Under the Microscope: Legends of Magic

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Legends of Magic 2Amcog Games are set to release their second commercial title for RISC OS computers at the RISC OS London Show on Saturday, October 24.

Legends of Magic has been in development since May of this year and is coded in BBC BASIC under a license that allows the study and modification of the game’s code.

The game has been in development since May and is an isometric 3D adventure game which involves playing your way through a number of quests and solving puzzles along the way.

From the developer of space shoot ’em up Overlord, which was released earlier this year – Anthony Van Bartram’s Amcog Games have knocked out another title in an impressive timeframe.

Designed for use modern RISC OS 5 machines such as the Raspberry Pi, ARMini and Beagleboard/Pandaboard – the game as it is at the moment has been tested as running with ~25 FPS on a Raspberry Pi 1.

The RISC OS Blog have obtained both an early-beta and late-beta release of the title, so here’s a rundown of what you have to look forward to…

The game runs in a bordered sub-window of an 800×600 display. Underneath the sub-window you have controls for ‘Pick-Up’, ‘Drop’, ‘Examine’ and ‘Use’ but there are keyboard shortcuts to suit your preference.

In the early Beta, the border was a very plain black and did not accompany the surrounding buttons or other objects, making them appear quite blockly. As of the latest release, the border has received a bit of TLC and is now supporting a rugged, stone themed border that complements the game and all colours quite well.

The game’s story is largely given to you at the beginning of the game in the form of a written introduction. The story is well-written and the plot is straightforward yet not thin on the ground. It ties in well with games falling under the Fantasy genre, which gives the game a good sense of credibility when you’re playing.

I didn’t get a moment where I was thinking the game wasn’t flowing or it wasn’t providing an enjoyable experience – which can be quite hard to get in games, especially when coded by a single person as quite often over-familiarity with your software can see a number of vital mistakes go unnoticed.

Graphically, Legends of Magic brings out a nostalgic feeling with its top-down view over your character and its surrounding environments. Objects are appropriately coloured and very detailed especially when looking at objects like brick walls and trees.

Currently there are about 200 sprites that make up Legends of Magic, and as the graphics are in Sprite format, it allows for modification and when you look at the game’s license, it could allow for the game engine to be used in-line with alternate sprites and alternate levels or other edited bits of – created using the development tools used by Amcog themselves during the game’s creation. The Game Editor, which allows for the game’s engine, logic and levels to be tweaked, customised or even developed further adds a nice touch. The editor is also coded soley in BBC BASIC.

Since the game’s initial beta release, Legends of Magic developer Anthony Van Bartram has come across 16 bugs within the game’s coded, 11 of which have been fixed as of the current beta release but it’s unknown as of yet if they’ll all be resolved for the game’s commercial launch on Saturday.

A number of improvements that have come in during the game’s Beta phase include a new size puzzle away from the main plot of the title, 2 new puzzles that prolong the story and improved quality of graphics and smoothing of ground, sand and water – the latter is a massive improvement and really does add a lot more quality to the game.

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A late yet important addition to the game is that a wand is now provided during the first level and allows for the implementation of a freeze spell at close range on your enemies. It will only freeze them for a short time and can only be used a fixed number times before it fades away. I haven’t played the game the entire way through yet so I don’t know if there’s any variety in the amount of times a wand can be used, but the wand you get upon arrival allows for six uses – which doesn’t sound a lot but it doesn’t cause too much hindrance, although it can present a challenge at times.

Other improvements include:

  • Improved visual feedback during monster and monk fighting.
  • Tidied map layout.
  • Image cycling has been slowed down to improve graphical stability
  • Corrected object alignments.
  • The won screen.
  • Volume controls for the music including stopping MP3 streaming when volume is at zero.
  • Various other bug fixes.

The game’s controls are simple and although they’re not awfully dynamic (walking can appear slightly blocky/robotic) but they work well with the game’s engine. Z and Y keys can be used to go left and right, and the @ and ? keys are used to go up and down. The character can be sent in other directions apart from your immediate left or an immediate down by using a combination of a number of directional keys, which is a good feature and allows for a more flowing user experience, especially when you come up against some baddies.

If you’ve played Amcog Games’ initially games release – Overlord, then you’ll be well aware that the company’s games have MIDI music composed especially for the game. The game boasts a variety of tracks that play through on a loop, which isn’t drastically short thankfully and doesn’t make you insane from repetitive annoying music. The music is appropriate and in-line with the mood of the game as well as the genre of the title.

Although I’ve yet to play through the entire game yet, Legends of Magic is already promising to be a title that will provide a good adventure with a nostalgic, fantasy theme. Amcog Games will be at the RISC OS London Show on Saturday, launching the game as well as showcasing their previous release Overlord.

It has yet to be announced, but Legends of Magic is likely to follow the same release arrangements as Overlord. The game will be available for purchase on a form of removal media, most likely CD, from the show and online orders can be placed through R-Comp’s Plingstore, which allows for digitals downloads. The game in Beta stage was about 25MB to download, so you won’t be waiting ages for it to download.

Stay tuned for a full review of the game following the title’s official public launch.

You can take a peak at RISC OS’ latest commercial games release at the Amcog Games stand at the RISC OS London Show on Saturday, October 24. For details of the day’s events as well as a list of exhibitors, have a read of our show preview.

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