Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Open Beta... why not?!?

I guess I could share the link to the Ultima 4 game on my Blog. I don't think too many ppl read this (if any) so if anybody wants to take the game for a spin then here is the message I sent out to my Beta testers:

I had planned to build it in one month... it ended up taking 2 and a half; however, this was the most fun I’ve had in programming for as long as I can remember. I’d love to know what other people think of the game, especially people who played the original back in the eighties.

So without further adieu:

When the Flash page loads up simply click on the menu page, and press I to Initiate a new quest. This will take you through the initial story, to the character creation questionnaire, and then into the game. From then on in you can ‘Journey Onward’ from the main menu to continue your old game.

I’ve posted a bunch of the original manuals online:
History http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/History.pdf
Mystic Wisdom http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/Mystic.pdf
Reference Card http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/RefCard.pdf
Small Map http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/Map.gif
Large Map http://www.phipsisoftware.com/ultima4/Map.jpg

Here’s a quick reference of some of the more important key commands:
Arrows move your party around.
E for entering cities and castles
O for opening a door
G to open up a chest (use a player with high DEX)
T to talk to townspeople (try JOB, HEALTH, NAME...)
R + W for readying and weapons & armor.
Z check out the stats and equipment of your party
Q to save your progress
K + D to climb up and down ladders
A to attack a creature
(beyond that check the reference card at the above link)

Finally, if (or perhaps when) you find a bug or other weird issue. Please send me an email. I’ve set up the following addresses to help collate new bug issues in the Ultima project:

Bugs and Gameplay Issues: ultimabugs@phipsisoftware.com
Game questions and general issues: ultima4@phipsisoftware.com
Compliments and letting me know when you’ve beaten the game: lordlegster@phipsisoftware.com

Cheers and let me know how your quest goes,
Blair (Lord Legster) Leggett

P.S. I have also found through recent testing that the game only works in I.E. and Chrome, but not in Firefox and Opera. I am attempting to resolve this issue asap.

ReadMe (0.9.7)

Just to show you all how busy I've been...

Ultima Read-Me

Version 0.9.0 (Tues Mar. 23, 2010)
- Initial Beta Version

Version 0.9.1 (Wed Mar. 24, 2010)
- Fixed Object Move Memory Burst
- Reset back Stage Colour as Black
- Party takes damage from storms on land.

Version 0.9.2 (Thurs. Mar. 25, 2010)
- Storms moving at sea.
- Land monsters no longer spawning at sea.
- Sea monsters no longer drop chests. (pirates drop boardable ships)
- Players now suffer damage for fields and lava in combat.

Version 0.9.3 (Fri. Mar. 26, 2010)
- Lord British 'Help' Activated
- Lost an eighth message now displays.
- Pirate ships now change icons to indicate their direction.
- View spell no longer 'locks' the display.

Version 0.9.4 (Sat. Mar. 27m 2010)
- Trolls no longer walk through water to flee a combat.
- Monsters now obey movement rules (unless they can move through walls).
- Slow movement is now based on a set probability distribution.
(Drawing cards rather than rolling a dice.)
- Moons no longer advance in combat.
- Players no longer suffer poison & starvation damage in combat.
- A paging cursor (flashing arrow) indicates multiple pages of text.
- Two Bridge Troll Ambushes (on the same Bridge) can not occur within 50 Turns.
- Monsters now take damage from sleep and fire fields, and lava.

Version 0.9.5 (Sun. Mar. 28, 2010)
- Fixed the problem where you could hold down the movement keys and override the collision detection. YAY!
- Horse movement now fixed.
- Can not enter dungeons or climb ladders while riding a horse.
- Dungeon view fixed for energy fields. (they would slowly lose their transparency)
- Added a door outline when on a door (non room) or a secret door in a dungeon.
- Fixed a crash when attacking a person in a city.
- Ghosts and Xorns no longer 'stack' on combat tiles.
- Lord British also cures as well as heals.

Version 0.9.6 (Mon. Mar. 29, 2010)
- Casting spells now cost mixtures instead of being 'free'. (Thanks to Peter Rattray)
- Cleaned up the text when Lord British heals the party.
- Rogues still seemed to be stealing from party members when they were not. (Knockon from nerfing Rogues stealing ability.)
- Fixed Peer when world data was messing up the view.
- Implemented the Lyceum telescope.
- Added Monsters, Chests, Transports, and People to the City and World Peer View.

Version 0.9.7 (Wed. Mar. 31, 2010)
- Fixed a crash bug when trying to enter when already IN a city or dungeon. (Thanks to Greg Lesky)
- Fixed a problem where food or gold could be less than zero.
- Added a little more gold to level 1 chests.
- Fixed a nasty bug where talking to the Seer could actually cause you to lose Avatarhood.
- Monsters can no longer shoot through walls.
- Ships now repair over time.
- Fixed problem where sometimes there would be no player prompt when starting a combat.
- Monsters respond when firing cannons or casting spells in the world view.


In Beta and Nearing Final!

Ok, so it's been a while for my posting on the blog... but I've been bus getting Ultima 4 out the door. It turned out that Dungeon and Combat took a little longer than I wanted. But some things take a while to get right. I pretty much had to create most of the combat algorithm out of whole cloth. I mean people pretty much know what to expect from a turn-based RPG combat system. But then you've got to make the whole thing data driven, and you've gotta tweak all the stats and stuff.

So I hit Alpha in the main game on Friday March 12th. I then hit Alpha for the complete game on Sunday March 21st. This milestone included all of the functionality which existed outside of the main game: saving/loading, intro main menu, create new character, and the 'endgame' sequence. I then took two days to kill a few of the 'critical' bugs, and reached the Beta stage on Tuesday March 23rd. YAY!

So for the past week and a bit I've been bug-killing everyday while my Beta testers try to break things on their end. So far so good! Things seem to be fairly stable so I think I'm pretty close to final.

Stuff that remains:

1) One of the most annoying things I found out was that the game wouldn't play for the Flash Plug-In for Firefox and Opera. It worked in Internet Explorer since that uses the ActiveX plugin, but what was really weird was that the Flash Plug-In worked in Chrome. So before I'm 'done' I wanna make sure the game works for most of the current browsers. This may require a bit of 'twiddling', but I'll continually experiment over the next couple of days.

2) I have a static main menu at the moment. This is gonna change since I'm looking to do all of the intro animations like the original game. I mean... this is what Flash is designed to handle. (I might also redo all of the original Codex animations using After Effects. This would give me a good reason to learn a bit of that program for doing 'snazzy' animatics in Flash.)

I think once I've got those features in place, and I've been able to play through the whole game (without using cheatcodes) then I will consider the project to be at a firm Beta status.

So that's the plan (for now). Originally I wanted to write Ultima 4 in one month. Wow.... was that optimistic. ;) But I've learned sooooo much while I've worked away on this project. It feels kinda cool to have built something, by myself, from the GROUND UP!

Cya in Brittania,
Blair (Lord Legster) Leggett