Pie-in-the-sky feature suggestion

Advanced Wolfenstein 3D source port based upon Wolf4SDL and ZDoom.
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Quattro Bajeena
(If that is my real name)
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Pie-in-the-sky feature suggestion

Post by Quattro Bajeena » Wed Sep 30, 2015 3:56

Let me preface this by saying I have ZERO expectation of this actually happening. If I were to expect such a thing, I'd have to back it up with a plan to do the work myself — and I've made no such plan.

I heard about this engine while investigating techniques for speeding up my own raycaster, which also builds on SDL2. I found a post by the main developer describing how ECWolf works, and claiming that he intended it as a general-purpose engine for running old raycaster games on modern computers, not just a Wolfenstein port.

As soon as I read that, I knew exactly the game I'd like to see it support. Its world geometry is barely more complicated than Wolf3D's. The map is still a fixed grid, and all objects are still billboards, but now there are variable floor heights, transparent walls, and water with a cute animation effect to make the surface look like cartoonish waves. Strangely enough, it doesn't support stairs, instead using a crudely drawn door texture to represent the point of ascent or descent to the next floor of a building. The gameplay mechanics are quite different from Wolf3D, a little closer to their common parentage in Ultima Underworld. And while the series as a whole is so fondly regarded that the fans border on self-destructive obsession, it's only the sequels that are getting any kind of attention towards efforts at a remake.

Naturally I'm talking about The Elder Scrolls I: Arena.
Image
The original source code has probably been lost, meaning a true source port is out of the question. And there's very little documentation (as far as I know) on the data file formats. On the other hand, the game itself is now freely and legally available from Bethesda, so someone with a knack for reverse engineering could conceivably get started at their own leisure.

Then again, there'd be so little reward for this kind of project...

Gez
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Re: Pie-in-the-sky feature suggestion

Post by Gez » Wed Sep 30, 2015 10:53

Arena's file formats have been figured out a while ago. The Elder Scrolls modding team is big and full of talented people.

Something called WinArena (disregard where it's hosted, it's definitely not for TES4: Oblivion) is a full resource extractor and partial game implementation. Source code is included IIRC. There's also this, which is based on WinArena (you'll find its source code there too).

Anyway, while there aren't any completed full implementation of an Arena engine clone, the data format issue is solved.

While I don't think Arena would fit the scope of ECWolf (and the underlying game engine is probably far too different from Wolfenstein 3D, so it'd be either a rough approximation with Wolfenstein logic, or a completely difference game engine bundled in the project...), there are some interesting features from Arena that could be neat to have for ECWolf modding.
Arena has:
  • Multiple heights (in cities, look at buildings)
  • Partial height blocks (in dungeons)
  • Underground blocks, in three variants (tunnel, water, lava), complete with swimming and climbing
  • Diagonal blocks
  • Transparent (masked) blocks used to create things such as clotheslines (instead of using sprites that rotate to face the player like in Wolf 3D)
On the renderer side, the game features dynamic lighting, and also a simple screen twisting effect to simulate faint rolling motion when swimming.

MrFlibble
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 15, 2015 18:05

Re: Pie-in-the-sky feature suggestion

Post by MrFlibble » Thu Mar 17, 2016 11:49

Heh, I actually thought this would be a request to add support for games created with Pie in the Sky's 3D Game Creation System :)
Gez wrote:there are some interesting features from Arena that could be neat to have for ECWolf modding.
Arena has:
  • Multiple heights (in cities, look at buildings)
  • Partial height blocks (in dungeons)
  • Underground blocks, in three variants (tunnel, water, lava), complete with swimming and climbing
  • Diagonal blocks
  • Transparent (masked) blocks used to create things such as clotheslines (instead of using sprites that rotate to face the player like in Wolf 3D)
On the renderer side, the game features dynamic lighting, and also a simple screen twisting effect to simulate faint rolling motion when swimming.
Arena has a lot of neat effects, like puddles of water with actual reflections of the surrounding scenery.

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