Super 3D Noah's Ark 2013-05-14 00:46:30
So I wanted to write about this a little while ago, but due to a pending server migration I've been putting it off. With that complete, time to write.
As the title of the post suggests, I would like to take a moment to thank Wisdom Tree for sending over a copy of the game and some loose source files. After ECWolf 1.2 is released (hopefully in the next few weeks) I plan to start adding support for the game. I've already mapped out the entire executable in a disassembler so it should be a fairly straightforward process, but we'll see how long it takes before it becomes a proper port.
Before discussing some of the technical details of the game, let me first review the game as I have taken some time to play through it entirely. To my surprise the game is actually quite fun. In fact, I would even say the game is more fun than Chex Quest since Wisdom Tree didn't tone down the difficulty because the game was for kids. The level design isn't anything spectacular, but a majority of the secrets are marked in some way so it's obvious that some thought was put into the game. The graphic design is questionable in a few places, but overall it's what you would expect from a kid's game. Once you get over any preconceptions over what it is, it really is fun for all ages. At least the DOS version any way. If you're interested, the DOS version of the game is available for purchase from their website.
Now for the part that people come here for: What's new in the Noah's Ark engine (over vanilla Wolf3D)?
- Texture mapped floor/ceiling - Like most of the games based on the engine. Noah's Ark has textured mapped floors and ceilings, but only allow one texture for the entire map (similar to Blake Stone and ROTT). ECWolf already supports this via the defaultfloor/defaultceiling properties. If I recall correctly any way, the texture used is defined in code.
- Automap - Uses an automap similar to that found in the SNES version of Wolf3D (make sense) or ROTT. I know a lot of you are waiting for this.
- MIDI music - This one surprised me. From the loose files it looks like the SNES version of Wolf3D used MIDIs converted to a custom format, so they added native MIDI code to the DOS version. This may be the single feature that holds the full port back from 1.3, but we'll see. Obviously at some point the sound code will be addressed as the Mac version of Wolf3D and ROTT use MIDI as well.
- Projectile weapons - Based loosely on the flame thrower and rocket launcher in the SNES version of Wolf3D. ECWolf supports player missiles, although I may need to check for game play differences.
- Cast call - Uses a zoom-in effect of sorts. Also used for the Game Over screen if I recall correctly.
- SNES like status bar - Basically it includes an item (fruit) counter. Probably would be wise to have status bar scripting ready.
Overall the engine is quite similar to the DOS Wolf3D code. Even the actor states are only slightly modified from the Wolf3D counterparts as they generally only touch the death animation (sleeping) although there are a few exceptions. There may be a few other changes, but those are the ones that are notable. One last comment on the game is that the DOS version is obviously a conversion of the SNES game as monster placement sometimes has monsters facing in odd directions (the graphics are directional in the DOS version unlike the SNES).
Two quick hits to wrap up this post: Doomseeker 0.10b was released a few days ago. I would link to the site, but it's being transitioned to a new server as well at the moment. Secondly, Woolie Wool/Executor has released a port of Gary Ragland's Assassinate Hitler for ECWolf.