Mar 28


After a surprising number of requests, I have finally gone ahead and created a playable demo for The Dark Unknown. Check it out, try to have fun, try not to break it too badly, and if you do, please let me know!
To find the demo, click here!

Jan 06

Year In Review: The Dark Unknown

Hi everyone! I hope you had a good New Year and that good things come to you in the year to come. That out of the way, I felt like it was time for me to put up a Year In Review for what got done in 2016 towards the Dark Unknown. Here are some of the highlights, pulled from my commit messages. This therefore doesn’t include work done on the Almanac and the art, KS rewards, and sourcing maps/trinkets/boxes.


The Kickstarter was just behind us, and the money had just arrived. Indi Martin and I signed our contract, and she started working on more art for the Almanac. In the meantime, in game a new dungeon was added, the top level of which is used for a low level quest. AIs learned how to open doors, and had their movement code optimized.

I dramatically improved the builtin debugging, to make my own life easier, and it really did, let me tell you! Also, I was evidently hit in the head because I decided to expand the spell list from 6 spells per level to 8. Initially the plan was for some of the spells to not really do anything, because the world would have spells that weren’t useful on this specific quest, but then because they were there I came up with uses for most of them.

Traps on chests were rewritten, and this was when I was making a big push to get the spells and status effects coded.


Revamped how I store game flags (like whether you’ve accomplished various quests, or met individual NPCs). In February I went all-in on using unit tests for debugging and testing, which shamefully I had not been doing up until this point. Gloriously, I swapped the pathfinding package I was using for a fork that allowed weighted costs for tiles, meaning a path can be offered through a firefield but a path that goes around it can be considered a better path.

I also started the slow process of adding more sound effects to things in game. A large spreadsheet was created that listed all of my available sound effects and which things still didn’t have effects assigned to them.


On to March! More AI movement upgrades, which was an ongoing project. Attacking inanimate objects was added, allowing you to break mirrors, which of course then meant the Mend spell now had something useful it could do. Once that happened I added some broken weapons, and made it so you can’t equip them until you fix them.

For atmosphere, which sound effect plays when you walk changes based on what you’re walking on. Cobblestone? Grass? Stone? Stone underground? All different!

Added (P)ush as a new keyboard command, which seemed like it was going to be a pretty minor addition, but then I needed new graphics for things like chairs (which were hardcoded (hard-drawn?) to be on cobblestone or wood floors) so you could push them out of a tavern onto the grass (Ultima V just doesn’t let you push the darn things out of doors). Then I decided you should be able to reorient chairs. And that NPCs needed to be able to push things so you can’t block them in. And that pushing a scroll into a fireplace means it should catch fire. And Telekinesis can now Push things as well as Use them.

All in all I put way too much work into Push. But it’s pretty cool that it’s there.

Other big additions for March: Multiple save states! Really happy about that one. And, OnHit effects started being added- specifically at this point Venom, Disease, and Theft of gold and food.


While some unspoken work on dialog and quests goes on each month, this month started a big push for one of the main quests in the central quest chain, as it were- getting the respect of the Loyalists, and from them getting what you need to infiltrate the Rebels. I also started handling ambient sounds- waves when you’re standing near the coast, fountains burble, things like that.


Books can be read! A lot of game information will be communicated via books and letters. Beyond that, monsters can now flee, and I added the ability to Import and Export saved games, allowing them to be moved between devices, backed up, and sent to me if you hit a bad bug that I want to see.

May was, however, primarily lost to prepping for HOBLOTH III, which was in early June.


June was HOBLOTH, HOBLOTH recovery, and some dialog. Merchants had some fixes and rewrites.


Back on the horse for July! Refactored some magic fundamentals, to make it easier to add/remove/reorganize the spells. Also, I decided that the initial spawns were too strong, and so I reduced their size and made them weaker. Some monsters had their hp decreased.

Merchant stocks are saved now, so some of them can sell out of certain things permanently (or, at the least, only restock it when specific points in the story are reached). Otherwise there was no point to limiting how many of something they had on hand, since you could just walk out of town and back in.

Fireplaces, which already burned up scrolls, now burn up you as well.

And some improvements to Death (hows that for a sentence?)- non-permanent spells are removed, and it no longer checks to see if you can leave the map your on before moving you into the Void. (Before this, you dying would check to see if you could get away from the monsters on a combat map as though you were fleeing!)


More important plot stuff- Black Dragon Castle dialog started on, and code added for you getting far enough, questwise, to convince the front guard to open the gate and let you in. Other smaller individual changes: options added for turning off the looping of music, and ambient sound effects. Sleeping at inns restores mana as well as health. Dialog can grant XP, and so this is now the main way you get XP from quests rather than fighting monsters. There are books that you can learn spells from, which allows me to make some of the spells unique and found only in exotic locations. Finally, added karma- good karma is not required to finish the game, but it does help, and some people may not be happy with you if you’re a blackheart… or just break too many mirrors. But seriously, don’t attack towns.


September was primarily a bugfixing month, though I also did a decorating pass through the towns and continued adding dialog.

I also visited the studio and recorded some new music, including a final version for world wander music.


A lot of dialog and quest code in October- added some rebel prisoners that appear in the King’s prison at various points in the story, that give important information. Also, created most of the Bard’s Guild quests and dialog.

You can now check books out from the library in Castle dea Olympus, and return them when you’re done. Also, the world now has a few waterfalls, which will sweep you over them if you waterwalk on the top. This will be important in the elemental plane of water. And speaking of new locations, started the dungeon World’s Ending, which has the fortress of an important past NPC and a bunch of puzzles to be solved before you can get to it.

Also, creatures that steal gold from the player will drop at least that much gold in their loot if you can kill them before they escape with your money.


Still working on the bards some, and added a harpsichord graphic and, unrelatedly, the ability to queue music (this is used, for instance, to let me change the music to a short lullaby when you sleep at an inn and let the song finish before changing back to the town’s music).

Added a new low level dungeon near the main castle, to smooth out the leveling curve a bit, and also get some more money into the player’s hands earlier in the game.

Bugfixes with AI movement again, and got started on monsters who have ranged attacks actually using them.


Most of the month was spent traveling, composing music, and rebuilding a dead desktop computer. I took advantage of this timing to change what tools I use- switching to git from svn, and trying out Visual Studio Code. I also have been transitioning my focus to getting KS backer rewards ready and surveys sent out. And, of course, holidays.


So that was 2016! It doesn’t look like so much got done, looking at it this way, but I swear that stuff took me all year. 🙂

See you throughout 2017!


Oct 05

Map Editor Demo

By vaguely popular request, I’ve uploaded a demonstration of me using my in-house map editor. Here it is, if you’re interested!