Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Weekly Update

I am still debating weather to make this a bi-monthly update, or not, let me know what you think, or want, via the forum or comments down below. This week I will interview Jonathan Gay, one of the original creators of Dark Castle, and Beyond Dark Castle. He went on to create Flash, and then form his own company, Greenbox Technology.

Jon God: Have you ever thought about returning to game development?

Jonathan Gay: I really enjoyed building Airborne! and the first two versions of Dark Castle but I've have not been tempted to try another game. I find game technology very interesting but I've always spent more time programming than playing games and I find it's interesting to keep trying new things so it's been good to get to work in a variety of areas of software in my career.

Jon God: Have you gotten a chance to play Return to Dark Castle, if so, what did you think?

Jonathan Gay: I have not played Return to Dark Castle. I have a fondness for the simplicity of the original Dark Castle so it does seem like an interesting challenge to try and keep that feel while taking advantage of the capabilities of modern computers.

Jon God: What inspired Dark Castle?

Jonathan Gay: There were a combination of things. The technology we had available on the Mac was one driver. We had gained some skills with working with digitized sound on the Mac from Airborne! and I also did some work to get smooth flicker free animation on the Mac. We also wanted a game that made sense with the mouse and the keyboard as input. Many arcade games used a joystick but that was not available on the Mac. Having a talented artist and animator, Mark Stephen Pierce, on the team was also a new thing for Mac games at the time so that allowed us to do good animation. Mark was in San Francisco and I was in San Diego so we met for a couple days in San Diego to develop an idea, Mark started sending artwork and animation mockups and I started making it work.

Jon God: How long did it take to write Dark Castle?

Jonathan Gay: It took about a year.

Jon God: Was there anything you could remember that didn't make it into the games?

Jonathan Gay: There were certainly some sound effects we did not use. I think we used most of the animations that Mark created.

Jon God: Was the original vision of the game supposed to be scary or comedic?

Jonathan Gay: I think we are aiming for a touch of serious but fun. Kind of like the experience of the Pirates of the Caribean at Disneyland.

Jon God: Did you ever expect the games to do so well?

Jonathan Gay: It was early on the Mac so we did not really know what to expect in terms of sales. I wanted to make the best game on the Mac but I assumed that it would fade away in year or two as people wrote new and better games. The game sold well but we never really knew how many copies were out in the world as a result of piracy.

Jon God: A lot of people switched to mac, because of Dark Castle, and Beyond Dark Castle. In general, Dark Castle defined mac gaming for years, and showed what the mac was capable of, was it hard to achieve such quality?

Jonathan Gay: The key to the quality was the team of a good programmer and a talented artist. The game was certainly a lot of work. The startup screen was written in Pascal but the whole game was written in 68000 assembly language which can be tedious. The debugger, MacsBug, I used was not very sophisticated at the time so it was pretty low level work. Defining the animation offsets and sequences using assembler macros and def statements was also pretty tedious.

Jon God: Did you ever have plans for a third Dark Castle?

Jonathan Gay: No. SuperPaint was making much more money than the games for Silicon Beach Software at the time so that pushed the company to focus on graphics software.

Jon God: Did you ever imagine that 22 years later there would still be people playing what you helped create, along with having communities based around it?

Jonathan Gay: I never would have guessed it. I think Dark Castle was the first game on the Mac to bring together digitized sound, good animation and game play with a bit of depth. I think that first experience of hearing sounds react to you actions and working to get the timing right to get through the various levels seems to have had a lasting impact on people.

Jon God: How did you originally get involved with the project?

Jonathan Gay: I had met Charlie Jackson, the founder of Silicon Beach Software, at a Mac User group meeting. He did not have much startup capital so he was looking for programmers who could work and get paid royalities after the game sold. Since I was still in school and living at home, I did not need an income. The first game I did for them was Airborne! That did well so took what we learned about building Mac games, found an artist and we did a second more ambitious game, Dark Castle.

Jon God: The credits list Dick Noel as the person behind the sounds, but I have been unable to find any information on him, anything you remember about him?

Jonathan Gay: I never met Dick. He was a professional voice. He was reputed to have some work on some of the Flintstones cartoons but I was never clear on which character or how much he did. Eric Zocher went to his home studio with a list of sounds we wanted. Eric spent an afternoon and came back with an audio tape. Dick did pretty much all of the human sounds. The rat squeak was a women in the Silicon Beach office and the clanking noise was a metal part under a folding table in the office.

Jon God: How hard was it to fit a game of such high quality on two 800KB disks?

Jonathan Gay: Fitting it into the 128k of RAM on the Mac was a bigger issue than the disks. We had some very simple sound compression and some simple image compression but since the images were all 1 bit they weren't that big. Since the code was written in assembly language and the data for the levels was defined by hand, that part tended to stay small on it's own.

Jon God: Do you by any chance know when the game was released, more then just the year?

Jonathan Gay: I don't recall.

And there you go, see you again after christmas!


Each week, I hope to have a puzzle for you to solve, which will somehow relate to Dark Castle. This week's puzzle is in the form of a description without the word it belongs to, relating to castles.

Description: I am a punishment frame that usually grips victim's hands and head, so onlookers can throw garbage.

Answer for last week's puzzle: Atilliator


Feel free to send in feedback, what you did/didn't like, what you'd like to see, ect, as I would love to hear it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Update

(Apologies on this taking 2 extra days)

I am debating weather to make this a bi-monthly update, or not, let me know what you think, or want, via the forum or comments down below. This I will be talking to a member from our community, and one of the moderators of the Dark Castle Forum, we will be talking about the community, history, and his currently work in progress Dark Castle website,

Jon God: Hello, thank you for joining me today.

gruz: My pleasure. *Smiles*

Jon God: Let's start with the Dark Castle forum, what was it like to find a community of people that also still played and enjoyed Dark Castle?

gruz: I honestly never thought I would find such a place, it was a real delight to see that other people were still interested in a game I grew up with in the 80's.

Jon God: How did you originally find the forum?

gruz: Hmmm... I believe it was through Wikipedia. I remember I registered on the forum, and lurked for a few days before I felt that I had something to add of some value. I posted a link to a guide on how to setup Mini vMac on a keychain flash drive. After I posted that, I was surprised on how friendly the community was.

Jon God: Let's move forward some time, you were the first moderator for the forum, and I have often called you the fastest, mod on the forum, is this something you're proud of?

gruz: Hahaha, I was and still am glad to help out whenever I can. I took the responsibility pretty seriously when I first was appointed moderator. Actually it was unhealthy, as I'd be checking the forum 30 times a day or more, every hour that I was awake. I honestly am glad that we have a team of people now. La Porta and Izdale make life a lot easier for me now, and they do an excellent job. Thanks guys.

Jon God: What do you think draws people to the Dark Castle series?

gruz: I honestly feel that the majority of modern computer gamers who have never played the originals, or even Color Dark Castle, probably won't be into the series if they're coming into it in 2008. The thing is though, that the originals sold millions of copies on several different platforms. Those people still exist, and the sounds and graphics of the originals were so good that they're burned into people's brains. All they need is to see or hear those things to instantly spark the Dark Castle memories buried deep in their brains, and they're going to want to revisit the old games, or buy Return to Dark Castle.

Jon God: Do you think it's just circumstance that Dark Castle has a community following it, when most games from the same period have little to no following, or is it something about the game?

gruz: Definitely the game. People love great graphics, sound, and gameplay, even still to this day. Dark Castle delivered something that was unseen at the time, and nothing could come close. People remember it because of just that. Although the graphics aren't what they once were, I still love them. In fact, I have been known to hit command-option and click on the demo button in the title screen and just watch it for a while.

Jon God: Let's move away from the old Dark Castles, a while ago, you registered the domain '', and have been working on it off and on since then, why should the Dark Castle community be excited for it?

gruz: We, as a community, aren't a particularly large one. We have our core members, and our drive-by members. I want more people, and more variety of opinions being thrown around on the forums. The main site of will probably offer nothing new to those that consider themselves 'Hardcore', but that was never the focus. My main goal with it is to spark those buried Dark Castle memories, and get people thinking about the game again. "Remember this game? Yeah? Wanna play it again?" Hopefully it will be worth the time and money that I'm putting into it, and eventually get some more people on the forums.

The downloads section however, is something that everyone will hopefully be able to enjoy. It's mostly completed and allows for custom levels and heros to be uploaded, commented on and rated on a 5 star system. You, Jon God, are working with me to provide some additional content also.

Jon God: I have seen the website and I think it's wonderful, I think other members of the forum will enjoy it quite a bit, and I can see the downloads section becoming the hub for downloads of Dark Castle related media around the web, any idea when it will be opened, or previewed to the public?

gruz: The downloads section will be officially opened up no later than when the level editor for Return to Dark Castle is released, even if it's not 100% how I want it. At this time, it looks like it might be opened up before the we get the level editor. It really won't do a lot of good until we get the level editor though, as the replay feature in Return to Dark Castle is still broken.

Jon God: Speaking of the level editor, have any plans saved for for the release of it?

gruz: Yes, I'm going to go take my laptop to McDonald's and create a wacky Dark Castle/Mc Chicken hybrid custom level.

Jon God: I dunno if I should take that as a serious answer, or just wait and see...

gruz: Next question.

Jon God: Okie dokie, having waited so long for Return to Dark Castle, what do you think of it, are you happy with how it ended up, or disappointed?

gruz: I absolutely loved Return to Dark Castle. I can't say that it captured me in the same way as the originals, but I'll be honest, there's no way that it could have. I love it for what it is, and I think that it's a great step forward for the series. The game feels a bit behind though, and I probably would've loved it even more if it was released back in the early 2000's. Stuff happens though, and I can understand where they're coming from. I'm hoping that Z Sculpt will deliver our next fix before the end of 2010, we're ready for more. The Zacks have earned a bunch of lifetime fans with this game, don't keep us hanging.

Jon God: I hear you, so what about your youtube channel, I remember you talking about making a video comparing all versions of Dark Castle, but I don't know it's current status, feel like telling us about your channel?

gruz: My Dark Castle YouTube channel is another way that I am trying to spark those Dark Castle memories in people's brains. It's a lot of fun for me to make videos when I have free time, so I try to post at least 1 Dark Castle video a month. The channel used to be my own personal channel with videos of family and pets, but after I had posted a bunch of videos to it, I decided to transform it into a Dark Castle only channel. I want to thank everyone who's taken the time to comment on my videos and subscribe, it means a lot.

I've had the files and footage for the comparison video on my desktop computer for quite a while, and was pretty much abandoned for a while. I've recently picked the project back up, and decided to do something different with it. It'll be basically what it was originally supposed to be, but probably a lot more info and critique. It's probably better that I waited on that project.

(EDITOR'S NOTE) If you are reading this and haven't subscribed to his channel yet, what are you waiting for, click here and subscribe.

Jon God: Alright, preference, do you prefer Dark Castle, or Beyond Dark Castle?

gruz: Dark Castle, it's what I played first. I always loved how much better Beyond Dark Castle looked though...

Jon God: Fair enough, got any closing comments?

gruz: I want to thank the community for being so awesome.

I also want to thank Z Sculpt for not giving up on DC3.

Jon, thanks for your Dark Castle passion, it's given us all hours and hours of entertainment.

Support Paul Pratt, without him we'd be playing Dark Castle on crappy emulators like a bunch of jerks. DONATE TO HIM.

Keep an eye on (there's a hidden message in the website, can you find it?)

Have a good day everyone!

Jon God: Alright, thank you for your time, and constant work around the Dark Castle Community.

Stay tuned, next week I will have an exclusive interview with Jonathan Gay, one of the original creators of Dark Castle, and Beyond Dark Castle, who went on to create Flash. If there are no problems the blog should be up Wednesday, December 24th, some people know it as 'Christmas Eve.' :P This is one interview you wont want to miss.


Each week, I hope to have a puzzle for you to solve, which will somehow relate to Dark Castle. This week's puzzle is in the form of a description without the word it belongs to, relating to castles.

Description: I am a castle worker skilled in making crossbows, what is my title?

Answer for last week's puzzle: Embrasures


Feel free to send in feedback, what you did/didn't like, what you'd like to see, ect, as I would love to hear it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Short Weekly Update Delay

The update for this week will be shortly delayed, it should hopefully be up before the end of the week if not sooner. If it's not up by the end of the week, I will give you another update, sorry for the wait guys, just hold tight.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weekly Update

I am going to try and start a weekly update, which will give us a look into Z Sculpt, and what goes into developing and porting Return to Dark Castle. This week, will focus on the rumroed PC port, and development of Return to Dark Castle, via an interview with Zack Morris.

Jon God: So, when was it decided that there would be a PC port of Return to Dark Castle?

Zack Morris: Well, I can't say anything conclusive about this, because nothing is set in stone and SHFF is not sure about the ramifications of doing a port, but I can say that it is something we considered soon after finishing the Mac version. Before that, the prospect was just too ominous.

Jon God: Does that mean you've given up on Mac gaming?

Zack Morris: Definitely not. The Mac is a bigger market now than ever before. Lately we've given up on limiting ourselves to just the Mac, because the market is fairly small compared to the vast ocean of all platforms combined. The iPhone store has been a big surprise, so if something like that was implemented (either through the iTunes store or otherwise), we'd see the Mac market more closely approach its actual size of maybe 10% of PC games.

Jon God: I recently brought up to you Mac Game Arcade a similar system to Steam, but for mac, which falls in line with what you were just saying, does that mean we can look forward to seeing your older games, or newer games from you on this or similar systems?

Zack Morris: The other Zack and I are busy making our game engine compatible with the iPhone and other platforms so that we can "write once and run anywhere". This is comparable to the workload we faced when we ported Dark Castle from OS 9 to OS X. After the engine is updated, we are going to recompile all of our games under it so that they can be rolled out under other portals. We'd very much like to get modernized versions of all of our games into as many venues as possible, especially the low end since they might find new appeal there.

Jon God: Have you been watching the success of the retro acrade games on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Wiiware?

Zack Morris: More like being blinded by it. Those platforms are revolutionary, as big a paradigm shift as the internet was for shareware back in 1995. The difficulty lies in being in the right place at the right time to anticipate new markets. It's apparently much easier for a Flash developer to get on Xbox Live Arcade than it is for the typical baggage-laden Mac or PC developer. That's why we're updating our engine to be not quite so Mac-centric. I correspond daily with a guy making a tidy sum from his iPhone game, and he has big plans for the Wii.

Jon God: Looking at the success, of say, Jonathan Mak (Creator of the PlayStation Network game, Everyday Shooter) does it seem like a path you might want to follow? For clarification, Jonathan Mak was a independent game developer, who was found by Sony, and now has a mutli-game deal with them, and they give him breathing room to make whatever he wants.

Zack Morris: That's what I would call a path to stardom. Not everyone can be a Jonathan Mak (back in my day I aspired to be John Carmack, hah), but we can all aspire to be better artists, designers and creators. My hat's off to him, but I think perhaps we are too far down a different trail. Success for us will be having a stable presence on the web and developing markets, and make enough from that to be an independent studio. Shareware games were somewhat of a means to an end for me, so I don't see myself as having the passion to be in the spotlight, so to speak.

Jon God: I know your hands are tied in terms of what you can say about the future of Return to Dark Castle due to SHFF. However, if it were up to you, would you want to port Return to Dark Castle to some of these services? (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, WiiWare, iPhone games library)

Zack Morris: I would very much like to port Dark Castle, but truth be told, I'd like to see our engine ported so that we have a full cross-platform library. Then we get all of the rest of our games ported for free, like people using SDL or other libs.

Jon God: I know you cannot talk numbers about the sales of Return to Dark Castle, but compared to your expectations, how is it doing?

Zack Morris: It's doing far better than any of our other games ever did. We've been able to work fairly independently now for 6 months, and I've paid down my student loans and other debts substantially. The problem is that the Mac market is not so much limited as it is remote. The signal to noise ratio is enormous. We'd probably see 10 times the sales on the iPhone, not so much because it's a bigger market, but because it's more convenient than anything that's come before, once you pay your "iPhone entry fee". The total sales are perhaps a little lower than our original expectations, but the possibilities that have opened up because of it, far exceeded our expectations.

Jon God: Moving back to the development, what were some problems that came as a surprise when original developing Return to Dark Castle?

Zack Morris: The long duration of the final push from release candidate to final was unexpected for sure. Also, memory management became a non-issue in OS X, so much of our optimized OS 9 code to get DC3 running in 20 megs of ram became cumbersome. Zack did all of the actual game programming, and I remember he spent the most time fine-tuning the level engine and sprite management. I spent the most time making optimized blitters and 16 bit color code for PowerPC, which surprisingly became slower than plain loops when Apple move to Intel. So the biggest surprise of all was Apple constantly changing their code base. We just never saw that coming when we thought we were done back in 1999. When we came to terms with that, I suppose I was surprised how easily we adopted OpenGL or moved from 8 to 16 bit color. I'm still surprised how cumbersome input devices and force feedback are on all platforms. So there are hurdles we ran into by using the wrong approach. For example, Quicktime is a tremendously complicated API that does things that Flash does trivially. So at first glance, something that DC3 does that looks simple was actually very complicated. The swinging ropes use a complex blitter that's a few lines of code in OpenGL. In a way, all of DC3 came as a surprise, both in complexity and time required, but at each step of the process, I can't see how we could have done anything differently. It was a perfect storm of setbacks, but we learned a lot of what not to do. And, I am grateful every day that we aren't the Duke Nukem Forever guys!

Jon God: Has the delay of the level editor surprised you?

Zack Morris: Yes and no. The editor itself was essentially done the day we finished DC3 in-house. Unfortunately, we didn't anticipate how much effort would be required to actually ship DC3. It took us many months of testing and bug fixes. So you multiply that amount of loose end cleanup, with the potential for people to really shoot themselves in the foot with the editor, and I can see why SHFF is hesitant to release it. That said, at some point you just have to let people run with it. Now that the initial sales of DC3 have run their course, I'm hopeful that SHFF will release the editor. Its release is tied into some other decisions that I won't go into, but there is a big support workload involved, similar to the one we faced and continue to manage, involving the Replay system.

Jon God: When do you expect we will hear about Z Sculpt's next projects?

Zack Morris: Well, Zack and I just started a new schedule at our day jobs that has me working 3 days per week and him 2. Before that, we were working too much overtime, which left us just 2 days per week to meet and write code. We should release an iPhone app in a few weeks, then an update to DC3 to fix the graphical bugs people have been experiencing on the newest Macs, and then our engine should be updated enough to release updated versions of some of our games. We are constantly diligent, which is hard to demonstrate to the public, so it's mostly a matter of finalizing our engine. I would say that just 10% of our time goes into actual game design. The techniques I learned for internet play in Khufu are going into the engine, and Zack and I each have a new game planned for early spring, which we will announce on

Jon God: Just a few more questions.

Zack Morris: Ok.

Jon God: How was it to finally release something you had been working on for so long?

Zack Morris: It was a huge weight off our shoulders. We don't want to go through that long of a development cycle again. Luckily we won't have to, because computers are finally starting to stabilize. There really is a best way to do most anything, which wasn't reflected in the underlying code of OS 9, which is what DC3 was based in. Now we can use modern techniques for a much faster turn around time. We have converted our engine to OpenGL, OpenAL and have rewritten some of the cryptic Apple file management and input device code using the standard c++ libraries and HID. We are still going to do 2D games, but they will have a much richer feel to them, more like a Flash game, except without the performance penalty.

I've personally started talking with more Mac developers, so have learned volumes about lua scripting and other rapid application development tools. If you base a game off of standard libraries, you don't have to worry about Apple changing them. That means that probably over half our workload just disappears for the next game. Which doubles our productivity and potential for success.

Jon God: What have you thought of the fan reaction to Return to Dark Castle?

Zack Morris: It's pretty overwhelming, but not so much so that I can't still be a part of it. *Smiles* We don't get flooded with emails or constant IM requests. I think the DC fan base is quite savvy and down to earth. Many of the fans have helped us with Khufu beta testing and I consider their comments invaluable. For the most part, feedback has been positive, but it's hard sometimes when people criticize bugs, because they simply don't understand how big the DC3 code is, or how many other projects we juggle. I often wish we only developed for a single console, like the Super Nintendo, because support would be a non-issue. I hope they aren't too disappointed with the setbacks, because honestly I think I would be in their place. For example, I'm no fan of DRM, and sometimes I wonder if we arrived at an acceptable compromise with eSellerate. The iTunes and iPhone stores seem to have found a middle ground. We have fixes in the works for inconveniences people have faced, and I really think that this stuff is getting better over time, albeit slowly. Hopefully the level editor will spark a renewed interest in DC3. We go through these long periods of inactivity and then a burst of new releases, so if people are still around when that happens, they won't be disappointed.

Jon God: Any closing comments?

Zack Morris: Just that, we are grateful to everyone for hanging in there, and never give up hope. Look at what's happened in the world in the last couple of months. Anything is possible, and I may not remember the years 2001-2008 very fondly, but they were pivotal years in my life. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, that sort of thing. After a decade of working on DC3, we hadn't really stopped to think what life would be like when it was done. But now, we're starting to think in new ways we hadn't anticipated. Zack and I feel like we've reached about 5% of our creative potential. We want to try making some tools and games to just make life a lot more pleasurable. Success doesn't have to involve great struggle to still be sweet. There are other ways of working and living. Thank you for the questions, I hope I answered them satisfactorily. And thanx for running such a great forum, I think I've enjoyed your community more than I've actually played DC3

Jon God: Alright, thank you for your time, and thank you for helping deliver a wonderful game to all those who've long been waiting for it.

Zack Morris: Thanks, 'till next time!

There you have it, I would keep your fingers crossed for more info from SHFF on the level editor.


Each week, I hope to have a puzzle for you to solve, which will somehow relate to Dark Castle. This week's puzzle is in the form of a description without the word it belongs to, relating to castles.

Description: The Arrow loops in the Merlons.

What am I?


Feel free to send in feedback, what you did/didn't like, what you'd like to see, ect, as I would love to hear it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dark Castle Level Editor news update straight from SHFF

Dear Customers and loyal Dark Castle fans,

SHFF would like to apologize for the delay in the release of the Return to Dark Castle Level Editor and we greatly appreciate the enthusiasm that the Italiccommunity has expressed regarding it.

With any software that we release, we strive to ensure that it meets with our quality standards. Once those standards have been met and we feel the product is ready for public release, it will be available from the SHFF website and all RTDC customers will be notified of its availability.

While we have your attention, we would like to also dispel the rumor that SHFF will be charging for the level editor. It has always been our intention to release the level editor as a FREE download and our position on this has not changed.

Again, we apologize for the delay and appreciate your continued patience.

Thank you for your support,

Mark Stephen Pierce
Super Happy Fun Fun, Inc.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

1.3.1 out for real this time

Okay, Return to Dark Castle version 1.3.1 is now out, and can be downloaded by anyone. It contains all the previously mentioned fixes. It can be found here at this link:

There seems to be a recording problem with the update... Don't worry. All the replays should run fine now, all the ones that have been recorded in 1.3.1 that is. No more out of sync. However, if you try to record, cancel, and record again, it seems to quit. Hopefully this will be fixed soon, in the mean time, try out all the other changes.

Apparently version 1.4 is already in the works, though it could be a while 'till we see it, and who knows what it might contain.

Now, about that Level Editor....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

1.3 out... with a catch....

Return to Dark Castle 1.3 is out, BUT, there's currently a catch... it's only out for new buyers, and I am told that a patch is almost here.

In the meantime I got to try out the patch:

It feels as though the game is a lot more like the originals. Random items are welcome, along with lots of little tweaks here are there. Overall, I didn't quite so much like the consolidation of files, as it can be a bit harder for new users to find their saves, recordings and such. But the enhanced movement tracking completely makes up for it, as the game now feels as tight as the originals, and there no more missed jumps to be blamed on the game.

In the end, it's a patch, so there's not a lot to say, other then a feature list, so, as it is fun, I am more looking forward to the level editor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Demo Version 1.3

Okay, so I know everyone is as tired of waiting as I am, but in the mean time, the demo linked to at SHFF has been updated to version 1.3, and includes all the below listed changes and more, I know it's only a demo, but it's worth checking out if you're bored.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Return to Dark Castle 1.3 - Coming VERY soon!

Change list:

• Fixed control responsiveness (keyboard & mouse)
• Fixed replay recording and playback
• Fixed water buckets freeze in observatory
• Fixed hero facing direction after pulling a chain
• Classic Gameplay Changes
° Random Items (rocks, elixirs, food, poison)
° More aggressive snakes
° Faster gargoyles
° Food only restores 50% health
° Slide into dungeons looses health
° Bombed guards don't respawn
° Randomized river logs
° Wizard and Witch kill you if you haven't picked up the orb
° Hero explodes if trying to carry two orbs
• Easier Novice Mode
° Start with 5 lives / Maximum of 12
° Less aggressive enemies
° Fewer traps & hazards
• New Features
° Replays have no recording size limit
° Replays can be paused during recording and playback
° Replays can fast-forward by pressing the right arrow key or caps-lock key
° Replays can skip rooms by pressing the down arrow key
• Files and folders are stored in Application Support folder by default
• Other misc. bug fixes.

Sounds good to me, let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two "lates" don't make an "on time" (First official review)

Alright, so I missed this news story by a few days, but in context, the site missed the game's release window, by a month or so.

Anyways, here is the first non-user review of Return to Dark Castle on the web, feel free to agree, or disagree with it.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beat the game? Want another 5 minutes of Content?

Zack Black has given us a test level set made with the level editor for an example. It contains very little content, and can be beaten fairly quickly, but hey! It's an example, just something for us to look forward to.

If you'd like to grab a copy, just right click this link, and save file:

To instal it, simply drag it to the "DC3 Custom Levels" folder in the "Dark Castle 3 ƒ" folder, then enter the level: Laboratory, and pull a chain, it will ask you for a level set, select "Test Levels" and then walk below the tube next to the switch and hit W.


What is going to happen to the Dark Castle Blog?

So, Return to Dark Castle came out. Now what? Since this is a New blog, will it be closed?

Short answer? No.

Long answer? No, the blog wont shut down until there is nothing left to say. I still have plans for the blog, it should be the best choice for Dark Castle news around the net.

Sorry for not updating recently, I have been really busy, but I will have more time, so you should see faster updates now.

Fanart anyone?

I am not an artist, sure I draw every now and then... that is if then is 2 years ago, and now is a week ago...

I in a night of boredom, decided to draw a piece of fan art for Dark Castle, so if you'd like to take a look, go ahead, Feel free to tell me how much I rock(or suck) at drawing, Here:

Return to Dark Castle problems? Patch incoming, Soon..

Find any bugs in DC3? Yes? No?

Well, I know I wasn't the only person to find a handful of bugs, such as broken replays and unresponsive controls. Also there were crashing glitches, and numerous bugs and glitches.

Well, worry no more, as it looks like Zack Black has been working on a patch that will fix most of the problems currently present in DC3.

The main ones to think about is the controls, which will be 4 times more responsive, and the replays, which should work every time.

Sounds good to me, got any other bugs you'd like to let him know about? Throw a comment over here.

Lastly, release date? None is set yet, but it shouldn't take too long.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Return to Dark Castle press release

SuperHappyFunFun has issued a press release, which includes some interesting information, such as the Dark Castle series sales, and Mark Stephen Pierce' (The original creator of Dark Castle) thoughts.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jon God's Return to Dark Castle Review *Minor Spoilers*

I am not sure that I am completely satisfied with it, but here you go:

Return to Dark Castle, that name means a lot of things to a lot of people. It is often known for it's famously long development time, spanning somewhere near 12 years. It also also talked about due to the fact that it is the sequel to the 1987 mac classic, 'Beyond Dark Castle'. A lot of people gave up on Return to Dark Castle ever coming out, but in the end, it has finally been released, so, how is it?

In general, Return to Dark Castle follows down the path started by it's predecessor, Beyond Dark Castle, rather then the original Dark Castle, it contains much more open ended gameplay, with no bonus counting down, or any points at all, going for more of an adventure game feel, like Beyond Dark Castle, but a few steps farther then that.

The story of this game, though light, it much heavier the then original two games, as when you open the game, you are treated to the back story. It also takes place after the legendary ending of Beyond Dark Castle, which means somethings wont be as interesting unless you have seen it, though you will still get everything, as it is explained well. This game contains something it's predecessors don't, and that is brief cut scenes. In general, the story is better then say, Mario, but don't expect a really deep story. As a negative, the ending on the easier difficulties is extremely disappointing, go for the hardest difficulty for the best ending.

When booting up the game, right away you will notice that this game has great music, with mellow tunes, to exciting, and even epic songs, none of which are annoying, or even average. All the tunes in this game manage to sound right, and fit perfectly with the dark castle setting, and the levels they are assigned to. In addition to music, this game contains the same sounds from the original games, and, despite aging 20 years, they still are just as funny, and great to listen to. They sounds have also gotten the stereo treatment, so you can hear where things are just from the sound, and it really sounds good.

When you first lay your eyes upon the graphics you will not be impressed, it runs at an emulated low resolution, and looks blurry, and around the edges of the models you will see jagged lines. Though the graphics are no wonderful at first glance, they do have their own style which reminds a lot of the original games, and works very well for what it is. There are a lot of new effects on the graphics, such as sparks, fire, lighting and such, which will overall make you forget about how the graphics look slightly blurry, you will often find yourself admiring the enemies as they burn from the new fireball effects.

So, how does it play? A lot like the originals. And that's not a bad thing, this is one of the best sequels to a classic I have ever seen, they didn't change nothing, and have it be a 'Tomb Raider Style' sequel, nor did they completely change it. Instead they added onto the amazing gameplay of the originals, but kept the same feel. In addition to all the gameplay elements you found in the originals, there are now a bunch of new things, while, not drastically changing the gameplay, helps you feel more in control of the character, such as the ability to crawl anywhere, carry around warp potions, and such. There are also new weapons, abilities, which gives you more of an ability to play the game the way you want to play it. Sadly, the gameplay as good as it is, is not without problem, as the controls are often unresponsive at times, which can get you killed, and is often extremely annoying. After playing for a while, you get used to this, though, it would be nice to not have to deal with it at all.

This game is huge. When making a sequel to the originals, which only contained 15 levels each, one would think that it would contain maybe a few more levels, but surely not much. Well, one would be wrong, as this game breaks away from the size of the originals, becoming a large open ended game, with tons of treasures, mini games, extra orbs, and secrets to find, there are only 10 orbs required to beat the game, but an additional 15 can be found, and any combination of orbs from all throughout the game can be used to open the final gate and beat the game. Simply beating the game will not unlock 100% completion though, instead there are tons of secrets hidden throughout the castle, which can be found by the help of hint notes which contain riddles which when solved tell you were to find secrets.

There are four difficulties in the game, and for getting 100% on each one you unlock secrets, and just to get to 100% is a objective all to it's self. Once you have done that though, there is also the ability to save films, which are small files, which can be shared with friends, and are easy to set up and view. Sadly, they seem to be glitchy and often come out differentially then recorded. When they do work however, it can be very fun to see who can beat levels faster, or with less rocks. At the time of this review, the level editor is not out yet, but soon there will also be a level editor to use.

Final Words:

It's been a long time, but Return to Dark Castle is finally here. In general, this game reminds me of Super Mario World, or The Legend of Zelda, with it's large game area, and non-linarity, it also contains some killer level designs, and really well hidden secrets. Although not as challenging as the originals in some respects, and can be gltichy, it completely lives up to the Dark Castle title, and is worth the $30. Hopefully soon enough, the patch will be released, along with the level editor.

If you were considering buying this, Buy it. You wont regret it, it'll keep you playing for a while, and years from now, you will want to com back and play it.

Presentation - 9.7:
The game sports a huge playing area, with tons to do. It also manages to keep the feel from the originals.

Graphics - 8.2:
The graphics look blurry, but there are a ton of effects to admire, such as roasting mutants with fireballs.

Sound - 10:
Amazing music, wonderful and classic sound effects won me over, this game has just about perfect sound design.

Gameplay - 8.9:
The game plays almost exactly how you remember, though the unresponsiveness is extremely annoying.

Lasting Appeal - 10:
Normal quest, check. Side quests, check. Secrets, check. Unlockables, check. Saved Films, check, Level editor, check, need I say more?

Overall - 9.6

It's been out a whole weekend, let's hear your opinions!

As you all know, Return to Dark Castle has finally come out last friday, and you've all had a few days to waste playing the game. So, I would love to hear your opinions on it.

So, hit up the comments, and leave your weekend impressions of the long awaited, Return to Dark Castle.

Finally, some website updates.

The Return to Dark Castle pages at Zsculpt, and have been updated to reflect the release. There's not really any new content, but it's great to see these pages updated. Here hoping for more content and soon. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Slight news, and major apologies.

Zack Black Has posted some new news, and a apology:

In response to all the angry posts about us jumping the gun and hyping false release dates: If only it were that black and white. When I said it was "done" back in Dec. '06, I meant exactly that. Delta Tao was going to distribute for us. They didn't have the large team of beta testers or other resources that SHFF has, so they were happy with it as it stood, as were we. I personally don't care about a bug or two here and there as long as there is nothing serious like the game suddenly locking up while you're in the middle of playing, because I know we can always make an update a week or two down the road that takes care of any minor quirks. We believed the game was ready to ship. Then a few weeks later, the year rolled over and Delta Tao lost the rights back to SHFF. Begin exhaustive beta testing, changes to art, new features (Novice mode), etc. I'm really not bitter about all of this, as I believe it has made DC3 a better product. But don't misunderstand: It was just as ready then to go public. So, when the public demo 1.1 was released a few weeks back, it was also "done", as in SHFF had it uploaded to the server was ready to flip the switch to make it live. I was 99.99% that is was going to happen that day or the following. Then SHFF got worried about the game being massively pirated and they pulled the plug at the last minute. I apologize about getting people worked up, but I only did that because I was sure that it really was just around the corner. So as to not upset anyone else, I will not be posting any more "hints" about when I think it's ready. "It will be up when it's up." Besides, nothing interesting ever happens on Thursdays anyway... (bat)

Well, there you have it, I know you are all as annoyed as a dog being denied a ball, but at least you have some insight into what has been going on.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Copyright protection update:

Zack Black:
Frustrating times for everyone, I know. We're doing as much as humanly possible with SHFF to get this all wrapped up and into all of your anxious hands. MSP is wanting something that is flexible for everyone, meaning you can register once and play on multiple macs (up to a limit of course). I know it's a tough wait, and gets tougher the closer we get. Please don't despair. We have a system nailed down and are in the process of integrating and testing it this weekend. Like someone mentioned on here the other night, this will all seem like a distant memory once you get to click that big red download button. Yeah? Let's all try to be patient just a little longer and it will happen. Thank you everyone for your support. (Mutant)

There you have it, let's all hope for the best.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

6 days, sorry about that.

First off, I don't have any big news, but hey, it's been 6 days, so I'm hoping this will be good enough for now.

For one thing I have beat the game on beginner, and have managed to get 97%, but that last 3% is hidden to well for me to find... I am trying to beat the game on Advanced, but not being the best Dark Castle player, it is taking some trouble.

Now, I'm sure people are asking "Well, where is my copy?" It's true, you should have your copy, after all, I do. This story though, goes like so:

The game is done, and was all ready to be put up, but at the last minute, SuperHappyFunFun decided that it was afraid of mass pirating, and is considering putting on additional copy protection. Zack Black, is doing his best to convince them otherwise.

Zack Black said a few days ago that there was a good chance for it to come out within the week, though considering that there is only one day left in the week, I would assume probably next week.

Something else I seemed to have missed on the IRC chat, apparently someone from SHFF signed on, and was talking to people, letting them know that they want it out as bad as we do.. Well, I guess we can all hope.

Sorry I don't have more, or better news...

P.S: In addition, I would like to thank everyone for their comments, and remember, you don't have to sign up to comment, so if you have any questions, go ahead and leave a comment, and I will answer it.

Friday, February 29, 2008

11 hours later...

First off, the game is not publicly out yet.

Second, I have it. I have played it for 11 hours.

Third, it is amazing.

Even from someone who built up hype for years upon years, and who has look forward to other games, and never had a game ever live up to my expectations, ever, someone who owns 100+ console games, and around the same for computers, the same person who is usually extremely critical of games.

This game, both lives up to everything you wanted it to be, and will surprise you over and over again.

Instant Classic. Those 12 years were not wasted.

In other news, a new demo has been released, go check out SHFF's page.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Update: Is this finally it?

In regards to the other news story about the "storm coming", Zack Black has posted something new: the fireball hit the wererat's brown matted hide, it lit up like dry brush on a hot summer day. The beast shrieked and collapsed into a pile of black soot as the hot magic consumed its evil body. The pungent smell of singed hair polluted the otherwise fresh evening breeze. As the orange glow of the fire faded from Bryant's face, he felt a single raindrop hit his cheek. Looking up he could see the dark storm clouds gathering overhead. It was time to head to the tower top.

Time for the next round testing
No, I said... it's time to head to the tower.

This sounds like the news we have all been waiting for.

Friday, February 22, 2008

News from Zack Black

Good marrow all, and happy anniversary to the great DC forum! Well, I really pushed to have the game released today, but sometimes no matter how hard we try there are things beyond our control, and we must accept them. I do have some good news though. There is only one remaining bug, but it is kind of a nasty one. I say this because it is only happening on one Mac that SHFF has (and it is a real crash, not a harmless quirk) so we're having to do some long distance bug tracking and it's a slow process. We do have some tricks up our sleeve though, so with any luck we'll get this thing squashed and... well, you know... Keep those shields ready. The weatherman predicts a storm moving in next week. 8)

Straight from Zack Black, the closest thing to a release date in a while.

Here's some more quotes:

"Though he hinted that it MIGHT be next week."
The weather can be difficult to predict. There is definitely a storm front on the horizon, but wether we'll get thunder and lightning remains to be seen.

Time to keep those fingers crossed.

Anyone remember the "Armory" level from the trailer?

I'm sure some people remember this level, shown in the trailer for Return to Dark Castle:

But, what if it had been done by the original team? How about this?:

I know, don't even try to say "Too much free time".

Anyways, something to distract you from the fact that the game isn't out yet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Calm Before the Storm update

Zack Black has given us a few more riddles, and clues to the coming news, here are the snippets:

While SHFF has been busy hunting pests, I have not been idle. I decided to try a different approach to perhaps bring the rats out of hiding. After much pondering, I recalled a trick a friend of mine showed me once, when he helped the townspeople of Hamelin. (Rat)

"It's called playing us a merry tune and having us follow along hypnotised. So as I said "
This is one possible interpretation. There is definitely another. (Rat) (Rat) (Rat)

"There are three of them following you now... Which way is the river?"
Lol. Ahem... Ah, but it is neither the river nor the rats that are of interest. I shall say no more, but rather hum quietly to myself as I read the posts.

So, again, take this how you will, and rack your brain for any possible solution to the riddles, and if you find anything, let me know with a comment!


Zack posted some more hints, along with a "hint.mp3"

"The Pied Piper? He's a pretty cool dude."
Very cool dude. We used to jam together back in the day. (rat)(rat)(rat)(rat)(rat)

"Every one of his posts refers to music. Even when he says he'll hum quietly"
(Whispers nonchalantly and stares at the ceiling...)

"Looking at the file info, it was encoded with Amadeus II, which is my audio editor of choice"

Methinks there will be much amusement over the riddles and secrets in RTDC. ;)

"Maybe Zack Black's so frustrated with the delays and not being able to say anything that he's done slightly mad and this is how he's venting."
This would seem to make the most sense since I did use A(mad)ues to encode the music.

In the end, it looks as though Zack Black has added music, though we don't have a confirmation at this point.

Zack Black: The Calm Before the storm

Last week was a slow week, hmmm...

Take this as you will, it could mean that the game is set for release.... Or it could be, that there is news coming.. Take it as you will, but take it for good news. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

NEWS! Straight from the source

First off, the picture is a custom level made by Zack Black to show off the level editor.

Also, Zack Black was left us all with some news, so, I will go straight to the quotes.


Here's the latest news: SHFF has very thorough beta testers. DC3 is, and has been, extremely stable for about the last 6 months to a year. SHFF is finding little things like, say you use a morning star in the training to defeat the henchmen then die by running into a wall and restart the training while patting your head and rubbing your tummy AND you're playing on a Friday the 13th, then the training stops working and you have to quit back to the main screen, lol. I'm not knocking them for their hard work, it's great to have people who can find these weird little edge cases we never thought of, but that is what is actually delaying the game at this point. Let me be clear that MSP wants to release ASAP, as in today if it were possible. But they are going to continue to experiment and stress test until they are completely satisfied with it. In the supposed "final" build that was sent to them around the time the trailer was released, they found 13 of these little quirks. I fixed all of them and sent another build a few days ago, in which they uncovered 5 more. All of which were quickly dealt with. I sent them another build last night with all issues solved. They will test it on Monday at the latest.

The release is very close. It's NOT going to take another year. SHFF wants it out as badly as we (you) do. Stay cool all.

Level Editor news:

The level editor will likely be made available as a free download shortly after the game is released. Price is yet to be determined, but likely in the $20 - $30 range. Distribution is initially going to be download only, but SHFF is looking at boxed copies down the road if it sells well.

I think most of you expect that I never answer any of these because I've been hiding in a crack in the Dungeon for the last couple of years. I'm making an effort to play a more active role now.

You can customize wall / floor textures, stairs, backgrounds, just about anything except for items and enemies.

So, I'm sure everyone will be happy with this news. I know I was. :)

Now, as promised, a shout out to everyone that left comments before!

Thayne, you are stoked for Return to Dark Castle. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Izdale, I know you go to the forums and such, but I said I would give a shout out to everyone who left a comment, Thanks!

Freed, I'm right there with you, I can't see how anyone wouldn't be excited for DC3! Tahnks for the comment!

Anonymous, You may not have put a named down, but I'm glad you read this blog, and I'm sorry there isn't more news to share. Thanks for the comment!

Hamishi, Thank you! I'm glad some people are reading this, and Thanks for the comment!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

SHFF site, extremely minor update.

As I said in the title, there's been an extremely minor update to SuperHappyFunFun's site, which is now linking to some of the news articles mentioning Return to Dark Castle.

Like, I said, nothing major. But it's good to know that they are keeping tabs on what people think of Return to Dark Castle. :)

On a side note, this is the blog's 50 post. Congrats to those watching this blog, and keeping it alive.

Everyone reading leave a comment, and get a shout out in one of the next blog posts.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

UPDATE: partially updated.

I realized that there was something I missed when I first read the page, and thanks to 'Bryant Esquire', I noticed it, and without further adu:

Many milestones have been reached in the recent weeks, so we can finally think about what comes after DC3's release. Feel free to post the trailer anywhere you like, and spread the word that the final release is just days away.

I bolded the part that is the best news of all. :)

Magic Brooms - News From Zack Black

Why did Merlin conjure them up? To help sweep away the nasty dust and spiders that plagued him while he was working on his electrical inventions. If only the software development process was as easy to deal with. Not to worry though, the current build is very stable on all the Mac setups we've tested, but SHFF seems to have a knack for discovering rats that escaped our traps.

I quotith Zack Black, and once again, you can take this any way you want, it could mean that everything is done, and he is just worried SHFF might dig up some small bug. Or it could be taken as, they found another glitch at the last moment...

Like I said, take this how you will? Partially updated!

It's been a while since we've gotten our news from the Zack's web page, but they have finally posted an update, it's not really new news, but the fact that it's been updated at all is great news.

In addition if you care, it seems that Joe Williams has moved his blog, the new location is located here:

Monday, February 4, 2008

News from... Joe Williams?

It seems like forever since we heard anything from Delta Tao, probably because it's been almost a year since we heard anything Dark Castle related, yet tonight, he sent out an E-Mail, which read:

Delta Tao gave the rights to Dark Castle back to Mark Pierce, the
original designer, so Return to Dark Castle will be published by his
new company, Super Happy Fun Fun. When? We still don't know -- but
it's looking very, very close.

Check out this trailer:

Also, keep your eyes open for updates at:

Don't forget to vote! Make a difference.


--Joe Williams
President, Delta Tao

So, take this as you will, it could mean that that game is really done, and that he's been asked to let people know through his mailing list.

Or, it could just be him seeing all the headlines lately...

Like I said, take is as you will...

Enter Monday, Commence waiting...

Well, it's monday, the weekend is over, and in all odds, Return to Dark Castle will be hitting sometime this week.

So, like the title says, as hard as it is, it's time to start waiting. Not that you haven't been doing this for a while now, but if this truly is the last week, and it really could come out by, or before friday... Then, well, it's going to long week.

Remember, whoever see that's it's released first, and posts a comment, either here, or on the forum, will get a shout out. Besides, you'll have to wait for it to download anyways, right?

Remember though, this is if all goes well, keep those fingers crossed.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Proof that DC3 wont get swept under the rug?

After the release of the trailer, I decided to go on a pilgrimage to all corners of the web, advertising it's existence. Here's what's come so far:

Not bad, I would like to thank every one of these sites and encourage you to keep visiting them, as they are great sites.

Now, as good as I did, I think that WE can do better, so I am asking for your help in E-Mailing these sites, in hopes they will run the story also:

Good luck, hopefully they will listen to numbers. :)

EDIT: I added another site.

EDIT: More sites picked up the story.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Update: "Tomorrow's News"

Now, after yesterday's news flash, the news finally came.

Sadly, the game is not out. BUT before you start screaming and breaking things, that doesn't mean that nothing has happened.

Zack Black and SuperHappyFunFun have brought us the 'first' Return to Dark Castle trailer, and good gosh, it's amazing, so without spoiling anything more, I shall link you:


P.S. If you would like to discuss it, feel free to visit this forum topic:

Thursday, January 31, 2008

*ANNOUNCEMENT* Big news tomorrow, possible release!

News, news, news, news!

It's been a while since we heard from Zack Black, or Zack Morris for that matter, but this afternoon, Zack Black posted on the forum, mentioning a release date, but not speaking more then that. Additionally, he hinted that the final copy of the game has been sent to SHFF.

Don't throw anything at the computer screen yet, because later he posted a new topic, hinting at a "surprise" tomorrow, which will be a friday, and the first day of February.

First Forum Topic:

Second forum Topic:

Keep your eyes on this space!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Return to Dark Castle news, Finally!

After quite a drought of official news for some time, DuncanFanCoolDude, noticed that SuperHappyFunFun updated their site with new pictures, information, and the required specs to run Return to Dark Castle.

Not a bad update at all, in fact, almost the best update we could have asked for.

Still I hear you asking: "WHEN?"

Well, according to SuperHappyFunFun's site:

"This game is coming very soon for Macintosh computers."

LINK - SuperHappyFunFun

Tbone has noticed that the domain "" was registered by Zack Morris, THE Zack Morris.

At the moment, it is only a picture with the words "Yes it's done... Watch this space" and a link to Z Sculpt's site.

And a link to the forum topic discussing it:

Lego my Dark Castle - Shield Edition

After Destroying my last Lego creation, I started on another, and a few hours later, another creation was born, I give you, Lego Shield 4:

Lego My Dark Castle - Fireball Edition

After letting La Porta's new stay at the top of the list for a while, I decided to catch up on news, starting with:

A while ago, I made Trouble 3 in Legos, and people liked it. A few weeks ago, I received a lot of new legos for free, so I decided to dive in and make some more Lego Dark Castle.

For a link with Pictures, check the Link: