Saturday, March 6, 2010

Telengard: Pointless Fun

I might have mentioned this game is a little hard.


Well, Telengard has some interesting--perhaps even unique--features. For a while, I assumed there was no reason not to just hang around the stairs to an inn, since every square held the potential for random encounters and random treasure every turn. It turns out the dungeons are full of interesting--and generally deadly--things. Some things I've discovered since my last post:

  • Pits that sometimes give you the option to climb down, sometimes just unceremoniously toss you down
  • Teleporters that send you to random locations
  • Monsters that do what they typically do in D&D-derived games. Dragons coat you with fire, ghouls immobilize you, vampires sap away your hard-won experience points, and so on. Not all monsters kill you, though. Hobbits and skeletons (?) occasionally steal your stuff, and more than once I met an elf who, disturbingly, healed me to full strength because he "liked my body." A nice dragon gave me a sword +2.
  • Chests with buttons of four different colors. You have to figure out the appropriate pattern--getting zapped every time you get it wrong--for the chest to open. Goodly amounts of treasure inside those.
  • Holy altars. Give them enough money and they cast beneficial spells on you. Give them too little money, or no money, or try to walk on by them, and they call you "dirty pagan trash" and summon undead to kill you.
  • "Scrolls of rescue" that return you to inns. I thought these were going to be my salvation, but they take away all your gold which, since gold is one of the primary ways to build experience points, is very bad.
  • Fountains that alternately contain healing waters and poison.
  • "Jewel-encrusted" thrones that give you the option to (r)ead runes, (s)it on them, or (p)ry the gems, with randomized chances of different things happening depending on what you do. Once, when I read the runes, I got +1 wisdom. A second time, I somehow brought about the return of the "ghoul king," who promptly slaughtered me.
Would any adventurer worth his salt hit (i) right now?

These different things make the game fun and fast-paced and, I admit, slightly addictive--at least, once you get your hero up to level 3 or 4 and stop dying every step.

Telengard isn't really a game you play for a long time, since there's no way to "win." Instead, it's a game you blow an hour or two on here or there, perhaps competing for highest score or fastest leveling with a friend. The manual actually encourages this with several suggestions for "multi-player" games: "see which player can advance his character to the highest experience level in a given time period"; "see who can map the most dungeon spaces of a given dungeon level" (this is followed by the helpful suggestion to "use graph paper").

Lacking any friends who are likely to want to play Telengard, I don't really have any reason to keep going with it. It might be fun to see if I can get to level 10 or level 12, but death can strike any time, and it's discouraging to have to keep starting over. In six hours of gameplay and probably 100 characters, the highest I was able to climb was level 8 (alas, forgot to take screenshots). After that character died, I gamely tried again. Helped by a ring of regeneration +4 that I found early on, I managed to get Arturos up to level 6. Then I found a "misty box" that asked me to enter a random number. I did, and found myself teleported to a much lower fathom of the dungeon, where I was immediately slain by a level 25 fighter.


Next game.

*****

Posts on Telengard: One | Two 

Further Reading: As I progressed in my chronology, I found that Telengard is a commercial version of a long line of games stretching back to a 1975 PLATO game called The Game of Dungeons or dnd. Other games in the DND line include Dungeon of Death (1979); Caverns of Zoarre (1984); DND (1984); and the Heathkit DND (1985).

40 comments:

  1. a misty box, lol, you gotta be kiddin :))

    keep up tho. i always feel an urge to start some such oldie rpg when skimming through this stuff. but there's so little time, so i guess reading this (and scrutinising the pics) will be my surrogate experience...

    ReplyDelete
  2. I also feel that urge. :) I have even aquired some original games. SSI Goldbox RPGs, Buck Rogers and Ultima VI. Just have to actually start playing.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Telengard takes a master's touch. what u do is 1) ensure u have a scroll of recall and 2) find any device that will teleport you down to say level 70+. hang out there about 5 seconds. Eventually you pick up a sword +70+ and then teleport back to the inn. BAM!! You are superhuman. Telengard is about knowing how to play the odds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. The levels don't go that low.
      2. Within 5 minutes, something will have stolen that sword or it will get destroyed in a trap.

      You can't really build a character around items unless you like reloading. I used to hate having stuff stolen from me, but I can see now that it was a useful game mechanic.

      Delete
    2. Why are you talking to yourself, dude?

      Delete
  4. And yet, since you can't "win" the game, there's hardly any point.

    I know that betrays a certain insight into my psychology, but I honestly don't understand games that don't have a conclusion. How do you know when to stop playing otherwise?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you right. that's why the fun of the game is the beginning where just about ne thing can kick yr ass and u have to build up yr PC. Once hes built up and yr exp is too high to gain levels so there isn't much need for gold or to go around killing things then it becomes instantly boring

      Delete
  5. That is part of my beef with MMORPGS... Why is it that I want to ascend this mountain defeat the dragon and save the princess when right behind me are 50 other parties lined up waiting patiently to do the same thing once I am finished?

    Also I don't really like people so paying $20 a month to play a game I play like a single-player game doesn't make sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MMORPGs are like Annabel Chongs... 50 other guys are behind you waiting for you to finish.

      Delete
  6. Excellent point about MMORPGs. I've always been afraid to try them, given my addictive nature, but perhaps I wouldn't even like them for this very reason. Still not going to risk it, though.

    ReplyDelete
  7. hey...Im up to level 22...
    I went to level 50(on a mistic cube) and grabbed me a cloak +50. Now when I get close to something(like a monster)it warns me "you have not been noticed...return to ... so now when I fight with the deep monsters, I have plenty of exp and I can teleport back up to level 1 and hit an inn.

    Don't be afraid to take chances. I did and it paid off. I used to play this on my C64 back in the 90's...it's the best game second to Phantasy Star Online for the Dreamcast/GameCube. Still looking for that or a way to get it on my PC(laptop) which is an HP pavilion ze4430us...if anyone can help or needs help with Telengard hit me at smtwthfsa@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. u don't need to go to an inn to up levels so why are u going back?

      Delete
    2. You need to go to an inn to get your spell points back and cash out your gold. You get more exp from gold than fighting.

      If you've been on level 50 and you're routinely finding stuff like chests containing 2345435 gold, you want to cash out when you can.

      Delete
  8. Congratulations, buddy. Without a main quest to win, I didn't see the point of playing on and on, but I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This was a game I did not know about back in the day, but decided to play it when I met someone who absolutely loved the game. So much so that they actually made a copy on a 5 1/4" disk for me to play (this was in 2005 mind you!) Well, it was fun to play for a few minutes, but I quickly moved on to better things, like emptying the cat box.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm finding this game pretty boring. Its like rogue except no ending and no reason not to grind forever on low levels. Also found rogue monsters and items more interesting, also the full map view, no way in hell im' mapping 50 20x20 levels of pointlessness. I thought this game sounded fun, nope.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it could have been fun if there was an ultimate goal, but as you say, grinding for no purpose--no end game--is just boring.

      Delete
  11. Although there is no ending, you CAN effectively win the game.

    You can consider the game won when you can get the contents of a level 50 strongbox back out in 20 consecutive trips.

    I know the secret to doing this. I know how good your stats and gear must be to pull it off. it's a very achievable goal, with a lot of patience, or a little luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WHATEVER.....THE GAME IS EASY......NOTHING CAN KILL ME AND IM ONLY LEVEL 22

      Delete
    2. You don't need great gear or stats once you get the Teleport spell. Its a waste of time worrying too much about gear anyway, that sword +255 will get stolen or otherwise lost eventually.

      I wouldn't always make it back up with an average teleporting character, but I did most of the time and it was a fun way to kill 20 minutes.

      Delete
  12. 20 CONSEC TRIPS???wHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN.....I CAN OPEN ANY CUBE THAT GIVES GOLD ONCE U ARE ABLE TO PROVIDE THE CORRECT COLOR COMBINATION. u GO TO LEVEL 50, THE HARDEST LEVEL, and u run into strings of lesser level enemies from levels one two or three. U can go into level 50 being a level 3 or 4 player and just have a level one spell........use yr level one spell like turn undead to kill a level 77 vampire and rack up so many exp points that u pop levels with in mins......great game and its fun but sucks its so easy to master once u know what u are doing.......the game is hard when u cant transport money back and fourth for exp but once u learn the trick to doing this the game becomes a matter of cracking color codes and exchangeing the gold for exp......so call the game fun and call it ne thing else but don't try and portray it as a hard game

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am the king of telenhard and if u want to know how to make a top player character in 20MINS REPLAY AND I WILL TELL YOU.....ITS EASY ONCE U KNOW WHAT U ARE DOING

    ReplyDelete
  14. Too much caffeine and too little sleep can make for very hard to read posts.

    I apologize if there is something else preventing you from posting in a more pleasing format, as I know I have not always posted in the best way either. This is why I wish for an edit post feature.

    ReplyDelete
  15. has ne one ever gotten higher then level 22? I cant...I get negative exp points and then positive and seems like its the highest level

    ReplyDelete
  16. What do u do when yr hit points go negative. I thought id just work off the negative amount and go up a level but that didn't happen. Has ne body dealt with this before....happened at level 22

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you do when your experience points go negative. Has this happen to anyone before?

      Delete
    2. Sounds like a classic integer overflow where the field that contains your experience wraps around to a negative or zero number.

      Depending on how the code deals with it you may be able to get back to zero and level again or go back to level one. More likely though, you may have reached the end of your level progression.

      Delete
    3. damn...oh well
      started a new chara and off to much better start ne ways......guess ill be running into same prlem though....ne way to avold?

      Delete
    4. Anonymous, you have to chill out and let it go, man. You've been playing Telengard for over five months now, and your posts sound vaguely psychotic. There are better games out there.

      Delete
  17. In a weird way, reading your experience with this game seems like a microcosm of most MMORPG's, just with 3 years of playing condensed into 5 minutes :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I loved Telengard on the C64 back in the day, and *really* loved the Palm Pilot version I had a decade ago, it was something I only fired up on long flights, and it killed time (and my character) very nicely. As far as "goals", just being able to walk around on lvl 50 was my goal, never achieved.

    One interesting thing is the map is not random, it's algorithmic, so it's always the same. I slowly learned a route down to level 12 that I could get back up to an Inn to change my gold into XP again. The Palm version didn't auto-turn every 5 seconds, just manual turns.

    I wish someone would port it to iOS. I miss it on flights.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I hacked into the game and found a way to double your experience points every time you kill a monster. That means you level up after each kill. I reached Level 101. I also found a way to start with 99999 HP. This way I never die. I also only kill opponents with high levels so they will leave me a sword +235 or a Ring of Regeneration +244. Lastly, I go to a particular throne and READ the ruins until all my characteristics are 18.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well....good for you, I guess. But this sounds like a good way to turn a game that was only a little fun into a game that's no fun at all.

      Delete
    2. In the original on the Commodore you could go in and view/modify the code without much trouble at all. It was written in BASIC, which pretty much every C64 user was competent in.

      But even 13 year old me didn't see much sense in modifying Telengard. It's not like I was playing it to win.

      Delete
  20. There's a very, very good remake of this game that is close to the original.

    http://buildingworlds.com/telengard/

    I've always had a soft soft for Telengard, Treasure of Tarmin (for the Intellivision), and Tunnels of Doom. They were the three games owned collectively by me and my circle of friends (yeah, I had a small circle), and introduced me to the whole genre. I remember the first time I was able to cast lightning bolt in Telengard. I was pretty stoked and frying everything I saw.

    Sometimes you don't need a point. You just want to wander around in a dungeon and kick some butt. Teleporting down to level 50 via a grey cube and trying to get back home was a pretty good quest in and of itself. It's also not that hard once you pass level 1. Level 1 is like those guys who first landed on the beach at D-Day. You want to get away from level 1 as quickly as possible before you die.

    There was something about the atmosphere of these games with the black background and creepy music and sound effects. This and Temple of Apshai... they don't look like much but they did a very good job of building a mood.

    ReplyDelete
  21. On MMORPG's and Telengard ....

    Chester, you wrote somewhere on the site (please excuse the vague reference) that the comments enrich the blog in a very tangible way.

    Well, in this post we find one more topic to exemplify that : MMORPG gamer's psychology and Telengard. The connection didn't become apparent for me until I read this post's comments, but I have certainly observed it : I sat behind my wife (in her 30's with no previous history of "gaming") once just to watch her play MMORPG's and try to figure what the fuss was about gameplay-wise. It brought memories from the mid-90's, when some friend's of mine rigged these primitive LAN just to play Diablo colectively (dial-up internet was very slow in my country back then). The mood and group mechanics were exactly the same as in my wife's MMOPRG session.

    And, after reading your blog, who would deny that Diablo was far from original in its basic design, borrowing liberally from Telengard/DND and Rogue/NetHack (dumbing down the mechanics in the process) and then slapping some great graphics, sound and UI elements on top of it all, and finally adding very refined online-play capabilities. And anyone who has experienced/observed current MMOPRG play wouldn't deny the very Diablo-like look of it all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd agree that Diablo was very much a forebear of the modern MMO.

      The major hook for Diablo was neither story, nor exploration, nor tactical combat, but farming encounters for good drops - and then showing off your drops to your friends.

      Delete
  22. Chet, you are spot on about this game. My first five characters died in the first room! As you said it is "pointless fun". It does well as a palate cleaner between more expansive games, especially as I have now ditched "Gateway to the savage frontier". Thanks for the recommendation.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Update - a "friendly dragon" gave me +3 chain mail. This game is bizarre, in a good way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My favorite part is when you encounter a vampire who "likes your body" and heals you to full strength.

      Delete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) THIS ALSO INCLUDES USER NAMES THAT LINK TO ADVERTISING.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

NOTE: Spam has gotten so bad lately that I've had to turn on comment moderation for posts older than 10 days. I apologize if it takes a little while for your comment to appear.