Jan 20

Year in Review: 2017

Hi everyone! It’s that time again, when I look back at how things have gone over the last year.

January 2017

Added a side quest. Created the demo. Bunch of bugfixes.

February 2017

Showed off the demo at the Ultima Dragons 25th anniversary Bash, and fixed a bunch of bugs that were found at that event. Also made a number of balance changes to the early game.

March 2017

March was mostly a bugfix month- carpets became terrain, looped music no longer bugged out if you loaded a game, you may freely poison yourself with green potions, added a bunch of features- fences, animals, trees.

April 2017

Added “Open” as a keyboard command because most players expected it to be there. Expanded/improved some maps, including an entire new map for the main castle, fixed a lot of bugs, added a lot of dialog and plot. Improved the conversation system so a person you’re talking to can tell if you’re poisoned. ESC leaves an empty battlefield. Added street signs and casks.

May 2017

Added a new property that prevents cooks from walking into fireplaces, not realizing they were dangerous. XP gain is affected by karma. Fractional damage now described as a “scratch”. Moving north from the castle is now blocked. Save screens now show a short version of a map name. Upgrades to the map editor. Changed flow of early game to encourage visiting the king first thing. Naurglen has new, improved maps, and gave it two entrances. Keys work better (can be used themselves in addition to doors auto-unlocking if you have the right key, allowing locking doors).

June 2017

Wall torches can be extinguished. Crystal Barrier spell reworked as Crystal Prison. Clocks now show current time. Moved Open Gate down in level (and Iceball up, increasing its damage). Redid the game’s frame. Rewrote the rendering engine.

July 2017

Added sun and moon. Added the ability to have conversation responses dictated by an arbitrary function call. Added a number of time related functions (time between, is time after, etc). Stopped using a tile’s opacity for dim light, instead using a shadow overlay. Started work on the new inventory system, using a graphical grid. Removed Awaken from spell list so I don’t have to write “why did you wake me up?” dialog for 100 NPCs. New spell is Audachta Scribe, which copies spells into your spellbook. Bugfixes to scrolls. Moved “Wear/Wield” to “Ready”. Ready, Use, and Open use the new inventory UI.

August 2017

Officially started work on NPC schedules. Rivers consider the edge of the map to be water for purposes of which segment is drawn. Wrote most of the NPC schedule editor and started on game code.

September 2017

Schedule editor all the time, until surgery. Then, work did slow down. Officially announced that I was working on NPC schedules, and also the launch of my Patreon.

October 2017

Created holding maps for NPCs who leave a map but are going to return. This allows some to travel between maps. Map editor gained a function to show you where everyone is at a particular time based on their schedules. Added the (W)ait command, and hooked sleeping at inns into it. Finished schedules for Naurglen, and dialog modifications relating to them.

November 2017

Put coding on hold to work on the Art Of the Dark Unknown book. Finished writing the book and the Almanac over the span of November. Also released my first in a series of design diaries.

December 2017

Gave spells a “long desc” that shows while you have it selected in the spellbook. Once you have a spell, you know more precisely what it does. Rewrote the map editor to use the new rendering code. Continued making layout and content updates to the books.


And there you have it. I wasn’t as good as I’d like at keeping my changelog up to date as I worked, so I might have missed something. But it hit the highlights- NPC schedules and the near-completion of the books. Was it as productive a year as I would have hoped? No, it wasn’t. But a deceptive amount did happen, nonetheless!

Here’s to another year, and hopefully by the end of it, there will be a game!

Nov 11

Design Diary 1: Time

As part of my push to have more going on while I work on The Dark Unknown, I have started a series of Design Diaries. I have published the first, talking about how I am using Time in the game. Check it out at http://darkunknown.org/essays/Dark Design Decisions 1 – Time.pdf !

(Note that you can see the diaries a week earlier by becoming a Patron! If that’s a thing you feel like you might want to do.)

Sep 16

Announcement Week Epilogue

Thanks for bearing with me through announcement week. As you may have guessed, it was as much about me trying to be better with engaging on various forms of social media as it was about the actual announcements- though the last one was one I’d been sitting on for a while.

Here’s a summary of what went down this week:

Tuesday: I’m behind schedule and an upcoming surgery may put me further behind or might give me time to catch up, we’ll see. Also, note that this combined with Friday’s means the schedule is honestly kind of a fiction right now.

Wednesday: I’ve started a Patreon! http://patreon.com/tapestryofages

Thursday: The Art book is halfway done, and I have some vague ideas about DLC. Stay tuned.

Friday: The Dark Unknown will include a day/night cycle and NPC schedules.

It’ll get quieter around here again now, but I’ll try not to go dark entirely again. See you around!

Sep 15


Friends, Ellusians, Avatars, it is my privilege to be able to announce that The Dark Unknown will contain NPC Schedules and a Day/Night Cycle!

I mentioned when I changed the game’s frame that I had moved the name of where you are to the bottom of the view, and then I was suspiciously silent about what I was using the top for now, and there was a sudden complete lack of screenshots or even many updates of what I was working on. So here is a new screenshot:

I was obviously inspired by Ultima V’s view of the sky, but unlike U5 my moons move in the sky to match their phases. (In U5, the moons were always in the same positions relative to the sun and each other, but their phases changed to dictate the moongates.) Interestingly, at the moment the moon phases have no bearing on the game whatsoever, but I included them anyway.

There is now time- grandfather clocks may be found here and there on civilized maps, and when looked at will tell the current time. Another change that I believe I have previously mentioned: time now only moves 5 times faster on the world map than the town maps. This change was necessary once I added day and night. Additionally, I have moved the command to change your weapons/armor to (R)eady- what used to be Wield is not going to be (W)ait, which is necessary once NPCs have schedules. One of the downsides to schedules is player frustration of needing to talk to Bob and Bob is asleep.

(Also, I removed the Awaken spell- I couldn’t cope with having to write what happens to every single NPC if you wake them up.)

As for schedules, the underlying code isn’t completely done, but my test suite passes for the majority of it, so I’m willing to announce it. I’ve been working on it for weeks, which is why updates dwindled on my FB page- I didn’t want to announce that I was working on NPC schedules until I had them working well enough to be sure I was going to use them. Between that and my work on the art book, I haven’t had a lot of updates that were worth talking about.

Before starting this I made a number of changes that were necessary for schedules to work but could stand alone if necessary. Adding time and day/night. Changing the ratio of town/world time to 5:1. And, expanding the maps. The primary actual reason for redoing the Castle and Naurglen maps (and of course more to come) was for NPC schedules- each character needed a house to go to and a bed to sleep in to make the schedules work!

Let me now show you an example of a schedule. Recently, I added the house that your character has been living in up until the game starts. Your tutor/guardian still lives there, and his is the first schedule I’ve made. First, your house:

That is the ground floor. You start the game with the key that unlocks the front door.

And the second floor. Your bedroom has the fireplace, the tutor’s bedroom is the smaller one in the NW portion.

At night, he is sleeping in his bed. Now, this is a view of what a schedule looks like in the schedule editor I had to write to make this workable:

So, in quick summary:

At 6am he wakes up and walks to the stairs, closing his door behind him. When he reaches the stairs he goes down, which technically is a different map. Then he walks to the chair behind the table on the first floor, sits down, and has breakfast.

Then, he walks to the middle of the room and just hangs out. He has a leashLength of 3, so he’s willing to wander up to 3 spaces from the center of the room.

At 3:30 he decides it’s time to practice and so he walks to the harpsichord and plays it for half an hour, then returns to wandering randomly around the room.

At 6:30pm it is dinner time, after which, yup, more random wandering.

Finally at 9:30pm he walks back to the stairs, goes up, re-enters his room (closing the door behind him), and sleeps until the schedule starts again at the beginning.

(And for the record, there is a bug in the above schedule that was fixed after I took the screenshot. There’s no prize for finding it. 🙂 )

Why NPC Schedules, and why now?

This is a big question. Over 6 years ago I considered whether to do NPC schedules and at the time I decided they were more trouble than they were worth. You need a way to make time pass, I need to write considerably more dialog, and I have to write all the schedules. Why add it now?

There are two reasons. One is that, while I have all kinds of ideas for sequels and am liberally placing references and hooks, I don’t know if I’m actually going to get another bite at this apple. And if not… this one should have all the stuff I would ideally like it to have.

Ok, but is schedules on that list? Originally it was on the knife’s edge. But a couple of months ago I sat in on a recording of the podcast Spam Spam Spam Humbug, and Ultima/Gaming podcast, and it turned into a discussion of living worlds, and some people told moving stories about how, when they played Ultima VII, with its schedules and fully interactive environments, it felt like an actual living world… and it was a world they could escape to when the real world was shitty. And I said, yeah, ok.

Schedules impact on scheduling

Not gonna lie- adding schedules significantly pushes back the release of the game. I don’t know how far, but it will be sometime probably in late 2018 at this point.

Thanks for reading- this one was a long one. And thank you for bearing with me through “Announcement Week”. I hope this one at the least will cause some excitement. Onward into the Dark Unknown!

– Adam

Sep 15

Thursday: Art and DLC

Today, two small announcements.

One- The first draft of the Art of The Dark Unknown book is half done! I’ve completed the introduction and Bestiary sections, and hopefully the other half will go more quickly now that I know what I’m doing. The art book has definitely been more work than anticipated, surprise surprise, how often have you heard that about kickstarter rewards? But it will be worth it once it’s done. I’m pushing on getting it done sooner because it is a kickstarter reward and I’d like to be able to fulfill it sooner even if it delays the game itself by a bit.

Two- this is just an idea I’m floating and thinking about, but I’ve had a few ideas for possible DLC! These would be entirely optional and quite cheap, but it could be a way to make a little money on this project since I’m committed to leaving the actual game be free. Ideas include two mini-story arcs for after you win the base game, and I’m batting around the idea of making basically a crafting mod. It’s the kind of thing that yeah, would be cool to have be in the base game but I really do need to be keeping it from bloating too much. There’s a lot of interactivity already, but at the moment it isn’t quite that much.

They’re just ideas so far, maybe I won’t do them at all, maybe I will. But now you can be excited or unimpressed along with me!

Now below this cut, there is a sample page from the Art of book. I hope you enjoy! (On a page in the Intro I explain that text on a blue background is written by me, on yellow is written by Indi, and on orange is a reproduction of our chats while we were working together!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 14

Wednesday: Patreon!

My friends, Tapestry of Ages Games is now on Patreon.

Take a look! Consider supporting the making of The Dark Unknown, get sneak previews, maybe get a poster. It will hopefully be a fun journey.

While this is on the Patreon page itself, I’ll quickly answer the two main questions I get:

  • Why a Patreon?

Well, people keep asking me “do you have a Patreon?” So I felt like maybe I should just go ahead and do that. I don’t expect to be making rent money out of this, but there are people who would like to contribute, and now there is a way. Additionally, it’s another way of building a community. Not to dismiss the support I’ve gotten in other ways from the surprising number of people who read me on facebook or twitter! But it is, even so, a thing.

  • Haven’t you already done a Kickstarter?

Yes. The Kickstarter was specifically for art for the manual and game box. I have those now. (Side note: they are awesome.) Yes, I have money beyond what I started out asking for, but as it happens, the total amount of money I have already spent on getting this game made is more than the KS took in. Is more money necessary to finish it? No. But will it help me pay hosting fees and the like, and maybe get to the point where I can commission a tileset. We’ll see!

Check it out if you like, and hey, either way: thanks for reading, and I hope to make a game you’ll really love.

– Adam


Sep 13

Tuesday: Personal

OK! I’ve decided to rearrange the order I was originally planning for these and start with the personal one, rather than sticking it in the middle.

For starters, yes, I’m definitely behind where I wanted to be at this point in the year. The other day, I was pointed at this: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2017/09/05/2017-and-writing/ and it did make me feel a little better- I’m not the only one who’s not feeling that productive this year, and the last two years being complete dumpster fires has definitely not helped. That said, it still sucks, and I’m behind, my apologies.

Now, the personal bit- in 2 weeks, I am going to be undergoing a relatively minor surgery, but surgery nonetheless. I’ll be housebound for around 3 weeks. In an ideal world, I’ll be able to use that time to be extra productive! That’s what I’m hoping for. But, on the other hand, I might just play through Persona 5 while on painkillers. We’ll see. It could put me further behind.

I’m not even going to try to speculate on a finish date or month, until probably after the holidays.

Thanks, and see you all tomorrow.

Sep 12

Announcements Week!

Last week, I announced on Facebook that this would be Announcement Week, when I would unveil various things about the future of Tapestry of Ages Games and the Dark Unknown.
Then, life hit and I got slammed for the rest of the week. We got to Monday, today, and I didn’t really have all my ducks in a row. So! Today’s announcement will mostly be about how this week is going to work.

Tuesday and Thursday: small announcements.
Wednesday and Friday: actually important and interesting announcements!

Stay tuned! Things will happen! Will they be worth all this build up? Maybe not! But I promise the big announcements are actually pretty big. Maybe.

Mar 28

Dark Unknown Progress

I just wanted to go on the record and state that progress is being made on The Dark Unknown- check out its part of the site at http://darkunknown.tapestryofages.com/! Latest news- a demo is available, and a look back on 2016.

Oct 05

Site move

I’ve moved TapestryOfAges.com to new servers. We’re now hosted alongside the Ultima Codex, which I find exciting. The site will be undergoing slow upgrades and content additions as I slowly port things back over from the old site. The timetable is approximately “whenever I get around to it”, as this is competing with developing Kickstarter backer rewards and developing the game itself for my time. But hopefully soon! Thanks for your patience, and thanks to Kenneth at the Codex for helping me get this set up.