Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Other "Chaos Caverns II"

It has been a busy couple of months (the lack of blog posts may have given you a hint) but hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of things a bit more.

So what has been happening on the programming front? Well, there hangs a tale.

I've been developing "Chaos Caverns II" - which is coming together rather nicely, new code base, higher resolution graphics, new features, plenty of programming work to keep me interested. However prior to this I'd started re-writing the original "Chaos Caverns" to make it into a flip-screen arcade adventure - along the lines of Jet Set Willy (Matthew Smith's follow up to Manic Miner - the game which inspired Chaos Caverns in the first place).

I'd got it to the point that it actually worked as a five screen demo in which you could walk left to right through the screens, and items collected didn't re-appear if you left and re-entered the screen. It was an interesting "first try" but I didn't think I'd be taking it much further, especially when it became obvious that the new code would bring many benefits. The only downside to the new code is that although it had a lot of new graphics, an awful lot more need to be added to give it enough variety to make a full game (especially compared to the original one).

So inbetween adding the missing bits to the new Chaos Caverns II (and tinkering around with some other code for potential games) not much was really getting done.

Time Passes...

A couple of weeks ago I read on Retro Remakes that some lovely person had been selling CDs of remakes (namely those made by Retro Spec) and had asked them to stop it. Out of curiosity I checked his listings and found that he was also selling Chaos Caverns (and renaming the damn thing as "Manic Miner - Chaos Caverns"). Wonderful - I don't think!

After asking Ebay to remove the listing (which they did) - he relisted the item again - claiming that he had permission to post it. To cut a long story short (which included me editing my YouTube video of Chaos Caverns which he was showing as part of the listing to include some informative captions) he agreed not to sell the game - and even admitted that his alledged permission to sell Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy didn't entitle him to sell my little tribute to it).

As part of this I decided that a quick update of Chaos Caverns was in order to allow me to embed the copyright (and distribution) details in a more obvious and up-front way. At this point I discovered that when I'd been updating the code I'd neglected to back up the original unchanged version - and the new code was not compatible with the original levels.

Whilst checking through the code to see if I could de-update it to get the original levels working again I had a bit of a play with it and started "tweaking" a couple of things. Then a few more. Then a lot more. Before I knew it I'd changed the way the player jumps (it now works more like Manic Miner), added vertical movement between screens, made some new maps, added some new baddies, discovered (and fixed) some long-standing bugs, and basically made an awful lot of progress towards making it into a full game.

More importantly I've also had some ideas of things that I'll need to change in the "real" Chaos Caverns II which should add some greater flexibility to the level designs.

By the looks of things I'll probably end up releasing the old one as "Chaos Caverns 2" - and using the new platform engine as either "Chaos Caverns 3" or (more likely) as something else entirely.

Next stop - adding proper DirectX scaling support into the code and changing the screenmode defaults to something supported by modern graphics cards.


Tam Toucan said...

It'll be good to see what you've done with this.

Oh, and can just say "NO VERSION CONTROL!?!?!?!?!"

*falls over :)

DanO said...

Version control? Live life on the edge!!!