|Is this an example of the liar paradox?|
It's been a productive day. And when I say "productive day," I don't mean in any real sense, like I made any progress on my dissertation or installed my new sink or graded any of the 30 papers I have to grade. No, I mean "productive" as in I won Beyond Zork and got through the second level of Dungeon Master. So, you know, in the stuff that matters.
The Beyond Zork posting will have to wait until tomorrow because I plan to replay the entire game now that I know all the puzzles. I want to try out a few different things and record a master script of my gameplay.
I have less to say about Dungeon Master. Exploring Level 2 of the dungeon served the dual purpose of advancing the game and teaching me more about how the game works. I discovered:
- The levels in Dungeon Master are quite large. I think Level 2 was 33 x 33, compared to 16 x 16 for Might & Magic and 20 x 20 for the Wizardry series. It's not quite as large as it sounds because unlike the other games, corridors do not share the same walls; there's always a bit of space in between them, as you can see from my partial map below.
- Ultimately, I stopped mapping, partly because the level was very linear--there were many locked gates you couldn't get through until you found a specific key or switch in a previous part of the dungeon--party because switching from the game (which uses the mouse) to the Excel map was a bit of a pain, and partly because I just didn't feel like it. I imagine I'll have to pick up mapping again on later levels.
- There were a few light puzzles on Level 2, one involving a series of pressure plates that I had to hit in the right order to open some gates, and a couple others involving dropping objects on pressure plates. Nothing too difficult so far.
- As I mentioned, getting through this level involved finding a series of keys to open various doors and gates. Some of them were very hard to see against the dungeon floor. The CRPG Addict is color-blind, which might have something to do with it, or it could be just bad game design.
- If you accidentally walk into a wall, your lead characters take a hit point or two of damage. Seriously? My characters are so dumb they go charging into solid walls?
- I found a couple of chests. It took me a while before I realized I could take the chests and use them to increase my inventory slots. Right now, I have lots and lots of food items that my characters don't need, but I have a sneaking suspicion food will be less plentiful on lower levels.
- You see your way through the dark through either a "magic torch" spell or actual torches. At the level I can cast right now, the actual torches are brighter. The neat thing is that they don't just burn for a while and then fizzle out; they get darker as time passes.
- You can bash some doors.
- There are a lot of things that look like hooks on various walls. I can't seem to manipulate them in any way, so I assume they're just decoration. If not, I've been missing a lot of stuff.
- The only thing that makes me really nervous is that I'm not sure how secret doors are found in this game. I hope I didn't miss a bunch on this level.
For combat, the characters can arm themselves with either melee weapons or throwing weapons. There are several "waiting slots" for throwing weapons, so when one is hurled, the next one pops into the character's hands. On this level, I encountered a lot of mummies and...I don't know...giant fungi, I guess. My strategy was to hang back when I could and exhaust my throwing weapons (you can pick them up again later), then let them come to me for the melee.
During combat, I had a few messages to the extent that "so-and-so has gained a fighter level." Dungeon Master does not follow the traditional experience-based CRPG leveling system. Rather, as you use your skills, you advance in levels for each class. Melee weapons are a fighter skill, throwing weapons a ninja skill, and magic skills are divided between the priest and wizard classes. Leyla started out as a journeyman ninja, but along the way she also became a "neophyte fighter" because she developed her melee skills. It seems the class levels go: neophyte, novice, apprentice, journeyman. I'm not sure what the levels are called after that.
The interesting thing is that leveling comes regardless of whether you kill the monster, or even fight a monster at all--every time you throw something or swing a weapon, you slightly increase the associated skill. The same goes for spells, whether successful or not. While I like skill-based systems (The Elder Scrolls series is famous for it), it seems like this opens things up for a lot of abuse. I could stand in a corner and just swing my way to expert fighter status or something. On the other hand, this seems boring and I probably won't do it, so perhaps the potential for abuse is limited.
I did die a couple of times. If one character dies, he or she turns into a pile of bones, and you can resurrect him or her in a special alcove on Level 1 (I don't know if there are more throughout the dungeon). If all characters die, you get a "The End" screen and that's that. This happened to me once.
The pacing in Dungeon Master is pretty good, although I suspect it will slow down once I have to take mapping seriously again. I don't know how many levels there are to the dungeon, but as of now, this strikes me as a game to play to the end.
Next up: the final Beyond Zork postings and then a review of Dungeon Master's magic system.