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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPG Codex - Dark Heart of Uukrul Retrospective

Default RPG Codex - Dark Heart of Uukrul Retrospective

July 28th, 2012, 05:41
RPG Codex has again done one their retrospective interviews, this time with the developers behind the game The Dark Heart of Uukrul, Ian Boswel and Martin Buis.
Crooked Bee from RPG Codex writes about this game:
Corrupted by the evil wizard Uukrul, the underground city of Eriosthe is but a shadow of its former self, its passages now twisted beyond a mortal's understanding. The Dark Heart of Uukrul, a first person turn- and party-based dungeon-crawling CRPG with top-down Goldbox-like combat developed by Ian Boswell and Martin Buis and released by Broderbund in 1989 for Apple II and PC, entrusts you with a single task: cleanse Eriosthe of evil, no matter the cost. And the cost will be high, probably higher than you imagine; Uukrul knows you are coming, and he will be prepared.
A quote about the roles of Ian Boswell and Martin Buis:
You co-designed Dark Heart of Uukrul. What were your roles on the game?
Ian Boswell: We both had a hand in most things. I did more of the programming, and Martin did more of the plotting and design. But the most creative stuff usually emerged from collaborative sessions and many cups of coffee. The maze design – which is huge – was broken into regions, one region being the area you explore between two consecutive sanctuaries. Mostly, one of us took responsibility for the detailed design of a given region, then when it was ready brought it back to the other for playthroughs and fine tuning. This is why many of the regions have a distinct theme or tone to them. Each of them “feels” different. We also had to develop a lot of the required code libraries and design utilities that we needed. There was almost nothing available off the shelf, or open source, back then.
Martin Buis: We started out with more or less equal roles, but specialized as the project progressed. Ian was a fantastic developer and ended up doing all the code – I doubt that any of my code survived into the released game. I remember that Ian designed and wrote the maze drawing algorithm, which involved perspective views and hidden surface removal both of which were state of the art, in 6502 assembler in a single shot and that at the end of coding there were only two bugs that needed to be fixed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an equivalent feat of programming. The level, artwork, story and mechanics were very collaborative. A lot of what we had to do was working out how to get the most from the limitations that the memory, disk and processor imposed upon us. Within those limitations we tried to come up with innovative ideas that would advance the play without taxing our resources.
A quote on the development process:
Ian Boswell: Going from memory here, we were a couple of years at it spare time, while completing University studies, and I spent a year working on it more solidly after that, during which we got signed by Broderbund, so then we had to finish it. But it took more than a year after that. I think challenges we faced were that you had to code everything yourself back then (even wrote our own graphic library in assembler so it would be fast enough), and we had to fit the entire game onto two floppy disks. Martin Buis: Broderbund paid an advance on the Apple version, and we agreed to produce an IBM port, so we put some of that money into ‘hiring’ a couple of our college friends to work on the port. Overall, the process took many years across those two platforms. I shudder to think what the hourly rate would have been! There were a lot of changes that occurred during the development process. We had laid out the basic story, and implemented much of the game engine, but kept trying to do new things with that platform. It seemed like the game was largely complete for a long time while we added features that our playtesting found or that Broderbund requested. For example, the automap function was added relatively late in the process. Perhaps a more focused vision would have helped that, but the gaming market was moving quite quickly as we were completing the game, so there was an element of proactive catch-up, if that makes any sense.
Thanks Crooked Bee.
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July 28th, 2012, 05:41
I tried playing this with an emulator a few years back. The combat and general mechanics are still fantastic, I really enjoyed those parts. The puzzles and figuring out the bigger picture were too much of a challenge for me, especially without the manual and/or cheats. I couldn't finish it, but I'll never cease to be amazed at how developers of decades past could do so much (and so much more) with such limited systems and graphics.

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July 28th, 2012, 19:48
I don't have a clue how do to emulators and such, but if someone ever remade this game to where it would work with Vista, I'd rebuy it for sure. This game was hard, and damn enjoyable.


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July 28th, 2012, 20:31
This Wizardry clone is Still one of my all time favourites. One of the last games ever made for the Apple ][ (not gs). I believe Apple abandoned the platform and went strictly MAC before this was released.

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
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July 29th, 2012, 01:23
I played the hell out of this game. The hell! Never got anywhere honestly, but I liked the weirdly stylized tactical combat.
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July 29th, 2012, 05:44
Originally Posted by Carnifex View Post
I don't have a clue how do to emulators and such, but if someone ever remade this game to where it would work with Vista, I'd rebuy it for sure. This game was hard, and damn enjoyable.


-Carn
If you want to play Dos games without having to figure out Dosbox download D-Fend Reloaded which is pretty easy to use.
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July 29th, 2012, 15:03
One of my favorite games of all time. Ooohh the puzzles in this game were evil . Replayed it a few years ago and still loved it. The golden age of computer gaming. I would not trade playing these first computer RPG's, when they first came out, for anything in the world.

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Last edited by Hastar; July 29th, 2012 at 15:27.
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July 29th, 2012, 20:32
One of my favorite games as a teen. I managed to win the game without any help, but there was one fairly nasty puzzle (some kind of dungeon crossword puzzle?) where I started hitting buttons at random and somehow got the right answer. Very lucky or the game took pitty on me!

I tried playing it on an emulator, but this is a game that's impossible to play without the manual, and you pretty much need it open and in front of you as your playing to use/understand spells.
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July 29th, 2012, 20:48
Yeah, the manual is damn important for this game, if I'm remembering right. If it got fixxed up for todays operating systems and thrown up on Steam, I bet peeps would line up for it.


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July 29th, 2012, 21:17
I would totally pay for a touched up version of the game. If they found a way to add a few tooltips or menus, the manual wouldn't be anywhere nearly as important.
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July 29th, 2012, 23:11
Man, I wasn't aware there was a DOS version till I read this article. Fascinating insight - boy I remember those days. Unless you coun't SCUMM there was no middleware at the time.

D-Fend launches the game pretty well.

Unfortunately, I can't configure the sound yet - there's no mention of the settings in the manual. It doesn't use the PC Speaker either AFAIK.

A number of sites state there is no sound but a comment from a Youtube clip of the game says you need Soundblaster 16 settings. I have that by default but no luck yet. I need the proper DMA and IRQ settings.

Also, I'm seeing some really good screenshots out there but my graphics are blocky. I set the -V parameter for VGA but it seems to be ignoring it.

There's no official profile I can find for DHoU for D-Fend.



EDIT: ok this is weird. Someone remade the game with RPGMaker. I doubt its complete

http://pilole.com/uukrul/

Developer of The Wizard's Grave Android game. Discussion Thread:
http://www.rpgwatch.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22520
Last edited by Lucky Day; July 30th, 2012 at 00:02.
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July 30th, 2012, 01:13
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
EDIT: ok this is weird. Someone remade the game with RPGMaker. I doubt its complete

http://pilole.com/uukrul/
Now that's interesting. There's no reason they couldn't do a complete remake, but it doesn't seem like it's quite the same with top down maps, anime characters, and non tactical combat.

Your link also contains the download for the original game, and the manual, if anyone wants to try the game.
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July 30th, 2012, 04:29
I am 99.9% certain there is no sound on the DOS version. I owned the game and had an SB Pro and if there was sound, I was sure I'd have set it up and I remember only silence.
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July 30th, 2012, 10:26
Never played this one… Looks like I missed a great game… Then again, I never really played the Ultimas until VIII….
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