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:

Dungeons & DoomKnights Intro, Global Game Jam 2020, and NESMaker Studio Tour!
over 1 year ago – Sat, Feb 08, 2020 at 01:35:41 AM

Dungeons & DoomKnights Intro, Global Game Jam 2020, and NESMaker Studio Tour!

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,

We crunched like CRAZY last week and made a physical NES cart of the Dungeons & DoomKnights intro before we left at 5pm on Friday last week.... O_O just in time to drive down to meet Joe Granato, star of the documentary The New 8-Bit Heroes (It is a must watch) at this NESMaker studio for the Global Game Jam 2020. Here is the story of that adventure!

... and also, get ready, very soon we will be posting the Dungeons & DoomKnights intro to BackerKit for you to play too!

"Holy old school TV Batman!"

What is the first thing Game Makers do when they get together? 

Play each others video games!

There were three major rooms in their studio. First was their film set. They recreated a room straight out of the late 1980s. Including that wicked old TV above. It was crazy seeing our game running on a legit old school NES hooked up to it.

The other rooms included a production room (video, music, programming.) and also a class room (for learning and group collaborations.)

It was a huge moment presenting my game project to a room of fellow creators and the guys who actually built the tools we actively use to develop it. 

You may remember from previous posts that I stated that our goal was for Dungeons & DoomKnights to earn their "official seal of approval."

Paladin vs DoomKnight in the Intro

The Dungeons & DoomKnights intro was a hit! Representing about 1/12th of the game, it is a fun experience that unlocks the first abilities and... well, you will see for yourself soon enough. After watching fellow game makers play, we have been making tweaks and fixing bugs.

Dage the Evil making some Pixel Art

Global Game Jam 2020

So, last weekend was a Global Game Jam. Which is a 48 hour-ish game making competition. Needless to say, I am a weeeee bit busy with the existing project to participate. Our true goal for going down was to get to know Joe & his team. I primarily worked on our game project while the others got to jam with the other devs there.

I was accompanied by Dage the Evil (Artist, above) . Jongaar (Musician, below), and fellow NESMaker TheUltimateGilby.

Jongaar

Jongaar making 8-bit Music in Famitracker

The Collector's edition of Dungeons & DoomKnights includes the full 8-Bit soundtrack. BUT... you will now ALSO be getting a metal remix version of each song!

 Jongaar just finished and sent them to me today. O_O I have not even heard the final tracks yet!

A lil' more evil...

Over the jam weekend, Dage also made a few more monsters and stuff for Dungeons & DoomKnights. Here is a grayscale protoype of a monster room. That ribcage in the middle opens up to reveal a heart that you need to hit. (You may remember an earlier version of this.)

Dueling Interviews!

I *think* I got to be the first NESMaker to get interviewed on the retro set in the studio. Joe asked me questions about our game and my inspirations. Then, right after, I put my phone right down on that old TV facing us and interviewed him back for 20 mins :D

Talking about his NES game, Mystic Origins

We plan to release both videos. Both should be a fun watch. His NES game project, Mystic Searches, is a MASSIVE project. It is based on his days as a young NES player. Even the world map is inspired & designed from a top down map of his childhood home. I got to play his game... It is really, really good!

The one thing our games share in common is they are both a little zelda-esque, but thank goodness we have some very huge design differences that separate them. While our D&DK project is deeply rooted in the 2D style of AdventureQuest Worlds, his has the qualities of Star Tropics and DDR!  XD. Another thing both projects have are they are behind schedule XD ...but seeing how hard he has been working on it, and the things he has already created is very inspiring. Better to not settle and take the time to make your dream game right. I respect that. A lot.

Also... I was a little surprised to notice he uses a lot of the same level design strategies that I have been using. I do not remember any games from the 80s doing some of the things you see in our games.

Here is my buddy, TheUltimateGilby, testing out his game, "Hazard", on one of the AVR test stations.

Thank you... and Victory!

It was an amazing and productive trip. Thank you for making this project, and all of these incredible memories possible.

Aidan (Age 5, NES Developer?)

One more story... Last Night

So, my son sneaks out of bed and joins yesterday's nightly Dungeons & DoomKnights work. He is learning how to read, and has been actually able to read our cutscene dialog. I took some video of him playing through the new intro-- and during it, he learned an important value of taking risks, failing, and keeping at... over and over...  until you ultimately win.

See, there is a cave in the intro. He was scared to jump because, "what if I fall?" I told him, "You have to try. Because not taking the jump 100% guarantees that you will fail." I do not think he was scared of falling in the game, but more so in falling in front of me. Perhaps we all feel that way sometimes... that others might think less of us, judge us, or laugh at us if we take risks and put ourselves out there. I leaned in and whispered, "What if the jump is actually impossible... and only by trying and failing will you ever learn for yourself the real way to win?"

I may not know you personally yet, and may not know what phase of life you are in...  but whatever you want in life, you gotta take that jump and go for it. Whether it is creating a dream project, asking out a girl, going to visit the guy who built the tools you use, or making a new friend. It is OK to fall. It is OK to fall hard. Because if you are really committed... and you get back up, try again and never give up... you will inevitably win. And when you do win, all of the times you fell, all of the people who laughed at you, all of those embarrassing moments will become your favorite part of your success story to tell.

Battle on!

Artix

P.S. A handful of bugs left to fix up and then will be posting the intro ROM to BackerKit for you to download

P.P.S. Dale Coop, our favorite special agent of 6502 Assembly Language is coming all the way from France to visit us here at the lab next week! (More stories to come :D)

"Skulls... skulls everywhere!"
over 1 year ago – Mon, Jan 27, 2020 at 02:05:02 AM

Dungons & DoomKnights switches between being an adventure game and a platformer... above is a platformer screen. 

Dungeons & DoomKnights Update

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,

Hope you had a good weekend. It is midnight on Sunday.... just wrapping up this week's work on Dungeons & DoomKnights. Thought this would be the perfect time to write you and let you know how much this week rocked! Pun intended since there was a lot of rock cave building going on this week.  LOTS of rock cave building O_O. Mostly skull themed rocks. It has become apparent that I design every room into a skull if possible. I am not saying I have a problem... but-- might have some sort of a problem.

"MORE SKULLS!"

In that screenshot above, I  really love how the cave background noise fills out the rest of the skull. "Super fancy naturally forming 8-bit skull cave structures." Some people while playing might not even notice all the skulls baked into the designs. The same way a lot of backers did not notice the skull on the ground in the Frost Lich fight. >_> ...or the other places I hid them. 

D&DK Intro ROM

Talking about backer tests, my primary goal has been completing and releasing the first part of the Dungeons & DoomKnights to you and the other awesome backers. This was a huge week towards making that happen. Think I set a new record on the number of hours worked on this game project in a single week. We got a lot of cool stuff working and most of the major bugs X_X eliminated. It is hard to talk about the best parts of what we got working without spoilers though. Because most of the things we did and fixed directly relate to the cutscenes & small surprises that make this game so much different than others in its category. Which is a very self-aware "Zeldavania" for the record. >_> Actually, I am pretty sure there are no other games in this particular category.  For a very good reason. Wait until you see how psychotic switching between adventure game and platformer without warning is... XD. If we were using Unity or a modern language, these things would be trivial. But the fact that we have this stuff working on the actual NES hardware... well, Woooohooo! 

If you find this game unique yet familiar, a little nostalgic, and it makes you laugh-- it will be an epic win

This week I will continue working on finishing the second half of the intro. Everything with this NES game project has taken dramatically longer than anticipated... so there is NO WAY on Earth I would say something stupid like, "I am aiming to finish and send the intro to you next weekend." >_> But you know that is exactly what I am trying to do.

(If you listen carefully, you can hear almost all of my teammates /facepalm-ing in unison)

Wish us luck!

Battle on!

Artix & the 8-Bit Dungeons & DoomKnights team

P.S. MORE SKULLS!!!!!!!

NEVER... do this...
over 1 year ago – Thu, Jan 16, 2020 at 12:09:26 AM

Just in case you, or any of our other friends here needed to hear it... 

Never Give Up!

Do not give up on the big things. Especially do not give up on the little things. Sometimes, we just gotta dig deep and give it that little extra push. 

Your friend,

Artix

P.S. This was an incredibly short update post :D Normally I send lots of screenshots.... ones that do not contain any spoilers. Which has been hard, because the best screenshots are always the ones from those "awesome moments" during game play. Instead I post things like prototype caves...

... which, I am excited to share because while Clarion using does our pixel art, I actually drew the stalactites and stalagmites! They connect and you can walk behind them sometimes. It looks really cool. Also drew the new door and pillars. Oh, and we finally decided on a final "save game" object...

...which is the book in this pic. Loosely modeled after the Book of Lore, which was modeled after the Evil Dead / Army of Darkness's Necronomicon-- I stuck a 'lil skull on the cover. When you play, you should pretend it talks to you. At least, that is what I see it doing in my head. 

Thanks to Dale Coop, we are now able to do cool things like this water effect. What is really happening, is one of the 4 background pallets is being continually rotated. 

I <3 this effect so much. 

We are going to use it a bunch. Also, if you have an eagle eye for pixel art, do not worry. I already fixed the water tile. 

Glisel: Artix, are you adding more "naturally forming" cave pillars?  

Artix: 8-Bit retro game nature is a mysterious and beautiful thing.   

Glisel: ...

Artix: They are just Stalagmites that rolled a 20 on charisma. 

Glisel: .............................

Last time we talked, I was nose-deep in the intro's boss fight. We uh, immediately ran into some horrific problems. First....

We filled up the bank that stores our animations.... O_O. *gulps*. "That's bad, M'kay?"

While I share this story, I will distract you with a piece of Pumpkin pie my beloved waifu made for me to fuel NES development.

It is gluten free.

So, previously I ran out of room for monsters. We only have room for 64 monsters and 16 player "thingies". Flexing my inner-hacker, I started packing multiple monsters together into one.... giving us the ability to have MORE than 64 monsters.  Not realizing that the 64 limit was put in place because it is not realistic to fit more than that in there animation-wise! LOL. 

Also... we have a lot of "HUGE" monsters. 

Well, huge from a 1985 video game console's perspective. 

So, the good news... is that game is since I cannot just sit there adding new things every night, I will actually have to finish the game now XD

But it does mean there are going to be a lot of things orphaned onto the "cutting room floor". Thankfully we can use those for the CHAOS ROM. 

Whatever it takes to make room for... THIS BAD GUY!

Clarion made A LOT of frames of animation for Sepulchure. Unfortunately, we will not be able to use all of them. 

You can create 8-Bit NES art in any graphics program. Photoshop, Asesprite, Pixel, MS Paint... 

This is the actual sprite sheet for the DoomKnight. 

I always assumed we would spent more time in these posts talking about the process of making and squeezing these things into the NES. 

But why is it RED, GREEN, and BLUE only?

Those colors work like paint masks in the NESMaker Tool. I have some strategies that I came up with for doing this that I would LOVE to share with you in a future post. 

But really want to talk to you about the actual Monster and BOSS Fights!

Because creating this fight, I had hit a serious problem.

If you played our previous Dungeons & DoomKnights tests, there was a sorta common strategy... which was, dodge a bunch, run in and hit the Boss, then run away. 

That was because we had to. But not any more!

Have you ever seen 6502 Assembly Language code before? (I know some of you have... and you guys, no making fun! I know I am just a hedge mage at this :)

O_O

So, this change (along with a few really huge fixes by Dale Coop to the engine) allows you to hit a monster for a certain amount of time. 

In short... you can now hit a monster 3 or 4 times before they go invulnerable and run away. 

Talking about beating up monsters. We needed a clear way for players to know if something would open up if you killed all of the monsters in the room. Dungeons & DoomKnights is mostly about exploring, gaining powers, and using them to unlocking even more areas and powers. 

So we added those little blocks with skulls on it. If you see those blocks... then you will know that killing all of the monsters in the room will cause it to open. 

We tried a lot of things... mostly trying to think of something more immersive. We needed something that was clear to see no matter if you were on a chaos map, an ice castle, a slime cave, or a magical forest. 

We also added a ton of new features & fixes....

  • JUMP animation! (You no longer look like one of the zombies with rigor mortis when you jump... it is very Belmont-esque)
  • Your weapon can now be "de-activated" by NPCs
  • Multiple hits added to monsters
  • Offloaded a little bit of code space... (every line counts!)
  • Levers can now turn on and off things

Here you can see my brave little play testers hard at work. Except.... 

THEY BROKE THE GAME!

I mean broke it bad. I had my editor up and... somehow they switched to the editor and hit some random keys. I do not even know HOW they broke the game as bad as they did. Took me an hour to find these "extra four zeroes" in one of the screen files:

/facepalm

When you talk about game development troubles... 3 year old hackers is not one of the things you normally think of XD

All fixed now.

Thank you

Hope you enjoyed this post. Actually, if you are one of the few who made it to here... you deserve some sort of special title :D 

If there is anything I have learned from video games, when you are encountering new and  increasingly tough challenges, you are DEFINITELY going the right way!

Happy New Year 8-Bit Undead Slayers!
over 1 year ago – Wed, Jan 01, 2020 at 12:53:25 AM

Happy New Year 8-Bit Undead Slayers!

On behalf of all of us working on Dungeons & DoomKnights, thank you for an incredible year. Get your retro controller bashing thumbs ready... 2020 is the year we finish and ship Dungeons & DoomKnights. Here is a sneak peak at the newly re-re-designed DoomKnight, Sepulchure!

The DoomKnight laughs at the idea that you will be able to beat him in single combat... but little does he know your controller had a turbo button. (Spoiler. It will not help)

Now... it is story time! 

The year in Review

As we bravely march onward into a new decade... let us first take a  moment to look at our video game making adventures together over the  last year.

https://www.artix.com/posts/happy_new_year_2020/

Battle on!

Artix & all of your friends here at the Secret Underground Lab

P.S. We have fireworks (well, technically invading party sneevils which explode into fireworks when you hit them) in AdventureQuest 3D along with a special gift you can pick up. Come on by and bring your 8-bit weapons & Daimyo. Second to fighting the evil undead... Daimyo loves fireworks. 

Our game in the Washington Post!? Also, timeline update.
over 1 year ago – Thu, Dec 12, 2019 at 02:03:58 AM

We were in the Washington Post!?

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayers,

Dungeons & DoomKnights got a mention in the Washington Post! It was an article on developers making new games for the original NES. Check it out for yourself... and pay close attention to their header image :D

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2019/11/28/nes-console-was-discontinued-these-developers-are-still-making-games-it/

Massive cheers that 3 screenshots from our game were used in their promo image. It fills my armor covered heart with joy seeing 8-Bit Gravelyn in a major news publication XD

Time Line Update

I hate following up such good news with some bad, but it is the second week of December and it is painfully apparent that it will not be possible to have a 100% full game ROM ready for you by the end of the Month :( 

Player: WHAT!? Noooooo! Why? I loved your plan of releasing the Beta ROM this year and shipping the carts in 2020 after everyone helped test it. 

Artix: Yeah, me too. 

Player: So what's the problem?

Artix: Not enough time left before New Years. We are making progress, but there is an overwhelming number of tasks to finish. Right now we are focusing on the early game experience. This combines core game play, dialog, power ups, save, and toggling between platformer and 2.5D walk around into a single release. I would like to take the rest of the month to finish and polish this early game experience, then post a ROM in January for you to play. 

See you in the next update post. 

Battle on!

Artix