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:

You should read this one.
over 1 year ago – Fri, Mar 27, 2020 at 02:56:53 AM

NOTE: In the next post, we can talk about Konami Codes, Heavy Metal remixes of the 8-bit sound track, and the entertaining glitch which makes it possible to swing your axe while transformed into something else. We can easily fix it, although it is surprisingly fun. That is for us to talk about another day though.

When we added jump attack... we forgot to disable the attack when you transform XD

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayer,

I hope this message finds you and your family well.

Real talk. These are the challenging times that require you to tap deeper into your full inner hero. Never surrender to dread. Do whatever you need to do, and keep pushing through. 

Recently, every company I have ever given an email to has written to tell me how they were handling the pandemic.  Also, a lot of the Kickstarters I backed wrote to tell me why this was going to delay their project's ship date.

So, I first off I wanted to let you know....

The current situation is not going to affect Dungeons & DoomKnights ship date at all.

Because we are already behind schedule >_> ...and that is on me. #Honesty #NoExcuses 

I really appreciate you giving me the extra time needed to make this the best game I have ever made. 

The project is in good shape. As you know, we already ordered and received all of the NES carts & blank circuit boards. So once this game is fully complete and tested, we have everything we need to ship. 

Originally, I started writing a super happy & upbeat post about all of the positive stuff that was happening. And, truthfully, there are a lot of positive things we could focus on and talk about. But as I typed it felt slightly saccharine...  so I hit select all and then pressed delete. Decided it would be better to write you this right now. 

Because maybe, outside of any of this project stuff, you are feeling the way I am right now. 

And we should be talking about what to do about that instead.

You are probably one of those incredible people who mastered life and have total confidence right now. So this next part is for the rest of us. 

What do you do when things get "BAD"? What do we do when the sense of overwhelm, exhaustion, and fear consume us?

First... we pick each other up. 

Because things ARE going to get better. 

Second... you need to make a choice. Because we may not be able to control what happens, but we can $%#! well determine how we react to it.

Look...

  • Whatever you obsess on... becomes your focus.
  • Your focus... determines your actions.
  • Your actions... determine your future.

If you made the mistake that I have been making, and have been filling your head with all the horrifying news and paralyzing yourself into not doing anything-- maybe it is time to change the channel. You can get all the news you need from skimming the headlines once or twice a day. 

Instead, you can fill that time to learning, researching, training, helping others, and planning for WHEN times get good. 

Transparently, that is exactly what I started doing.

The stress is not just in our head.. it is on our bodies too. 

Be sure to sleep and get some exercise however you can. Our bodies need a little extra help clearing out all that stress (cortisol) so we can function normally. I never understood quite how badly until after I went for a short run this week. 

For a while, I felt like I had stared at Medussa and turned to stone. 

I just was not doing anything. For example, writing to you has been on my priority list for over two weeks. But today I actually did it. And a bunch of other things on my list. 

Tiny actions can kick off momentum.

Taking ANY action... will immediately help you feel better. (My first action was to clean my desk) 

Third... have a Routine for your day. 

This is vital.

So many people feel like, "I have no idea what I should be doing!" 

A routine fixes this. It gives you that important feeling of control over your life. 

If you do not already have a routine, write up one. 

Here is mine.

  • 7:00am-9:00am Wake up (1 glass of water, 50 jumping jacks, 20 push ups, 20 sit-ups w/ kids, then coffee and skim news headlines)
  • 9:00am Sit at computer and begin work day (all my tasks are written on paper)
  • 11:30am AdventureQuest 3D Team Meeting
  • 12:30pm Force myself to eat something at my desk... more coffee
  • 6:30pm Dinner with Family
  • 7:00-8:30 Train my kids (Since I cannot go to martial arts, I teach them now-- which doubles as a work out)
  • 8:30pm Shower
  • 9:00pm Back to work... (this is where we are right now as I write this to you)
  • 11:30pm + = My time. (Watching Picard) until Zzzzz

Do I actually follow this exactly every day?

Heck no!

But that simple list answers the question "what SHOULD I be doing right now?" 

It would not matter if I scheduled 9am to noon for video games. (and when I do want to play a game, I do actually write it down planner and schedule it)

Having a routine really, really helps. 

But, "what if I just don't feel like doing... anything?"

Yeah. I hit that low. 

In fact, that is why I am writing this to you right now. 

Several of my team members are reading this part in horror wonder what I am going to say. Because I got hit bad and just sorta shut down for a bit.

And that is OK... 

My Martial Arts school has a rule.

When you are fighting... it is OK to take one step back. It is also OK to take two steps back. But after two steps back, you next move better be lunge forward swinging!

There is no one-size-fits all solution for climbing out of the pit of despair.

But here are some helpful hacks that worked for me.

  • Stress drains your body & mind of vitamins. Eat healthy stuff to replenish it (Google-fu)
  • Get in the Sunlight (Make some Vitamin D)
  • Just read the News Headlines (Only do it once or twice a day)
  • Write down your routine
  • Take a tiny action... let the momentum happen
  • Remember those times that were so tough but you pulled through. Cause that confidence will serve you like a champion now.

So what was it that ultimately worked for me?

Taking a tiny action.

I used this trick.

I tell myself I am just going to do something for 2 minutes.

Because most tasks are so big and complicated. If I tell myself I will just do it for 2 minutes it gets me started. 

...and hour later I will suddenly realize I am neck deep in doing amazing things. #BestLifeHackEver

You probably knew most or all of this. Maybe it helped to hear it again. Maybe it was just nice knowing that there are others feeling and going through the same things you are right now. 

I sincerely hope the things in this post are useful to you. 

Do not just read them. Take action. 

As Bruce Lee said, "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is specifically your own"

Battle on!

Artix (Adam) 














Jump attack!
over 1 year ago – Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 11:00:24 PM

Dungeons & DoomKnights Intro Demo available on BackerKit

You asked for it, you get it... JUMP ATTACK!

Greetings and salutations 8-Bit Undead Slayers,

Thank you for the amazing feedback on the Dungeons & DoomKnights Demo Intro ROM. We got a lot of requests for one specific feature. Our 6502 assembly language special agent, Dale Coop, brewed up some coffee and got to it. This .GIF is from today!  

Jump attack! Work in progress... but working :D

Jump Attack

It feels really good. Clarion is editing the pixel art tonight to tighten up the art. We had to do some extra optimization on our sprite sheet to get the room for it-- but thankfully the treasure chest was symmetrical, letting us chop it in half, giving us the extra 8x16 block of pixels we were short XD

New found space indicated with hastefully drawn smiley face :D

Artix Sprite Sheet

D&DK Sprite Sheet #1: Hero

If you were to peek into the NES's memory (which you can 100% do if you are using any of the emulators I recommended) this is what the upper left part of the graphics memory would look like. 

Each of those little yellow boxes is 8x8 pixels. They can be combined together in different ways to make your character do... all the things the character can do. Run, attack, jump, sail on chairboard, cast spells, turn into a bat, get a new special power, use a magical reflect shield, pull a lever, and see potion/gold/spirit pickups and also contains the icons for the skills on your hud. 

If you have a keen eye, you might spy a few remaining places we can squeeze a few more sprites. (I see 5)

SoundFX & Music

Jongaar & I dug into soundFX issues today. In the current version of the demo we use the Key Pickup sound... everywhere O_O. This was due to a glitch causing the last note of our sounds to hang forever...  piercing our ears with high pitched monotone doom XD

We work in a little Discord server and send files back and forth. Increasing the version number with each attempt. Famitracker is a program that makes 8-bit chiptune music for the NES. Jongar exports them to text files (.txt) -- this is a screenshot from today's chat, LOL!

24 versions of the SoundFX later, we have it mostly working. Mostly. 

WARNING! Do not eat the wall meat.

Darkovia.... and the Vampire Queen's Castle

This week I have went back to working on the Vampire castle. If you are a backer, you got to check out the first version of the boss fight with Safiria the Vampire Queen. Now that we have jump attacks, there are a few things we absolutely MUST add. I am a little tempted to convert most of the vampire castle to be platformer now-- to make it more true to second half of its Zeldavania name sake. The smart thing to do would be to cleverly blend it. I still need to add the little boot icon (Jump skill!) as your special attack button when you are on platformer screens. Currently, it is possible to use your special skills on platformer skills... using the UP + Special Attack button combo which can also be found in one of the two games this was inspired by. 

Thank you for the Intro Demo Testing!

I would like to thank everyone who helped test the intro demo. Thank you so much for the public and private feedback! If you have not played it yet, head to BackerKit and grab it along with your other digital rewards. We have been keeping a big list of everyone's findings and are actively working on the fixes and improvements. 

Shout out to super tester Benjamin H.

Want to give extra special kudos to Benjamin H. who managed to jump the mathematically impossible (or so we thought) jump to get the axe in that cave room XD. Ben, your videos and feedback have helped so much-- thank you!

See you all in the next update. 

Battle on!

Artix

P.S. A bunch of posts ago, I mentioned there was something in all recent versions of the game that no one found yet. The first player to find it and publicly post it gets a special title here in our secret order of undead slayers. >_> Going to have to read back through those old posts to see what it was though, lol. 

Backer Only! Intro Demo for Dungeons & DoomKnights (and Breaking Benjamin battle concert!?)
over 1 year ago – Tue, Feb 18, 2020 at 10:08:12 PM

Dungeons & DoomKnights Intro Demo for Kickstarter Backers!

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayer,

The secret order of undead slayers is entrusting you with vital mission. Defeat the DoomKnight, Sepulchure. His horde of skeletal minions have been assaulting the land. He has been spotted in the graveyard, entering a small dungeon. He does not seem to have many of his troops with him. This is your shot... 

Go to BackerKit and download the playable ROM of the intro

Breaking Benjamin Battle Concert in AdventureQuest 3D & AdventureQuest Worlds

Breaking Benjamin Battle Concert!

Today just keeps getting better. The band Breaking Benjamin is playing non-stop shows in AdventureQuest 3D and AdventureQuest Worlds right now. After you finish checking out the demo, unsheath those 8-Bit backer rewards and join us at the show. 

https://www.artix.com/breakingbenjamin


Get the Dungeons & DoomKnights Intro ROM!

Help us test the beginning of the game. I just posted a special playable ROM of the intro on BackerKit for you. 

Go to BackerKit and download the playable ROM of the intro

What is a ROM?

It is a single file which contains the entire game. Or, in our case, contains the intro. You can play a ROM file with an emulator. My favorite emulator is FCEUX (http://www.fceux.com) because it supports the type of saving we use in our game. My second choice is MESEN (https://mesen.ca/) . Use an Android device? Give Panda.NES a try... my friend Gil loves it. Download software at your own risk. I recommend these three because I have used them, but as always, be careful downloading software from the internet. 

Dungeons & DoomKnights Dmeo Title Screen

Is this an actual 8-Bit NES Game?

Sure is! This game runs on the actual hardware... and we test it on real NES hardware regularly. While most of us will be testing the ROM on an emulator, those of you who have advanced equipment can also help us test out the save feature on your devices. 

Will you defeat the DoomKnight? Or become another undead minion...

What should I expect in this demo?

This 1st Dungeons & DoomKnights intro demo is not final. Dialog, maps, monsters, and items will change based on your feedback. But you will get to test and see...

  • Cutscenes
  • Transitioning between Adventure and 2D Platformer
  • Power ups
  • Save Feature
  • 1st skill "Daimyo the Undead Slaying Pomeranian"
  • Levers, Puzzle, Monster Locked Rooms, and NPCs
  • Music
  • 1st Major Boss Fight

The Rules with a Backer-Only ROM

This ROM is intended for you awesome Kickstarter backer eyes only. Needless to say, it is not to be shared, copied, or sold. The harsh reality is that this is the internet... so if you see something bad going on, let us know and we will unleash the ninjas. 

Can I Stream/Review/Etc this?

Of course. Just be sure to clearly state that this is a DEMO of the intro, not the final game. I feel this demo captures the spirit of the project. Hope you really love it. (Hope you love the full finished game 9001% more)

Are there any Known Bugs & Issues?

We have been running into SoundFX problems. This is why So MANY of the sounds have temporarily been replaced with the "key" sound. In case you wonder why you hear that one so much XD. Also, jumping from cutscene to cutscene has caused some problems-- so we removed any instances where that was happening. Early feedback indicated that we should make it possible to attack while jumping on the 2D platformer screens-- this may be a big tricky, but we will look into it. 

Overall, we have fixed most of the major bugs. Try really hard to break it though, OK?

Where should I report a bug?

You are so helpful! Thank you. You can report a bug right here as a comment on this post. What would be extremely helpful would be the exact room you were in, what happened, and how we might be able to recreate the bug. 

Good luck Undead Slayer....

When I was little, there were gaming moments I will never forget. In this demo, I tip my hat/helm to some of those times I treasured most. Maybe it will spark a memory of joy for you too.

Battle on!

Artix

P.S. Dale Coop is visiting us from France this week! He is the 6502 Assembly Language Guru who has been helping with our game. Will post stories and photos 

P.P.S. Be sure to check out the Breaking Benjamin Battle Concert.... you can see the video trailer for the show at the top of this page  https://www.Artix.com/breakingbenjamin

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!!!!!!!