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:
Darkness and Doom
10 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)
11 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
12 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!
8-Bit Shopping, Skins, & the NPC Matrix
about 1 year ago
– Fri, Sep 04, 2020 at 07:02:16 PM
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
Grab a drink and enjoy today's "way to deep" progress update on Dungeons & DoomKnights. Lots to talk about and not sure where to start so, how about.......
We have a working shopping system!!!
Want to buy this house for 99 gold coins?
I cannot think of an NES game that actually allowed me to buy a house. And it is not a time-share! (Also, it does not require membership, microcurrency, or a DLC... XD)
A super big thanks to Dale Coop for coding this awesome feature. It was the last major feature the game needed. We were torn on exactly how to display the shops. Dale had the really clever idea of working into the dialog boxes. It is really versatile, so shop keepers can now sell things like keys, information, or dragons that they may happen to be holding hostage.
Skin(s) in the game!
Remember in my last Dungeons & DoomKnights progress post where I showed you a screenshot of our game's memory banks?
You know, how the memory banks were all full.
Well, except for 2 unused banks....
Which I did not think we could use.
Oh, I was so wrong XD
WE ARE USING THEM NOW! AWWWWW YEAH!
But it is "HOW" we are using it that is interesting
While I was writing you the last post, I wrote that line about how we had those two sorta-unused banks. I popped over to discord and asked some of my fellow NESMakers if it would be possible to use those semi-empty banks to hold alternative "skins" for the monsters. They all gave me a funny look and said, "of course you can... but it will be a bit of a programming nightmare from where you are at."
Dale Coop overhears the conversation and says changing everything to work would be "easy for him", but we would have to do the graphics a different way. I told him the graphics part would be really "easy for me"..... There was a moment of silence. O_O Then we did it.
"Double the monsters, double the fun!"
OK, it is not REALLY double the monsters. But instead of just making monsters different colors, we can also change the art. Every monster can have an "alternate skin." Do we really have time to draw alternate art for every monster in the game? Probably not EVERY monster. But this will help a lot with different boss fights. Especially if you remember the feature we added in the previous update that allows monsters to have different attack and defense per screen. Not to mention the AI selector we made too.
Before the Frost Lich and the Pryo lich had to use the same body and face. Not any more XD.
The best part is, we can also use this for NPCs!
Which brings us to a related, but slightly more complicated topic...
The NPC Matrix
Of all the things needed to finish this game... I NEVER expected this part to be the hardest.
It is done now.
No one will ever know how brain-breaking this was.
Except for you, if you are still reading.
Which you are, otherwise you would not know I typed this.
Which is why you are my favorite person.
Thanks for being you.
We have a bunch of NPCs in the game. But our engine was only designed for 64 total game objects (monsters, npcs, items).
More so, many NPCs need to be on the screen along with other NPCs at the same time.
And NPCs need to be specific colors (remember, the NES has a very limited shared palette)
Adding "alternate skins" doubled the number of NPCs we could add... but compounded the problem because switching skin banks is "all or nothing."
So this is the story of...
"3D thinking in a 2D Game"
The first part was not eating up 20+ monster slots with NPCs.
So I jammed 4 NPCs into a single monster. Piggybacking off the system that already exists, I got a little sneaky. Depending on which way the monster is facing, it looks like a different NPC.
So now we get 12 monsters for the cost of just 3!
"But wait, there is more!"
Because we have those alternate skin banks too!
(3 monsters x 4 NPCs each x 2 skins = 24)
So we can have 24 NPCs for the cost of just 3!
I had already built an AI selector, which can change the behavior of a monster depending on which spawn spot I place it in.
But there is a huge limitation to this...
Because of how this works, you can only have one NPC from column 1, one from column 2, and so on...
So I created a matrix and started figuring it out.
(With handwriting like this, how did I make it past 1st grade?)
Then, after I got my draft done, I went to work re-grouping them based on the colors they use.
Town is by far the most crowded place. Things like making sure Yulgar was green, and Serenity and Twig were yellow, etc. The rest of the game got easier.
Finally, everything started to fall in place.
We also changed some of the NPCs.... old school AdventureQuest Worlds fans will probably enjoy seeing a returning character-- with one of my favorite video game jokes of all time. Although, I think it was actually removed from AQWorlds when the intro was re-written.
If we were doing this on modern technology, it would never have even been a thought. *draw graphic... stick in game!* But this is one of the challenges in making a legit retro game that is... hindsight being 20/20 really fulfilling.
Hope you enjoyed this update. Thank you for your encouragement and support of Dungeons & DoomKnights!
If you need me, I will be burning the midnight oil to ship you the bizarrest and most ambitious NES games ever made by the end of the year!
Chaos, Snow, and why you should ALWAYS jump down spooky wells!
about 1 year ago
– Sat, Aug 08, 2020 at 12:12:53 AM
Chaos, Snow, and why you should ALWAYS jump down spooky wells!
Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,
Hope this 8-Bit screenshot-laced game dev progress post finds you well. I have been making crazy good progress on the game. The goal is still to finish Dungeons & DoomKnights, release the final ROM to you for testing, and then ship the physical cart & merch to you before the end of the year.
I just finished a huge work sprint, and wanted to share screenshots and story with you before diving into my Dungeons & DoomKnights development weekend.
Entrance to the Chaos Labyrinth
Far too early in the game, you will stumble upon this place of tentacle filled horrors. This is the new entrance. It was surprisingly tough blending the green forest into this purple and eyeball filled area. The final result is nice. It takes place over three screens with an increasing number of tentacles.
The labyrinth itself requires the Magical Warp ability which you will have to find.
8-Bit Real Estate Broker
Once the game is ready for you to test, there is ONE question you need to ask yourself. Are you in the market for a house made out of pixels? Just north of town, this beautiful two room, no bath, luxury home build just for a hero like you. It is a steal for only 99 gold. Featuring a killer view of the DoomKnight castle and easy access to town, it is the perfect place to take a rest in between battling the evil undead. What is inside? Great question. No one knows. no one has opened the door since the last owner disappeared.
There is SNOW place like home...
You will find the entrance to an ice cave northeast of town. It will take you here, to the Frozen North... land under the control of the Frost Lich. Most higher level areas have a tiny preview so you can peek at them before you have the skill required explore the full area. There will also be an character there to give you a hint, so you know what you need to find.
As per the long standing tradition of NES games, expect snow colored versions of familiar enemies in this snowy area. You know, Frostzards, Ice Skeletons, and Snow Dragons. Because we filled up our memory banks to the brim and ran out of space for more monsters a LOOOOONG time ago! XD
See for yourself.
This is Shiru's NES Space Checker tool.
$14 Contains ALL of the code that runs the game. See that 0K free? Nearly empty. SCARY! Every byte left is a precious diamond O_O
$1C Contains all of the monster and character stuff! (AI, Animation, Data... it is also near empty. We are tapped.)
$13 Monster Art
$15 More Monster Art!
What are all of the those other bars?
Great question! The top row are the maps, When the top row is looking near-solid green, the game is done. Like, done, done. Getting closer! Those two that are empty can be used for more graphics. But we do not have much code left to make them do anything. Unless we just used those two banks for alternate "skins"-- that could re-skinned the monsters in the game. I have been making so much progress that I am not going to let myself get side tracked onto low priority stuff like this... but there are some super comical things we could do with this XD #AlwaysThinking
Here is what has been added since the last update (Thanks Dale Coop!)
Monster Difficulty! Monster health, attack power, and defense can now be modified on a screen by screen basis.
Night Vision Skill - Who needs candles or torches when you can simply see in the dark!
Unable to Break Block Sound - If you attempt to break a stone, vampire block, sarcoughagus, tentacle, or other breakable object but do not have the skill, it now makes a sound.
Monster immune to your damage sound - If a Monster's defense is so high that you are unable to hurt it, a special sound now plays.
"Well-come to your doom!"
Throughout Dungeons & DoomKnights you will encounter the occassional well. If you see one, there is a 100% chance you will be able to jump down it. Not sure why... maybe it was my fascination with the movie "The Ring", or that one episode of the TV Show "Lassie" where the boy fell down a well and the dog warned someone about it... but just between you and I, every well in the game has a purpose. It is your solemn duty to jump down every one of these things you find. Normally to comical adventure XD
"All is well that ends well."
On that subject, and talking personally for a moment... the year of 2020 is really a test of our character. We cannot control what happens out there in the world, but we can control our thoughts and actions. I feel we all deserve some sort of "I made it through 2020" achievement badge at the end of the year. The good news is we already made it past half of the way there. Good job! Keep going.