The Lords of Midnight
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (December 2012)|
|The Lords of Midnight|
|Distributor(s)||Chilli Hugger Software|
|Release date(s)||ZX Spectrum & Amstrad CPC
|Genre(s)||Adventure, Role-playing, Strategy|
|Distribution||Cassette, CD-ROM, download|
The Lords of Midnight is a wargame/adventure game. The player starts with four characters (Luxor the Moonprince, Rorthron the Wise, Corleth the Fey, and Morkin), and then has the option to recruit up to twenty eight further Lords (Ithrorn, The Utarg of Utarg, Blood, Xajorkith, Shadows, and so on) to the cause in the quest to destroy Doomdark, the Witchking of Midnight.
The game can be played in three ways; firstly, as a straight adventure game, where the focus is on Morkin's quest to destroy the Ice Crown, the source of Doomdark's power, then secondly as a wargame, where the focus is on recruiting lords and troops to defeat Doomdark's armies. The third variation, described in the manual as the 'Epic', required the player to complete the game in both ways simultaneously.
The human player has the advantage in that only one of two objectives is required to defeat Doomdark. If the Ice Crown is destroyed, or Doomdark's home citadel of Ushgarak falls, the game is won. In order for Doomdark to win, he has to complete two objectives; firstly Morkin must be killed, for as long as Morkin is alive the game will continue, and secondly he must subdue the armies of the Free. He can do this by either killing Luxor the Moonprince or conquering Xajorkith, the capital citadel of the Free lands.
The game featured a groundbreaking technique called landscaping to depict the lands of Midnight from a first-person perspective,
At the time of its release, the game creator Mike Singleton thought there was no way to defeat Doomdark before Xajorkith fell. Gamers proved him wrong, and to this day the various Internet groups devoted to the game continue to refine strategies to defeat Doomdark.
Zzap!64 published a four-page map of the game in 1985.
The 3D effect used in the game was achieved by "billboarding" (see sprite) pre-scaled images of mountains, forests, buildings, etc. to create the impression of a perspective-correct landscape scene, available from a viewpoint of 8 points of the compass: the technique was self-described as "landscaping". The techique created a strong impression at the time, and the game received praise for its graphics; "landscaping" was also used in the sequel Doomdark's Revenge, but did not see significant further use in games.
Singleton designed the game, wrote the novella/manual, and developed "landscaping" in the last three months of 1983, and wrote the code in the first three months of 1984. The game he submitted to the publisher in April 1984 was entirely his product.
CRASH awarded Lords of Midnight 10 out of 10, highlighting the panoramic views, detailed units and "wonderfully coherent" storyline. The game won the award for best adventure game of the year according to the Crash readers. Zzap!64 rated it at 91%, calling it "truly an epic game ... a must for adventurers and strategists alike", although one of the three reviewers expressed disappointment that the Commodore 64 version's graphics did not improve on the Spectrum original. It was also Best Strategy Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards
The ZX Spectrum version was voted the 7th best game of all time in a special issue of Your Sinclair magazine in 2004. In 2013 historian Jimmy Maher stated that, while not as playable as Elite, it and The Lords of Midnight "make you want to believe—make you actively imagine—that there is more to their universes than there actually is ... some of the most awe-inspiring virtual worlds ever made". He called The Lords of Midnight's development "a remarkable achievement indeed, one of the last of the great lone-wolf games".
Sequels and remakes
A sequel called Doomdark's Revenge took place in a land north of Midnight called the Icemark. The object was to defeat the daughter of Doomdark, who sought revenge against Luxor for her father's death.
The planned final installment of the trilogy, The Eye of The Moon, was never released.
There has also been some work into creating a new modernized version of Lords of Midnight for iPhones and iPads, with a collaboration between the original author of the game, Mike Singleton, and the author of the game ports for Windows Chris Wild. Following Mike Singleton's death on October 10, 2012, it was confirmed that the new version would be released on BlackBerry and iOS on the Winter Solstice in 2012 with versions for Windows and Android to follow.
Upon release Beyond Software, the publishers of the game, offered to turn the campaign of the first person who could offer proof of completing the game into a published novel. While there weren't many ways of offering proof that the campaign was completed, many players sent reams of thermal printer paper to Beyond Software, hoping to get their campaign published. The first person to send in their claim to victory did so within two weeks of the game's release. In the end, however, no publisher was interested in publishing what they deemed a fringe publication, and the offered prize was forfeit.
Tentative discussions were held, where Mike Singleton offered to write the novel himself. Ultimately time constraints and the reluctance on the publisher's part made any and all plans for a novel impossible.
- Doomdark's Revenge, second part from The Lords of Midnight trilogy.
- Lords of Midnight : The Citadel, third and last part from The Lords of Midnight trilogy.
- "Lords of Midnight Online Community, at Yahoo! Groups".
- Wade, Bob; Penn, Gary; Rignall, Julian (May 1985). "The Lords of Midnight". Zzap!64 (review). pp. 82–84. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
- Your Spectrum, Issue 9, November 1984 - Adventures
- Maher, Jimmy (2014-01-07). "Mike Singleton and The Lords of Midnight". The Digital Antiquarian. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
- Brewster, Derek (August 1984). "Lords of Midnight". CRASH (Newsfield) (7).
- "Top 50 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair (Imagine Publishing). November 2004.
- source code of various game variants on icemark.com
- "Retro Gamer Issue 4, March 2004 (scan)".
- "Mike Singleton, Lord of Midnight : 2nd Sinclair User Annual, 1984".