Today’s video pick (yeah right, as if I had a new post everyday here) is from YouTube user Five5Six and about how he managed to get Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic to run on DOSBox with Tandy sound enabled. That’s right, Tandy sound! By default the game uses those bleepy PC speaker sounds as in my own video. Personally I haven’t yet figured out how to get Tandy sound working with this game, so there … a video with the marvelous Tandy-enabled sound of SW1:FM in all it’s glory …
The classic dungeon crawler Sword of Fargoal has been released for the iPhone and it turns out that it’s one of the few computer/console-game-to-iPhone conversions I’ve came across that are actually fun to play on the touch-screen (unlike, say, Sonic, Bomberman et al). Go check it out if you’re into RPGs with an ever-changing maze-like dungeon accompanied by nicely done atmospheric music and sound effects.
Official Sword of Fargoal Website
While the main quest of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion didn’t attract me very much – admittedly I haven’t even completed it once to this day – some of the side quests were amusingly entertaining, particularly the Thief’s Guild and Dark Brotherhood quest series. Both of these feature stories with some pretty twisted plots and very interesting characters.
While doing contract work for the Dark Brotherhood you are being sent to attend a party where the guests are invited to search for a treasure that is supposed to be hidden in a house in that they are going to be locked in, except that there is no treasure and you are not one of the treasure hunters but an assassin hired by the house owner to kill all the other guests. Can a quest be more macabre and fun than this?!
The Whodunit quest which you are being assigned to in the latter part of the Dark Brotherhood guild quest series was somehow the highlight of it all for me. Not only combined it the cozy whodunit mystery with a medieval fantasy setting but it put you in the role of the killer instead of the detective. What made this quest so gleefully entertaining wasn’t the fact that you are the perpetrator but the way how you could manipulate the characters and watch how they became more and more terrified after somebody crossed the bar. There are several different ways how the NPC’s react which is especially interesting in the end when only three or two are left, even if eventually the quest concludes always in the same outcome.
Back in the days when computer games still required you to use your imagination to play them there was a role-playing game pearl named Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic, one of the many scifi-themed RPGs back then which today are only sparsely seeded in retailer shelves.
Future Magic was first released for DOS and a port for the C64 was published later which looked almost equally good as the DOS version with excellent graphics done by Michael Kosaka. At times the game is quite bizarre. For example there is a planet with ranchers and farms just like in an old western. Another planet has two very high towers that reach into the orbit and these are the only colonies on the otherwise untouched surface. On another, icy planet you scout an abandoned research base which is overrun by saber-toothed creatures … but this is how the games were made in the golden age of RPG. Despite the number in the title a follower was never developed for Future Magic but instead the acclaimed Hard Nova served as a spiritual sequel.
The game let’s you control a group of five space mercs who are send out on a mission to stop mysteriously appearing raiders which are attacking ships in the local system. Right after your ships drops out of hyperspeed you are being attacked by them. However while the other ships of the space convoy with that you came are trying to fight them you are able to take some distance and locate a yacht floating in nearby space. It’s the space yacht of a tycoon named Grager which turns out to be a luxurious vessel full with the newest technology.
Welcome back to the RPG Design series where I try to talk a bit about the work and progress on my game project, the development of the darkish, space -themed computer role-playing game Stellar Conspiracy: Entanglements Of The Marenis Sector (working title).
In the last part I’ve introduced the character design template I’m using and mentioned to post a character example next time which I’m doing hereby while introducing you to Eliza Retinienne, a Gessjanian security systems expert from the planet Shielle, a small world bordering on the fringe of the Suulun Sector which in turn stretches over a large area of the southern galaxy.
Eliza is one of the key characters in the game’s story and one of the characters whom the player is supposed to encounter and who eventually joins the player’s party. She is also supposed to receive her own side-quest in which the player can engage to help her out of the threatening situation she is currently in.
Note that this sheet is basically just here to give an example of how the character design template can be used to shape out a character so I suggest not to look too critically into the details. Things can (and will) still change and also the sheet is not filled out completely, for one reason because some details are irrelevant for this character and for another that I haven’t found any other suitable details for her yet. Either way I hope this gives a good example of how to utilize the template!
After their last RPG masterpiece release, the Might & Magic 6-Pack, gog.com have now released Realms of Arkania 1+2 and 3. RoA is the English version of what I only knew as Das Schwarze Auge in German back in the 16-bit days of Amiga. If my memory serves me right only the first part of RoA made it to the Amiga while the two followers were only available for DOS.
Realms of Arkania is classic hardcore role-playing, flip3D style intermezzed with isometric combat screens and you can get this for a ridiculous cheap price now.
So far gog.com is only releasing DOS or Windows based games. For some games I wish they’d add Amiga games to their line-up simply because many Amiga games were better than their DOS conversions, just take a look at highly regarded Hired Guns. in case of Hired Guns you feel that the developers were a team of Amiga enthusiasts. The DOS version feels bland and rushed compared to the shiny and atmosphere-oozing Amiga version.
Either way, for DOS games Good Old Games are packing their releases up with a copy of DOSBox pre-configured and ready to install and run. For Amiga versions they would probably have to pack up a copy of WinUAE to assure a hassle-free experience. Not sure how that would work out.
And back to the game design topic! The part I love most about game design is that you can create worlds full of life, intricacy, intrigue and interesting characters, experimenting with scenarios and situations (that would otherwise probably have negative repercussions in RL™).
As a programmer you’d ever only write your code and if you are happy with it that’s fine but we one-man-game-developer types are more like Jack of all trades who want to create complete worlds … and stories. And then tell those stories by means of the game. And maybe throw a bit (or a large chunk) of dynamics in there again … as programmers.
One extremely satisfying aspect of game design (for games where narrative is important) is the development of characters that should act throughout the game. Creating characters is just as much fun as the other bases! If you do it right and create deep and sympathetic characters people will love them.
And even villains can be sympathetic. In fact they should be! Who likes an antagonist that is completely unsympathetic? Nobody, right? But why should you even like a villain, after all he’s the guy who needs to be defeated? The answer to this is that the guy who is the villain is so only in the context of our story. Maybe he’s not so bad after all in a different context. Or in short: Antagonists also have a life, feelings … but guess what? Now I totally digress! I actually wanted to show you my new and all fresh character template that I came up with to shape out characters for my game.
I’ve been designing on a rather ambitious Role-Playing game project since a while now (in fact quite a long while but I’m not in hurry to finish it anytime soon) and while I’m in the process of working out the story, technical details like the combat mechanics, skill system etc. and creating interesting characters I still haven’t made a decision on the type of graphical projection for the game so far. I’ve been thinking about five kinds of projection from the most basic one (2D orthographic) up to full dynamic 3D which would be quite an effort. As my development platform of choice happens to be Flash, the resources in terms of 3D are limited.
So with that in mind I thought it would be good opportunity to introduce some of the most-used projections in computer and video role-playing games to get to know them a little better. This is by no means a complete list of all sorts of projection used in games but I believe these the ones most commonly used for role-playing games.
Categories: Design, Dev, Featured, Random Picks 3D, ActionScript, Flash, Game Design, Game Development, Isometric, Projection, RPG
Review: Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic (DOS/C64)
One of my very favorite games back on Amiga was the space RPG Hard Nova (to be reviewed in a while) which took me long cozy winter nights to solve. The predecessor of Hard Nova was a game called Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic which was released in 1988 by Electronic Arts and had it’s success under science fiction RPG videogamers. Me – PC-less – always looked enviously over to the PC crowd. But that only until decent DOS Emulators were developed, like DOSBox.