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an idea for a BoA re-release

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Several years ago, Jeff mentioned that Blades of Avernum didn't do as well as he had hoped. According to him, the main reason was that scenario design was too complicated for the average gamer, especially if they don't have any programming experience. The game only comes with four scenarios out of the box, which might not seem like much to some people.


So here's an idea: Spiderweb could consider releasing a new edition of Blades of Avernum that includes the following:


1. Support for newer operating systems

2. A collection of well-received user-designed scenarios. The winners and runner-ups from the scenario design contest would be good candidates for inclusion. Think back to the days of Doom WAD CDs. :-)

3. Exclusive scenarios. Perhaps Spiderweb could offer contracts to well-known scenario designers (like what id Software did in the case of the Master Levels for Doom II) and give them store credit if their scenario gets selected. The scenarios would be copyrighted and owned by Spiderweb.

4. Other exclusive items. Things like comics books or figurines, etc.


It probably wouldn't too much effort compared to writing a new game from scratch, but it could bring in a lot of new interest. Just a thought.


Maybe the same could also be done for Blades of Exile. :-)

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It's a good idea.


Jeff won't do it. He doesn't like the way that the old Avernum/BoA interface looks. Notice that he's "upgrading" the Avernum series into something that looks more like GF/Avadon.


There's also the problem, documented elsewhere, that the default BoA engine has probably the worst combat system that Spiderweb has ever designed. Also, even after many years of trying, no one has managed an IDE for BoA, so making scenarios is still not as easy as it was in BoE (even if it's easier than it was in 2004).


Avernumscript isn't really the problem. Yes, some of the features are a little strange (some functions abbreviate "character" as "char" and some leave it as "character"), but you can always look up the relevant point.


BoE is open source now anyway, so there's no need for a re-release.

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I think the plan was to ask about the BoA source at some point - I was going to try and get the windows editor up to the level of the mac editor first, but I haven't really bothered with that lately :/

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I think Jeff said he wants to wait until BoA sales drop to negligible levels before he releases the source code.


For the record, selling a game and releasing its source code are not mutually exclusive. It's possible to release only the game engine under a free license and keep the game content proprietary.

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that is not the case here. he released the entirety of blades of exile under the gnu general public license version 2. although he could technically still sell the original boe for profit, it would be 1) sleazy, and 2) not CBoE. he can't sell cboe unless all the cboe devs sign off on it, and i doubt that will happen. and even still the foss code and builds would be out there.



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Well, I wouldn't say that nobody is designing... Like me, I bet there are quite a few designers out there who have either gone on a hiatus, or have their ideas and projects sitting on a metaphorical shelf, gathering dust while kinks are worked out or more content is brainstormed.

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I still play in the editor, and I suppose make progress of a sort, but I doubt I'll ever finish the projects I tinker with; not only is there a lack of people to play the thing, my previous scenarios were never exactly good.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For what it's worth, last time somebody asked about releasing BoA's source code, Jeff wanted evidence that sufficiently worthwhile things had been done with BoE's source code before he'd consider going to the trouble of digging up old source code again. He didn't seem particularly impressed by the state of CBoE at the time, since it was still unfinished and never really led to a wave of new scenario design.

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Really? He open-sourced code that he himself said was terrible, that didn't compile and was designed for the Win95 era? It now runs without a hitch on 64-bit operating systems, when before it was a miracle if it could run in XP without constant error messages and crashes.


No, it hasn't really taken off, but does anyone honestly expect a BoE re-awakening? Sure, maybe a new scenario or two will come out, and a couple lurkers might play it and review it, but Blades has been dead for a very long time, and CBoE is at best an archival project, to make sure that the scenarios made when Blades was a thing can still be played. And at that it has succeeded. It's met and surpassed the reason JV released the code for in the first place.


I often feel like one of the few people still interested in BoE, and if I had money I'd bet that the other people interested can be counted on one hand. The code for BoE was released way too late for it to be anything again, but BoA still has that chance. Jeff's re-re-making Exile, and at the very least, a FOSS'ed BoA could bring him in some extra sales. I seriously doubt BoA on its own is getting him anything beyond a couple sales a month, and being able to make your own scenarios for free (if in an archaic engine compared to Exile Remake Remake) could be a good opportunity for free publicity.


So maybe if we stopped sitting on our thumbs and actually brought this up to him, maybe something would happen. I know this has been a plan several times but I don't believe it has ever actually happened.

Edited by A Closer Yell
maybe im just a touch resentful that the last meaningful cboe commit was nearly two years ago
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  • 5 months later...

A BoA re-make would presumably be heavily influenced by the Geneforge series. I imagine it would look a lot like Avernum: Escape from the Pit.

What could be done is to create an Editor for AEFTP and make it a surrogate for a BoA remake. I have made some progress with decrypting AScenData.dat, the scenario file for this game, its equivalent of a Bas file.

I was working on a Blades of Nethergate, so far progress has been satisfactory. I was playing through a port of Smoo's scenario Magus of Cattalon. Then I stopped that to work on Blades of AEFTP.

To work this would need workarounds, which are common in BoA of course.


Overall structure of the AScenData.dat file:

Header = 372

"mac1 Scenario Name"

Then four numbers: 100, 35,6,3


Outdoor records: 42 * 21,016 = 882,672

They start with

0 - 3: X coordinate of out zone

4 - 7: Y coordinate of out zone

(256^4 = 4,294,967,296: this for only 64 possible values of X,Y.)


Town records: 100 * 108,488 = 10,848,800

In each record, offsets 0-1 are the town number.


EOF = 11,731,844

Edited by Ishad Nha
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