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:

Photos! The Carts & Boards just started arriving at our lab....
over 1 year ago – Wed, Nov 27, 2019 at 01:37:52 AM

Photos! The Carts & Boards just started arriving...

Greetings Undead Slayer,

I love this post. Because this is the post that will be positively remembered as the one where this game project definitively shifted in the minds of backers from "IF" to "WHEN"!

Gray Carts

Gray Carts!

We just received all of our gray cartridges for Dungeons & DoomKnights.

That is a lot of carts!

If you ordered a Gray cart... one of these is yours XD

Twilly & Zorbak open this one to reveal....

72 Pin Circuit Boards & Flashers

In this photo, we see the soul of your cartridge... the legendary 72 pin boards which will hold the game. Mapper 30 boards with 512K of storage each and they will allow your NES to save your progress. 

>_> Hey, that is my desk!

... and I have never gazed upon my desk with such extreme joy :D 

This shipment also included a few flashers to program the boards with. 

Gold Carts

Gold Carts

You may recall the previous posts where we obtained the golden carts for the collectors edition. The physical part of this project has gone extremely smooth. I am so grateful to Infinite NES Lives for their hard work and quality.


A glorious glimpse behind the scenes

We only have one more shipment of boards coming... then we will have all of the complicated bits in one place! 

We do not expect assembling these to be easy. But we have a small army of devs, a good number of flashers, and plenty of extra parts.  

This is my favorite part about this process. When we originally made this photo, we created it by using two of my favorite NES games and photoshopping our game's cart art on it. The next time we create this photo... I will get to hold two, real, 100% working Dungeons & DoomKnights carts. 

As you may already know, I am very passionate about the creative process. I have built a lot of video games, action figures, plush, armor shirts, and interesting things... including a lot of one-of-a-kind oddities (Remember that A-B-Z book I made for Warlic's Daughter's 2nd Birthday? "i is for integer!"). Never... not once... has it been easy. I am sure you 100% understand what I mean when I say taking an idea that is in your head and turning it into a real thing takes relentless persistence. Because you must push through challenges, negativity, and a never ending stream of outta-no-where problems (how does the universe even come up with all of them!?)... and keep going until you reach your ultimate goal. Every single big thing we do requires this.

To the truly committed, it is never a matter of "IF"... is always a matter of "WHEN."

With the carts on my desk as a daily inspiration, we are in an all out assault to complete Dungeons and DoomKnights and send the BETA ROM to you if you would like to help test. We will need the help. Because we will only get once chance to flash those boards with a 100% complete, bug-free, undead-filled NES game!

See you in the next update post.

Battle on!

Artix

P.S. Those carts & boards should look pretty!

P.P.S. It is Thanksging, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Be sure to check out all the releases & stuff we have going on in our games at Artix.com & HeroMart.com

Dungeons & DoomKnights featured in Dev Cart Magazine!
over 1 year ago – Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 01:24:16 AM

Woah! Our 8-Bit game was just featured in Dev Cart Magazine!

Dungeons & DoomKnights, our 8-Bit NES game, was just featured in issue #4 of Dev Cart Magazine! This is such an honor.

Wait... we are in the magazine twice!

This issue also covers the NESMaker Byte-Off competition!  So technically, we are in this issue  twice... because our submission "Artix: Knight of the Living Dead" was in the ByteOff section too.  A lot of my friends from the NESMaker community have screenshots of their game submissions featured in there. Way to go guys!

Carts & Boards on route!

I got a shipping notification today that our gray carts & half of our blank boards should be arriving tomorrow. 

Thank you again

I just want to say, sincerely, from the bottom of my heart.... thank you for allowing me to build Dungeons & DoomKnights for the NES. Words can not express the joy this project has brought in my life. I am so excited and eager for the day when you sit down to play it. 

Battle on!

Artix

www.Artix.com

"Neo, the M-ARTIX has you!"
over 1 year ago – Sat, Nov 09, 2019 at 02:01:32 AM

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayer,

If you are like me, there is something you have been wondering for a while now. How many times can a pixel artist re-draw our 16x32 pixel main character? The answer might surprise you. And with your help... maybe we can get him to stop O_O

Do you remember the gag below from when we started this project together?

Well, while I was per-occupied with building our levers and new code, our pixel artist, Clarion, just... kept... going....

"This is not even my ultimate form!"

>_> Which I am assuming is the Michelin Man by the looks of the one on the far right 

Honestly, I was so proud and impressed by Clarion's unrelenting dedication. We had a lot of back and forth... ultimately arriving at this fusion-ha of the best of both worlds. 

The thicker armor, especially on the legs, really feels right. It is so true to the original art. But no one will ever really appreciate how much effort went into the placement of every pixel...

For example... these are 4 DIFFERENT versions!

These are actually 4 different versions

When I first got this image, I could not actually tell them apart. Then I noticed the subtle differences in the waist and neck-plate. It is insane the level of detail he went into.

He also did a new version of Daimyo... but after this animated GIF was taken, I fed him a lot of treats and his belly returned to normal size. 

I know a few of our slayers are wondering, "Why not have all of the armors and let you upgrade as you go?" Which, would be AWESOME if we could do that. But our character texture atlas is already packed to the brim. 

Wanna see what it looks like?

Dungeons & DoomKnights Hero Sprite Sheet

Our NES characters are made of 8x8 pixel bits which we can flip horizontally and vertically. This is what you would actually see in memory if you used your emulator's PPU viewer to peek at the graphics memory. 

Wanna see what that looks like too?

The PPU Viewer in the Emulator FCEUX

I know some of you are experts at this stuff. But for those who are super curious, it is neat to see. 

Here we have our hero standing outside the gates to the Vampire Castle. We can use the PPU Viewer (PPU = Picture Processing Unit) to see what is in memory. Yup, that little square contains ALL of the graphics that the NES can grab from when you are playing on a screen. 

Since we are looking under the hood, want to talk about new features?

FEATURE UPDATE!

It has been a little while since we last talked. We have some exciting new stuff working. Mostly because of Dale Coops help. Our flow is... I get some grand new idea and try coding it. As a result the entire game ends up broken, and then Dale Coop uses his wizard powers to magically fix everything and make it even better.  

  • Levers - You pull them. Stuff happens. Puzzles in-game got 60%+ more better-er!
  • Platformer Mechanics (Physics fixes) - This Zeldavania switches the game on you whenever it feels like it. 
  • New Map Move System - To make Dungeons & DoomKnights work more like AQWorlds & DragonFable (behind the scenes that is), we inverted the way warp pads work. This was done both for my santity, and to add the ability to make new types of sneaky labyrinths. 
  • Re-usable Cutscenes -  There is EXTREMELY limited space in this game. So, I hacked a way to re-use dialog screens and save some space. 
  • Return to Last Map  - The re-unusable cutscenes caused a problem which was fixed by adding a way to warp back to the last screen and position you came from. Which, gave us another tool to create terrible puzzles with XD
  • Multi-NPCs? - I am not even sure what you call this. We are limited to 64 monsters / npcs in the game. Well, we WERE.... I found a sneaky way to hide multiple NPCs and Monsters into a single monster. This also let me do things like have a mutli-part snake monster where the head and body and tail are visually different. 
  • Damage & Defense - This was added a while ago, but the game now supports increasing weapon damage, and the monsters have a defense value. I still need to add a unique sound that indicates you are hitting a monster who is not taking damage because their defense is too high. 
  • Faster & Longer Axe Swing - Been tweaking and improving the regular axe attack... it now attacks farther and faster. It is fine to spam lesser monsters back into their graves. Smarter monsters using the AI thingy I made will have ways of dealing with that. 
  • 6 types of Breakable Objects - Not sure if I mentioned this in a previous release, but you can now upgrade your axe with the ability to break different types of blocks, statues, and other objects. 
  • Save System - Finally tested this on a cart and it works perfectly. You will be able to save your characters progress on the card just like that, uh... other game that starts with a Z. If you are playing a ROM, I *highly* suggest using the FCEUX Emulator because I think that is currently the only emulator that lets you save Dungeons and DoomKnights progress. 

CARTS & BOARDS UPDATE!

We are scheduled to get our first (of two) shipments of boards here at the lab next week. Really looking forward to sending you a picture of them. Mostly because seeing them instills that ultimate level of confidence. 

Finally....

Alice in Chains!

ALICE IN CHAINS!?

The band?

Yes, Alice in Chains the Band O_O 

We are doing a Battle Concert with them in my other games. You should unsheathe those 8-bit items that came with your Dungeons & DoomKnights pledge and hop in this limited time mosh pit while you can. Available for 3 weeks only. 

Alice in Chains Battle Concert

Hop in game and play, or check out the trailer video I made at Https://www.Artix.com/AIC

Battle on!

Artix & the 8-Bit Team

The Story Cast of Dungeons & DoomKnights
over 1 year ago – Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 01:04:39 AM

*You hear the rapid clicking of Dungeons & DoomKnight's pixel artists*

Introducing the main story cast of Dungeons & DoomKnights!

Greetings and salutations 8-Bit Undead Slayers,

Hope you had an awesome weekend! We had some killer breakthroughs on the code side-- especially with the new the character dialog scenes. Our horrifyingly Frankenstein'd code base now has the ability to display about 64 of these dialog screens. O_O We will not have that many though. 

With so little graphics space, we had to carefully choose which of the characters were vital to the story-- so they could get bigger characters for these screens.

Want to meet them?

Artix, the Paladin

Backstory: Haunted all of his life by the evil undead, the young Artix is taken in and reluctantly trained by the Order of Paladins. Upon passing the last of their trails he returns to find his home town destroyed. Raided by an army of the dead, there is not a single soul to be found. But there is a note... and it has his name on it.

As the game begins, the hero of the story stands on the edge of a cliff with the DoomKnight's undead flying dragon castle looming in the background... (I think this type of starting screen is legally required for 80's video games)

Sepulchure, the DoomKnight
 Once, he was the King's greatest champion and closest friend. Now, he is the cursed DoomKnight, Sepulchure. His talking sword manipulates him towards its goal of washing our world clean in a wave of darkness. With the ability to command skeletons, zombies, liches, death knights, and greater undead, he possesses the power to succeed.

Gravelyn, the Princess of Doom

Her entire life, she has been raised in secret by the undead. It is possible she thinks she is undead herself. She calls the DoomKnight, Sepulchure, by another title... "Father".  Very few outside of the undead flying castle's walls even know she exists-- and for good reason. She may be her Father's only weakness.

NOTE: Gravelyn was introduced in the video game AdventureQuest Worlds and quickly became one of its most popular (and sometimes most controversial) characters. The events in Dungeons & DoomKnights take place prior to the invasion where the other heroes of our world first learned of her existence.

Daimyo, Undead Slaying Pomeranian

Once a generation, a slayer is born!  A "chosen one" born as the ultimate weapon to hunt and slay the evil undead. This time 'round... it was an 8lb Pomeranian. "Arf! Arf!"

Moglins!

Moglins are magical forest creatures. Born under a special moon, each has a unique power and color. Above is Twilly, the red Moglin. His power is to heal. But thanks to the magic of NES color palette shifting, that could potentially be any Moglin! You will want to know about these three:

Twilly (The Red Moglin) - Friendly, optimistic, has the power to heal.

Zorbak (The Blue Moglin) - 100% Ebil, has necromantic powers.

Twig (The Yellow Moglin) - Lil' bit crazy. Likes Fish & Ice Cream, hugs.

DEATH

Ever get a "dead pixel" on your Monitor? Yup, that's the guy. DEATH is also known as the Grim Reaper, the Reaper of Souls, the Angel of Death, and sometimes Bob. From his realm in the underworld, he knows far more about our world than anyone else. You will have a run in with DEATH one way, or another, during your adventures...

If Dungeons & DoomKnights had a narrator, it would be DEATH.

MORE CHARACTERS

You will meet many other strange and unusual characters during your Dungeons & DoomKnights adventure. But the ones shown higher above get the full size character portraits :D

BONUS STORY: Surprise Birthday Party

Dale Coop, our 6502 Assembly language guru, had a major birthday this week! But how do you throw a surprise party for someone who lives on the other side of the world? We secretly created an NES game parody of his favorite show, Twin Peaks. We posted the ROM file in chat with the message, "Dale Coop, when you wake up and get your coffee can you look at this ASAP? It is time sensitive!" He really thought it was an emergency. XD Never expected it! Thought you would enjoy hearing the story. Happy Birthday Dale Coop :D

See you in the next update.

Battle on!

Artix & the 8-Bit Team

 

DoomKnight Art, Cart Production, and Updated Schedule
over 1 year ago – Mon, Oct 14, 2019 at 01:28:48 AM

Dungeons & DoomKnights

Greetings 8-Bit Undead Slayer,

Hope you are doing well. Have some new things to share with you today. What do you think of these new Dungeons & DoomKnight's dialog screens?  These graphics are HUUUUUUUUGE on the NES, so we cannot have too many characters. We must pick and choose wisely.

Carts & Boards in Production

I paid the super scary & extremely large invoice $$$ on Friday! O_O The NES boards and carts for Dungeons and DoomKnights are now in production. (Wooohooo!) 

Woah, woah.... wait. How is that possible?

"Um, Artix, last time I checked you are staying up until 5am every weekend adding insane new features that no sane person even considered requesting. I mean, is it true you guys snuck a platformer into the middle of the game? The game's not even finished yet. How is that possible you're already producing the carts?

We used to make Flash games, now we... Flash games!?

Great question! Glad you asked. (And yes to the platformer thing). We originally slated to create the hardware now, in October. We did not want to lose our production window, so we are getting ALL of the boards and carts produced now. They are all going to be sent to us along with a bunch of ROM flashers because.... yup, we will be flashing your Dungeons & DoomKnights cart right here at the lab! (Pretty good odds your cart will be tested on NES I grew up playing.) 

Hindsight being 20/20, I should have titled that last section "Putting the cart before the horse" for maximum comedy.

Which is right here sitting next to me...

Moglin, skull, and my wife's old TV from Trinidad sold separately XD.  OMG, that TV is so old. Pulled it out of storage to test what Dungeons & DoomKnights would look like on a real tube TV.

Dungeons & DoomKnights cover in GB colors

Updated Production Schedule

Thank you for allowing me the time to make this game the best it can be. (Or the worst it can be, depending on how you feel about bad puns and retro game gags XD) 

  • Digital ROM (Beta Version) - December, 2019
  • Digital ROM (Release Candidate) - January, 2020
  • Physical Carts Ship & Digital ROM (Official) - February, 2020
  • CHAOS ROM (It will be infamous) - 2020
Gravelyn, daughter of the DoomKnight.

Dev Diary: "The smell of pumpkin-spice surrounds me..."

On Saturday, I went to this awesome used book store with a little coffee shop in it. Fired up my laptop for some Dungeons & DoomKnights map creation. It is October. My favorite time of the year. I live in Florida (USA). They weather is warm (like living in an oven, on the sun, and someone turned on the heater) all year around. So the only way we know the season changed to Fall, is when all the coffee shops start selling pumpkin spice lattes XD. 

If you are a creative person too, then you know that sometimes inspiration just strikes-- and you have to go for it. My goal at the coffee shop was to be working on the intro maps. But at 3am the night before while wrapping up work, I created the graphic of Gravelyn above. Let me rephrase that: I "re-created" her. Gravelyn is a popular character from AdventureQuest Worlds. Starting with fan-favorite poster art of her by Dioz, I was fiddling to see if I could create a 46 pixels tall version-- while making sure it had style and you could still recognize who she is. I usually work in Photoshop, & Asesprite, but early attempts were comical. If you would like a more detailed story of how these graphics are created please tell me-- because I would love to share it. Short version, a friend in the NESMaker chat suggested a retro art palette tool which led to making an entirely new process for creating 8-Bit versions of... anything! It is not completely automated. The final step is sending it to our pixel artist Clarion who cleans it up, adds detail and polish. 

After successfully making 8-Bit Gravelyn, I figured I would just use her on the "Win Screen" in the next boss fight challenge. But the entire time I was sitting in that bookstore... I was obsessing over how I could make cutscene dialogs like the ones in AQWorlds & AQ3D. Because, that would make the world feel so much more... personal. 

So, I continued working on it after getting home. And figured it out! Something about this lit a contagious spark in everyone that saw it. It suddenly felt like "An AE Game". Hope you love it too. 

Let me know what you think!

Battle on!

Artix & the 8-Bit Dugeons & DoomKnights Team