Yes, it’s true! A demo for Book 2 is playable at long last, complete with music by Brandon Blume. You can find out more and download the game in the “Betrayed Alliance” tab, or just click here.
Sorry for the long delay in the updates. I’ve had in my mind for a while that the next update would need to be the “Demo is ready” update, which I was originally hoping to have out late December. A lot has happened since December and not a lot of it has been good!
Since early January, my family and I have been suffering from a flooding basement. As of a couple of days ago, we’ve gone through the process of waterproofing our basement, but it’s made it hard to work on the project when your workspace is not useable, not to mention the time involved in cleanup and now, repair.
But all that aside, I hope you find some time to play the demo. I feel like it really shows in a small way the type of gameplay that will be present in a bigger scale when the full game is complete…hopefully sometime this decade!
A few people have been experiencing their Windows antivirus firewall looking askew at the Demo installer. After talking with someone more knowledgeable, this seems to be a fairly common issue. I was linked to an antivirus report, which details different antivirus assessments of the program. Most of them have no problem, but Windows has a big issue with it.
The file has been submitted to Microsoft with the intention that they clear their warning for this program. I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused. Obviously I do not want to be associated with viruses, so hopefully they can get this sorted soon.
The demo for Betrayed Alliance Book 2 is complete in most assets and has even underwent a number of playtesting sessions which unveiled pages and pages of bugs, spelling mistakes, and insight on puzzles that needed more or less signposting. While I’m sure it’s not perfect, I’ve implemented all necessary changes, fixed all *known* bugs, and corrected all *known* typos. I was also very encouraged by the testers perception of the game.
I am looking forward to opening the demo up to players early in the new year.
Until then, however, merry Christmas. I’m going to spend time with family and get a head start on my coursework for the Spring Semester.
I wanted to give you a quick update detailing some of the work on Betrayed Alliance lately, and that I plan on releasing a demo soon (fingers crossed before year’s end)
So what’ve I been up to?
The introduction cutscene is “basically finished.” Essential animations and dialog is now finished, with only some extra touches still to be done. The music for that section is also in the works. But here is a sneak peek (listen?) of the music
The puzzles for the demo are now up and running and playable, with puzzle points built in.
The coding and implementation of the death tracker is now fully complete, and there are about 11 deaths possible to “collect” in the demo
More animations and text is being added every day. It’s now at the point where trying to count the lines of text is far too cumbersome a task.
While there are two or three fairly major things to put into the game/demo before I would consider releasing it into the wild, there are tons of small bugs/inconsistencies and quality of life fixes to be made. I’ve made a list, and I’m going through it to fix up the problems.
Thanks for continuing to be a part of this project. Hopefully it won’t be too long before you have something to play/enjoy.
Many people are familiar with the 16 EGA colors, but SCI0 uses these colors for more than just making things look pretty. Today’s dish will be 1 part update and 1 part dive into how SCI0 uses the 16 EGA colors.
Betrayed Alliance News:
My focus lately has been setting up the gameplay elements inside a building that the two characters get separated in. They must use their cunning to solve various puzzles and challenges, meet up together in the main hallway, and escape with new knowledge and maybe an item or two to help them on their quest moving forward.
All together there are 12 “inside” screens: 8 dorm rooms, 2 for the main hallway, and 2 more for the side halls that connect the rooms together.
Instead of drawing 8 unique rooms, however, I’ve opted to use a similar approach as some of the forest backgrounds in Quest for Glory 1, where they reused the same background only reversed as if through a mirror. Filling up the rooms with different furniture, most of which were provided for me by Karl Dupere-Richer.
Of course putting all the same images in each room wouldn’t be enough, so I had the pleasure of taking some of these and changing them a bit. Messing up the bed (or changing the color of the blanket), making some side views of the chairs, breaking the closets and tables, etc.
Additionally, I added a few other items as would be needed:
Of course simply rearranging furniture in each room won’t solve the issue that each room will “feel” the same, so I’m endeavoring to give each room its own unique twist, based on the person who used to live there, but I don’t want to say too much about that.
EGA colors and their non-visual functions:
As promised, I wanted to share a bit about how the 16 EGA colors are used for more than just the visuals of the game. There are actually three versions of each background, but the player only sees one, the visual. But there is also a Priority background and a Control background. They look something like this:
The visual background is exactly what you’d expect: it’s what you see. The Priority background is used to determine whether to draw something visually in front of or behind another object. You’ll notice the white outline of the wall on the bottom of the Priority screen. That is to make sure that nothing should be seen in front of the wall that is closest to the screen. As you “go up” the screen, every 10 or so pixels there will be an invisible color change to determine whether the player character should be in front or behind an object. If you were to see them, they would look like this:
This background is used to determine a couple things: first, where the player can and cannot move, and second, anything else you want to do!
The color white acts as a blocked off area for the player. In this example, I’ve also made it so if you want to interact with the chest at the foot of the bed, you must be in the Silver-colored area, or else you get the dreaded stock phrase: “You’re not close enough.”
The Pink (or “Fuchsia”) is used to trigger an event when the player walks into it. And the color Red (or “Maroon”) is used to take the player to a new room when they step on it.
You can also uses both Priority and Control colors for “right-click-look,” a handy little feature that I always appreciated. Simply determine if the player clicked while the cursor is over a particular color on either of the invisible background versions and you can return a response.
I hope you enjoyed this little look under the hood. Until next time!
I’ve been spending basically all of my time working on programming, fixing up some systems, and animations and props for the backgrounds.
What systems am I working on?
Cut scene dialog – if you’ve even accidentally clicked a past a box in a Sierra game, you know the frustration of knowing it’s gone for good and you might have missed vital information. I’ve put together a system that allows your to go forward and backward through the dialog if you miss anything.
Character Switching – Book 2 has two main characters, so the ability to switch between them in important. It’s not completely finished yet, but the basic structure is up and running just fine allowing for each character to hold their own items and retain their positions in their rooms.
Death Log – This one is actually proving to be quite tricky, but I think I’ve mostly got a handle on it. The difficultly comes with how Sierra games save and restore. When you restore, everything is set back to the previous save “exactly as it was,” so having the game “remember” what caused the death you are restoring from was an interesting challenge.
I ended up with the idea of writing variables related deaths to an external file, then reading those variables back into the game when the player restores. Sounds easy enough, but there’s more to it I won’t get into now. The good news is, that the system now works generally as it should and is incorporated into the menubar for easy access (many thanks to the help of more skilled programmers guiding me at the SCI Programming Community forums).
The basic structure of the new battle system is now in place and the first (training) battle is complete. Future enemies will build on the foundation that’s already been established, but having the skeleton constructed now will make all the rest from here much easier to flesh out.
Props and animations
A big focus for me right now is getting things playable. A lot of backgrounds and animation work has been done and now it’s time to get some of them up and running!
Book 1 Update
Most of the work on the Book 1 Update has been done by Karl Dupéré-Richer at this point, although I have done been updating it bit by bit as his new artwork comes in and have started a log of fixes and bugs to fix for the updated release.
That being said, Karl has shifted his focus from this project to another for the time being. He has put together a few sketches for updates of a few interiors in the game and they look gorgeous already!
Besides this, there is nothing new to share concerning the Book 1 update, as my main focus is the completion of Book 2.
2021 was a great year for the development of Betrayed Alliance, and 2022 is going to be even better!
There will be a playable demo of Book 2 at some point this year
With Kickstarter funds, we’ll be getting some music for the game
Book 1 will be getting a facelift and musical rework
I’ve taken a break from working on background artwork (spending only 1 day a week on them) as a lot of my time has been on getting rooms in the game in a playable state with interaction, dialog, system programming, and a lot of tweaking animations (both artistically and programming-wise). I’m hesitant to show much of that work as it’s more spoiler-sensitive than posting a screenshot of a background.
That said, here’s a video I did make of the last Background I worked on:
But I’m not the only one who’s been hard at work. Karl Dupéré-Richer has been working like a machine updating many of the Backgrounds for Book 1, and in some cases completely overhauling them. Here’s a sampling:
I’m in awe of his work (particularly the architecture!) No doubt he’s sharpened a number of those skills with his work on The Amazing Fix, a game where you tidy up, declutter and repair a Victorian mansion. The goal is to put each object in its place – A variation of a classic hidden object game.
Here’s to 2022! I hope all you can make it great. I know I will try to do so myself! I also hope to have more I can share next update and look forward to sharing not just details, but something to play (but I’m nor predicting dates for that)
The Kickstarter has been successfully funded (and actually was so one the first day, which was a huge relief to my nerves!)
We’ve also funded our one (and only) stretch goal – to update some of the artwork of Book 1 and overhaul the music to give it the same treatment as Book 2 will have. This goal will be completed only after work on Book 2 has ended, as I didn’t want the stretch goal to impede the original Kickstarter project.
Whether or not I should’ve put this in the “The Bad” category will be the subject of the future. But the Kickstarter has 2 primary goals:
To help fund the hiring of a musician (Brandon Blume)
To help fund the creation of physical game manuals
Full disclosure, I do not have stretch goals. If there was something I wanted to put in the game, it wouldn’t be tied to a conditional stretch goal. Any funds above the KS goal would be used to bolster development costs.
Here’s a preview of the music Brandon is preparing for the game:
Brandon’s goal is to re-orchestrate the soundtrack so that whatever the preferred playback mode that is desired by the player will be available to them, whether it’s the single-tone PC Speaker, the Tri-tone Tandy 3 on up to General Midi and the Roland MT-32. He knows it’ll be a lot of work, but he’s got the passion and the skill, so hopefully the Kickstarter is successful in this regard.
While putting together the Kickstarter was a big goal in the last few months, so is getting assets done, especially those necessary for a demo that I’m hoping will be ready sometime around March of 2022.
Here’s a few newer backgrounds:
Animations and Coding:
In addition to artwork assets, I’ve also been wiring up animations and some basic inputs. This requires a bit of coding, positioning of characters and props when you enter a room or make an action. While that sounds simple enough, it takes time, especially to get the animations running at proper speeds and proper placements, but overall the process is going well.
Project work has taken a hit while getting the Kickstarter up and running, which I’m sure is a common experience. While it will help the timeline of completion in the long run (as I won’t have to compose the music myself – in a perhaps subpar way) it is taking a toll on the here-and-now progress.
Game completion date
As we get closer to 2022 and with the Kickstarter live, I want to assess the completion date goal. At the beginning of the project, I aimed at the end of 2022. When I look at all the work that has been accomplished I am happy and amazed at all the assets I’ve put together in the last two years, but also a bit staggered by the work that still needs to be completed.
I work slow. I’m consistent, but slow. I do this in my limited free time and while it is for me a happy retreat from the stresses of the day, I only have a limited time to do it. I have a full time job and 3 young children.
Bottom line, the 2022 timeline to completion I think is too ambitious. If the scope of the game was about the same as book 1, I think it’d be possible, but as it is, I think the end of 2023 is more realistic.
Again, especially with a Kickstarter and people pledging their hard-earned money, I want to be as transparent as possible.
Want to see something really ugly? Here’s the Kickstarter Project video (and my face! Oof!)
Until December, have a great and adventurous month!
I love making these old-school-style games that many people are nostalgic for, but it takes a lot of work! But that doesn’t bother me, because for me it’s fun and actually a nice relaxing break from “real life.”
That being said, I have lots of ideas for more games in the future! After Betrayed Alliance Book 2 I want to take a short break from finishing that series to make a shorter Adventure Game called “A Night at Snake’s Tail Tavern” which I want to be a bit of a mix of Colonel’s Bequest and Leisure Suit Larry. I know, an odd mix, but I’m loving the ideas I have for it so far.
I also would really like to eventually try my hand at a “Space” style game, but that would be after finished Betrayed Alliance Book 3 and closing the chapter on that series.
Future plans are nice, of course, but all of this takes a ton of time and effort for a guy with a full-time teaching gig and 3 small kids.
Bottom line, if seeing games like these being made is something you like, I’d love your support! Thanks!