The battle continues…

Well another winter solstice passes and another new year dawns, and again I find myself being ever hopeful that this year is the one where the next release of War of the Solstice makes it out…

2014 saw some good steps on the engine side, and the framework was laid down for a completely new audio environment within the game…

There is still much to do before I’m ready for the next release, so I really hope that you can show continued patience, for which I am very grateful. I know that it has been a long while coming already…

One thing is clear, Midnight will be advancing in a couple of special unique ways 😉

For the moment, I’ve posted a couple of updated demos to get a feel for the progress

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Latest version demo (includes audio) – Jan 2015

New main menu screen in action

The demo from the latest version currently still under development

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Latest version feature list (still growing…)

The latest version currently still under development has the following new features already completed:-

Jan 30, 2015

  • Added new in-game fire object with procedural animation
  • Added post processing effect: Light scattering or “God rays”
  • Added grass effects in forests and on plains
  • Added terrain to shadow map (but quite an expensive effect!)
  • Finalised main menu screen with audio and fire effect
  • Finalised post processing effect: Depth-of-field
  • Adjusted terrain height map to give some more variation in certain places
  • Full screen support is now more solid and random crashes have stopped
  • Increased the resolution of some engine textures for better 1920 x 1080 HD quality
  • Finalised strategy to in-game handling of music and effects using FMod Studio Sound System

May 31, 2014

  • Assets are now loaded in a separate thread to enable more effective startup sequence
  • New loading screen based on high level map view of midnight
  • Tightened up campaign name selection to avoid overwriting duplicate existing campaign data
  • Fixed a couple of nasty bugs which were causing memory leaks (with help from WinDbg!)
  • Fixed errors in dynamic vertex buffer locking which have been there from the early days
  • Improved transition from current scene colouring to fogged scene colouring in proximity to the tower of doom
  • Improved lighting of snowflakes – they now glimmer in the moonlight at night
  • Splitted out the Log Viewer into a separate app, which can be run alongside the game in windowed mode for battle statistics analysis
  • Integration of FMod Studio Sound System library in preparation for further audio content
  • Upgraded engine to June 2010 version of the DirectX9 SDK

Dec 27, 2012

  • Removal of TME library dependency (due to further development on the library being abandoned)
  • Adjusted main scene colours and font colours to be more in line with the original ZXSpectrum version
  • Replaced main game font
  • Reduced the default draw distance to 6 (same as the original) – the new shader techniques allow this to look acceptable now
  • Addition of debug overlay for ongoing development support
  • Addition of new layouts ready for DDR support
  • Addition of depth-of-field to main view, distant objects get progressively out of focus
  • Addition of volumetric mist algorithm ready for DDR support
  • Addition of volumetric lighting algorithm
  • Addition of media playback module for DX9 builds – capable of playing .avi and .mp3 files amongst others
  • Finished feature to fade out banners and flags beyond a fixed distance, they now fade to generic type banners
  • Fixed bug causing “choppy” sound effects – DirectSound didn’t like the buffer volume/pan being adjusted every game scan
  • Recoded map explorer screen, now using main rendering methods
  • Recoded moon rendering, the part in shadow now fades into the background, as you see in reality
  • Recoded star system handling and rendering efficiency
  • Recoded snow handling and rendering efficiency
  • Recoded water representation for lakes and seas
  • Recoded terrain rendering to be more efficient (baked terrain transitions into pre-loaded texture map)
  • Recoded lighting algorithms – eg introduction of per-pixel lighting
  • Recoded all in game menus based on DXUT GUI format (no GDI menus required any more)
  • Recoded all fixed function pipeline rendering methods to use shaders requiring SM3.0 support
  • Recoded all text handling to UNICODE format, to be compatible with the DXUT Extension libraries
  • Simplified the calling structure to a lot of functions within the game engine
  • Underlying DirectX integration recoded based on latest SDK framework (has simplified the integration considerably)
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New loading screen artwork

I put together a new loading screen centred around an aerial view over the map of midnight… you can see Xajorkith in the bottom right corner, and Ushgarak rising in the far distance at the top.

I was keen to keep the orange/yellow colouring of the box front and also incorporate the main figureheads in some way as well.

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Integration of FMod Sound System

In order to expand the audio possibilities of the engine I have now integrated it with the FMOD Sound System which is free for non-commercial use.

The FMOD Studio Interface and Application Programmer’s API make it much easier to manage the integration of sound effects and music to the engine which is an area that I wish to expand in the near future…

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Lost and found

C&VG News article from Feb 1985 edition

Did you ever lose something only to stumble across it again after many many years ? Well that happened to me this week.

Around 10 years ago, I mislaid what was an important item in my midnight collection – a copy of the Computer & Video Games magazine from 1985 which had in it a news item about Doomdark’s Revenge.

The images in that news item were the gateway to the icemark for me, they weren’t the traditional loading screenshot that you see in many articles about DDR, they were different scenes taken during the day and night unusually, and fired up the expanse of the icemark in my imagination.

I kept a very close eye on the magazine for many years, but then when I pulled it down from the loft one day, after a few weeks it went missing, probably thrown out with the trash as the cover had become detached 🙂

With todays internet archives, I have many times scanned back for the magazine and article which for some reason I remembered being in a xmas issue of a crash magazine. But of course I could never find such article as it was in C&VG! I don’t know why, but this week it suddenly dawned on me that perhaps it wasn’t in the Crash collection after all. C&VG came to my mind as the next possible contender. And lo and behold, after about 10 mins searching, there it was in the Feb 1985 issue on P.17, and although I struggled to remember the exact format and content of the article, I knew immediately once I saw those pictures that it was the one.

So one of those lost items is now resolved in my mind…

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Archive: My development of “Eye of the Moon” moves to the Atari ST and then Amiga A500+ in 1993



This is an uncompleted project from the 16-bit era of the early 90’s, where I set about attempting to make the 3rd part of the trilogy. It was the mid ground between my very early work on the ZX Spectrum midnight map editor in the mid 80’s, and the current WOTS development work on the PC platform in the 00’s and 10’s.

Whilst tidying up the loft recently, I came across the 20 year old 3.5″ disks from my Amiga A500+, and thought it would be good to get some details of what I had got up to onto the site along with the more recent developments. You can read below for some of the difficulties I had in getting the details onto here !

Go to the Eye of the Moon overview page

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Latest version demo (includes audio) – Dec 2012

The demo from the latest version currently still under development

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Web site moved to WordPress format

The frozen empire website has been moved to the WordPress format to make it look a bit more presentable and also to take advantage of some of the convenient features offered with the format (blog entries, comments, gallery handling etc)… I plan to post some updates showing the more recent advancements that have been developed (very slowly!) in the background over the last few years…

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RIP Mike Singleton 1951-2012

“The Lords of Midnight” and “Doomdark’s Revenge” have been a massive part of my homebrew coding hobby over the years.

I have many fond memories of playing the games, times which don’t seem to be 28 years ago at all. Since those early days I attempted to produce an updated version of Lords on the ZXSpectrum, then AtariST, then Amiga500, and then PC, which finally resulted (with some help from Chris Wild and Wayne Britcliffe) in the production of my remake “War of the Solstice”.

A memorable highlight for me was when an email from Mike appeared from nowhere in my Inbox whilst he was working in California some years ago. It was only brief to say that he liked the look of my remake and would have a closer look when he got a bit more time. I was touched by the fact that he had bothered to make contact with me like that.

The current work on the iOS version and the prospect of Eye of the Moon actually happening was something that I was very much looking forward to.

On 10th October 2012, the gaming industry indeed lost a true legend.

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