Monday, December 18, 2017

It has to be Xeen to be believed

Hi everyone,

Been a while since my last blog posting, despite regular protestations that I'd be posting more frequently. My bad. At least my development work has been proceeding with it's usual speed in the interim. The just released ScummVM 2.0 spurred me to write a blog posting.

So what's been happening? First of all, as most will know, I finished work on Starship Titanic. So with the new release, both the English and German versions of the game are now officially supported. I've been informed that there's also a French version, but it isn't available commercially (GOG only has the English and German versions). Given that, for now I'm unwilling to spend the multiple weeks worth of effort to add support for it. Maybe if GOG adds it in sometime in the future, support for it can be revisited.

Next, let's move onto what I'm currently working on, now that Titanic is done.. World of Xeen. Support for the game has already improved enormously over the last few weeks. You can walk around the starting town, fight monsters, then leave the town and wander around the outdoors. Even go to the Dwarf Mine and listen to the dwarf's cheesy intro. Not all maps are working yet, but at least it's getting there.

Still lots of other UI bugs to be looked into. I spent much of the past week cramming to implement all the various in-game cutscenes without testing them yet, so there's bound to be problems. The intro/endgame cutscenes for the games are also still only partly implemented. I'll also likely need to do further work on the savegame code, so the engine definitely isn't ready for any serious playing yet.

Anyway, with Christmas holidays coming up, I'll likely take a brief break for a few weeks from my resumed work on Xeen. Much of the work for reversing the game had already been previously done by the excellent work of WizardStan, and then further by myself. As such, a lot of the time I've spent simply implementing remaining missing code in ScummVM and lots of debugging. Since I've already spent so much time in debugging Starship Titanic code to get it working, I'm looking for a more relaxed, cerebral exercise of reverse engineering something fresh over the holidays.

I'll probably return to my preliminary work on the Legend entertainment games, Companions of Xanth and Gateway. Both share a lot of common engine though Xanth, the more recent, has a horrible overlay manager that makes it a pain to debug. As such, I've found working on the earlier game makes things easier to understand in many places. Though since the game uses EGA graphics, understanding how things are being written to the screen does get problematic in places. So a balanced effort reversing both at the same time is called for. An excellent mental challenge.

Everyone have a Happy Holidays/Year end/Christmas or whatever, as 2017 comes to a close. :)


Victor said...

This post remember to me something. Who has the decision about supporting foreign languages?

I remember asking about supporting the official version of Spanish Eye of Beholder 1 & 2 in the sourceforge bugtracker. The developer said that he needs the Spanish version and that he might add support if he finds a copy. Some years after that GOG puts the Spanish version available and some other people in another bug said that he can donate to support it.

But nobody assume the work. I don't know if it depends entirely on the developer decision or I can send a pull request to add the Spanish support.

Michael D said...

Great work on the Xeen engine!

I know that no official bug reports are accepted yet, but here are 2 random things I noticed while testing: The Automap resets every time you enter/leave a shop (for example the blacksmith, straight ahead after starting a new game). And the walls are not drawn correctly when they are 4(I think) steps away (this too can be seen after starting a new game, just walk 1 or 2 steps forward and look at the entrance to the blacksmith).

Really looking forward to playing through Xeen again (the DOS version crashes a lot in DOSbox for me, even the "official" one from UbiSoft's UPlay... I think it has to do with the music device configuration but I refuse to play without music ;-)