What I'm Playing: Animal Crossing New Horizons

After 2 weeks of delay, my Switch Lite finally shipped. I should've got it earlier, I know, but there was nothing else I wanted.

The device is bigger than I expected, not easily pocketable (unless you wear a ScottEVest windbreaker with giant cargo pockets like I do), the screen's nice, the sticks are a little stiff and the D-pad's very stiff, but all those will loosen with use. Good but not best Nintendo quality hardware. Power brick is awkward, I ended up having to put it on an extension cord from my power strip. I haven't stress-tested battery life, but 1 hour of Animal Crossing = 10-15%, which means I need a recharge whenever I'm not using it.

There's no security to the device, AFAICT: I would like it to require a PIN to start, but instead it just makes you tap A three times and then anyone can play with it. At least I have my password on anything in the shop, but do not let anyone have physical access to your Switch!

I'm unpleased with the Switch UI, but that's true of most consoles. Half the time it's easier to tap on the screen than try to use the buttons to do anything. The main UI is fairly annoying: A single bar of games, sorted in order you last played. No way to pin "favorites" at the front. There's plenty of room to have a 2-high grid, but they don't. There's nothing like the Wii Weather & News apps, alas. Nintendo keeps having good ideas then giving up on them.

Note: I'm going to abbreviate all the Animal Crossing games: ACWW (Wild World, on the DS), ACPC (Pocket Camp, the mobile game), ACNH (New Horizons, on the Switch).

I did a digital purchase for ACNH, and it took a while to install but it's a straightforward process. And I got 300 "gold" on the eShop, which I used to buy Tetris, NES, SNES, a jigsaw puzzle, and a mini golf game, just to have something else in my game bar. The only other thing I'm really interested in is the new Clubhouse Games, coming in June. I have the old one on the DS, and it was a great pack of minigames, I'm expecting the new one to be even better.

So finally ACNH finishes downloading.

The avatar is still not a full Mii. I don't understand this; Nintendo has a perfectly nice, universal avatar-creation system. You can use it all over the UI. You can't use it in the damned games, you have to pick from a handful of potato-looking faces on a single head. My aquiline nose is reduced to a flat triangle. No beard. The only long hair either has bangs, or is wavy; so I went with that. It's better than earlier Animal Crossing games which lock you down to male or female, tiny set of very conservative Japanese hairdos, facial features chosen at random, but it's not good. Not every game has to be Second Life or Elder Scrolls with 100 sliders for lip twitch and eyebrow fluffiness, but the Mii editor is RIGHT THERE. LOUDEST DRAMATIC SIGH POSSIBLE.

I pick my island layout, which cuts off the north and east just like my old ACWW island, and name it the same, Yama (technically Naraka is more accurately the Buddhist underworld, but I prefer the shorter name of the lord of the dead; I've done the Kami/Yama thing in my videogame names for 35-40 years now). The downside of my layout is early game I only have 1/3 of the island accessible, until I get a vaulting pole, which hasn't happened on day one/night one. But later, I'll have splendid isolation for my base in the SE peninsula, put all the villagers & services in the noisy SW area, and my groves up in the north.

The buttons are never fully explained, at least not in the digital version:

L stick: Move
R stick: Shift camera up/down, left/right does nothing
A: Action
B: Cancel in menus, Run while moving
X: Inventory
Y: Take Item
D-Up: Unequip
D-Left: Prev Tool
D-Right: Next Tool
D-Down: Unequip
+: Confirm
-: Save & Quit
Left: —
Left Lower (LZ): Nookphone
Right: Chat
Right Lower (RZ): —
O: Camera
Home: Quit

If you were playing ACPC, then once you've linked your account, you can get access to a special store from the Nook terminal of several ACPC items. Linking instructions. I've so far only bought the Campsite sign and Market Square flags, but I might just get everything once I have the bells. ACPC also gets 50 leaf tickets, but I've quit cold turkey a couple weeks ago, it's over. Nintendo sent out a survey which basically asked if you were ever going to play ACPC again, and I said no. This is a little unfair, in that ACPC is a slightly entertaining Animal Crossing-themed game, it's not terrible, but it's not as good as having your own unique island, and all the furniture and clothing you can only get for paid currency leaf tickets in ACPC is annoying.

My starting animal friends are Diva (purple, elegant frog) and Lyman (green koala); Diva's OK, she was a regular in my campsite in ACPC, I don't know Lyman but he's been friendly and not too stupid. I know they've lightened up a lot of the animal personalities from the old games, so I keep expecting cruelty or idiocy and they don't do it. Still, I'm pining for some of my favorites like Bunnie, Fauna, Cherry, Tex, or even dumb jock Jay, I wish we got some choices here.

The Nook shop/Resident Services is your main HQ for a while. You need to turn in fish and bugs to Tom Nook until he calls Blathers over. Then you can sell everything, or stack it up outside your house to wait for the museum…

Timmy Nook buys and sells items; one thing I didn't realize early on was you can hit R on the buy list, and go from some crappy furniture (an oil drum and a water cooler, in my case) to a screen full of tools! Including the slingshot! I saw a balloon with a present first day and couldn't get it because I didn't have the slingshot yet! He also has several recipes, flower seeds, medicine, and such. That should be the front screen of this shop. I'm so mad at this UI now.

The "DIY For Beginners" recipe pack he sells includes Hay Bed, Stone Stool, Old-Fashioned Washtub, Frying Pan, Wooden-Block Toy, and Ocarina. To get into any furniture like the stool, you just walk into them, and can then rotate around with the stick. It takes a little getting used to, but my campsite's coming along; tho I'll have to move it soon.

Tommy Nook is useless so far, he tries to give advice but it's all pretty obvious.

Fishing is much easier than ACWW, not as trivial as ACPC. There's some aiming and luring skill needed, but not much. You can't apparently scare them off easily. Bug catching is about the same as ACWW, but you can't scare the bugs off as easily either; ACPC was savage in that, you'd walk by a bug you wanted and it'd vanish. Catching my first tarantula was a bit of a Most Dangerous Game hunt, but it didn't get me. The damned wasps got me twice on the first day, but then Diva gave me the Medicine recipe, so I won't have to pay for the stuff at least.

Crafting starts out with very limited recipes, nothing like the Minecraft grid where everything is possible if you have the materials. But turn in a few fish & bugs to Nook, talk to the animal friends, find bottles on the coast, or shake trees, and you'll find more.

Getting materials can be a little tricky at first. For instance, trees drop one branch on first shake, then often none for a few shakes, THEN they drop up to 9 more. So I spent one loop around the island getting only one branch per tree…

Inventory management is a serious pain, you can't move items between slots like Wild World, you have to drop items, then pick them up in the order you want. Every time I break a flimsy tool, I'm back to sorting inventory out. You also can't split stacks, except one at a time; if you want to keep 50 weeds but sell the rest, pound sand.

Of course Animal Crossing follows real time. You can lie about your time zone or change hemisphere, or "time travel" by screwing with the Switch's clock, but I'm not going to do that. Today is today. With my night/day schedule, I can see morning daylight when I'm about to hit the sack and do my final play of the day, and my wake-up/grind part of the day will mostly be at night, which works fine. Just make sure I keep a net ready at all times to catch tarantulas, because Animal Crossing tries to kill night owls.

I'll get my friend code tomorrow and post it in the next update, and in my About page.

To get photos off the Switch is kind of a pain in the ass. You can transfer them to microSD, do a hard shutdown (hold down "power" 10 seconds), move the SD to your computer, extract, put it back, power back on. UGH. Or spam them 4 at a time to Twitter or Fuckbook, so my post-syndication-only Twitter is now posting ACNH screenshots irregularly, enjoy.

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.

What I'm Playing: AnotherEden - 1st Anniversary

I hadn't played since last Spring, but the anniversary event (check in now, should still be in your mailbox) gives a lot of crystals for summoning, and playing again I'm enjoying it a lot. I think it's back in heavy rotation.

Level caps have increased for a few characters, so Aldo is now 51/60, Miyu 56/60, Mighty 60/80, Riica 45/50, Deirdre 45/60, Amy 41/50, Lokido 60/80, Cyrus 41/50. And I nearly have enough books to class upgrade one or two 50s.

But I'm blocked on Soira 60/60, Bivette 60/60, Mariel 60/60 (needs a ton of books to class upgrade). I have so many lowbies, I have no idea which are any good and should be levelled right now.

I'm very confused by finding all the new stuff, I suppose I should read the last year's worth of update notices; I'd last read 1.2.100: IDA School. Unlike most mobile games, AnotherEden doesn't expire events (except "Encounters", character pull banners), so all the old quests are ready to play.

One noticeable thing immediately, there's a "Cat-alogue" where you tap on the kitties in each zone and add them to a list. And apparently there's "Cat Equipment", in the rewards list? Guess I'll find out. Today I picked up all the Medieval kitties I could find. Also, wandering around I found the Goblin King quest, which I'd never cleared out, and killed him twice. Nice to see my party's good for something.

There's a fishing system, hard to figure out where it starts, but apparently in Acteul, there's a boat that starts a quest? I think that's tomorrow's goal.

I found a quest in Miglance Castle for Miyu, which got me 4/30 Princess Psalms for her next class upgrade, and has multiple chapters, so that might be doable with a week of grinding. She's kinda just "Aldo in a dress" but sometimes that's what you need.

Of course the battery draining powers of this game are still in force, so now my phone's hot and charging up again.

… For some reason I can't upload my useless gallery of new chars, so I'll do that next time. I'm sure you're waiting with bated breath. (or baited, if you're a cat who eats fish)

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.

Perilar: Dark Weaver

Perilar was my favorite of my games, an original iPhone RPG (loosely inspired by Rogue, Ultima, & Zelda). Alas, the App Store is a pain in the ass to stay current in, and Perilar needed updates I wasn't willing to jump thru Apple's hoops to deliver, so it's been gone from the store for a few years. Does anyone even remember me?

Then I wrote & released Brigand, a stripped-down realtime roguelike, which apparently everyone got mad at either because it was too hard (it was, but I liked that), or cost $9.99 which is SO MUCH MONEY on the goddamned App Store. And again the App Store made it obsolete and it wasn't reasonable to update it.

So I got back to a new desktop version of Perilar. I wrote a JS prototype (Fallen Kingdom) that wasn't fast enough to be usable, but let me rapidly test a bunch of new things. Now in Scheme, after a very long time, I have a nice, fast, nearing-complete sequel to Perilar: Dark Weaver.

Where I am right now:

  • World has both hand-designed and random sectors, tho the latter need some smoothing out to look like real terrain. I can walk across the world, at least until I hit impassable sectors. Porting my complex map and dungeon generators in is the next task. I have spent the last 6 months building features in the Town of Amity, and I'm ready to move on!
  • Most of the tile art is from the DawnLike set, with a lot of customization and new art where needed, and I've stuck to the DawnLike palette, it really has a nice old-timey look, a little less garish than the Atari 800, brighter than C64.
  • Player art isn't going to be these sprites, but the paperdolls I have are 2-facing (East/West), and I'd prefer 4- or 8-facing (you can move diagonally!); so I still need to find or draw (oh no) those.
  • NPCs have dialogue trees, stores, and special abilities (like the Innkeeper healing you; they're not super-powered).
  • Combat, with multiple attack/defense options, works in my test area. I haven't spread monsters around the sectors yet, but they've been developed and tested in the JS prototype.
  • Loot is extensive, magical weapons and armor have all the complex options you'd expect. I'm being a hardass on encumbrance in this one, because you can drop loot anywhere and come back for it. (Not quite the hardest possible ass; gold doesn't count towards weight, which it does in tabletop RPGs!)
  • Spells beyond Magic Missile are not implemented at all yet; will probably ship with only the dozen basic spells from the original release, and advanced spells added in an update. You won't find anyone to teach those for a long time anyway. Despite that, Wizards are still useful with magic wands.
  • New bosses, boss arenas, deeper dungeons, main quest, and sidequests.
  • At least one sector will be user-modifiable, tho I don't know if it'll be in the first release. You can buy furniture and walls, and fix up your own town. There's useful things you'll be able to get from that. (The building mechanic half works now; gathering doesn't).
  • Currently tested on Mac, should be buildable with no or very few changes to Windows, Linux, BSD, etc., but I need to get proper test environments for all of those.
  • Will be for sale on itch.io sometime this year. Price TBD.

I feel super awkward about self-promotion, but I do have a Patreon, and for Gold level you'll get betas; I haven't explained this, but at any level, when you've paid up whatever the cover price of the game ends up being, you'll get a full release license for it, too.

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Tildeverse

The Tildeverse is a bunch of shared UNIX or UNIX-like servers (in reality, all the ones I know of are Linux, which <sigh>), with individual user accounts, or "tildes" after the way you refer to a home directory in a URL or UNIX command line: ~name.

Anyone can sign up for one of these, tilde.town got back to me in a couple days over the holiday and I expect they're faster during reasonable times.

So over the holiday I made a simple little web page, then wrote some ASCII-art (and Emoji-art) games in Javascript, and now I've written an operator's manual for a fictional computer, the TTMS-76 (Tilde Town Microcomputer System '76). I'm thinking about making some 3D renders of it, patriotic colors to match the American Bicentennial in 1976. I'll probably mirror all this on mysticdungeon.club when I work out what I'm doing with that.

There's a bunch of little command-line utilities on tilde, like alpine for local mail, feels for blogging from text editor, botany for watering a plant, poem to get a random poem, chat for a friendly local-system IRC; there's also a public IRC on Tildeverse (but it's more what you'd expect from a public IRC, so you may not like that).

If you used to use a shared UNIX server, this will all be very familiar and fun. If you haven't, it's a great way to learn more about command-line tools, how shared hosting works, how to write HTML the old-fashioned way, and so on.