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:
Horrifying new 8-Bit Monsters & Discord Testing Server!
7 months ago
– Sun, Dec 06, 2020 at 11:14:34 PM
Horrifying New 8-Bit Monsters & Discord Testing Server
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers!
It is a skull crushingly awesome week for Dungeons & DoomKnights. Clarion and I have been on a roll. We have been in crunch mode, up every night working on D&DK till 1 to 4am. We have new monsters, new areas, better music, and we just opened a Discord server that you can join if you are a backer who wants to help test! (The official invitation link will be in the backer-only post which immediately follows this one.) The first tests are going to be some super basic monster tests. Because we added a bunch of new monsters and played musical chairs with all of the monster banks-- need to make sure the basic stuff is still working. Read on....
New Monsters & Monster Art
Shadow Lord (Updated art)
Skull Serpent (New Monster)
Seed Spitter (New Monster)
Undead Archer (New Monster)
Undead Mage (New Monster)
Necromancer (New Art)
Hand (New Is it right... or left? XD)
Spider (New Monster)
Bouncing Skull (New Monster)
Chompers the chompy Skull (New Monster)
Big Bones Collector (New Monster)
"Flame on!" Skull (New Monster)
Frogard (New art!)
Death (New art!)
Zombie (Updated art & animation)
Lich (New Casting art frame)
Old vs New skeleton
We added and improved a bunch of the game's monsters. The new skeletons are sooooo much better than our previous ones! We did more than that...
Crunching Monsters into Memory Banks
The NES has a super tiny about of memory for Graphics. At least, compared to today's video game systems. That image above is our total space for monsters at a single time. In this "Undead Pack" you can see the skeleton, undead knight, necromancer, flaming skull, and some fireballs and giant skulls. Of course, this image was blown up. Here is the actual size...
I honestly find squeezing the monsters into these sheets to be really fun. But it is very challenging determining which monsters will be grouped together. The Necromancer and Skeleton need to be on the same sheet, because the Necromancer summons skeletons. Now their death crawl out of the ground looks more intentional.
There are two types of skeletons. The ones that crawl up out of the ground, and the sort that just sorta lurch around. It also makes sense to pair them with the Undead Knight. An Undead Knight mini-boss and a few minion skeletons makes a lot of sense. However, it is not possible to have the monsters from this sheet on the screen at the same time as something located on another sheet... for example: the undead archer, chicken cow, dragon, or lich.
With the "still relatively new" alt-banks feature, we now have roughly twice the amount of space for monster graphics. So Clarion remade death to occupy the same huge dimensions as the Lich.
"If only we could exclusively create the dark parts of death with Dead Pixels"
Rebuilding the Graphics banks (We need to test this!)
I do not want to get too technical here, but over the past two week, I organized, optimized, and re-built all of the graphic sheets. (Sheets, tilesets, texture atlases... whatever you prefer to call them.) Which means, I had to rebuild all of the animations too. Which was a great opportunity to free up some animation space (we were pretty much out) by removing animations that were either too big or less important than an entire other monster. The end result is really good. But oh boy do we need to test it.
We need to test every monster... every direction... every attack. Think I will make a bunch of mini-ROMs with one monster each for our 1st test. Because I broke all of the current monster groups, I will need to re-add them back to all of the maps. That is probably a good thing too. With the new monsters, some might naturally fit better.
The music sounds sooooo much better! Jongaar spent 13-ish hours re-mastering the chip tunes for Dungeons & DoomKnights (The actual game music, not the heavy metal remixes). Then we spent more time together figuring out how to squeeze one extra song onto the bank. What we know now, versus what we knew at the beginning of this project is like night and day. He has a little clean up left on two songs, then we are going to be doing a final lock down on our music and SoundFX.
What is the new song? We have officially added the song "ChronoKnight" to Dungeons and DoomKnights! Since we already did a heavy metal remix for it, it will go nicely with your rewards. It is almost my favorite boss fight music... ever.... O_O EVER!
Remember how I said we ran out of space in our code bank?
Dale Coop freed us up ~3K of code space!!! The morning after I made the last post, I woke up to a freshly posted patch file from Dale Coop. I thought we were tapped on bank switching, but he did some clever magic freeing us up plenty of space for more scope creep.... <_< Do not worry, we will just use this for essential monster stuff and emergencies. It is time to finish this project.
Shadow Vision now only affects the underworld (because certain areas in the overworld were turning dark when you did not have the skill XD)
The mysterious skull floating on the title screen has been exorcised!
The shoot at player script now uses proper direction (before those Undead Archers were shooting arrows in silly directions.)
The player will always face right when entering a cutscene. (before, it was possible to make your character face the wrong direction.)
Axe no longer teleports to random places when you die.
Corrupted Tile after beating a boss monster has been fixed (Bank Switching error)
Modified collision so the player will not get stuck if they move down onto a screen that has exactly the player's height worth of space.
Fixed my mislabeled AI code which was causing monsters to do completely wrong things O_O
Fixed the connection between the intro and Greenguard forest... the dialog now only plays once, and allows you to freely go back and forth between the dungeon and the forest.
And, of course... Dale Coop freed up ~3K of code bank space!
Other notable news
Today is Clarion's birthday! (Happy birthday)
The Ultimately Gilby and his wife just discovered they are now expecting Player 3! (Congrats guys)
Jongaar and I recorded some video at the lab on Thursday... we got a super unusual request from TheNew8Bit Heroes. When we find out what it is used for... I will link you!
Join us on the testing server!
Immediately after this one, there will be a backer-only message with an invite to our testing server. The goal of this server is to test small blocks of the game, one piece at a time and work out the bugs. Step #1 will be verifying backers, which we will have to do manually. Thank you in advance for your patience. Clarion offered to handle this responsibility, so you can message him when you join the server.
Your Invitation to the Dungeons & DoomKnights Discrod Server (For game tests)
7 months ago
– Sun, Dec 06, 2020 at 10:16:29 PM
This post is for backers only. Please visit Kickstarter.com and log in to read.
Darkness and Doom
7 months ago
– Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 05:05:42 PM
DARKNESS & DOOM
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
The past few weeks of Dungeons & DoomKnights development can be summed up by two words... "MORE SKULLS!"
Sure, there are bright and sunny forests... but the game gets dark. Real dark. So dark that the only way to see would be if you had a torch, or a candle, or perhaps a light spell? Unfortunately, those things are nowhere to be found. Instead, you will have to slay a Shadow Creature and steal his eyes... acquiring his shadow vision.
The "shadow vision" skill was supposed to be a trivial task, but.. Hahaha... O_O I will never say any part of this game project is trivial ever again. The skill is now working correctly (most of the time) and feels really good to acquire.
Gravelyn (Pronounced "Grave-Lynn") is the DoomKnight's daughter. She will be an unusual ally through this 8-bit game. Always appearing in the places you need to go... she will help guide you through D&DK.
Gravelyn is also going to be a big part of 2021 for Artix Entertainment. She prominently featured on the upcoming 2121 calendar poster. Earlier this year I wrote a comic book for her story and one of our artists has been illustrating it. (Of course, we have to ship this game before we do our next Kickstarter...)
Her relationship with her father, the DoomKnight Sepulchure (Pronounced "Sepp - Paul - Chur") is the typical. Young girl coming of age, having to deal with her demanding undead DoomKnight dad who wants to take over the world with his legions of the doomed. It was not easy, being raised by the dead within the cold, skull-filled walls of the dragon skeleton fortress. I wonder if she realizes she is different from all of the others there... that, you know, she has a pulse.
You will get to explore her "home sweet home" in 8-Bit....
It really does make everything better...
The game looks and feels far more "Dungeons and DoomKnights"-like.
The art just keeps getting better... (mostly thanks to "MORE SKULLS!") I love the way the slime cave came out. It looks even better animated.
Bloopers, Bugs, & Behind the Scenes
The more the content comes together, the more the bugs start crawling out from under their hiding places. Crunch mode game dev time always feels like "One step forward, three steps back."
Take this "super special bug" from last night-- in the dark version of the slime cave....
"It is raining bottles of holy wasabi!"
I broke the Holy Wasabi skill when hijacking functionality from the Heal Spell for the slime spike spawner because I was running low on space... #naturally
Also, last night, after what would be too long of a story to tell here...
The Shadow Creature's projectile attacks suddenly started reflecting back at him after I completed an unrelated quest for no good reason at all! O_O
Worse yet... "HEY! Why are the lights on? The lights are supposed to be off during this fight!" XD
Trouble shooting bugs in 6502 Assembly Language is so tricky. Without the incredible help of Dale Coop we would be doomed. How he figures out what causes these bugs so fast is mind boggling.
Side story: Dale Coop and his amazing 8 year old NES Making son "SJ Games" have been making the news in France. They have interviews and appearances on TV, the newspaper, and their recent interview at Grand Festival gaming. Kudos guys!
If you have not checked out Kubo 3, you can get and play it on Dale's itch.io. https://dale-coop.itch.io/kubo-3-nes-game-by-sj-games . Given how much Dale has helped our game, I will never feel bad promoting all of the cool stuff his son makes for the rest of my life.
Meanwhile... back at Dungeons & DoomKnights...
Last night... I officially maxed out the code bank. O_O
Here is the latest screenshot from Shiru's Space Checker Tool. The green bar with the concerned face is the one you want to look at.
Important note: Running out of code space does not hurt making the game content, it just means we cannot add any new fancy-pants features. (Well, Dale Coop says we might be able to bank switch a few more things.... we are already doing a lot of bank switching.)
Happened while I was adding a universal "spawn slime, spikes, and stuff and drop it on the player while they are fighting monsters" feature. You saw something like this before in the Frost Lich boss test. But this is a universal one that will work across ALL of the different sprite sheets in the game. I hijacked some of the Heal skill to do it (longer story... but I thought it was super clever) and unintentionally removed the code responsible for restarting the game when you died. No problem! But when I added them both back in together.... POOF! O_O Out of space.
It is both good and bad.
I mean.. It pretty much rules out any more "feature creep!" LOL
The next thing you will hear me panic about is running out of room in our animation bank XD
New Necromancer Monster art...
Clarion went a bit overboard when he started drawing those "alternate skins" for monsters. He redid the base art of a bunch of them. I need to finish up my current tasks so I can input and set up all of the monsters.
Thank you for your unbelievable support and patience while I finish building Dungeons & DoomKnights.
I expected us to be neck deep in testing at this point. Everything is taking 10X longer than anticipated. We do need to get the testing started ASAP. The best strategy, and our current plan is to lock off regions of the game and thoroughly test them one at a time.
I would like to release the area that starts at the end of the intro and goes until you unlock town for backer-only testing as soon as all the known bugs are fixed and I finish putting the dialogs in and cleaning up the remaining screens.
Let us set a goal of doing the first test with the next update post in two weeks. That should be enough time to get everything ready including an official Discord server for any backers who wish to participate in the tests to meet at.
Happy Halloween! (and 35th anniversary update)
8 months ago
– Sat, Oct 31, 2020 at 09:48:47 PM
Happy Halloween 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
In today's special Halloween progress update, I would like to cover feedback on the box, the NES's 35 anniversary, appearing in Retro Format Magazine, Jongaar's 8-bit music improvements, the dialog box fix, our new team member, and at least one more reason why you should never leave your phone unlocked around a 4 year old. Let us get started!
Boxes and bits and carts and crits!
Thank you for your feedback about the Bitbox on the previous post. I always want to be experimental and interesting... but I heard loud and clear that the vast majority of backers want a "true to the era" style box. Rule #1: The Player is ALWAYS right. So I pulled a 180... and immediately hopped on the phone with one of the homebrew scenes top box makers. So please look forward to the classic retro style box.
Now, if you REALLY wanted one of those Bit Box ones, I will upload a downloadable that you can use with a Bit Box if you get one from their site. #QuickThinking
Happy 35th Birthday NES!
The world's monster iconic video game console just blew out 35 candles. Which means, no matter how behind schedule you thought Dungeons & DoomKnights was.. we are a bare minimum of 35 years late for this console XD. Go team!
Thank you for the back cover Retro Format magazine!
Incredible honored that Retro Format put our game on the back cover of the latest issue of their magazine. The retro community truly has some of the most genuine and amazing people in it. You should check out their new magazine at...
Our dungeons were taking far too long to build... so I am excited to introduce our new dungeon builder, FJ! He is a fellow NESMaker and Martial Artist who we have known through the community for a while. It was the quality and size of his ByteOff 2020 competition submission, Chaos Between Realms, that really caught our attention.
How crazy is it that his submission, Chaos Between Realms, and our small entry, ChronoKnight, appeared side in the latest issue of "CoolSh#t magazine" (I know.. that is literally the name of the magazine, I was so scared to type it in fear of filters O_O). Good magazine through.
So we kidnapped FJ to join us in finishing Dungeons & DoomKnights. Over the past few weeks we have worked together on the slime caves, darkness crypt, pyramid interiors, Frost Lich's Keep, and Tower of Magic. Currently we are working on the DoomKnight's castle leading up to the final boss sequence.
Here is an updated look at our memory banks...
Kudos and thank you again to Dale coop
Dale Coop, once again has been fixing some of the hardest and most obscure 6502 programming issues in the game. Moving water (palette cycling) was doing terrible things to our text boxes. Also, when we restored the tiles under the text boxes on rooms that had been completed (i.e. the doors had been opened on the house) more bad things would happen. Now it works perfectly.
Music Upgrade in Progress
Jongaar, who did our 8-bit chip tune sound track for Dungeons & DoomKnights, learned some new tricks. He has been going back and upgrading the songs in the game with them.
Across our games, our seasonal Halloween special event is called "Mogloween." Special areas, monsters, and challenges appear in the games for you to enjoy... and lots of candy. It is happening now in all of our weekly updated games and you are invited to join us. Including AdventureQuest 3D and AdventureQuest Worlds where you can bring your 8-bit D&DK items!
Thank you and see you in the next update post!
Have fun, be safe, and beware all of the caaaaandy.....
Boxing with the Evil Undead
9 months ago
– Sat, Oct 03, 2020 at 11:58:53 PM
Boxing with the Evil Undead
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
Happy October! It is officially the spookiest month of the year. (Extra spooky for me, given the Dungeons & DoomKnights production deadline O_O) A time of ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and the scent of Pumpkin spice fills the air. Everything from coffee to cars is suddenly available in Pumpkin spice. (Introducing new Pumpkinspice NES Carts! -- kidding.) In our last update we started talking about a more unique boxing for our undead-filled video game. Using my trusty printer, I whipped up a prototype to share with you.
Let's have a look!
"Covering your Axe"
I now have a growing collection of homebrew NES games. I have ordered many being made by friends from the community. It is nice receiving classic cardboard NES boxes. But they are notoriously flimsy and wear quickly. Some new NES games put an additional transparent plastic container around the box. Which is fine. But it makes it even harder to access your game. But then I saw that box that Mystic Origins came in...
It is awesome! This copy of Mystic Origins came in a solid black game shell created by Bitbox. It is closes super tight to protect the game, and even has an easy to access place built in for the manual. (or anything else that we can think to sneak in there.) I fell in love with the box.
It is more expensive than the typical cardboard box. Well, if you count in the extra things needed with the cardboard box (packing foam, extra plastic shell, sleeve) maybe it is not too bad. But the plastic Bitbox is better protection, easier to access, and you can display it upright on your shelf without it falling over...
Using this type of box, we would do two box cover variants.
Regular Edition - Similar to what is pictured (Not final)
Collector's Edition - A distinguishingly unique and special variant
Please let me know your thoughts, as we need to order the professional boxes for the game asap.
"Previously... On Dungeon's & Dev-Nights Z!"
The biggest win since our last update was the creation of "The Well". Inspired by one of my favorite gags from DragonFable. It starts when... our hero falls down ANOTHER well. But this adventure is special-- the way you play through it is something we cannot do in our multiplayer games. O_o
I worked 16 hours over a weekend on this, which will probably take you 6 minutes to play through. But 100% worth it.
To get this to work, Dale Coop coded a new way to travel between screens, and fixed a bunch of edge case issues.
Meanwhile, in the Pyramids...
"The Pumpkin-spice must flow!"
There are three Pyramids in D&DK's sandsea desert. Filled with mummies, sandsharks, and the heads of the "Un-fair-oh"s, you will unlock one of the most potentially game breaking skills in the game should you figure out how to unlock the final one.
This is the way the inside of a pyramid looks now. Resisting the urge to place triangles in tri-farce ways was challenging XD
Just outside of town there is a small wasabi farm. But a case of mad Chickencow disease has the place in chaos.
This "dungeon" is in the overworld. But most of my time right now is spent in the underworld. Very little room to cram in so many dungeons O_O
"What's wrong McFly? ...ChickenCow?"
I have been "re-building" the boss fights into their final(-ish) versions. This one works SO MUCH BETTER with the new monster spawning code. One of the tasks that has been "less fun" was going through the entire beginning of the game and updating/fixing it to work with all of our new code. What we have now is a lot better, but it did break all of the early stuff. So, currently making everything work smoothly again. Then, I think it time to start releasing some dungeons for testing!
The focus for a while now has been on the remaining game screens. The code portion of the game should be finished. We definitely would not want to mess with the core code any more at this point. Messing with the core code now is a bad idea XD
Dungeon & Game Testing
We are going to need A LOT of testing on Dungeons & DoomKnights. Unlike our online games, we cannot simply roll a fix patch live. I know some of you are patiently waiting for the full final game before you experience it. Which is fantastic. I also know some of you are already super testers and would love to be a part of helping us get this game ready to ship. We are going to need your help. In the past we had small ROMs of fights/areas-- which we will need to do to heavily test specific areas. We can block off areas, and pre-set the game so you spawn with exactly the right number of skills, hearts, and spirit energy for that location. It might be even better if we had a place to hang out, and a more organized place to post bugs, issues, and screenshots. If you have any ideas and recommendations, I would love to hear them. Also, let me know what you think about the box option at the top of this post!