Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wizardry V: Two Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Yo mama's so frigid, the only man who will have her is called the "Ice King."

Damn, this game takes a long time. I thought if I made a major push, I could win it this weekend, but now I'm thinking I've got another week or so at least. The bloody game does a brilliant job trying to revoke every bit of progress you feel you've made. I've been level-drained so often it's a wonder my characters aren't all Level 1 again. It seems like every level throws me up against armor-eaters (you can figure out what they do). Thieves and magnetic traps rob me of my hard-earned quest items. A few crucial items are hidden at the bottom of pools, but exploring them runs the risk of attribute and hit point drains. This game is brutal.

In 1988, I would have torn the disk out of my floppy drive and run it through a blender.
 
I can guarantee you one thing: I never would have won this without backups ("cheating"). I suffer a full-party death about once every 20 minutes. Three or four times, I've teleported into rock, which renders your party lost forever. My characters have suffered more failed resurrections than I can count. Any hard-core gamer that finishes this without frequent backup and restoration has my highest respect--and concern for his or her mental health.

In terms of overall progress, I've mapped six levels out of, I think, ten. The levels have been crazy in their size and shape--so much so that I'd assume I was missing something if I hadn't exhaustively searched every wall for secret doors. Here are Levels 4 and 5, for instance:


I feel like the shape is supposed to suggest something, but I can't figure it out.

On Level 6, I nearly put out a plea for hints, because for the longest time I couldn't figure out how to get past one encounter involving repairing a mannequin. It turns out I needed to steal a gold medallion from a character so I could wake up a character who told me how to fix it. I haven't had to "steal" prior to this part of the game, and it was only because I was trying every possible action that I was able to figure it out.

Fortunately, I finally found the answer, because there are 7!, or 5040, possible combinations of these different items.
 
I recorded a couple of videos over the last few days. The first, a short one (c. 5 minutes), shows how I go about the process of mapping in Excel as I explore the levels (I keep saying "Level 6" when I mean "Level 5," though):


The second illustrates other gameplay elements, including combat and puzzle solving, and it's almost half an hour.



I know some of you don't like to watch narrated video, so to summarize: I leave the castle and MALOR (teleport) my way to Level 6 (03:00), cast some exploration spells (04:25), and head out. After a couple of combats, I make my way to a pool (09:00), where my thief dives to the bottom level, triggering a tough encounter with Lady Neptune and her minions (10:00). I am victorious. I continue on, defeat some undead (13:52), and arrive at another part of the level, where there's a puzzle involving the repair of a mannequin (17:07). After solving the puzzle, I find myself encountering the Ice King (19:49), who kills two of my characters and reduces the rest to single digits before I finally kill him (21:42) and escape by MALORing back to the castle (23:00). After that, I resurrect my dead party members, identify my new equipment, swap some equipment around, and rest in the inn.

MALOR has made getting around quite a bit easier. As you can see from this screenshot, my mage somehow acquired priest spells. I have no idea how that happened.

I have to say, I have been enjoying some of the graphics. They're not nearly as polished as the colorful animated characters in The Bard's Tale III or Pool of Radiance, but they're very detailed, and the monochrome imparts an aura of gothic horror.


This woman looks scary.

The creatures themselves, on the other hand, continue to tend towards goofiness. We've got the "yomamas" that lead this posting, a whole level full of storybook monsters such as Frankenstein, the Wolfman, Dracula, and of course that terrifying symbol of French horror:

I don't remember Victor Hugo giving him an axe.
 
A pair of creatures that kept attacking me were labeled "Beauty" and "The Beast." They would have been fun if they hadn't kept paralyzing and killing my characters.

They'll paralyze your men / On your corpses they will feast / Fighting them is hell / They resist every spell / Beauty and the beast
 

On every level, I encounter some runes or glyphs that I am completely unable to decipher. I'm hoping I don't need them for the endgame or something. Hints appreciated here.

What is this? "Cive?"

I haven't really described the "plot" much, but you'd probably just think I was on drugs. I know I already covered this in my last posting, but it drives me crazy that the developers didn't even try to create a sensible plot that hangs together. To describe it, I'd have to say stuff like, "Today I met a thief called The Snatch who told me to use a pocket watch in the chamber of the Loon. The Loon--technically 'Thelonius P. Loon, Master of Time and Prophet Extraordinaire'--told me that I need to go into the triaxial gate four times holding a rod and cast a spell of summoning. Oh, and I bought a bird in a cage from him, but a thief stole it later so I guess I have to go back and get it again."

They might not mean that as a compliment.

I suppose we have to give it points for originality, at least. But I'm really ready for it to be over. Hopefully, it doesn't take much longer.

32 comments:

  1. I remember that puzzle with the seven parts. My friend and I couldn't figure it out, we ending up having to call Sir-Tech to get the answer (obviously well before the day of internet hints). I seem to remember the person we talked to at Sir-Tech saying they had lots of calls about that puzzle.
    I'm amazed that my friend and I finished Wizardry V, it seems like it is a tough game. I'm sure we cheated with backed up characters.

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    1. It took me about three days to figure it out. It wasn't the puzzle that was so hard as figuring out how to wake up Yog so he could tell me the solution to the puzzle. But since the only other encounter on the level was with Evil Eyes--who otherwise seemed to have no purpose--I figured there must be something there. I just tried everything--talking, bartering, stealing--until I got it.

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    2. Didn't you talk to The Mad Stomper?
      He tells you all about Evil Eyes and Yog, and even says that "you'd need to be very clever and quick to sneak it [Gold Medallion] away from him [Evil Eyes]!".

      It seems there are in-game hints for nearly every thing in this game.

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  2. Oh more thing - can someone tell me how to become someone other than "Unknown" for a comment? I use Google to post comments. I see a subscribe by email link, do I have to subscribe to this blog do do this? Thanks.

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    1. I hope someone knows the answer, because I can't figure out how you did it. Usually "unknown" posters show up as "Anonymous."

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    2. Create a Google profile for yourself, and that might fix the issue. I've never seen an "Unknown" either, but Google changes things all the time. I think they like confusing people.

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    3. Try posting from OpenID or one of the other providers at the bottom? What are you logging in with now?

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    4. I'm guessing that you have a Google profile, but have not entered a name in the proper field on the profile.

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    5. I just select "Name/Profile" under the reply as options now. Just type in a name and you are good to go if you don't want to register with Blogger or use your email. You can include a URL to a website if you have one, or just leave it blank.

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  3. Probably have to sign out of google; then you get a "Comment as" dropdown under the comment box.

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  4. The left side of level 5 looks like it holds a couple of telephones. (Those four 1x1 rooms are like the buttons). You know, old phones circa Wizardry V - old enough to have a receiver and handset and cord, but not old enough to have rotary dial. And the middle right looks like an overhead view of a castle with a moat...

    I seem to remember that (some versions of) wizardry 1 had the authors' initials drawn as walls in the map. I loves me some graph paper mapping. Legend of Grimrock this year, Etrian Odyssey 4 coming soon...it's good that I'm not alone.

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  5. Level 4 is a flintlock pistol. Level 5 definitely looks like its supposed to be something or other.

    Gobble gobble.

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    1. Agree on pistol, though it could be a matchlock. I'm thinking WWI-era plane or kite for the second.

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    2. Dragonfly? Though the right section of the "tail" kind of looks like a telephone to me.

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    3. Absolutely on the pistol. The butt looks a little off, but otherwise it's quite clear.

      Before you spend too much more time obsessing about Level 5, I should mention that I apparently missed a chunk of it. See here:

      http://www.tk421.net/wizardry/maps/map5-05.gif

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    4. I think your link to the image broke things- either they or their image host swapped it to a "No bandwidth theft" image.

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    5. Copy and paste the link into your address bar.

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    6. I searched the website manually, all there is is a "No Bandwidth Theft" image.

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    7. The other maps are there BTW.

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    8. Hmmm, I can still see it. I guess too many people looked at it. :/

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    9. Works now for me; so problem appears fixed on their end.

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  6. I was going to say a pistol too, but you guys beat me to it.

    But what about that 'ebony peg' that 'juts out from under Evil Eyes' robes? Now THAT'S scary...

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    1. Your supposed to rub it for good luck. That is what the guy down the back alley keeps telling me to do, but so far I haven't seen an improvement in my luck. Maybe I am not the one getting lucky, hmm...

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  7. Giauz

    Ok, all of this going to be completely out of context for you CA, but this should give you an idea of what the Ice King is like outside of the dungeon :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNxoR6CG1ZM

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  8. How does the difficulty compare to wizardry 1?

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    1. On a combat-per-combat basis, it's about the same. But overall, it's quite a bit more difficult because it's so much larger, and there's so much backtracking. The more squares you have to walk, the more opportunities you have to die.

      The final battle in W5 is MUCH harder than W1, though; in fact, I'd say it's about 6x harder than anything in the game up to that point. I really wasn't prepared.

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  9. This is the point where I quit. I tried stealing the amulet a few times from Evil Eyes but because it's random whether you succeed and what you get, I didn't come up with the goods and then had to fight him. After doing this too many times I looked up a walkthrough and found I was doing exactly the right thing, which finally decided me that enough was enough.

    The runes are extremely disappointing, so don't spend any time thinking about them. I think your approach to solving them was actually correct - for instance the example above was "come" or something equally arbitrary. You don't need to solve them to complete the game or get anything cool.

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    1. I guess I got lucky. It worked the first time. But I read in a walkthrough that if it doesn't work, you often have to kill him, then go up to the castle and resurrect him (how did he even get there?) so he'll appear in the dungeon and you can try again. Really? Couldn't I just have killed him and taken it off his corpse?

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  10. All of this (and your Wasteland review) reminded me of a little known RPG: Atomic Wasteland 2098. This was a third party scenario for Wizardry I which came out in 1985 IIRC. There were a few other alternate scenarios but in my memory Atomic Wasteland was the only one I ever played. Perhaps it would be a little derivative but it would be a nice piece of history.

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    1. ...and *THAT* all reminds me of "Dark Designs" a Wiz-alike if you will written by John Carmack and John Romero before they were famous.

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    2. Dark Designs is on my list for 1990, coming up in about 30 games (not counting my occasional early-1980s non-DOS grabs). Atomic Wasteland 2098 and other fan-made Wizardry scenarios from the 1980s are so obscure that I don't imagine I'll ever find it. A Google search returns only a half-page of results, most of them the same user asking about them on different bulletin boards.

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