Wizard of Tut

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October’s theme was C64. Just this. Of course I couldn’t just not do something about this as I love the C64 games, and the good old Commodore machine. And also this was some of my doing for sure. I even joked when one of the not participating members asked if they also can choose from the given themes. I said “Anybody can choose a theme as long as they choose the C64 theme”. Lo and behold, it was the chosen theme with 70% of the votes. You gotta love the Commodore 64. 🙂

So, there I was with the theme, and the only thing I was sure of was that I will use the usual starting screen that I used with any C64 looking game so far. But as for the game, I wasn’t sure. I would have liked to include Allegra, my darling girlfriend with this, and asked if she wanted to come up with some story and puzzles, and make a text based adventure game. But she didn’t have the time, unfortunately. I remembered an old game called Lady Tut, where the player controlled a guy in labyrinths, searching for keys and exit doors, avoiding enemies. And of course I also remembered Wizard of Wor, an excellent coop, monster hunting game. So I kinda combined the two, and henceforth titled the game as Wizard of Tut.

As far as the story goes, I didn’t want to do anything logical, maybe only logical in the confines of itself. So, in the game I never mentioned, I only tried to show that even if this is something Egyptian, it’s not take place on Earth. Maybe all this takes place somewhere on the belt of Sirius. The protagonist is this spaceman looking guy, in reality a mummy in a space suit, and he was put to rest by Lady Tut, the ruling entity of the planet. She chose new wizards to serve her, and got rid of the old toy. But when woke up, the old wizard decided to leave the planet in his old starship. Only thing is, it is guarded by Tut herself.

I made 13 levels, with 4 bosses (3 minibosses: Anubis, Ammit and Horus and the end boss, Tut), I put a bunch of stuff in it to collect, and combined things from both Lady Tut and Wizard of Wor. I made the characters walk on a grid, but the player can stop at any time, and can quite nicely control where to walk, though it has some problems, when the player would want to move to a certain direction but can’t, because the character keeps walking until it reaches the grid axis. I coded the monster AI to walk on the grid too, there are patroling enemies, the scarab, and the scorpion, only the latter can walk under turning doors. Shooting enemies are the cobra, and the mummy, only mummies are able to use the turning doors, and shoot at longer range. I made the player shoot, turn doors and made some pickups (canopy jars are just massive score boosts, blue gems are ammo, Eye of Horus is extra life, hourglass resets monster speed).

For the sprites, and for colors in the code I used the legendary C64 color palette. I keep struggling to draw stuff as I want to, especially with bigger pieces, but some parts turned out to be quite good. It’s a bit hard to read the GUI, as I never made a Tut-orial what’s there. Some are self explanatory: the lives, score, level number and name. But some are less obvious, like Shots has a dot until you pick up your first blue gem (ammo), as the weapon system is depleted. After even emptying the weapon, in 4 seconds it generates one shot worth of ammo. The mid part is for the bosses: name and hearts, representing hit points, but only shows when there is a boss around. The beating heart represents the monsters’ speed, which can be faster as time passes. Also, when there is a number next to it, it means how many monsters to kill, until a key is spawned on the level. Then it turns to an empty key icon, until the key is picked up.

As per usual I had some problems with coding. I took up residence at my mother’s house as she had a serious surgery (not the first this year), and in the close family I am the one who could help her in the long term as tragedy hit my family hard, especially my sister :(. So I can be extra tired even though the company I work for allows me to use my holidays by half-days so I can do work, and I can help my mum and do chores. Covid didn’t help us at all when we (even my 91 years old grandmother) managed to get it. For a couple of days I was only able to move like a sloth and could only rest or sleep. My godmother cooked for us, for over a week and my godfather brought us food, groceries and medicine, God bless their hearts. We are all right now, and my mum recovers. I write this as at some points I was quite tired and half hours passed with stupid problems. I rewrote the player movement at least 4 times, had all sorts of stupid bugs, and even as I finished 15 minutes before the meetup (I wasn’t there, I only told Dani that I have a test version to try out). There were no sounds, only music and later I found many bugs, that I tried to fix since. One of the biggest bugs was that I have spawn points all over a level, where I create the monsters. I make a list of the IDs of these, and then I remove the one closest to the protagonist. Except it didn’t work, the game sometimes straight up spawned monsters on top of the protagonist. I used the same technique on something else, and I saw it work (writing out the list of object IDs). I had to remake it to deactivate the closest to the character, and of course it had its own problems I had to sort out. Game Maker still counts an object active until the end of the calling event. I had to make a short alarm chain to separate the activate all and deactivate closest, then summon monster task. Well anyways, it’s working now. As I write this I still have some bugs, some fixes I have to check and some stuff to improve. But after this I have to get back to the secret project, I am so close to finishing that! 🙂

So in the end this game is an homage to the two mentioned C64 games. It’s also one of my small games that has an ending, and not just a beginning. It is a hard game, and can be frustrating at some points, so I included a trainer at the main screen. Anybody who just wants to walk through the levels, can do it with infinite life, ammo and invincibility. Old games were often cracked and distributed with options like this, and that allowed me to play through some of the hardest games. I have to admit I had a lot of these, even if I had a bunch of original ones.