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Melkhior's Mansion - isometric 3D game inspired by Atic Atac - On Next, 128K Spectrum & PC


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Yeah we had great positive feedback from Play Expo Manchester at the weekend there where we had a special Play Expo demo for the PC and the Spectrum Next version was shown off for the 1st time. One change has been done already based on feedback - the original PC version was running at 30fps to keep in with the retro goodness but people much preferred the smoother 60fps that the Next was running at, so the PC version was changed to 60fps yesterday.

 

We teased the lower caverns a couple of weeks ago

and I’ll be finishing off all the cavern graphics within the next couple of weeks before returning to the rest of the character animation the Knight (Sir Stamperlot) and the other 3 selectable characters. 

 

 

The most common question we got asked over the weekend is “When will it be finished?”, and the answer we can only give is “When it’s ready!”. There’s only Richard coding and myself doing the graphics and we’re doing this in our spare time. 1 of the Spectrum Next team, Kev Brady, is converting it to that machine and heck knows how Bob Smith, the Spectrum 128K magician, will cram it into that. 

 

Still got a long way to go.

 

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8 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

Gutted I missed this at PlayExpo. Looks amazing. Were you on the Next stand with Baggers? 

Thanks! I was there in an unofficial capacity, so I was free to roam around the Expo with my son all weekend, though I regularly popped back to the stand to chat with people about the game. 

 

8 hours ago, Gregory Wolfe said:

I couldn't believe there wasn't a thread about this on Rllmuk. Of course I've been following this avidly on Twitter and Facebook.

 

I still think the serf should be called Bredbin. ;)

 

Oh man, the names were difficult to come up with but, like the rest of the game, we decided to stick with the Ultimate Play the Game connection. The game will be full of little nods and references to all their 8-bit releases. The ghost enemy sprite, which is taken from Knight Lore, is only a temporary place holder graphic until I get to producing all the enemy graphics. 

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10 hours ago, redballoon said:

Yeah we had great positive feedback from Play Expo Manchester at the weekend there where we had a special Play Expo demo for the PC and the Spectrum Next version was shown off for the 1st time. One change has been done already based on feedback - the original PC version was running at 30fps to keep in with the retro goodness but people much preferred the smoother 60fps that the Next was running at, so the PC version was changed to 60fps yesterday.

 

We teased the lower caverns a couple of weeks ago

and I’ll be finishing off all the cavern graphics within the next couple of weeks before returning to the rest of the character animation the Knight (Sir Stamperlot) and the other 3 selectable characters. 

 

 

The most common question we got asked over the weekend is “When will it be finished?”, and the answer we can only give is “When it’s ready!”. There’s only Richard coding and myself doing the graphics and we’re doing this in our spare time. 1 of the Spectrum Next team, Kev Brady, is converting it to that machine and heck knows how Bob Smith, the Spectrum 128K magician, will cram it into that. 

 

Still got a long way to go.

 

It’s in great hands with you & Richard at the helm. Really looking forward to it!

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This looks amazing, great work @redballoon!

 

What I really love about this is that when you look at Atic Atac from an isometric perspective, just how similar the structure is to Ultimate’s isometric games. BUT the Stampers could only achieve the fast, arcade style play with an overhead, 2D perspective (like Sabre Wulf also), meaning when it shifted to the isometric format, the gameplay became slower and more puzzle based (to be honest, I never thought Ultimate’s isometric games were a patch on their earlier work, despite the technical achievement).They tried it with Gunfright and Nightshade, but it just want fast paced enough (and there weren’t enough enemies to make it interesting).

 

So so it’s an incredible achievement to get the fast, arcade style gameplay but in an isometric format. Fantastic! 

 

(Talking of sabre wulf, was there not a teaser of it in this engine? Or was it someone else?)

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Thanks all! Honestly, much appreciated!

10 hours ago, gone fishin' said:

(Talking of sabre wulf, was there not a teaser of it in this engine? Or was it someone else?)

That's someone else. They're using their own isometric engine and I think they're just using existing graphics from Ultimate games, though slightly modified.

 

1 hour ago, Fireproofradiator said:

Oh that looks lovely. Are you thinking of doing a physical release @redballoon?

 

You're not the first person to ask this question and it was asked quite a few times over the weekend. The answer is that we're not planning a physical release...but that's not to say it's completely ruled out. We approached Rare at the beginning of the project just to sound them out and they gave us their blessing and wished us all the best. They only asked for 2 things from us; that we don't use the Atic Atac name and we don't sell it. Both of these we're completely fine with. We hoped they might allow us the use of the Atic Atac name but never expected them to and we never planned in selling the game, always intending it as a free download. You could argue that the name change and the use of my original graphics, even though we have reference all the Ultimate games, could be enough to sell a physical release but we really would like to remain on good terms with Rare, especially after we promised we'd stick to what the asked of us. Ach we'll see what happens. 

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Thanks @redballoon. I guess the IP stuff does complicate things although it’s clear you’ve travelled a fair way from Ultimate’s space. All proceeds to charity? 

 

I have to say I think Monument Microgames do a great job of physical ZX Spectrum games. Their edition of Endless Forms Most Beautiful is a treasure. 

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  • 2 years later...

A proper Mac and Linux versions are in the works as wee speak, but those are a bit of a learning experience so a wee bit of work is still required on those! Somebody has managed to get the PC version running on a Mac, but no idea how.

 

The Next and Spectrum 128K versions are still in progress and current estimation for them is this year, the 128K version is aiming to be released in April to coincide with the Spectrum's 40th birthday! We're not directly involved with the Next and 128K versions, though, I'm making the odd-graphical tweak on various things just so they'll fit.

 

It's been a mad 24 hours since we released it, that's for sure!

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This is great. Excellent stuff!

I had some trouble mapping keyboard input to diagonals in my head, but I'd consider that authentic :)

A bit lost on the pickups - keys and food are straightforward, but cycled through a few items that didn't seem to do much - I presume they're split between moving through shortcuts and killing big monsters. I had a blast with the skeleton key until I realised it ran out!

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Glad you're enjoying it! 😀

Well, we decided to go follow the instructions for Atic Atac in that it tells you absolutely nothing on how to use the objects and what they're for! Time will tell whether that was the right decision! We thought it'd be fun for players to figure out what the objects were used for. Some are more useful than others but they all have their uses.

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Looks good. Superb, even. 100% intend to play the Mac version when it gets released.

 

(Always wondered why relatively few modern-retro games use the isometric perspective, presumably it’s a a difficult design to implement, and more intensive on  the graphics?)

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2 hours ago, redballoon said:

Well, we decided to go follow the instructions for Atic Atac in that it tells you absolutely nothing on how to use the objects and what they're for! Time will tell whether that was the right decision! We thought it'd be fun for players to figure out what the objects were used for. Some are more useful than others but they all have their uses.

 

I think that's a good choice. I'm sure people will share their discoveries...

 

If I could ask for one thing, it'd be for the map to orient the same way as the rooms - I just can't get the hang of it. Is that a deliberate choice? Easier to draw on a Spectrum?

 

If I can ask for two things, the second would be to ditch the inventory shuffle from the original and map the item slots to three separate keys - or even pause the game to collect or drop stuff. I'm losing whole lives skitting around trying to choose what I'm carrying!

 

EDIT: And third... it's easy to lose an item if I accidentally drop it behind some scenery. Can anything be done about that?

 

I'm definitely enjoying the slightly hidden references, Stamper, Ashby, Zouch, etc, etc... and props for sneaking werewolf heads into the cavern art :D

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2 hours ago, Protocol Penguin said:

Looks good. Superb, even. 100% intend to play the Mac version when it gets released.

 

(Always wondered why relatively few modern-retro games use the isometric perspective, presumably it’s a a difficult design to implement, and more intensive on  the graphics?)

Aces, thanks!

 

I'm not sure why the isometric viewpoint isn't used as much these days. You could easily set the camera and build it completely in 3D these days. But it can be a confusing viewpoint, so maybe that's a factor.

 

1 hour ago, Skykid said:

If I could ask for one thing, it'd be for the map to orient the same way as the rooms - I just can't get the hang of it. Is that a deliberate choice? Easier to draw on a Spectrum?

That was a deliberate choice. We wanted to make it look like you were looking at a standard floor plan. That's not to say we didn't consider having it oriented the same way as the rooms, but we decided against it pretty quickly. The size of the map was a factor - it would've been bigger - plus it threw in some UI headaches and we just don't have the manpower to dwell on those type of issues. The map was a later addition to the game after it felt that some players might just find the game too difficult without some sort of guide, so in it went. I was initially against it, seeing as back in the Spectrum days, i'd always be looking forward to mapping games with a pencil and paper. 

 

1 hour ago, Skykid said:

If I can ask for two things, the second would be to ditch the inventory shuffle from the original and map the item slots to three separate keys - or even pause the game to collect or drop stuff. I'm losing whole lives skitting around trying to choose what I'm carrying!

Oh but that's the best thing!! It just makes things more frantic and that's what it's all about 😉. We absolutely want you to panic!

 

1 hour ago, Skykid said:

EDIT: And third... it's easy to lose an item if I accidentally drop it behind some scenery. Can anything be done about that?

Not a great deal without having to try various things to see what works and change a few things. Hopefully, the bobbing item will be enough to either catch your attention or at least give a clue that there's something there. The other thing is that an item will slow you down and you can push them, so you'd eventually find it. We deliberately never filled the rooms with furniture and so on, and it's also a reason why we kept the doors as a portcullis so you can at least have some vision through them.

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Fair enough. The map is useful for figuring out what hasn't been explored, but I can't navigate from it yet.

 

I've put some scores on the boards, but I've had a couple of crashes. The logs don't look that useful for yous:

 

Spoiler


Index was outside the bounds of the array.
System.IndexOutOfRangeException: Index was outside the bounds of the array.
   at Melkhior.Modules.GameLoop.Draw(GameTime gameTime)
   at Melkhior.Main.Draw(GameTime gameTime)
   at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game.DoDraw(GameTime gameTime)
   at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game.Tick()
   at MonoGame.Framework.WinFormsGameWindow.TickOnIdle(Object sender, EventArgs e)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Application.ThreadContext.System.Windows.Forms.UnsafeNativeMethods.IMsoComponent.FDoIdle(Int32 grfidlef)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Application.ComponentManager.System.Windows.Forms.UnsafeNativeMethods.IMsoComponentManager.FPushMessageLoop(IntPtr dwComponentID, Int32 reason, Int32 pvLoopData)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Application.ThreadContext.RunMessageLoopInner(Int32 reason, ApplicationContext context)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Application.ThreadContext.RunMessageLoop(Int32 reason, ApplicationContext context)
   at System.Windows.Forms.Application.Run(Form mainForm)
   at MonoGame.Framework.WinFormsGameWindow.RunLoop()
   at MonoGame.Framework.WinFormsGamePlatform.RunLoop()
   at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game.Run(GameRunBehavior runBehavior)
   at Melkhior.Program.Main()

 

This time was when I got cornered by the spook and was part way through taking a battering. Something to do with collisions?

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uuuuh i just did the art design and graphics.

 

You could always drop an email with the log and that wee explanation of what you were doing at the time. The email address can be found here.

Thanks!

 

You'e got a top spot, too! YASS!

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On 18/01/2022 at 17:48, redballoon said:

uuuuh i just did the art design and graphics.

 

Yeah, that's why I said yous. I thought you might talk to each other :)

I'll drop Rich a line on Twitter. I don't think the bug report is up to much, but might be useful to at least know it's a thing.

 

I've got a spot on all four leaderboards now, so I feel like I've rinsed it.

There are a few interesting sounding objects that I never figured out, but I'll spoiler catalogue the rest in case anyone is stuck:
 

Spoiler

Game Items (SPOILER)


Red Key

Blue Key

Green Key

Yellow key

Skeleton key - 8 uses

A shiny silver coin - Drop to distract the hunchback

Some money in a bag - Drop to distract the hunchback

One of Melkhior's brother's pet lizard's leg - Drop to distract the hunchback

A green leaf, from a tree perhaps - ??? (maybe as above)

Melkhior's sister's lost pink diamond - ??? (maybe as above)

Holy Cross of St Mary de Castro - ??? (maybe as above)

Melkhior's magic eye of death - ??? Indicates whether the reaper is on your floor (looking ahead) or up or down.

 

The Thurnby Thunderbolt - Speed (wears off)

Melkhior's Timewarper 3000 - Slow monsters (wears off)


A feather from sir Stampalot's helmet - Walk through clocks

Zouch's spare wand - Walk through bookcases

Lester's crusty old bar of soap - Walk through barrels

Princess Ashby's beautiful ring - Walk through mirrors

 

A vial of Holy water - Kill Devil

Salt shaker - Kill Spook

A rusty old spanner - Kill Frankenstein Monster

An old tarnished brass bell - Kill Hunchback

A big shiny silver bullet - Kill Reaper

 

Invincibility Pill

 

Skull - (no use?)

 

I really enjoyed that. I don't think you're taking pocket money donations (correct me if wrong) but please accept my thanks, and respect for the love you all clearly put into it.

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😃 we do talk to each other but i thought it’d be better emailing him so he’s got any bug logs coming in 1 place. 

 

The uses for the leaf, cross and eye of death aren’t quite right, though. 1 of them I find very useful, another useful for 1 of the quests.
 

Yip, no donations but thank you anyway. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

When testing it, I went from being utter rubbish at it, to completing all quests just about every game to now competing each quest as quickly as possible. We’re not submitting any of these speed times to the leaderboard but maybe we will in the future to see if someone can beat them. Personally, I’m hoping that someone actually gets out their pencil and paper and map it, just like the old days!

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Alright. I think I figured out the Melkhior's magic eye of death [amended in spoiler above].

 

I double-smashed my previous time with Sir Stampalot. I reckon sub-five minutes is possible with some smarts, a lot of luck, and not accidentally falling through a trapdoor :rolleyes:

What's your speediest?

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Melkhior's magic eye of death.

Spoiler

Spot on!

Do you want to know the remaining ones?

 

As for Sir Stamperlot's times.

Spoiler

Sub 5 minutes is indeed possible. I can do it under 5 minutes - I can't quite remember my exact time - but it's dependent on certain things spawning in a certain place.

The fastest for Sir Stamperlot so far, though, is 4m 15s.

 

Oh, the number of times I've fallen through a trap door at critical times...gnnngngngnghhgh. It's funny watching it happen to others but 😉

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3 hours ago, redballoon said:

Do you want to know the remaining ones?

 

Nope. Keep the mystery! As long as we know the leaf and cross do *something* then they're worth persevering with :)

 

I suspect one of them:

Spoiler

Tempts the spook away from the red key.

(I think I tried and it wasn't the cross)

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

That's Melkhior's Mansion now available on both Linux and Mac. It's the first time ever that we've released anything on those two platforms so go easy on us eh 😉

 

Spectrum Next and 128K versions up next at some point this year. We're not the developers on those two and just providing assets, moral support and answering any of their questions about it.

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