Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Moonspire II (Commodore 64)


It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about Dusan Milivojevic’s Moonspire II project, and for good reason. Originally planned as a free DLC-style set of extra levels, then re-styled as a stand-alone sequel, an early preview was uploaded to CSDB in which unfortunately 75% of the rest of the game levels we’re hidden in the cartridge image - and of course, when it was ‘cracked’, those half-finished, broken levels were found and unlocked.

This was hugely demotivating for Dusan in particular, and the project was almost binned. However, I suggested that instead of refitting an set of extra levels as a sequel, perhaps this would actually give us the opportunity to start the project again from scratch.

And that is what we’ve been doing for the past year.


Working together with Harris ‘rexbeng’ Kladis and Ari ‘Agemixer’ Yliaho, our plan for the sequel was to tear-up the rulebook and start with a fresh design; instead of crow-barring a plot into a game, this time we’ve been working on a properly structured story with cut scenes and mission briefings that fit the levels. In addition to this we’ve completely revised the control method and even included a huge, scrollable in-game map.

Where the original saw the player infiltrating an alien moon base, in Moonspire II they take the fight to the Draxx, stealthily boarding their leviathan space craft, and uncovering the alien's plans for the human race via a series of intelligence-gathering missions. This has required a huge amount of graphics reworking, and Harris has delivered a unique visual style unlike anything I’ve seen in a C64 game before, with detailed animations and mechanical, futuristic sprites and tiles.


Agemixer’s original acid track from the sequel has been further extended, with additional music being programmed for the intro sequence and outro. In fact, the only thing really holding back the demo release is a missing intro track (which we hope will arrive soon).

The upcoming single-level demo will showcase some of the new features - your mission involving hacking a number of surface mounted computer terminals in order to gain access to the inside of a Draxx fleet ship. There are now switches that unlock sections of the craft, teleporters that take you to otherwise impossible to reach locations, defensive gun turrets and tiles that restrict movement or inflict damage to the player. On the positive side, you now have a cloaking device that renders you temporarily invulnerable added to your arsenal - and the other weapons have been linked to the F-keys for faster selection (rather than using the spacebar-driven menu from the original).


rexbeng has bold plans for the rest of the game, and although development of the six remaining levels will no doubt be a slow process (fitting it in around family commitments and work), if the detail he has put into the demo is anything to go by then it will be worth it.

Moonspire II will hopefully be available in early 2020. In order to document the development and maintain motivation I intend to post regular updates as progress is made, so make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our mailing list so you don't miss out when the game is released!

Note: the original Moonspire can be purchased as a *.crt image for download here, or as an actual physical game cartridge from our online shop!

2 comments:

  1. I like the very unique graphical style, and the new gameplay features sound good. Is this going to be a GMOD2 cart? Are there plans for a progress save feature between levels?

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  2. Yes, it's aimed at GMOD2 with saving between levels. There will be a ocean style cart image without saving for emulators like the 'C64Mini'.

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