Well it's been a while since I posted about the game, but The Rise of Magus is back! The new version 1.5 of the game includes a huge number of fixes and improvements, as well as unlockable content that extends the game. The truth is, this is the game that I envisioned releasing when I first started working on the project, but after almost a year of work I decided to wrap things up and release The Rise of Magus at the conclusion of the main story arc.
I included, however, a hidden item, the Hero's Medal, which when found displayed the following message: "You've found the Hero's Medal! This unlocks something the designer hasn't added yet, but will." I assumed no one would get quite into the game enough to ever find this thing. I was wrong. I got emails and saw forum discussions postulating theories about about what it was the item might unlock, and wondering when the update would be released. So I went and added "one more thing" that gets unlocked by the Hero's Medal. Then I added one more thing. Then another thing got added somehow. Before I knew it I was revamping the entire game and adding a second game on top of it. This process was disrupted for a long time by distractions from the real world, but now I've finally added all of the "one more" things I ever intended to, and I think the game is ready to be played.
I feel like I should have a brief list of changes somewhere, and my blog is as good a place as any, so here's the short version:
- The game is now built in Game Maker 8. The good news is that this means the game loads and runs much faster than before, even though there are more things to be loaded. It still takes up a fair amount of memory, though, and GM8 doesn't give me many options for reducing memory usage, aside from simply making the game smaller. The other downside with GM8 is that it broke all kinds of random things in the game, which took a while to fix. But I guess that was only a downside for me.
- Nifty icon! It was always a little sad to have the game represented by a featureless red sphere, so now it shows a statue of Magus. You can take pride in having this on your desktop.
- The menu now has music. This seems to have a bigger psychological effect than I expected.
- There is now a level cap (30), with a nice extra health boost acquired when this level is reached. This provides something against which to balance to hardest, optional parts of the game.
- Enemy behavior is improved. For instance, they are much better at walking up and down stairs and around obstacles. The new content also features whole new levels of enemy AI.
- The attack collision system has been completely redone. This has eliminated a slew of (admittedly rare) glitches involving hitting enemies. Most notably, from time to time enemies used to take damage from an attack without getting "hit" by it, meaning they wouldn't stagger and could survive at negative health. This doesn't happen anymore.
- Level layouts have been subtly altered, in particular to make jumping about more forgiving at the beginning of the game before players have any idea what they're doing.
- The save system has been updated. Now all bosses offer a "retry" option on death, circumventing the need to reload from the last save point and helping avoid the "oh crap I forgot to save" problem. The downside is that save files from the original version aren't compatible with version 1.5, but you wanted to start from the beginning anyway, right? Actually, this downside was kind of intentional, because allowing players to load the previous version's save files would produce all manner of strange glitches.
- An option to return to Bekkler's Castle has been added after the Bekkler fight, so that players have the opportunity to go back and purchase upgrades and prepare for the Epilogue battle.
- Volume controls have been added, and are controlled with Page Up and Page Down. The volumes are High, Low, and Mute (High is the default volume). I guess this makes the game easier to play surreptitiously at work...hypothetically.
- Hints have been added to a couple places where players often got confused. These hints take the form of a sparkly blue light that appears if the player passes the same room multiple times without finding the intended exit or is unable to figure out how to progress from a room for a long time. Experienced players might not ever run into them.
- Pedants will be pleased to know that the Ruby Sword is now the only sword that any knight wields that appears red-colored.
- It is no longer possible anywhere to jump out of the game through the ceiling unless the ceiling is an intended exit.
- The Hero's Medal, rather than doing nothing, now unlocks new content called "The Duel" from the Extras menu. The picture at the top of this post offers a hint as to what "The Duel" is.
- Completion of The Duel unlocks additional playable content, which in turn unlocks more, but I don't want to give away the surprise as to what this content consists of.
- Many, many changes were made to make the controls smoother, sprites and text cleaner looking, glitches unglitched, and enemies and attacks more balanced.
The short, short version is that the game is more epic and more immersive, and it's hard to put into words how I feel about it now, so you should really just go download it from here: