Dungeons of Daggorath Development Blog


Daggorath Film Strip
Film strip frame courtesy of Hamed Saber

I don't know that I have seen the term "remastered" used for a video game before. Remastering film or music is the process of extracting details present in original source materials that were not present in original releases. Usually this is possible because of technical limitations present at the time of original mastering.

My goal is to reproduce the original Daggorath experience as exactly as possible, cleanly packaged it in a modern, user friendly app for multiple platforms. But duplicating the original experience is very challenging - even emulators capable of reproducing digital behavior perfectly fall short in their reproduction of analog elements such as display and audio systems. One would think that simple audio hardware would be easy to reproduce. However A:B comparisons between real and emulated hardware recordings are night and day apart. Reproducing the CRT TV display seems to be a lost cause. I am not able to find a single emulator capable of a reasonable match to real hardware video capture results. Never mind the fact that video capture already looks quite different to a CRT TV. So I'm going to try something a little different and not focus so much on futile attempts to match analog hardware details. I will instead focus on presenting the original source material in a way that feels right; in a way that does not invoke thoughts of "emulation just isn't the same".

That sounds close enough to remastering to me and I think I will release with the name "Dungeons of Daggorath Remastered".

The Classic Dungeons of Daggorath

Daggorath Cartridge

For a number of years I have been noodling with the idea of porting the popular TRS-80 Color Computer game, Dungeons of Daggorath, to modern hardware. I was one of the best, if not the best exclusive game for the Coco and while most games of the era were superseded by more sophisticated successors, I have never played another game that feels anything like Daggorath. Some elements, like managing your heart rate, seem like they should have become a common element in games, while others, such as typing fast to steal CPU cycles and slow down the enemies, aren't at all likely to emerge on newer systems.

Earlier this year, Global Gam Jam ran with the theme "Sound of a Heartbeat". It reminded me of Daggorath and inspired me to take the time to see if I could secure a suitable license. As I quickly discovered, a license for all had already been made available 10 years earlier. I decided I had better get on with it then, at least as a side project as time permits.

It is worth noting that there is an existing PC port. Richard Hunerlach and other contributors have done a fine job, however the timing and speed of the game is quite different to the original. And there are a few other things I want to experiment with, such as whether a game centered around typing fast can be made to work well on touch devices.

I am a bit late in starting this development blog, in part because it has become more involved than I had originally envisioned. However I am finding the development experiences to be quite unique and so I will probably write a few catch-up posts over the next couple of weeks.