It all started back in the days of Myth: The Fallen Lords, when an enterprising group of talented artists devoted their time and efforts to expanding the virtual battlefield with their state-of-the-art maps. And for a name they chose Project Magma, for magma is what new lands are formed out of.
But that was only the beginning.
With time, Project Magma earned a well-deserved prestige within the Myth community. Soon, they became one of the few selected groups that kept the world of The Fallen Lords alive with their wide range of maps, conversions and utilities, and the release of Myth II: Soulblighter, the highly awaited sequel to this revolutionary strategy game, only extended Project Magma's skills to a new realm.With the coming of MacOS X, though, the Myth community retreated as the chances of a carbon version of either title became more and more unlikely.
And that's when Project Magma saved the day.
Today IMG speaks to Iron Duke, leader of Project Magma's attempt to bring Myth and MacOS X together.
IMG: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved with Project Magma?
Iron Duke: Well, I've been playing Myth (TFL and Soulblighter) since 1999. That makes me a newbie in myth terms as I didn't get into the game from the first TFL Beta, but I've been solidly hooked on it & can't shake the addiction. The mod-making side of things really gripped me as well and I've released a few plugins for Myth 2.
Mid last year I worked with another guy to release a TFL map, just for the novelty (its a lot harder to make plugins for TFL), and as a result of that I met the Magma folk.
I joined up to help with some of their projects, then along came the source-code for Myth 2.
IMG: Moving from map making to carbonizing Myth II: Soulblighter sounds like an enormous step. What made you get involved in so big a task?
Iron Duke: Hmm, thats not easy to answer simply. Firstly I love Myth. I'm not generally a big player of computer games, but Myth has captured my imagination and creativity more than any other title. As a mapmaker and player I've become very familiar with Myth 2's shortcomings, and as the community started to wane I feared that unless something were done the game would die out.
In "real life" I'm a programmer. After I'd heard about MythDev receiving the Myth 3 sourcecode to fix the many bugs that game was released with, I asked them if they'd been given the Myth 2 source as well. The result of that was that I joined MythDev to work on carbonizing Myth 2 and to work towards a 1.4 update. As all of MythDev's attention was focused on Myth 3 at the moment (though they've recently kicked in with some programming expertise) I brought the project to Magma.
IMG: The Myth II engine has been acclaimed not only by reviewers but also by the community as a whole. What difficulties have you encountered in tweaking something that was already considered perfect by many?
Iron Duke: The release of 1.4 wasn't without issues. We did make one change with Myth 2 to fix what has sometimes been called the "click of death", where if you clicked on an enemy's melee with your own you were almost guaranteed to lose the fight. Although most players are in favour of this change, others have grown used to the bug and are bitterly opposed. We thought long and hard before correcting what was an obvious flaw (one of very few that we encountered), and since release we've had plenty of opportunity to consider again whether we did the right thing.
As for vTFL, among the hard-code followers of TFL it has had a mixed reaction. No matter how close it is to the original game it will never _be_ the original game. Whether they adopt it or not, I'm confident that what we've done will make Myth more enjoyable for a lot of players, and I know we've done everything possible to make it replicate TFL.
Also, some of the new features in 1.4 have come as a pleasant surprise to many, such as the ability to see and manage your own units underwater, and to have as many third party plugins as you like without having to wait half an hour for the game to load.
IMG: Aside from Open GL rendering, your implementation of The Fallen Lords' gameplay into the Myth II: Soulblighter engine is quite probably the biggest feature this latest patch has to offer. What made you include this feature, and to what extent is TFL emulated by it?
Iron Duke: The Project Magma guys twisted my arm ;)
We discussed it at length as we knew it would be a huge task, but we saw the remnants of the TFL community getting smaller almost daily. We knew that if we didn't do something to preserve TFL then it would soon be impossible to find a game on-line. We would have preferred to carbonize TFL itself and add OpenGL, larger screen resolutions and so on rather than bring it into Myth 2, but we could only work with the source we had.
As for how closely it mimics TFL, it is as close as we could have made it without seeing the TFL source. Many of the best TFL players were involved in the project as testers, so a lot of really small but important details were replicated. The biggest challenge was pathfinding, as that part of the code had been completely rewritten for Myth 2. I had to devise my own extensions to the Myth 2 algorithm to make vTFL behave in a similar way to TFL.
This part of the project doesn't stop with the engine alone. Other guys within Magma have ported all of the TFL multiplayer maps to Myth 2 along with some of the most popular 3rd party mods.
And we are now working on bringing the entire TFL solo campaign across.