Check out the Nox Archaist Forum!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Good News Bad News

Good News

We have made excellent progress on testing and are extremely happy to announce that Nox Archaist is stable on Apple II emulators, as well as on real Apple //e, IIc, and IIgs hardware using hard drive emulators such as the BOOTI, Floppy Emu and CFFA3000.  The feedback on the game has been excellent and we’re really excited to get the game into your hands soon.  However, that leads us to the next part of our update.

Floppy Disk Issues

When we started more extensive testing with the floppy disk version, we discovered that there are subtle issues that cause the game to crash on some models of Apple II disk drives. (see Floppy Issue Technical Details below if you'd like to know more). We are reasonably confident that the issues are solvable. That said, there is a high degree of uncertainty on the timeframe for a fix. It could be a month to several months, or more.

Our original plan was to release all versions of the game (for emulators, hard drives, and floppy drives), at the same time. However, with the uncertainty regarding the floppy disk version, we’ve decided to take a different approach.

Choice for Physical-Edition Backers

Each backer who preordered a physical copy of the game will now have a choice of two options:

Option #1: Wait it Out

This will be the “default” choice if we don’t receive word from you. With this option, we will hold your boxed set until the floppy disk version is ready, and ship the entire game to you, complete with fully-playable floppy disks. You will still receive a link to download the hard disk and emulator version - see Game Release below.

Option #2: Early Shipment with Blank Floppies

With this option, as soon as the hard disk version of the game is ready, we will ship your complete boxed set with labeled (but blank) floppy disks. Once the floppy version is ready, we will email you the disk images which you can then transfer onto the floppy disks using instructions that we will provide. This option is only recommended for backers who don’t plan to use the floppy disks, or for backers who have experience with (a) notching floppy disks so they are writable on the back and (b) transferring disk images to floppy disks.

Option 2 is an opt-in choice, so only backers that specifically request this option will receive it. See Game Release below for the timeframe.

Physical-edition backers will receive an emailed survey asking which option they would prefer. As mentioned, if we do not hear a response, we will assume that you prefer Option #1 - Wait it Out.

Digital-only backers don’t need to make this decision and won’t receive a survey, as they will automatically receive their download as soon as the hard disk version of the game is ready for release.

Game Release

Our current estimate for Game Release & Early Shipment is December or January. The December date depends upon the turnaround time for the printing of the manual, which is slower than usual due to the pandemic. If it gets too late in December, we would wait to ship until after the holiday season to avoid the increased risk of lost packages.

Early Shipment would include all digital-only backers and those physical-edition backers who chose Option #2.

Moved and Changed Addresses?

If you have moved in the past year and preordered a physical boxed set, be sure to let us know your updated address.


We thank you for your patience and support!

-Mark Lemmert, Chris Torrence, and Jarrod Kailef

6502 Workshop

Floppy Disk Issue Technical Details

The Apple II disk I/O architecture is somewhat different from other 8-bit systems in that the disk controller is 100% software based. As a result, code running on the Apple CPU controls the movement of the disk drive arm rather than firmware on the drive itself.

Nox Archaist uses a different disk controller than was used in the 1980s, developed by one of our development team members for use in Nox Archaist and other Apple II games like Total Replay. By taking advantage of this new and advanced disk controller, Nox Archaist is a much larger game with better gameplay.

The floppy version of the disk controller, which is not yet used in any other games, causes Nox Archaist to intermittently crash. The time between crashes can be as short as 5 minutes and as long as 2 hours. The difference appears to be related to the model of floppy disk drives.

The root cause of the crash is likely to be a timing problem. Each floppy drive model takes a slightly different amount of time to move the floppy drive arm. The software disk controller has to compensate for that and “wait” a sufficient number of CPU clock cycles for the drive arm to be in the correct position to read or write the desired data. This "wait" time needs to be fine tuned so that it works on all floppy drive models.

During Nox Archaist development we tested the floppy disk controller many times and it appeared to be working fine on different floppy drives. However, our early tests were constrained by the limited game content available. In addition, although we used several different drive models, the timing differences between other drive models were more significant than we anticipated. For these reasons, we did not detect the problem until recently, when we expanded the number of testers and floppy drive models.


  1. If you receive the digital version early, then you could not make a physical back up without the crashing "bug". So, will there be a later second updated digital release that you could use on a CFFA and also write out a disk on?

    1. Thanks for your question!

      If I understand correctly, the answer is yes. The early release of the digital download will only include an HDV image for use in emulators and with hard drive cards like the CFFA. No floppy disk images will be include.

      Once the floppy version is ready for release we will issue a software update to the digital package, which would include an HDV image and also .PO floppy images that can be transferred to physical floppy disks.

  2. I have been beta testing Nox Archaist since mid August. (I'm retired and beta testing was the only way to get my hands on the game early.) I have played 4 games from the start, having completed the third. I may drop the fourth and start a fifth on a different platform. The game has been fairly solid from the start, and continues to get (more so)(firmer)(you get the idea). With well over 200 hours of play in, and the start with beginning characters four times, I am still finding it a great deal of fun. And each time I start over, I find new things and details I had missed in the previous goes. By the time I have found everything there is to find, I will probably have played it more than ten times.

    I'm going to opt for wait it out. I know it will get here, and I have learned how to use an emulator (first time I tried 20 years ago it was so bad, I gave up and didn't try again until this March.) I've had a hard drive emulator for my IIe for a couple years, but am just now setting it up to play Nox on.

    I wholeheartedly recommend this game to any who have enjoyed Apple II gaming or want to try it out. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I have! Forrest

    1. Forrest, thanks much for sharing your experience!

  3. Hi, I am a Boxed Set purchaser-- how do I indicate my preference for Option1 vs Option2? Thanks.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for the post! In the next few weeks we will email a survey to all boxed set purchasers. This will help us aggregate all the information efficiently.