DUNGEONS & DOOMKNIGHTS: An 8-bit AdventureQuest for the NES
Created by Artix Entertainment, LLC
Battle through a new 8-bit "zeldavania" game in the world of AdventureQuest. Available on a real NES Cartridge and emulators.
Latest Updates from Our Project:
Vacation... to 100% work on Dungeons & DoomKnights!
4 days ago
– Mon, May 03, 2021 at 01:18:19 AM
Vacation... to work 100% on Dungeons & DoomKnights!
Greetings and salutations 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
Feeling the unbearable pressure of our timeline, I just took an entire week off of my day work... to work 100% on Dungeons & DoomKnights.
Today is the end of that 11 day work sprint. (days 8 through 11 were the weekends on both ends.) Between you and I... it was really nice to be able to focus on just one thing. Up till now, I had been working on D&DK every night and on the weekends. But we needed a big push to move this to the finish line.
So I treated this past week like a game jam. The production results matter more than the hours put in... but Monday was a 12 work hour day and it set the pace for the sprint. I made a whole lotta D&DK progress. But nothing short of being done was going to really satisfy me.
The Vampire Castle, and its highly prized wall meat is now complete. Making the wall meat work required some re-coding.
Actually, we re-arranged a lot of stuff, including the monsters. We added a Vampire Lord monster. You will encounter him as the second mini-boss in the castle. He is a ranged fighter that hides behind his Vampire Knights and casts a small fireball spell at you. Although, you only have to hit him once. Then he turns into his bat form.
Once again, I want to give a huge shout out to the super testers in our D&DK Backer Discord server. We are now on ROM #169. It is insane how good they are at testing every tile, finding every bug, and exploiting the living heck out of new rooms XD. So if you see Caddeus, Ululat, QuincyDao, Animee, RelaxBleu, TechnicStudios, Jbyrd, Slajerek or the other regulars... be sure to give them a digital high five!
On the topic of bugs... Dale Coop fixed some new ones the testers found! Also some improvements.
New Feature: "Change screens when the last monster is defeated"
There are a few places in the game that warp you to a cutscene or the next part of the fight after all of the monsters in the room are defeated. It used to do this instantly.... Like, the second you hit the monster on your killing blow... before the monster even seemed to finish getting hit, "POOF!" you teleported. But we re-did the way monster death works so there is now a controllable delay. It feels sooooo much better.
The Large Projectile Bug
There was an edge case where.... Projectiles would literally get stuck if they hit the edge.
Monsters were secretly double dying when you defeated them resulting in some of the weird sparkles and monster summon issues. This has now been fixed!
The Pyramids of the Sandsea
There are three Pyramids in the Sandsea Desert. Rumor has it the secret to the undying Pharoah's eternal life is in the third one.
We wanted to do an Indiana Jones-style boulder experience... you know, you take something or pull a lever and then a boulder starts chasing you. It was so cool that we got a little carried away. Also...
I made an elevator!
This was probably my favorite moment working on this game! Now... we are NOT using bank switching. All our graphics banks are already full of stuff! So to pull this off, I had to get super clever....
I created this tile block and used palette rotation!
Yeah... the elevator effect is because I use this tile as the background. The red-green-blue colors are just paint masks. I can set them to be anything I want. In this case... I set them all to black! Except one. I make ONE the brown color. Then... I rotate the brown to each color. The end effect is it looks like the wall is going down.
The 1st Pyramid is officially my favorite dungeon in the game. It is... really unique. Because you do not reach the desert until after the 50% point of the game, it is really cool to have a new experience. The way skills & things unlock in the game is pretty satisfying.
The boss fight of the 3rd pyramid is pretty cool. I figured if you did all of the work to unlock it, you should be rewarded with a little treasure room and then go straight to the Boss Fight. Right now, the fight is too hard (even for me) so we will be playing around with that this week.
Squeezing that giant boulder into the desert monster sprite sheet was fun. Here you can see every sprite needed for the Sandshark, Mummy, Royal mummy, Pharaoh, Serpent Spirals, Scarabs, and the pieces of mummy-wrap that certain mummies will rip off themselves and chuck at you. I love Clarion's pixel art. The only monster bank I have left is the fire/chaos one.
The next ROM test will be for Pyramid #2 which will feature Boulder/Bat puzzles, and then the Fire Cave where you learn "Weapon Throw". I am pretty amped for the fight scene on dragon back.
Then, to complete Dungeons & DoomKnights we just need the Frost Castle and the Final DoomKnight dungeon.... (and a whole lotta polish.)
Interview with an 8-Bit Vampire
22 days ago
– Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 10:22:12 PM
Interview with an 8-Bit Vampire
Greetings and salutations 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
We have been making huge progress towards our goal of finishing and sending you the Beta Test Rom.
As I write you today's update, Dungeons & DoomKnight's overworld is explorable and full of monsters, we added a brand new song, our two big remaining bugs have been fixed, the invulnerability time after being hit has been significantly increased, and now we are neck-deep in finishing the interior of the Vampire Castle. A pretty good two weeks!
Read on for details...
The Vampire Castle
The Vampire Queen, Safiria, awaits you at the top. Between you and her... a castle full of vampires, ghouls, ghosts, bats, and savory wall meats.
When we attempted to interview Safiria the Vampire Queen, we received no comment. In fact, we have not heard back from a single reporter sent to interview her yet. Do not worry, we have plenty more journalists to send in.
This is what I am working on tonight as I write this update to you. Originally, the Vampire Castle was waaaaay too big. It ate up nearly a quarter of the total size of the underworld and was filled with redundant rooms. Which makes sense, it was one of the first dungeons ever made for Dungeons & DoomKnights. It is now a solid 33-ish screens of fang filled adventure with both adventure and platformer sections.
New Song "Frost Byte"
Jongaar created a new track called Frost Byte for our Frozen North area. It is a beautiful and fitting ear-worm that I cannot get out of my head. We finished up the Frost area last week, introducing a small sky jumping puzzle that unlocks the Mirror/Ice smash ability allowing you to access the Frost Lich's Castle.
"I am deeply amused by your commitment to making sure there's wall meat in this game, Artix." - Clarion, 2021
I realize we are on a deadline crunch here, but I am still tinkering with the best way to implement Wall Meat. Currently, it can replenish both your health and spirit energy... but it would be better if it actually hurt you until you acquired some sort of way to properly digest it. A sprinkle of holy wasabi might help it settle in your tummy better. Thoughts?
iFrames, or "Invulnerability frames" is the number of frames of animation your character is invulnerable after being hit. Based on feedback, we increased your iFrames... a lot. So standing inside a monster will no longer seem to insta-kill you. This also makes the heal skill more useful, because you can now heal faster than you can take damage. (Which, of course is balanced by your very limited pool of spirit energy.)
The 2 remaining major bugs have been fixed!
As of the last post, there were only two major bugs left in the game... thanks to the hard work of Dale Coop and an insane amount of testing by Caddeus and the other testers, I am excited to announce *knocks on wood* that both are now fixed!
#1 Graphics Memory Corruption Bug (Fixed!)
There was 5% chance that after you opened a door by killing monsters, that re-entering the room would cause a weird graphical glitch. This may sound like a small issue, but it was horrible when you encountered it. Also confusing since it could cause the door to look like it had closed again! What was the problem? Short answer: The code was taking too long to scan all of the tiles for the things that needed changed, and then change them. The solution? Dale Coop did his 6502 Assembly Language magic and rewrote the code that scanned for and changed tiles on a screen. Now it does everything in a single, super efficient pass.
#2 The Rock Smash Teleport Bug (Fixed!)
I often joke that "I am not allowed to code anymore" but after this bug, I was literally told to stop coding, O_O (...or at the least send any code changes over for review.) What happened? Well, I made some changes to "optimize" monster death. And... under certain situations, slaying a monster would silently mess with the wrong memory locations causing other things to break in completely baffling, unpredictable ways. Like... slaying a monster while running into a certain breakable block would cause you to randomly warp. This has now been fixed... likely solving some of the other weird things we have seen happen in the previous, uh, 100 test ROMs of the game XD (Achievement unlocked!)
Production, testing, & Shipping Schedule
My top goal is to finish and release Dungeon & DoomKnight's Beta Test ROM to you and the other amazing backers. Then, we need heavy testing before we green light a release candidate and start flashing the boards on your carts. We will only get one shot at making the carts, because the 1985 NES does not give us the ability to do a hotfix patch XD With the overworld looking pretty good, we are currently hard at work on finalizing the dungeons of the underworld. Our pixel artist, Clarion, has dived into actually working on setting up the screens with me which has been a huge help!
Oh, you can see how big the Vampire Castle used to be on this (officially out of date) map. Overworld is on the top, underworld is on the bottom.
Dungeons & Underworld Tasks
The underworld push includes the Vampire Castle, Tower of Magic, 3 Pyramids, Frost Lich's Castle, the small underworld part of the Chaos Labyrinth, and those "one off doors" which you will discover across the world.
We want to have the Vampire Castle up for backers testers on our Discord server by Thursday night.
The "No Joke", April 1st Dungeons & DoomKnights update!
about 1 month ago
– Wed, Mar 31, 2021 at 11:40:52 PM
The "No Joke", April 1st Dungeons & DoomKnights update!
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayer,
Our top goal was to get the overworld explorable from the start of the game, through each of the major areas, and to the DoomKnight's flying undead dragon fortress by April 1st....
Behold, the Dungeons & DoomKnight's overworld and underworld maps! Also, um, spoiler alert?
The top half is the overworld, and the bottom half is the current dungeons... although, just like the overlord did last month, the dungeons are about to get a major overhaul during the next 30 days.
After working on this so hard for so long, it feels so good nearly being able to walk all the way through the start of the game to the end. We are soooo close. We are adding a new song to the Frozen North and an upgrade to your axe that will let you break windows (or ice... close enough) which is required to access the Frost Lich's tower.
Meanwhile, a lot of the "backtrack shortcut" areas have been added. As you progress in the game, it gets easier and easier to return to previous areas using these bat/boat/teleport shortcuts.
For the past two weeks, the focus has been a frenzy of overworld work. But we have had some happy little discoveries and made other minor improvements too. We upgraded the art for our "Monster Locks". Clarion changed the perspective on them so they matched the angled view of our world better. It also sticks with our important persisting theme "MORE SKULLS!" We also changed the quick sand so it is very obvious when you will sink.
The Time Table & Testing Schedule
Hey Testers! We are ready to start rapid firing ROMS into our D&DK testing Discord server again. Our first goal is to do what we did to the intro and greenguard forest for the rest of the Overworld areas. I would like to dedicate the next week to that.Then, we will dive into the dungeons starting with the Vampire Castle.
Thank you, and Battle on!
I sincerely appreciate all of your support for the creation of our project. This game is... very weird. That is, it does not play like one game. True to the "Zeldavania" genre we tagged it with, Dungeons & DoomKnights is a chaotic mixture of unusual gameplay... laced with "bit"-sized humor and things that are special to you and the rest of our video game community. If nothing else... the finished game will be a very unique NES game! XD
Ebil Dread 3: Army of Dorkness
about 2 months ago
– Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 02:30:44 AM
Ebil Dread 3: Army of Dorkness
Greetings and Salutations 8-Bit Undead Slayer,
The push for our April 30th Dungeons & DoomKnights BETA ROM is on!
Here is the latest project progress update on your game. We updated our hud, added "levels", been updating and polishing our overworld, and thanks to the testers in the discord server, exterminated more bugs than a Starship Trooper with a vorpal rabbit. We were also featured in a new retro-magazine!
Let us get started...
We are closing in on the goal, but we still have a lot of wood to chop. Hopefully not the wood from the evil tree monsters in the SouthEast region of our game's world map.
There is an old man who lives there. Supposed to be some sort of Master Woodworker. Asked him if he could build me a boat. Said he only builds chairs. "Chairs?" I said, then asked him if they floated. He raised an eyebrow. I am sure everything will work out just fine.
Because... if you wish to travel to the Pyramids of the Sandsea desert, Ice Lich's Keep, or unlock the Labyrinth of Chaos, you are going to need to get over that water somehow.
Dungeon & DoomKnight's new hud makes it easy to see how much spirit energy you have. It now works exactly like health. Getting a spirit skull upgrade will increase your maximum spirit energy. Some skills had their spirit requirements reduced or eliminated as a result.
The new hud now prominently features your level. You will get a level each time you find and obtain a major powerup. Once you get past town and unlock the Guardian Tower, the true purpose of the levels will become obvious.
We were featured in the latest issue of CoolS#t Magazine. Thanks for the write up! Our game project was also featured in the upcoming titles section along with other retro game maker friends...
Fills my heart with joy... (and increases the pressure 9001%)
There is no one who wants to flash the game on these carts more than I do....
Periodically I test game versions on out the hardware... just to make sure the save feature works and nothing weird breaks.
It always surprises me how much smoother it plays on the actual hardware. Although the colors are totally different depending on which device you play on. I used a composite to HDMI converter here (got it for ~$15 on Amazon) and it shifted some of the colors.
As I post this, there are only two known bugs left in our game engine. (Do not worry, we will surely make more during the next month and a half.) The biggest outstanding one is the visual-only "memory corruption glitch". It happens ~1% of the time after you unlock a door. The other is our rock smash skill sometimes teleports you if you attack while being hit at the exact same time?
But we fixed and added a ton of things...
Daimyo can no longer shoot over water (nor fly)
The “Hey! Cannot collect all the spirit skulls on Pac-Person screen!” bug is fixed
Killing monsters in the sky no longer can cause rewards to fall forever
Fixed One-Way Tile bugs
Adding restore points along the way
New Music/SoundFX pass
Fixed the autotext forever bug
The "Slow monster sparkles" should now be fixed
Frogzards no longer get stage fright after being hit
Not sure which Monsters are new since our last update... but the Rock Golem is fun.
You can no longer kill the guardian dragon (although, man we should re-add that as a funny feature if we have room)
Semi-related... we fixed the animation of AdventureQuest 3D's 8-Bit Daimyo Pet too.
The players on the D&DK testing discord have been absolutely amazing. When new tests are available they dive and bug hunt with a vengeance. A week ago or so we did our first group live-stream while testing the forest North of town. Everyone was on voice, sharing their screen while they played. It was really good when everyone was moving at the same pace through the same screens. Once everyone ran off in different directions it collapsed into chaos and hilarity XD We have made some really good memories in that chat.
These guys are a little young for Discord, but they want to be considered a part of the testing crew too. While my normal schedule is to do my nightly work on D&DK right after they go to bed... sometimes I get the entire weekend to work and will test it and endlessly remind me to make the fixes faster... while I am making the fixes XD.
On the subject of kids... Dale Coop's son's game, Kubo 3, is on Evercade!
(Which also means after we ship our carts, we might be able to do a limited run of Famicom carts for those of you who wanted them too?)
I would also like to give a round of congratulations to FJ for winning 1st place in Best Narrative in the ByteOff 2020 contest for Chaos Between Realms. As you may recall, FJ joined our team to help assemble the dungeons and make some art... including these new killer trees.
A behind the scenes story... the evil tree monster was a must have boss for me. It goes back to my "roots". We have remade these trees 3 times, by three different artists. Well, good things come in trees! I am in absolute love with these new background tiles and decided to put the sneevil box fort area in what was in my original game design.
FJ also updated our NPCs as you may remember from a previous update. I <3 the pixel art.
8-Bit stuff looks really cool no matter how you display it
I pulled the projector that we used to use at conventions out of storage from the lab, and made some "real life" wallpaper...
This week I am focusing on the SouthWest region of the overworld.... Internally we call it the "Ebil Dread Forest".(Because it is an obvious spoof/homage to the movie that inspired and shaped my humor when I was little.) Because I have been putting old Bob Ross painting videos on in the background... every time I make an evil tree I say "And, we will just put an unhappy little tree right here..."
The scariest part of the last two days was deleting about 20 screens. Bob Ross would have called this a "bravery test." The map had a flow that was just not working and I wiped it and put down a better structure. Clarion spent the last two days cleaning the new screens up. It solidly solved the problem we had where there was a lot of confusion on what to do after obtaining the skill that lets you turn into a bat.
I want to have that area and the forest North of town cleaned up by Thursday morning and then start putting some ROMS up for everyone in the Discord. The next two highest priorities are the Vampire Castle interior and the South-middle of the overworld (which is now disconnected because of the other changes.) Getting the entire Overworld polished and locked down by the 1st puts us on target for our goal-- which leaves a month for anything remaining on dungeons and monsters.
Thank you. From here on out, we should do more frequent, smaller update posts.I truly appreciate your amazing support, patience, and encouragement for this 8-bit video game project.
Artix & the D&DK Team
P.S. Do not take investing advice from 8-bit NPCs unless you already have aquired the diamond hands skill. (I already overwrote this with real dialog in the game, but thought you might get a chuckle out of it.)
Hard Days & DoomKnights
2 months ago
– Sun, Mar 07, 2021 at 08:47:46 AM
Greetings and salutations friend,
I hope you are well. Apologies that I have not been able to write to you sooner.
If you follow me on social media, then you may already know my sad news.
I lost my Father three weeks ago. He was my mentor. We were very close. I took time to handle matters, focus on my Mother and the family, and then get my head back in the game.
Originally, I tried writing you this post that same week, on the 35th anniversary of Legend of Zelda. Hindsight being 20/20, it is probably a good thing that I waited so I could tell you the full story of how it ultimately went.
Because.... I went back to work on Dungeons & DoomKnights the following Wednesday with furious conviction.
I really want to thank Dale Coop, Clarion, and the team for jumping into the deep end of hyperproductivity with me that week. My guess is... they knew that burying myself in work is one of the ways I cope when things get rough. Easy to spot your real friends during the tough times.
Of course, the week after, I collapsed like a bad train wreck. (...as if anyone did not see that coming.)
I was overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, and just... unable to do anything. All of my projects from D&DK, to AQ3D, to AQW:Mobile felt like giant boulders I did not even want to try lifting. It was one of the least productive weeks of my life. I would open the project every day... but nothing was happening.
Everything fell behind.
I knew I had to do something to get out of this zombie-like rut. Once that voice in your head screams "Enough is enough!"-- you gotta do SOMETHING. And the best way to do a mental reboot is to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone. So I ran 2 miles in the woods with my son. Dage came over and we oil painted on canvas for the first time ever. I changed my caffeine source and added some vitamins.
I met with the productivity coach and updated the plan to get the project back on track.
Then, in a "why not!?" attempt at jump starting my productivity back to its previous level..... I invited all of the backers in the D&DK discord to participate in a voice chat where we all played, shared our screens and worked through some of the flow problems North of the Town of Battleon. (There is a truly great group of people in there who I enjoy seeing each night.)
But my aggressive, all-in push to have our Dungeons & DoomKnights BETA ROM ready for April 1st is not looking good.
(Although, I am not going to stop working towards it.)
Always being 100% transparent, April 30th is a more realistic date for a testable full-game BETA ROM based on the updated to-do schedule.
Once the BETA ROM passes your inspection, it will be ready to ship on the physical carts.
Thank you for allowing me to share what has been happening behind the scenes. Sometimes life just throws you a sucker punch when you are already down. But life is only 10% what happens to us. The other 90% is how we respond to it. I am going to complete Dungeons & DoomKnights as one of the most strange, unusual, dark, fun, and funny games that has ever run on an NES. I hope something in this story will be of value to you beyond this game project.
Battle on! Adam (Artix)
P.S. A lot has been added to the game since our last check in... I will make another port for you with all of the game-focused details later this week.