Haunted Halloween

I've added a new seasonal game to my Mystic Dungeon: Haunted Halloween.

A text-mode twin-stick shooter (well, except it's an emulated Atari 800 "text mode", and the sticks are WASD and IJKL, I haven't written joystick support yet).

Five different levels:

  • Pumpkin Patch: Collect pumpkins for ammo.
  • Dark Forest: Find the path through.
  • Graveyard: Easy, just dodge gravestones and monsters.
  • Corn Maze: Unless you're Ted Forth you won't have a problem with this maze.
  • Haunted House: Just run thru the spooky house full of ghosts, and other monsters crawling in from the woods, get candy, get out!

Three difficulty levels:

  • Treat is turn-based, but there's so few monsters & candies you won't get a high score.
  • Trick is real-time, but you can generally outrun monsters.
  • Nightmare has twice as many monsters & candies, so it's the best way to get a high score… or die quickly, completely overwhelmed.

You can also play it like a stealth game, H hides you from non-adjacent monsters, so you can just run in, hide, wait for them to move off.

You collect candies for score (and banishing monsters earns candy), but every time you move to the next level you eat 10 candy to recover a hit and get some free pumpkins. So it's usually better to stay and clear all monsters, pick up all candies, then move on. But if you have a bunch of witches and ghosts, might be worth running away early.

The interesting thing from development is how little code is required for this kind of game. Halloween is under 1000 LOC, and that includes some long text blobs! Portal Worlds was 3000 LOC, Dungeon's over 3200 LOC and not even close to "done".

I'm still working on Public Caves, moving from BASIC to web-tech requires a lot more infrastructure!

Computer Archaeology: Public Caves Discovered!

Exploring the archives of the People's Computer Company (a public timesharing computer center in the early '70s, yes before home computers), and many of the programs we're familiar with from David H. Ahl's Creative Computing come from here. 15 different variations on guess the number and guess a coordinate, sure, but also some really important things, many of them long forgotten.

Then I find this artifact:

pcaves

What the. This is basically a MUD†, from 1973!

Source code (uses a very long TREES library on previous pages).

Everyone knows WUMPUS, which is based on CAVES, but this is the rock star of these! How does everyone not have a copy of PCAVES? This is like finding a working Airwolf helicopter in a cave with ochre handprints on the walls. HOW THE FUCK did cavemen do that? Why don't we all have an Airwolf, if it existed 47 years ago?!

So anyway some barely-modernized version of this will be added to the MysticDungeon soon, you'll all be able to graffiti up a cave!

† more like a MUSH ("Multi-User Shared Hallucination") with one user at a time, specifically.

  • Note: You can play a version from the Narrascope conference 2019: PublicCavesNarrascope
  • Renga in Blue typed it in for the above event, and briefly reviews it as an adventure game. Which it's not, this is a social environment, literally a MUSH.

MysticDungeon.club Random Thursday Update

Redesigned the front as a software gallery, got Portal Worlds working with my common input system, adapted Amazing (the dumb maze game).

I might get Heist adapted this weekend. Cityscape needs either a custom character set, or I add sprite graphics to the retro screen, which is a better plan. I have a bunch more JS games and demos, most can be adapted pretty quick. Porting the Mystic Dungeon RPG from Python is harder, but on the list.

Still thinking about the forum idea, I haven't seen a lot of interest yet, but a place for smack-talking would be nice.

It's really quite nice just having an easy way to focus on the game design or UI mechanics, and not have to make infrastructure from scratch every time.

Everything should be usable without an account, but you can't post scores unless you do!

MysticDungeon.club

I've finally got my web games/tech demo site MysticDungeon fully running SSL, a proper Node & database server, and all the existing games ported to my common "Learn2JS" framework. High scores and hit counters work for all of them; I haven't set up a really stable migration tool yet but that's on the TODO list before anything more serious gets stored there.

If you run into any bugs, let me know here or on fediverse.

Upcoming will be getting a couple features in PortalWorlds finished, then the rest of the Umbral Adventure world, and some more tools in Grimoire, which will be a tabletop RPG journal/toolkit, more for Referees to use as a virtual screen/notebook than as a coop gaming tool, but you could screen-share it if you needed to. Proper user accounts instead of an unverified screen name will be part of that.

I'm still thinking about if I should replace the old BBS with a forum, or what. Rebuilding the Mystic Dungeon game is on the list, that's part of what the Umbral Atari-like screen is for; nice ATASCII line-drawing characters instead of the few ANSI chars it supported.

PortalWorlds Progress

  • PortalWorlds 0.9 on mysticdungeon.club

  • 2020-03-18:

    • Mob names
    • Boss monsters (only ones with a nametag, and much tougher than the rest of the level)
  • 2020-03-17:
    • Structures: circle tower, box tower, campsite
  • 2020-03-16:
    • All levels are solveable
    • Map indicates map name and row/column of player

Pop back over to itch.io or my Patreon if you want to support this!

PortalWorlds Progress

Doing some more work on the post-7DRL version of PortalWorlds, will publish this when judging's done.

  • 2020-03-13
    • Message history, toggle with H.
    • World counter.
    • Terrain smoothing.
    • Rivers.
  • 2020-03-16
    • Longer tutorial level (and first predefined map, may add more of these later).
    • Messages display on screen instead of HTML.
    • Increased view distance/window size. Should make this configurable for small screens.
    • Physical layout for on-screen keyboard.
    • Started on making all worlds solveable.
  • TODO: I have a longer list, but these are Real Soon Now.
    • Finish making worlds solveable.
    • Structures and level bosses.
    • Audio.

Retrospective: PortalWorlds

What worked, what sucked, lessons learned, The More You Know, and knowing is half the battle, go Cobra, etc.

JS: Test Your Libraries -1

Especially the hard-to-test parts. I had one "obviously correct" array shuffle function I've been using for maybe 10 years:

WRONG RIGHT
function arrayShuffle(arr) {
    for (let i = arr.length-1; i >>= 1; --i) {
        const j = Math.floor(Math.random() * i); // WRONG. NO.
        const tmp = arr[i];
        arr[i] = arr[j];
        arr[j] = tmp;
    }
    return arr;
}
/** Fisher-Yates */
function arrayShuffle(arr) {
    for (let i = arr.length-1; i >= 1; --i) {
        const j = Math.floor(Math.random() * (i+1)); // RIGHT. YES.
        const tmp = arr[i];
        arr[i] = arr[j];
        arr[j] = tmp;
    }
    return arr;
}

And because of that, I got a distorted shuffle. I only noticed because no mob using my dumb-as-rocks not-even-AI would ever choose to move north… everything ended up piled up at the bottom of the map.

It's hard to test randomness, but you can check that values are in a sane range. For a decade I've had wrong code just copy-pasted into new projects because I never checked my assumptions.

JS: UI Libraries are Great +1

I mean, I knew that. But how easy it is to throw something up is a bit of a surprise every time I do it. It's a fast, dynamic, functional/OOP language that also has good graphics and sound libraries (I didn't do sound in PortalWorlds, but I will before 1.0), and tolerable event handling these days.

I'm not releasing the full source, but in a week or two I'll add a few more things and release my common library under BSD license. This is mostly stuff from my Learn2JS project, and some from TTMS-76, but those have a giant framework for running scripts, this is just a few functions for a pure JS application, and greatly condensed.

Pulling in common code makes this stuff so much easier.

JS: Application Structure -1

There's no proper "run loop" in PortalWorlds, and late in the process that bit me in the ass.

What you should do is, collect events, put them in a queue. Every X milliseconds (I usually use 30 FPS, so 1000/30=33.333ms) have setInterval do an event-update-redraw loop. If something takes a long time or requires animation updates, it must be done in chunks or in a background thread (using Web Workers ). This is true of any application, not just games.

What I did wrong is having events immediately perform actions, and the setInterval just does update-redraw. This is much easier, but it's wrong. I have no control currently over blocking user actions, and animation has to all happen at once.

The trick I used is to keep a "frame" counter, and that chooses animation frames, moves floating text and the tracers of missiles and fireballs. Next turn invoked by user event just wipes those out. An amusing side-effect is missiles vaporize corpses as they fly past.

Switching to a correct run loop isn't super hard, but does require changes to all my timing and animation hacks, so at this point it's not worth it.

JS: Fonts -1

I used Oryx's "simplex" font, which looks fine and bitmappy in web pages, but in Canvas it gets antialiased, and I wasn't able to make it stop. So I have to make all fonts slightly larger than I'd like, and they're still kind of blurry.

The smarter way would be to use a bitmap font, and a very simple bitmap text renderer. That's what I do in Perilar: Dark Weaver, with an ATASCII-inspired fantasy font. But in 7 days I didn't have time to write and test that.

That's on a "maybe later" list for 1.0. Alternately, I could figure out how to get them antialiased in Canvas?

JS: Minimizer -1

I used to use yuicompressor, which renames variables and aggressively minimizes your code into unreadable but very compact line noise. But with the long-drawn-out death of Yahoo!, that hasn't been updated in a decade, and it doesn't handle ES2020.

I could probably have run everything thru Babel and then yuicompressor, but it's time to move on? So I just used Crockford's jsmin which only removes whitespace. It might be a good time to look into compiling JS to WASM binaries.

My build.zsh script:

#!/bin/zsh
rm -rf portalworlds*.zip
rm -rf build
mkdir -p build
mkdir -p build/js

# *.js -> .min.js
for f in js/*; do
    n=`basename $f .js`
    perl -ne 's/const DEBUG = true;/const DEBUG = false;/; s/^\s*DLOG.*$//; print;' $f >build/$f
    jsmin-crockford <build/$f >build/js/$n.min.js "Copyright (c) 2020 by Mark Damon Hughes. All Rights Reserved."
    rm build/$f
done

# index.html
perl -ne "s/\.js'/.min.js'/; print;" index.html >build/index.html

cp -R favicon.* style.css i ttf build
cd build
zname=portalworlds-$(date "+%Y%m%d_%H%M%S").zip
zip -r9Xq ../$zname * -x "*.DS_Store"
cd ..
echo $zname

Game: Combat Design +1

So I knew I wanted combat to be very swingy (allowing anything from instant death to instant kill), but not have levels or many stats; I didn't have time or inclination to make another detailed RPG!

Instead, combat works by adding your current strength and enemy's current strength, rolling 2 dice in half that range, so central results are more likely, but it's easy to get results at either far end. Then apply the difference from your strength as damage to you or the monster, depending on which side of the line it's on:

const roll = Math.floor(dice(2, this.strength + mob.strength)/2);
if (roll <= this.strength) {
    const dmg = Math.floor( (this.strength - roll) * (100 + this.getDamage()) / 100 );
    mob.takeDamage(dmg, true);
} else {
    const dmg = Math.floor( (roll - this.strength) * (100 - this.getDefense()) / 100 );
    message(mob.toString()+" hits you for "+dmg+" damage");
    this.takeDamage(dmg);
}

Kind of ridiculously simple, but it makes for symmetric combat, so player-attacks-monster and monster-attacks-player have the same results. It's not practical for a tabletop game, but this is a really fun mechanic in a computer game.

Damage and Defense from gear just modify the result by percentiles, they don't affect attack roll at all. If your strength + defense % is less than the monster's strength, you can be one-hit-killed, and vice versa.

Experience adds to current strength, and increases base strength if you're near max; you need to finish fights against slightly superior foes unharmed to grind up strength.

Game: Spells +1/-1

I knew I didn't have time for a lot of magic, and I never feel like I'm finished with magic systems anyway. So here I just picked 4 types: AOE damage, AOE control, escape, and heal; or as the game knows them, Fireball, Sleep, Invisible, and Heal. Then rather than have MP and worry about regeneration, I just give you "base" spells in each based on class, and you can pick up scrolls to add new points to current spell total. When you heal with mana potions or going thru a portal, you get back your base spells.

Last three were trivial: Sleep just searches a radius and has a die(100) > strength chance to give humanoid or animal targets a sleep condition for 2d4 turns; if they're sleeping, they skip the turn. Invis just sets an invis condition for 2d4 turns; mobs ignore you if you have that condition. Couple places like melee and taking damage I manually clear the Invis and Sleep conditions. Heal just heals 50% of base strength, woo.

Even with just 4, doing Fireball turned out to be quite challenging (the Application Structure problem); how do I show it go across the board, maybe have a turn or two delay, then explode? Well, it does it by moving 4 steps every turn, and only having the fake animation for a tracer of where it's been.

Game: Permadeath +0

Permadeath happened more by lack of save state than any intention. I much prefer to have save slots, and then you can choose to save your game and reload last or earlier, or you can play hardcore and never reload. It puts the moral burden of choosing permadeath on the player, not the developer.

But JS localStorage doesn't really have room to stash a huge amount of data. In Reaper's Crypt I had a very aggressive compression for the map (which looks like a giant grid of tiles but it's really about 64 rooms per level), and it's still problematic, sometimes maps just can't be saved.

I could save the character as of last portal you entered, and regenerate maps. But that encourages "stair-scumming", which I do have a problem with. So instead this is very arcade-like, you just play until you die, then insert another quarter.

I do plan to add a scoreboard, both local and maybe server-based for a copy hosted on mysticdungeon.club.

Personal: Shipping is Awesome +1

Actually finishing something and making it public without a decade-long process is amazing. It's not perfect, and I know nothing is perfect, I should just ship things, but I can't normally do that. Having a hard deadline and meeting it was the best feeling.

Personal: Drone-Slack Balance -1

I was desperately exhausted afterwards. Bone tired all day Sunday, and I'm still feeling it on Monday. 7 days in a row, even with a couple shorter days, is about 3 or 4 days too many.

I'm nocturnal. I like to wake up ideally just before midnight (but sometimes backslide to evening if Real Life interferes), eat and coffee, then work until dawn, walk the dog at sunrise, maybe get my own walk in (tiny dog cannot keep up for a mile+), then finish up and goof off until early afternoon when I can sleep. The schedule weirds out some daywalkers, but it's quieter and more compatible with "morning people" (ugh) than waking in afternoon and sleeping at dawn, which I did for decades.

But normally that work is 3 days of code, 1-2 days of writing or art, 2-3 days of just playing videogames or going Outside, doing Real Life AFK stuff.

Drones who can work all the time frighten me, they're basically Terminators. People who Slack all the time frighten me, they're a waste of precious oxygen & water, and I may foolishly try to rely on these people and get nothing. You need to be in the middle area.

7 Days of Roguelike Development to Die

Well, I'm exhausted, but I have a working shipped. I may come back tonight and do some more, otherwise a post-7DRL update will fix the missing bits.

Play, and if you liked it, shower me in gold, or at least rattle some change at my tip jar. If you have other feedback, comment but be kind, I'm so very tired.

Archive of my dev diary/comments:

  • Day 1 (Sun, 2020-03-01)

    Getting started now. Will be working until next Saturday!

    Tiling, basic animation, and keyboard input.

    Minor annoyance, discovered Oryx’s “wee fantasy” figures, which are otherwise quite excellent, are left-handed. Flipping the images gets them all fixed except right-facing still has a shield in left hand. I don’t mind a few sinister figures, but that’s too much to ask of heroes not named “Link”.

    Basic random character and stat display.

  • Day 2 (Mon, 2020-03-02)

    Didn’t get a lot of uninterrupted time today, but made useful progress finally:

    Items now exist, can now be got (auto when you move; I might add a Get command), put down, readied/removed, and used.

  • Day 3 (Tues, 2020-03-03)

    Very productive day. Mana recovery, added a Get command, visibility calculations so walls occlude vision.

    Changed the way I write objects and monsters to use prototype objects (an object system on top of an object system, but it’s more convenient).

    Monsters (well, just Goblins today) are placed and can be fought. They don’t move yet.

  • Day 4 (Wed, 2020-03-04)

    Very little free time today, but I got a monster list completed, with a lot of tricky multi-level monsters, and I can spray them all over the junk level. Got some design notes for spells and missiles, and how I’ll split up the levels tomorrow. Then try some kind of AI once I have a place to navigate.

  • Day 5 (Thur, 2020-03-05)

    Floating damage numbers & effects. Basic mob AI, no pathfinding yet. Sleep, Invisible, Heal spells.

    Running low on time, so much stuff left to do and I just did some detail work today, didn’t even get missiles in (and Fireballs, which are a slow case of missiles that explode). Levels, absolutely first thing tomorrow.

  • Day 6 (Fri, 2020-03-06)

    DON’T PANIC. Well, panic a little. Got door opening (but not closing, needs a whole new command), Portals (AT LAST), and 6 level generators + tutorial level. They’re very simplistic levels, and it’s possible to be trapped in some, but usually works?

    Tomorrow I should really get missiles flying, trapped levels, maybe an overview map are optional. Strength/“experience” gain is a little harsh right now, but balance is low on my priorities.

    Found an absolutely horrible off-by-1 math bug in a library I’ve been using for years. Programming: It’s always harder than you think.

  • Day 7 (Sat, 2020-03-07)

    Exhausted, I don’t ever work this many days in a row anymore. So I got the overview map done, and rebalanced it a bit more sanely. It is playable and a fun challenge until you get curb-stomped by wights or stuck in a dead-end world.

    I have until tonight (Saturday) at midnight, so if I feel up to it later I’ll get to some of my TODO list.

    Playable version is up now, let me know what you think!

  • Day 7, Later

    Got back to adding missiles and fireballs! Done! Ship it!

    (Levels still kind of suck, I’ll improve those later. But the gameplay should be finished.)

7DRL

I'm planning on doing the 7DRL challenge, which runs from Saturday Feb 29 to Saturday Mar 7.

I did some design work this morning, picking out tilesets and making some index card notes for my 7DRL. Think I have kind of a neat world model, and different combat/levelling system.

I expect to have my Chez graphics library fully ported by then (I can draw sprites now! Events are much harder.), but getting it to compile on Mac, Windows, & Linux? Way out of scope, as I found out when I did Eldritch, catastrophic waste of effort for a freebie game. So I'm probably doing it in JS, just so much easier to upload a web page.

Project Status

Made a lot of progress on Perilar Dark Weaver map generation. Hopefully this week I'll get ruins finished.

Spent a little too much time on the new Mystic Dungeon, the TTMS-76 virtual retro-console started on tilde.town but is now replacing the BBS. It now has scoreboards for the games! I still need to finish Heist, which turned out to be bigger than I first thought. In a bit I'll get yet another damned login system done, and from there a forum. I wonder if anyone else would be interested in making games for it? I've got a trivially easy framework, so if you know any Javascript at all it's fun to work with. All BSD licensed.

Updated StupidComments.css to block some more inline "affiliate" blocks and Youtube spam segments.

I started making a console Pomodoro timer, and it works, but needs persistence and a teeny bit of task management before I can release it. Very soon.

RPG-wise, I wrote a bit more of my "survival D&D" game Delvers in Darkness (aka Dungeon Hell), which is looking to come in well under 16 pages for a full Holmes-type dungeon game; maybe 32 if I write more on the setting, which since I complain about that in everyone else's games, I should. Haven't looked at my light game in a bit, and don't know when I'll get back to that.