About

Amulets & Armor is back … well … coming.

SHOT1 SHOT5

SHOT6 SHOT8

Amulets & Armor is a game I worked on during the years of October 1994 to December 1996.  It was a unique arcade RPG game originally intended to be sold on BBS’s and played like a MMO allowing groups of 20-30 people on the server at once.  It used a home grown Doom style (2.5D) engine, all in-house built resources, a novel spell casting system, and plenty of levels.  We drew on our love of everything old school D&D and pen and paper gaming in general.  Expansions to the original game were intended to immediately flow publishing.  However, deals changed and with the end to the MMO BBS concept, the game was re-factored to be a solo or 4-player co-op adventure.  Finally, after 2 years of work, problems occurred in the upper management level, and the game was barely published with less than 100 copies sold.

It was heart breaking and I considered the project dead and moved on.  I got out the game industry as the dot com era lured me along the idea that somehow I could make it big on stock options.  But I always kept one eye on the gaming industry.  More years passed, the dot com bomb busted, and rattled again, I found myself heading for a regular day job either working on educational software or, now, embedded firmware projects.  Its a good living and I can’t complain, but I felt like Amulets & Armor was never completed and my dream was never finished.

In Jan 2013, I was contacted by Bacter.  He explained that him and his friend Mzbundifund were working on a Let’s Play project at SomethingAwful.com where they make videos showing what it’s like to play the game Amulets & Armor multiplayer, make fun of the game, and generally have a great time.  At first, the game is all jokes as people point out the dated graphics and the obvious bugs/issues of the product (many of which I still want to fix), but after awhile, the videos show a certain charm coming out of the game.  Likewise, the crowd watching this sometimes bizarre creation are also pulled in by the fun antics of Bacter and Mzbundifund, interestingly deadly levels, humorous creatures, and general question of “what’s next”.

So, to this end, I have contacted the David Webster, the current owner of the game, and got his approval to release it to the public and improve the product.  To that end, I am working on creating a “Community Edition” that will have the following goals:

  1. Release the game in full to the public
  2. Port the game to Windows and possibly other platforms
  3. Setup an editor to allow custom levels
  4. Create a community website, wiki, and a place for players to talk and share
  5. (if possible) Setup a server (or servers) for players to join up and play together
  6. Continue to improve the product
  7. Have fun

Just like you, I want to see this game get some more attention and grow.  From time to time, I’ll be soliciting you, the community, for feedback on where to go next or how to solve a problem.  In return, I’ll try to post regular updates on this site on where I’m at and what I’m doing.  Sorry if it gets a bit “programmer speak” at times, but thinking out loud helps me get past some of the problems.

Subscribe this series and enjoy.

If you just notifications to the releases, subscribe to the mailing list .  If you want to talk to other community members, please see the Amulets & Armor Forum.

 

6 comments on “About

  1. I never got into this game or even heard about it til I saw it on systemshock.org’s free games section. However from the LP I have to say I missed out on a gem. Sure the interface is clunky and the puzzels are ‘go find a freaking switch’ but…. c’mon less than a hundred copies sold? Man I’m glad it’s getting a following now and you’re showing interest in polishing up.

    This is the very definition of ‘Better late than never’ on gaining a following.

    Maybe try getting a kickstarter going? I dunno it might be over saturated as is in terms of indie developers trying to use it to get an audience. Might not. Either way so long as you go in with a solid plan on what you’d put the money towards and keep communication going on I don’t see what it could hurt.

    Here you say it’s a doom-like engine, but the main page has listed you’re using a plugin for doombuilder so we can make more levels. Is it doom-based or not?

    Would personally like to see the guild/tavern/server screen get a little cleanup.

    I personally don’t ever expect this to get Huge, but after all these years you’ve got an audience. Hats off to you man. I’m glad you managed to reach people.

    • It is a doom-like engine, but it is not the Doom engine. Back in the 1994, we studied the doom engine and made our own figuring we could use the same editor and tools and not have to pay the royalty to have a doom engine. There are many many similarities, but it is not the same engine. Thus, the confusion. We also greatly extended the engine for features of the game and so it branches out and does different things with sound, creatures, items, etc.

      As for the guild/tavern/server, yeah, it all needs to be reworked — badly. It might be easier to just make a persistent world server where players just drop into the map of their choice and join their friends. We started the game design with that in mind, but it would take a huge rework.

      We’ve thought about Kickstarter and so far, I’m not sure if it makes sense. Why? Money isn’t a driving factor. I would rather have the community run with it with mods and make it free than try to charge everyone $10 to play an old game. Now, if that fandom grows big enough people want a A&A 2, then we might be talking Kickstarter. But until then, I really mean it when I say, “Enjoy!” It’s my pleasure.

      • Re Kickstarter: Money doens’t have to be a motiv factor. Virus did a kickstarter for engine heart and the physical copies probably only about pay for their own stocking fees and keeping the related site up and going where you can download the PDFs for free.

        I was thinking to where you said reworking assets. Sure you can and will get fan projects at updating these things when and where possible, but being able to pay a couple thousand for updated assets would probably be faster.

        Plus I’m sure there’s other things that could be done and still have the actual game be free to download.

        Granted part of the money would have to go towards rewards but maybe you could do a few goals like ‘become a unique mob’ at the $100 tier, exclusive wallpapers (that people can then share. Sorry just tossing ideas out on how someone that’s probably not blessed with unlimited funds could get a little extra money to throw at quickly getting assets and possibly some coin to pay a team of mappers to go back and realign textures that aren’t supposed to be out of place (the ‘face turns into a fish’ texture comes to mind,) and general getting help on stuffs that might help the game be spiffy.

        Now with all that said. You… Reverse engineered how doom levels work to make something similarly based.

        That’s actually pretty freaking badass. Have you done a writeup on this elsewhere? Was working on a writeup of the game, but I wanted to focus on the history aspect more than the game itself since, let’s be fair, has a few bits of polishing that needs doing (of course once i get things up and running I”m going t ogo on a binge marathon because the game looks fun.)

        Just the ‘history’ interests me as much if not more than the game itself, and the let’s play is giving me a nice lookthrough at the actual playing.

  2. Yes, I agree that Kickstarter could also be pulled in when there is a need to do more and pay someone else to rework other elements. Currently, I’ve been playing around with adding some more creatures to the game and ran into the problem of buying or rendering the animations myself. I definitely see how it would be useful to have some help there. Since this stage is a experiment and a bit showing that it can be done, I’m okay with just getting by doing it myself.

    As for the reversed engineering … I want to be clear that I did not decode the Doom engine .exe or anything like that. What really happened was I read up on the Internet what techniques were being used and looked at the datafiles. Being able to make changes with the Deep95 editor allowed me to see how the files were changing and apply them into the game. However, I did make one or two incompatible changes that are now haunting me (e.g., we do our texture adjustments differently).

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