Okay, first off: I'm still not done with Le Maitre des Ames, especially now that I have a translated manual. But this hotel has the worst Internet connection I've experienced in a long time, and I keep losing my access to Google translate (which I still need for the in-game text). I'm writing this blog entry in Notepad on Thursday, but I can't imagine I'll be able to post it until I get home Friday night. Second, I really need my second monitor to effectively play Maitre, what with the need to have the game, my notepad, the manual, my map, and the translation screen all open at the same time.
So I'm moving on temporarily to Mission: Mainframe, a roguelike that MobyGames lists as a 1987 offering, but whose own title screen shows that the first version was from 1983. I had heard that it was a roguelike, so I was basically expecting Rogue in a futuristic setting, so I wasn't prepared for all of the variations that this game includes.
|Was just a wrecking ball out of the question?|
The backstory is that a malevolent computer mainframe has taken over an office building, corrupting employees and causing all kinds of havoc. You must ascend up to 30 floors of the office building (i.e., dungeon levels) to find the computer (i.e., Amulet of Yendor) and return with knowledge of its location to the lobby. On the way, you must deal with hostile employees (monsters), keep up a supply of junk food, increase your levels and statistics, find office supplies (weapons), learn different strategies for dealing with different employees, and collect chips and bytes (gold).
|You would think the programmers of this game would know that bytes are not actual objects.|
|I don't think any state licenses private investigators as young as 18.|
|Trapped file cabinets? There ought to be a "call OSHA" option.|
Moving around the game world is reminiscent of Wizard's Castle, which I reviewed back in July. Each floor contains 64 rooms (8 x 8) in which you might find employees, file cabinets with money, potions (the game doesn't even try to come up with a modern analog for that), and other objects. You might also get sucked up a computer-controlled air vent and delivered to another floor. The lights might abruptly go out. And so on. The level of detail that you see ahead of time depends on the difficulty level that you choose at the start of the game.
When you encounter employees, you have a number of options for dealing with them: you can try to (d)eal or trade, (b)attle them, employ a (s)trategy that you've learned from the library, (t)rick them, (e)vade them, or make a prank (p)hone call to distract them. These various moves have a chance of success or failure based on the type of employee (accountant, janitor, secretary, file clerk, etc.) and your statistics. If it comes to battle, the employees are mercilessly lethal. (The first time I read, "You have been done in by a SECRETARY!" was a bit of a downer.) No matter what you do, success rewards you with experience points towards another level.
The video above shows a few minutes of gameplay, so you can get a sense of the different types of encounters and such (it's hard to read on the size of this screen, though; you might want to go directly to the YouTube site). I managed to make it without dying, but just barely.
a LinkedIn profile; he apparently used to work for Sabre, the company that owns Travelocity. He mentions the game in his profile. Plemons now owns a photography studio. LinkedIn wants me to upgrade my account to contact Shankman, and I otherwise can't find an address for him, but I have Plemons's studio address, so I'm going to send him the $15. I wrote a book about 15 years ago and it's always a thrill when I get a tiny royalty check; I hope Plemons feels the same way.
Now, here's the difficultly. To paraphrase a quote from Roger Ebert: this posting is like a piece of cheese. Now that you've read it, you know everything there is to know about that cheese except what it would be like to eat an entire block. If I play this game all the way to the end, what am I going to blog about that I haven't already told you? Roguelikes don't reveal new bits of story as you play. They don't offer NPCs. They don't do anything different than you see in that brief video except get harder. And the last (only) one that I won, Rogue, took me four months. These are important questions, because Nethack is coming up right after this (well, after Le Maitre des Ames anyway). I figure my options are:
- Don't blog for weeks until I win
- Blog what I'm doing, no matter how repetitive or boring
- Come up with a lot of special topics postings as I play
- Play roguelikes side-by-side with non-roguelikes, only blog about the latter until something interesting happens or I win
- Just do one or two postings on the roguelikes and move on
Since I still have Le Maitre des Ames on the burner anyway, I think I'll try #4 and see how it goes.