People who frequents Omnimaga forums are most likely alerady aware of this and those who frequent the IRC channel were aware for a month longer that I was planning to work on this (or started to). I started planning for a while before announcing anything and waited until I got a decently functional build before announcing anything and making the project official, in case it would fail.
Back in August 2001, I started working on a game called Labyrinth Of Illusions, which eventually got renamed to Illusiat in September 2001 after having recoded the game and replaced word-based battles with graphical ones. This was my first calculator game ever finished. It was very simple: two dungeons and one kind of enemies (the 3 bosses looked the same than enemies) and you could only do 3 things in battles (attack, cast your only one avaliable magic spell or use potions). It had no leveling up system and no maximum stats. Your HP, ATK and MP rose every fight or when standing on save points (altough I didn't knew what I was thinking when I did this last one. It was really stupid because someone could have simply let the calc idle there for 6 hours). Eventually I released a sequel (Oct 2001), altough it was almost identical with a world map and different animations as difference, then a 3rd game, this time with different dungeons and level up system (Nov 2001). Then came Illusiat 4 with better graphics (altough dungeons were simpler) and better storyline, on Jan 1st 2002. However I lost everything while working on Illusiat 2002 afterward, since I had no link cable for the PC at the time, so no way to back up (Mirage Os caused archive corruption when I had about 70% of Illusiat 2002 completed after 2 months of hard work everyday, forcing me to do a full mem reset). Due to the simplicity of Illusiat 1 through 3 graphical animations, I completly recreated exact copies of them from scratch afterward, but Illusiat 4 was irrecoverable from memory (eventually, a remake came out, since I still had the storyline and remembered dungeon layouts, but no one ever seen the original except my bro).
Due to the Illusiat 2002 crash, I completly lost interest towards calc programming until I figured out how tilemappers works by looking at the code of Champion Of The Realm, then my interest risen again. (in the first 4 games, you pressed an arrow one single time and you moved an entire room in that direction). So after experiementing with them in another RPG I made, I eventually did Illusiat 6, which sets the standard for the remaining of the serie. Illusiat 5 was made at the exact same time as a PC school project. It's a Myst-like game that was ported to calculators a while later and it's terrible). From Illusiat 6 onward, they increased in hours of gameplay and complexity (except Illusiat 8, which I consider as my second worst RPG of 2002, after Mana Force) and are longer than most calculator RPGs out there, even both FFTOM games put together, Dying Eyes and Joltima. It went from about 8-10 hours in Illusiat 6 to 15-20 in Illusiat 11 (which was very popular at my school because of the custom battle menu) then jumped to 30-50 in Illusiat 12 (which is by far the longest calculator RPG ever made, except Ultima V for the TI-89).
However, after you beat Illusiat 12 final boss, when the ending is finished, you get a message saying "End Of The Illusiat Series". Then came The Reign Of Legends and Reuben Quest series as well as a few other games such as Zelda: Dark Link Quest and Metroid II. In 2003 I released a game bundle called Illusiat 2004, which included remakes of the first four games in the series, using Illusiat 12 engine and some ASM libraries from The Reign Of Legends 2. In 2007 a second version of Illusiat 11 came out with higher enemy level and in late 2008, a new Omnimaga forum opened its doors with a TI-81 version of Illusiat 1 (the goal was to fit an entire RPG under the TI-81 extreme limitations and it ended up better than the original, despite horrible controls and simple graphics). However, the last real Illusiat RPG that came out was Illusiat 12, on December 27th, 2002.
Now that I'm done talking about the chronology of the series, if we only take in account the later games in the series, they features ASCII graphics (homescreen sprites) and most animations are done by quickly swapping through specific text characters and symbols moving around the screen. I inspired myself a lot from Champion of the Realm for the bolt animation, but took it further. Originally the entire serie was in pure BASIC. Because most of these RPGs were long and very complex compared to most other calculator RPGs, they had to be split into chapters. Basically, after going through 4 or 5 dungeons or bosses, you would get a message in the screen saying that to continue, you had to save your game, then archive a certain program then unarchive another, then run the game again. Illusiat 7 had 3 chapters, Illlusiat 9 had 4, Illusiat 10 and 11 both had 5 and Illusiat 12 had 10. In the two last games you even had to archive/unarchive other programs than the chapter files when switching sometimes, because 24 KB of RAM was very limited for such game. Only later Illusiat 7 and 9 got updated with Codex so the chapter switching is done automatically. By the time I started the Reign Of legends series I started using asm libs to automatically archive/unarchive programs automatically (since this is impossible in pure BASIC) so this wasn't a problem anymore.
Anyway, now that I'm done introducing the Illusiat series, the major problem with these RPGs is that they were originally in French, since it's my native language. Because of my english skills, I had to wait until 2005 to translate most of them and by then I was starting getting busier and my interest toward calculators was decreasing slowly, so I hastily translated them, resulting in typos, display bugs and even some untranslated text. Also, I learned TI-BASIC only from the TI manual. I didn't owned a computer until April 2004 because my family couldn't afford one and I had limited internet access at school so the TI manual was my only source for learning. Also, even with a computer, back when I did these games, TI-BASIC optimizing tricks such as not closing quotes and displaying big fonts on the graph screen were considered as a revolution, the reason for slow downs and memory errors after running a game for a while were still not widely known and finding a sprite lib in ASM was mission impossible. That, combined with my limited BASIC experience at the time, caused the entire Illusiat series as well as any game I made before Zelda: Dark Link Quest to be utterly unoptimized. From the outside, those who don't judge games solely based on graphics like many people do may see a good game, but from the inside, it will be another story. Unfortuantely I never really felt like going back through all 12 games and recode them from scratch, especially when I would have both a french and english version to update.
Now I am going to the topic-related stuff: people who finished Illusiat 12 and even some other people who have been around for a while will find this surprising and unexpected, but there is effectively an Illusiat 13 game in the works right now and it has been in the works for 1.5 months now. The plot was planned for two months before hand and goes as follow:
"Every 10000 years, a small planet called Illusiat, from a nearby solar system, passes through ours, close to the Earth. Scientists from Earth and illusian Mages said that each planets always passes at the same distance everytime.
1000000 of years in the future, after many wars against evil, both planets populations dropped a lot, but both races allied together to defeat the evil using a weapon made with the power of man knowledge and illusian magic. After victory, with very few technology left, both races were cut from each others for 10000 years.
Soon, they are going to be able to meet once again, but now, it may be the last time ever…"
I do not want to spoil too much, but this game will pretty much be the awnser to everything that happened in the entire serie. Technically, aside from Illusiat 1 and 2, this RPG serie is pretty much like Final Fantasy: None of the games are inter-related to each others. There is nothing that tells that Illusiat 3 occured before or after Illusiat 2, there will not even be anything to tell when Illusiat 13 occurs based on the old games, except you can figure out as the game progresses. It will be obvious that it occurs after the 12 other RPGs because unlike the others, this one will involve stuff from the previous games, even 4 areas from Illusiat 4.
I know some people would like me to make an xLIB RPG with fancy graphics and grayscale, but sorry, this may never happen and if it does, it won't be Illusiat. Illusiat 13: The Lost Chapter is not meant for people who only care about graphics, because this game will remain true to the serie. This means homescreen graphics and similar menu and battle layout Unfortunately I only got one screenshot right now and it doesn't show the magic animations, but here is it at the following link anyway:
(screenshot goes at 15 MHz btw)
Illusiat 13 doesn't use any source code from any of my previous games. The entire game is being written from scratch. I decided so because it has been over 4 years since the last time I released a new calculator RPG and despite being far from perfect, my coding skills and habits changed a lot since then, which could make old code harder to work with, especially since a lot of optimizations would need to be done. Old Illusiat games are not good examples of BASIC coding after all.
Secondly, I am switching to strings tilemaps. I wanted pictures at first, but I felt that despite being 8 times smaller, the maps would be harder to work with when it comes to event codings and they would look too simple with 3 tiles at once. I only use small 128 char string chunks, though, to minimize RAM usage and make map making easier. With 16x8 map chunks I can create them directly in the BASIC editor in the map loader programs. So far, speed is roughly the same than the late Illusiat games.
Third, items are no longer stacked. In old games, you could hold 99 herbs, 99 potions, etc, now it's one individual item per slot and there are 100 slots total, meaning when you run out of space you need to either sell items (selling will be a new feature) or trash them. Also, for equipments, you got rings, no sword/armor. In older games when buying equipment the weaker one would be donated to the shop. Now you still keep the old equipments and can switch it in the item menu. As said, there are only rings, though, but you can equip 4 to the character and stat bonuses are stackable. There are defense raiser, elemental protection, exp bonuses, special protections such as instant kill.
Oh yeah the magic system: At first when you see the menu in this game or the battle command screen, you may notice how simple it looks like, since in the early Illusiat games using items and viewing stats was about all you could do from the main menu and in battles you could only use magic or attack (and use items). The thing is that it isn't as simple as it looks. The item menu is probably what got the most work put into in this game, because for the first time I am not using stacked items (magic and rings), so I had to implement some sort of multiple pages menu or scrolling. In the menu it's multiple pages and in battle since you only see 4 spells/rings at once it's scrolling (since it's faster). From the item menu you can equip rings by selecting one then the slot you want to equip it on (1 through 4). Selecting an empty item slot will ask you which ring you want to unequip. Selecting a Cure spell will restore your HP and selecting a spell that can only be used inside battle (Pyro, Ice, Blitz, Aura and Psy) will ask you if you want to trash it or not. Trashing items (and selling) will be essential in the game when you run out of space, altough with 100 items that won't probably happen in a while.
Also all 6 magic spells has leveling up. Everytime you use a spell it gets experience and at 100 exp it reaches a new LV. The higher the level, the better the magic animation and the stronger the magic is. It takes much longer to level it up at high level, though and in the item menu outside battle, cure gives 1 exp only no matter the level, unlike in battles, to prevent cheating your way up to level 9 early in the game by wasting cure spells incredibly fast.
And finally, this game only use one ASM library of about 190 bytes of RAM by Iambian and it does the same thing than Resource and xLIB/Celtic "real(10" function. It copies archived programs into a RAM program. Because of this, when the game is not running, you'll have about 18 KB of RAM free, plus, due to the new way I use to write engines, this allows for bigger subroutines, which means less sub programs filling the PRGM menu.
The only thing I cannot guarantee right now is a regular 83+ version, because it may simply just not fit. String tilemaps are at least 8x larger than picture tilemaps (altough much less limited and more efficient) so as I add maps the game will grow bigger at a fast rate. I am not using compression to maximize map loading speed. It will also be shorter than Illusiat 12, altough maybe as long as Illusiat 11. I'll focus a lot more on the storyline for this RPG than I did in any Illusiat game. Everything is planned in notepad before it's put into the PRGM editor.
Also remember I haven't released a new calculator RPG for over 4 years (the last one was Reuben Quest: The Lost Mirror) and the last full calculator game I released was in 2006. So my skills are kinda rusty (I even noticed I type much slower on the calculator keypad than I used to do before XD)
Anyway, I'll post further progress whenever I have time here and on Omnimaga. Since my Ticalc.org profile is gone you can download the old Illusiat games and remakes at http://www.omnimaga.org/index.php?action=downloads;cat=29
For those who don't want (or can't) download you can watch some videos of how the series looked like in its last days (WARNING: SPOILERS!)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8NKQQXnP-U&fmt=18 - Illusiat 12
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXjqjE6ddDs&fmt=18 - Illusiat 11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YFoTamOgYI&fmt=18 - Illusiat 9