prologue

We invite you to explore and participate in our project to develop Nox Archaist, a new RPG for the classic Apple II platform. We are attempting to create a new game that represents an evolution of the classic fantasy CRPG games of the 1980s like Ultima, Bards Tale, and Wizardry. Nox Archaist will be available as a free download when released.


Our blog will contain regular updates on the progress of Nox Archaist, information on programming in 6502 Assembly for the Apple hardware found on vintage Apple II, IIe, IIc, and other machines, tips and techniques on the art of game development.

Game play mechanics and story line are actively in development. We plan to incorporate as many suggestions from the community as possible. We welcome feedback with your thoughts and ideas. Below you can find a first look at the game on a demo map showing some of the current tiles and animations.  Click on the video and images to see them larger or in full screen.









Nox Archaist Technical Details:
  • Runs on any 128k Apple IIe or later system
  • Physical machines and modern emulators are supported
  • Current game testing is being done on a physical Apple IIe and in AppleWin
  • Coded entirely in 6502 Assembler, no construction sets used







24 comments:

  1. Ditto on support for Mockingboard and/or Phasor. Also, if there are dungeons, make them 1ST PERSON like in the early Ultimas. I love the 3-scale world - large view of the outside, medium view in cities and battles, first-person closeup in dungeons.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback guys, we really appreciate it. Mockingboard support is something we are definitely considering.

      At this point we haven't committed to 1st vs 3rd person for underground environments and this is a topic are interested in hearing more input on from the community. I’ve added a poll on the right side of the page. Feel free to respond to the poll or provide feedback in the comments.

      I deleted a duplicate post below.

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  3. This is awesome! The attention to detail is fantastic, and I was delighted when I saw the heads poking about the tall grass, not just the hero, but the pursuer. I thought it was great that you could abandon your ship and swim(!) to the shore, and that the progress was slower and, again, your head bobbed to the surface! Excellent, excellent, excellent!

    Unlike the other commenters, I don't think it has to have a 1st person perspective in the dungeons, but if you *did* decide to go that route, what I would *love* to see is the approach that the game Dungeons of Daggorath used on the TRS platform: they used a custom line drawing algorithm to make the lines appear more faint, giving the illusion of *depth* to their dungeons and its inhabitants, which I've never seen elsewhere. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQKQHKdWTRs

    The other observable truth of dungeons in the 8-bit world is that they always had hard, square-ish edges, which never seemed very dungeonesque to me. I felt like I was walking around hallways rather than underground passages. One game that made me think otherwise was Eidolon, with its fractal-like corridor "ribs", which I thought was exceptional. Any game that attempted this for its dungeons, even if it was simply lines instead of filled regions, would be great: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hWhD_mB-2o

    I am very excited to hear about this game, where I heard about it on the Apple II Enthusiasts group on FB. Please join the group and share your progress there, thank you!!

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    1. Thanks for your comments and enthusiasm! We are really glad to hear that the attention to detail in features like swimming and hiding in tall grass are appreciated. There will be many more :-) Great to hear another perspective on dungeons too.

      We’ve joined the Apple II Enthusiast on Facebook and look forward to participating. Thanks for the invitation!

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  4. Another comment... I really like that it's using the whole screen to display the world, rather than a tiny portal. So if there is going to be text and stats or storytelling, it'd be great if that can be hidden so that the full view can be seen, as it is now.

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  5. I'm so pleased to see an Ultima like.
    Why not doing it in DHGR?
    Do you want to push source code on GitHub?

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  6. Thanks for your question. We did very seriously consider using double high-res graphics to gain the additional resolution and colors. A key factor in the decision to use single high-res mode was the fact that DHGR only has one graphics page, whereas single hi-res mode has two graphics pages which makes page flipping possible. Nox Archaist uses page flipping to smooth out animation and the screen updates between player moves.

    We are considering options for making the source code available, and GitHub is definitely a possibility.

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  7. Really looking forward to this release. Great ideas already. I rather like the way that dungeons are done in Legacy of the Ancients or Legend of Blacksilver. They used slightly textured walls which provides some feeling of movement.

    Cheers,
    BluPhoenyx

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  8. Thanks much for your feedback, we really appreciate it. I took a look a the games you mentioned. Legacy of the Ancients stood out to me in particular. It looks like they are using Apple “low-res” graphics but I think it looks better than any hi-res 1st person dungeon views that I have seen. I wouldn’t have expected that. The extra 10 colors available in low-res seem to really bring the scenes alive. Very interesting!

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  9. Actually, I think the graphics are standard hires bitmap shapes, but I could be wrong. However they are done, they make for a great display when walking through mazes. I recall it took a few trips to keep from getting confused when first exploring the places. IIRC, the original Questron used line drawings in dungeons and small character bitmaps for the towns.

    Keep up the good work and have fun!

    Cheers,
    BluPhoenyx

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  10. Thanks Michael. We'll have some cool new features to announce soon. Stay tuned!

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  11. We need a commercial release !!! (Cloth map included ;)

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    1. We'd love to do that and are looking into it. Thanks for the encouragement!

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  12. Actually there are 2 double hi-res pages, see this forum thread for a smart discussion about all that stuff . There's also 2 pages of double lo-res :) Everything to do with DHR is super gnarly though and I think its a pretty good choice to stay away.

    I tried doing an DHR engine for a break out game, I wish I remember for sure if it used page flipping, but I think it did. I got burnt out soon after getting my first sprites on the screen. Trying to figure out how to do collision detection hurt my brain too much ;^)

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    1. Oops, I meant the words "this forum thread" to be the link http://www.verycomputer.com/20_7f105447ec490536_1.htm

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    2. Thanks for the information! I retraced my steps and I do not know how I acquired the perception that there was no double hi-res page 2.

      I thought it was mentioned in the book “High-Rest Graphics and Animation Using Assembly Language” by Leonard Malkin but I must have imagined it a review confirms the book is silent on the subject.


      Kudos to you for giving it a shot with your break out game! I can image collision detection in DHR would have been a big head ache. I plan on doing some animation off the tile grid in the combat system and expect to have to think through some collision control mechanics, in single HR though.


      I seriously considered DHR for Nox Archaist. To elaborate on my DHR comment from the earlier post, the central concern was speed. As far as I could tell, DHR meant that twice as many memory addresses would need to be filled to render the screen. In the planning stage I recalled thinking that if page flipping was available in DHR maybe that would sufficiently smooth out any screen refresh lag cause by the extra memory copies, but without page flipping it seemed impractical.

      I also recall thinking it was a risky design decision considering there are no Apple II tile based RPGs using DHR that I’m aware of which proved it could be done. If anyone is aware of any please let me know, I’d love to check them out.

      Of course DHR being unique to tile based RPGs would have also make it extra cool to do. Had I know DHG page flipping was possible, I have to wonder if I would have tried it or at least done further testing.

      As it stands, our game engine currently is just fast enough to deliver an acceptable screen refresh rate after player moves, but with very little speed resources to spare. My gut feeling is that doubling the memory addresses to draw the tiles and scroll the screen would tank the screen refresh rate.

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    3. Hi. As far as a tile based game using double-hires, the only one that comes to mind is The Legend of Blacksilver. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54TxDN2Uglw It was like an unspoken sequel to the Legacy of the Ancients (which i know in turn was like a successor to Questron). It is nice to have true "Red" and a whole lot more choices as far as dithering goes...

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    4. Darkcrayon: Thanks for the link! That is impressive that Legends of Blacksilver got it to work.

      Since we’ve been having a technical discussion on the blog about double hi-res and tile graphics engines here are my observations on factors that may have enabled Legend of Blacksilver to make it work, whereas every other Apple II tile RPG (as far as we know), used single hi-res:

      *No sprites that I could see. Mobs were presented as a pop-up picture, randomly encountered. NPCs were static. When the player moved, NPC positions on the screen changed, but the NPCs didn’t appear to have the ability to execute moves on the X,Y grid themselves.

      *Very little terrain animation

      *No line of site algorithm calculating hidden tiles based on the player position relative of obstacles such as mountains and walls. The only thing along that line that I saw were shops having a roof on them until the player opened the door, which then revealed the tiles inside the shop and also kept the tiles outside the shop visible. That is a much more specific (and faster) calculation than dynamically changing hidden tiles based on simulated line of site. It's also a calculation that only needs to be run when the door open command is run, whereas line of site algorithms run between every player move.

      By not having features like these, more CPU cycles would be available to manage the double hi-res overhead. Significantly more.

      No criticism intended whatsoever to Legends of Blacksilver, they did a great job, and did something pretty unique. Very interesting to see this.


      Mark

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  13. Problem with DHGR is that the dipswitches only let you swap in main/aux for page 1 -- and writing to page 2 requires a lot more complex coding tricks to pull off. Not to mention, it eats memory. We also struggled with this decision but decided it was worth not taking a 30% CPU hit once we figured out how to max out HGR graphics for Lawless Legends. By the way, our sprite/map editor (Outlaw Editor) is 100% free open source if you want to use it. :)

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    1. Thanks dropping in and sharing your experience. Sounds like we both concluded not to use DHR for similar reasons. I’ll check out the editor, thanks for that suggestion too.

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    2. Looks like your project is coming along nicely! We encourage our readers to check it out if they have not already: http://www.lawlesslegends.com/

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