Category Archives: Dev Blog

Progressive Progression

Spellbound OUYA is just over 6 months old.

I started talking to David about a Spellbound remake back at the start of September 13 and we agreed to move ahead and begin work on an OUYA port on the 26th. By my maths that’s 6 months and a week or so.

Development on the game seems to run in fits and starts. The same time and effort is being put in on a weekly and, often daily basis but at certain points in the last half a year the game has lept forward. At other points it seems little to no progress is made. I know it IS made, but to just look at the game you might not see a difference from one week to the next.

I’m pleased to say that, right now, all the little things I’m putting in are making a massive difference to the look and feel of the game.

A case in point:

One of the big selling points to launching on the OUYA, for me at least, was the controller. Yes, I know, you can use a controller with anything nowadays. But the OUYA controller is something I can talk to easily, I can play with on the fly. I can control.

When David and I chatted initially about a port of Spellbound to a more modern machine, one of our main aims was to ensure we kept the gameplay of the original game, but modernised it to a point where not only us oldies who wanted a nostalgia trip would happily sit in front of it for a few hours, but where more casual gamers could dip in and play. We wanted to open it up to anyone who wanted to give it a go.

One of the obvious things that came to mind was to simplify the Windimation system. Now don’t get me wrong. I love Windimation. I think it is the perfect input system for the Magic Knight games. I wouldn’t change it for the world. And I haven’t. Windimation is here and it’s here to stay. But I know also that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Enter (stage left) my love for a controllable controller.

One of the new features in Spellbound OUYA is the ability to bypass Windimation for some of the more frequently used commands. Pick Up and Drop are the obvious ones, but it could be anything from the main menu.

I have had Pick Up working instantly in the dev builds for months now, but was never quite sure where to allocate it on the controller, I mean, after Jump and Select, there are still 6 useable buttons available, and what should I stick on the other 5 spare buttons?

After a few nights of coding this week I finally came up with a working solution that totally negates me having to choose the controller configuration

Yep, you choose. As long as you have a Jump and Select button mapped the rest are yours to do with as you please.

You can also move the Jump and Select button to any of the available buttons. Your game. Your way.

Massive steps, Progressive progress.

And to celebrate, a couple of screenshots of some work in progress 128k map locations.



The Choice Is Yours

Once upon a time games were hard.

I don’t want you to think that this is one of those ‘when I was your age’ granny conversations. There are no rose tinted specs on this ugly face. This is a fact. I shall reiterate.

Once upon a time games were hard.

If you speak to anyone from back in the day they’ll tell you too.

Games used to be hard. Once upon a time.

This is not, by the was, a criticism. The very reason we played games was because they were hard. Alright, and the fact that your dad’s best mate had a twin deck tape recorder, that was a good reason too, but mainly because we wanted to get just one level further. Just one maze more. The high score table proved who was king and didn’t we know it. I once lost a very good friend over a game of Double Dragon because we ran out of 10p pieces and I’d lost the last life.

Alright, I know that most games these days are hard, but only if you want them to be. Turn on Skyrim, go on, do it. I’ll wait. Now, go find a Giant. They are everywhere, go on find one. Now kill it. Oh, save first. Too late? It’s ok, you might have lost 5 minutes, but you’re back where you were aren’t you? Go do it again. Remember to save this time, I don’t have all day! It’s a right nasty thing is your Skyrim Giant. But you know what, you’ll beat it. It’ll be difficult, but you’ll get there in the end.

Still struggling? Go into the options, there’ll be something in there about turning the difficult down. I’ll eat my hat if there’s not.

That’s not hard. It’s just repetitively niggly.

Now go find your favourite Spectrum emulator and load up Spellbound. I can’t guarantee it, but it might just be quicker than loading the bleedin’ PS3 version of Skyrim!

Good, sort out your controls and start a game. Nice, you’re in The Start Room. Super dooper. Now go left. Say hi to Florin for me and go left again. Jump those steps. You can do it. And down the other side. Left again…. Oops!

Ok, you are only three screens in, but that’s Instadeath right there for you. Spellbound was full of these. Welcome to The Gas Room…. the Big Bottle…. Go on, try to jump that pit. Hell, just wander around for a little while, I can guarantee that you’ll get somewhere interesting looking and then just…. Die. Not only do you die, but you DIE. Game Over. Gone. Want another chance? No problems, just do everything you did again only, don’t do it wrong this time.

Back then this was no big thing. It taught you a lesson, go find Elrand and feed him you fool. Keep Rosmar happy! Never ever take THAT away from HIM…..

These days though, I really don’t think we’d get away with it. It’s a sad state of affairs I know, but modern gamers just don’t want Instadeath. I dislike the term ‘modern gamers’ by the way, but it works here.

Spellbound OUYA aims to be as user friendly as it possibly can be. You don’t want Instadeath? That’s fine, you can turn that off. NPCs that feed themselves? Well, if you so desire… A pit you can bounce out of? Actually, no, if someone is stupid enough to jump in the pit then they deserve everything they get, but you see the point.

Spellbound OUYA is customisable. You play the game you want to play. You play the map you want to play. You play the difficulty you want to play.

Just don’t ask me for a hand holding tutorial section. I ain’t that nice!