Friday, February 19, 2010

Game 5: Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (1981)

And yet somehow I started playing without making a scenario disk.

At last: a multi-character game! First released in 1981, Wizardry would seem to be the precursor to all first-person multi-character games, like Bard's Tale and Might and Magic. I couldn't find an original manual for Wizardry, but this site gives a basic breakdown of the plot: Lord Trebor, the "mad overlord" of the title, has become obsessed with a powerful amulet that he briefly possessed, only to have it stolen by the evil wizard Werdna (one guess where those names came from). Werdna has fled to the depths of the dungeons beneath Trebor's castle. Trebor's heroes have managed to secure the first four levels of the dungeons but no one can survive below that; the first four levels, seeded with monsters and laced with traps, are the "proving grounds" of the title: a place where would-be heroes can demonstrate their worth to venture deeper into the dungeon and recover the amulet.

I spent a little time tonight making a party of six characters:

Yes, I know I could stand to be a little more clever with character names.

But this is as far as I got before sleep beckoned. When I return to the game, I may keep these characters or start over. I'm not sure I did it right.

Thanks to everyone who has followed my new blog during its first week. I will probably not post for a few days, as over the weekend I will be playing games of a different sort: I am going to the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York City. Come next week, though, I'm back in the dungeons.

19 comments:

  1. Yes please keep posting, it's like I'm reliving my youth through you... Your project is riveting to me.

    I still remember the first times I ventured in the Wizardry 1 labyrinth, got to cast spells, collect loot... I couldn't believe my eyes.

    And then, there was The Knight of Diamonds (Wizardry 2), Revenge of the Enchantress (Ultima 2), etc...

    Looking forward to your next posts!

    --
    Cedric

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I still feel like a bit of an archaeologist, digging through fossils of games. (Okay, that's a mixed metaphor. Sue me.) I wonder what the first game will be that I enjoy--truly enjoy--on its own terms.

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  3. This blog is excellent. Although these are still a tad old for me (I only started playing CRPGs in 91), I can't wait for when you get to newer old CRPGs :)

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  4. My first RPG was in '96 or '97 or '98 with Pokemon Red (as a young 'un), when I didn't know what an RPG was. I was always fascinated in detailed adventure games, of both the Japanese and Western persuasion, as I think I thought about them. Dragon Warrior Monsters followed, and that was one of my favourite games ever. I'd have to say my first CRPG was Neverwinter Nights, which was brilliant, although I lost my saved game in section 2 and never played the main campaign. Online dungeon crawling was excellent. I think I played Final Fantasy VI around the same time and Final Fantasy X, both brilliant.

    So I never played any of these old CRPGs, and your blog is an excellent view into them.

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  5. Ah, this is more like it. I like having a party, and I enjoy mapping things out (thanks for the tip about using excel). Though I'm pretty sure I'm doing things the hard way not rerolling for max stats and having no elite characters in my party. It also seems pretty lame that whenever I level up I lose more stats than I gain, what gives?!? Also I need to find a way to fix my framerate, I couldnt tell what anyone said in ultima1, and I can never see what I loot from chests here in wiz1.

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    1. DOSBOX right? You need to fiddle with the number of cycles it is emulating. http://www.dosbox.com/wiki/Performance#CPU_Cycles_.28speed_up.2Fslow_down.29

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    2. Yeah I tried to fiddle with ctrl-f11 in ultima1 but it just made the sound reaaalllly weird and never seemed to slow the game down enough. I couldnt fix it in <10 seconds so I gave up, at some point when it gets more annoing I'll have to spend >10 seconds on it and hopefully ill be able to read the output finally!

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  6. This game changed my life & Ultima III turned it upside down. Found your blog by accident looking for BT1 info. I will spend the next year reading every post & comment AND reliving my childhood through your blog. Thank you.

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    1. Welcome! Don't burn yourself out; the postings will always be here.

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  7. Matt Barton, the writer of Dungeons & Dektops, has a youtube show called Matt Chat. In one episode he talks about Wizardry;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEFh4pPIEEc

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  8. One of those games I always wondered about, but there never were an amiga release of this one. The game isn't even available on GOG, so I guess it's abandonware ohoy.

    There IS a C64 version. From the lemon64 site, it looks like you get slightly nicer colours, but I imagine the in-game gameplay and wireframe looks will be almost identical

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  9. Haha, this is crazy. Spent countless hours with this game as a teenager. I remember there was a simple cheat where you could roll odd characters, add them to your party at the Tavern, take their money, then kick them out of the party.

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  10. I assumed Wizardry was an Apple/IBM thing and wasn't aware that a Commodore 64 version of this even existed. So consequently I never got my hands on Wizardry until I bought the NES cartridge around 1990. I had a really good time with it.

    I didn't like the NES much. People who hang out on sites like this are not the demographic that Nintendo cares about. But they did do suprisingly good ports of both Wizardry and Bard's Tale.

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    1. Being written in Apple Pascal probably had something to do with the difficulty in porting it :)

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  11. Strange though it may seem, this game has its own anime show. I just stumbled upon it on youtube. The so called Wizardry 1 OVA stays somewhat true to the game. I'm not sure about the legal state of this video on youtube so I'm not posting the link.

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  12. Hi there! I've been enjoying your blog for a couple of weeks now. I've made it all the way up to Ultima V so far. I'm feeling inspired, and I thought you would like to know about it. I am going to follow your list, but have a few changes. I'm not going to play any roguelikes or text based games (I just don't like em, I've tried), but I will be playing console rpgs. I plan on using whatever the internet deems the best version as well. I tried several of the earlier games and cannot get into them, so I'm starting here with Wizardry. According to the internets, the Japanese super famicom version is the best. I'm starting there with an English patch. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Glad to help you along. As you play games that I've covered, please pop in and talk about your experiences!

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    2. Well, I seem to have shot myself in the foot. I decided to give Rogue one last chance... and now I can't stop playing it. So I think I'll start from the beginning of the list after all. I'll post more when I get somewhere.

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  13. Fun fact that probably doesn't have anything with naming of Wizardry characters:

    If you swap 'e' and 'r' in Werdna you will get "Wredna", and that's feminine adjective for "mean" in Polish language.

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