Starting a new project: Hack Slash Loot

Early 2013 I pondered what to do for the next incarnation of Tiny Lynx Adventure. There was demand for a v2.0 version with improved graphics and sound. So, I set out to find some open-source tilesets and graphics that I could use. After spending a terrific evening searching for that, I found graphics by Oryx (http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=8970.0) and Oddball (http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=8834.0).

The Oryx tileset is actually derived from the work of Oddball. The good thing is that both tilesets use only 16 colors (like the Lynx’s color palette). They are pretty complete and cover both tiles for the surroundings, enemies and items. In short, a pretty good start to go build your own RPG like adventure. There are a couple of incarnations that use these tilesets, of which I found Legends of Yore a particularly good one.

Looking further I found that oddball, whose real name is David Williamson, has improved his tileset and used it in a terrific game called “Hack Slash Loot”. It is available from his website at http://www.hackslashloot.com and through Steam.

Hack Slash Loot is an unforgiving game, in the style of a Rogue-like, with PermaDeath (no saves, one live. If you die, you need to restart). It is also a beautiful game, that is very addictive once you get started and get the hang of it. There is a deeper level to the mechanics of combat, with vulnerabilities and resistance to certain types of attack. Understanding that makes the game easier to play and finish.

Header logo

I really fell in love with the game, gameplay and its graphics. I also saw an opportunity to get this on the Atari Lynx. It should be feasible (so I thought) with some adjustments for screensize. With this in mind I set off to build a Proof-Of-Concept (POC) for the graphics and display of the dungeons. Satisfied with the results of that I contacted David Williamson and asked for his permission to do a port of the game. His reaction to my request was very enthusiastic and he permitted and encouraged me to try and fit it on the Lynx.

That was February 2013. I set off on a long journey to first prove that I could do most of the technical stuff that was required to build the game:

  1. Resource management
    HSL has a lot of graphics. And I mean a LOT! Hundreds of artifacts, thousands of items, such as weapons, shields, potions, and countless enemies. This will never, ever fit into the available memory on the Lynx, not even if you could use all 64KB at once.
  2. Line-of-sight or room discovery
    When you explore you will reveal more and more of the dungeon that starts out all black except for the room in which you begin your quest.
  3. Path finding for critters
    The enemies need a way to try and reach, then attack you. Likewise, friends need to be able to follow you. The finding of available paths through the dungeons is particularly compute-intensive and really hard to do with limited memory.
  4. Dungeon generation
    All dungeons are generated randomly based on some parameters like noise blocks and number of walls. Also pretty compute heavy and rather complicated.
  5. Mapping dungeon
    The game features a map of the dungeon level you are currently on.

It’s now July 2013 and I have worked on this project on and off in my spare time. I tackled all of the hurdles mentioned above. At this point I have enough confidence that this is actually doable. Hence, this announcement of the work in progress.

I put a video up on Youtube to see what it currently looks like.

Work in progress video footage

Some remarks about what you see:

  • There is no HUD at the bottom. The graphics still need to be created, but the text for the things you see/discover/attack is there. Just imagine a border like in the screenshot of HSL.
  • At the left a weird black block is shown. This is a placeholder for the HUD border from the previous point.
  • Enemies have limited AI and only try to reach you. They do not attack yet. Also, they are allowed to stand on top of each other, which is why it seems that they are disappearing.

Besides the help from David, there are a couple of other people helping me out. Jack Menhorn is the composer of the music for the game and is creating MIDI files to add the conversion. Daniel Horvath (108stars) will do some of the graphics and Sascha (Der Luchs) is working on the conversion of the music in the game. Chris (GadgetUK) and Leny (obschan) and Karri Kaksonnen have been very helpful in finding technical solutions and solve bugs. With these people to back me up, there is hope that this will eventually be released.

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8 Responses to Starting a new project: Hack Slash Loot

  1. GadgetUK says:

    Awesome work, it’s great you are doing this! I cannot wait to see more progress. It’s fantastic that David Williamson has given permission to create a Lynx version and Jack Menhorn is helping port the music. Keep up the great work!!!

  2. jan says:

    Great new Project ! You have a Great Side !
    please watch here :
    http://www.janatari.de/atari-lynx/lynx-upcoming/

  3. Omnibot2000 says:

    Any news? I’m really looking forward to seeing this being completed 🙂

  4. Omnibot2000 says:

    Great project, I hope to read some news soon!

  5. evilactivity says:

    Looking forward to more of this. Any update since your last post on this?

  6. Johney says:

    Speaking of hacking, i was thinking of hacking commrcial lynx games in order to remove their bootroms sothat we can put those games on a single (sd )flascard and let instead a bios menu do the bootrom to setup the lynx.
    If removing the bootrom from each game becomess very complex, then we can program the bios software(once booted the lynx) on the flashcard just to ignoire the first 100 bytes from a game you,ve selected, becouse the first 100 bytes are reserved for the bootrom,thus assuming that the first 100 bytes from each game are the bootrom.
    Thisway a multi rom and/or sd flashcard may be possible for the lynx.

  7. Pingback: La Lynx a 25 ans ! | 16 Couleurs

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