Questions about Deadlock

General discussion, queries, etc. about Deadlock and Deadlock II.
User avatar
goblin
Hatchling
Hatchling
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:22 am
Favourite Race: Cyth
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by goblin » Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:29 pm

Russell,

Was the game you were referring to "Lords of Conquest"? I think I still have it for my dusty old c64...
~k
kcapelli artlead deadlock

User avatar
SonOfDon
Colonist
Colonist
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:56 pm
Favourite Race: Humans
Location: Gallius III

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by SonOfDon » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:10 am

Commander wrote:Russell Shiffer here. Here's some random Deadlock trivia.

The original working name for the game was 'Xenosphere'. Some of us argued against the name Deadlock because it was a network game, and a Deadlock in networking is a bad thing. But Marketing told us we were overthinking.
:lol: Searches online for references to the game often resulted in many more hits on deadlock issues in programming than posts about Gallius IV! I for one however, give the name a 'tick'!
Commander wrote:The networking code uses netbios. This was before TCP/IP was the defacto standard.

Wasn't the skirineen raid the 3/4 view action game that Paul prototyped up before we realized that a) we didn't have the budget to produce all of the necessary assets, and b) doing full-screen scrolling in windows just wasn't going to work. He had something playable before it was cut though.

In the original design session one idea was to make a game based on warring Greek city-states. The general units in the final game had originally been heroes like Ajax and Perseus.
Was one motivation for going away from this theme, the desire to include flight and modern (albeit fictional) technologies?
Commander wrote:The game is sometimes described as a hybrid between Civilization and Sim City - and indeed I think that is what we were going for in the end. But at the beginning one of my inspirations was an turn based game I loved from the Commodore 64 days (I can't remember the name.. the units were swords and horses, and you could only have 1 in each territory, there were resources on the map that you used to build units - if anyone remembers the name, please remind me). Anyway, that is why the map is divided into territories.
Another great history lesson - thank you too Russell for this contribution!
Where are we on the curve, we'll know once it goes asymptotic (hopefully).

MoeMoose
Hatchling
Hatchling
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:56 pm
Favourite Race: Re'Lu

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by MoeMoose » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:44 am

Hello, Ubergeneral Grunt, SonOfDon, and all the rest. I'm Paul Kwinn, the other co-lead programmer from Deadlock.

>1. How are the graphics in Spritelg.dat (Deadlock's Sprite Data File) stored?

One of the first things I did when I joined Accolade was come up with a compression format and utility (while working on an earlier game: Bubsy II). I'm pretty sure Deadlock used that scheme. I remember the basics of the format, but not the specifics of spritelg.dat . I can give you the technical bits of the format that I remember, if you want that.

>2. Did companies that localised Deadlock (i.e. Warner Interactive for the German and French versions), have access to Deadlock's source code?

We localized Deadlock in-house (at least some of the languages). As Gary mentioned, he pulled out the text, which got sent to the translators. Then a more junior programmer named Bobby and I worked them back into the game. It may be that other versions were created out of house.

>3. Deadlock's data files make reference to a Skirineen Raid in several places. What exactly happened to this event?

Sorry, this doesn't even sound familiar to me.

(I think the prototype that Russell remembers me making was the BASIC language, all-text combat calculator and book-keeping program that I came up with in my spare time so that we could run a multi-player table-top test of the game, with a paper map and counters. As I recall, it was a bit too buggy, and we ended that game long before anyone "won". It did reassure us that the basic mechanics would work, though.)

>4. The data files also make reference to several random events, that are missing from the game. Why were they cut?

In all likelihood, time (and other resource) constraints. I know there was plenty of discussion about mini-games, but none actually got very far.

>5. How likely is it that Deadlock, will be re-released for any platform? We are holding a poll for which platform(s) Deadlock should be re-released on here: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11

I'm with the rest of the team: Atari (or whatever other company, if Russell is right) is very likely completely unaware that they own this property.

>6. Accolade was primarily known for console games, was Deadlock ever considered for the Playstation or Sega Saturn?

Nope. As others have said: PC was considered to be the only workable platform for a large strategy game.

>7. Does the Source Code, 3d model files for buildings, etc. used for the game still exist?

I don't know. I don't have them.

>8. Is it possible that a Mac OS X (with Intel-Support or just Carbonised) patch for the Mac version of Deadlock, could be released with no input from Atari?

The saying "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission" may apply here.

>9. How many units of Deadlock and Deadlock II were sold?

I've always remembered the original Deadlock's sales as being around 100,000. I have no idea on Deadlock II. The Deadlock team did design work on DL2, but it was sent out of house after that.

>10. Was anything from Deadlock cut, because they could not be completed in time for Deadlock's release?

Very likely, but no particular bits come to mind.

>However, I am particularly interested in your AI. Was this a purely in-house implementation of team created algorithms, or brought in from outside?

The AI was created entirely by Russell and I, no outside libraries, contractors, or even reference, as far as I remember. We designed it together and I think I did most of the implementation.


Other general info/memories:

Oh yeah, we hated the name Deadlock. It literally means a situation where nothing can move forward, because none of the parties involved will let any of the others make progress. (Most commonly used in programming, with "parties" meaning "tasks" or "threads".) I remember Russell summing it up with a proposed sub-title for the game: "Deadlock: the Game Where Nothing Happens!" But marketing was very hot on the name (the word "dead", AND a hard k sound! Ooo!), and we couldn't find one they thought was stronger. So instead, Russell modified the backstory a bit to make the name fit a little better (that's where the Compact of Gallius IV came from: There was a "deadlock" in space over the planet, and this was the way they came up with to break it).

Still my favorite game I've worked on. One of the most fun things about working on this game was that the team was given complete carte blanche (that practically never happens in the game biz). We were told we could make any game we wanted, as long as it sold well. The project began with a 3-day off-site brainstorming meeting at Russell's house, which started out with about half the company there, where we narrowed it down from "every possible game that could be made" to the outline of our design.

A favorite personal story about this game: at those initial sessions, once we knew we were making an Explore-Expand-Exploit game, there was a faction among the brainstormers who wanted a way to win that didn't require you to wipe everyone else out. I remember Russell's wife Taunya and my wife Beckett as leading that faction. And they got what they wanted: the City Center win. We now zoom ahead to the release party. Beckett had left the company shortly after the game's development started, but came to the party and spent some time playing the game. She's not a big gamer, so it surprised (and pleased) me when she really enjoyed it, and that became her major spare-time activity for the next few days. I came home from work one day and found her playing. She had two City Centers, and completely had the AI players on the ropes. She would need several more turns (at least) to mop up, but obviously was going to win. I pointed out to her that she could simply build one more City Center and win that way, BY THE RULE THAT SHE HERSELF HAD ARGUED FOR. She looked at me and said "But I have to kill them now..." :{)} It was so funny, seeing her apparently come to understand how it begins to get personal once you've taken a beating from those damn Cyth (or whatever) one too many times.

I don't think we considered the possibility of making Deadlock an RTS (or not too seriously anyway). But we definitely wanted make it easily and smoothly playable over a network. We had some big Heroes of Might & Magic fans on the team, and wanted to eliminate the part where you had to wait for other players to take their turns. So from day 1, anything in the design had to work with simultaneous turn input and execution (which led, among other things, to the border fights that happen if you and another player send your armies into each other's territories on the same turn).

Amusing fact: at 100,000 copies distributed, Deadsong.wav is my best-selling song ever. :{)} It is also the basis for the only mention of my name on Wikipedia. It was also amusing to find out, through the discussion that the team's been having, that Deadsong is on YouTube, and that some people have been using catchphrases from it for over 10 years.

I'll add in my thanks here that you guys are still excited enough about the game to have this site and be looking into new versions of the game, all these years later.

User avatar
SonOfDon
Colonist
Colonist
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:56 pm
Favourite Race: Humans
Location: Gallius III

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by SonOfDon » Sun Jan 23, 2011 3:50 am

MoeMoose wrote:Hello, Ubergeneral Grunt, SonOfDon, and all the rest. I'm Paul Kwinn, the other co-lead programmer from Deadlock.
Hi Paul!

Welcome to Gallius IV! Thank you for this history lesson and for sharing your memories and anecdotes. I searched out 'The Deadlock Song' on YouTube and very much enjoyed your entertaining, melodic discourse!
MoeMoose wrote:Other general info/memories:
Oh yeah, we hated the name Deadlock. It literally means a situation where nothing can move forward, because none of the parties involved will let any of the others make progress. (Most commonly used in programming, with "parties" meaning "tasks" or "threads".) I remember Russell summing it up with a proposed sub-title for the game: "Deadlock: the Game Where Nothing Happens!" But marketing was very hot on the name (the word "dead", AND a hard k sound! Ooo!), and we couldn't find one they thought was stronger. So instead, Russell modified the backstory a bit to make the name fit a little better (that's where the Compact of Gallius IV came from: There was a "deadlock" in space over the planet, and this was the way they came up with to break it).
In the end, the name worked out well. It's strong, rolls off the tongue and looks great in print. Funny that most of those who visit these boards are probably familiar with the term, Ubergeneral Grunt is studying computer science and I am a physicist for example.
MoeMoose wrote:Still my favorite game I've worked on. One of the most fun things about working on this game was that the team was given complete carte blanche (that practically never happens in the game biz). We were told we could make any game we wanted, as long as it sold well. The project began with a 3-day off-site brainstorming meeting at Russell's house, which started out with about half the company there, where we narrowed it down from "every possible game that could be made" to the outline of our design.
I'm very happy to hear that you have such fond memories of building this game, that you weren't 'burn't' by having responsibility for an unprecedented budget and such a broad scope. The game is, as I have noted elsewhere, breathtaking. I first encountered it when I'd visit my colleague in his office over lunch and find him playing the trial version, which of course was limited to 40(?)? turns. He wouldn't purchase the full game as he'd not get any work done if he had! (We ran at lunch time usually. We had a 5 kilometre course that took us about 20 minutes, although he could do it in 15 and so he could sneak a quick run of the trial version in too sometimes!)
MoeMoose wrote:A favorite personal story about this game: at those initial sessions, once we knew we were making an Explore-Expand-Exploit game, there was a faction among the brainstormers who wanted a way to win that didn't require you to wipe everyone else out. I remember Russell's wife Taunya and my wife Beckett as leading that faction. And they got what they wanted: the City Center win. We now zoom ahead to the release party. Beckett had left the company shortly after the game's development started, but came to the party and spent some time playing the game. She's not a big gamer, so it surprised (and pleased) me when she really enjoyed it, and that became her major spare-time activity for the next few days. I came home from work one day and found her playing. She had two City Centers, and completely had the AI players on the ropes. She would need several more turns (at least) to mop up, but obviously was going to win. I pointed out to her that she could simply build one more City Center and win that way, BY THE RULE THAT SHE HERSELF HAD ARGUED FOR. She looked at me and said "But I have to kill them now..." :{)} It was so funny, seeing her apparently come to understand how it begins to get personal once you've taken a beating from those damn Cyth (or whatever) one too many times.
The ability to end the game with City Centres (Centers) is a great feature. I've often thought of Deadlock as a chess-like game, where in the end, as with a 'checkmate' finish to chess, winning with City Centres was definite but non-violent (unless of course, one insisted on literally toppling a vanquished monarch!). On the other hand, battle chess was always an option!
MoeMoose wrote:I don't think we considered the possibility of making Deadlock an RTS (or not too seriously anyway). But we definitely wanted make it easily and smoothly playable over a network. We had some big Heroes of Might & Magic fans on the team, and wanted to eliminate the part where you had to wait for other players to take their turns. So from day 1, anything in the design had to work with simultaneous turn input and execution (which led, among other things, to the border fights that happen if you and another player send your armies into each other's territories on the same turn).
The border fights are a neat tool, nice to read about their history.
MoeMoose wrote:Amusing fact: at 100,000 copies distributed, Deadsong.wav is my best-selling song ever. :{)} It is also the basis for the only mention of my name on Wikipedia. It was also amusing to find out, through the discussion that the team's been having, that Deadsong is on YouTube, and that some people have been using catchphrases from it for over 10 years.

I'll add in my thanks here that you guys are still excited enough about the game to have this site and be looking into new versions of the game, all these years later.
So, how do we go about getting Deadlock mentioned on 'The Big Bang Theory'?

Finally, if you ever hold a reunion, perhaps you could hold it on a coffee farm in Hawaii and invite some plebs along as observers! I'm all out of this;

Image

and would love to get back there!
Where are we on the curve, we'll know once it goes asymptotic (hopefully).

User avatar
SonOfDon
Colonist
Colonist
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 12:56 pm
Favourite Race: Humans
Location: Gallius III

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by SonOfDon » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:13 am

goblin wrote:Hello. Deadlock Art Lead Ken Capelli here.
Ken, just learned that you were responsible for the art in Giants, Citizen Kabuto. Well done, another game that my children and I enjoyed together. I believe that the Mac version was very well received. On the Mac I believe that this is a carbon application, it would be nice to see it updated.

All the best, David.
Where are we on the curve, we'll know once it goes asymptotic (hopefully).

User avatar
Ubergeneral Grunt
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 177
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:20 am
Favourite Race: Tarth
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by Ubergeneral Grunt » Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:45 am

MoeMoose wrote:>1. How are the graphics in Spritelg.dat (Deadlock's Sprite Data File) stored?

One of the first things I did when I joined Accolade was come up with a compression format and utility (while working on an earlier game: Bubsy II). I'm pretty sure Deadlock used that scheme. I remember the basics of the format, but not the specifics of spritelg.dat . I can give you the technical bits of the format that I remember, if you want that.
I'd love to see the format of Spritelg.dat, is there any way I can extract the graphics from this file?

Ken, is it okay if I put up some of your Deadlock art from your website on my site? I'll give full credit.

Maybe Mark Jensen will know about the Skirineen Raid. After all, he wrote all the dialog, which includes references to it.

The French Deadlock box has a screenshot with:

•XenoSphere in the title bar
•The Black Market window, with the Re'Lu in the Skirineen's place.
•An extra button "Hire Commando" in the Black Market Window
•A lot of extra buttons on the toolbar
•The Satellite Map is in it's own window

Another Screenshot that also bears the name XenoSphere has:

•A road that runs out of the territory
•A message from the Cyth in it's own window, like the map.
•The terrain's of an odd shape, too.

I'll try and scan the screenshots. I'd love to see more screens from the Alpha versions of the game.
MoeMoose wrote:(I think the prototype that Russell remembers me making was the BASIC language, all-text combat calculator and book-keeping program that I came up with in my spare time so that we could run a multi-player table-top test of the game, with a paper map and counters. As I recall, it was a bit too buggy, and we ended that game long before anyone "won". It did reassure us that the basic mechanics would work, though.)
Hehe, sounds like fun. Even if it didn't allow for a full game.
Tarth cooks make best strudel, barbecue, bean dip, fish, cat food, smelt, piston rings, tofu and cam shafts...

User avatar
Ubergeneral Grunt
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 177
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:20 am
Favourite Race: Tarth
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by Ubergeneral Grunt » Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:34 pm

SonOfDon wrote:The border fights are a neat tool, nice to read about their history.
Deadlock II removed border wars. If two armies moved across a border towards each other, then the smaller army stayed and the battle is fought in their territory. Border wars were also used when two armies tried to attack a single territory on the same turn. In DL2, I have seen 3 armies fight each other in one battle.
Tarth cooks make best strudel, barbecue, bean dip, fish, cat food, smelt, piston rings, tofu and cam shafts...

MoeMoose
Hatchling
Hatchling
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 11:56 pm
Favourite Race: Re'Lu

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by MoeMoose » Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:05 am

>I'd love to see the format of Spritelg.dat, is there any way I can extract the graphics from this file?

OK, I can tell you about the compression format, but not sure about spritelg.dat . I think it’s full of sprite pixel data in this format, but I think there was an include file with the offsets for the beginning of each graphic in there. So you’d need the source code (or some extensive guessing) to get the offsets right.

The format (Russell said he thinks it was named PKCompress) was byte-oriented. The first two bits of the initial byte described the type of encoding, and the next 6 were a count (0-63) [possibly, I interpreted those as 1-64, since a count of 0 wasn’t useful].

2-bit code value:
--------------------
0 – Straight copy of the next <count> bytes from input to output.
1 – RLE: the next <count> bytes of output should all be filled with the next (single) byte of input.
2 – copy from earlier in the stream, short offset: the byte following the control byte indicates an offset to a position earlier in the output stream. The next <count> bytes of output should be copied from that position to the output stream.
3 – copy from earlier in the stream, long offset: same as 2, above, except that the offset is the next TWO bytes after the control byte, rather than just one. This allowed an offset of up to 64K.

User avatar
Ubergeneral Grunt
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 177
Joined: Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:20 am
Favourite Race: Tarth
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Contact:

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by Ubergeneral Grunt » Thu Jan 27, 2011 6:37 pm

Ken (goblin), I noticed your site has the cover from a Computer Gaming World issue with an article on Deadlock, never seen it before.

I looked on Ebay for the issue, to no avail. So I made an RSS feed, just in case one pops up. As a collector of anything Deadlock related, I hope I can find it somehow. Did a CD come with this magazine, including a demo of Deadlock earlier than version 1.20?
Tarth cooks make best strudel, barbecue, bean dip, fish, cat food, smelt, piston rings, tofu and cam shafts...

User avatar
Occifer Dibble
Hatchling
Hatchling
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:24 pm
Favourite Race: Maug
Location: UK

Re: Questions about Deadlock

Post by Occifer Dibble » Thu Jan 27, 2011 8:32 pm

Sorry to interrupt the flow, I feel compelled to say it is extremely remarkable and fantastic we can get direct answers and pearls of wisdom directly from the creators like this. The funny little stories and insight from when the game was under construction makes the whole thing seem much more alive. It's nice to be reminded that the games we play came about from many hours of effort; kinda adds the human touch.

As for questions, do you think there should have been a line of Deadlock action figures?

Serious question, though, how are the combats worked out? Sometimes it looks straightforward when it's two laser cannons stumbling upon one another, but it gets much more confusing when things like aircraft are involved.
Julie don't live here anymore. She moved away many years before.

Post Reply