Pixal – Day 246, it’s been over ten years

This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time; over the past years, I’ve complained repeatedly about how I worked so much on Pixal, and then I lost the direction of the project and it all went to hell. Well, it’s about time to fix that.

Let me introduce you to Legends of Kramora: The Golden Age of Ibaran – A prequel to Wrath of Kramora (otherwise known as Ananias), this story takes place years before the great serpent arose from the underworld to destroy the world; fighters from all around the world travel to Ibaran, to compete in the tournament and gain fame and fortune.

The first task (besides making sure this beast works fine in modern infrastructure) is to remove the World Browser – It’s worth months of work, and yet the scope creep it brought killed the project around 2010. I’ll focus instead on providing fun combat and tournament mechanics, making an entire game around it.

This will take a little bit; for good or bad, the SVN history of the project was lost, so there’s no way to automatically revert the months of work that went in; instead, I have to manually restore things that I had changed already with the idea of them working in a less abstract way, tying them to “buildings” and locations inside the world that you could navigate with your Expeditions (for instance, the Colosseum was a building there, so I have to manually restore it into a list in the profile page)

In any case, I feel happy that I was able to revive this project and it didn’t take a lot of time. I’m hoping some people will still find it interesting after these years; I myself still look forward to playing a light browser-based game in the dead times of the day.

Of course, another important thing I’m doing is adding a light narrative to this and tying it to the rest of the Kramora series. I believe this is important since the original Pixal didn’t have any setting and was maybe a bit too abstract.

It’s also amusing how much of how this codebase works I am able to remember; I already had to fix a bunch of 10 years old bugs that lay dormant in the code.

A public beta version will be available soon!

Aprox. Work Time: 246 days, 727:00 (725:00 + 2:00)

Pixal: The world that never was

About 5 years ago, I set myself to finish Pixal. One of the big things I had to do was creating a huge world which players could explore with their expeditions.


I begun by pasting together the output of several runs of a fractal/voronoi terrain generator, doing small modifications for them to fit.

The whole world

In order to ease the edition of the world, I divided it into 350 32×32 tiles sectors (total world size: 800×448 tiles). My sister was entrusted with the huge work of creating the individuals maps by hand.

The world divided in 350 sectors

In addition to the ground level, we also created a subterranean / underwater map and another one for the “skies”.

There was a server side component which swallowed the TMX maps into the database and allowed players to browse the world. Then, to make scale even grander, I allowed zooming into each one of the tiles, generating another persistent map (32×32 I think), in which you could create your own buildings, or explore caves (randomly generated using CA). Then the project collapsed under its own weight, even though all this hard mapping work was finished.


In the end, Pixal was never released, and this world was left unexplored.

Underwater sector I-11

Ground level J-3

Air sector E-2


The tale of Pixal

Eight years ago, back on November 2007, I started a project. I wanted to do something different than I used to do back then.

I worked on the project for about 3 years investing about 700 development hours and learning a lot in the process, but the project never went public.


I can think on two reasons why it happened:

I never had a clear idea on what the game was going to be

I started the project thinking on doing something pretty simple so you could create a virtual character and buy clothing for it.


Then, for some reason, I added combat to the mix, probably because I just have something with Fantasy medieval combat.


But I actually think that choice was ok. Developing a doll-dresser was not very exciting in the end. The combat model evolved becoming complex and interesting, and I put a tournament in place where people could participate. By then I was using the open source graphics from Dungeon Crawl.


By the end of year 2, the game was actually pretty fun, or so it seemed based on playtester’s feedback. You could create a group of pixals, make them participate on a tournament and buy equipment for them. Fights were based on a deck of skills you had, where you earned new cards as you leveled up. Good players got weekly medals, new equipment was spawned daily on the stores. Denzi, one of biggest contributors to the pixel art of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup had joined the team and provided a slew of awesome pixel art. (hint: Most of it is being reused for Ananias today) Everybody was happy.


However, fueled by player feedback and some books I had read on the subject of virtual worlds, I wanted more.

It all begun with the idea of providing alternate activities other than fighting; I toyed with the idea of the city where the fights took place, and now there were other buildings where the pixals could work for money. The idea started evolving to the point where I wanted to create an entire world where expeditions of pixals could explore the world, build settlements, trade stuff. A virtual economy, a world browser.


I failed.

Not only was the world browser a huge undertaking, I also didn’t actually know how to make exploring the world an interesting adventure…. I had people creating a huge 3 levels map for the world which I never ended up using. I added a zoom feature, including random cavern generation for the detailed terrain and a rudimentary system for placing tiles into the world, which would eventually become buildings. I then tried adding guilds (?). None of that made exploring the world fun.

If I had had a clear goal on what the game was going to be, I could have released on 2009, at least as an initial version; developing the world browser was not needed to have a working game, and actually unleashed a ton of risks into the project which actually happened. Which brings me to the next point…

I underestimated the effort.

Developing the world browser was just too much for me… just from the technical perspective back then we didn’t have widespread and readily available tools for bidirectional interaction with the server from a browser (such as modern websockets), but that was only part of the problem, I also lacked the skills required on game design and world building to create a compelling experience and an interesting world.

I tried to work around this by planning, separating things into modules, estimating, organizing stuff. But in the end I hit a point where no matter how I tried to look at the project, I could see no way forward.

Eventually, I ran out of energy and abandoned the project, just to pursue a second one which would suffer a very similar fate…

…but that’s a story for another day.

From time to time, I feel the urge of rolling all the world browser thing back, and do a public release of just the tournament… but times have changed, there’s much more competition now… maybe no one would care.

Px2+Troria, advancements on combat+design, last stretch for oryx challenge

Did my best trying to finish “something” on time for the challenge, but although the engine is in a pretty good shape, I’d still have to generate decent / balanced content and test thoroughly to produce a quality product.

I’d like to thank Oryx however, for giving me a reason to resurrect the project and give it a fresh air, I’ll definitively finish this once I get some spare time (and I believe I’ll finally have some spare time soon :))

Here are the advancements:

The first, test map

Battle Setup
Battle Setup

Round Results
Round Results

A more advanced map of Troria
A more advanced map of Troria


New Project: Troria, and the revival of Pixal

For the Oryx Ultimate Roguelike Challenge, I’ve decided to revive the pixal project, remaking the engine from the ground up.

I’ll elaborate more on the Pixal aspect soon, but for the moment here’s the advancement on the Troria Project:

Troria will be a mobile game you can play from your browser; explore the world of Troria becoming stronger and wiser while battling fierce enemies and roaming a huge world, all from your phone or your computer.

Moving between locations and exploring takes real world time, so get ready for an expansive experience, your characters will live their quest while you do your everyday things.

I’ve spent most of the time redesigning the pixal engine into something simpler, modern, more fun and accessible. Also with a more robust and scalable architecture. The engine already loads the scenario from a JSON file and provides persistence for the player data.

So far, I’ve managed to establish the backend to support the following operations:

  • Signup
  • Login
  • Character Creation
  • Movement
  • Exploration

Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.45.38 PM px2 Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.51.41 PM 1385838160258 Screen Shot 2013-12-01 at 11.56.50 PM

Pixal v0.19 released!

Hello people! Long time since you last heard about Pixal, right?

Well, lately we started working back on it! there has been a lot of changes deep inside, but the most important is we are looking forward to actually finish the game for the pleasure of all world 🙂

Since last version, a new Capability has been added (Using forum buildings), and there have been important fixes and changes on the battle model (items now wear with time so you actually have to replace them). The world browser has also been optimized and autoupdates so the whole thing is semi-semi-real time (at least you can see expeditions moving around you).

Remember, this release is still beta quality! we are looking for playtesters so if you are interested in contributing you are very welcome!

Next versions will feature the whole world, and enhancements over the contruction facet.

So, without further ado, take a look!

A separate dimension, currently inhabited by EIA’s gamedev research group

Pixal forums, integrated with uStream, allow to share a presentation while the group chats about it

Equipment is damaged on each fight, reducing its effectivity

Pixal: Item depreciation

Items now have integrity (max and current), and become damaged when used in combat, gaining modifiers which may eventually make them useless.

This is an important change, meant to make more money flow into the world (by requiring acquiring new weapons and armor)

Max integrity depends on the material and weight of the item. Items are damaged when they are hit or combat (or when they are used, in the case of weapons)


  • Annoying bug: “null” on the link to go back to profile when fighting a pixal outside the world browser
  • Annoying bug: Only use the tech for the “first” attack on each round (if you have a second weapon or you are unarmed, you should not gain the benefits of the tech twice) (this is specially annoying when using skills like quickness)
  • Restore test database into dev (for better QA)
  • Continue with global roadmap: Shops as buildings
  • http://slashware.net/blog/?p=1002

Aprox. Work Time: 245 days, 725:00 (722:00 + 1:00 + 2:00)