Eye of the Moon was to be the third and final part of Mike Singleton’s epic fantasy strategy war game trilogy that started with The Lords of Midnight and was followed soon afterwards by Doomdark’s Revenge.
The ingenious landscaping system that Mike created for the first two games was going to be further enhanced for Eye of the Moon, yet it was still going to run within the confines of a 48k Spectrum and the Commodore 64.
Set in the land of Bloodmarch, the game was going to feature over 16,000 locations and a reported 131,000 different views. For those doing the maths, let’s guess it has 16384 locations with eight views per location (16,384 x 8 = 131,072). The entire game would have presumably been played out on a 128 x 128 grid map, which was twice the size of the previous game in the series.
The map was to have been divided into 12 realms, with each realm having a mini-quest to complete.
The landscaping improvements were to include unique trees and mountains rather than repeated imagery as used in the previous games, created from a random seed and providing the inspiration for the name ‘randscaping’ replacing ‘landscaping’ in the series’ technical lexicon. Mike Singleton also hoped to include much more colour in the randscaped location graphics than before, using black masking techniques on the Spectrum that Mike ended up using in Dark Sceptre instead.
256 unique characters were also due to feature, including – for the first time – close-up character faces created by an identi-kit system that allowed Mike to mix and match different facial components to create unique faces. There were multiple different eyebrows, noses, eyes, mouth and chin styles, facial hair and so on. Some of the NPCs were due to have unique abilities that would be necessary if the player was to complete the game, so recruiting them became essential.
Plot-wise, the eponymous ‘Eye of the Moon’ was a jewel that allowed someone to see into the future. Luxor is dying of old age, and he wants to know that the land of Midnight will be safe after he has gone. He therefore sends Morkin to the warmer lands South-West of Midnight to find and retrieve the jewel.
Unfortunately, Eye of the Moon became a ‘back-burner’ project for Mike Singleton, as he rapidly became involved in other game projects for Beyond Software (and later for TelecomSoft) including technical help on ‘Sorderon’s Shadow’, co-creating ‘Quake Minus One’ and designing and coding some of ‘Star Trek: The Rebel Universe’. He was also setting up his own games development company called ‘Maelstrom Games’ to run the play-by-mail version of ‘Dark Sceptre’ and develop future games.
Weeks of delays on Eye of the Moon became months and then years. Back in the mid to late 80s, home computing was starting to change at a rapid pace and the more humble capabilities of the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC computers became dwarfed by the more advanced and more impressive 16-bit machines like the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Even if Mike Singleton had the time to make real progress on ‘Eye of the Moon’, it would have become less and less commercially viable as the months went by.
A Commodore 64 version of Eye of the Moon was started by Dave Ollman at Maelstrom Games, but progress was limited.