Showing posts with label leadlight gamma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leadlight gamma. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Leadlight Gamma now working on Sierra (macOS 10.12)

In February 2017 I reported that my horror IF Leadlight Gamma wasn't working in Sierra.

Just this week I caught up with one of Andrew Plotkin's updated builds of Gargoyle which has eliminated that problem.

So now Leadlight Gamma is playable pretty much across the board again, including in Sierra, and I've also done a general refresh of all the links, Read Me's and downloads.

Leadlight Gamma :

Leadlight Gamma Desktop screenshot


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The Parser Power Summer Double Sale!

I've teamed up with Andrew Plotkin for an itch.io summer sale which has been going for a few days and which ends in 4 days, 0 hours and 59 minutes as of me publishing this post:

The Parser Power Summer Double! (sale!)

For US$9.00 you get Hadean Lands (sci-fi) by Andrew Plotkin, you Leadlight Gamma (horror) by me, you get a hi-res version of the Hadean Lands map and you get a Bandcamp voucher for the Leadlight Gamma soundtrack. That's more than 50% off both games plus the extras.

If you're not familiar with Hadean Lands, the non-mine game in this bundle Where have you been for the past two years? Hiding under a rock on Mars? Waiting for someone to randomly turn that rock over when there are about a zillion rocks on Mars, and they're all the same colour? If so, your behaviour was fool behaviour. You were bound to remain stuck under that rock, unaware of the existence of the game Hadean Lands, unaware of its nature. That's everything that was wrong with your behaviour.

Now that I've thoroughly described the non-mine game of this bundle, here's the link to the sale page:

THE PARSER POWER SUMMER DOUBLE SALE LINK

It's an attractive page and I'll miss it when it's gone. itch.io make it very easy to set this kind of thing up.

Names for this sale we rejected include

  • Hadean Light
  • Leadlands
  • Got Alchemy?
  • Literacy Night Out
  • The Sinful Schoolgirls of Hades
  • Where's My Summer? I Live in the Southern Hemisphere


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Leadlight Gamma news and CYOA extension news

Doing maintenance rounds on my websites, I noticed that the Leadlight Gamma homepage was out of date and displaying incorrect info I'd forgotten was there. I've fixed this, and updated the game's sites in general.

  • There was an old warning on the site about problems you might face getting the game onto your iOS device. That warning was temporary and is now irrelevant and gone. iFrotz downloads the game just fine.
  • There was a lack of warning on the site about trying to play the game on a Mac running macOS Sierra. There is now a warning, because the game doesn't work in Sierra. There are fatal problems with both Glulx interpreter options. Gargoyle broke in Sierra and the unofficial patched version hangs when booting Leadlight Gamma, probably because of the graphics. Lectrote gets stuck on two of the game's graphic features, the image gallery and the full screen map. I could potentially say, "Don't look at the gallery or the full screen map and it won't hang," but if I then also have to say, "Plus there's no audio in this version," it feels obviously to me like I just shouldn't be selling something with so many shortcomings to the Sierra user.

The Sierra issues are vaguely depressing given that the game was brand new just two years ago, but interpreter maintenance is beyond my power.

My personal focus will be moving to my music-making for the next period of time, so my IF projects (the CYOA extension for Inform and the actress game) will mostly be going on the backburner for the same period of time.

In January this year I started to build out standalone versions of the demos from my CYOA extension, including the Ryan Veeder-endorsed spinoff Captain Piedaterre's Blunders, but doing so revealed to me there were still important fixes that needed to be made to the fundamental extension code. So it was a useful exercise for me, but obviously one with a less fun result than it could have had. Mostly I hope that the extension doesn't slide into the pits of technical incompatibility or obsolescence before I can I revisit it.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

IFComp 2016: "Whoops!". And other updates.

"Whoops!"

My plan to start reviewing IFComp games in a more targeted fashion was obviously a great one. The problem was it immediately fell down when I passed what time I’d hoped to spend on it to action in the categories of music and ‘life stuff’.

In retrospect, it was dumb of me to start out reviewing in a random order when there were so many entries in the comp. A moment’s planning would have made me realise I’d no chance of getting far into the catalogue overall. The trouble is, reviewing at random is really fun. I remember that from the years when circumstances allowed me to review everything (or close to it) to a certain personal standard, and in a mostly random order dictated by the IFComp site.

Maybe I just won’t be able to do that again, especially if the number of entries continues to rise. So I think I need to say to myself, ‘Right, I’ve had that particular fun in the past, I don’t need to try to recreate it,’ and change to a more targeted reviewing tack next time I come at this.

So, congratulations to Robin Johnson for winning with Detectiveland, and then to all the other entrants for everything else. Also, I know a few people were keen for me to review their IF, and I didn't get to it. I will eventually, but just because it looked like I was probably going to get to it during the comp and I didn't, I'm sorry.

American Financial Restoration Sale

I eventually noticed there was this Black Friday sale thing going on in the USA. If I’d been more on the ball, I might have taken advantage and put Leadlight Gamma on sale again. Instead I was too sluggish on the uptake, so I think I’ll just wait ’til Christmas or something. This way I also get to say I’ve avoided participating in yet more cultural behaviour doled out by Americans.

Works in Progress

My CYOA Extension for Inform 7 has been coming along really well. I need some third party tech put in place before I'll be able to finish it.

I continue to gather notes for my mystery IF project. The phrase ‘mystery IF project’ makes it sound like I’ve talked about it in this blog before, but I haven’t. What is it? Not telling! Yet, anyway.

I’ve been getting annoyed at myself over the past year for losing too many good ideas for the project. When I say lose, I mean that I didn’t write them down or type them up at the moment I had them. I think my lack of vigilance came from the feeling that their graceless accumulation in a few text files was amounting to a disorganised idea splat for the future that would probably annoy me in the future. How would I sort, find or string together relevant bits from the splat? And there are different types of bits in there. Dialogue riffs, character ideas, incident ideas, structure ideas, etc.

In response to these note-organising problems, I downloaded and am trying out the writing software Scrivener. (Interjection: Holy crap, it's on sale for Black Friday! I must buy now! Buy Buy Buy!) I find it’s working well. It allows me to store all my notes, research materials and prose for a piece in a single document in ways that make it easy to index, connect and rearrange that material. I expect I will produce the text of the IF project in Scrivener and then port it into my CYOA extension. It turns out that I can actually make a pretty direct correlation between blobs of text in Scrivener and choice nodes in a game.

An incidental bonus is that using Scrivener is looking like a good way to write manuals, too, and I expect to have to write a manual for the CYOA extension. I may even be able to publish it directly as an e-book from Scrivener.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Leadlight and a new OS for the Apple II

John Brooks, best known in Apple circles for programming the amazing Apple IIGS version of fantasy platformer Rastan in 1990, recently released an unnofficial update to ProDOS 8, the OS used by 8-bit Apple II computers. The last official version was 2.0.3, released by Apple in 1993, so that's 23 years between lunches. Brooks's 2.0.4 release includes improvements for almost the whole range of Apple IIs, both the 8-bit ones and the 16-bit Apple IIGS.

One thing about ProDOS 2.x in general is that it never ran on the oldest Apple II models: the original Apple II, the Apple II+ and the unenhanced Apple IIe. You needed an enhanced Apple IIe, an Apple IIC or an Apple IIGS. Until now, anyway. Brooks's 2.0.4 lets you run ProDOS 2.x on the earlier IIs.

When I programmed Leadlight back in 2009–2010, I had to assess what the minimum hardware requirement for it would be. The game uses ProDOS 2.0.3 and lowercase characters, so I stated that the minimum would be an enhanced Apple IIe. Now the game could potentially run on older machines under ProDOS 2.0.4, so long as they've been upgraded to 64KB of RAM and have 80-column cards in them (giving lowercase capability).

I don't think I'll be racing to implement this possible OS change. Leadlight is at a very stable place now and content-synced between the Apple II and Inform versions, but there is a glimmer of appeal in the idea of tweaking it to try to get it to work on even more limited hardware without taking anything out of it.

* You can buy Leadlight Gamma for modern devices or get the original Apple II version for free at http://heiresssoftware.com/leadlightgamma/

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Switching to Andromeda

Through things I said recently in a podcast, and in extremely vague form on the front of my Heiress Software homepage, I communicated that the next Inform 7 IF game I would do would be 'the murder one'.

I expected and expect this to be very difficult to do, for concept and design reasons. That's on top of my having had few specific story ideas for it yet.

The thing at the moment is that I need my creativity to be bolstering my motivations in life in general, not vexing me. Persisting with the planning stage of something really difficult ('the murder game') has been vexing me. So I've decided to switch to a project I'm confident will start to give me some gratification immediately. The third listed project on the Heiress webpage, namely 'A sci-fi game set in the Andromeda universe'.

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If you don't know about the Andromeda games, they're a series of parser-driven sci-fi adventures started by Marco Innocenti with Andromeda Awakening, which he entered in IFComp 2011. His sequel, Andromeda Apocalypse, won the 2012 IFComp. Then Marco held two Andromeda Legacy competitions in which he invited other IF authors to make games set in the same universe. I co-judged both competitions.

The first comp produced Joey Jones's Andromeda Dreaming (the winner) and Paul Lee's Tree and Star. Both games expanded on the Andromeda mythologies in interesting ways.

The second comp produced Jim Warrenfeltz's Andromeda Ascending (the winner) and Joey Jones's Andromeda Genesis (not on IFDB now, but probably will be real soon thanks to my badgering).

I'm replaying all the games at the moment. I need to revisit Ascending in particular to remember how it fit in. I found Genesis to be disappointing when Jones's Dreaming was so good.

Collectively, the Andromeda games show that the concept of different authors producing IF parser games set in one universe is both viable and doable. The games fit together far better than anyone involved expected – not that there was even a rule saying they had to – and what's interesting is that the connections were produced entirely by the individual authors. There was almost no oversight or top-down coordination. The authors just kept generating material that fit into the sockets of mythology established by the original game, and by Marco's 'cheat sheet'.

I suppose there are actually a lot of examples of this kind of thing going on in fiction at large. What immediately comes to mind is Star Wars's expanded universe. All of those offshoot novels and comics that had to submit to some rules set above them. Maybe what helps the phenomenon work in any venue is when the people involved are attracted to the original material enough that they want to stick to its rules. The more you follow some of the rules, the more you may feel like you're a part of the entity you admire.

Andromeda is not Star Wars. This is unfortunate in the sense that I would like to be involved in a franchise that would rake in millions of dollars. But Andromeda Awakening has something in common with Star Wars in that it established a universe mysterious, charming and open enough to attract admirers interested in expanding it. The results so far have shown an impressive coherence of aesthetic, and been impressive in general. And I want to join in and add my bit.

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As this will be a full-sized game, I'll have the luxury of my bit being large-ish. I've had some good conceptual ideas and specific story ideas so far, and I continue to cogitate on them and write them down (type them in) as they come.

Technically, I'm concerned about progress on various Inform fronts based on the example of the past few years. (I list these gripes and apologise for them about once a year on intfiction.org. This year they are additionally informed by my experience of selling Leadlight Gamma.) My concerns will probably cause me to skew towards having fewer bells and whistles in the game than I'd like. There are lots of Inform play venues with no sound, no graphics, no colours or none of the above. There's no up-to-date Mac interpreter. No Mac interpreter advances for four years. No screen reader support on Macs.

I found it headachey trying to get Leadlight Gamma to deal with all these hurdles as best it could in a commercial context. A wise man (David Kinder) once said to me, 'Don't write around interpreter bugs.' That inspired me to strike forward as much as I could, but when I found I was going to have to tell players to be mindful of problems A and B and C and D to compensate for all the exceptions in the game delivery system, I slid backwards, because I don't want to tell players that stuff in the case of a commercial game. People don't want to pay for a game and then kick off their experience with it by reading through a list of potential problems and omissions it may exhibit.

Ultimately I balanced the game features so I could retain some moderately advanced tech (the dynamic map works everywhere) and only have to warn players about a few possible problems. Doing all the accessibility work on Leadlight Gamma and then not being able to share it with Mac users remains a particularly teeth-gritty point.

Regarding the content of my Andromeda game, I won't say more than what I've already said. I'm not much for talking about a thing I'm working on. That's what interacting with the thing once it's finished is for. I know that's not what the kids want these days. They want ceaseless updates and promo stills and character information and stretch goals and not-too-spoilery-spoilers and personality videos and ARGH!!!...

I might cave in later. Otherwise, at least on the front of this game, I'll see you when it's done. Which will not be for a fair while, obviously.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Leadlight Gamma - The sale I'm running and the competition I'm not

Have you noticed what month this is? Me too.

Do you know which events took place in the month of August five years ago? The events depicted in my game Leadlight.

Having noticed this anniversary, I'm announcing

THE VERY AUGUST LEADLIGHT GAMMA SALE

Until August ends (about a week from today) you can buy Leadlight Gamma on itch.io for $1

You can still throw larger amounts of money at me during this time, but that's hardly the point of a sale.

After the sale window closes, the minimum price will revert to a more diabolical value. Maybe $6.66.

In technological developments: The game is now direct link-downloadable to the Frotz iOS app from itch.io. Consider this a news item if you already own it, since any new files or features that are added to the itch.io page are available to anyone who has ever bought the game.

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In other news: I briefly considered running a competition, too, with a prize for the first player* to send me a screenshot of the final easter egg from Leadlight Gamma's tour mode. However I've already donated a prize to IFComp, and I'm feeling too unemployed, ill and covetous to part with any of the horror-related items I was considering putting up for a Leadlight comp. So I shan't run one!

I will say that I think most people would find the final archive item shown in tour mode to be relatively surprising.

I view Leadlight as kind of a hardcore game, but by the standard of hardcore games, an easy one. It's considerably easier to finish the game per se than to finish it with all 80 points. So I saved Leadlight Gamma's tour mode as a reward for players who do get 80 points and who have thus demonstrated their commitment to the experience.

* Anyone mentioned in the game credits would not have been eligible to participate in the comp. But these people don't need to fret anymore, since I am not actually running the comp, only the sale.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Leadlight Gamma interview on IndieSider #26

For episode 26 of the video/podcast series IndieSider, the show's host Ken Gagne invited me on to talk about Leadlight Gamma and IF. This episode is out today.

IndieSider's structure is that episodes start with a game overview/demo (about 8 minutes in this case) then the interview plays over gameplay footage (about 30 minutes in this case). Or you can get an all-audio version.

Ken pointed out that I've already talked about making Leadlight per se a fair bit in various media in the past, so the focus of this episode is on porting the game, releasing it commercially and other stuff.

You can watch the video (or get the audio) and peruse episode links on the IndieSider/Gamebits homepage:

http://www.gamebits.net/2015/07/15/indiesider-26-leadlight-gamma/

Or if you're Youtubey, you can watch the vid there:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUbDcvYbkPI

I hope you enjoy your trip through this door.

Thanks again to Ken again for having me.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Something new, something old, something blue, something blorrowed

The something new is that adventuregamers.com reviewed Leadlight Gamma.

Collectively, the something old, blue and blorrowed is that I've gathered up the first five proper text adventures I made (about 25 years ago), and the design notes I found for three of them, for my site Wade-Memoir. In chronological order they are:

Dungeon Of Death (1988)
Complex (1988)
The Sword Of Evil (1988) (with original notes)
Dark Arts (1990) (with original notes)
Demon's Keep (1990) (with original notes)

The book that got a 13-year-old me from approximating adventure games on the Apple II with a bunch of hectic GOTO statements to building BASIC programs that had real databases of verbs and nouns in them was Usborne's Write your own Adventure Programs for your Microcomputer; you can download a PDF of it from the linked page. The engine for the demo game in that book, Haunted House, became the starting engine for my games. I wrote five games with it, making things a bit better each time.

Today, I don't think Dungeon of Death or Complex are much good. They're just what got me started.

The Sword Of Evil is starting to get decent, though it still has no save/restore features.

Dark Arts and Demon's Keep are sufficiently respectable fantasy games of the two-word parser variety. Though Dark Arts still has too many empty rooms in it.

Today we have a wide variety of sophisticated and flexible systems available to help us make these games. We also have effectively unlimited RAM. While revisiting my old games is of personal interest for me, what I think may be of particular interest to folks who weren't around in that era is the demonstration of the amount of planning required to write games like this back then. The Usborne book told me to plan and list everything on paper before even touching the computer, so that's what I did. Have a look at my design notes for Dark Arts or Demon's Keep to see what I mean.

Demon's Keep was the last adventure I wrote from scratch for the Apple II. After that I switched to using the Eamon system, and went in for more RPG content and fewer puzzles.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Leadlight Gamma reviewed at Gamerz Unite

Leadlight Gamma just received a positive review over at Gamerz Unite. It's fun to see it on a site with a big focus on LAN parties. That's to say, not on a site where I might traditionally have expected it to be reviewed.

I think it's a fun time for IF in terms of being able to see a wider range of reactions to your game if you let a wider circle of people know about it than just traditional IF circles. This effect has probably been more evident – or maybe more transparent – to people producing choice-based games, since they travel more easily than parser-driven games. And sometimes their authors had no connection to longstanding IF circles in the first place.

So there are buyable parser games around like The Warbler's Nest or Death off the Cuff or Hadean Lands or Leadlight Gamma, et al., which have appeared and said, 'Here I am.' (Hadean Lands said it louder, but I think you get where I'm coming from. Textfyre also released parser games commercially, though with a more fully-fledged business model which, as I understand it, proved hard to sustain.) Other buyable parser games, like Cypher, still go with the 'It's the return of the text adventure' schtick. We're in a time where I expect you can get traction (albeit different kinds of traction) either way, but I think increasingly you don't need the 'ye olde' schtick. There's so much serendipity in the kinds of games a person can buy now that I think a parser-driven game looks like just another type in this context.

I would say it's more important that the game or project is good than whether it solves problems the IF community has raised about whether the medium faces some kind of developmental blockage. And of course, the two goals aren't mutually exclusive.

In my previous big game, which was Six, I explicitly tried to make a super helpful parser. If I did that game now, the only thing I would change is that the instructions would be delivered in tutorial form as well, on top of their written form which exists both in the game and in a booklet. But I don't intend to revisit it just for that.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Presenting Leadlight Gamma



Last week I released Leadlight Gamma, a new Glulx incarnation of my 2010 Apple II-coded interactive fiction-survival horror-CRPG hybrid, Leadlight (here's Leadlight on IFDB). You can buy Leadlight Gamma for MacOS, Windows, Linux or iOS at itch.io for US$4. The game file is cross platform compatible and I offer various configurations of installer or interpreter+game bundles on the itch.io site:

http://wade-clarke.itch.io/leadlight-gamma

15-year-old Belinda Nettle is studying at Linville Girls High School in Australia's Blue Mountains. After falling asleep in the library one afternoon, she wakes from her mundane existence into a nightmare. Her classmates are transformed, nameless terrors seek her out across the schoolgrounds, and traps and tricks threaten her life at every turn. 
Can you help Belinda survive this terror-filled night and solve its mysteries? And will there be a new day?
The game also has a standalone site at http://leadlightgamma.heiresssoftware.com/

At the core of Leadlight Gamma is a faithful port of the original game, now enhanced for modern platforms with graphic automap, tutorial mode, unlockable extra content, behind-the-scenes tour mode and easter eggs, original soundtrack, artwork gallery and an accessibility mode for vision-impaired players.

Unfortunately the accessibility mode isn't a go on Macs yet because the only Mac interpreter that can run LLG is Gargoyle, and Gargoyle doesn't work with screen readers. I plan to talk about this and the various other technical challenges to accessibility programming I've been running into and learning about in another post in the near future.

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You might wonder what motivates someone to spend a long time remaking one of their games instead of moving onto the next one. I can summarise what happened like this:

A few years ago I was tossing about ideas for a sequel to the original Leadlight. It would have been all modern. No two-word parser, no Apple IIs in sight – just a brand new game. While these ideas weren't coalescing, I opened Inform up one evening and copy-pasted the description of Leadlight's first room into it to see how it looked. Before long I'd pasted some more rooms in, and I was experiencing a degree of pleasure and narcissism in being able to walk around in this world again in a new context. I got hooked on building the whole thing anew after overcoming the first engineering challenge I encountered (though I don't remember exactly what it was, now). I also realised the port would bring the game to more players, and just make it easier to get at.

So I've ended up doing a 180 on the idea I previously expressed that I had no interest in porting the game to Inform. I'd thought the 'building a ship in a bottle' feel of the original 8-bit project (for me) might be rendered invisible or pointless-feeling by taking it to a platform which could, relatively speaking, do anything. I didn't realise it would end up being another interesting permutation of the same experience. It was like building a scale model of the ship in the bottle, partly by squinting through the glass at the original ship, and partly by studying the microscopically scaled plans used to build the original ship.