adobe Labs but that was before I knew that this can actually be done in AIR since 1.0 thanks to the FileStream class and the position property of it (alas, the property is not available in the URLStream class so random access is not possible on web-based Flash). The ZipLoader uses asynchronous loading to open a zip file as well as ‘loading’ files from it because I don’t like the idea of having the application at the mercy of the file system which would be the case with synchronous access (and which is used in way too many examples on the web).

You can download the hexagonlib distribution over at Google Code, which includes the SWCs and documentation and of course the source code is available for access via SVN. I’m updating the library on a irregular basis. There are already some Wiki pages too with code examples showing how to use the BulkLoader and ZipLoader here but I will hopefully get to write some more in-depth tutorials soon.

hexagonlib at Google Code
File API Wiki
Documentaion

Interview with Lord British

September 16th, 2010 No comments

An elaborate interview from 2009 with Richard Garriott aka Lord British talking about his beginnings as a game maker, his weird house and toy collection, Tabula Rasa and his flight into space. Some people call him a nerd (probably because they’re envious) but I think he just simply had the chance to do the right thing at the right time, following his passion about making games and becoming very successful with it, eventually earning millions. This is something that is not so easily possible anymore today like it was back in the pioneer days of home-computing. However he’s the living proof that the single most important driving force to be successful is to have passion about what you’re doing, being it creating games or anything else. Watch and be inspired!

Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams

September 15th, 2010 1 comment

Another secret gem from the Golden Age of RPG, Origin’s Martian Dreams can best be described as a fantastic Steampunk themed role-playing game set in a ‘Ultima meets Jules Verne universe’ where you travel with Nikola Tesla, Sigmund Freud, Nellie Bly and several others to Mars to rescue a handful of important people that stranded there some years before.  If this doesn’t sound like a good premise then what does?!!

His Dark Majesty (Atari 800 XL)

September 1st, 2010 2 comments

Back when I was younger … much younger … the first computer I ever possessed was a Atari 600 XL which I got from my parents after a lot of begging. I had exactly one game for it, a cartridge with Jungle Hunt on it. Needless to say this got boring very quickly. My friends all had a C64 already and so it wasn’t until long that I also got a C64 and sold the Atari to a friend.

Back then I always knew the Atari was no match for the mighty C64 and for some part (16Kb RAM) this is true. But I never really realized until recently that the Atari 600/800 XL had much better graphics than the C64. The 256 color palette was already way ahead of it’s time and it had 4 sound voices instead of C64s 3 voices etc. But I suggest you see for yourself about that in this nifty video showing gameplay of a 2010 produced game, the RPG named His Dark Majesty

video with courtesy of marquisor

This site is now clean!

September 1st, 2010 No comments

Just in case you were wondering about all those dreadful malware warnings that were thrown at you if you tried to visit HDRS over the last couple of days … The site had been infected with malware a month or two ago like so many other websites on Media Temple but I have cleaned up now every single trace of malware and removed all suspicious links from the database. Actually I already removed all those nastily injected malware links about a month ago so there was no danger over the last month from visiting this site. However it seems that Google and co is a bit slow to react on this topic and so my site was just only recently labeled as containing malware. I hope this trouble has an end now once and for all. Media Temple isn’t exactly doing much help to the malware clean-up either, I had to suck the necessary information out of my fingers about how to clean up this crap! Here’s some good guides …

How to Remove Trojan.JS.Redirector.cq from Your WordPress Site
JohnnyA WordPress malware on MediaTemple
Detect and clean Malware on MediaTemple

Categories: Misc Tags: , , , ,

Running Sentinel Worlds on DOSBox with Tandy Sound

August 19th, 2010 9 comments

I’ve mentioned before that it’s possible to run Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic in DOSBox with Tandy sound enabled but I couldn’t figure out how to get it working. Today I’m back with good news in that I can tell you how to get this fixed so the trillions of SWFM fans out there can enjoy this fantastic game with the excellent Tandy sound!

Read more…

Shoot First

July 13th, 2010 No comments

Shoot First, a game by Beau Blyth, is a mix of a Roguelike and Run-N-Gun where you explore a randomly generated dungeon while searching for precious items and encountering vile enemy monsters of all kinds. You get thrown into the dungeon at a random entry point from where you have to make your way to the next-lower floor. On the way you find chests that you can shoot open to reveal useful items and occasionally you find companions who join your party or damsels which you have to rescue from captivity. If you escort them safely to the next exit they will thank you with a reward item.

The game isn’t your generic rogue-like, it’s actually very fast-paced. To get forward you have to encounter many monsters and dispatch them or at least evade them but the enemy AI is quite smart. Many monsters will try to flank or evade you and try to shoot you while you’re hiding in a tunnel. That said, Shoot First is not an easy game. The enemies shoot a lot and they shoot well. Many of them are also quite powerful. To counter this, you’re able to shoot into any direction or strafe-shoot into one direction while running. You can also increase in level which will improve your character’s skills. You’re doing so by shooting monsters and collect small, yellow artifacts (gold?) that are revealed after a monster dies. Still the game is rather difficult to beat and to be honest I haven’t made it any further than to the third floor so far.

Read more…

Ultima IV – The Flash Version

July 8th, 2010 2 comments

Oldschool RPG fans can now enjoy playing the classic Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar directly on the web via this impressive Flash port. The game is an almost one-to-one conversion of the 1986 original but the author Blair Leggett also made some enhancements to it.

Flash Version of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar

Categories: Gaming Tags: , , ,

Starmap Filter for Filter Forge 2.0

July 6th, 2010 No comments

After a longer break from creating game artwork assets here’s a new filter I’ve made for the recently updated Filter Forge version 2. In case you’re using Filter Forge and you we’re interested in my Galaxy Photoshop Tutorial, you might as well like to give this filter a try. You can grab it here.