Monday, January 15, 2024

Christmas 2023 holiday roundup

 Seems like it's been a full year since my last blog posting. I think that at this point, I'll just have to accept that I'm not very good at making regular postings. At least you all can take solace that my output of work on implementing support for new games in ScummVM remains unaffected. :)

So, what's been happening in the last year? Well, first of all, I finished implementing support for Might and Magic 1. The game itself was pretty primitive, but it was an excellent candidate for something I'd wanted to do for a while - not just reimplementing a game, but adding an enhanced mode that would breathe new life into it. In this case, I was able to use my experience with working on the Xeen games some years previously to add it's user interface into M&M1 as an option. I think it turned out pretty nicely:

After that, I decided to revisit another game that had been bit-rotting, in this case for nearly twenty years - the M4 engine, which supports the games Orion Burger and Ripley's Believe It Or Not - The Riddle of Master Lu. This engine had special meaning to me, as it was the first engine I worked on collaboratively with others, shortly after I first joined the group. Back then though, things got mixed up with trying to have the one engine support both those games as well as the earlier MADS games like Rex Nebular in a single engine, and work stalled on it. Since that time, I'd re-implemented the MADS engine separately (though currently not all MADS games are supported), so decided it was finally time to tackle the M4 engine. And, just in time for Christmas, I finally finished implementing it with Orion Burger fully playable.

I've just announced an official testing period for the game. All the logic of the game was hardcoded, and had to be manually implemented. As such, my implementation of the various game rooms' logic suffered from many minor errors that had to be identified and fixed. Hopefully this testing period will have others discover any other remaining issues I'd overlooked, and the game will finally be officially supported.

Other than that, on a final note, as with previous years I choose to muck around with something different over the Christmas holidays. In this case, rather than fall back on working on the early Legend games yet again, I decided on the Wasteland engine, in particular disassembling Fountain of Dreams. I'd done some previous examination, and it looked like the codebase was fairly straightforward and simple (at least for the small parts of the executables I investigated). My time was productive, and I was not only able to reverse engineer and reimplement the entirety of the character creation screens, but also get a basic map display going. I give you, Fountain of Dreams startup in ScummVM:

ScummVM Fountain of Dreams

As you'll see from the attached YouTube video, I even added basic mouse control support for the character creation screens, just for the heck of it. At the moment, what's shown is pretty much all there is, but it's a firm starting point that further work can be done on.

Will further work be done? At this point I'm not entirely sure. I haven't firmly committed to working on Fountain of Dreams and/or Wasteland. It may be that I'll just putter around with them between working on other games. After all, I still have the drudgery of implementing all the game scenes' logic for Riddle of Master Lu to look forward to :P.. maybe I can use working on this as a way to unwind as I work my way through it all.

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